J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 69.
D: And I… there's a lot of really fear and guilt there because I don't think I was ever built to be a stay-at-home mom. I don't think I was ever built to be with my kids 24 hours a day. And I think it took me several years to not feel horrible about that idea.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant winning living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: Hi, everyone, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women. Last week, I spoke with Danielle LaPorte, all about self-compassion and really letting yourself be your own spiritual guru. Today I'll be talking with Dana Malstaff, all about being a boss mom. I loved Dana's story of being a stay-at-home mom for a while and then realizing she didn't feel exactly cut out for that so she added another element to her life and made all the difference. So let's go ahead and listen in to Dana’s tips on being a boss mom.
I'm talking with Dana Malstaff today and she's a mother, author, business and content strategist, coach, podcaster, and blind spot reducer. Wow, those are some great titles! And Dana is the author of ‘Boss Mom: The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Business & Nurturing Your Family Like a Pro’ and the founder of Boss Mom. She serves boss moms who yearn for more time and less guilt when it comes to building their business and raising their family by providing the tools they need to get more out of their content and business without sacrificing their family goals; so cool. Welcome to the show Dana.
D: Thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited.
J: Me too, me too. So let's start with your favorite quote and then we'll shift into your low point and hear how you got where you are today.
D: Yeah. So I was thinking a lot about this and there's tons of quotes that I like, like, you know, “You got a risk it to get the biscuit,” and the, “You should exceed your… you know, your reach should exceed your grasp,” and those kinds of things. But the one I'm most excited about right now is, I was recently on a panel about influencer marketing and one of the things that I mentioned is that, “If you want to be a true influencer, then you should speak to create other influencers.” And I think that's, to me, the quote that's most important right now as we're building the Boss Mom movement and really trying to create influencer on a micro level so that we don't just have to look really far up to find people that inspire us, but we can look right next to us. I think that's something that we should all aspire, to all be influencers and, “How do we run our business in a way where our influence is based around creating other influencers?”
J: That's great, that's great. Well, take us to your low point and how you made that journey to where you are now.
D: Yeah, gosh, I think my low point… there's a lot of them. I think my low point really had to be when I quit my job and then immediately got pregnant and I… there's a lot of really fear and guilt there because I don't think I was ever built to be a stay-at-home mom. I don't think I was ever built to be with my kids 24 hours a day.
D: And I think I took me several years to not feel horrible about that idea. I think a low point for me was really denying the idea that I needed to be an entrepreneur and that it was good for my kids to be around other people who actually are great at educating her children and hanging out with them and loved them.
D: And that I could be a great mom when I accepted those things more and I could be a great entrepreneur. And so I think a low point for me was a lot of denial; a lot of denial of how I was feeling, of how it was affecting me. There's a lot of, you know, like festering when you don't let things out and you'd feel like you're alone and you can't talk to anybody about something.
D: And I think my ability to be a good parent I think, you know, my ability to grow a business because I think my business suffered; it was very slow growing. And I think I'd cried a lot more than I normally had to…
D: … looking back.
J: Yeah. Well, so you were trying to do the stay-at-home mom thing, paint us a little bit of a picture. Let's imagine you're at a playdate, and what was it feeling like? Did you feel kind of disconnected from everyone or did you just know there was something more you needed to be doing? How did that go down?
D: Oh my goodness, yeah. Well, here's the thing too. If you are just… you know, if you don't live in a world with entrepreneurs and you want to be one…
D: … then you're going to have play dates with a bunch of moms…
D: … who don't understand what being an entrepreneur means, don't understand why you do it and don't understand anything about it. And so you have nothing in that world to talk about and they would come over and they would have like things for my kids, activities for my kids to do, you know what I mean?
D: Like, they'd be like, “Oh, here's this thing your son can play with where he like puts these dots on this thing and it makes a ghost,” and, you know, or they use these finger paints. And I would have never thought of those things.
D: And in my mind, I'm actually thinking, “That's annoying. Like, why would we even do that? Those are… that looks messy.”
