Nicole McCasey: Navigating Change

Nicole McCasey: Navigating Change
Pearls onBoards
Nicole McCasey: Navigating Change

Nov 08 2023 | 00:36:42

Episode 11 ā€¢ November 08, 2023 ā€¢ 00:36:42

Hosted By

Cherissa Kell

Show Notes

Discover how Nicole McCasey navigated changes in both her personal and professional life with the birth of her son and the start of her new role as President of Bravado Designs after 15 months of maternity leave. Nicole and Cherissa discuss the challenges new moms face from shifting identities to prioritizing your time for family, health, career and friends.
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Episode Transcript

Hello, welcome to this week's episode of Pearls on Boards. This week, I am sitting down with Nicole MacCasey. Nicole is currently the president of Bravado Designs, but spent the last 15 years in various roles within the sporting goods industry and Nicole has a little boy and I'm so excited to just chat with her. thank you for being on here. I've been having lots of conversations with women who maybe were new moms or kind of at the beginning and they, you know, they were in that, um, maternity leave period and life is kind of crazy. And you're like, how do I get from here back to this corporate person? How do I do this and love that? You know? 'cause it's one thing to theorize and then you have a kid and you're like, wait, but this isn't what I thought it is. . Yeah, I love that. I love that. 'cause it's, I would say through my mat leave, that's one of the things that probably weighed heaviest on me of how come I don't feel like I can have all this? 'cause even I'm only two years in and I'm like, I'm still not sure who my new self is. It's this like, you know, there's no end point of this is the date that everything's gonna be okay because something else comes up. And at first it's the milestones and it's the feeding and it's really like the wellbeing is this new little family and then suddenly it's okay, now it's development and then it's a different level of development, it's speech and you're trying to get back to life. And I will say in Canada we're so fortunate because we actually have much more time for maternity leave. So we, you can take up to 18 months and still have your job back. How long did you take? I took 15 months and it was, yeah, I mean that was a hard decision to leave a job in a male dominated field I was the first, direct report of my boss at the time over his 30 year career in, in leadership in sporting goods that had ever taken a maternity leave, ever. He didn't, even when I told him I was pregnant, which is a weird conversation to have anyways, he straight up said, I don't, uh, first of all, congratulations and I'm super happy for you, but I don't know what to do next. Because he had never had anybody in a 30 year career say, I'm going on maternity leave. Yeah. Oh my gosh. So how did you navigate that So, this was all during Covid, so it was Zoom calls, so I'm Like we're now, and then my next call was to my entire Salesforce, which was 12 men on the screen who are like middle age. They do what they do. They come from that era where typically their wives didn't work, stayed home. Things they never had to worry about was leaving your career for a year and worrying about what's on the other side of that. So that was probably the most awkward zoom call I've ever had. I bet, oh my gosh. I can't to tell 12 men on Zoom that you're having a baby and you'll be leaving the business in the near future. They probably couldn't actually process that, just to be honest. It was like probably very foreign concept to them. Yeah. And then it goes back to business as usual is that's Okay. Great. We're, and of course they're thrilled. Um, Personally, but then it's like, I still need an answer on this. Meanwhile, I'm like, I've got morning sickness in the background, trying to hide it, trying to get through the days as you do in the early days when you're just, it's pure exhaustion the first three months while your body adapts to what this new life growing inside of you is, and they're like calling me at all hours of the day. I need an answer. I'm working on a deal. Can I do this? You've got sales meetings. It's like, it's such a ride. It's such a ride. How did you navigate the time, I guess all of it? 'cause I'm sure it was navigating something very different when you were pregnant. Mm-hmm. sure it was a little stressful in those 15 months, even though legally you're guaranteed that time. Right. Like your job back, it was probably still stressful. So stressful. And there was that piece of me that didn't actually let go of the work where I, through the maternity leave, I, I tried to stay in touch with everybody, understand how the business was changing, were there opportunities I would wanna be considered for upon my return. And quite honestly, those are the things I wish I just left so that I could not have that piece of my brain occupied by work. And it was something I couldn't control anyways. And then as luck has it, I ended up changing careers or industries entirely at the end of my mat leave. So it's easy to say now. I, I wish I let that go, but honestly it weighed on me the same way. All the other pressures of being a new mom and on maternity leave are, and. So it was, it's an interesting thing to navigate where there's no right thing to do and there's no handbook to say you should, you shouldn't. You just have to understand and