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Kindness Deserves a Seat at the Table, Whether in the Kitchen or the Boardroom

Inspired by the Harvard Business Review article, “Don’t Underestimate the Power of Kindness at Work”.

One of the unspoken challenges of working from home, working remotely, or working largely in isolation is the lack of authentic opportunities for social interactions with colleagues, management, and our professional tribe.  Many of us are seeing the lines of our home life and work life blur for the first time due to the pandemic, juggling the demands of childcare and Zoom meetings, and our working hours stretching late into the evening.  Our carefully established boundaries, routines and life as normal have been uprooted and our aptitude for kindness is essentially non-existent, all while our appetite for human connection becomes nearly insatiable.  We turn to social media to replace our face-to-face connections, which only furthers our inner turmoil and loneliness in a culture that seems to value division over unity with Keyboard Karen’s lurking in the shadows ready to add their vindictive two-cents to any, and every, post.  Is it any wonder that we have lost touch with one of the greatest attributes we can embody and the windfall of benefits therein?  It’s time to adapt to our new normal and to begin sprinkling kindness like confetti once again.


The Windfall of Benefits

With opportunities for ‘praise in passing’ limited by the pandemic, it is important to recognize the tangible benefits of kindness in the workplace.  A yearlong compilation of surveys conducted by Gallup found that recognition at work could help to, “reduce employee burnout and absenteeism, and improves employee well-being.”  Decades of research show that seemingly simplistic gestures like offering a compliment, words of recognition, and praise can help individuals to feel, “more fulfilled, boost their self-esteem, improve their self-evaluations, and trigger positive emotions.”  The affirmation offered by praise confirms our self-worth and contributes to our positive view of ourselves.

Next, the act of being kind contributes to our perceived sense of life’s meaningfulness.  When we are kind to others, it confirms our belief that there is more to life than ourselves.  These acts of kindness also change the way we see ourselves, as our reputation and esteem in the mind of others is improved.  We assess ourselves based on our behavior, so when we are kind to others we view ourselves as kind people, and therefore a good person.

Finally, giving to others makes us even happier than receiving from others.  In various studies, participants who complimented one another found that giving the compliment made them even happier than receiving one.  Compliments may seem trite, but the psychological steps taken to construe and offer a compliment are much deeper.  When we give a genuine compliment it requires us to,  “think about someone else—their mental state, behavior, personality, thoughts, and feelings.”  Thinking about others is a necessary step in feeling connected to them.  And this human connection, that we’ve all been desperately seeking throughout the pandemic, can lead to enhanced positivity in relationships ultimately driving our own happiness forward.

Bringing Kindness Back to the Workplace (Even If It’s Remote)

In order to create a culture of generosity and kindness within an organization, it is imperative that leadership leads by example. “By giving compliments and praising their employees, leaders are likely to motivate team members to copy their behavior and create norms of kindness in teams.”

Next, leaders can establish a time during Zoom meetings for a “kindness round”, close a call with an opportunity for employees to acknowledge each other’s work, or encourage a weekly “bright spot” submission in the weekly meeting notes.  Just a few moments taken out of the norm can have significant impacts on moral and social connection.  The key is consistency and an opportunity for peers to recognize one another publicly.

Finally, small spot bonuses, or tokens of appreciation, even if it’s ‘just’ a gift card for coffee or a thoughtful e-mail, can trigger the same psychological benefits of large acts of kindness without significant expense.


While we are busy switching loads of laundry, and prepping dinner between e-mails and Zoom calls, it can be easy to dismiss acts of kindness as frivolous.  But, if we can pencil in one small gesture of kindness a week, or a day for our colleagues, management and professional tribe, the overwhelming minutia of survival mode can begin to look a bit more like thriving for ourselves and others.  Our children are our best examples of unencumbered kindness, offering a hand picked dandelion, a smile to a stranger, or the last bite of their prized dessert.  Let’s become a bit more childlike and a lot less jaded; the world needs more kindness than Karen’s.

