Transcript: Returning to the Workplace After COVID-19, Strategies and Tips For Working Moms

Keisha Blair: Welcome to the Holistic Wealth podcast. I’m your host, Kesha Blair, wife, mother of three, Author of Holistic Wealth and Founder of the Institute on Holistic Wealth. The show will showcase various experts in the key pillars of holistic wealth. Each week we deliver. It’s information on how to become holistically wealthy and live your best life.

Today we have a very special guest with us. We have Leslie Ford and Leslie is the founder of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. And that’s a blog that Leslie has been working on for years. And she also just founded a new initiative called Allies at Work. Leslie, welcome to the show. It’s amazing having you here.

Leslie Forde: I’m delighted to be here and to speak with you again, Keisha.

Keisha Blair: Yeah, no, it’s amazing having you. There are so many insights, I know that you have gathered from your parents’ pandemic survey, during the pandemic. I mean, you’ve done amazing work with it. It’s been featured on CNN and you know, so many people are interested in that type of research because as moms it’s just been really difficult with homeschooling and work and everything during the pandemic. So Leslie, can you share a bit about why you started that initiative and kind of where it’s headed and some of the insights from the survey?

Leslie Forde: Totally well, you know, so I’ve been studying kind of the intersection between stress, self-care and growth for mothers initially for, you know, the past five and a half years.

So when the pandemic started, it was interesting. I had planned on doing an entirely different study and I usually will pick a topic or two every year to kind of dive into, but once this began, and of course I had no idea how long it would last, I was just really curious, you know, how was that affecting work?

How was that affecting life? How is it affecting? Self-esteem how we feel about ourselves as parents, how we feel about ourselves as work. How we feel about the relationships with our kids and also the practical nature of how the pandemic has affected things, you know, how it impacted people, making space for themselves.

And managing self-care in the context of a crisis. So initially I thought I would be studying it for maybe a month, maybe two months. I never imagined that it would be going on for as long as it has and what it’s really allowed me to do by launch in March of 2020, and having it kind of run through today is just to really see how things have evolved and changed versus what stayed the same.

In terms of your question about insights, people leaned really heavily into their parenting role. At the beginning of the pandemic, they dropped everything as you can imagine, right? To make space for homeschooling, navigating their children’s emotional needs. Mental wellbeing, physical safety, and most parents felt pretty confident as parents. And the first wave of our study, it was kind of like, oh, you know, more than half felt like they were doing as well, if not better than usual as parents, because of the increased amount of time that they were spending with their kids and the increased amount of attention they were giving to their children’s needs.

Interestingly as time wore on by the winter, it was really quite different. Most parents felt that they were not doing as well as usual as parents because after seeing many children face challenges to their mental health and emotional wellbeing, that had been a sub theme pretty early on in the study that continued to increase and kind of reach a, like a dull roar.

By the fall and the winter, kids were not doing well mentally, in addition to all the challenges that were kind of happening within the family or with their education and for people who had children in school, you know, school-aged kids, they’re also getting, you know, report cards and getting measures of how children’s grades were and hearing from their teachers.

So they felt less confident as parents. As they could see the outcomes in their children not being the desired outcomes. And so that has been a really interesting transition. And now that many communities, at least here in the U S are beginning to reopen I’m in what is the sixth wave of the study. So every three months or so, there are a few different questions.

I’ll be navigating, you know, how this change, more kids have been able to be an onsite school this spring and into the beginning of the summer, more kids are able to re-engage in activities. And so more parents are also getting some of that work-life separation back that, you know, they were kind of hungry for, for months.

And in theory, I haven’t seen it yet, but in theory, more parents should be able to make space for their own self-care and wellbeing. Something that pretty much, it was pretty early on in the study. And by the last wave, 80% of parents had cited that they were doing terribly or not, as well as usual at caring for themselves. So leaning into the parenting role came first. Then stabilizing and improving their situation at work, whatever their professional role was, you know, because work is tied to financial stability. It’s tied to healthcare and it’s tied to identity. People kind of put their energy there next after. Focusing on their kids. There was never any room left over for caring for their own health. So that’s been, I think the alarming and unfortunate, consistent statistics since I’ve been studying this, that self-care is kind of gone out the window for most parents now.

