Working Parent Spotlight: Candor and Lessons Learned from Industry Leaders

Published on December 11, 2020 - Updated on December 11, 2020

A glimpse into the minds of working parents who are seeking solutions and making it work during the year 2020.

(As featured on October 22nd, 2020 in Thrive Global. )

“They need us and we are committed to staying positive and finding joy in these times – for them, and for us.”  Sue Ribot

These moments are bound to change us …. Embrace it, be patient, and give yourself the grace you give to others.” Louis Montgomery

Working moms (and involved dads) are unicorns, juggling, balancing, and finding ways to succeed in challenging situations. They swim hard even when they feel like they’re drowning, and they find their way. They reevaluate what success looks like when necessary and often they manage to appear polished and relaxed in the most hectic moments. At least, that’s the goal, right? 

As we navigate a school year that proves there is not always a “right answer,” and challenges our sanity, we must be prepared to make adjustments in order to thrive. To achieve this, it is helpful to seek out beacons of hope, which for me, is working mom and dad friends that I count on for the gift of realness. These are positive, motivated people that actively seek joy, but also choose to not be strangers to vulnerability. These are my lifelines.

Blessed with the opportunity to see this pandemic era through the eyes of some extremely impressive and inspiring individuals, I’m grateful for the chance to share with you how they’re coping with life in COVID – the highs and lows of their experiences, and what they are doing with their companies to support working parents in a meaningful way.

While each person’s experience is different, a few lessons resonate: 

  1. This is really hard. And without taking an extra breath, this positive group of leaders jumped straight into how they’re surviving and, yes, even thriving at times. 
  2. Your support system matters.  
  3. Companies are really trying. They don’t always get it right and they want to help. Give them constructive feedback and they will listen. 
  4. Purposeful time, focused on your children and your partner is so important. Like most things in life, it’s not just going to happen. Block your calendar – It matters, likely more than ever. 
  5. You must find ways to take care of yourself, in addition to your family members.

Without further ado, I’m grateful and thrilled to shine the spotlight on…

Emily Markmann

Emily Markmann.jpg

If you’ve met Emily, CHRO of The Knot, previously WeddingWire, you know she cares deeply for people. Her heartfelt commitment to the well being and long term journey of her team is obvious and you can hear it instantly in her voice. I was excited to chat with her about family and career success.

These days, when sitting down to discuss life as a working parent it’s unavoidable to allow pandemic distractions to take center stage. How could they not? Yet, Emily’s perspective proves that, while obviously familiar with the impact of the coronavirus, she is also keenly aware of the big picture.

In approaching the challenges associated with COVID-19, her high level of compassion is a perfect partner for a healthy sense of realism. While we begin by discussing parenting with a career in general, we quickly move into our present reality: learning to thrive in a world where juggling has a whole new meaning. Now, working from home with kids and little to no childcare, the work-life balance we strive for feels even further away. But in truth, as Emily quickly reveals, it’s always been out of reach. 

In her words, “When you normalize it, to put a name on it, work-life balance for a working mother is a farce. It’s not fair because you set expectations as if there’s a balance. The truth is, it’s a trade-off. What are you willing to trade-off that week, that day. The quote, ‘the days are long and the years are short’ is spot on. When the (kids) are really little, it’s super hard. On the work side, it’s important to set realistic expectations and have a longer-term thing, both for yourself and from the company you work with. Life in COVID is no different.” 

She couldn’t be more right! Challenges are inevitable and having the wisdom to make adjustments when and where they are necessary is a huge part of pursuing broader success both personally and at work. Emily is a fan of a popular meme, “You’re not working from home, you’re at home during a crisis trying to work.” 

After quoting this to the company, she often repeats it to her team to encourage them to find time for self-care. Pointing out that accessing personal oxygen first as they would on a plane better prepares them to support others, her pragmatic side quickly jumps in to acknowledge it is easier said than done. “I need to be better at following my own advice!

As for The Knot, Emily shares, “We are in it for the long term and we are committed to making our team feel safe and cared for during this unprecedented time. We do our best to be transparent, clear, and to communicate. We are all learning, sometimes growing and sometimes stumbling every day.” 