Career Children Family Household Life Hack Spotlight: Jennifer Becker Work at Home Work-Life Balance

Working From Home: 10 Tips For Success

When I started my business 7 years ago, I had no idea that it would grow to the size it is today, allowing me to walk away from a corporate career I spent 15 years building! When I tell people I work from home and replaced my corporate salary within 2 years, I usually get one of two responses – “I don’t know how you get anything done,” or “I wish could do that.”

I feel that many of my friends who are also moms like me think the flexibility of working from home sounds amazing, but they aren’t sure they have what it takes to be productive. I’ll admit that you can become easily distracted, but here are 10 tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. Establish a Schedule

I know for many moms this can seem difficult (especially if you have young children), but it’s a critical element to successfully working from home.

If you do not have a schedule and do not set your intentions for the day, you will waste more time trying to figure out what work to do versus actually getting work done. It doesn’t have to be an hour by hour schedule, but something that becomes routine.

For example, I like to use Mondays and Wednesdays as my office days to make calls, send follow-up emails, write my social media posts for the week, and set appointments with current and potential clients – anything office related. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I usually schedule an hour of office/desk time but spend the majority of those days on appointments and networking with others. I like Fridays to be my day to tie up loose ends and tackle any of the tasks that I may have pushed off. I have a daily list – I know I have had a productive day when I see all the things crossed off of my list. Even if you only work 2 or 3 hours per day on whatever it is you do from home, it is important to have that time blocked off and know what you intend to accomplish during those hours.

You can accomplish a lot in 1 hour if it’s a focused, distraction-free hour; if you try to squeeze in 5-10 minutes here and there, you’ll likely find yourself stuck in the same spot for weeks.

2. Establish Boundaries

I truly believe this is where most moms struggle. I have a designated work-space in my home. When I am in my work-space during my work hours, I do not spend any of that time answering personal emails or personal calls (unless it’s my kids’ school or my husband, which are really the only exceptions). When I started working 100% from home, my kids were 4 and 6, so we had a conversation in terms they understood; if Mommy is at her desk on the phone, it is not the time to interrupt. I was realistic when planning my work schedule, so if my kids were home (day off of school or in the summer), I typically didn’t spend more than an hour at a time at my desk. Instead, I would break up my work day explaining “it’s Mommy’s hour to work”, I would give them 2-3 choices of things they can pick to do during that hour. You may or may not agree with this method, but I believe children need to learn to entertain themselves for short periods of time, it helps them practice self-discipline. I have even caught them playing “office,” mimicking me making my calls, etc. On the flip-side, my kids knew they would have my full attention during play-time.

Now we’ve entered the preteen years as they are almost 10 and 12 so they can most definitely manage themselves while I work. 

By setting the boundaries and schedule, you won’t have to worry about the guilt of empty promises of “just give me 10 more minutes and we’ll play then…” Your family will appreciate the boundaries. They will learn to recognize when Mom is working and when she is available, rather than constantly interrupting because they’re competing for your attention.

3. Know When You Need Childcare

Sure, I started my own business to have more time with my children, but there are times when you may have to put in more hours or attend a meeting and it simply wouldn’t be appropriate to bring your children along. If your children are not yet in school and you work from home, find a reliable form of childcare for the times it is needed, even if it means swapping playdates with a friend.

4. Get Out of Your House

This might be difficult for moms with small children, which is why I mentioned #3. I understand that one of the main reasons we choose to work from home is because we want more time with our children. But working from home can be a bit lonely. While a lot of connecting begins through social media, real relationships are still developed in person. Make attending local networking groups, trainings or events a part of your regular schedule. That’s where you can meet potential clients, colleagues and mentors to support you on your journey. I recently attended a LinkedIn class and not only did I meet great people, but I also chose an activity that would benefit me professionally.

5. Evaluate Your Activities and Priorities

I was a busy corporate mom before I started my own business and either way, when you add a new responsibility, you have to let go of something. No one is going to do this for you. You have to be the one to evaluate your current activities and obligations and decide where your time is best spent. I started by clearing out my DVR; I still like to binge-watch a Netflix series every now and again, but TV can be one of the biggest time wasters.

