Working Moms Inspiration from Oprah's O You!
You make a damn good cupcake. Or maybe it is a chocolate chip cookie or a pecan pie. Then you dream. What if I turned this into a business? What if I change course to make sweet treats all day? Candace Nelson did just that.
In 2005 Candace left her career as an investment banker to open the world’s first ever dedicated cupcake store along with her husband, Charles. Together they have been growing Sprinkles Cupcakes and their family ever since with two boys, ages 6 and 2, and 12 stores. In addition to her life as a mom and entrepreneur, Candace stars as a judge on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” Here, she shares a peek into her life as a working mom.
How was the transition from banking to baking?
A relief! But gradual. I left banking to work for a dot com and when the bottom fell out from that world, I decided to follow my passion and attend pastry school. The rest is history.
What is the best part of being a working mom?
Feeling that I am doing what I was meant to do and being an example to my children.
When you have a problem, where do you turn for support?
My husband is and has always been my complete support system. He doles out advice Dr. Phil-style. He is amazing.
How do your kids perceive your career?
Are you kidding? Ice cream and cupcakes. And they get to go to Sprinkles through the back door? They love it!
What is a typical morning like for you?
It’s a scramble. But preparing lunches, backpacks and to-do lists the night before is always a lifesaver.
How often do your kids eat cupcakes?
For my kids, the cupcakes and cookies and ice cream are still a treat. How else can I bribe good behavior?
I eat them a few times a week, though during a store opening or recipe development it is about every five minutes.
Can you name a favorite?
It changes by the week, but I have eaten a ridiculous number of dark chocolate cupcakes.
Can you put your life philosophy into one saying?
Eat dessert first!
1. Make a Connection
Being a great person to work with requires curiosity – yours. “The better you know your colleagues or clients and their needs, motivations and goals, the better able you are to work with them,” explains customer loyalty expert, Cindy Solomon.
2. Say Yes
You never want to be known as the person who says “no.” If you do, the invitations and opportunities will diminish. As marketer Peter Shankman writes, saying yes “opens up connections for you that would otherwise remain closed.” So say yes when you can and use “no” selectively.
3. Be a Helper and a Solver
Never utter the words “That is not my job” or huff and puff your way through a task that you deem to be menial. Instead, be the team player who proactively ask what their greatest challenges are and how you can solve them.
4. Respond Quickly and Briefly
When corresponding, choose quality over quantity. Mastering the five sentence email will make you a better communicator and hasten your response times. As marketing expert Scott Stratten explains, “There is no excuse for a client waiting days for an answer to something, even if it’s an “I will get back to you.”
5. Keep it Positive
Bringing your problems to work makes you the problem. Save the complaining for your close personal friends and aim to be a professional bright light at the office. And keep in mind that a simple smile goes a long way.
6. Be Ethical
When you always do “what is right,” you have an easier time making choices. Ethics expert Eric Chester suggests you, “Go to great lengths to protect your reputation by never compromising your integrity, regardless of the circumstances. Your character is always on display.” When colleagues and clients can count on you to tell the truth, trust is built.
7. Stay Focused
It is hard to work with a vendor or colleague who is chasing butterflies. When you know your expertise, you make yourself more predictable and reliable. Master one thing and aim to deliver it – every time.
8. Arrive Promptly
Being on time shows that you are dependable and respectful of others. Entering a meeting late gives you an air of disorganization and hurts your performance; it is hard to gain command of the room when you are the last to enter it.
9. Express Appreciation
Solomon suggests that you recognize a job well done with a thank you: “Being seen as someone who appreciates the skills and efforts of others builds your reputation as a proactive partner and leader.”
We know that advocating for yourself at the office is essential, but how you do it determines your success.
I recently had lunch with a C level executive at a public company. She had been promoted to COO and her new role included overseeing a number of additional departments. I listened as she described her first one on one meetings with her new direct reports.
Some walked into this initial meeting explaining that they had always admired her work and had been waiting for a chance to work together. As expected, she talked excitedly about these people.
And then there was one department head who immediately got off on the wrong foot. He was an executive who had until now, been reporting to the CEO, so this recent reorganization, with a new layer between them, felt like a demotion to him.
Upon first hearing that he would no longer be reporting to the CEO, the executive had set a meeting with the CEO to express his concern about no longer reporting to her. The CEO addressed his concerns, was unmoved by his arguments, and made no changes.
The CEO then prepped the COO about this executive’s unhappiness with the new arrangement. On the day of the COO’s first meeting with this executive, he entered the room and began with, “Well, you know I think this is a terrible idea…” He then proceeded to make a case as to why he should continue to report to the CEO.
He spent the entire meeting complaining to his new boss and not surprisingly, launched them into a negative relationship, one that will be hard to recover from in the future. Now he is not only contending with a new layer between him and the CEO, but a new manager that has distaste for him.
His mistake wasn’t in speaking up; it was in how he did it.
If we could have scripted these events for him, he would have changed course after his initial meeting with the CEO. He would have entered the new boss’ office with a positive attitude and explained that even though he initially had some concerns, he now understands the reasoning behind the move. He would then use their initial meeting to discuss how they could work together most successfully. His mistake wasn’t in speaking up, it was in not knowing when to stop.
