I am so excited to finish out this amazing first season with a guest who could essentially be the poster child for this podcast! Sarah Peck is the founder of Start Up Parent, which focuses on helping women feel less alone and gives them the tools they need to plan for families during busy careers.
Sarah starts by giving me her long job history — she legit has done it all! When she got pregnant with her first at a tech start up that she loved, she took her maternity leave in her own hands and set out to figure out what worked for her and the firm. As she was learning about this cross between work and family, she started recognizing how hard it is for women to make this happen. She started with the idea of a podcast, which lead to Start Up Parent and so much more!
I love that Sarah talks about how things don’t look pretty or glamorous, but you don’t know how things are until you do them! She talks about how you need to be prepared for so many different scenarios and things can look different for each family. I am so happy to have her finish this season out! Make sure to follow along on her site for some amazing resources, as well as her instagram and podcast.
Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your babies first, I have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle until I did as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans and made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness. Of a two year old and newborn and I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds like doing it all amidst the chaos
All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos. My name is Dana Graham. And today we are talking with Sarah Peck who’s going to give us a deep dive into her journey into entrepreneurship and how she did it with her kids until or family until just the chaos of everybody’s everyday life. So welcome, Sarah. Thanks for being here.
Sarah: Thanks so much for having me.
Dana: So give us just a quick overview of what you do now what your company looks like your role in it and what your day to day kind of structure is.
Sarah: Sure I’m the CEO and founder of a company called Startup parent, and I focus specifically on entrepreneurial and executive moms. I run a leadership incubator called the wise Women’s Council. We had 40 people in it this year. We’ve done it with about 100 people, and we help busy executive entrepreneurial moms, people who are really driven right and they want to create a big career for themselves. And then they are like, Well, how am I going to start family and do all of this at the same time and often feel really alone in that space too. Like, I just have a kid nobody else looks like me and there’s no one in leadership that looks like me. So we bring women together so they don’t feel quite as alone. We also have a podcast, the startup parent podcast and so far we have four short books that are available for sale and it’s so fascinating to see how many people have downloaded them at this point.
Dana: I love it. There’s so many things and so many resources and I love that this you know you’ve started this business, right like you’ve built your own company and you’ve got your own career path and what you want to do, but you’re helping people who didn’t want to start their own business. They wanted to say their program was and they wanted to be successful and they wanted to continue doing what they were doing but do it to make it work with their life and with their families lives. So talk to me about how this even came to be I want to rewind, like all the way before you are a mom before you know you have your kids and talk to me about what your corporate career looked like prior to starting the startup parents.
Sarah: I mean, goodness at this point, I have worked more than 30 different jobs. So whenever somebody asked me about they’re like, What like tell us about your career journey. I’m like, oh, man, do you want like, Do you have a beard? Do you have a coffee? Like let’s sit down? How much do you really want to know? But I’ve been working since I was 14. I worked in retail customer service. I’ve worked in design. I’ve worked as a lifeguard a tutor, a swim coach. I’ve even worked in a psychiatric hospital. But we career like post college really started in architecture and design. And I spent eight years working in environmental design and part of the work of doing design is actually communication. I had this job right at the rise of social media. So Facebook was coming out Twitter was coming out and all of these architecture firms that had been around forever. Were looking around also saying how do we do a Facebook post and what do we do with Twitter and like, Should we be there? That seems like what do we do? And I ended up starting a digital magazine and spearheading a lot of communications and marketing efforts in the design world. And from there I started my first consultancy just as a freelancer, worked freelance taught General Assembly and other places and that’s about the midpoint. I then joined a bunch of startups and I worked in communications at different startups. Then I joined a tech startup, and then a tech startup I got pregnant. And this part of the story I think, is so cool. I talked to the CEO before I even joined and I was okay, I’m 30 like I just got married. I’m thinking about having kids so I really love startups. I want to work here. But I’m also going to have kids like how do we figure this out? And Carrie was so great. He was like, Yeah, let’s figure this out. Like what does it need to look like? We designed a maternity leave and a parental leave together. Like there was also this ethos that I think is missing from the startup world. Which is people who are doing startups are trying to do things that have never done before. And they’re trying to get to the innovative and interesting ways. And having babies is something that we can figure out because if we can’t, we’re living in The Handmaid’s Tale. So, right. We want to figure out like how do we make babies and work and we’ve got this whole new puzzle in front of us. And I want to be around people who like figuring things out and who are interested in the problem of, oh, you know, you only have six hours to do work, how can we still make meaningful work and be successful even though you know you’re going through sleep deprivation or you have a newborn?
Dana: Right? I love that I feel like the fact that that was recognized and that you could even have that conversation comfortably and it’d be so well received like, you don’t hear that story a ton. Obviously you hear it more now because we just don’t accept anything less than that. But I feel like you know, however many years ago like that is something that’s a great thing to hear like I love that it was so well received. So how did you then work for a startup have a baby like make it all work for you and your specific situation?
