Jennifer DiPasquale: The Art of Juggling

Jennifer DiPasquale: The Art of Juggling
Pearls onBoards
Jennifer DiPasquale: The Art of Juggling

Oct 18 2023 | 00:20:41

Episode 8 October 18, 2023 00:20:41

Hosted By

Cherissa Kell

Show Notes

Achieving work-life integration may seem challenging, but it's a journey filled with valuable lessons. Even the most successful people don't have all the answers and make mistakes along the way. Jennifer DiPasquale, a working mom and inspiring leader, shares her experiences, shifting priorities, and the importance of community support. Jennifer is the president and co-founder of Women in Retail Leadership Circle, and the president of Total Retail and Women Leading Travel & Hospitality.
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Episode Transcript

Businesses need to support women and meet them where they are and be flexible and, help support them with maternity leave and childcare and all these things. Because otherwise it is an impossibility for women to get ahead, And I think that's the beauty of our community is just putting your guard down and, there's beauty in what, these women are building and their businesses, but it is not without pain. And struggle and, you know, pushing that boulder up a hill. Hello, and thank you for joining me for this week's episode of Pearls on Boards. I am so excited to sit down this week with Jen DePasquale. Jen is the President and Co Founder of Women in Retail Leadership Circle, and she is also concurrently the President of Total Retail and Women Leading Travel and Hospitality. I am excited to have you here, Jen, and I would love to know what it has been like for you. You have created such an amazing organization for women as a mom and now your, your kids are a little older, but what has that journey been like, kind of raising children and building a career? Well, first of all, thank you for having me. It's fun to be with you and even just chatting with you prior to the podcast, hearing your personal journey story that is really kind of why we launched in retail and women leading travel and, and hospitality to, you know, hear from women about their own personal journeys and how they've built their businesses and how they're navigating. Everything that's coming at them from the business end. And then of course their personal lives, whether it's kids or aging parents or navigating pets and partners and all, everything in between. So thank you for having me. Our women in retail business is going on our 10 year anniversary. So the first thing I will say in building your business, it is not an overnight thing, journey as you know, We were just talking about how you see kind of all the highlights on social media and, you know, everyone's posting all of their, fabulous wins and successes and it's just not that, right? It's a grind and it takes time and it takes energy and effort and team and community and a lot of help. And you have to be realistic about it. You know, it is not a straight line from A to Z for any founder or c e o or, or any working female to be honest. You know, there's a lot of juggling. So it just takes a village. It really is. I love that you said juggling. 'cause everyone says balancing and I was talking to Rebecca yesterday and we're like, no, it's a juggle No, it's a juggle. And, and the thing is, I, I don't even use the term work-life balance. I, I often say work-life integration because look, there are days when you are just rocking it, right? You have everything humming on the business end. You're feeling great, the kids are happy as clams, you know, you are getting to the game after work, you know, things are just humming, and then the next day things fall apart. You know, somebody gets sick or you, there's a fire at work or something happens with, somebody in your family and you, you know, you have to start all over and then it blows up the rest of your week, right? So, what I love to say is there are seasons of life. There are seasons of life that are for growing your business. And there are seasons of life that are, you know, just for your family and your personal side. And that's okay. And that's gonna be an ebb and flow every single day, and there could be years of business building and you're really, really focused on the business, but then something happens, comes in and curtails that, and you have to focus. I mean, we just lost my mom to uh, pancreatic cancer this past spring, and it was out of nowhere. She was in stage four, and I, you know, got a call and I had to leave an event in the middle of it. And you know, that was my focus, right? Was spending as much time with her and figuring out her path to give her a beautiful ending to this, you know, gorgeous life that she had built. And that's okay. And, our team was so fantastic. And that's also the beauty of Building your business is you have to surround yourself with people that you can rely on and that you trust and you wanna be around. And they picked up the ball and ran with it, you know, as beautifully as I could have because, I was in a personal crisis and that's okay. You know, 'cause it happens to everyone. It's hard, but you navigate it and you do the best that you can every single day. Yeah. I think when you see people, what they create, you just think that they did it without life happening. I think that having people support you, like you said, like surrounding yourself with the right people so that when life happens, like the business can still continue or you know what you have to do, or those responsibilities can still thrive while you can still thrive personally or yeah. I completely agree. I mean, I've never met a founder or a leader who was like, oh, yeah, I just ping ponged my way up the corporate ladder and here I am. You know, it was, it was an easy path. I. There are hard choices for working mothers, you know, movement in your company, movement around the country, you know, what do you do with the kids, yanking them in and out of school? There's never a linear line and um, they're hard decisions, you again, like I have never met a leader at the top of the game that is like, man, I just had all the