It’s Time To Stop Doing It All. We Were Never Meant To “Lean In” Alone — Episode #028 With Tiffany Dufu
Learning to drop the ball (and stop doing it all)
If you’re still trying to figure out how to do it all—to be great mom, a great wife, and a great employee—and you’re starting to realize that it just isn’t possible, it may be time to drop a ball or two.
Tiffany Dufu had a reckoning on her first day back at work from maternity leave. After a hectic day running from meeting to meeting, she realized she had forgotten to stop and pump. The reality of being a working mom hit her as the milk seeped through her blouse. Doing it all? More like feeling like a failure at all the things.
Resentment and anger showed up that evening as she listened to her husband come home from work, and she thought through all of the things she had done to make his life easier and more predictable that day, from picking up the dry cleaning to putting a dinner plate in the refrigerator for him. It didn’t take long for Tiffany to realize that she had to renegotiate the terms of her marriage and redefine what it means to be a ‘good’ wife and mother. It was time to stop doing it all.
Tiffany took the time to get clear on what matters most to her and what she does really well, using that intelligence to decide which items on the to-do list were really necessary and which balls could be dropped. Today she explains the social conditioning that makes women think they have to do it all, what you can do in that moment of overwhelm, and how to determine your mission. I ask her how she initiated conversation about equity with her husband and why she has eliminated to-do lists from her life.
Listen in for Tiffany’s insight around the urgency of having women in leadership and the value of investing in community. Also, she’s going to give you permission to (you guessed) stop doing it all.
The Startup Parent Podcast — Episode #169
- “Dropping the ball means letting go of unrealistic expectations of doing it all … and figuring out what really matters most to me so that I can leverage my highest and best use in achieving that and engage other people in my life along the way.”
- “One of the interesting things about gender is that it’s the one aspect of diversity that having close proximity to someone who’s different from you doesn’t necessarily create an awareness or awakening about their experience.”
- “I think it’s awesome to aspire to be an extraordinary wife, for example, or an extraordinary mother. I think what we’re got to do is re-curate a different job description for what it means to be an extraordinary mother or an extraordinary wife or an extraordinary worker.”
- “There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to excellence. It’s just that our current definition for what excellence is faulty and it’s based on nonsense, on very old-school expectations that no person in today’s world could possibly meet.”
- “It’s about redefining what success even is, what our roles even are, so that we can be gentler on ourselves and so that we can get rid of the G-word.”
- “I’ve never met with a woman who every day wasn’t just trying to do right by herself, her community, her family, her workplace in order to create positive change and to do something meaningful, and yet in the process of doing that she feels like she’s done something terribly wrong. We need to just obliterate the G-word.”
- “We were never meant to ‘lean in’ alone.”
- “What I do is far less important than the difference I make… I don’t want my tombstone to say, ‘She got a lot of stuff done.’”
- “I figured out very quickly that if you run through a door that somebody opens for you—not skip, not hop, but run through the door—that person will think very highly of you, and they’ll open more doors for you.”
- “This past year has just reiterated even more the urgency of having women in elective office, having them at the tops of corporations, having them curating the public policies and the workplace practices that impact every single one of our lives.”
Episode #169 — Sponsored by Splendid Spoon.
This episode is sponsored by Splendid Spoon, a meal delivery service that creates whole, healthy, plant-based soups and smoothies that can be a great fit for busy parents and new moms. Get $50 off your first order with the link splendid.to/startuppregnant.
All of our sponsor offers are available on our website for you to grab the perks and discounts offered to podcast listeners: https://startupparent.com/sponsors.
ABOUT THE STARTUP PARENT PODCAST
If you're growing a business, leading a team, or figuring out entrepreneurship and you have kids, this podcast is for you. We go in-depth with founders and entrepreneurial parents about what it really takes to have babies, grow businesses, and get a little bit of sleep. Sign up for the newsletter to get new episodes in your inbox, click here to sponsor the podcast, and if you like what you hear leave us a review on iTunes.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
The way we collectively talk about, think about, and treat women seeps into our own brains. As a result, many women internalize specific beliefs about their worth, value, and creativity. Here are three key ways the patriarchy takes root inside of your own mindset.
I remember exactly where I was the first time it happened. We were in someone’s backyard. A bunch of kids were playing together on the swing sets and sliding raucously down a slide. We were engaged in banal small talk when she said it. I honestly think I froze in disbelief because it was 2021 and the last question I anticipated hearing was: “So… do you work?” My face looked like that emoji where your eyes are busting out of your head. The person asking me this was *my age*. She was *my age!* Once I got over the initial shock of impropriety, I became curious: What was she actually asking?
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.
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.
Sarah K Peck
Founder, Startup Parent
Sarah Peck is a writer, startup advisor, and yoga teacher based in New York City. She’s the founder and executive director of Startup Parent, a media company documenting the stories of women’s leadership across work and family. She hosts the weekly Startup Parent Podcast and Let's Talk, her second podcast. Previously, she worked at Y Combinator backed One Month, Inc, a company that teaches people to code in 30 days, and before that she was a writing and communications consultant.
She’s a 20-time All-American swimmer who successfully swam the Escape from Alcatraz nine separate times, once wearing only a swim cap and goggles to raise $33k for charity: water. She’s written for more than 75 different web publications and and has delivered speeches and workshops at Penn, UVA, Berkeley, Harvard, Craft & Commerce, WDS, and more.