Sarah: See it at something I think that you’re saying that’s so interesting. There’s so many places that are so forward thinking and open to this. You can walk into some workplaces and there’s tons of moms people take parental leave. It’s not a big deal. That’s the world I want to live in. But you can literally walk across the street and into another office and it’s like you’ve walked into the Mad Men era where they’re like, you’re going to be a stay at home housewife and you should never have a career and you’re like what quarter Did I turn to give me to the world and each industry and each company is so different that you never know whether or not you’re going to be in a really toxic workplace or like it’s also hard to know what other workplaces look like when you’re stuck inside of one. Yep. So for for me, I just it’s it’s astonishing because I’ve conversations now with so many parents, and you look around and you’re like wow, so much of work is still so stuck in old ways and old patterns that aren’t working. And if we figured out how to unlock the talent of women because the majority of women, the vast majority of women who are having kids want to be at work in some way or another 70% of women are working, that doesn’t that’s not a knock at taking time off to have kids or being a stay at home mom. It’s just recognizing that so many people out there want to work. And so how do we make that possible? How did I do it? I mean, gosh, that’s such a hard question because like I fell on my face, I vomited. I did a terrible job. It was so much harder than I expected. I like go ahead and where you’re gonna so I
Dana: appreciate I just want to say I appreciate that like that’s the story I want you to tell because even if you go into it prepared, even if you go into it knowing that you think it’s gonna be like XYZ like so many times it’s not like that. You don’t know until you do it. You just don’t know and so to be prepared for so many different scenarios is just is awesome. And so to hear your story of like, hey, it didn’t go that great like that is very, very helpful. Like I appreciate that. So I don’t want you to feel like oh no, it wasn’t the right way like, but it was your way and it’s the way that so many others that you know it happens for so many others too. So I love it. I love it.
Sarah: I would just say that when I was 2628 There’s so much about feminism and about women working about like you could do anything you can be anything. I think the 90s 80s and 90s kids we really got a lot of your time is now like the world is available to you. You can do whatever you want. You can have it all even like that’s a lot of the story. You can have it all. And I think that I thought I’m really organized. I’m driven I’m a little type a I’m a little neurotic, right like, but I’m really I like going after things like getting things done. I like being successful. I get a lot of my identity out of that. And I saw it as another project that I could conquer master like, take by the reins. I was like Oh, I could totally do this. And it was so humbling. Because in part, it’s nothing like what the cultural stories say. Everyone stories out there like you’re gonna love motherhood. This is going to be great out sleep deprivation but it’s all worth it. Like there’s so many shiny bows on it. And I don’t know how to say this, like, in any other way. But America sucks for parents. Yeah. And to the point where it’s like almost a human rights violation, the way that we treat women and mothers in the United States. And I did not understand that when I was in my 20s I thought that women who had babies just weren’t working hard enough, or they weren’t, like put together enough or they didn’t have the right systems. I really thought of it as a personal failing. And I thought that if I just could, like, work hard enough. I’d be able to do it because I had always been the case before. And then you realize that no, in America at the hospital might charge you $20,000 To have a kid and then you’ll go out and you’ll have 12 weeks of unpaid leave right here. You don’t have a job. You have no income. You’re bleeding you’re recovering from major surgery or a major physical event. And then at the end of this 12 weeks, a lot of employers fire women so they got this brand new baby, they have all these expenses. They have huge hospital bills, there’s no paid leave, there’s no protection for your job for most people. This is a time when you need a lot of support and you’re sleep deprived and then you lose your job and I horrified I was horrified and I’m so angry. And I mean, I don’t have a good answer other than we’re still all in this big fight. But it’s not about parents versus non parents like this is beyond that. This is about like figuring out what kind of society we want to live in. And if we want to support kids in the big in the big, big picture. So I started this company, startup parent. I didn’t know all of this at the time that I started it but what I needed was I needed to talk to other parents and say how on earth are you doing this? How are like are you making it work? What do you wish people had told you? And I started doing those conversations privately just for me. And then I realized that it might be a good podcast, but I had a newborn in my lap. I was in postpartum and I could not take on an unpaid project. So I reached out to a bunch of people to sponsor the show and we ended up getting about $30,000 in sponsorships for the podcast. And I kind of look sideways at my husband and I think of starting something that I’m gonna have to pay some taxes and if the files work, there’s this is not what I was expecting. And that turned into the podcast turned into the leadership mastermind turned into these books and then about a year later I was like, I think that I’m starting this company called Startup parent.
Dana: Wow. So you did all that before you were like okay, so Okay, so talk me through the logistics of it. So you had your first baby, you inadvertently started the startup parent. Did you go back to work like after
Sarah: like two years. Okay, so my so the leave that we had I was this is what I recommend to other people and I’m glad I did so much research but I took three months of time off and then I created a graduated return where I wanted to work 50% Going back four months three through six. So working 50% And then half of my days at home, right? Which was I don’t know if I could have done anything more than that. Because there’s so many logistics of cleaning bottles, washing bottles, thank you for that maybe stat like getting the stuff off your giving yourself dressed becomes Yeah, full on Olympic event. Whereas before you could roll out of bed and just like put your shoes on.