D: “And he's not going to make anything. He's like 6 months old, what are you going to do? Like, why don't we just give him the rattle that I've been giving him every day since now? Like, why is this so much trouble?” And so I felt this frustration of being like, “Wow, am I not a good mom because I don't make my kids crafts? Am I not a good mom because I think the fact that they brought crafts is actually more of a pain than not? Like, and am I not a good parent because I would rather be talking about business things than talking about random other things?” And so when I realized that play dates, for me, were actually a way of alienating me from feeling like it was okay for me to have a business, I felt very alone in that space and it was ultimately is because… not because play dates are bad, but because if you don't have play dates with the people who get you and the way you live, then you're going to always feel bad.
J: Oh, I love this. And you mentioned ‘good mom’ and I asked this question a lot. If you were to narrow it down knowing what you know now, “Good mom equals blank + blank,” pick 2 words, or ‘good mom’…
J: ‘Good mom’, for you, did not equal crafts, right, or baking bread, but ‘good mom’, for you, what does it mean now?
D: Yeah, ‘good mom’, for me, means playfulness and attentiveness. So playfulness is that I'm a believer that, I don't care if I never cooked a single one of my kids meal, but if I go get on my all fours and build that tent with them, then I'm creating experience; it's very experience is what I believe. Those are all the great memories I had were the experiences of helping my dad wash his car, you know?
J: Yes, yes.
D: Or at least being helpful. And attentive is, I believe, I think we talked a lot about mindfulness and consciousness and those things that I love those, I live by all those things, but attentive… mindfulness, to me, is internal, and attentiveness is external. So when I'm attentive, that means, I'm not mindful of how I'm feeling, I'm very mindful of how they're feeling and what they're saying, what they're doing.
D: And so attentiveness, for me, recognizes when my kids need things and I have maybe gotten in a rut or I am spending too much time over in my business where I'm not paying attention to my… like, when my kids notice that my husband and I have… are arguing more than normal, like that's me going and like being attentive to that. I'm not just going to be mindful that I need to have a better relationship with my son, I'm going to be attentive that I help make sure I mend that perception of how my husband and I interact. And so I think attentiveness, to me, means that I'm outwardly always trying to make sure I see what my kids need and trying to fulfill that in a way that makes sense for us and our family.
J: Oh, that's brilliant, for sure. And I'm thinking about some of our listeners. I know a lot of our listeners right now questions, should they be doing something more besides the stay-at-home mom thing, should they take that as a season in their life and just enjoy that time or should they try to have a foot in both worlds, what would you tell them?
D: Well, I think you should always try to be something more than a mom. And the reason I think that is because I don't like any one thing defining us. Just like I think you should be more than just a business owner and I think you should be more than just a wife and more than just a daughter, like I don't like the idea that you could name one word that defines us and that one word is a role that we play and that encompasses who we are. I don't think that's a good way to live.
D: I think that becomes very narrowing. And so I would encourage anybody, “You're not a stay-at-home mom. You're a mom who happens to be at home with your kids and you do all sorts of different things during the day,” you know, and what are those things? So there are women I think that say,” I want to solve a problem and so I want to go out into the world and I want to solve that problem,” some of them never make any money and I think that's just as noble. I think they're women that go out say, “You know, I really want to bring monetary value to my home and I'm going to go out and I'm going to figure out how to do that,” and that's great; do that. There are women that say, “You know what? I don't care about a business or helping other people, but I love…” you know, or, “I love charity work and I'm going to do that,” or, “I want to be on my kids, you know, school board and I want to…” whatever that is, something that's just outside of making sure your kids survive and are happy, I think that's important. Because you are so much more than one role and we should strive to figure out what fulfills us outside of being a parent and outside of being a wife and outside of just being a business owner. And when you can diversify that in your life, that's going to fulfill you in a lot of different… even if that's making sure you work out or joining a book club, you know?
D: like do those things because your kids will notice that they are no longer the center of the world, and that's a really important lesson for your kids to learn; and it's a really important lesson for you to learn that your kids aren't the center of the world too because it's hard not to feel that way about them sometimes. (Laughs)
J: I love it! And this goes in the face of kind of the… the current parenting trends of really being overly involved in helicopter parenting, and I love it. Well, so if someone is wanting to do what you said and they know they have something they need to do but they're still held back by the guilt, how would you deal with that?
