My dad holding baby Arrow while my son Soren looks on.

Motherhood changed my perspective—and elevated my career

Back in January, I wrote about why I was ready to be braver this year. That post was me saying ‘this is going to be a big year for me.’ Ten months later, I can confidently say I was right. I transformed my coaching and consulting company, Kickass Enterprises, and it continues to transform my life. I reexamined many of the goals I held at the beginning of the year. Many of these have morphed as I’ve learned more about myself and connected more fully with my passion. I want to update you on that here and share some of what I learned from going all in and changing the way I do business.

My ah-ha moment(s)

My first son prompted me to leave my job as a professor at the London School of Economics and move my family back to California to return to my first love—working with startups (which I surprisingly found to be more friendly to women than academia).

This time motherhood prompted me to hone my focus even more.

As I was holding my three-week-old daughter, Arrow, in my arms in the middle of the night almost a year ago, I had a revelation. I was wrestling with the fact that I was already itching to get back to work, while I was simultaneously aware that every moment of that short newborn period is so precious and delicious that there’s nothing worth doing more than savoring and enjoying it. When you’re priorities are so clear, you achieve a preternatural insight into yourself and your goals. I remember thinking— “Whatever I choose to go back to doing, it better be f**king worth it.”

This post on Medium is written by another women in tech, who during her maternity leave also thought deeply about how she spends her time and how she wants to improve it. Maternity leave is not a ‘break’, but it is a big shift — a change in both your day-to-day and in your lifelong identity which creates a different level of perspective. You are forced by the nature of early motherhood to stay fully present. You must be tuned into your body and the emotions and needs of another in a complete way. This presence creates space to consider things in a new light. It helps you see opportunity, and engage in radical self inquiry. In fact, it forces you to do this.

Leaning into my strength

My mission is to help creative people and entrepreneurs bring their vision and ideas into the world. And, thanks to the perspective I gained during my maternity leave, I was able to realize that 90% of the value I was creating for clients was coming from about 5% of the time I was spending with them. Coaching was actually something I was sneaking in back door of my consulting practice at that point. I was doing growth strategy, and, upon examining my successes with clients, I found that the biggest business growth came when the founder was able to unlock their own potential, to explore their deeper fears, to lean into the most challenges aspects of their humanity and their leadership. It was time for me to take the advice I have given founders so many times and cut out the features that only diluted my offering, and reduce complexity in order to serve more powerfully. So, I decided to pivot towards authenticity: ‘What if I strip away everything non-essential and only do the 5% that creates profound value— the coaching?’

While I still do strategy and organizational design, I now do it through coaching startup execs and founders. Calling myself a “coach” was difficult as first. But that was silly, frightened, ego stuff. Worth feeling, but not being guided by. Because it’s only when the leaders I work with are open to deep personal transformation that any other strategies and tactics would make any difference. For most leaders, unlocking growth and creating an epic company that fulfills their deepest vision is not an A to B process, but rather a personal shift in perspective that allows them to unlock the creativity and courage necessary for them to catalyze business growth. Great work is a spiritual journey.

Find your passion

I am excited to introduce you to this new shift in my business. By deciding to be pure and honest in what I’m offering, I have been able to kickstart growth for my clients. And once I started doing this, growth started happening for me and for my business, too. Here’s a post about what happens when you connect fully with your purpose, inspired by what happened to me when I had the space and time to be fully present and achieve this. Check it out and see if it resonates with you. And if you’re interested in working with me to unlock your creativity and step into your full power, you can get in touch with me here.

Photo by Vladimir Kudinov (Creative Commons)

Why I’m Ready to Be Braver This Year

We’re already 14 days into the new year – are you on track? I AM! Know my secret? I didn’t make any resolutions. (I never do.)  So thus far I’m 100% on track, haha. 🙂 No, I don’t have resolutions but I do have some big goals. And they feel so aspirational that they are scary.

This is an unusual post for me. Against many wise friends’ advice, I still feel compelled to share it with you. I have tried to understand why. The best sense I can make of this compulsion is that I have no idea if I can actually do any of these goals. This might be the last I see of them! So in case they are fleeting, I want to mark the occasion and enjoy the optimism while it lasts.