We are so grateful to Emily Markmann for taking the time to share her always genuine and inspiring perspective with the happyly community. 

Roopesh Panchasra


Roopesh is the Global Head of Executive Recruiting & Employer Branding with SAP.  A publicly-traded company, SAP is known as one of the best software companies in the world. After working in executive search with a large multinational company for the past fifteen years, I understand that most parents that work in a Fortune 500 company lean on a spouse at home full time and/or a large support network between nannies, school and family. The reality for so many is that life is about choices, and sometimes signing up for a big job means sacrifices on the family side. 

This is true for both men and women at this career level, and I admit my initial assumption was that someone like Roopesh and his wife, who is also very accomplished and works a demanding job, must have quite a team behind them. Based on my knowledge of Roopesh’s work ethic and high career performance, evidence suggests his primary focus is his career and I didn’t assume an extremely high level of involvement with his kids. 

Sometimes, it’s nice to be so wrong.  

I thoroughly enjoyed sharing time with Roopesh to better understand his world, loving commitment to the hands-on parenting of his five-year-old twins, and palpable respect for his accomplished wife. I also admire his observation that COVID-19 has changed many things for working parents, perhaps most importantly, the higher level of vulnerability and honesty we are willing to expose. Perhaps screaming from the rooftops, “I love my kids, they matter, and, in the scheme of things, they win,” is more acceptable than ever.  

Roopesh, like many others with two-income households, emphasizes the importance of remaining in a constant state of negotiation with his wife. They both have high expectations for the way they engage and parent their twin 5-year-olds along with demanding careers, and they understand that they must communicate on a high level to keep things running smoothly. 

I treat what I’m doing at home like a work project. What do I have planned? If you prepare, you avoid potential disagreements… small things go a long way.” 

The major quarantine shift for Roopesh was working out homeschooling and family life, because, without any sort of commute, he’s actually working more hours. “Things are busier than ever and I’m grateful to work for a company like SAP and have the chance to do really cool work. What’s taken getting used to is finding balance in meeting my personal demands, respecting my wife’s work needs, being transparent (and giving others the ability to do the same), and setting boundaries to ensure I can be the kind of parent I want to be.

With that in mind, SAP is a great place to work and has been for a long time (I know this first hand as my husband worked with SAP for almost 20 years). They promote a supportive team atmosphere and Roopesh shared a few things he’s established with his team to respect the need for balance at home while maintaining a healthy work culture during this unusual time.

  1. Encourage people to turn the video on without the expectation of perfection. The video connection allows honesty in emotions and helping one another work through them.
  2. Kids saying hello on screen is the new normal. In the beginning, especially, people really didn’t know what to do. I try to just give people space. 
  3. One’s team must know that leadership has their back, that they really can do what they need to do. 
  4. Show a high level of empathy across the entire team. Give leaders the authority to do the same. 
  5. For those that have kids, encourage them to be present in both worlds and give them the tools and flexibility to do so.

In Roopesh’s home, schedule blocking is important and he encourages his team to employ this practice. At age five, his kids know if he is truly present. “The truth is, the work never ends so you have to be thoughtful about shutting it off and plugging in on the family side in a meaningful way. For two hours, I put away my phone. It’s so tempting to check it – it can be difficult for me because that’s how I am. But even if it’s one hour a day, be fully present for your kids, because they know and it matters.

Roopesh points out that structured family time is mutually beneficial. Making time FOR one’s family is ignoring the fact that it is for one’s own benefit as well. “It works both ways. I want to make sure I enjoy it, so I get them to enjoy things I enjoy doing too.” 

So many parents pursue quality time by joining their kids as they play, which is certainly important, but with so much on our minds, it can be challenging not to lose focus. Instead, like Roopesh, purposefully planning activities that are engaging and beneficial for everyone in the family is a direct path to deriving greater value from your precious time.

As is true for all our spotlighted parents, Roopesh maintains enduring gratitude, “In the grand scheme of this hardship in the world, I know we are blessed.” And so are we, Roopesh, for your willingness to share your valuable insight! 