Keisha Blair: Yeah. I can definitely see that for sure. Leslie, you raised a point about kids, you know, in terms of their readjustment back to the world of socializing. For lack of a better term, but I remember carrying my kids just last week to drop off their textbooks at school. You know, it was just supposed to be a quick drop off and, you know, because we still had, our lock down going on in Canada and you know, the kids saw their best friends and while way back before COVID, they would bolt towards each other with big hugs and smiles and laugh. It was just a simple, hi, you know, and from afar and what we realized as parents, I got to chatting with some of the parents is that the kids kind of lost that tendency to readily socialize  just on a whim. And so with the online learning, I mean, my kids have been doing it for a while, too.

I see how that’s something that you’d want to track and that makes perfect sense. And so. My next question, because this is, you know, we’ve seen it in the news reports we’ve seen in it with some people hesitant to go back is because we’re still in the midst of it. There are new variants popping up. People are probably more afraid of sitting in cubicle-land. I’m just wondering about your take on people transitioning back to the office, and parents transitioning back to the office and even moms. I can see how some people would be, would be anxious about going back into the workplace. And for many of our offices, we had transitioned to workplace 2.0, so it’s  this workplace setting where you’re basically in an open space, like a call center, and open cubicles with no walls.

And so I think it’s going to take some a re-imagining of what the ideal workplace looks like now, because I know there’s some people who are like, yeah, you know what? I’d actually prefer to work from home because I just feel safer. And the kids haven’t been vaccinated yet. Like for instance, I have a nine-year-old I don’t know when she will be vaccinated. I’m sure there are many mothers and fathers in the same situation, just wondering, and, and for people with underlying health conditions. So just wanted to get your take on that.

Leslie Forde: Sure. Well, I’ll tell you, well, let me start with in my study, no one wants to go back to the office. full-time. I mean absolutely no one. And, and I’ll caveat that if they are in a role where they have the ability to work remotely, at least part of the time, no one wants to go back full time. There are some people throughout the study who are in a central roles. Like there’s a number of people in the study who are doctors or work in the medical field, teachers, people who work in government in certain fields where the nature of the work that they were doing really required them to spend some amount of time on site.

But even that can be challenged, right? Like there are rules that organizations have thought of traditional, as needing to be on site that, you know, if you re-imagine the role and you, re-imagine how that work gets done, may not need to be fully onsite. I mean, I can’t think of. How many virtual doctor’s visits, right we’ve attended in the past year. Plus I even had an eye exam for my daughter that was on, that was on zoom, right? It’s like, Hey, put the computers six feet away and have her look at this. So, you know, there’s so many rules where the assumption was that it had to happen in person that especially in the medical field. And especially when you look at the world of education, that has been challenged. I’ve been studying stress, self-care and growth, right. Overwhelmingly for mothers, but even for dads, right in the past five plus years work wasn’t working for parents before people did not have space in their schedules.

People did not have healthy, balanced lives where they felt like they could allocate sufficient time and energy to themselves, to their roles as parents and to their roles as workers. It’s always been this high conflict area. So removing the commute, removing physically be in a place and taking that out of the picture creates more space for people. So what I’ve seen in this study is that parents are enjoying being able to take a walk in the middle of the day or being able to throw in a load of laundry in the middle of the day. There’s also, frankly, I think a lot of, particularly for mothers, but I think this is true for a lot of parents. There’s always been guilt associated with being in the workforce, because so much of the society’s message that we receive is you should be in service to your family at all times.

And, you know, we internalize that. So even if we can’t fully pay attention to our children in the way. That we want to, when we’re working from home, because our attention is divided between the work we’re doing, caring for kids, perhaps, you know, caring for others. There are also quite a few people in the study who have responsibilities for aging -parents or other loved ones, or might be caring for a partner or a spouse who is ill or has been affected by COVID. So all of those permutations exist, even if you can’t give your children your full attention, seeing that. Being in the same space that they’re in, having them kind of be within arms reach or within your home creates a certain amount of comfort. So many parents do not want to give up the flexibility of that.

The ability to make their work and their home lives fit together more easily. The ability to navigate things without having to deal with that. And I also think that frankly, for a lot of women in particular face time, and this artificial expectation that to show commitment to your job, you had to physically show your face in the office, or you had to be at every event. That tended to disproportionately hurt women in the workplace. So when everybody in an organization was forced to work remotely, it started to create some equity around this issue of FaceTime that people.