Here are the seven keys to speaking up smartly:
1. Address the Problem Quickly
When you feel a need to speak up, do it immediately. Decisions in a company are built off of one another. Once one thing is set in motion, it leads to others, and you don’t want the implementing of yet another decision to prevent a change to the first one.
2. Go to the Right Person
In a large company, this means go to your direct boss or human resources. When there is no strict organizational chart, go to the decision maker. Approach this person in a private setting, ideally in a pre-planned one on one meeting.
3. Put Your Attitude On
Regardless of the outcome, this meeting will leave an impression. Make sure you approach this with a positive attitude and in a calm and confident manner.
4. Start with Questions
Begin the meeting by asking questions aimed at understanding the reasoning behind the decision. This might give you new information to help your position.
5. Focus on the Benefits to the Company
When speaking up, come prepared with reasons that benefit the business. These should not include your self-serving reasons like mortgage payments or your sick parent. They need to be for the good of the company. If your argument does not help the company, there is no sense in making it.
6. Avoid Badmouthing
If you need to shed light on a colleague, do it through anecdotes rather than your subjective description.
7. Don’t Mope
If the conversation doesn’t go as planned, adjust quickly. This doesn’t mean you need to drop the battle, it just means you need to snap on an outwardly positive attitude. Moping around the office never yields anything but an unprofessional label that will be hard to shake.
Work and family life don’t need to conflict; they need to coexist. It is time to stop glamorizing the alternative and talk about the big bonuses of keeping up your career after you have a child. Here are 8 great reasons to stay in the workforce after having a baby:
1. You will Enjoy a Happier Marriage
Studies show that couples in which both spouses work have greater marital satisfaction. Your marriage will be more likely to thrive if you have something to focus on outside of the home and your spouse will feel less financial pressure if you bring home some of the bacon.
2. You Will Remain Financially Independent
As Leslie Bennetts described in her book “The Feminine Mistake,” in more than half of traditional marriages, the male spouse will either die prematurely, lose his job or leave his wife. When this happens to a stay at home mom, there is no safety net and the entire family’s financial stability is jeopardized. Further, many women report losing financial power in their home when they leave the workforce. You never want to be pitching your spouse on a purchase.
3. You Will Raise Stronger Kids
We are now aware of the deep dangers of overparenting, also known as helicopter parenting. When you stay at home, you are far more inclined to over-parent because parenting becomes your sole focus. As expert Michele Borba explains,“If we keep hovering we will rob our kids of self-reliance.”
4. You Will Secure Future Earnings
A woman who leave the workforce for just three years after having kids give up 37% of her future earnings according to a study done by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. This puts your family’s financial health at risk.
5. You Will Gain Personal Fulfillment
Getting personal satisfaction from something other than your children is critical to being a great parent and a happy one. As France’s most famous parenting authority Pamela Druckerman explains, “The reigning view in France is that if a child is a woman’s only goal, everyone suffers, including the child.”
6. You Will Bring Worldliness to Your Home
When you stay home, your world shrinks because you are surrounded by women like you; moms of the same age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status typically cluster together. By keeping up your career, you will be a more active participant in the world and expand the perspectives you bring into your home. As former stay at home mom Lisa Heffernan explains “In the workplace my contacts and friends included both genders and people of every description, and I was better for it.”
7. You Will Serve As A Role Model
There are two ways you have a greater good impact as a working mom. Firstly, the future generation of young women need working mom role models for support, inspiration and mentorship. And then of course, there is the role modeling that goes on in your own home. A Harvard educated mom who returned to life as an entrepreneur after seven years at home tells this story: When she explained to her kids that she would be starting a company, they asked how that could be since, “Daddies start businesses and mommies stay home.” She sprinted to the office and hasn’t looked back.
8. You Will be Happier
A recent study showed that stay at home moms suffer from significantly greater levels of depression by age 40 than working moms. It is hard to raise a happy child if you are an unhappy mom. As the old adage goes, when mom isn’t happy, nobody is.
Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch is a former pro softball player, a Hershey’s Good Life Guru and a married mom of two sons, Ace and Diesel, with a baby girl on the way. I chatted with Jennie about her life as a working mom; marriage, travel, fitness and those sleepless nights.
When you first became a mom, you took your newborn son on an 18 day Beijing tour with you. How did it work?
JF: My husband (Former Major League Baseball player Casey Daigle) played baseball and I played softball. Baseball is more hectic so my son came with me. He had a passport and went to China and Japan. It worked out so great because he ended up getting 14 of my teammates as aunts to him. It wasn’t all easy, though. My mom, Ace and I all stayed in the same hotel room. My mom would get the bottle in middle of the night and she would either feed him or I would get up and feed him. I knew I was doing double duty but I couldn’t imagine leaving him for 18 days at that time.
How did you perform on the field after a sleepless night with your kids?
JF: You get over the mental block. You convince yourself that you can do anything. It is one pitch at a time, one inning at a time. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at my week and cried…but I think, one pitch at a time.
