What’s in a Title?

Putting on my “marketing hat,” I recently was part of a meeting with our school district and other professionals as we reviewed a plan to create specific curriculum related to marketing, media and communication arts. As with many large group meetings, we started with introductions. I waited for my turn, thinking of how I should introduce myself as a now unemployed marketing professional. I settled on something like this:

Hi, I’m Cathy, marketing manager and also a  Stay at Home Mom.

I may have said “marketing generalist” because I am a sort of jack of all trades marketer, especially in my last role at a small business, but I questioned on whether or not to say SAHM. I thought I saw some women in the room give me a knowing smile, as in they understood where I was as a mom and professional, and perhaps they were once in my same position.

While I know that staying at home does not diminish my credentials, I can’t help but feel less confident in professional settings. Self doubt creeps in, leading me to question, “Am I good enough for a seat at the table?” Yes, I have opted-out of full-time work right now, and in doing so have I set myself up for the mommy-track? When or will I ever work again?

All of this worrying spins out of control and puts me in a dark place. It’s really not productive or healthy for me to go down this path.

Who cares about titles? What do they even mean?!

I’ve held MANY titles in my career: Marketing Coordinator, Zone Manager, Marketing Specialist, Channel Marketing Manager, and Director of Marketing. And I’ve never been hung up on titles. I’ve been a focused, productive employee, happy to contribute to my team and company, and simply put: get things done! So why should I fixate on titles now?

More importantly, I do truly LOVE my title of Mom! My kids and family are my life’s greatest accomplishment that no work-related achievement could ever eclipse. Hearing little voices calling for me daily (sometimes hourly or more often, depending on the need), makes me feel so needed, important and loved (and yes, sometimes annoyed). Yes, I do have demanding, and adorable “direct reports,” and I definitely need to be hands-on with my four and almost six year old kids. Yet, I recognize how far we’ve come together as a family.

Me and my cute "direct reports."

Me and my cute “direct reports.”

Reflecting on Motherhood

When I left work full-time three years ago, I wrote about why I miss work. Today when I reflect on that post, I see that many of my frustrations have been minimized in just a few years time. I have time to myself when my youngest is in pre-school, and I’ve enjoyed more adult interaction without having to contend with nap-time anymore. Plus, I’ve seen many of my kids’ milestones and accomplishments firsthand (most recently swimming and reading), so I know I am making a difference in their lives. Being a mom IS rewarding, especially with a longer term view!

Pure sweetness: sharing a story in their PJ's. What a way to start off the day!

Pure sweetness: sharing a story in their PJ’s. What a way to start off the day!

I tend to have a hard time NOT having a plan or seeing a clear direction in my life. I wrote about this earlier in Mom GPS Re-calcuating. This time at home is truly a gift, and I want to be comfortable without a grand career plan…to simply “be” in the moment and embrace my life, SAHM title and all. I am doing my best to trust that God has placed me exactly where I should be right now and am trying to learn and grow through it all. To name a few lessons, I’ve learned to be more patient and spontaneous since having kids. I’ve learned to let go a bit more, control less, and relax. My mantra to myself has been “relax and enjoy” motherhood, or taking a cue from an awesome song I hear in my yoga class weekly:

New Titles? New Outlook

I was thinking of how I describe what I’m currently doing, and I often say, “I’m just staying at home right now,” but I need to take “just” out of that sentence. Motherhood encompasses so many roles that I need multiple titles to describe what I do all day:

  • Chief Executive Officer of our home and family of four
  • VP of Marketing & Public Relations – family spokesperson, social media manager, branding, crisis management, historian / archival specialist (through blogging and scrap booking)
  • Head of Procurement – all purchases go through me or require my approval
  • Co-Director of Finance – shared with my husband
  • Accounting Clerk – shared with my husband with our split checking accounts
  • Event Planner – certified in birthday parties, mealtime prep, play dates, date nights
  • HR Professional – personal development, training, team building
  • Health and Wellness Program coordinator – swim teacher, fitness instructor, meal planning and prep
  • Facilities and Maintenance – laundry, housework, grounds crew
  • Community Relations – volunteer, giving manager

This might be a bit long to go through in an introduction, but it IS another way of thinking of my job. I’m shaping the minds and hearts of children, people!  This is a HUGE and an awesome responsibility!