Dana: Yeah, and everybody’s like, Oh, you’re never material you just sleep when the baby sleeps. You get plenty up. No, that’s not no, that’s not how it works. Like you’re not it’s not always an option. But you know, actually now that you mentioned that that’s exactly how So for anybody listening who is going back to work who’s on maternity leave, and if you only get 12 weeks of FMLA. So if you get 12 weeks that you’re not necessarily paid for not covered under that but to protect your job and to be able to go back to work with a large company that 12 weeks of FMLA. So for me like I had those 12 weeks and I had to go back so what I did was I took eight weeks of fully off and then after on the ninth week I went back at 50% so that I could go for 16 weeks of of just working 50% So I sort of do what you did but just smush together but I for anybody listening, that is a potential option for you. I highly, highly, highly recommend it. It was not great. For me. workwise like this is before my first job when I actually did go back to work. It was not great for me workwise like it was very hard to get through emails from afternoon before that I was off and also do the work I needed to do for the day. But personally it was amazing because you got to go back and see people and like be a human again, but also you were able to be home in the majority of the day with your new baby. So sidebar,
Sarah: but I think this is so important. So if anybody listening is like about to have a baby. I just did a whole Instagram live on this and it was like how much leash should I take and a couple of the key points number 112 weeks is totally arbitrary. It’s totally true return and which should be treated as a minimum, not a ceiling. And so a lot of people are like, Oh, 12 weeks, I’ll just take six or I’ll just take eight. And we do this thing where we are trying to optimize and be efficient and be productive because those are skills that we need in the workplace like oh, how can I make this as efficient as possible? And I would really love for people to treat this like when you’re pricing something how much should you charge as much as possible? So what I want you to think about when you’re doing maternity leave is you want to take as much as possible if they’re going to offer you eight weeks, take all of it if they’re gonna offer you 10 weeks take all of it. It’s like a negotiation. If somebody offers you 100k for a job you’re not feeling no I can do 90k Like what you can and don’t feel guilty about it and then try to take more like then negotiate past it and be like okay, great. 12 weeks of paid is what you typically do. I’d like to take 12 weeks of paid plus four weeks of unpaid How does that sound? But take everything you can and then so I wish someone had told me that because it is easier to go back to work. If everything goes fine. It’s easier to go back earlier but it is so hard if you are undergoing major surgery, have something go wrong, have an infant that needs surgery, have a partner that needs help, like you lose your nanny, don’t get a spot in daycare as much as you can get
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Dana: I love that and I think it’s so true because so many people don’t even realize that that is an option and and I will say to like like you were saying earlier you don’t know what it’s like at other companies you don’t know. But you should know if you are somebody that doesn’t have kids yet or you’re planning to have more kids and you’re interviewing for other jobs like you need to be up front if that’s something that you’re looking into and you need to make sure you know exactly what the maternity leave was slash paid. Leave slash FMLA benefits are with that corporation because it’s a huge it can be a huge factor in your decision financially one, but also just for your personal life and how you want to you want to be as you know, the first few months of being a new mom.
Sarah: Totally. I also tell people this I have a lot to say on this topic. So I’m bored if you are somebody that’s in this position. The other thing I would say is, this is the time to project to total confidence, even arrogance. And because if you walk into this negotiation and you’re like well, I think that like I would kind of like to take six weeks now. The thing I need you to do in this scenario is to own it and to be like, well, it’s totally it’s totally normal like tech companies get four months of course they’re going to take four months. Give that like Meryl Streep kind of confidence of like, well, of course I’m going to take 16 weeks that’s the best thing for mom and baby. And if they were like we can’t possibly have you gone for that long, or like, don’t you think you’ll lose your job? This is the other thing that I would never say in any other circumstance. But I did say it once and it worked really well. And I said, Listen, I’m awesome. 100% of me is awesome, but I happen to think that 50% of these pretty great too. So if I’m 50% sleep deprived, you still get 50% of me and you’d rather not. And it’s so arrogant, like it’s not something that women are counseled to do. But like just if you could steal those words for me, take them and you’d be like, listen, a quarter of me is better than none of me. So like you should be lucky enough to have you back.
Dana: Right? No, I love that and I love that you’re putting the priority on what you need in that time because I do think I will say it’s very interesting listening to this because if I had heard this before it had my first shot. I would be like, No way I’m not saying that you’ve washed your, you know, like after having my first kid for saying it for my second. Absolutely. Absolutely. I would have said it, you know?
Sarah: So if you’re listening you think we’re nuts. Just try it right? First.
Dana: Right here. We’re trying just believe us. Humans so test our knowledge really, it’s fine. Oh my gosh, I love it. Well, okay, so let’s rewind a little bit. So talk to me about how you Okay, so you went back to work. 50% So you’re doing your work 50% You’re talking with all these other moms to get their perspective and inadvertedly starting the startup parent. So talk to me about the shift from working for the startup company and then working for startup parent. I know there’s a lot of there’s a lot of a lot happening here.
Sarah: Startup wise, so I know exactly what you’re asking.
Dana: Yeah, walk us through logistically how you did it because that’s so much of that’s such a big hurdle for moms who are trying to start something as an entrepreneur is the logistics of how you’re going to get it done.