Keisha Blair: Absolutely. And you know, as you’re talking, Leslie, like everything resonates with me so highly, because I remember after my husband died, my three-year old was to start kindergarten in September and my husband died in the spring. And I remember all of those tensions that you’re speaking about. Mark you, I was on leave at that point. I would have been on maternity leave, but one of the reasons why I ended up even writing Holistic Wealth was because of that lens of women in the workplace and how a setback can really set us back, you know?

And I talk a lot about that in the book as well. Because I found as a new single mom. Cause I, you know, I found myself single with two kids and having to navigate this career. And you know, when it happened to me that setback, the timing was off. I was chosen for an executive program, as I said in the book, I had to take the time off because as you may know, and the expectation of being there doing overtime, managing large groups of people and delivering on these high stress projects. I really, really struggled with that. And it’s one of the key themes in Holistic Wealth where, you know, I talk about a Triple Helix for women and talking to you now about the struggles that women face and you’re absolutely right.

That this has leveled the playing field in a way that I think if it wasn’t for COVID, nothing else would have been able to do it in quite the transformational way that it has. And then now that we’re thinking about going back, I’m just wondering, I know this is part of your work with Allies at Work, what your recommendations are, because I’m sure for many moms, like I have a commute that’s two hours per day. So one hour to go one hour to come back. And I have three kids. I mean, it’s daunting just thinking about going back to that routine where you have no time, you’re spinning your wheels. You’re in a fog. There’s just no time to even think. I mean, how can that be ideal? And, you know, it’s so funny after the book was published, I thought, if I was to ever narrow this down for Holistic Wealth for parents, these are the exact things that I’d want to discuss, because I know from having that setback, and many people have had that type of setback during COVID-19 where you had a spouse die, or you had a parent die, or you had, you know, someone close to you die, or you’ve gotten very sick yourself.

I know many people are facing the same decisions I faced back then, too. When I thought about going back to work, 40% of workers don’t want to go back to work. They’re calling it the great wave of resignations coming because people have gotten comfortable with this more flexible lifestyle. And so I’d love to hear from you like what your thoughts are.

Leslie Forde: I have so much to say about this, you know, I think in addition to the fact that work wasn’t working for a lot of people and you know, mothers certainly are near and dear to my heart because I am one. And certainly that’s the audience that I’ve spent the most time studying. Even if you look at people who have different physical abilities, different mental abilities, learning styles, right? Like the traditional way work has rewarded people and the traditional way that people have succeeded, it’s left a large part of the population out, right? It’s a small kind of narrow group, homogenous group of people who’ve succeeded with traditional work. So I think that is something that I share with employers as well, that if they are truly committed to walking the talk of diversity and inclusion, then flexibility needs to be part of how they think about getting the work done.

Because not everybody can manage to come to work in the same way during the same hours to the same physical place. It really limits the kind of workforce that you can have and flexibility, benefits everybody. It certainly benefits mothers and people who have caregiving responsibility. Which is not just mothers, right? Again, that’s fathers. Increasingly men want to be hands on parts of their children’s lives, hands on active contributors to their homes and traditional work hasn’t allowed for that. So the attitude about what rules work can say. In terms of how we live our lives are changing.

People are not willing to accept the same restrictions they once were. And part of it is because of course, after the past year, plus of being faced with mortality on a daily basis and having these very large weighty life or death decisions kind of brought into daily life in a way. Was not true for many people before the pandemic that certainly forces you to change your priorities and to look at what you value and what’s important in a new way, but I’ll also say that work hasn’t been a good deal for workers for many, many years.

Real wages have been declining for years. Flexibility existed on the side of the employer, not on the side of the worker for years and years. So people were already starting to kind of vote with their feet and vote with where they go and how they spend their time. There’s been a huge rise in the gig economy, with people embracing non-traditional roles, where they could have more autonomy and control over their time, even if it meant that they had to trade off some financial security in terms of compensation or benefits. So I think these trends precede, the pandemic and the pandemic has only inflamed it, right?