Dawn Mitchell


Dawn is a force in all ways. She’s the VP of HR at Appian (a $155M + public company and one of Washington DC’s most respected and successful technology companies) and she’s mom to two beautiful boys under five. Like many operating in the pre-COVID days, Dawn’s family was accustomed to a tight schedule of daycare drop-offs, commute time, packed workdays, and routinely working into the evening. 

For someone with her unyielding commitment to positive leadership in a fast-paced, demanding environment, the impact of daycare closures and a new dynamic working from home with two young kids proved both hard and humbling. 

Dawn is known for her honesty and lack of filter (in the best way) and I have always respected this as one of the many qualities that make her exceptional. She shared candidly how much the new normal has broken down walls professionally in ways she never expected, “such as when realize you’re not on mute and have a moment and scream…”I hate my kids.’” Of course, she doesn’t mean it, but the moment she’s referring to – when every expectation is high and you can barely find time to breathe – is familiar to us all..

Demonstrating her unbelievable knack for clearly pinpointing what’s wrong, and immediately shifting to what we can learn from it, Dawn shares priceless insight into what’s keeping her sane. 

  1. Rollback expectations on your personal and family goals. In the time you have, prioritize what needs to happen over the things you would like to happen. Know the difference. As an example, Dawn and her husband could not duplicate what her son was getting at daycare but knew they needed time to work out, so more screen time became acceptable in a way it wasn’t before. As a result of their commitment to exercise, the quality of their time with the kids improved.
  2. Maintain strong communication with your team: here’s when I’m free, here’s when I’m not, let me know what’s actually urgent. It’s turning into a “nice chance to see growth in members of my team.” 
  3. Turn off the news. It became an issue for Dawn’s five-year-old, and she quickly learned to be more mindful of the media consumption within the family.
  4. Dawn’s family made a personal decision to slowly increase their bubble and coordinated with a few families. Spending time together socially immediately boosted everyone’s moods.
  5. Outsource as much as you can. “I can’t do all the things. House, schoolwork, work – I moved the budget around for some things, grocery delivery, lawn care – to be more mindful of what we pay for.”  

From an Appian perspective, they are listening deeply. The choice to come back to work or remain remote is 100% employee lead and they are encouraging members of their team to stay remote as long as necessary. A parent council was put in place and based on their first recommendation, Appian is actively evaluating tools to supplement distance learning. 

The company also reimburses additional expenses employees encounter due to remote work and recently hosted a recharge day for their employees across the globe. “Most importantly, at Appian, we’re being authentic and focusing on flexibility – what needs to be done not how it needs to be done.

As each of our corporate leaders is doing, Dawn proactively adopts strategies and tools for success. They directly lead to a better quality of life and a more fulfilling time with her family during these isolating times. For Dawn’s family, this means “finding ways to recharge outside of crazy workdays, spending weekends enjoying our farm life, and getting outside as much as possible.” 

Many thanks to Dawn for finding time to share with the happyly community in this way; we are so grateful for your perfect blend of realness and positivity!

Sue Ribot


A trusted partner, friend and mentor throughout the years, I grew close to Sue in the years I spent working with Korn Ferry. If you’re lucky enough to know her, it is certain that you respect her passion and all-in approach, especially in her commitment to her family. Sue is a deeply loyal friend in the traditional way and also in the way she engages with her colleagues, clients, and the candidates that she works with. 

Sue is mom to Alex and Oliver and values this gift above all else. We’ve shared our IVF journeys over the years, which have strongly influenced our personal approach to parenting, and we both strive to be highly engaged and grateful for each moment. When it comes to excellence in parenting, Sue is all in and it shows. Despite her incredible success, Sue has figured out how to integrate work and life and is unapologetic about the importance of family and her role as a mom. 

Additionally, Sue is dedicated to her career and her clients in a way that is unparalleled. Any client or executive that has worked with Sue can feel her commitment to her craft. When she’s not busy being an exceptional mom and wife, or with work-related priorities, she’s a voracious reader, always bettering herself to serve her clients at the highest level. On the rare occasion that she takes a vacation, she’s probably reading something about trends in cybersecurity on the airplane or at the pool.  