prioritize what's best for you of trying to learn. And you're, I mean, I say this while also understanding you're trying to learn 1 million things at the same time. and your hormones are all over the place, but you're trying to learn how to be the best mom you can. How to navigate this world where you're out of sight, out of mind, but don't wanna be forgotten. So you're trying to stay top of mind with everybody, but then you also just need to take the time for yourself. And that's what I sacrificed was the moments where my son was sleeping. I'd be trying to connect with my my colleagues, and those are the times where I wish I wouldn't have been so exhausted had I just taken that time for myself and trusted that I've put the work in up to this time. I need to trust a bit of the process that all the hard work has been done and what comes on the other side of mat leave will still be the right thing for me at the time. Yeah. So it does feel probably a little bit more pressure of like, but I have to make sure that the job is still there. I have to make sure yeah, that security. yeah. And security for me is like also thinking about what's next, not just that time of what am I doing today and it's how do I continue progressing? And that's probably like a lot of the listeners that you have is they, they wanna continue doing what they're doing and they're super driven around their career. And taking this pause feels like the most unnatural thing. It really does. And I had my first kid at 37, so I had already had, you know, 15 years of work where I didn't have any other considerations. For the most point, it was work. Personal came second, but usually work. And that's, that's what I was driven by and quite honestly identified with two because it, it transcended just work for me. I worked in sporting goods, so that was my life. It's running, it's soccer and so it, it was more than just a job to me, and it still is, but I didn't have considerations until suddenly the day find out you're pregnant. You're like, And it does, it just changes. It does in, in, in the drop of a diamond. You're like, I'm, I'm really not sure how I'm supposed to feel about this. 'cause the emotions are so wild. And it, it changes and you're like it, I think disintegrates is like, the emotion you feel is it's gone. Because you have to rebuild something new and it's not gone. It's always there with you, but it's just so incredibly different that it feels like it's gone. And navigating that identity is, is, what I found really hard. I would also say I was never the, the mom early on who loved the newborn days. And I know that can be controversial, but I found them really hard. And I love the time I'm in now at two years, it's so interesting. But the newborn days for me were, were just really challenging. And when people are asking, you know, it's the frame in which the questions are asked of, don't you just love being a mom? And I'm like, of course I love this life that we've created. But some of the things around it I find really challenging and I don't know how to answer that of because of, you know, there's this whole piece of me and my identity didn't just shift from. You know, being great at my career, progressive an athlete to being a mom. And I, and I think that's the hard thing is that we've, we're really good at like, you're either a good mom and this is what a good mom looks like, or you're a bad mom, , and this is what, and like you, you don't, there's not a lot of room for like, I don't know, figuring out what it looks like for you and not being pigeonholed. And like you said, like depending on how the, the question is even phrased, it, it, it kind of traps you a little bit. And that's stressful 'cause you're like, I do love my baby, yeah, yeah. Without a me .You know? Yeah. Um, and I, I don't know, I had a stay at home mom and so I think that was like, I knew I didn't wanna be a stay-at-home mom. I knew I wanted to work and I, I wanted to figure out how to work, but also like be present and around my children, you know? Um, but I felt like there was a lot of pressure. I. In the environment I grew up in because all of my, everyone that I knew, like most of my friends, they're all stay-at-home moms, you know? And, um, which is great that they have the choice to do that, but it was just not the choice that I wanted for me. Like I still wanted to feel like I had this other, that I could pursue my own passions and things that sustained me outside of, I didn't wanna just be relegated to being a mom, I guess. I was telling my husband the other day, I was like, after talking to our counselor, I was like, you know what? It's frustrating to me. 'cause you had kids and at your job you were still this title in this role in all of these things. And people still saw you the same way. They weren't like, oh, Chris is a dad, but. Yeah, I had a kid and I went back to work and I was just, I'm now a mom. It's like everything I did before that didn't count, it's so true. So there's this network that's, it's in its infancy coming out of Germany. It's called fex. And they, they posted this thought the other day that was how come nobody ever asks a dad, you're a dad and you're working. How do you manage it all? ,but that's almost the first question that that pops up to moms because it assumes that, you know, a working mom is the one that actually handles it all. And for those every, now, I don't wanna, that's nothing to be set against every type of family set up. 