answers, every single turn that I took. , at some point you, you get to a point in your career where there's no more training, there's no more development, and you're supposed to be the leader that has all the answers, it's an impossibility, right? And you have to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and, you know, not be afraid to do that. You have to and take the help where you can get it on the personal side. Like, whatever you need on childcare help or a dog walker or you know, help because your parent is in hospice and you cannot juggle it all, you know, you have to build that help around you because nobody can do it alone. It does take a village. It takes a community which you guys have created with women in Retail Leadership circle to give like the women, this community of women who is willing to challenge and support and grow with each other. And there's not competition in that. There's like, Hey, I don't know the answer. I need help. I see it, you know, on the forum all the time. Like, Hey, I need help with this. And that's beautiful because like you said, you stop getting training at a certain point, I think that people don't see those behind the scenes, like systems that we have to create as working moms um, to make it all work. And it's hard when you're in the building stage of it too, because you can't see it until it's a fire, right? And you're like drowning in it. So you kind of go, oh my gosh. Like, I don't know if I can do all of this, right? I don't know if I can manage all of us, you know, what is gonna alleviate the pressure. And so my advice to any female who is building their business is, be proactive in, in building that what you're going to need, you know, and kind of give foresight to, okay, what is my family gonna need in the next year? What is, the business gonna need so that I can be prepared for these, fires that are gonna come up and, and things like that. Because when you're in it on the day to day and you're like, oh my gosh, like there's no light at the end of the tunnel, right? Like everything is sort of, Coming at you at once and it's tough. And you've seen in Covid so many women have left the workforce because, they had to, and it's, a huge crack in our system and, businesses need to support women and meet them where they are and be flexible and, help support them with maternity leave and childcare and all these things. Because otherwise it is an impossibility for women to get ahead, And I think that's the beauty of our community is just putting your guard down and, there's beauty in what, these women are building and their businesses, but it is not without pain. And struggle and, you know, pushing that boulder up a hill. So we have to be real about it, and not just look at the glossy pictures on, on social media, which I get, I get sucked into too, for sure. You know what I will say, and this is just my personal experience, I really appreciate the women out there that don't suffer from the mom guilt. They're like, you know what, I, I have to work and I, this is, or it's my choice to work and you know, this is what I'm doing for our family. I am not one of those people that can get off of the mom guilt track. I mean, I have teenagers and I still have mom guilt, like I remember so distinctly. When my daughter was in preschool, and they had, a mommy and me, function, that was the highlight of the month, blah, blah, blah. And of course I was, traveling for work and I was racked with guilt. And my husband ended up going right. And I do think that's probably a key in any relationship is that I always say one parent has to be the flexible parent in any part of scaling your business because of those things right there, you know, like something's gonna happen, a kid's gonna get sick, what have you. But anyway um, my husband and I up going, and here I'm going, oh my God. Like, and I was racked with guilt and I was also embarrassed because I'm going, all these other moms are judging me. Like here it's mommy and me, you know, fabulous day and I'm not there. Not because I don't want to be, because I couldn't be. And so I was also embarrassed and she came home and of course I called and I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry I missed this, blah, blah, blah. And she was elated that she had the only dad in the class. He was the star of the flipping car. Then he thought it was great that, you know, the dad was there and he got special treatment and blah, blah blah and all of this stuff. And she was elated and asked if he could come next time. So it was such a lesson learned for me that parenting and your best comes in all forms and shapes and sizes and. As long as you are, prioritizing things in your life when they have to be prioritized. Like, I prioritized my mom, you know, last year we found out that and I spoke on stage about this, that my middle son was, you know, developing an eating disorder. And so my focus went completely to him, you know, getting him into therapy and a nutritionist. And, and that's okay. I mean, you're gonna prioritize things in your life when they need to be prioritized. So at the end of the day, we're all just doing our very, very best. And as long as your kids know that, and the important people in your life know that, and I'll say that to friends too, you know that I don't see as often as I want. I went to Penn State. And so we have a really beautiful community from that college experience. And so there's a core of besties that I keep in touch with. get together once a year they sat me down at our last touch base and they were like, listen, like I get it. You're the busiest woman in the world. You know, you have all this stuff going on. But we need more from you. Like, we love you and we miss you. And once a year is not, you know, cutting it. Everybody's got shit going on. And I like, at first I was like, what? You know, I'm exactly what I said, I'm doing my best. And they're like, well, you know, we need this. And I was like, okay, I get it. And I did make them a priority because I, I adore them, you know, and we have. 35 year history together. So, sometimes you need a kick in the ass to do it. Like, oh my god, you are correct. You have shit going on that I have not paid attention to. And that's on me  Yeah. And I think having friends like that is huge. Like, I think having people who are willing to communicate their expectations, you know, like 'cause otherwise we kind of get in our own world. I get in my own world, I'm like, oh my gosh, I have all these, I'm juggling so many things and they all have to stay up and I can't drop any of them. But if I've learned anything in my life, it's that like, people matter to me more than anything. Like,, and finding like those relationships are important and being present for them , but it takes strong women to be able to, to say that to you. Totally. And I respected them for doing it. 