This tension between what workers need to live happy, productive healthy lives and what employers need to deliver products and deliver services and to deliver profits. So it’s been like this, burgeoning, I think boiling cauldron for a lot of years on the employer side, you know, I’ve also advised in addition to flexibility that the new workplace and what people need to survive and to succeed is greater support for their caregiving responsibilities. So if people are parents then make it easy, helps subsidize childcare, at least here in the United States where the cost of childcare costs more than mortgages. U S cities and there’s very little infrastructure support for early childhood education or childcare.

So increase support for that. As an employer, increased support for elder care as an employer, you know, there are countless people who identify as caregivers, even if they don’t have care responsibilities for children. So making this kind of the human condition which is either being cared for or caring for others, right?

It’s part of the human condition, reflecting that in the way the workplace is structured in the way benefits are structured, supporting mental health care is kind of the third pillar that I spend time with employers on people are predating the pandemic. There were epic levels of anxiety and depression. And mental health needs have been on the rise steadily for years, right? In part, because people are trying to manage schedules, commitments, and a way of living that is unsustainable, which leads back to the work norms in many cases. And what is expected of people at work and what is expected for people to be able to make a living.

So for all of those reasons, I think employers have the opportunity to create workplaces that are more transparent to create workplaces that are more flexible. And to create workplaces that support people through these different stages of their lives.

Keisha Blair: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s so critical because as you’re speaking, I’m sure everyone who’s a parent can identify with that. I mean, there are so many struggles and stresses in the workplace and that’s compounded by older norms that we had about, as you mentioned, just there being present, and having to stay late and, you know, promotions being, based on how late you work and your hours, right. And for women, of course, A major issue for parents for, for moms, just a major issue, you know.

Once you have a child in childcare, childcare expenses are just as high, it’s like a mortgage. And of course, once you start going over the clock, it’s overtime in terms of the cost. So you have to be there right on time to pick your child up. And so there’s that constant tension, you know, I have to run, I have to pick up the child, but I know my employer would prefer me to be at my desk and working on until seven, eight at night, even though I’m past the point of saturation, it’s diminishing returns by then.

Leslie Forde: Exactly. And I share this with employers that like burn out and success are not positively correlated people who are exhausted and people who overwork do not come up with innovative ideas. They will not solve the future problems for your business. They will not help you win in the marketplace. Right? They might be physically sitting in their chair or sitting at their computer at home. Wherever they’re working is irrelevant. They may be checked out like people required. They require caring for their physical and emotional health to be able to deliver effectively at work. Like it doesn’t serve anyone, including the employer for people to work in ways that are unsustainable.

Keisha Blair: Yes, absolutely. And so, Leslie, I’m wondering about how you would advise moms who are listening in and are wondering how to navigate going back to the office, perhaps they’re thinking of even quitting. Some of them are thinking there’s no way I’m giving up this lifestyle that I have right now, which makes me feel, and I use this term a lot on social media, more holistically wealthy, because I can take a walk in nature at, lunchtime. I can take a walk in nature, even with the kids when they’re on a break and a quick 15 minute break around the block, I don’t have the commute. I can multitask and feel richer in my lived experience. You know, how do we say to these people go back and adopt those norms that you once had that were killing you that were back-breaking I’m just wondering what the advice for moms would be in terms of negotiating with their employers?

Leslie Forde: Absolutely. Well, I think there’s some good news here is that savvy employers who have been paying attention to the research and to the numbers. Understand that a large percentage of the workforce want to change jobs. Quit jobs reinvent, you know, and I’ve seen it in my study throughout, right. It’s been an ongoing theme that people want.

I tell people that people want to blow up their lives. They want to quit their jobs. They want to quit their cities. Sometimes they want to quit their spouses. Right. They want to dismantle total and obliterate everything that hasn’t been working for them. Right. As a result of the pandemic and the pressure that it’s caused and the reflection that it’s caused. But what I tell moms is, first of all, you’re probably in a stronger negotiating position now than you would have been previously. And there’s two approaches. If you feel like you have psychological safety and a trusting relationship with your manager or with your leadership team.

Then ask for what you want, if you do not want to return to the office full time, guess what? No one does, at least in my study does. So the numbers support you, right? So other people will have those conversations. So ask for what you want and outline terms where you propose solutions. And I had interviewed another woman whose fantastic productivity coach, Alexis Hassell Berger, and she said frame things as an experiment because who wants to say no to an experiment? So you can always say, Hey, let’s try this for 90 days or let’s pilot this, this year and see how it works and then reevaluate, so putting things out there as an experiment, I think is a really powerful strategy. I also encourage mothers that, you know, there’s strength in numbers.