D: Yeah. So I always say that, “When you're confident about your decisions, then guilt has no place in your life.” And I really do believe that the reason we feel guilty is because we're not sure we're doing the right thing, right?
D: Like, “Maybe I'm not a good parent because I should be doing this thing different. Like, maybe I feel guilty that I'm I've had a hard time potty training my son because I didn't do it early enough or I'm just…” I read a book once that my brother was like, “Hey, we potty-trained our son super quick, just take this and read this book.” And the first line of the book said, “If you have ever said that your child is just not ready, then you're not a committed enough parent,” and I was like, “Yeah, screw this book!”
D: “I’m not reading that book, because you immediately make me feel like a terrible person right off the bat.”
D: “Because… and you've never been in my house. You have no idea that trauma we've been through with trying to potty train my son. And like… like you have no idea,” and so I felt really defensive. And because she made me question whether or not I was a good parent, whether or not I did it right, whether… and it made it seem like there was a right and wrong way.
J: Ah, yes.
D: And I think parents who mean business, we have to recognize that there is no right and wrong way. There are a lot of ways and a lot of those ways compiled together equal the right way for you. And so it has to be about collecting the puzzle pieces and fitting them together and being confident about how you're fitting them together. And so I say, if you don't want to feel guilty, then continually assess every single day what your overall priorities are; like what is it that you're trying to achieve and what are the big things that have to get done. And don't do your business and your family separately because those are 2 whole big buckets and then you’re going to end up having 2 full-time jobs for one person, and that's just its whole level of own stress. Do you have one list that's like, “What's important to us right now? What's important to us tomorrow and over this next 30 days and the next year? Like what do we…?” you know, Stephen Covey's, “Have the end of mind,” like, “What do we want to actually do? What do we care about? Because if I've got to finish this project because it's going to help fund our next vacation and so my kid misses one soccer practice, which one's more important? Because I'm not going to feel guilty about him missing that one, you know, soccer practice if I know that this means we can go to Disneyland in July,” you know, something like that. Like, when I'm confident about the decisions I'm making because we've decided what's important to us and we're weighing our decisions based on what's important, then sometimes my business is it wins and sometimes when my family wins, I don't feel bad about it. And sometimes when things don't go the way I plan, but I know we can just reassess and figure out something new, like that's when you feel better. And then go find a community. Like, Boss Moms was built because we say, “No judgment, just dance parties.” Because you're going to find somebody in there that had potty training issues just like me. And I had so many people go like, “Oh, well, just try the weekend method,” and I was like, “You guys are great. I tried that and it didn't work. Who else? Who else has an idea?”
J: Yeah, yeah.
D: And then there was a group of women that came forward and said, “I… it took me 3 years to potty train my kid,” and I was like, “Yep, you're my new friend. Tell me more about this.”
D: So if you find the people that get you and they get you because not only where their experience is similar, but they might have some solutions for you or they just might be a person for you to get it out because talking out what your problem is and having somebody go, “Yep, nope, that happened to me,” and just not feeling alone is its own guilt reliever.
J: Yes. And you mentioned Boss Moms, tell our listeners where they could find that connect with you.
D: Yeah, so boss-mom.com is our normal place, boss-mom.com/facebook is where you can get to our Facebook group, which we're just about to hit 2000 and it's still super vibrant and super connected. And women are making friends and making connections and, you know, getting featured on podcasts and, you know, writing books together and doing all these really amazing things. And the one thing I said, it's so funny, when you think about a big group and people have told me, “Dana, you're… it's getting too big. Like, I'm going to… I'm scared to get in and engage because it's too big.”
D: And the analogy that I always make if you're thinking that a community is too big is that, you know, when I went to college, I went to Indiana University, and there's 40,000 people on that campus.
D: And I still walked in and found best friends.
D: Because I walk… in the classes I was in and the dorm I was in and the interests that other people had, we found each other. So don't be scared of a big space. Go into that space and then look for the people that resonate with you by asking questions and answering questions and you will find your small group of people within a large group.
J: Great. And now, tell us something that's exciting you today, how you're living a vibrant happy life today; as if we can't already tell, but tell us more. (Laughs)
D: So I don't know if anybody else has experienced this, but I… my daughter was a bit of a pain in the butt when she was young.