'cause I was like, I get it, I get it. It clicked for me. And so then I changed my approach with them because I was like, why would I possibly, hurt these people that I love or jeopardize those friendships. Okay, now that your kids are a little older, 'cause you have experienced mom guilt as we all do do you feel like it was like validated, right? So are you feeling like shit, I did a good job, they're awesome. You know what it's such a good question. I do feel like it's validated. I will say I check in with them pretty regularly and I've had those conversations with them. Like there were, you know, periods of time where there's heavy travel or, you, like that. And I was honest with them, is this affecting you? Like, I want you to be open and honest with me, you know about it. And so I think just having those conversations and allowing them to say, yes or no. And sometimes it wasn't so much my boys, but it's definitely my daughter that was like, yeah, I'd rather you not go. And so I would take the red eye home or, you know, it wasn't that I, I could cancel the triple together, but I could just. Squeeze it in, you know, shorten it so that it felt better for her. But I do think doing regular check-ins with them like along the way makes a huge difference because they are my priority. Right. And I want them to know that. Like if I'm gone, you know, all the time and just not, we're just not talking about it. 'cause I'm sweeping it under the rug 'cause it's part of my gig, my job. Then I'm not doing a, a great parenting job. So I do feel like it's validated. I mean, you could talk to any mom on the planet, like even having three, you know, I'll go, gosh, I, I just now I have a senior, a senior in high school, which let me tell you, I know your kids are little and every mom will say this when they get to high school. It's just like one big blur, like nine through 12. It feels like a year as opposed to four years. Like, you get there and you're like, oh my God. Like how, how did this happen so fast? And so I I just told my son 'cause he gets out early now for senior year, you know, he finagled his schedule. So he is, you know, I did that. I get it. Yeah, he's a smart cook. But I was like, oh, can we have lunch like once a week? Can I schedule you in? And he's like, yeah, let's do it. Because I'm like, Man, I'm not getting this back. You know, this is it. It's a mom thing. Yeah. Yeah. It's a mom thing. Do you have any regrets now that they're older about like how it all went? Are you pretty like, happy? Do I have any regrets? Oh my goodness. I'm kind of a half glass full person, to be honest. So I really don't, I mean, I, I look at every mistake that I've, please, I have made a gazillion mistakes along the way. I look at them all as learning lessons. You know, as long as I'm not making them again and again, I feel like I'm on the right path. And that's of course, in business and, you know, you gotta be afraid to fail, and you are, you're gonna, you're gonna have crappy days where you're like, God, I, I just really flubbed that as a parent. Or, you know, something happens in the business and you're like, man, we, we just tested and learned the hard way. But that's part of life, I mean, you're gonna make mistakes and, and that's how you learn. And I hope that my, my kids can feel that way, that they don't feel that they can fail, because , those are the biggest lessons that come from, from anything. Right. And I'm like a huge component. you know, since we're such community builders our role in the family is that each kid has to do something with the school. You know, I don't care if it's a sport, if it's theater, if it's music, whatever you want to do some sort of club that is connected to the school, So that they can have a community around them, you know, because just like we need community, they need community. I would say baby steps, right. It success that you see, you know, splashed about on social media. is a grind. Okay. So there's no way around that. It is a day-to-day grind and you, eat an elephant a bite at a time. So it's progress over perfection. and you have to give yourself some grace along the way because there are gonna be ups and downs. You're scaling a mountain, so it's never gonna be, you know, a constant bright sunshine a day. You have to take the good with the bad. And the other thing is, I would say, you know, your, your network is your net worth. So if you don't know something, if there's a piece of your business that you don't know, there are a gazillion other people that do have that specialized skill and reach out to them. And that's truly why we built our women community, because someone is absolutely willing to help you and there's so much information now available online. I mean, we could all, all be, you know, Harvard graduates with all the information that's online. So, do your research and take your time and do it the right way. But, you know, just know that there is somebody out there that is willing to help you and ask for the coffee, ask for that virtual coffee, and pick their brain. Always, always be curious. Forever learning every business there's something new to learn every single day, Yep. so that helps. Thank you. I just appreciate chatting with you and hearing about kind of how you did it and how you're still doing it, and so thank you for sharing. Yes, absolutely. So fun to be with you.

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