Her passion is rivaled only by her robust compassion. COVID’s impact further elevated Sue’s empathetic approach to life. She’s now juggling homeschooling for a high school and a middle school student, maintaining a keen sense of their academic needs. She is also very connected with the emotional needs of her kids and recognizes that the hardest part of adjusting to pandemic times for this age group is social.

Sue shared with us some of her insider tips on what’s working for her family to ensure time is appropriately allocated. Planning ahead is definitely a theme. Whether it’s thinking about an upcoming family meal, building an outdoor fire pit as a family project for future S’ mores evenings, or a weekend outing to find a cool hike or new swimming hole, Sue is careful to secure the enthusiasm of her family by making the most of their time. 

Each family member understands that participating in the planning ensures high-quality family time and also allows them control of their own destiny. The best quality time together happens when doing something they all enjoy, so they plan accordingly. She credits Alex and Oliver’s strength and positivity for keeping them grounded and connected as a family even in trying times. “They need us and we are committed to staying positive and finding joy in these times – for them, and for us.” 

As a company committed to helping parents find joy and connection, Sue’s approach makes us smile. She and her family are perfect examples of why we do what we do!

Jackie Ghedine

Jackie Ghedine.jpeg

The CEO and founder of The Resting Mind, Jackie is a fellow member of Dreamers & Doers. If you haven’t heard of it yet, check it out…Dreamers & Doers is an exceptional group of women that I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past year (“a private collective for extraordinary entrepreneurial women”). I have only met the most authentic and loving people through Gesche Haas (Founder & CEO) and Jackie is a testament to the great impact these strong individuals are sharing with our broad community. 

As the founder of The Resting Mind, Jackie and her team coach and train Generation X and (more recently) millennial women who have been told they can have it all (we can, but, at what expense and with what support). When meeting Jackie, you’re immediately struck by her authenticity and passion for supporting working moms. Now, more than ever, “women have confused what it means to have it all. They need to be reminded that it doesn’t mean one has to do it all themselves.

The catalyst for this incredible business was the birth of her daughter. When her daughter went to kindergarten, Jackie was an executive publishing and her husband also worked a demanding job. She knew that two traveling parents would not be sustainable for her family. She had a particularly powerful “aha” moment when her daughter asked, “When’s mommy coming home from her business trip,” and she was actually just working long days and nights at the time. 

She knew the change was possible, but first, she had to step away from formed notions about what she was supposed to do and start to form a plan for how she could manage it all (without accepting help, sound familiar friends?)

Today, Jackie lives in New York and her daughter is 11-years-old. Like most of us, she’s adapting to the world in pandemic times, working a very important full time job in her home office, and juggling homeschooling. “This generation doesn’t ask for help the same way. We work with our clients to have direct communication and true dialogue, to ask for help, to recognize that you can drop the ball and take things off your list and not feel like everything is a priority.” 

Jackie and her team push well past the day to date issues and dive deep into the “non-work” topics that drive success or challenges in the workplace, the messy life stuff, the real stuff like pandemic struggles, mid-life (crisis or awakening), aging parents –  the things that make us human.

Beyond the personalized lessons and empowerment Jackie and her team are known for, they are ideally suited to adapt, and are coaching through COVID to help women access tools for stress and anxiety. They are helping their clients understand how quickly these emotional triggers can destroy your immune system and make you more vulnerable. A highlight for me came when she said, “name the emotion you’re feeling and rename it so it’s not as harmful to you.” Brilliant! 

I was blown away by Jackie’s candor and self-awareness when discussing family life. She shared that her daughter (like so many children) struggles to sit still in school.  “I knew she struggled but seeing it day to day, being able to adjust how I work with her learning style and ensuring she has the tools to succeed, it was a blessing in disguise. Since, I’ve been consciously aware of how I encourage and motivate her, which is really different from how I’m motivated.” 