'cause there's so many out there and, and I appreciate, you know, how whatever the family structure is that works and, but finding out what works is the challenge. And my husband and I struggled with it too. We're both, we both lead companies. And so he can leave for work at seven and come home at five and not have to worry about, Did naps happen? Did your child poop? Did they, as you're learning to feed or eat food, did they eat okay? You know, it's just assumed that you have it all tied down at home and, and your day went well. And most times your day is so sideways there's, there's no question. But it doesn't impact his day at work. And it's not a judgment, it's just the way it goes. But then when, you know, when I go to work now, being back to work, if daycare calls, who are they calling? They're calling, they're calling me to go pick up our son, and that's totally fine. I know my husband would jump in in a heartbeat to go get him. But it's just the principle of it. Like who does the thinking for the family? Where does the weight lie? And then how do you navigate that as a new family or even a family five years into it when things change and the woman wants to take on a new role, what are the dynamics then and. It's, it's super interesting. It's, it's so dynamic. Well, and it's always changing. Like you said, you know, like it, you're in this INF season and there are different needs there and then this toddler season, but then they're in school and playing sports or they're, you know, or you add another child to the mix or whatever it may be. It's like, I feel like you figure out something that works and then all of a and then all of a sudden they change the nap schedule or whatever it is that you're just like, shoot I finally felt like I had, like, I finally felt like I was conquering this and doing it all successfully. that's it. It works until it doesn't, and then you have to find something else. Yeah. Do you all live by family at all, or, I know his family is abroad, but is your family My family is close. And for that I am so thankful, I will say so. We also have a nanny as well, which we could not do what we do without. She is the one that actually holds the fort down here. And, um, so my, my parents are close. Two of my sisters are close. One lives a five hour flight away. She's cross country. But we've got a really good support system and that makes doing what we do that little bit easier. And then I will also say we, we currently live in the town that I grew up in. It's like, you can move all the way away from home, but you always come back. And so my friends are here in terms of also the emotional support system that, that I need. I'm well taken care of. It's a little harder for my husband because he's, you know, he's away from the world he grew up in, And the dynamics were really interesting because when I went off work, it was 2021 where most people were still even remote for the most part. So the amount of time that, that both my husband and I were spending at ti at home was significantly greater than what it is today. so I left June, 2021. Sporting goods, like career built, knew who I was, knew what it was. So confident and comfortable in what I was doing. Go on mat leave for 15 months, try and navigate that. I we're through it. So I, I managed, did I do it well? There's a lot of things I would change, but, and then I, when I started back to work, I started a whole new job, completely different industry, leading a company for the first time. The, the other times I was in leadership positions, but they were global companies and I was managing the Canadian market. So it's very different going from a subsidiary mat leave and then running a global business. it was a lot like learning a completely new industry. It's still finished goods and in the retail space, so there's a lot of similarities, but learning a new product, a new consumer, a new process, being on the global stage, you know, it's, it's a complete different way of working for me. So, I would say I'm, it's been a year and I'm finally finding my footing in terms of what the groove is. And you can feel a bit of sense of calm across the family too, where it takes a year. Like that's that's what it is. You can't start something new and expect it to be perfect a month in, though I took that approach, don't get me wrong, , but it, it takes that long to get through it and to get organized. And like I said, we could not do it without the people we have around us. We're super fortunateā€Š I don't know if this is true to you, but in the last maybe 10 years, it started to shift to where you could talk about having help but for a while I felt like women felt like they had to present as if they did it all. You know, you can't, I mean, you can't. Do it all. You have to have like community and either like hired help or family help, or a combination of it. Especially if you have a spouse working at the same level, you know? Yeah, I could not agree more. I think that's even, I felt uncomfortable asking for help at the beginning and the early days of going back to work of just to be able to vocalize and say, I actually can't take this on, or I can't make plans this weekend, even though that's what I want to do, but I have to prioritize some downtime to let my brain just take in, absorb and recover from everything I'm learning from day to day plus managing our new schedule and our new reality. I was a month into the job