Be clear about your priorities/life goals and focus on them. Cut down on activities and obligations that do not serve your priorities/goals. (i.e. TV watching, magazine reading, social activities, mindless social media scrolling, etc.) Make every moment of your life count. Learn how to say no without guilt. I really wanted to serve on my daughter’s school parent teacher committee this past year but when I looked at the time and commitment, I realized between running a business and have two kids in sports, I would likely spread myself too thin. I still contribute, just not by serving as a committee member.

6. Hold Family Meetings

Make sure your spouse/support person understands your business, your goals and your priorities. My husband travels 50-70% of the time for work but he still likes to understand what I am working towards with regard not only to my schedule, but how our children will be cared for on busier days. We also involve our children at times. When I first started my business, our daughters understood that Mom had to work really hard and a lot of hours so she could quit her job and be the one to take them to and from school. My husband and I explained that we needed their help, which included doing their chores without complaining, getting ready on time in the morning and understanding that Mom would have to work late sometimes during what looked to be a very busy upcoming year. Let’s just say incentives work wonders, from younger children to teenagers! To increase their willingness to be helpful, we promised them Disneyland passes if they followed through. 

7. Get Your Rest

Remember when you had your first child and everyone said “Nap when the baby naps.” I hated hearing that! I used to think “but what about the laundry? I need a shower.” I soon realized an overly tired Mommy wasn’t good for my husband or the baby, so I napped. I am not saying to take naps, but if you are up working until midnight or 1:00 am to work on your business while the kids are sleeping – stop! Lack of sleep will catch up with you and won’t be good for anyone. Go back and read #2. It is possible to work while your kids are awake. Even powerhouse mompreneurs need their beauty rest!

8. Get and Keep Your Home Organized

An organized home will demand less time for upkeep, while a cluttered home will require constant work and suck your energy. Don’t even think of starting to work from home until your house has been decluttered and organized and your household maintenance systems are in place. I hired a professional organizer for “problem areas” of our home, she created an easy system to maintain. Set up daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and yearly routines for house cleaning. For example, I throw in a load of laundry every morning, it goes in the dryer when kids come home from school and is folded and put away before dinner. I wipe down the bathrooms Monday morning and wash all the bedding on Thursdays; it doesn’t matter what you do or when, but create your system and stick to it.

9. Dress for Success

I know your PJs are comfy and one of the perks working from home should be that you don’t have to get dressed up BUT, you still have to get dressed, even to work from home. I’m not sitting here in my power suit and heels, but you do need to get out of your PJs and slippers. I wear something comfortable and casual that I can wear outside the house, invest in some cute joggers and tops. I even put on my basic makeup. My rule of thumb is – be presentable enough to meet a potential client. If you’re physically ready for anything, your mind will be as well. Believe it or not, this will make you more productive.

10. Let Go

Let go of the idea that you can do it all. Maybe this should have been #1. You can’t clean the house, do all the laundry, run the errands, pay attention to your husband, answer 100 emails per week, plan and prepare dinner every night, print pictures to mail to grandma, volunteer at school, bake cookies for the church bake sale and grow your business…all by yourself. Get over being perfect. If you have the luxury of doing so – hire someone to clean the house. It’s okay if you have to buy the cookies. Ask your spouse to help out a little bit around the house. Be “OK” with the fact you can’t do it all – remember why you started – to have more time with your family; they won’t mind if the cookies are store-bought. When you are 86, what will you look back and treasure the most? You’ll either look back and love the time you had with your family or wish you had made more time for family. Live in the moment so you can look back and actually remember these moments.

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With Spring Showers Comes the ‘She-Cession’: Keeping the Plates of Working Motherhood Spinning in the Midst of a Pandemic

Inspired by Maria Shriver’s investigative report for 3rd Hour Today, The State of Women: She-Cession.