This is such an excellent reminder that we must bring our full understanding (both at home and work) that we’re all wired differently. A bit of patience and empathy go a long way. As you can tell, I’m so impressed with Jackie and what she’s building! 

If you’re looking for an inspiring Podcast, check out her latest venture, Make Your Life Magnificent (launched in January). It’s a place where GenX women can share and discuss what’s keeping them up at night, build community and learn from one another. 

Thank you, Jackie, not only for taking the time to chat with us but for all that you do to bring positivity to the world!!

Jana Shaffner


Jana, Executive coach and networker of Boston Consulting Group, is a force, she brightens rooms and brings energy and realism to everything she does. Highly motivated and passionately committed to her career, Jana partners with some of the most successful executives in the world to coach in the areas of talent changes and growth. 

She is also Mom to 7 and 10-year-old boys and very deliberate about finding positivity within the challenges of our new norm. While juggling multiple priorities, Jana points out that family time is intentional to make the time spent together memorable. Of course, it’s not necessary to always have an agenda, but if family time is engaging for everyone, it is also energizing and forges a deeper connection.

As an example, Jana blocks off lunchtime on her calendar to read to her kids at the kitchen table. She selects books that are already in movie form so they can look forward to watching them together once the book is finished. Some titles that she and her kids have tackled include Wonder, Charlotte’s Web, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, One and Only Ivan, and Because of Winn Dixie.

She turned a time that’s usually utilitarian into a special event. What an amazing reminder that it really is the little things that make a difference in finding joy and connecting with your children! As demanding as homeschooling can be, Jana gushed a bit about how much she enjoys the time. “I love my kids; we’ve established ourselves as a family that really enjoys being around one another.” 

As you may expect from a leader in the consulting world like BCG, in terms of support for their team, Jana stated energetically “BCG has been phenomenal.” She’s quick to reference the great humanity she’s seeing and expressed particular admiration for a specific female executive, a mom of young kids and a managing partner, who is so deliberately real both in private conversations and publicly. 

These are challenging times and the more people show what real life looks like, the more we can help and support one another. And support each other we must. From handling the issues related to the pandemic, to positively impacting the necessary social change driven by the Black Lives Matter movement, Jana is grateful and impressed to see BCG stand tall as a pillar of strength. 

Apparently wielding energy that knows no limits, Jana found time in her busy life to share with us and we couldn’t be more grateful! 

Natalie Strahorn


Natalie is the Founder, CEO and one of two Lead Instructors of the MVMNT Society,  a multi-disciplinary fitness studio combining elements of Pilates and Dance with functional full-body fitness techniques. The MVMNT Society is based in Alexandria, Virginia, and their workouts are also available Live and On-Demand through their Streaming Society Membership. 

As you might imagine, Natalie’s energy is contagious. She’s had a studio for over six years, but during the pandemic she rebranded, leaving the franchise to start her own brand and workout program offering that is truly unlike any other studios locally. Exercise makes a big difference in daily life, but particularly during such an uneasy time, so Natalie quickly adapted to meet her client’s needs both in the studio and remotely. 

As a working mom, Natalie caters to the mental and physical health of women and built an exceptional community of positive humans who support and cheer one another on. In addition to being an energizer bunny on the professional front, Natalie is a passionate mom and wife. There’s nothing more important than getting to know the mom behind the career, as it always sheds so much light on their “why.” 

Natalie’s favorite thing (during the COVID era and in normal times) is taking family walks. I second this because so many amazing things come up when you get everyone outside, moving and out of reach of their electronics. She shared that she and her husband both have flexible schedules and a four-year-old girl and seventeen month old son, and are driven to be focused and present and find this is a simple way to achieve that quickly, even if for a short time. 

Another strategy for being in the moment to ensure higher quality time together, is their morning routine. “We started not being on our phones the first hours in the morning and this allowed us to not be in a reactive mode. We have family cuddles and coffee in bed. As a business owner with a husband that also has a demanding job, we have to make that choice to be thoughtful about how we spend time.”   

