Its been a while since I’ve written and this post is a rare personal one. In this case, its because the personal is professional.
I’ve taken a break from blogging because I had a baby in late September. She’s beautiful and healthy, and my family has been my primary focus for 3 months. I obviously run my own company, which means I have the good fortune of being able to take maternity leave. However, it certainly wasn’t “free” or even an easy decision. Each week I was with her, my professional opportunity cost was 3 months of product development, market testing, marketing and possibly the most precious corporate asset of all: my attention.
Reflecting on the time I’ve been away, here are 3 things that I have learned (or re-learned) that matter to Fairygodboss going forward:
1) Having a baby is hard. Babies take a physical toll, and this physical toll affects the mind. I say this in the least hippy-dippy way possible, so we don’t even have to get into the deeper realms of the mind-body connection. Concentration and attention span drop precipitously with sleep deprivation. And this is worth reminding employers about. If your employee comes back from leave before she or he has physically recovered, you may think you are saving money, but you are not. You will have a zombie in the office and she (or he, because husbands and male partners are often the silent victims of newborn night wakings) will not really be “all there”. This is worth considering because even if you are a start-up like we are, and cannot afford to give much paid leave, unpaid leave is still an option. Some start-ups are offering employees as much vacation as they need (i.e. not mandating a policy). It sounds radical but it might be worth doing the same with parental leave.
2) Working moms have very limited attention spans. This is one of Fairygodboss’ marketing challenges. Working moms or mothers-to-be probably have the most to gain from our information and reviews, but they are also the hardest people to get 2 minutes from. There is probably a reason why so many start-ups/apps target “millenials”. If you’re single or childless, its much more likely you have time to explore/download/share! Working moms are lucky if they have time to shower. If anyone can think of ideas regarding how to market to someone while they manage their childrens’ extracurricular and school events, drop me a line! On a serious note, maybe we should partner with household management apps…
3) Life events (including, but not limited to births) are times when people are most open to change. An artist once said that having a child opens a door in your mind that you always had, but didn’t even know was there. I couldn’t agree more and I would add that this room has windows that look onto new scenes and vistas. Its not just a matter of your family priorities changing, but you’ll also look differently at everything from political events to your career. And maybe even startups/apps…which means there may be a silver lining for our marketing, after all.