So if you don’t have the psychological safety with your reporting manager or with your leadership team, then so many organizations now have created, employee resource groups sometimes called business resource groups where you have access to other parents or other mothers or other women in leadership or to other black or brown people, people of color, you know, whatever groups you identify with and affiliate with.

Organizations are starting to foster these groups to support each other in the workplace. So talk to other people. And if you don’t have a formal employee resource group, if you’re in a smaller organization, talk to other parents and other mothers and ask them, have you talked to your manager about flexibility? How are you handling this? Can we collectively ask for this? There is strength in numbers. And I encourage people not to have that conversation alone. If they don’t feel like they have the psychological safety or if their job would be at risk, if they have that conversation. One-on-one I also something I’ve seen, done really well in my career.

And I wish I could say I was the one who did it, but I wasn’t. I was never great setting boundaries in the workplace, but I knew some people who were brilliant. They’d say, oh, wow. You know, this new project sounds amazing. This is exactly what we should be doing. But last week you asked me to do that other project. And that other project is also really, at least you told me it was really important, but if I started this project, it’s going to take resources from that other project. Which project do you want me to focus on first? Or do you want to add resources to help with this new product? Because this is what it would cost to add resources to help with this new project.

So putting the constraints around your workload in terms of business outcomes, business resources, and asking for help in the form of resources, when you’re being asked to take on more, I think there’s another wonderful strategy that leaders and managers understand. And it often is viewed right as a trait that is associated with leadership.

Unfortunately not all mothers are met with the same positive reception in the workplace. There’s a lot of history of bias. There’s a lot of history of women, not kind of receiving the same opportunities for leadership and for growth that men have had. So the baggage is real. I think if people do not feel like your workplace is set up for success and they do not feel that after advocating for themselves either individually or within a group of other parents or mothers, that they’re able to have the changes that they want. Then this is a time where a lot of people are transitioning and you have permission to explore a workplace or explore a career path that works with your life.

And it may not happen overnight if you want to make a significant change, but start to plot your escape. I will say that for myself personally, I was in a role where I was working for a manager who was a brilliant person but did not believe in flexibility. He felt that face time meant you were committed. And even told me that leaders are the people who are the first in the office and the last to leave. He told me that even though at the time, my children were quite young and I was somewhat disqualified from being able to do that as a result. So I, you know, had a meeting where I realized that this wasn’t going to be the leader who is going to support it. And I wrote my resignation letter that night. Now it took me several months to find a new job and to upgrade my situation. But I set the intention. I wrote my resignation letter. I didn’t get to send it right away, but it was written, it empowered me. It gave me energy to go through the process. Maintaining a very busy executive job where I had a lot of responsibilities and also managing life with two young kids and looking for a new job. So I did that because I could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Keisha Blair: Yeah, and that’s interesting because it leads into my next question. And we spoke about the gig economy and how attractive that is in terms of the flexibility at office. The passion economy now is worth billions. I think it was one 38 billion in 2018 and more and more people are starting to explore that, you know, how you mentioned in terms of really meaningful and exploring our passions. And so you mentioned your personal experience with transitioning out of the corporate world. And I wanted to ask you for those people who feel like blowing up a career. Any advice and tips based on your experience for launching out on your own transitioning out of the corporate world.

Leslie Forde: Yes.  I’m happy to do that. And I’m laughing a little bit because when I started Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is now over five years ago, it was a passion project. I did not do it to be a revenue generating business, but I did have this kind of long-term goal to turn it into it a revenue generating business, but I thought of it as a third income at the time. Right. As a side income, I did not envision that it would be my full-time job.

So I had this thoughtful plan and I was laid off from my full-time corporate position and it, so it blew up my plan and then March 2020 COVID-19 hit, and there was this global recession brought on by the pandemic. So all of my careful planning became meaningless in the face of that.