Sarah: So I will say that for me, it became really clear right away that I it was an inflection point for me and I wanted to do something else, which was not specifically related to having a kid. And it’s hard to separate those two because the timelines are very similar. But our startup was at an inflection point where we had grown I was the sixth person we are now 30 plus people. I had done a lot of work in the two years that I had been there and they were at a at a turning point where, regardless of whether or not I had a kid, I had to answer the question, Am I the right person? And is this the right company for me for where they’re going next? And I knew in my heart that it was probably time for me to leave. And so I went on maternity leave, and I thought to myself, Okay, we’re gonna see where we are when we get back. And I want to see if the company has made decisions. I want to see what’s been going on. And when I got back, I actually had the benefit of perspective. I said, Oh, this is really interesting. I’m gonna help them now with the transition. Also, alongside that, I have wanted to write books for my entire life. And I had pitched a proposal called Startup pregnant to one of the top literary agencies in New York City in Manhattan. And they were back in there. This is really cool. And so I had this opportunity to start working on a book so I went to the founders and I said, I have this opportunity of something that’s so important to me in my life, and I think I need to go I need to like, it’s time for me to wrap up this chapter. It’s time for me to start working on this book. While working on the book, one of the things they said is go interview people. So it was interviewing them in private and I was taking notes and I was putting it together for the book. The book turned into the podcast, which that’s when I went in and out and out and out and out and out and Dalton Dalton Dalton Dalton Dalton Dalton Dalton Dalton Dalton go out and got sponsorships because I was leaving my job writing a book and Henry Ford and I couldn’t do any more free, unpaid work. So that’s, that’s those are the logistics.
Dana: I love that. I feel like that’s such an interesting path. Right? Usually, what I’ve heard from doing this, doing this podcast and I don’t know 50 ish guests tell their story of how they went from working in the corporate world. Or whatever they did prior to having they’re opening their business. And I feel like a lot of the times you either hear like, Hey, I just I was just struggling like I just went, I was doing full time work at my regular job and girliness on the side until I felt like I could replace my income. Or you have psychopaths like me that are like no, I’m just going to quit and then I’ll be able to work full time and I’ll I’ll be make all the money back it’ll be fine. So I love that you took this path of like sponsorships where and I will say we obviously this is definitely a path that you can take clearly but I’ve heard this most when somebody is building a product right? You go out and get sponsorships to fund the first round of whatever product that they’re launching whatever thing they’ve been spent it so I haven’t heard this on never heard this on the podcast where you gain sponsorships to do something like a podcast or a book that wasn’t like, you know, something that you built or made. Does that make sense?
Sarah: Mm hmm. There’s so many different ways to do it.
Dana: Yeah, so talk to me about that. How did you go about finding sponsorships? How did you pitch them like what was the story behind what you were trying to do?
Sarah: I mean, it was challenging and I didn’t know what I was doing. I will say that like, a lot of times when you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s okay to make it up. I really loved Michelle Obama said something to this effect where she somebody asked her if she was really intimidated by all of the people in the Senate and I’m going to butcher the quote, I don’t know what exactly but in effect, she was like, I don’t know after a while you realize they’re not that smart. And, and it’s the truth is like, the people out there are also making it up. They’re brilliant. You don’t have to call them stupid or dumb. But everyone out there is just making it up. So if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing great, you’re in great company. That’s the rest of us to like most of us don’t know what we’re doing. So, I hope that gives you permission if you’re like, No, go figure it out, you know, but let’s see. How did I make the pitch for the podcast? I had a great pitch. And it was it went something like this. I looked at all the research for what people did for podcast sponsorships, and it was like you get like a cent or 10 cents per million downloads, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, $10 I can’t do this for $10 but kinds of terrible bargain and I’m like, I’ll go do anything else. And it was like, oh, and then I’m gonna be this many downloads to make $1,000 It seems like a terrible deal. And instead, I went to people and I said, I’m charging $400 for a spot on my episode. The reason I’m charging so much is because I am specifically focused on this niche. The niche is entrepreneur women who’ve been in business for 15 years. They are not only the heads of major companies in manager VC VP levels, but they are making huge consumer purchasing decision or customer purchasing decisions, business purchasing decisions in their companies, but they are also about to have babies, and they are often heads of households that are making huge financial decisions for their households. These financial decisions aren’t a one time thing. Often their brand loyalty starts here right at the beginning and they’re gonna choose between Huggies and Pampers. And when they choose between Huggies and Pampers, that’s gonna be a 1015 20 year I mean, not for diapers, but for brands. It’s going to be a long relationship. So there are so many brands hungry to get in front of new moms, and I’m building an audience of that and they are wealthy, intelligent, driven, ambitious people with huge purses because they want to companies and they’re starting babies are starting starting babies starting starting babies, babies. So a pitch from something like that. I haven’t said it in a while, but basically I said I’m going to charge a lot of money because I had this great audience and people were like, Yeah, we get it. That’s really true. And I understood what they were looking for and what they wanted. And so I have a smaller audience in the beginning. Some super powerful moms, so people who listen to my podcast I they have insane businesses, and sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by the people that pitch me because, like, you know, what’s his name? It was called Serena Williams, his husband? Alexis Ohanian. Right. His VC firm pitched me to be on the show. And I was like, Well, I’m just over here in my closet like but there are some super powerful people that are listening and they really love this conversation. And so I had to I had to tap into that swagger. I don’t know. It is not me. I’m this by the way. I don’t like I don’t walk around with a swagger. I’m the biggest nerd I have anxiety. I’m highly neurotic. But sometimes I can pull the swagger out and then I’m just like, whatever. Maybe a lot of money
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Dana: I love that well no, you’re right. Like when you I feel like I feel like though What probably happened is that you got into this situation where you’re like, first off I really believe in this. Like everything. We’re doing everything we’re about to share, I believe in with my whole heart. But second you’re like I know this, like I have just done this. Like the whole point of this is to bigger is to talk to all these people and to give tangible advice for them to do and so between those two things like that you can’t not be competent about that, like you put yourself in a position to own like being confident was the only choice right because you had everything to back it up. And I think that starting a business and starting something where you are asking for money like you can’t lack confidence. You can’t lack that whatever product you’re going to be producing is top notch and is going to be providing some sort of resource for the people that need it. And to prove the fact that those people need it or the wealthy ones. That’s not a bad thing. Like I love that for you.
