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Into the Heart of the New “Now Normal”

At RoundPeg we like to think that whatever “it” is, we’re all in it together. And that’s never been more true than it is today, when the whole world is self-isolated, quarantined, locked down — or out in the Covid-19 world, doing essential work that keeps the rest of us afloat.

So we thought we’d reach out to our Founding Mothers community to ask: What’s it like for you at this pivotal moment in human history? What are the specific challenges you face being both a mother and a professional woman? What are the connections between your role as a family member and your calling as a leader? In short, what makes this Mother’s Day different from every other Mother’s Day? Apart from…well, just about everything?

Here’s some of what we heard in response, starting with our founder’s story.

Twist and Shout

Polina Pinchevsky, founder of RoundPeg, with her family.

Covid-19 hit the U.S.A while my husband and I were on a trip to New Zealand to visit our daughter during her semester abroad. We left the country under the conditions of “old normal,” and came back to a world of “new normal” — a term better known internationally as “Now Normal.”

I have to say, it was shocking. Unsettling in every respect. On a personal level, our oldest daughter and her fiancé — who had recently adopted a puppy — had moved into our house while we were away. So we returned to find ourselves in quarantine with six people and three dogs.

Here was my challenge: As a mom of three kids — and a business owner with a growing business — years earlier I realized that I needed to create a definite separation between work life and home life. And to do that, I needed physical barriers to enforce the rules of separation. So I purposefully converted what had been my home office into an art/yoga room. It was a clever preventive measure which worked perfectly…until the Now Normal took over the world — and my home.

Suddenly my house felt tiny and the walls started closing in. Doing Zoom calls from my bedroom or even from my bed didn’t work for me, but the bedroom was the only private space in the house.

A deep funk followed.

It took several weeks and lots of interventions to come out on the other side. My neighbor began leading twice-a-week Tai Chi Zoom sessions, and I started breathing. My daughters began baking fresh bread weekly, and I started eating. The new puppy grew goofier and goofier, and I started laughing again. With infinite patience my husband let me vent over and over and over about the same things, and my friends listened so hard I could practically feel their ears burning. My clients — who are themselves facing tremendous challenges — kept teaching me the wisdom of doing great things in spite of obstacles. And I grew more inspired than ever by the most amazing community of #WetheChange women, whose strategic and compassionate leadership makes this planet a better place.

Where will I end up? Who knows. How will I get there? By thinking hard about a question posed by Diana Marie Lee of Sweet Livity: “What makes you come alive?” For me, the quick answer is dancing. So for Mother’s Day this year, I requested a dance party (no photography allowed!) in our living room. On the invitation list: one husband, three kids, a son-in-law-to-be, two dogs, and a devil puppy. Because for me to continue trying to lead with purpose and with love, Twist and Shout is what my Now Normal now needs.

Read Polina’s full interview Confessions of a Founding Mother here.

Color Me Grateful

Jennifer Piette, founder of Narrative Food

Because I am running an “essential business” and we have had such extreme growth to meet over the past couple of months, my time has been nearly 100% devoted to meeting this challenge.

Luckily both my daughters are home with me, and are old enough to be fairly independent and supportive of each other (not that we haven’t had our moments, but on balance it’s felt like a Little Women household during wartime).

My older daughter, Hannah, has blossomed into an amazing chef, and I’m so grateful to her for keeping us fed almost every night, creating amazing meals with all the beautiful ingredients I’m able to bring home after a long weekend packing boxes of food for our customers. Hannah’s gone so far as to bake bread and cakes using soured whipping cream to make our own butter, and basically nourishing all of us with delicious, heart-warming meals.

Of course it’s not just about the actual food we’re lucky enough to be eating. The best part of sharing meals is that it’s my main time to really talk to and connect with my children. It’s particularly meaningful to me that both my daughters understand the value of spending time together like this, and I’m proud that the daily dinner cooking I always modeled to my daughters, starting when they were young children, is now something they have grown up to “own.”