D: And I had joked that, if my home had been a business, I would have probably fired my daughter already.
D: But, lucky for me, right about the 18-month mark, which was recently, she just… her personality started coming out and all the challenges and things we had before just started to kind of melt away, and I have fallen madly in love with my daughter; which is awesome.
D: And… and so part of what's making me happy is, I feel like my kids are 2 and almost 4 that we're a little bit out of the woods on some of the survival mode that we've been in. And one by one in my home and in my business, I'm just tackling one efficiency. You know, getting like my pantry, we just… we… I totally cleared it out and I purged my pantry and I purged my closet and in my business for one by one. And so it's making me really happy now is that I'm still really busy; that's kind of just how I roll and I still got a lot going on. And there's some nights where I have to stay up late to get things done and hit deadlines because maybe a kid was sick the week before. But what's making me really happy is I feel like I'm actually making progress, not on the things that are in real-time, but on the things that are that in that sort of non-urgent but important quadrant. And that I know a year from now, as those things build and build and building compound, I'm creating that lifestyle where I do only work 3 days a week and I'm getting my kids early we have the finances that allow us to do all the different things that we want. And that seeing that vision and that light, you know, that has sometimes not felt so bright has been really invigorating to motivate me to do it more.
J: So you mentioned the 3 days a week and getting the kids early, do you mind sharing your vision of what you do want what you're building toward, like in all the details?
D: Yeah. So I think, you know, I hear a lot of moms say, “Wow, when my kids are really young, I want them home with me to experience that life,” I think I have a different view. Like, I love that I have my weekends with my kids and the mornings and evenings and I send them off to a really awesome school where they get really good education, and my daughter, you know, they're both really young. Because when my kids start getting old enough, you know, like the 8 and on sort of or maybe even like 7 and on, we'll see how it goes where they start having to figure out life's lessons, when they start having to make assumptions about the world and what it is and how to deal with people and how to deal with not very nice people or not very nice situations, I want to be able to have the space to direct their morals and their values. I want to be able to spend some really good time in that space with them because I feel like that's the time when they're really going to need me, mom, like as a person as my mind; not just as me, mom, who picks me up and loves me, but as in, “How would I deal with that situation?” and, “Who am I as a person?” and, “How am I going to cultivate them as a person?” And that's what I want to build towards is a business where I have that space and a lot of it and I don't have to worry about my business on a granular day-to-day level; that I'm a much more high level participant in my business and how it runs and there's the established team. And so I'm a real CEO in the truest sense so that I can really influence my kids in the way that I want them to be influenced and I don't allow anybody else to have that job.
J: Nice. I love how you have it so clearly defined and it’s unique to you. So how do you do that? Do you have an ability to listen to your own intuition and how do you have the confidence to just nail that picture down like that? Because I know a lot of people struggle. I get where you're coming from. I can do that too, but I know a lot of our listeners struggle with that.
D: Yeah, yeah, so there's a couple things. One, I really love to surround myself with people who don't accept my answers as the right answer.
J: ooh. (Laughs)
D: You know, I say that my stepdad is one of my favorite mentors and that he also pisses me off more than anybody I've ever met because every time I think I have the most brilliant idea that I've come up with something that is absolutely the truth, he always… he does that pause and he goes, “Hmm, interesting.”
D: And then I'm like, “Oh, you totally negate everything I thought that was amazing.” And it makes me angry in the beginning because I've like fallen in love with my own answer. Have you ever had that where…
D: … you think your answer…? Like, I think it was Steven King who said, “You kill your darlings.”
D: It's that, the statements that you think are the most brilliant that end up being the ones that nobody else gets, but you…
D: … and don't actually sell. So you… like, I would get married to the things that I thought were brilliant and these great ideas and concepts and who I was and how I was living. And my stepdad and some of my other friends… now, like if I meet somebody and I ask them a question and they're like, “That's brilliant. Everything you just said out of your mouth is brilliant,” I'm like, “We're probably not going to be best friends because I need you to challenge me and I need to challenge you and I need us to be surrounded by people who do not accept what we say as everything, but that they challenge us to ask to see if we can go deeper and reveal more.” You know, I always say, “Brainstorming should not be comfortable because if what you're doing is comfortable, then you're just making a list.”