Sarah: It’s also like confidence, desperation like they can be very close together. You know, you can you can be in there and be like I think and I think having a baby and starting a family or having something that’s really important to you can help clarify this because you realize how much you have to pay to be away from your child. How much does it cost for me to have a quiet house to do a podcast oratory? Like there’s so much that goes into that. And I can’t do this for less than $1,000 per episode. There’s no way right so that’s where I was starting and it just made it so much easier. I wasn’t going to have a conversation about like getting 27 advertisers to pay 10 cents on something something something. Yeah.
Dana: Right. And to track all that it takes just as much time which is not the point at all. Yeah, part of that. Yeah. Yeah. So that that is awesome. So okay, so tell me at this point what happened so you raise the money at this point where you already recorded like, what, how did it work to start the podcast, which was first and then obviously to grow from there. What did you actually do?
Sarah: Something a podcast was was really difficult. There’s so much more that goes into it than I even expected and having to listen to yourself played back over and over again. That is an experience that you grow. I hadn’t realized I said I was so much so so you have to get better at it. And I learned a lot I think I think it was profoundly beneficial for the public speaking that I do, but I launched what did it do and launched in September. I pitched all the sponsors and I close them by June so I had my October by June, we had sponsors and I wanted to release my first episodes in the fall and I released eight episodes and it took me so long to put them together. Even just stitching like the music in the beginning. How are we introducing this? What are we talking about? Where does the advertising go? It just took me the whole summer to put it together. And then we did a weekly show for a year. And in that time I had I got pregnant again a few months later. So then I was going through like morning sickness with a toddler at
Dana: a special kind of company, especially kind of place
Sarah: the podcast grew. And I want to say it grew steadily. It’s at this point we’re four and a half years into it. We’ve reached we’re one of the top 1% of podcasts globally. We’ve had more than a million downloads. All of these are great metrics. But more than 105 star reviews which is so sweet to me, and yet it we’re not like in the top 10 of podcasts we haven’t been listed on any lists anywhere. So it’s one of those places where I feel like there’s so many more people there’s 61 Million Moms in America, so I feel like we barely tapped into them. Yeah, yeah. But also it has. It has completely fueled my business. Like I have so many people who listen and my business has been full since about a year after starting it. So I think it’s I tell people all the time, like you don’t need an email list of 100,000 people you can do a lot with an email list of 1000 people.
Dana: Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. So okay, so talk to me about the email list. So then you have a podcast going to talk to me how you got about how you use the podcast to grow the rest of your branded business.
Sarah: What I wanted to do I heard from so many people that they just wanted to be around other like minded moms and and they said I don’t want to go to mom’s group and then tell them I run my business and then have the conversation fall flat like I need I want to be around other entrepreneurial moms. I want to be around other business moms. And I started I said, and so I told you I was pregnant. And I was like, Well, how do I launch a program in the middle of being pregnant? And I just said, I’m like, Jim, I thought about starting a mastermind. This was March it was due in October and I said how do I start a mastermind program but also have a baby at the same time. So ironic. Said, isn’t this the whole purpose of your business? Like isn’t this the question you’re asking like, how do these two things find time? Yep. And so on my sales page, I was like, I can go back and look at it from 2018. I said, I’m going to launch a mastermind. It’s going to go for nine months. We’re going to start it in July. I’m going to have a baby in the middle of it and I’m going to get guest teachers for three months while I’m on maternity leave. And because I believe so fully in being a working parent and also take leave. We’re going to be experimenting with this and that was the first wise Women’s Council I ever ran. I ran up while I was pregnant and then I gave birth and then I showed it to a couple of calls where I showed them my newborn and I was like y’all I’m not going to be in charge of talking because I can’t talk but I brought this really amazing guest teacher and because they are going to carry the torch for me right now.
Dana: I love that I love that you’re practicing what you preach in a very public way during that mastermind. So often people find that mastermind you found you through the podcasts and marketing back right. Okay, that’s right. So the website Yeah, perfect. And so at this point, you you have the mastermind going you now have two little ones what are those three months look like ugly for your second baby? Did you keep your data first and still go to daycare? Like what did that look like at home and how much work did you actually do during that time?