What more can a mother ask than to see her children empowered in the kitchen, connecting around the table with friends and family, and set up for success as young adults? Color me simply grateful.

And now back to ordering carrots, looking for a new warehouse, and juggling my new team.

Read Jennifer’s full interview We’ve Lost Connection with Food. This Founding Mother is Recovering It here.

Resilient Rebuilding

Denise Taschereau and Sarah White, co-founders of Fairware

Sarah: On the personal front, my two kids are adults. One, who just finished his degree, is at home. I feel lucky to have him here, as otherwise, he’d be off and away. My partner and I have been more transparent with him about the challenges we are both facing in our businesses. That, combined with him old enough to appreciate the bigger global picture, has made our time together really peaceful and meaningful.

Regarding business, it’s a fact that women have a higher tendency to run non-employer firms (women own 40 percent of U.S. small businesses but run 52 percent of sole proprietorships). Guidance for these kinds of applicants who are seeking a PPP was not even issued until just 48 hours before the first round of funds ran out. As a result, many women were unable to even try to submit an application for a loan. It’s tough out there.

Denise: I literally just showed my two sons a spreadsheet with nine years of our company’s productivity data. I want them to understand how we’ll approach rebuilding the company as this craziness starts to come to an end.

Are you a Founding Mother of a social-impact company or social enterprise? Join our free private community for meaningful conversation and connection.

Present. Positive. Mindful.

Joanne Sonenshine, founder of Connective Impact

What’s on my mind? I’m feeling grateful that my family is healthy and that we have the ability to stay active, prepare healthy food, etc. Frankly, keeping my kids emotionally stable through their turmoil while ensuring our house is healthy, clean, and functioning has taken precedence over my work…which has more or less come to a standstill.

When I do find time to focus on work, I’m in full biz dev mode, continuing to produce content and support my network in their partnership journeys however I can. I’ve applied for a few emergency grants; hopefully one will come through, so that when the time comes I can get back to work. I certainly do hope that work will pick up soon, though. I obviously can’t go on forever without clients, but I’m not at all prepared to close the business. So I will keep hustling!

The only way I can get through this experience sane and balanced is by staying active, getting exercise, eating healthy, and trying to get my rest. I’m keeping a journal, since I imagine this will be something we’ll be talking about for the rest of our lives, passing stories down for generations. I am really just taking each moment and day as it comes. I feel like planning for much is off the table. Just staying present, positive, and mindful is what is getting me through.

Read Joanne’s full interview Big Corporations Taking Small Steps: Worth Applauding? here.

Let’s Stop Pretending

Emily Lonigro, founder of LimeRed, with her kids, Ginger and Rowan.

LimeRed is 16 this year. My daughter is 7 and my son is 4. I guess that makes LimeRed my oldest child.

For most of this time I’ve been hunkering down, trying to keep my company, my family, and my shit together. I’ve been telling myself that this is about US, not about ME; that I am just a small speck in the universe; that what I think doesn’t matter on a large scale. Like most things, I’m a little right and a little wrong about all of that. Yeah, on a global scale what I think doesn’t matter at all. But since we all got stuck inside, my tiny world became the only thing that matters, and now I realize how much of an influence I have on it.

This is a time for seeing and listening. Now that I’ve had a few minutes to think, I have some ideas on what needs to change. Let’s stop pretending that we aren’t struggling. Or that we have kids at home who need us and we’re not there because we’re working. Or that working 60/70 hours a week is NORMAL. It’s not. It wasn’t before and it’s not now. For me, the way through is to cut out everything that doesn’t work. Get down to what matters and make your world small and manageable.

Into a New Paradigm

Caroline Duell, founder of All Good, with her daughters, Kalia and Allegra.