D: And I don't want to make lists, I want to come to aha moments in my life. And you don't do that by being comfortable, you do that by digging to a place that feels really scary. And so every time I feel really scared about where I'm going and what I'm trying to figure out, I know that it's digging somewhere good and it's going to either surface something where I need to go talk to somebody, the… a professional that like talk it out and figure it out, or come to some aha moment where I can share and then be challenged about it and share and challenged about it until finally, we've challenged it enough that I'm so confident that it's right, but that's it. That's what I love when I say, “Hey, guys, go out and ask people what they think because the more you decide that you're going to stand up for the thing that they don't agree with, the more you decide that you're going to fight for it, the more you realize how much clarity you have about that's who you are; is you've got to go out and somebody's got to challenge you to fight for what you care about and who you are in order for you to realize that that's who you are and what you're willing to fight for.”
J: Ooh, man, you are full of nuggets of wisdom; I love this (Laughs). Thank you, I love it. So what's the current struggle? I mean, you sound amazing, but do you have any struggles?
D: Oh my gosh, yes, all the time.
D: Yeah, one of the things I'm really, really terrible at (which is why I have a team who helps me not be so terrible at it) is I'm like a lot of people where I have a ton of ideas and I know that there's a lot of things I can do, and so I just want to do all of them and I want to do… you know, I want to do now; I want to do all of them now.
J: Yeah. (Laughs)
D: And I have to hire people. And even one of the most recent additions to my team is, you know, my specialty is content creation.
D: You know, I've got almost 10,000 students in various platforms of various courses. Like, contents my space; back in corporate America, that's what I used to do. But I had to hire somebody to be my content specialist where we brainstorm out what our theme is each month, what we're going to create, what that's going to look like and help… have her keep me on task and be a sounding board for me. Because when we go through things and I'll be like, “Okay, well, let's… so in June, we should do this and this. And, ooh, this would be fun,” and then she goes, “Dana, that's 6 things.”
D: “Yeah, you're only allowed to do 2 so let’s (unclear) [21:05] other ones go. But if I didn’t have her, I try to do all those 6 things because, in my brain, it takes a quarter of the time than what it actually takes. Like, in my brain… this is a blessing and a curse where, in my brain, it seems easy. Like, I know a lot of people, in their brain, everything seems hard.
D: And I think if you can flip your brain to think that everything is easy, that's a really good place to be, right?
D: Because, in my mind, I'm like, “Oh, just create a course and then I'll sell it to people then I'll make money and it'll be great,” and that seems totally doable in my mind. And then you get into it, you realize, “Well, it takes a lot of time to make a course and all those things,” right?
J: (Laughs). Yeah, yeah.
D: So I have to hire somebody to remind me to slow down, which is one of the first I did. I hired… literally hired somebody to be like, “You're not allowed to do that; that's too many things.”
J: That is so great. (Laughs)
D: And I’ll be like, “But I want to,” they’re just like, “No, you can't. Please pay me money now,” and I'm, “Okay.”
J: So great. You remind me of myself in many ways; that's so funny. Let's talk about a few of your favorite things, Dana. What is a habit that has really contributed to your success? And I'm going to add a question on to that; tell us what your morning routine looks like.
D: Yeah. So my morning routine is… actually, up until recently, my kids woke me up, but over the last week, I've woken my kids up, which is like glorious.
D: It’s amazing. But we get up around the same time. I'm not one of those people that gets up before my children, I just…
D: I enjoy my bed too much.
J: Yeah, right.
D: And I'm one of those people that like, I wake up and it's not that I want to be asleep, I just want to like move my legs around and find the cold spots in my bed and just like cuddle up with myself. I don't want anybody else there. (Laughs)
J: Yeah. (Laughs)
D: And so get up with the kids. We come downstairs, we… I get them… you know, we eat, we hang out, we… I make their lunches. Sometimes, you know, about half of the week, we just play around and I have no real like early requirement to get them. But a couple days a week, like I would get them for… on a specific time because I have certain meetings, and we do just our… we have fun in the morning. It's… we engage with each other, I ask them what they want to do, you know, we do some fun things. I get them off to school, when I get back, I get to have my cup of coffee; like I wait.