Prior to starting her company, Natalie lived in New York for eight years with a career in fashion. She feels fortunate to have found her purpose in the boutique fitness world and for the supportive community she uncovered along the way. It is her mission to pay it forward by helping families build community through exercise. 

It takes a little bit of crazy,” she shared humbly, but, from my vantage point, it is a lot of care and passion for others that compels Natalie to dedicate herself to a company that spreads so much positivity. In search of a silver lining, Natalie shared, “there’s always some good that comes out of scary situations. At the moment, it’s a chance to give my clients something that is exciting, and that makes it all worthwhile. Giving people joy when times are so uncertain feels right in every way.” 

Thank you so much, Natalie. We love what you’re doing, keep shining brightly!! 

Louis Montgomery


Louis leads Korn Ferry’s Human Resources and Diversity Officers Professional Search Practice, based in the Washington, DC area. I had the wonderful opportunity to work alongside him for years watching his approach to career and life with great admiration. He serves up what honestly seems like a flawless yet deliberate balance. 

Louis drives his career with an unwaveringly patient approach to helping HR leaders as they work through their most pressing issues, the stuff that keeps them up at night. He’s a trusted listener with a calm and thoughtful perspective, always. It’s no surprise that Louis’ high-quality work ethic is indicative of his involvement at home as a husband and father who is committed to putting family first. 

He’s very hardworking but fully understands the value of being home for dinner and attending his sons’ school and sporting events. As we know, in most corporate roles, this likely resulted in many moments of self-sacrifice in the form of time on Saturdays, very early weekday mornings, and late nights working after family dinners. He would never complain or boast about these choices though, it’s just who he is. 

He’s navigated issues related to COVID-19, as well as the deep social justice tragedies of 2020 and the systemic inequality that ignited the Black Lives Matter movement, with his usual grace. He actively finds ways to help, takes the moments with his family in stride, and embraces the opportunity to talk, listen, understand and educate those that are asking – always with a tone of true humility and an obvious desire that the learning goes both ways. 

Louis shared that many colleagues have come to him over the past few months and said, I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry. How are you? How can we help? We asked how that made him feel, and it would have been acceptable to say frustrated or why so late? BUT, that’s not Louis’ way. He is grateful and ready to seize the moment and make space to talk, let people explore (his children included) and be the change together. 

Louis and his wife are both working remotely and overseeing the kids’ schoolwork. They take turns informally, keenly aware that they each require focused time to show up professionally. Their older son is fairly self-sufficient at fourteen, but since the younger one still needs guidance Louis is grateful to be able to work remotely. He views it as a once in a lifetime chance to have this time with your kids and, instead of embracing the struggle, true to form, Louis embraces the opportunity. 

Another part of keeping the balance at home, especially considering his kids’ disappointment with the cancellation of their team sports (they love track and baseball), is ensuring they get exercise and movement. The Montgomery family deliberately prioritizes time outside together, which we at happyly agree is crucial to a healthy, happy family even in normal times, and it is especially important now.

“The short story – we’re here for it, in it together and all love our kids and families. The greatest gift of school and childcare options disrupted is the incredible amount of time with those nearest and dearest (despite the honest struggles). The long story – we need one another. You’re doing great, hang in there, don’t be afraid to cry, go for a run, or vent (we all need to sometimes). These moments are bound to change us …. Embrace it, be patient, and give yourself the grace you give to others.

If you’re looking for more information about being part of the change, check out Louis and some of his inspiring colleagues in Korn Ferry’s webinar series, Race Matters and thank you, Louis. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and for your willingness to always help others find their way!

Maria Vogelei


After a successful career in branding and marketing, Maria (along with her good friend, Sy Yang) created Nook to address an unmet need: family-friendly spaces that parents would actually enjoy too. The mission is to create space for family to connect, and despite challenges associated with the pandemic, Maria and her team are staying positive and holding onto their core mission. While so many companies are try to pivot and become something else in these times, Maria has a long term vision. 