Also I feel I need to own these goals in order to achieve them, even though I might fail. This level of thinking and risk feels like shift in me, and that shift is one I’ve witnessed, wistfully, in a lot of friends before me. I’d always crazy admired their bravery for trying things they might fail at, but I never thought I’d experience the courage to attempt it myself. Still don’t know if I have the courage to follow through but at least today I have the courage to admit that I’m thinking about it.

Now: merely talking about doing something means very little, we all know that. Action is all that matters. But like an addict must admit they have a problem, admitting you have a goal seems like a necessary first step in recovery. For me, this is the first step in many towards the recovery of being true to myself, as an artist.

For me 2015 was a year of huge progress. My husband Roy, 3 year old son Soren and I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles just in time to have our second child. Keep Reading

What I did in 2015

Since sooo much happened in 2015 and I was admittedly terrible about keeping people updated about my whereabouts and whatuptos, here’s a quick update for my friends. This is what I was up to in 2015.

• Said goodbye to an amazing era in San Francisco (2000 bubble to 2015 bubble, that’s 15 years less three stints living abroad!)

• Bought an awesome old house (our first time owning!) and moved close to my family near the beach in L.A.. Developed a watch tan and a flip flop tan for the first time since the year 2000.

• Grew my business (Kickass Enterprises) even as I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Coached some incredibly inspiring founders about getting their businesses to the next level, and helped my startup clients grow. Popped champagne as one of them, Aspiration, became one of the fastest growing startups in financial technology history (Techcrunch).

• Had a beautiful, endlessly smiley little baby girl (Arrow, now 6 months). In my living room, with an amazing team of midwives, with no drugs.

• Spent a lot more time with my son (Soren, now 4.5 years) than ever before, since I wasn’t working as much while I was on maternity leave and busy remodeling and nesting. Wow. I saw an amazing impact of the mere time together on his entire being. We created a little “art studio” for him in our house and watched how the design of his space becomes the contents of his life and his mind. POWERFUL STUFF.

These big changes were super positive and like all great changes brought unexpected consequences. For me one of the biggest was a different mindset and sense of what I need to do on earth. Which kinda scared the pants off of me.   

caneel gorilla

I Could Tell Some Really F*&)(&ing Personal Stories. (Please weigh in.)

 

I write a lot about how and why to do things at work – I’ve explored the academic, the productive, and the professional. But this post is different. It’s the beginning of exploring the personal. 

The oldest writing advice in the world is “Write What You Know.” Reflecting on this, I decided to take a wild leap and begin to share the deep down dirty stuff here… the stuff that’s important to ME as a PERSON. The stuff that I know more about now – because I just went through it – than I ever will again. I feel a volcanically strong urge to bring these ideas and this temporary form of “life expertise”, opinion, and passion out into the world.

But spewing personal hot lava is not very professional and while it certainly informs me it’s not what my business is about. So I’ve built a new home for my work writings at Kickass Enterprises and am going to start taking over this blog with the rest of my ideas. And I have a lot of those ideas and opinions that I haven’t been sharing. Until now. Keep Reading

Creativity Hacks: Five steps to using constraints to solve problems fast

Boxed

“Think outside the box.” That advice is about as helpful under time pressure as telling a three year old to “calm down!” in the middle of a tantrum. We all want to be creative when we face tricky problems, but how?

Many creativity experts advise opening your mind to wacky ideas, and creating a sense of total freedom when you’re brainstorming. I’m here to argue for the opposite: Limitations actually help you create new ideas and solve big tricky problems. Why? My research suggests that too much freedom is actually paralyzing – it provides too many choices and our brains get overwhelmed.  Limitations, or constraints, help you unleash creativity inside your own brain, and inside your team.

I was recently interviewed on the Thrivecast podcast about using constraints to get creative in solving business problems. (All forms of creative work, from running a startup to launching a new innovation demands creative problem solving, and running an innovative accounting practice like the Thrivecast advocates is no different!)

Here are some of the tips that came out of the conversation. Give them a try. Keep Reading

Design is an Organizational Behavior Challenge

What do top universities, international airlines, and the California DMV have in common? Answer: Terrible websites, with so much hierarchy in their navigation scheme that accomplishing a basic task requires a black belt in enterprise bureaucracy.  Why do companies with so many resources at their disposal have such a hard time producing good design?

Simple, clean UX design is hard work. Sometimes you just have to lock yourself up for a week to figure out how to make the complex look simple. But getting design done in a huge enterprise – where stakeholders are spread across departments with decades of political history dividing their interests – is a total bitch.

Keep Reading