J: Ah, okay.
D: So that I can really save my coffee. Because nothing frustrates me more than a half drink… like drink, you know, cold coffee.
D: And so I just don't even try, and I… which a nutritionist actually told me that's better to not drink your coffee first thing in the morning; so who knew I was doing it right?
J: Well done.
D: And I have my coffee and I sit down and the thing that is my personal habit is I assess what has to happen that day and whether those tests are actually driving my business in the right direction. And then the second question from there is, “Do I have to do them myself?” So I'm still constantly every day figuring out what I need to do in my business and what I can be handing off. And if it's something where it's going to cost me more money to hand off, then I look and say, “Well, does it need to happen at all or does it make sense for me to work to ensure I have the money to pay that person?” Because the habit that you want to create is always continually recognizing when you could be making more 1 hour than you would be paying to have that test done. So if I make 300 plus an hour and it would cost me $20 an hour to have somebody take this particular task off of my plate, then I am losing money in my business by doing it myself.
J: Perfect, I love that.
D: I have to constantly remind myself of that. So the habit is the assessment of my priorities, looking at what has to get done, seeing if I can delegate that out and reminding myself that I am losing money in my business by doing things myself all the time.
J: Okay. And has it worked? I mean, do you have a good team building now?
D: Yeah, we've got 9 people on my team. And I'm not a big believer in like the super virtual assistant, that I'm going to find somebody to just do everything that needs to be done, I'm a believer in a hyper focus of tasks that people have and centered around what they're really good at and what they enjoy. So, you know, I have one person that all she does is send out cease and desist and that doesn't bother her. It gives me an ulcer to send out cease and desists.
D: But she doesn't mind it at all. I have somebody there, her sole role is to let people into the Facebook group and to kick people out, you know? I've got a community manager, and then I have, like I told you, I need somebody to make sure I don't do too much and to manage things. So I have a business office manager who manages my calendar and my email. And I have an actual project manager who manages all of really high-level projects and I have a Content Manager who does the social media, but also helps me actually create content. I have a designer on retainer. I have a lawyer on retainer. So we've really grown the business where every time we see something or someone on my team see something that's not getting done or not getting done well or I get stressed out about, they help me do that assessment now; which is really great because it's a… we very much created a team about empowerment. I don't manage people, I empower people. And if someone's on my team who doesn't leverage that empowerment to their advantage, then they don't stay on my team for very long.
J: Hmm, and do you guys have a meeting with all of you or do you just meet with them once in a while or individually?
D: My business office manager and my project manager, we meet once a week. They help disseminate a lot of that information. My content strategist with me, we do every other week and then when we come into heavy seasons I like with the Boss Mom retreat coming up, then the whole team meets every other week.
D: Yeah. And then I'm going to be working in as this team grows, we'll start working in quarterly reviews and, you know, all the things that become very official in a business setting, as we grow, we’ll start implementing some of those elements. And then one of our big goals is, I'm a big believer that every single person in the value chain is valuable to helping something grow. And so like I'm getting a certification right now, an appreciative inquiry, which is all about summits that bring in all the parties and ask really great questions that help cultivate positive strengths driven answers. And so my plan is to have a Boss Mom internal retreat where it's just my team goes once a year and we powwow for 3 days and figure out the next year's future of Boss Mom and what that looks like. And that would not only include my team, but someone that's an ideal client, someone… you know, those different people that sort of help fill those roles about how we can create a better customer experience for everybody.
J: Great, great. You have ambition, I can say that; that's awesome.
D: Go big or go home, you know?
J: Yeah. Well, leaning to the family side of things, what is your favorite easy meal?
D: Ooh, okay, I loved it this question. So… which, by the way, I was listening to your interview with Kirsten Terra, who's one of my friends, she's actually coming to our retreat, she's going to be doing my makeup; which is awesome.
D: Yeah. And I was listening to it and I was like, “Oh, these are all such good answers.” So my go-to easy meal is, I get those brown rice packets that are in like the little bowl that you put in the microwave for 90 seconds.