So I had to get kind of crafty and I decided, well, I guess I’m the CEO of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. Now let’s figure out how to make Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs produce revenue. So I kind of had to do that in a pandemic and during a crisis when it was not my plan, but I will say that ideally. Planning ahead, knowing what your financial needs are, knowing what your security needs are. I think the gig economy is an extraordinary outlet and path for a lot of people, but unfortunately, still at least here in the U S where we have less social safety nets. If people move in favor of contract work, freelance work, independent. They might be giving up access to a retirement plan or retirement fund.

They might be giving up access to their health insurance. Right? So we, we still have a culture where health insurance is very tightly tied or at least at least affordable health insurance is very tightly tied to your work. So I think that constrains, it can constrain people. So I encourage people to just be really thoughtful about all of their financial needs and then develop a plan that kind of meets your financial needs. And even if you end up having to change the plan, as I did, knowing kind of what your strengths are, knowing what kind of work is meaningful to you, knowing what kind of environments you thrive in.

And if you want to promote yourself to the C-suite by becoming an entrepreneur, Understanding how much time you need to allocate for that as you plan for it and having at least a, a rough sense of what the revenue trajectory would look like and how long. You might need to invest before your business produces enough revenue to support you in the way that you want to be supported. So I think those are the types of considerations.

Keisha Blair: That’s such good advice because I’ve often looked to, you know, Our American friends and I’ve always been so impressed at the speed at which companies there and entrepreneurs there are able to scale their businesses, like the speed is far greater than in Canada where yes, we have more social safety net and yes, we do have the free healthcare and it’s not tied to your job and good social safety nets in place, but I find that the speed at which entrepreneurs here are able to scale is not even half the rate, how they can plan to incorporate those in, in for instance, in business projections, like, I don’t know what healthcare costs there in terms of our private plan. Let’s say just for example, And do you know why they would have to put away in a, in a 401k, but I would love to get a sense because I know it’s so lucrative there, doing contracts, especially B2B contracts.

If we go back to earlier, episodes in this podcast are women who left their jobs or who were on unemployment and just scaled to like $1 million in 10 months. And I know that’s not typical. But I’ve been seeing so many of those cases. And so I’m just wondering from your perspective, you know, even if you’re not able to scale that fast or that quickly, in terms of the magnitude of the revenue, how you take into consideration your needs in terms of healthcare costs and pension.

I get that, that would be a huge chunk, especially in the United States.

Leslie Forde: Absolutely. Well, you know, as you mentioned its highly individual and I’ve seen people approach this in different ways. So, and I’ve actually had conversations like this with other founders who are trying to weigh some of these decisions and where they should make changes now versus where they should wait. Some people will gradually taper off of full-time work, but do so gradually. So I’ve seen both in my research and among people that I’ve met, where someone might have a very good relationship with their employer and then have a conversation that Hey, I’d like to adjust to a four-day work week. I have this business and I’m planning to invest time in it.

Or I would like to adjust to a three-day week or halftime, and they have kind of a, either some tenure with that organization, or they have some real expertise in the nature of the work that they do, that they can gradually decrease. They’re salaried time, but still in a way that maintains their health insurance in a way that maybe maintains their 401k or their retirement investments, an increase as the amount of revenue that comes in from their business increases.

So that’s one model that I’ve seen work for people. If someone is partnered and their partner is in the more stable job and they choose to go into the more high-risk areas. That’s another model, right? Where within a couple, and I’ve seen it on both sides. I’ve seen it where, you know, it can be either a member of the couple who decides, you know what? I am a small company person. So I want to be in the riskier more fast-growth industries and organizations that may or may not have the same compensation and benefits. But the other person is the anchor salary and the anchor for benefits for the family. Right. So that’s also a model that I’ve seen work with people.

And then I think with founders, there’s some kind of interesting collective groups, industry associations that are making it a little bit easier. We still have. Even though it was severely, I won’t use the word decimated, but I’ll say adjusted, as a result of the political leadership change here in the U S we do still have a national health plan that is available.

And in some cases that works well for people. I also live in a state, so in Massachusetts, A set of health insurance companies that offer individual access to health plans. They tend to be very, very expensive, but you can access health insurance that way. Or maybe through an industry association. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can have access to a plan that’s affordable for you and your family. So I think these are all different levers that I’ve seen. People pull successfully as they’ve navigated. Their escape from traditional work or whether or not leaving traditional work makes sense for them and meets all their needs.