Sarah: Oh my goodness. So the thing that nobody tells you about having a second kid is there’s still this effing toddler. And I’m not gonna swear but like they like you don’t get to sleep in with the second kid. You’re not lying in bed until nine o’clock because the first one has to go somewhere and they’re noisy and they will still require it is so much more tiring. I would say first baby, I started to feel better around six or seven months and we did sleep training really successfully. Our kids took to it full term fat really fat babies. So like and they came out and the pediatrician gave us the green light. I know that everyone does sleep differently. And my philosophy is like, do what works best for you. And let’s not judge each other. Right? Like you do. You all do me. My sister co sleeps. Another friend lives in a studio like I’m going to support you and whatever decision you make and you do the same for me so we did sleep training, it was great. And three months of sleep deprivation needed about three months of recovery. Second baby, four months of sleep deprivation needed about 18 months of recovery. So that’s the truth. Like it just took a long time. And I did prepare so much more for that postpartum period I cooked and like my freezer was stuck. We ordered so much food. We pushed the easy button as much as we could. We knew that we were going straight to certain bottles. We knew we were going straight to certain diapers, questioning a lot of things. And my husband did the majority of the both the drop off and the pickup for those three months. And I mean, did I work? No. What I focused on was moms group I focused on like, my first pregnancy. I it was just such a blur and then you realize like oh I want to meet other moms and then you’re back at work and yeah, get to the mom groups. So the second one but with a four week goal. I was out like going to the local yoga studio because I just wanted to meet more parents and then I started hosting monster in my house and so we had like 10 babies and 10 moms and we all would eat food together in my house because I was I’m gonna maximize this is the type a overachievers are gonna maximize friendship building
Dana: and my oh my gosh, are you are you in Enneagram? Three, because any of them?
Sarah: You know, I’ve been told that by many people. Yes. But yeah, it would probably be my Yeah.
Dana: Like whether the first two minutes of this recording. I was like, Oh, she’s three for sure. But no, yeah, you’re just you’re an achiever, and that’s what you do. So you do we’re doing moms groups like totally separate from your business. Like you were just hosting moms in your house like regardless of
Sarah: Well, I went to a four week program and then I said, Let’s keep doing it. So I signed up for somebody else’s program and then I was like, I like you all come over to my house.
Dana: I love it. Okay, cool. So you’re really not involved with the podcast or with the mastermind at all during the time. You’re really only
Sarah: I tried. I mean, I there’s a lot of lessons learned. But it wasn’t perfect. Like I tried to keep I tried to do double the podcast so that I could have episodes while I was leaving. And then I realized that trying to do twice as much work to prepare for lead is not actually a good strategy. What we should do is just stop and then start again. But instead there’s this kind of belief. Oh my gosh, if I just do double the work, then I can take a break. We do this with vacation. Even when we don’t have kids. I just don’t work harder than take vacation. And I’m like really we just need to let it go. I’m telling myself, you but also me like Sarah Peck, let it go. So I learned because I couldn’t. I just didn’t have I was so tired and so anxious during my third trimester. So I just took a break from the podcast, and I told people, it’s okay, I’m having a baby. I’m not gonna double my work. I tried it didn’t work. So I took a break. I had guest teachers for the pod for the y’s Women’s Council and then in US born in October and the next wise Women’s Council opened for sale in January. So end of December. I started like posting about it again. And the sales cycle ended in February and then I started a whole new program in March. So it wasn’t it was pretty busy.
Dana: I love that. Yeah, no, that’s that’s great. And so how humans off because as an entrepreneur, everybody’s like, Oh, you just prep and when you can, you can take some time. You can work while the baby sleeps. It’s just not a thing. Like it’s just way hard. Yeah, you don’t. You shouldn’t have to like, your baby doesn’t need to stress like you need to be able to focus on whatever issues they got going on because they’re either not eating right or they’re not sleeping right. And after being right. There’s something you got to figure out so. So how would you encourage entrepreneurs who are taking a break from their business to be able to have a baby which they should be able to do? How would you encourage them to actually do that? Like what would you say to convince them especially if it’s their first baby and they don’t know any better yet? Like, how would you convince them like, just take the time? Like, what would you say to them to make it like from your experience what because you did take that time did your business suffer? Like what happened in your experience that could prove to them that they can take a break and it’ll be fine.
Sarah: That’s a hard one and accept and and important questions. So I think I think the more we can get away from binary thinking, like I’m going to work 100% I’m going to work 0% Yeah, I know that there’s like a huge gradation in there. And, and to say, like, it’s okay to work like 20% You know, just figure out what the most important thing is, and make sure it’s something that is easy for you to do. That would be the advice that I would give people as like try to reduce your workload as much as possible, and try to if you do have to work, try to make things that you can do in your sleep. Because when I’m not sleep deprived, I cannot think so asking me to do long form podcast interviews, I cannot hold it together. Like I just start losing. I start slurring my words together at the end of 60 minutes and I get so tired and so hungry. I can like do an Instagram post. So even though that does take a lot of work, that isn’t as difficult. So one of the exercises that I take people through is the delegate delete, automate defer decide structure where you go, you look at all of your work and you say, Okay, what has to be done by me? What has to be done right now? What can be done by somebody else? What can I take off my plate entirely? And what can I automate? And the goal is to take that 100% workload and reduce it as much as possible while also focusing on things that don’t make you money. Other Half of this is reducing your expenses. So maybe people are really stressed about money and they’re like, oh my gosh, I can’t take leave because I have to make this much money. Do a little bit of self examination and say do I have to make this much money of this year? And again, it’s not all or nothing. So if you’re making six figures 100k And that’s what you’re used to making, like can you survive on 75? Right, and if so, what kind of freedom does that give you? Because part of the path of entrepreneurship is freedom of many types of time, freedom, scheduling, freedom, all of this different things, the ability to do what you want with your family, the ability to take time off, so make sure you exercise those options too.