D: And I take brown rice and then I take chicken apple sausage and I sauté up some chicken apple sausage. And then I am obsessed with Thai peanut sauce, and I pour Thai peanut sauce on the top. And if we've got some veggies laying around, I throw some veggies in, and otherwise that's like my absolute go-to, easy, in under 5 minutes, you have a meal that's got the right kind of protein and the right kind of nutrients that you need to fuel you for the rest of the day…
D: … with the little spicy, tangy taste of Thai.
J: Oh, yum, that's great. And your… we talked about this before we actually turn the microphone on, what's your favorite kitchen gadget?
D: Yeah. So am I allowed to say a wine opener? (Laughs)
J: Sure! (Laughs)
D: What’s funny is, it's not just because I enjoy wine (which I do)… I lived in France for years so I'm a ‘wine during lunch’ drinker. I have a glass of wine at lunch often.
D: And… but not really at night because kids are running around and it's hard to actually have a drink of anything.
D: But I used to be a waitress, you know, when I was in College and a little bit after, you know, I did… I was a waitress for a long time. And I believe that opening a bottle, there's an art form to it, and I have this really beautiful wine opener from Florence, Italy from a vacation I took with my now husband and my brother, and the 3 of us toured around. And so it's beautiful memory, it's a little bit of a skill, and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor afterwards.
J: Yeah. And we haven't had that as a kitchen gadget yet, so way to be unique (Laughs). And…
D: (Laughs). It's like, “Should I talk… should I use a drink one? I feel like I should have some…”
J: (Laughs). Way to stand out! We're going to remember you for that (Laughs). And a favorite book.
J: Yeah. So there's 3… there's 2 books that are always my favorite, which is ‘The Five Love Languages’ is, I think, one of the best business books you will ever read as a lot… as well as regular books. ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran is kind of part of like what I live my life by and it's not a religious book, it's just a very wonderful book. But my current, current, current favorite, if you have not read ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, you have to read it.
J: Mm-hmm, it’s a great one.
D: The way she talks about fear and the way she talks about ideas, searching for somebody to take them and seize them and that your ideas will go to somebody else if you don't take those opportunities, it's a really beautiful way to think, and I think it's just a great book.
J: And the best advice you've ever received.
D: “Business is people, life is people,” that if you can't learn how to show people how they are loved and valued and connect with people with empathy and compassion, then you're going to left feeling alone and sad. (Laughs)
J: Yeah, no kidding, okay. And let me remind our listeners they can find links to everything on our show notes page at jenriday.com/69. And now, your happiness formula.
D: Yeah, so…
J: Yeah, go ahead.
D: I think there are 3 steps. I actually had to write this one down, I was like, “Ooh, my happiness formula, I’ve got to think through this one,” but I think there's 3 steps. I think, 1, you have to learn to recognize your happy moments, you know, there's… the whole thing, “It's a destination,” obviously is not true. But I think, even more than that, we have happiness moments and you have to learn to see them and sort of internalize them so you can call back on them when you really need them.
D: Number 2 is, know that others see you differently, right, and that you're often too hard on yourself. There's a video that was recently for Mother's Day where it showed the moms perception of the day where the kids are crying and the daughter was dropping the cake and that it was…
D: … all stressful. And the kid… then at the end of the day was telling dad about the day and it was about how they got to play with mom in the shopping cart and how they got to love on their little brother and that they… they got to eat cake off the floor and… you know, and that mom cuddled when she was scared in the morning, and those things that show that we are often hard on ourselves about how we perceive the world and our value in the world, and to let other people show you that their perception of you is much more positive than we often make for ourselves. So that's number 2; listen to the people that are going to tell you nice things. And then 3 is just recognize when you're not happy and take and assess what's not working and tweak it. Like, don't sit and unhappiness and fester there for a long time; it doesn't help anybody. Like, if you want more happiness in your life, then recognize where you're not happy and figure out how to make change. Like, the people that say, “It is what it is,” is such a frustrating phrase for me. Like, it isn't that way at all; it doesn't have to be that way at all. Like, saying, “It is what it is,” is like being more apathetic than saying whatever which is to say, I have… like, that was the one word we weren't allowed to say in my family. You're not allowed to say, “Whatever,” you're not allowed to say, “It is what it is,” because that means you've given up, and there is no giving up. If you want happiness, then it is a pursuit that you have to go after with absolute passion and seize it as much as you can.