and then I ran my, what is my, currently, my last marathon. So I was also like deep in the heart of marathon training and you know, what an, an emotional ride that is in itself too. So it, it's really, you have to just ask for help. Like I, and that's so much easier said than done, but to be able to admit that you need help, that's also something I work on with my counsel, and, and I need that. And it's been such a breakthrough in terms of boundaries, of saying I can't take it all on, something will have to give. My nature is to take it all on. And quite honestly, that's what made me successful for the first 15 years and got me to this point. So it's a very, hard change in behaviors to not take more on, I did grow up in sporting goods where to stand out as a female, I had to take more on and I had to say, Hey, look at me, which is not in my nature. And so actively trying to change some of those behaviors so I don't get overwhelmed and don't bring that stress home and let it impact the whole family. That's been a really hard transition and it, it'll, it'll be a transition for a very long time. I'm definitely yeah. It is hard. It is. It's kind of how you survived, honestly, you know, in, in your work life was to, to do all of that and to say yes to everything. And like you said, to stand out in a male dominated environment, like you kind of just had to do all of that. And so, yeah, it's to say no and have boundaries. Yeah. And I think it's interesting 'cause I don't think men have these conversations, just to be honest. I feel like men, just because of the nature of the way corporate America was, or corporate jobs were for so long, they . Were better at delegating, I guess they didn't need to take on side projects to like prove that they could handle it all. Um, Yeah. and so it's just interesting to have, because I feel like in order to be successful as a woman, you have to be type A and driven and, believe that you can do anything and do a hundred things at one time. Now you add a kid into the mix or change, what's a priority to you outside of work and you have to figure out like who you are at work and who you are at home, I guess Yeah, it's so true. And I think men will take it on, but by nature they immediately say, I'll take it on, but how are you compensating me for it? And that's, that's been such a difference in a learning and like part of the, what I thought through so early on to say, I'll take it on, but I also need to be compensated for it, which is also a piece of Like how I've made it is that I had to advocate for myself as uncomfortable as it was. But then there comes a point where suddenly you throw a child in there and you do have to put some boundaries. 'cause you can have everything, but you can't have it at once. Something has to give, and I, what do they say? It's the four things. There's family, friends, work and health, and you can have three of them at any given time, but you can't have all four. And for me, family comes first, of course. And then health, because if you don't have your health, you can't serve anybody. And so then it's a trade off of, is it work today or is it friends? And both serve me in very different ways, but a lot of times you don't learn how they serve you and when you need which until it's too late because you've had to say, okay, I cut one out for The last month because I had to prioritize and then you just feel drained. And a better approach may have been to say, I'll do 80% of one and 20 of the other, but I need something of each. Just have to work with the mix of what it is. And I think that's hard, like you said, like figuring it out before it's too late too, you know? Because it is important. It is. You need that community. Like, I don't know if you, uh, read the Blue Zones book or watch that thing on the Blue Zones on Netflix, but anyway, they look at a bunch of people who live to be a hundred and like what makes them successful. And they all have so many different diets and exercise and lifestyle. But the, the common thing with everyone was purpose in life and community, you know? Hmm That was a commonality. And I think you do, you do need to figure out how to still integrate those things. And I think work is purposeful to most people, you know? and friends and family is that community aspect. And so how do you integrate and juggle the four things, you know, like rotate, rotate the third and fourth priority Yeah. you can kind of have it and it's, man, it's so tough. It is tough. It is tough. , do you ever try and integrate or what's your approach on integrating health into the family aspect? Okay, well, so when I had kids, um, I was training in triathlon, uh, in Japan. When we moved there, I was doing about 35 hours a week of triathlon training a week, and. They don't have babysitters there and we couldn't, on my husband's visa, have an au pair with us 'cause he couldn't get her sponsored. And so, I trained with during their rest times or with them. So like that I started incorporating runs with them. and you know, my husband's a former special operator in the Army, so like health and fitness is important to him. And so that's kind of something we've always tried to figure out. Like our family time when I was training back when we moved back to the states, they would swim in the lap lane next to me as I did my laps. I would do my runs as long as they weren't the long runs. I would do my runs at a park and I hate track runs, but I would run on the track so that they could bike with me or run with me or play. And I mean, trying to find ways to like, have them see that this is a priority, so I'm going to do it, but also try to incorporate them, I guess that's kind of, we're trying to find ways to show them, you know, we have a gym at home and my youngest, we talk about health and fitness a lot. We talk about , why foods are important, why rest is important, why, you know, if one of them can run longer than the other one, like what, how is that possible? What did he eat or how did he sleep? Or all of these things. We try to just make that part of the conversation because I do 100% think that kids need to be exposed to that at a young age. Um, because I think it's so important, and I know for me it's important I had to take about . 