The month of March typically fills our calendars with the return of spring weather, spring-cleaning, spring training and spring break, but this year, March also marks one year since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic.  While we typically welcome the renewal and recharging that comes with spring, this year, many of us are instead reflecting on the insurmountable challenges and changes presented by the last year, and by the pandemic.  One of these challenges and changes has even coined a new name –the ‘She-cession’—plaguing American women, mothers, and caregivers and costing the United States an estimated “64.5 billion a year in lost wages and related economic activity” according to the Center for American Progress (CAP).  As we prepare spring break plans, however different they may look, we continue spinning our countless caregiving and career plates but to what end?  The pandemic’s effects are taking both economic and personal tolls, and they are hitting women the hardest.

In a recent report conducted by the CAP, findings show that women have lost a net of 5.4 million jobs as a result of the pandemic-induced recession, nearly 1 million more jobs than their male counterparts, and Black and Latina women have experienced a 50% higher unemployment rate than the national average according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  While women are experiencing the benefits of workforce trends that have emerged in the last year like working remotely, they continue to shoulder the majority of domestic duties.  In fact, working moms are 1.5 times more likely to report an additional 3 hours a day on domestic ‘chores’ like supervising their children’s remote learning –practically another part-time job, and an unpaid one at that. As a result, the most recent Women in the Workplace report found that for the first time, 1 in 4 women are considering stepping out of the workforce or downshifting their careers.  The outcomes of the ‘She-cession’ are nothing short of disastrous—jeopardizing huge strides made toward gender equity in the workplace, lifelong effects on skills and earnings potential, and a significant impact on women’s mental and emotional health.

So what do we do? How do we solve problems as great as women living in their cars to afford care for their aging parents after losing their job? How do we pay the estimated $1 trillion bill of unpaid labor performed by women in the home? Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani is proposing a “Marshall Plan for Moms” that would ask Congress and the White House to support working mothers by implementing multiple policies that would address problematic parental leave plans, stabilize the child care industry and pay $2400 monthly to mothers to for their unpaid labor.  Issues like these, according to Saujani, who has garnered the attention and support of many working moms including celebrities, are forcing the hand of working women and mothers, “We aren’t choosing to leave the workforce, we’re being pushed out”.  There is hope.  The Biden administration is already reviewing the “Marshall Plan for Moms” and has already backed several of its initiatives such as family leave and subsidized childcare.

As working mothers, we embody empathy, compassion, interpersonal skills and the ingenuity required to care for, teach, and respond to the ever-growing needs of our children and our families.  Let’s come together and take action to utilize these talents and advocate for ourselves, our families, our world and our place in the workforce.

Find valuable resources, support, and action steps toward advocacy at the California Work and Family Coalition.

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Success Can Look Like a Number, Especially if it’s 6-Figures

As a community of women who have come together with the same common goal of enhancing our lives, we each have our own individual WHY that keeps us progressing forward toward that goal.  And, while we each have our own perspective of success that we aspire to achieve, we all agree that attaining six figures as mothers is nothing short of life changing.  As we come together to empower one another with real stories, real inspiration, and real resources, we find ourselves asking, how many women in the US have actually reached the ‘big exhale’ on the other side of earning six-figures? And, perhaps more importantly, how can we help more women experience that same success, stability, and sense of peace that comes with the ‘6-Figure Safety Net’ for themselves?

In a recent study conducted by SmartAsset, experienced financial writer and CEPF®

Ben Geier states, “Fewer than one in every eight female workers in the U.S. are six-figure earners”.  This means that throughout “the largest 100 U.S. cities, the average percentage of female workers who earn at least $100,000 is less than 12%”.  When considering the data, initially it may seem as though, as women, we’re making significant headway in achieving financial security and success, but with a closer look, it becomes obvious that we still have a long way to go in shattering those ever-elusive glass ceilings.  According to Kristin Myers, reporter for Yahoo Finance, in IRS reported figures for the tax year 2016, “of the 9% [of the population] earning at least $100,000 or more, more than twice as many men earn a six-figure salary than women”.