J: Oh, I love that. Well, I'm going to surprise you with another question.
D: (Whispers: No)
J: We can edit it out, we can edit …
D: No, no, I'm all for it; lay it on me.
J: (Laughs). So what legacy do you want to leave for your family; your girls?
D: I want to… I want to leave a legacy of being helpful. Like, in the very beginning, to bring this from circle, the idea that, “To be an influencer, we must seek to create more influencers,” I want it to be where, you know, someone is sitting down and there… you know, someone comes to my kid and goes, “Oh my gosh, did, you know, that my grandma knew your mom and this happened, and because of that this happened and this happened?” I want to be a ripple that absolutely has a lasting effect because it helps create a perception of the world for people that is about being helpful and connecting. You know, I had a girl that… that we gave a scholarship at the last retreat, and she just recently got a hold of me and said, “Dana, I launched… I…” you know, a lot has happened for her. And she says that, “I launched this program and I saw somebody that really needed it and I gave him a scholarship because you gave me that scholarship and created a standard for me that that's what you do.”
D: And, to me, it was like… I almost started crying, I was like, “Yes, I want to create a standard of living that's revolved around being helpful and connection, and creating connection and collaborating and being curious with each other and not judging, but being helpful where we can and recognizing that sometimes people just need to be loved and not helped.”
J: Oh, love that.
D: I think that if I can do that, like when my son says, “Oh, I'm going to go to school,” and I say, “What are you going to do today?” and he's like, “Oh, I'm just… I'm going to try and be helpful,” and I'm like, “Yes, yes, that's the world… that's the legacy I want to leave, is creating that perception and reality for people that they just go on and live.”
J: And your son has actually said that?
D: He has said… well, asked, “Mom…”
J: No way; that's so great.
D: Well, that's because I create that standard when we drive to school and he says, “Mommy, you know, do I have to go to school?” and I say, “Yes, you go to school to learn how to be helpful, and mom goes to work because she's learned how to be helpful and she's being helpful out in the world.”
J: Aww! (Laughs)
D: “So we do the same thing, we just… you're learning how to do it and mom is doing what she learned.” And he goes, “Okay. Well, don't stay at work too long,” and I'm like, “Okay, I won't. I'll come and get you.” But that's the standard that I've created for him is that's what… it's not about learning how to do stuff, it's about learning how to leverage the things, you know, and are learning in school to leverage them to help other people live better lives. And by doing that by solving problems and connecting people and being there for people, we create better lives for ourselves.
J: Mm. Well, it's obvious you're totally living your purpose and creating that legacy already, so congrats for that. And I want to have you leave our listeners with a challenge and then we'll say goodbye.
D: Yeah. I would say, here's my challenge. I want you to take the next 3 days and I want you to time map what you do in your day, just on a sheet of paper in a circle of the time map of where you spend your time. And at the end of those 3 days, I want you to look at that time mapping and I want you to look at what you're doing, where you're spending your time, and whether you're spending your time doing things that make you happy and fulfill you and that you think are actually helping you get to where you want to go in life, and the amount of time you're spending doing things that don't fulfill you and actually empty your cup. And then get really serious about finding the kind of support you need through this community, through other communities, you know, through your friends and your networks to pull yourself more into the time you're spending doing the things that fulfill you and that you love. And it all starts by assessing what you're doing right now.
J: Excellent. Well, I've really had a fun time. Thank you so much for being on the show.
D: Thanks for having me.
J: Take care.
Thanks so much for joining Dana and me. And be sure to come back next week when I talk with Salena Knight, and she tells her story of making it literally on her own. She left home at age 15 and by her early 20s, she owned several properties; and today, she's a business owner. And I what I loved most about talking with her was her conversation about victim mentality versus empowered thinking; that you really can create your life. And I know we talk about this a lot, but Salena's story really puts it into perspective that, “Yes, you really can do it. No matter how you were raised, no matter what your genetics, you can create your life.” So you're going to love that episode and I will see you next week. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.