SheSpeaks recently had the opportunity to interview successful working mom, Marisa Thalberg. On top of holding the position of Vice President of Global Online Marketing for Estee Lauder Companies and being a mother of two, Marisa Thalberg is the founder of a unique website dedicated to working moms, ExecutiveMoms.com. During the interview, Marisa Thalberg offered advice to working moms and let us in on how ExecutiveMoms.com provides a fabulous service to working moms.
Q. What made you want to start ExecutiveMoms.com?
A. Executive Moms was born out of a personal need, which arose soon after I became a mother for the first time. I knew I was going to be returning to work, but during my maternity leave I attended a couple of "Mommy and Me" groups and was stunned to find so few women who said they were doing the same. I had such a need then to surround myself with other women like me to whom I could relate, and from whom I could learn and be inspired. As I returned to work I looked around for an organization or group that could provide this sense of connection to other "fabulous" working moms. Women I would want to be around no matter what. When it became evident that, even in New York, this bastion of work life, no such thing existed... I decided to give birth again: to Executive Moms.
Q. Could you tell us a little bit about how and why the Executive Moms community works?
A. Executive Moms works because it is predicated around a very simple but powerful insight: that there are a ton of women who are accomplished, confident and in fact generally satisfied with their lives both as professionals and mothers-- but can simply feel that much more equipped to thrive if given a sense of connection to other women like themselves, along with some smart, helpful thoughts or resources that really resonate to all her points of interest as a multifaceted woman. That insight drives everything we do. Executive Moms also has an interesting dichotomy of being both exclusive and inclusive at the same time; it thus somehow self-selects a very special group of women who everyday debunk all the negative mythology that so wrongly exists about working moms. It is indeed an amazing community.
Q. Were there any obstacles you had to overcome before launching Executive Moms in 2002?
A. My own fear over determining to address my working mother questions by essentially giving myself a second career! I have in fact remained a true executive mom myself; having continued with a VERY full-time corporate career throughout managing Executive Moms on the side. Oh, and BEING a mother. I now have two amazing daughters. So there continues to be ongoing fear or self-recrimination about not doing more-- but I also recognize how much has been accomplished since I started this.
Q. Any advice for new mothers attempting to juggle a career and children? How have you made it work?
A. I have really come to believe that we all have to come up with our own, personal mix (I prefer this to "balance") that is a series of
prioritizations and compromises that work for YOU and your family alone. There is no one formula, and even your own mix has to be highly mutable. One of the things we learned from our audience early on is how much women like us want and need "flexibility" -- but when pressed on what that ideally means, it was less about getting a part-time schedule than just knowing you have the ability to scoot out from work for a pediatrician appointment or school play when needed without worrying about repercussions. This to me really speaks to how we strive to make it all work. Another insight: a vast majority of the women in our audience said they identify with the adage, "if you want something done, give it to a busy person." I think in terms of the juggle, it helps if you too identify with this adage, and might even thrive on keeping a bunch of balls in the air at the same time. Lastly, my real advice on this (though at times easier said than done) is to recognize that as a mother with a career, you are in fact setting a wonderful role model or your children, that you are in fact the norm across cultures and civilizations. It’s just important to make the time with your family count, and then to judge yourself simply by looking at your generally terrific, adaptive children in order to realize you are doing a pretty good job at this. Then banish any lingering guilt. P.S. Remember that Chinese takeout covers every major food group quite well.
Q. Do you feel the recession has had an effect on your community of Executive Moms? Any trends that you have noticed overall?
A. I will be better able to answer that after our big spring event in New York City on April 21st where we are tackling some of the biggest issues of working motherhood, refiltered through the lens of 2009, aided by a stellar panel of experts and moderated by "Nightline’s" Cynthia McFadden. (All working moms are invited to this, incidentally; simply visit www.executivemoms.com and secure your reservation in advance). However, thus far, I see women networking with each other a little more... and also being even more supportive and empathic. It’s an extremely challenging and stressful time for all of us, clearly.
Q. Can you share any thoughts on what is in store for the future of ExecutiveMoms.com?
I hope what is in store is that Executive Moms will continue to gain awareness and thereby grow our audience, and specifically our online
Community, as it remains a very unique resource for an audience of women who are as influential and significant as they have been surprisingly underserved.
Does www.ExecutiveMoms.com sound like a website you might like to check out?
Do you have any secrets to share about juggling career and children successfully?