18 months off from training and I'm just getting back into it 'cause I had back to back surgeries from my kids, broke my nose and that it was just Now No. after bad surgery. And I noticed like mentally I was not in a good spot. It was really devastating to me 'cause that's all I'd ever done. My whole life was sport. And so to have that hiatus from it was really, I guess I just saw the value mentally from doing it. And it became more prevalent in how we, we communicate with our kids. I love that. I love that it's such a priority in our house for the, like the mental health component of just. Keeping balanced, having time for ourselves, yet doing it as a family. and as I think about, do you really have to choose three of the four? Maybe it's not that linear, it's how you integrate some of, you know, those, those things as well. And I guess what's been interesting, my old world is that work and wellness were almost one in the same, because that's who I worked for when I worked for Adidas. It was, you know, you go out and play soccer at your lunchtime and then you come back to work. And so the energy levels were always really high and same without Asics and Saucony or you're in your gear that you're selling, you're running at lunch, you're thinking about it, doing it. And so it's so integrated into the, into life. And now I'm in this fashion world and intimate apparel where Of course I wear our product, but not wearing it to work out And like the workout becomes something completely different. So we've kind of got our little routine of strict 5:00 AM wake-ups, we work out together, which my husband is totally opposed to, but sees the value in. So he supports it. And it's actually just nice time for the two of us to talk before a two year old comes in and is like opinions everywhere, all the opinions. all the opinions and it's good. It sets the tone for the day of like, regardless of what does go sideways, whether it's professional, it's personal, you know, there's always going to be things, but that sets the tone for okay, the, the one thing that can give us a great kickstart to a day is, is ticked off and then Weekends for us, were kind of no different. And just location wise, we don't live on a beach. I wish we did, but it's, we're outside, we're on trails. I mean, with a two year old, you basically get a hundred meters over the span of an hour, but the exploration of, you know, picking up sticks and jumping and puddles and, but the fresh air is, I'll take that as the trade off for distance or time any day. I've read some like interesting articles over the summer of the impact on young children to see their mom being active and what that can do for their, you know, their thoughts about women and when they go to ask you. It's always gonna be mom first for almost everything. It's gonna be, mom, I need some water. Even if they can get it themselves. Doesn't But to show them that show that women can do hard things is really important at, in the formative years too. And so I made a point, I started playing soccer again this summer for the first time in four years. I love it. It was so fun, so fun. you on? He came to my games and the whole car ride home. Mama Play soccer. Mama play soccer, mama kick the ball. And it's, it's just so fun. And now when, so we've got him in a little, little soccer class, which is hilarious. One and a half to three year olds, but it's now Georgie plays soccer like Mama. And like his narration around it is so sweet and so interesting. And it's just something we wanna nurture while we expose him to, you know, to find out what he's really passionate about as he grows in life too. Yeah. I think it's good for them too to just, for them to now develop independence because they see their moms, you know, like George is seeing you own this thing and be happy in this thing and do something hard, like physically hard that he can't do. And I think that's inspiring. You know, like, uh, my oldest when he was three, wanted to do a triathlon 'cause he had seen me do so many and he did one and it was like It's. He had his little floaties, his little training wheels and he and it was hilarious. And he, you know, got first place 'cause he was the only three year old doing it. But he like, loved it, you know, and it was like, he was like, oh, that was so hard. And he had this huge appreciation for the watching my races. And it, it's just cool to see them, like you said, like they, I think they always just think daddies do hard things or daddies are tough. And so for them to be like, no, my mom is also really cool and really tough is, um, I think good for them. Like you said, I think it helps I think