What did you learn on the softball field that you apply to parenting?
JF: You get what you put into it. The sacrifice, the discipline, the selflesslessness of being on a team. Being able to push your body beyond the boundaries of what you think you can do. My husband will say “I can’t, I am sleepless.” And I will say, “Don’t say that. Say you can do it and you will be able to.”
When you and your husband are both at home, how do you divide responsibilities?
JF: I am blessed to have a supportive husband. We pick up each other’s slack and it is a lot of teamwork. He does a lot of heating the bottles and I do a lot of the feeding. I travel a lot so when I am not there he does a lot himself and when I am there I do a lot of it. I couldn’t imagine doing it by myself.
What were your own parents like when you were a kid?
JF: They were my number one supporters. It was all about ‘If you work hard enough, you can achieve. You have to be the best that you can be. You can’t compare yourself to others.’
How do you use your time at night once your kids are asleep?
JF: I load the laundry, unload the dishwasher and catch up on things. I do emails and then after that it is relaxing together with my husband.
How do you avoid mommy guilt?
JF: If I was on the field, I knew how much I had sacrificed to be there so I gave it everything I have. When I am at home I try to give 110% to my kids.
How do you handle youth sports with your kids?
JF: It has been quite an experience. For Casey and I, we are discovering ourselves. At one game after listening to Casey yelling nonstop through flag football to, “Find the receiver,” I went over to him and said “I don’t think he (6yo son, Ace) knows what the receiver is.” We don’t want to be that overbearing parent but we sometimes find ourselves there. But if they are being active and having fun then we have all won. I could care less what happens on the field. If he comes off smiling, it is a victory for us all.
What is your post baby workout routine?
JF: With Ace I had to be back on the field six weeks after I gave birth for a tryout. With Diesel I was just retired but I had the New York City marathon three or four months after. My cardio these days is jumping on the trampoline. Anything where I can involve my kids.
What is your breakfast of Champions?
JF: To each their own. But for me it is Chobani Greek yogurt, granola and fresh berries.
You have a baby girl on the way. What advice will you give her?
JF: Do what you love. We all have a passion within us and it is a matter of finding that passion.
As working moms, we have some unavoidable time constraints which can lead to extreme performance pressure. How we behave at the office can make a world of difference to our success:
1. Limit the Family Photos
Having more than two photos on your desk makes people think that you would rather be somewhere else. (Double standard alert – for men, family photos have the opposite effect.)
2. Don’t Complain About Your Personal Life
Nobody at work needs to hear about your child’s stomachache, the babysitter who called in sick or the play date gone awry. Save it for close friends and make sure the rare personal phone calls are kept at a low volume. When colleagues ask about your family, keep it light and feel free to tell a funny story.
3. Maintain a Neat Desk
People are stereotyping about how busy your life is so don’t give them a visual reason to assume you can’t handle it all.
4. Be a Self-Promoter
When you or a member of your team succeeds, make sure people know. You aren’t going to win the hours game but you can ace the results game.
5. Make Work Friends
Take the time to create and maintain these friendships. They play a dual role of fulfilling you socially and being your eyes and ears within the company.
6. Attend the Office Party
More happens at office social events than we realize. To maintain your relevance and status within the company, treat work social events as anything but optional.
7. Opt Out of Office Gossip
It is a high stakes game and you have too much on the line. Just don’t do it.
8. Maintain a Structured Schedule
Have a consistent in and out time each day. If you aim to leave work by 5:20 and colleagues know that, they are less apt to schedule a 5pm meeting.
9. Network Outside of Your Company
You need to play long ball which means that networking should be a priority. Those industry contacts can be pivotal to your future career security.
by Samantha Ettus
More than 20 years ago, American Airlines saved $40,000 by removing just one olive from each salad tray in First class. This fun fact translates to your life where the smallest lifestyle changes can yield the most dramatic gains. Here are 10 ways to steal more time from your own life:
1. Organize Masterfully
Triathletes win and lose races in the transitions. Make sure your “supplies’ are in the right places. Every member of your family needs her own equivalent of the cubby and her backpack, lunchbox, homework, and shoes all needs to live there.
2. Outsource – to Your Kids
Figure out the age appropriate activities that your kids can do on their own. Get dressed? Pour cereal? Even put him in charge of managing the schedule. An added bonus is that you are helping him towards independence at the same time. More on Forbes…
by Samantha Ettus
Whether you are in a brainstorming rut or feel too exhausted to muster up a germ of imagination, here are five action-oriented steps to propel you to the creativity big leagues:
1. Take a New Route To and From Work
Inventor Scott A. Jones explains, “Doing something different every day gets you in the habit of stretching your behaviors and keeps your brain from…making mind-confining assumptions about how things are supposed to be done.”
2. Give Your Brain a Newton Moment
It is a simple equation: if you have no time to think, there will be no new ideas. Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity while sitting under an apple tree. Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity while riding a bicycle. Take some time away from your desk to think. It could be in the car (with music off) or on a walk outside with your child, but make it happen daily. More on Forbes…