Why Being a #twinmama Has Allowed Me to Excel in My Career (and as an entrepreneur)
“You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”
- Annie Dillard
Greetings from startup land! Here at Coeo we are deep in our first MVP (Minimum Viable Product) test, which we more accurately call our RAT – Riskiest Assumption Test. (If you want to learn more about RATs… the kind you don’t need an exterminator for… check out this article. )
Things at Coeo are exciting, wild, scary, fun and scary. Ha! A few weeks into our RAT we are fiddling with contents, messaging, interface and everything else you can think of. Now that we finally have (a bit of) a product to offer, my stress levels have been heightened. Our work is more visible, measureable and dynamic. And me and my ambitious-self want to drive awesome metrics and move faster. I find myself worrying… is this gonna work? Do I have the grit? Do we have the resources and capabilities to get it done? But then I remember… I’m a twin mom. And that’s my superpower. We’re gonna get this s**t done.
So in a society where there’s a tendency to focus on why us moms can’t “have it all” (and I agree with that statement – but so far I haven’t met any single human who can have it all) I wanted to take a moment to reflect on why that moment seven years ago when my OB divulged the news that there were “two in there” was the best news for this working mama.
The powerful lessons I’ve learned being a twin mama fall into a few buckets, here’s an overview:
1. Just jump, then ride the waves
2. You’ve GOT to lean on others
3. Do it imperfectly, then improve
Having twins has been my life’s greatest surprise. When my OB shared the news I was laughing and crying… and nothing in between. I called my husband Sam (yup, I was solo since we decided he would do daycare dropoff and I would get myself to the appointment) and we started to realize… we are never really in control. We never had been and certainly never would be. Sam’s uncle, also a twin parent, shared the most valuable advice that we’ve gotten. He said: “Be like a surfer, just ride the waves.”
So in the seven years since I’ve learned to dance in this space of action and reaction. I have learned to actively make decisions: “Do I take on this new role?” “Do we expand to a new market?” “Is it time to get after this startup stuff full time?” “Is it time to launch?” but also observe, listen and modify once I’ve taken a leap.
As someone who craves control, having twins has made me realize there will always be a surprise and there’s no time to worry. Just decide when to drop in… and enjoy the ride.
For Coeo we decided to take the leap with our first product platform a few weeks ago. While that was an active decision, everything since has been about watching, listening, and riding those waves.
You've GOT to Lean on Others
For the first 9 weeks with the twins I was home during the day while my older son was at daycare and my husband Sam was at work. I was f’ed. And in week 9 we met our greatest savior – our first au pair Nina. Nina was kind, thoughtful, amazing with kids and 19. And she saved our skin. With 3 kids in diapers and an impending return to work I realized we were physically incapable of raising this family just by ourselves.
But what started as a lesson in childcare graduated to a much more robust learning moment. Soon after I returned to New Balance I took over the Global Kids team where I was responsible not only for our business in the US, but also the International markets. And while my US-based team was the hub of the business and ultimate decision maker, I learned that leaning on the markets for their insights, ideas and proposed actions was the most powerful way to move the business forward. Three years later we had a lot more velcro shoes in our portfolio (you’re welcome Asia), and a business almost 3x the size of where we started.
In the world of Coeo this lesson has been powerful as well. There is so much I don’t know. I have thrived in this new chapter of leaning on others, listening, iterating and moving forward.
Do It Imperfectly
When my dad first came to visit after the twins were born he would jokingly say that “my customer service rating was low” on days and moments when we couldn’t seem to calm the babies. I came to get used to those moments when things were a mess and I knew they would get better, but it wouldn’t be immediate. The picture of the top perfectly illustrates that point. We had successfully completed the kids first year of “school”, we were on our way to Bertucci’s, and it was a s**t show. I am SO glad we stopped to capture that moment. The picture is so honest. And I was (and still am) learning to make myself vulnerable and be comfortable in those uncomfortable times.
Flash forward one year later and the same pic is somewhat more composed. (Side note – my daughter was, in fact, wearing my running tank top as a dress that day.) We weren’t perfect but time had passed, things had gotten easier and we’d made progress.
These days when I think about Coeo I think about what % right we are in our product solution to the problem of fitness instructors being so underserved and underutilized in today’s $11 billion boutique fitness market. And the data, customer interviews and leaps of faith forward help shed light on how far along we are, and which parts are right and which are still wrong.
So when I get tired, or frustrated or impatient I try to remind myself: “I am a twin mom. This is my superpower.” And push forward to take more leaps, get more help and be imperfect.
Often when I’m chatting with younger people these days, especially women, they express anxiety about that moment when they want to have kids and fear that their career progress and passions will vanish away. I’m not saying it’s easy, but in this moment of chaos and progress for Coeo I wanted to take a moment to share my story. To reflect on the positivity of what being a twin mom has done for me, and perhaps drive a deeper dialogue in our community.
What is your super power? How did it come to be part of who you are? I’d love to know it and learn from it!
“Now that you don’t have to worry about being perfect, you can be good.”
- John Steinbeck