so too. I think so too. And then it comes that way. It's an easier explanation about, you know, why, I have to travel for work versus just His dad traveling for work and there welcome a time where he has friends whose moms don't work. And so there's, that he thinks I should be doing because that's what he sees from his friend's moms and or shouldn't be doing. And so I think it helps to set the stage a little earlier to say, look like we're a family, first and foremost, but there's also three individuals currently that make up this family. And, and it's important that we honor that and we're respectful of it so that everybody's healthy and can contribute as you know, as members of this, this little family. ā€Š I think it comes down to communicating to, and this is where we work with, with a counselor, to say, okay, you need to just speak openly about it and be vulnerable. Like, how does it feel when you're, without fear of judgment of, you know, someone regulating your feelings for you? How does it feel when you, are overwhelmed? You're overlooked, uh, because the child comes first or the other person's job comes first, or, you know, whatever the, the multitude of situations can be. And it comes down to us being able to lay it bare, saying, this is how I'm feeling. Listening on the other side of that is the thing that makes it work. It's also the hardest to put into practice without immediately going into response mode of, well, I only did it this way because of this. And so, you know, checking your ego at the door and just saying, this is another human being's feelings that I really need to hear and respect and make sure he or she feels heard. That gives us the foundation to say, okay, we can, we can work through it, but if we skip that really foundational step, we're an overdrive of like, it's gone way too far. And so we, we have to bring ourselves back to that center that we found and we found works for us of, you know, how are you feeling? What do you want out of this? Why are you prioritizing the way you are? And usually it's pretty logical and we can figure it out, but it, you know, so quickly it gets personal. It becomes how. Your feelings are more important than the next person's. And yeah, so it's, it comes down to how we communicate and making sure we're open, we're respectful, and more than anything we're listening to each other. Which I think is, uh, easier said than done. So much easier said than done. So much easier. I think that it's great that you all do counseling as well. I think that counseling is the most undervalued Totally. resource. Like I just think being able to have an objective party for both of you in situations, being able to have somebody just that you can just say everything to and just process it without judgment is, especially in a world that feels very judgy all the time. You know, Mm-hmm. cautious about what you say, especially 'cause you're positioned in a company or whatever, like you feel very guarded just to have the freedom to just, I don't know, process. Life is Yeah. I think. Yeah, it's been, it's worked wonders for us in terms of being able to communicate and 'cause nobody could have coached me through the fact that I needed to listen. I was so hardheaded around how do I get my voice heard? Yeah. And because that had been such a staple of what's made me successful, but what makes you successful in a professional world doesn't always translate to personal and same for my husband too, like he's been very successful with his manner and you know, put those two things together and it's usually oil and water, so that's where I say you do have to check your ego at the door. And it's not about you typically, it's about the other person. And that's hard to acknowledge. Yes. Especially when then you throw in a kid or kids, and those are the other people in there too, that of course you wanna protect them from it. it goes back, I think, to asking for help. I could not have done that on my own. And I couldn't have recognized, you know, the behaviors that I was exhibiting had I had we not asked for help. And so I'm so grateful we did, and it still feels like this taboo thing that sometimes we, we can or we can't talk about. And I'm all for it. I'm an open book for the most part anyways, but, but that's also not typical for my husband. So he gets uncomfortable if I talk about it. I'm like, it's part of, you know, it's the truth. And I think as long as you are telling the truth, you should be able to talk about it. It's changed this mindset of like really managing work efficiently and putting those boundaries up, but sticking to them and, but giving everything, if, if I've got a hundred percent to give to work that day, it gets the a hundred percent. And that's how I sleep well at night is knowing I've done what I said I would do. I've lived up to it. I've given my best for it. Yeah. But then, you know, when five o'clock comes being pretty clear, I have to shut it off right now because I have these two hours and they are So, precious and nothing before he goes to bed. Nothing can get in the way of that. And of course, things do go sideways, so it's also easier said than done, but you know, it's hard at first, but it, it, the more you practice, the better you get at it. And that's as with most things in life. So, yeah. I love it. Well thanks Nicole. I really had a great time talking to you. I'll to you soon. Bye.

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