Keisha Blair: Yeah, that makes sense for sure. Leslie, those are some amazing tips. And I think this segues nicely into the next question, because, I think it definitely has to work for you and your family. And in terms of your risk appetite, your personal financial identity has to weight in very strongly on this decision. And when I wrote Holistic Wealth, that was one of the things that I recognized as a mom and as a newly single mom. You know, after my husband died that this personal financial identity concept was so important and not necessarily following what others are doing because it’s kind of like the popular thing to do or everybody’s doing it, but really being true and authentic to ourselves and our needs and the needs of our family. So Leslie, I know you took the quiz and I’m eager to hear your results and any insights you can share because so many female entrepreneurs have come on the program and they’ve shared some wonderful insights on exactly what we’re talking he know about too, on how their financial identity and weighed in on how they were able to transition out of the workplace and into their own businesses and how they use them. You know, its strengths in, in terms of maximizing the opportunities and making sure that they weren’t over leveraged or making sure that things could actually work for their lifestyle and for their family needs. And so it would be great for you to share any insights you have on that and your results.

Leslie Forde: That would be amazing. Sure. I’m happy to. So I’m a financial Minimalist. According to your quiz, which you know, which didn’t surprise me. When I kind of read the explanation, it has been helpful to me personally, that the way I defined at least personal success has more to do with what I can experience and what options are available to me and what opportunities I can make available to my children. Those are the ways I look at success versus the amount of things that I own, or even having the most top of the line things, for example, right? Like those are not for me personally. That’s not how I measure success. So it, it allows me some freedom and flexibility right. In how I think about spending and also enabling me.

I’ve always been somebody who is very inclined towards saving. Because of that. And my spending style, I guess, from my personal financial style, I also went through some difficult years growing up where we had some financial instability. So I think anyone who has gone through that type of experience is likely to be affected in some way as an adult.

So for me, that effect, it has been, being a saver and being somebody who is very, very aware of and has always believed in the power of having a plan B in the form of savings. So I think those types of observations about myself have helped me as an entrepreneur. And I will say though, entrepreneur, knowing how I became a full-time entrepreneur, right.

I shared it was by accident that I don’t know, I wouldn’t have taken this. To be fully an entrepreneur all at once. That kind of circumstances, the universe, you know, however you define, kind of things work in a certain way in your life. Like for me, I was pushed into full-time entrepreneurship. I’m really grateful for it because it’s allowing me to do work that I find meaningful that I love. And it has forced me out of my comfort zone and out of my financial comfort zone in a way that I think allows me to stretch myself as a leader in ways that I wouldn’t have chosen to stretch myself to be honest.

So I think it’s been good for me, even though it was not my plan.

Keisha Blair: Yeah. And that’s amazing. And as you’re talking, like, I feel like so much of what you’re saying resonates with me because in the earlier part of your answer to the question and how, you spoke about it. Success and how you define success. And I talk about that a lot in Holistic Wealth, defining success on your own terms, because I had to come to terms with that too. After my husband died, I was forced not really literally forced, but I had to take a step back from climbing the corporate ladder. And I had to really reevaluate my priorities based on my new status as a young widow and with two kids, a single mom, you know, going through that grief, which was terrifying.

And so what I realized after that soul searching that I mentioned in the book was redefining wealth was critical for me. I was somebody like you. I valued experiences, valued time with the kids. My husband was now gone. I needed to be there for them, and I wanted to be there for them in a way that was all encompassing. Like I, I just didn’t want to be a part-time mom. And so it’s so funny that when we talk about moms in the workplace and you know, how we grapple with these different issues and even in business too, and trying to grow a business, one of the things that I usually advocate is to really define wealth and success for you.

So not just successful wealth. And what does wealth mean free and that’s, you know, how we came up with the concept of Holistic Wealth, because it was my experience as a mom that led me to realize that, you know what, like we can’t go on, you know, the way we’re going on and tying or self-worth to our net-worth and our job titles and all of these things that can crumble overnight. And so it’s something that I’m passionate about and why I’m so very happy to have you on the podcast with this discussion now, and as we’re talking about even the financial aspect of it and how we define success and how we define wealth. I think it can provide a lot of relief for moms out there who haven’t grappled.