Dana: Yeah, I think that’s so important because because you’re right like and and it’s hard because you don’t that freedom that you’re talking about the freedom that you’re looking for, like you don’t want to use it all quote unquote, like whatever freedom you have to be able to have your child like you want to also be able to enjoy the rest of that year. Because if you’re using your your financial freedom that you’ve built in or the time freedom that you have, or that you created to use it all up front, when you have your baby when the baby is actually born, like what does the rest of your year look like? You know, people always talk about when they’re in their corporate jobs, like oh, I used all of my vacation on like, how does that help the rest of your year? Like how does that help the rest of your life? So it’s really important to be able to balance that out over a period of time because when you’re a new mom, you’re like, Oh, well, obviously those six weeks to recover, and then I’ll be okay if you’ve never had a baby before. But you have to remember like, then that maybe it’s a good daycare, that baby is upset, that baby has to stay out of daycare and you have to be out of work. So it’s really important to be able to balance all those things. together when you’re making a decision like that to figure out like okay, what do you what can you really live on? And what can you live on days wise of really not being able to focus on your business. So I think that’s really, really awesome advice. Because without kind of planning all this out, it’s very, very difficult to be able to take any time off at least to be able to think
That’s 100%. Like, I keep saying 100%. And really what I mean, it’s like toggle it down to 90% or 80%. Do like, just approach it, like, editable like you can. How can I take a little bit of this? How can I take a little bit more off? I think the other thing I would say, the way that I explained what you’re talking about is a lot of people say it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and I laughed so hard because a marathon is still done in five hours. Yeah, I have a time limit cut up at six hours and it’s done in a day. Parenting is neither a sprint nor America parenting is preparing yourself to walk across the United States. And then when you get to the east coast to turn around and walk back again, like you were gonna be walking for the rest of your life. And when you take it with that framework, you need to set a pace that is sustainable when you’re in Kentucky and when you’re in Pennsylvania. So, like it’s not can I run 10 miles today, or can I run 26 miles today? It’s Can I run this today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day? So when you think of it that way? It’s like, oh, you know what, I could probably walk four miles a day for the rest of my life. Great. That’s your pace. And when you find your pace, then you can start to set expectations accordingly. And if you’re gonna go into parenting, you have no idea who you’re going to be on the other side. That’s okay. I think I would start there. And let’s say you’re a service provider and you have clients and you’ve got big projects due on the other side of this and you haven’t told them that you’re going to have a baby. I know a lot of people in this situation right especially in the Zoom pandemic world. You go to them when you do and say, Hey, I’m expecting new baby. What that means is my timelines are going to change. We’re probably going to have to update you on what this looks like. You can expect an estimate from me after I have a baby and return to work, but the timelines are going to change. Right? You tell them they’re going to change and also be honest that you don’t know what they’re going to be yet. But you do have to adjust work, adjust your work expectations, and you’re preparing ahead for that when people appreciate that communication. And then go back to the client and say, Hey, all these projects are going to take me you know, we’re gonna we can do half as much they’re going to take me a little bit longer, I can still hit that deadline. But you need to, I think respect the fact that it’s okay that your timelines change. You are no longer going on. five K’s you are preparing to walk across the United States, right, or Europe, or Africa or whatever country you choose. You’re walking across a thing.
Dana: Yes. Yeah. And it’s it’s so true and to be able to say that so if you haven’t had a baby and you’re listening to this, like that is the best time to say that you can always readjust later to the clients favor right? You can always like realize, okay, maybe I can do this but like to actually set up just the fact that the expects expectations are going to change. At some point like that is going to help so much on the back end, because you prepare them they can know what to expect they know they can expect to change. So how did you actually manage your time when you were building the startup and now you have two small kids like what did your day to day look like and what would you recommend in terms of like, time blocking or you know, work with a baby now? So like, how did you leged manage the logistics of having to small humans and continue on with your business?
Childcare? Well, so we put them a daycare right away. I did an interview and look for nannies we have a whole episode about like how to interview find and hire a nanny. We have like an entire episode I interview that HR professional about how to do it and then she created a worksheet. Love it. But we went to daycare that we really, really enjoyed that. Take kids as young as three months old. Most daycares in the United States, by the way, don’t take kids under 12 weeks old. So anybody that takes six weeks late, you still need to figure out what’s wrong with that child. Right if you’re quote unquote going back to work. Sadly, you can’t just leave them at home for eight hours. Like you that’s not smart protocol. You have to you have to figure out what to do with them. So So what did I do? We have about 45 hours a week of daycare, and that’s nine to five it’s 830 to 530 every day. Remember that it takes there’s you’re now doubling your commute if you’re taking your kids somewhere and then going somewhere and then picking them up and coming home. So we have been power on both sides where we are picking up children and now my children go to two different places. One kindergarten one still a daycare, right? So just the commutes are always real. And then inside of those remaining 36 hours, there everything has to happen. So no therapy is now inside of this my like exercises now inside of this. So I have about 25 hours of good work time in any given week. And that’s my best week. It that doesn’t include me getting sick. That doesn’t include my kids getting sick that doesn’t include my dentist appointments. It doesn’t include like, what just happened? Like, I have to go to the post office, right? There’s a leak in my ceiling, whatever else has to happen. Like some of those happen on Saturday and Sunday, but really, I’ve 25 hours in my best week and I wrote this book. It’s called do half don’t run the website. Startup parent.com/half is the link. And it’s all about how to cut your workload in half because it came from that when I finally sat down and I wrote like, why can’t I get anything done? And I realized I was trying to do 63 hours of work and I only have 25 hours a week. And I was like there’s the problem. It’s just terrible now. And then you know how many hours How many weeks a year do you work? Well, people assume 52 But that’s not really true. It’s actually closer to 40 weeks. I go through all the math in the book. It’s fun. It’s really fun math. I love math. And it’s it’s simple, but it’s kind of people have said oh my god, this book. I finally got it like it finally clicked into place. Same for me. I only have 1000 work hours a year. That’s it. Yeah. And most people plan on the 2000 hours. So I literally have half as much so how do you figure that out when time becomes more precious, you only have 1000 hours. I’m like, Well, this is how much money I’ve ever made to be making per hour. This is how much money I better be making per week if I want to hit my targets. So it’s really helpful to finally figure that out. And then we have a babysitter that comes now. I mean, we spent two years of the pandemic with just like I don’t even want to talk about a pandemic will probably cry. Because it was so so hard. But now we have a babysitter that comes one evening from six to eight and then one every other weekend for three hours so we get like a little time. Usually we just go down the coffee shop when we like read books or we play a game or we catch up on emails like my husband and I so I’m talking about Yeah, it’s nothing exciting, but we just got like one chance the other day we we went to the sauna, and we just sat in a sauna.