That should not sit well with us, particularly when we consider that leading non-profit organizations like Heifer International, know and practice what we already know intuitively as successful women and mothers: “when women have control over their assets and incomes, they reinvest in their families”.  That is wildly powerful.  The ‘6-Figure Safety Net’ is more than a number, and it is more than a goal we set for ourselves; achieving six-figures means modeling for our community and our children that financial security is a pathway to ending significant global issues like hunger and poverty.  And when empowered women, particularly mothers, have both financial and social capital, “Everyone eats more nutritious food. Kids go to school. Families get better access to health care” and, as further affirmed by UN Women, they begin to have “control over their own time, lives, and bodies; and increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels from the household to international institutions”

We have work to do: for ourselves, for women, for our children and for our communities.  Attaining a higher salary provides us with financial independence in the short term, but also allows us to pursue long-term financial goals and to make significant strides forward for humanity and equity.  On the heels of a particularly devastating year, it is more important than ever that we enable and empower women to chase after, and to achieve a six-figure salary.  Over “thirty-one percent of both millennials and Gen X-ers [don’t] believe they [will] ever achieve a six-figure salary”.  Let’s change that narrative starting within our own homes.

 

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The simple act of edification.

Have you ever heard someone speak so highly of someone else and thought “oh my gosh, I would love to meet that person!” Well, that simple act is called edification. The concept really is all about building others up in a thoughtful way. By implementing edification in your business, you are helping build the credibility of those around you. Edification helps creates excitement about what can be learned from the person you are speaking so highly of.

The biggest piece of edification is being sincere. Others will be able to see right through a disingenuous attempt of edification. Take the time to get to know others in your business, learn about what strengths they bring to the table and be excited to magnify their strengths to those around you. By implementing this tool, you will not only see growth in your business, but those you speak of will only become stronger, more confident and be overall more amazing at their work.

We hope this little piece of advice will help you in not only your business endeavors but your personal ones, too!

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Anything is possible when you make the decision to start!

Meet Jessica! With a background as a Booth Strategist, Designer & Side-Hustler, she successfully ran her own business for years. As time went on, Jessica decided she needed something that would allow her more freedom to be with her family, while still bringing home an income. Jessica finding Moms Making Six Figures was truly a domino effect from the very beginning of her journey through motherhood. Read on to learn more about her amazing story.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I’ll start by saying I count my blessings every day for my husband Scott. We met in 2003, shortly after coming out of a domestic violence shelter in San Diego. Trust me, I wasn’t looking for love. We had our now 8-year-old son, Landon, in 2011.

By the time Landon was six months, like many other children, he had developed eczema. When he was 2 1/2, it had become so severe his legs looked like he had road rash. His skin was always broken, weeping and bleeding. We had become desperate to figure out what was causing his eczema and how to make it better. We saw every specialist under the sun and didn’t get anywhere. As a mom, it was frustrating to watch your child suffer in pain and discomfort. What was worse, he couldn’t yet fully speak to express his discomfort.

I knew I had to take matters into my own hands, so I started doing my own research online. I pulled countless all-nighters trying to sort out what was causing his eczema. My logic was telling me that something was wrong internally. I finally came across Leaky Gut Syndrome, or otherwise known as Increased Intestinal Permeability. I was convinced that this was what he was suffering from, later confirmed by a Naturopath Doctor. It became my mission to do whatever it would take to make him better.

That sounds extremely scary and as you mentioned, frustrating. What did you do next?

Well, during this time, I had been working as a server at a local restaurant chain I had worked at for six years. I ended up having to quit my job due to Landon needing round the clock care. His condition was expensive, too. Insurance was not covering most of his care and we were quickly draining our accounts.

I finally decided to reach out to our local community for assistance. The amount of assistance we got was amazing! Our community supported Landon in a huge way, but it only lasted so long. In 2015, I ended up putting together a vendor event in our neighborhood to serve as a fundraiser for Landon. We titled it the “Landon Scott Fair.” There were a lot of risks involved, but this mama was determined! The event ended up being very successful. We were able to use the funds to get the care that Landon so desperately needed.

Is organizing Landon’s fundraiser what first sparked your interest in event coordinating?