A Better Outlook

Instead of thinking of how I’m viewed as a SAHM in a professional setting, I should focus more on the positives of my here and now. I feel more connected to my community than ever before, simply because I’m here more (vs. commuting and working in another city). I’m able to be part of my daughter’s school through volunteering. I have more time to help out at church. As a family, we have time to enjoy both breakfast and dinner together almost daily.  I have time to workout and get enough sleep at night. It is a healthy, more relaxed pace of life. Given all of this, I am so very blessed to be in this position, trusting that I’ll read this post in a few years after God’s plan for me has unfolded more perfectly that I could have ever imagined.

My Venture into Direct Sales

As I had mentioned way back in September in my Fly on the Wall post, I started my own business as an independent representative of an all-natural foods company.  This is a direct selling gig – something that I thought I wouldn’t ever do! You never know what twists & turns life will take, so the old adage, “never say never” certainly holds true.

According to the Direct Selling Association (of which my company is a member), more than 16 million independent reps in the U.S. alone are part of a $30 billion dollar industry!  That’s a lot of home parties and individuals selling to their own networks! Wow!

How I Decided to Sell

I was first introduced to Wildtree through my sister, who invited me to attend a friend’s freezer meal workshop. At first I wasn’t sure what I was in for – it can be intimidating to buy groceries for 10 meals, do the prep, and haul your cooler to a friend’s house.  For the cost of the workshop, I had 7 Wildtree products waiting for me at the workshop to measure & add to each individual bag, according to the recipe instructions.  I stood next to my sister, had some wine, and chatted away with the other guest while we prepped our meals.  It was a lot of fun, not to mention productive.

Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop

This is what a freezer meal workshop looks like!

After enjoying the 10 Wildtree Freezer Meals I had prepped the night of the workshop, I would do another workshop a few weeks later. It was a grilling workshop that included a Hickory Smoke Grapeseed oil and a Rancher Steak Rub seasoning blend.  I think it was these two ingredients that made me fall in love with Wildtree!  I’ve never had such delicious steaks before!!  Each meal felt like restaurant quality foods, making me feel like such a rockstar in the kitchen!

Plus, being the main cook in our house, I was tired of making the same things over and over again and wanted quick, easy dinners after my days at work or fun-filled summer days at home with my kids. The freezer meals were the ideal solution for my family!

When faced with attending another freezer meal workshop, or becoming a rep myself, I ultimately decided to pay for the $49.95 for the starter kit (plus shipping), and go for it back in August!

The IDEAL Job (especially for Busy Moms)

I’m excited to share the freezer meal planning concept and amazing, all-natural Wildtree products with my network on a schedule that I set on my own. The flexibility of my Wildtree business fits in so nicely with my current part-time job, while still giving me time at home with my 3 year old and older daughter who is in 4K half-days. It’s a perfect job where I’m completely in control! I think this is why so many moms are attracted to direct sales.  You can determine when you work, booking parties, or in my case tastings or freezer meal workshops when it’s convenient.  As with any job, you get out what you put in, so I do need to be disciplined to keep my business going. Ideally, I am targeting to have three to four parties a month to give me enough time to balance our family’s activities.  It’s been a lot of fun promoting and selling products I love!

Wildtree 8 Pack of Seasonings

Here’s an 8 Pack Sampler that was included in the Starter Kit.

More about Wildtree 

Wildtree is an all-natural food company that focuses on quick, easy, healthy dinners. Their all-natural products do not contain preservatives, dyes, fillers, GMO, MSG or high fructose corn syrup. Many products are organic certified too.  Most important of all in my book is the amazing taste! For more about the company & its history, click here.