Because it’s so funny with different cultures, right? Like we grew up in a culture, Leslie, where, you know, and I said this on a previous podcast episode, tell me your title, and I’ll tell you who you are. And so it’s funny that we even in the black community, as women, we grappled with that we want, yes, we want the career success. But our values are contradicting that. And so it’s this contradiction all the time that we’re just like, wait a minute. Yes. I want that but I want this time and I want the flexibility and I want it even after COVID-19 now to be even more extreme where I’m owning my time, even more fully. And so many of us are at that point where we’re, you know, as you mentioned, blowing up that paradigm of thinking that this is how you know it’s supposed to be, and this is how life is supposed to unfold, but we’re coming to the end of the interview. And so I want to give you a chance to share any last minute words of wisdom, because you’ve been so good in terms of articulating, you know exactly how women are feeling. So any last words of wisdom from you, Leslie would be appreciated.

Leslie Forde: Well, you know, there’s so much in what you just said that made me think part of the equation for what type of circumstance works for you professionally, whether you decide to be in a corporate setting, whether you decide to be an entrepreneur, whether you decide to take some time at home, right? Because as you had described, there are so many circumstances where people need to pause or are forced to pause professionally, to care for their children or to care for themselves. And self-care is a piece of this. You need to have, I think, a life where the way it is set up the schedule that you keep the level of intensity associated with the demands on your time, matches your personality, matches your style as a parent, and also allows you space to care for yourself. So I think that’s, what’s been left out of the professional equation for a long time, which is why, so, so many women in particular, but caregivers and parents are resistant, you know, at a very visceral level, this idea that things should return to the old normal, because there wasn’t space for self-care in that. And you even had people who had incredible financial resources, incredible financial privilege. Who were in poor physical health or who did not have strong relationships with their partners, with their children within their family, you know, who were lacking for the time to care for their own wellbeing at the expense of being able to achieve professional success in the way has always been defined traditionally white riches in terms of English.

So I think this is good for us as a culture to pause and reflect on what does success really mean and what is a life well lived? And it’s more than the money you make or the position you hold. Those things afford a certain lifestyle, but the lifestyle also has to allow you right, to breathe, to care for yourself, to care for your kids, to have daily activities that matter to you and that fuel you. So I encourage people to consider that as they plan for their next step, whether it’s in an office, out of an office at home, you know, whatever the environment is, make sure that the way your days are structured, the way your weeks are structured. You feel restored and fueled at some point in each day.

Keisha Blair: Yes. Wise words to leave us with. Leslie, thank you so much. And can you tell our audience where to reach you on social media and your website?

Leslie Forde: Absolutely. is the website I’m on all the social places, either mom’s hierarchy of needs or mom’s hierarchy on Instagram. Mom’s underscore hierarchy underscore of underscore needs. So I would love for people to visit me in any of those places.

Keisha Blair: Okay. Absolutely. And thank you so much again, Leslie. I enjoyed this so much. It was amazing having you here. Thank you. I appreciate it.

Keisha Blair: Thank you for joining us this week on Holistic Wealth with Keisha Blair. Make sure to visit our website where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify or via Rs so you will never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you found value in this show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes or if you simply tell a friend about the show that would help us out too. Are you a member of the Institute on Holistic Wealth? If not, what are you waiting for? Go to Institute on Holistic Wealth/memberships to choose your membership plan and join as a member. You get so many perks, free worksheets, advice coaching, and a member’s workshop to design an intentionally designed life. Do you need to figure out your life purpose? Take the Build Your Life Purpose Portfolio online self-paced course. Are you struggling with all your money decisions? Take the free financial identities quiz and then take the personal financial identities course. Did you recently suffer a breakup job loss or experience the death of a loved one? Take the Holistic Healing online course. Do you need an overall plan to achieve holistic wealth? We will help you figure out your Holistic Wealth Blueprint and of course if you want to start making money by helping others achieve Holistic Wealth, become a Certified Holistic Wealth Consultant. Regardless of what career you’ve got, the Institute will show you how to increase your income and walk in your purpose. The sooner you join the sooner you start to achieve a more holistically wealthy lifestyle and you’re going to want to stay for a very long time so go to Institute on Holistic Wealth/memberships to join. If you haven’t read the book yet pick up a copy of the award-winning best-selling book Holistic Wealth: 32 life lessons to help you find purpose prosperity and happiness