This time for our family has been really sweet for us. Our girls are exploding with curiosity while exploring the nooks and crannies of our farm. Every day they’re watching the grass grow taller, the birds build nests, the snakes warm themselves in the Spring sun, and the winds shift.

What’s mostly on my mind these days is how to stay present with the total disruption of all things, how to support my family and our amazing team at All Good. And I’m asking myself — strongly — how can we capture the golden nuggets we are extracting from this moment, and help them propel us forward into a new paradigm, where we can continue to awaken community and equitably regenerate hope?

Sure, the challenges are a-plenty. As for the remedies, my biggest one is to remember self-care. It’s the thing that slips first, but — as much as possible — I’m working on a rhythm of nurture into the mix.  Always room for more!

On parenting tips, I would say to take time to listen to one of these podcasts from Kathleen Lockyer at RxOutside. My girls and I are even on one of them. But the reason to listen is that all the podcasts are packed with cool tips and strategies for parents.  When I expressed a little concern with Kathleen about the potentially diminished amount of content in the kids’ academic learning, she quickly corrected me that stress was way more damaging than not memorizing something, and that stress in children can actually inhibit learning.

I take that to heart. So I’m doing my best to find ways to connect with my children and to foster learning without worrying about the specifics of any of it. That’s been a huge help, and I see the results very quickly: the girls’ eyes are brighter, their energy is glowing, and they are generally more engaged by the moment in which they’re living. And that reminds me to do the same! Also, when I take the pressure off, they find learning tools on their own, and set goals that they are aiming for versus something imposed on them. In a nutshell: permission to relax opens doors.

Obviously all that wisdom can be applied to business, too. The key points are to stay transparent while leading strong; to remain very open while earnestly listening; and to communicate constantly, leaving no room for accidental assumptions. All Good is resilient. Our strengths come from our values, which are reflected in our name and rooted in our commitment to B Corp practices. The good things that validate why we do what we do, are ever present.

Read Caroline’s full interview CEO of All Good Brand on Taking Smart Risks to Build a Good Brand here.

Soft Landings in Hard Times

Beth Carls, founder of OneSeventeen Media with her grandson, Carson.

My professional and personal lives are more blurred together these days from being at home constantly. I’ve loved seeing how “soft skills” — things like integrity, adaptability, willingness to learn, and empathy —are enjoying a rising status, coming front and center of our collective consciousness. Our line of work, which is social-emotional learning/mental health, has always been considered “soft”, and is often considered “less than.” However, now I think many more people are seeing these skills just as vital as “hard” skills.

So I’ve been experiencing gratitude for many things, including understanding the value of human connection, whether it’s face-to-face or the ability to “connect” online. My partner and I are good. We’re navigating this odd dance of isolation, and wondering if we might need some social distancing from each other at some point! Some private space is also good. Everything’s a balance.

Our grandchildren are six and eleven. A couple of weeks ago their parents brought them over to have a truck-bed picnic in front of our townhouse (only in Texas!). We stood eight feet away and visited. That was fun! 

On the work front, there’s gratitude there, too. In 2018 we started researching a new mental health platform for kids ages 10 to 18, called “reThinkIt!” I’m so thankful we saw this trend early. We made a pivot in March 2019, participated in a healthcare accelerator fall 2019, and started development with a Canadian nearshore company three weeks ago. Our re-envisioned platform will be available this summer through employee benefit programs and direct to parents/caregivers at home. Sometimes even when the world turns upside down, we can land on our feet.

Top illustration depicts how kindness between neighbors has gotten stronger now we’re facing the Covid-19 confinement. The artwork is completely done with acrylics, cels, colored paper, tracing paper, pencil and newspaper, and it aims to honor the empathy we’re feeling for one another. Image created by Fernando Cobelo. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives – help stop the spread of COVID-19.

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RoundPeg helps purposeful companies build transformative relationships with their customers. Our Purpose is to challenge conspicuous consumption and make buying responsibly the norm. We are a certified B Corp and Benefit Corporation.

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