It definitely played a part in it! A week after the fundraiser, one of my vendors reached out and asked me for coffee. She was an event coordinator for local Foodie Festivals and was impressed with how well Landon’s fundraiser was run that she asked me to join her committee. The position would allow me to work from home and was the highest pay I had ever been offered. It was a miracle! I had so much fun working with the team and I ended up being promoted to Creative Director. We became really great friends and she also became a business mentor for me. She started introducing me to Masterminding & Networking groups and literally changed the trajectory of my life.

Okay, we’re intrigued. What do you mean by that?

We had just wrapped up the largest event we had done yet and my part was a huge success. At our Foodie Festivals, we always had a non-profit organization as a beneficiary. As the Creative Director, one of my duties was to strategize, design and run the booth for the non-profit if they could not be present. I knocked this one out of the park! We were sitting in our Mastermind Meeting and they were all asking me what I was going to do. The group was always encouraging me to start my own business, but I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, I replied this time with “Event Coordinator.” When asked what type of events, I replied I would do them all! Weddings, anniversary parties, birthday parties, etc. They giggled and said I had to have a niche. Suddenly, one of our members said “Jessica, do you want to know what I think you would be really good at?” Curious, I asked, “what?” She said, “I think you would be really good at helping Vendors with their booths.” Her idea got my wheels turning and eventually “Rock Your Booth” was born.

What were those initial years of running your own business like?

With a new business came a whole lot of networking. I joined a group I had been introduced to, where I eventually met Jennifer Becker. Jennifer and I quickly became friends. We just meshed well and found a lot in common. She had just started with the team at Moms Making Six Figures. I had heard of the company before but was not interested in being on the team. What I loved about Jennifer was that she never pressured me and was more interested in our friendship.

As I continued to network, word started to get around about “Rock Your Booth.” I started running small workshops in friend’s homes and eventually in larger venues. I took on my first client in 2016, where I successfully strategized and designed a booth for her business. The booth was such a hit her company presented it on stage at their biggest event of the year.

I handled a few more booths before moving to Washington state in January 2017. I continued running workshops and started taking on larger clients. It was so exciting! I felt like I had finally found success. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. About a year and a half later, I had literally become a contractor, building booths and I was exhausted. I was overworked and underpaid. Because this business is so unique, I didn’t have any examples to follow and was basically learning as I was growing. I was also side hustling, taking on some graphic and web design clients just to make up for the lack of profit in my business. The year of 2018 was a tough one for “Rock Your Booth.” By the end of August, I was ready to just push the business aside for a while until I decided what to do with it.

So, you mentioned you had heard of Moms Making Six Figures… What ended up being the reason you wanted to join the team?

Over the years, every so often, Jennifer would give me the friendliest of nudge in regard to joining Moms Making Six Figures. Although I turned her down countless times, she was never offended. Maybe a little bummed, but not offended. With how I was feeling about my business, I broke down and called Jennifer. She was a friend first, giving me a shoulder to cry on as I vented about how hard life had been and that I felt like I was falling apart. I told her I was ready to join the team and give it a try. My thought process was, why not work with one of my dearest friends? I’m not going to lie… it was scary at first but being a part of this AMAZING team has brought so many blessings and has literally been life-changing! I get to work with a positive, supportive and empowering team I also call my friends.

What is your favorite part about working with the team?

I love supporting and empowering other moms to reach their goals and live a life they’ve always dreamed of. Anything is possible when you make the decision to start, listen to your mentors and never look back! I feel fortunate to be able to say that I love what I do. My family gets to have more time with me, I’m traveling more, I have more “me” time and I’m having a blast doing it! The best part of all, I am working from the comfort of my home.

My friends and family keep me motivated to always be morphing into the best version of myself. I used to think of the best version of myself as someone who becomes a career woman or an entrepreneur, makes sacrifices for her family and works a lot. Through the years, I’ve come to realize the best version of me is when I am working for myself with an amazing team backing me up. I owe a huge thanks to Moms Making Six Figures for this amazing opportunity and for having such a positive impact on my family’s quality of life.