Hosting Parties

In addition to helping my contacts host parties, I have been a recent host for my friend’s new Stella & Dot venture (also a mom looking for a flexible work arrangement). As with any direct sales business, it pays off to be a host because you can earn free products!  I also like the added benefit of motivation to clean up my house when people come over.  I’m definitely a people person, and I love a reason to bring friends and family together. It IS a lot of fun combining friends from all different areas of your life!

I had never really done a jewelry/accessory party before, but it was a huge hit! I loved being able to try on the items and the chance to catch up with friends over drinks & food. I’m excited to choose my accessories and do some holiday shopping with my host credit!

What are your favorite direct sales or home party-type businesses? Have you heard of Wildtree before?

If you want more info about my Wildtree business, please email me at gomamao AT gmail (dot) com.

Three Cheers for Small Business!

In honor of National Small Business Week, I wanted to acknowledge and share what working at a small business means to me.  According to U.S. Small Business Administration:

“More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.”

Chances are YOU are impacted by small businesses in your own life too.  Without further ado, here are three cheers for my small business employer:

Cheer #1 – My small business offers FLEXIBILITY!

This is so important for me, as I juggle raising my 2 and 4 year old children, while still being able to work part-time at a fulfilling and interesting marketing job.  It took some time to find this job, as I wrote about last year, but I am so pleased that it has been such a good fit.  I write more about my search and journey in this post.

Cheer #2 – My small business Lacks Red Tape!

I talked about having to adjust my full-time and larger, corporate mindset to fit my part-time role and small business in transition back to work. With a lot of careful prioritization and planning (and fewer approvals), I am amazed at how much that can be accomplished in a limited amount of time. It feels good to go into work and really tackle my “must-do-today” list.  I feel a sense of accomplishment checking things off that list each day.

In terms of “red tape,” one story best sums up the larger corporate experience vs. a small business (and when I say small, I mean five total employees – full and part-time – small):

I was planning our big annual customer event and required a check for down payment on our event space.  I asked my boss about the check request procedure. He replied,”Okay, how much to you need, and how should I write it out?”  In less than 5 minutes, the completed check was on my desk.  Done and Done! Love that!

Cheers #3 – My small business provides OPPORTUNITY!

In previous marketing roles I have always been a member of the marketing department.  Sometimes my title included the term manager, but I was never in charge of the big picture.  In my current role, I am a solo marketer. I am in charge of coming up with overall strategy and plans and implementing them down to the very last detail.  I do it all – wearing many hats – as all small business employees must do!

When I started this job over a year ago, I often shared my concern with my boss that I was accustomed to bouncing ideas off of other people much more (instead of just my boss and the two-person sales team).  He admitted that when he first started the business nine years ago, when it was just him, that he struggled with that aspect too. In time he learned to simply do his research, trust his gut, and forge ahead.  This attitude has given me more confidence to trust my instincts and efficiently move projects forward. It’s rewarding to see your work in action and measure results more easily (at times) when compared to larger organizations.

How do you root for small businesses?

Related Posts:

Shop Small. Buy Local. Do Good. – This post is from The Do Gooder Mama, who is recently back from a blogging-break. Do check out her blog for inspiration and awesomeness!

Shopping Victory – One Awesome Pricing Strategy

I have been saving a receipt for almost ONE entire year. Being the bargain shopper that I am, this Kohl’s receipt is a sign of my finest shopping victory. Just look at the Total Saved below:

Receipt from Kohl's from saving a LOT of money in one trip

Super Shopping Savings!

That’s right – I spent $50.45 and SAVED $253.98! I mostly purchased winter clearance girls’ clothing with some pieces costing around $1.00 after using my 30% off coupon and Kohl’s charge. I even earned $10 Kohl’s cash to spend on another visit to the store, only adding to my savings.

