Growing up, James Breakwell never had to think about what jobs he wasn’t allowed to pursue. That changed when he had kids. As the father of four girls — one of whom recently said she wants to be a construction worker, and another who asked if she could be the Pope — he’s had to put himself in the shoes of the females surrounding him at home. As an author and internet personality behind the popular Twitter account @XplodingUnicorn, James is best known for his viral tweets depicting hilarious snippets of conversations with his daughters. In this interview with our first startup dad, he gets real about how he navigates building a public persona based on his family life — including how much to share and what to withhold.
Most of the parents I know are still not okay. When I think about why my brain feels broken and how tired I am, I start to see how this fatigue and burnout is part of a much larger puzzle. It’s not just the pandemic that wore us down, although that’s a huge part. Instead, it’s an amalgamation of many forces, all layered on top of each other. As a result, it feels like we’re carrying loads of sandbags around with us at all times. We carry the weight of all that we’ve been through. It’s a particular set of layers that I’m now referring to as the five layer dip. Here’s why we still feel so broken.
Creative dynamo Amber Anderson is the founder of Tote & Pears, a branding and marketing agency with a female focus. For her, becoming an entrepreneur was about more than the business. It was about creating possibilities for her family, establishing a set of core values for her family, and aligning her business values and family needs holistically. We first interviewed Amber on Episode #029 all about the birth of her son and her business. We invite her back to talk about what marketing to women looks like, how brands and agencies can better understand their target audience, and how to build a business that works for you and your family. Tune in to this episode to hear returning guest Amber describe how she aligns family values with work values, the rebranding of her marketing to become female-focused, and why she is committed to keeping work and home life intertwined (while keeping her work weeks around 40-50 hours).
How badly is this year, this pandemic, messing up our kids and us, as parents? After more than a year of living through social distancing, virtual school and blended schools, and highly restricted business activities, parents and children are suffering tremendously. We still don’t know what the long-term damage looks like, so I reached out to a parenting and children’s psychologist, Dr. Courtney Bolton, to ask her about how parents and kids will fare through all of this. Here’s what a psychologist says about the well being of parents and children in a pandemic, and how to help them (and yourself) through it.
If you haven’t heard the story of how the Wise Women’s Council started, listen in as we talk about what it took to create a program while five months pregnant and a young toddler at home. Business as usual wouldn’t work, so Sarah asked how to design a business and a high-touch mastermind community differently. The early version of the Wise Women’s Council was forged with a network of teachers and coaches, and has focused on resilience and flexibility since the beginning.
Over the last week, the internet has popped up loads of articles about influencers behaving badly—in one case, the queen of relatability and toxic positivity shared casual, demeaning remarks about her hired help, then offered a non-apology that involved throwing her own team under the bus, then deleted the bad posts, and—wait for it, I’m sure within the next few days, tears will be next. There will be tears, and a public apology (a “real” one), and a vow to do better. It strikes me that this is strategic, because we’ve seen this playbook before. It’s a marketing strategy, and you’re being played.
It’s time we talked about what power looks like for women, and how we claim our right to power—specifically a new feminine form of power. For centuries, we’ve told men’s stories, and we’ve told stories about masculine power. That power looks like power over other people, like strength, coercion, domination, and defeat. Women have fought for years to do all the things that men have done, Elizabeth Lesser writes—to vote, to lead, to have sex, to lead universities and companies and societies, to have babies, to leave the house, to leave marriages. But it’s time to move into a new form and vision of power. Here’s what it might look like.
What we went through last year, and what we are still going through, is beyond comprehension and imagination. Many pandemic parents are still trying to survive, out of work, and picking up the pieces from last year. Many more are grieving deeply, and some of us don’t have a clear roadmap for grief or recovery. Pandemic parents feel anything from grief to resilience, anger to exhaustion. We are not the same as before.
Startup Pregnant will be renamed Startup Parent. One of the biggest problems of the modern cultural dialogue around work and parenting is that it’s centered exclusively on women and mothers. There are different challenges facing mothers and fathers, and women face larger workplace penalties and cultural challenges than men, but the harm of patriarchal systems and capitalist obsessions with ‘Ideal Workers’ hurts both men and women, and the solutions for problems women are facing won’t come without an integrated understanding from all genders.
We are two weeks away from kicking off our fourth class of The Wise Women’s Council, and we have an extraordinary group of people joining us for the year ahead. The Wise Women’s Council (WWC) is our year-long leadership incubator for women business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators who are also navigating pregnancy, parenthood, and motherhood. We go deep together for the better part of a year and support women at their growth edge who want to continue to level up in their life and career.
Navigating business challenges while navigating pregnancy is tough—navigating pregnancy, business, private practice, and doing it all in a pandemic is extraordinarily difficult. Dr. Shani Cooper, the founder of Root and Soul, runs a holistic health, wellness, and birth support practice based in San Diego. She was also pregnant in 2020, and a member of The Wise Women’s Council last year. We found a few moments to catch up about the year we had, and what it was like to be pregnant, give birth, and run a business in a global pandemic.
If you’re looking to apply to join us in this year’s Wise Women’s Council, we are hosting our annual scholarship competition the first week of February. Please read this post in its entirety for all the details on how to enter, the program requirements, how and when we’ll select the winners, and when you can expect to be notified of the results. Join us for a seven-day storytelling challenge to connect to other parents and be entered to win a 50% scholarship to join The Wise Women’s Council Class of 2021.
What’s it like to run a team of 40 people, in a pandemic, with a 1-year-old, and get pregnant with your second kid? Jess Kamada, VP of Client Services at Bamboo, a top growth marketing firm based in Seattle, joined me for a special episode to talk about how she managed the pandemic and the last year. Jess joined us in the 2020 Wise Women’s Council, and I asked her if she would be open to sharing her story and experience on the podcast, and share some insights into what it’s like to be in the Wise Women’s Council, and why she chose the Group Coaching level.
Last year my family and I didn’t have childcare coverage for seven months. It was a long, tiring year, and we are starting 2021 in a similar place—we’re home for ten days, without childcare, waiting for the days when we can go back to daycare. I wish that 2021 could magically, instantly be different and that I could snap my fingers for all of us to remove so much of the chaos and uncertainty in our lives. Frustratingly, it looks like the upcoming year will certainly be bringing its challenges our way. In this podcast, I’m doing a highlights reel of the last year, and I want to share some of the key moments from 2020 and the lessons gleaned from the year we had.
We need your leadership from where you are—as you are. We’ve known for a long time that we need much more diverse leadership, that we need women’s leadership, and that we need new models of power. As Elizabeth Lesser says, we need to embrace “power to,” not just “power over.” We need truth telling, and we need new visions. We need you, your work, and your brave new thinking. We need you to show up. We need you to be who you really are, not what an archaic model of power and “leadership” tells you to be. Take care, take the rest you need, take action, and show up. Even and especially as you are.
JOIN THOUSANDS OF PARENTS
WHO WANT TO RETHINK "HOW IT'S ALWAYS BEEN"
A deep-dive podcast with transformative conversations at the heart of working, parenting, and better living. Sign up below.