Dana: we were just at my husband I were just talking about that we’re like when we get back because it’s so Turkey. There are days where my kids go to an international school but they follow Turkish holidays and so there are going to be days where he’s off because the embassy follows us holidays. But they they’re in school and he’s like I will not like we’re going to find a target bath house like it’s going to be awesome. Like I cannot wait for those those golden days. So I I love those schedule. I love your advice of scheduling in time that you can take for just yourself or just for you like I’m sure some of those days you could just like you said go and read a book or you do something that is enjoyable for you.
We do something similar so my husband is also an entrepreneur and a CEO and I’m an entrepreneur and a CEO. And so we are making everything up but we make all the policies. And we agreed that we are going to take every federal holiday and not work because the daycares closed and we didn’t want to pretend to the people that we’re hiring like that we could still get work done. No rice is closed. No work. And then we started last summer doing summer Fridays so that he closed his office every Friday. And it was phenomenal because I realized that it was the first time in almost five years that I had a weekend day with my husband. And we hadn’t had it for five years because on the weekends your kids are around and that’s not a weekend. That’s a second job, right? It became this day where as you’re here and I’m here and there’s no children, and there’s no work and you’re here and I’m here and like what should we do? Should we go? Should we binge watch television? Should we get as far away from each other as possible? Like what could we do?
Dana: I love that. No, that’s amazing. And it’s and it’s so true. Like to have those those random days where you get to have that and I’ve heard of summer Fridays are happening more and more like in the corporate world and I love that that’s becoming a thing because the other thing is like if you’re trying to do something even if you did pull, pull the kids out for a Friday like you can go and do something like the zoo that so much more crowded on the weekend. That’s just miserable to be there. If you could do that on a Friday, you can do that on the weekend. We were during the pandemic, especially my husband was gone. And so it was just me and the kids and we I worked on Saturdays and Sundays and those were the days that we stayed in and the babysitter come some of those and the we mainly just like it was like chill days at the house like we treated it like a weekday because then we could take the weekday days to go and go to the zoo when nobody was there. Go to the aquarium. Nobody’s there. Nobody’s coughing all over us. Like it was great because we got you know, you got to experience these. So if there’s anybody out there that is starting a business that can build your own flexibility, like highly recommend a weekday that you can sneak in fun activities with either just you or with your kids because there’s so much space for flexibility there and just freedom of no crowds. I love it. Okay, so Sarah, tell me about where we can find you tell me all the places online for your website or social media, like all the things
people can where they can find me and follow me the Wisemans council so start a parent.com/wwdc The podcast is startup parent and it’s everywhere. And then our newsletter started parent.com/newsletter If you want that book I mentioned in this episode, it started parent.com/half You can get it for free if you sign up on our newsletter. And then Sarah Kay Pepto calm is my personal website. I have an email list for both although, since the pandemic started I really had to start my own personal newsletter because it turns out kind of hard to do extra work when you have your kids at home all the time. And you’re crying and eating chips and candy. Well, I have to make it through. But I am on Twitter as startup underscore parent. I’m on Instagram a startup underscore parent and my social media team just pushed me to get on Tik Tok. So I’m gonna talk a start up parent. And actually I’ve just started having these viral videos go around. I have I have my first 400 followers brand new this but I just had a couple of videos like go viral and I’m like, oh god, what’s happening over here? Like I don’t know even know if I want to be on Tik Tok, but I’m over there.
Dana: Well, that’s where I’m going as soon as we hang up this call to check that out. But Sarah, thank you so much for doing this. I feel like there’s so much advice in here for any mom under the sun, whether you’re working a corporate job or building your own business or thinking about starting your own business. So thank you so so much, and I can’t wait for everybody to be here.
Oh, thanks for having me. This is so fun.
Dana: I am so honored. You spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos and any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you heard any more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidstthechaospodcast.com For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired to me and my family if you take the time to Thanks for joining me