This pricing strategy is genius.

It feeds into my own thrill of saving and bargain hunting and encourages me to return to the store with additional offers (Kohl’s Cash) and other savings events throughout the year for Kohl’s credit cardholders. I had another receipt where I also surpassed the $200 level in total amount saved – also from around this same time last year.

I enjoy receiving the coupons every two months or so, when I have to peel of the sticker to reveal my savings.  It’s like a lottery ticket, except my cash is going to Kohl’s when I shop there!  This plays nicely into their tagline, “It’s like getting paid to shop.”

Their marketing strategy is a bulls-eye with me, and it’s no surprise, as Kohl’s caters to the middle of the market (it is not an upscale department store nor a mass merchandiser), making money-savvy moms a main target market.  I’ve remained a loyal customer for many years and am planning a return trip with my newly received 20% off savings coupon.

Disclaimer: these views are purely my own and no cash was received to write this post.  To clarify, no monies have EVER been received for writing Go Mama O.

Do you have a favorite store that really does a great job on promotion?  Are you a coupon-cutter, bargain hunter too?  Nothing beats the winter blahs for me like bargain hunting every so often.  Stay warm & shop online as needed!  Cheers!

5 Ways You Know You’re Getting Older

I don’t know HOW this happened, but I’ve been feeling, well OLD lately!  It’s been creeping up on me a few times in the past few months:

1. An 8 year old tells you that you look like the mom from iCarly.  This happened over summer.  She added to that saying, “but you’re nice.”  Umm…thanks?!

2. Names of things change – no more brontosaurus, it’s actually apatosaurus. I’m learning from story time right along with my two and four year old!

3. There are fewer planets: see ya Pluto!  I’m not sure where that puts my amazing solo during the “Oh Pluto” planet song during a fifth grade assembly.  Somehow I still remember the words (some sung by other dear friends):

“Isn’t it lonely?

To be the only.

The last planet on the rim.

And it ain’t so nice.

Being just rock & ice.

Oh Pluto.”

It goes on to talk more about “from the cold blackness where I sit,” but that’s all I remember from verse two.

4. Your game has declined.  For me this means my basketball and volleyball skills peaked 15 years ago! One mean-spirited former colleague once told me that I won’t be able to play basketball and volleyball when I get older, so I should really take up golf. Given that my alumni team took second place in our basketball tournament, I’m STILL managing to play the sport I love. (Cue image of me thumbing my nose at said former colleague)

5. You’re not the youngest at work anymore.  I guess working with people almost ten years younger than you CAN make you feel old. They don’t understand your childhood references like He-man or She-ra (obviously an important topic at work) and may not know Axel Rose (true story). I find myself looking at my boss, who is part of my generation, and just smiling at the reaction to some of these “generational difference moments.”

I can clearly remember my first jobs in my twenties.  I was the nerdy one showing up with the company issued work badge at the regional office, showing up so early that I had to just sit in the very small lobby, and wait for someone to come and let me in past the key-coded door.  That same person who punched in the code and let me in the office area immediately noticed my badge and said, “We don’t use these here.”  Rookie mistake.

I remember being SO tired during long work days and afternoon meetings.  Perhaps I ate too many carbs and the low lighting needed for Power Point presentations made conditions ideal for some good head-nodding, fighting-a-nap maneuvers.  Horrible! I was mortified that others noticed, so I made sure to caffeinate prior to such meetings. I shared this story with some older and wiser friends, and they just laughed, teasing me about being a young’in and remembering those days themselves. Fortunately I outgrew this and adjusted to long work days and meetings of many kinds.

After much learning in my early twenties, I am now comfortably in my thirties. I enjoy remembering those kid-free days of my younger colleagues. Despite my “old feelings,” I wouldn’t want to go back, as I’ve truly embraced all of the roles that are part of me as an individual, wife, employee, and mom.

Do you have “old moments?” How do you cope?