“Even though the way we use shared, public spaces has changed, I still firmly believe in our mission. In a way, the pandemic has made the need to create space for family – especially working families – more urgent. Our lives are no longer siloed – where we live and work, where our kids play and learn – it’s all blended into one space in our homes. So we thought about how we can serve this need for a blended family space right now.” 

As a result, Nook has recently re-opened in a limited capacity with Huddle at Nook, a co-work/co-play concept that allows families to use the space for what they need right now: whether it is working while their child engages in supervised play or as a headquarters for their learning pods.

As we look to our community to lift one another up and find joy, Maria and her team are really candid on social media about the struggle as a small business and as parents. “Being candid and honest with our community has kept them engaged,” Maria shared.

I’ve long been a fan of Nook play spaces in the DC area and loved finally meeting Maria. As a new mom, Nook was my saving grace in so many ways, as a welcoming, creative and clean space where you can be present with your kiddos and watch them bloom. It has positively impacted the DC community for years and will continue to do so for a lifetime ahead. 

Beyond Nook, Maria’s inspiration, her beautiful children, have taught her so many lessons of value and one is to make this time with her family special in a deliberate way. 

“I rely on to-do lists to manage work and home, and I know it sounds silly, but I’ve also started to add time with my kids to my to-do lists. I’ll add ‘go to the pool’ or ‘take a walk’ or ‘read together for 30 minutes’ to my to-do lists, right alongside ‘clear out my inbox’ and ‘order groceries’ – it ensures that I prioritize time with my kids in the same way that I prioritize work and home.”

When asked for a piece of advice to share with the happyly community during this unusual time, Maria thoughtfully replied, “It seems like we’re all assuming that this is a temporary state, that if we can get past this, then our real lives can begin again. I realized the other day that we can’t hit pause right now, especially as parents. My daughter just lost her sixth tooth in quarantine – she has not hit pause. Our kids are going to continue growing up – the pandemic has not hit pause on that. So we have to keep living, we can’t miss out on this time with them.”

Such amazing advice, Maria, thank you!  We can’t wait to come to play again and appreciate the important reminder to always live in the now.

This has, without a doubt, been an incredibly difficult year for, well, everyone. There have been challenges far beyond the pandemic, and these powerhouses have faced each challenge with truth, vulnerability, resilience, empathy, and a whole lot of determination. Finding inspiration from colleagues and friends committed to viewing every challenge as an opportunity keeps me going.

There are two themes that appear in each and every interview, and not surprisingly, they are vital to us all. First, we need one another. We need support, empathy and grace and we need to volunteer it on behalf of others. Nobody can reach for the stars without a little boost. 

Second, we are all split in different directions, but a level of success (defined fairly) can be achieved in the different areas of our world with the help of tools and techniques designed to maximize the quality of our time. We can’t make more time in a day, so instead, we must make more moments count. In short, find ways to be present! 

Our cross-section of brilliant and proactive industry leaders recognize the importance of these values and prioritize them in creative and inspiring ways, which, in my mind, truly defines their continued success.

Supporting parents with tools to maximize their time is exactly why we launched happyly  – it is our mission to help every parent feel like a super parent, with inspiration for activities and curated adventures near home and on the go. By design, happyly guarantees your family better and more time together. 

We are incredibly proud to share happyly with you and so grateful to these amazing individuals for sharing their valuable insight and the creative strategies they employ in pursuit of a rewarding career, and above all, a healthy home.

If you are interested in learning more about happyly, download the free app so you can get started!

Thoughtfully captured by:
Caitlin Iseler
Caitlin Iseler, happyly founder and CEO, was born in New York and is one of eight children. Her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and the chance to sit at one table with her favorite 40 people. Caitlin, her outdoor loving husband, Thomas, and daughter, Hanah, live in Virginia Beach. She is also blessed to be a bonus mom to 2 incredible humans, Max & Elizabeth. Being a mom has always been something she dreamt of and it brings her joy beyond measure. Before starting happyly, Caitlin spent 15 years working in executive search with technology companies, most recently with Korn Ferry. In what seems like a lifetime ago, she attended the University of Virginia and was a member of the National & ACC Championship Teams, a gift that keeps giving.
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