How Being a Mother to Two Young Toddlers Helped Elevate My Career

By Jill Gray, EVP of Global Client Services at VidMob

A male boss once told me that if you want a job done best, hire a mom. It wasn’t until over a decade later, after the birth of my first son Romeo, that I truly understood the depth of his wisdom. Becoming a mom has made me a better leader and a stronger contributor to my company in some unexpected ways.

An Exponential Increase in the Value of Time

 From the day before having my first son to the day after, the value of time skyrocketed. The cost of being inefficient became too great when the tradeoff was time with my child. As the daily end of childcare nears, I’m like Cinderella anxiously awaiting the stroke of midnight.  There is no alternative but to close the computer and walk out the door. At each stage of my life, I’ve felt that I cannot possibly take on more, but now with two kids and a restaurant on the side later, I know that time is elastic. I’ve learned to delegate, prioritize, and make better choices.  The result is that the people on my team feel more empowered, and we are collectively higher performing.

This increase in the value of time also made me think a lot harder about my job as a whole.  When you are physically exhausted from a newborn, the toll of a job that drains your energy is just too great.  It’s no wonder that so many women change jobs, as I did, within 6 months of returning from their first maternity leave.  When my first son was 9 months old, I took real stock of where I was and decided to make a bold change at a time when most people were telling me to stay put because it would be “too hard to take on a new job and bigger responsibilities with a baby.”  But for me, it was too hard to NOT make the change. I wasn’t able to give enough to my son if so much of my emotional energy was going to my job.  One week into my new gig at VidMob, my husband looked at me and said “this was definitely the right decision for you.”

Seeing the World Through Toddler Eyes

Last week in response to a strange loud noise, my now 4 year old hypothesized “maybe it was an asteroid.” His brain hasn’t yet created all the boring shortcuts to the right answers, and truly anything is possible in his beautiful mind.  And shortcuts definitely don’t work when trying to put my two year old to sleep, as I am punished with long meltdowns if he feels rushed.  Through them, I am reminded that the most direct path from A to B is not always the best path, at a time when the problems that I’m responsible for trying to solve at work are more complex and require a different perspective. At VidMob, we are pioneering a new category of Intelligent Creative and building a software solution for creativity that has never existed – and that means there is no playbook to follow.  I find myself more open to new ideas and better equipped to see the long game even if it feels like there’s a faster immediate solution.

Rising to a Greater Purpose

I read stories to my boys nightly, and the gender imbalance screams at me from the pages.  I am grateful for books like Ada Twist Scientist instead of the books of my childhood – with Amelia Bedelia who makes so many mistakes but sure does bake a good pie, or Curious George who is always visiting the hospital full of male doctors and “pretty young nurses.”  I feel a greater sense of responsibility in my career. I want my sons to see a world where women are brave leaders who can do anything. I want them to be proud of me.  I want them to see that leaders can have empathy and vulnerability. I force myself to share my successes at work with them despite it feeling so uncomfortable.  My career is no longer just for me – it’s for them.

Making Work Work for You

I tell my team that they need to make work work for them. Too often we bend our lives around work instead of bending work around our lives. I think the pandemic has forced a re-centering of this dynamic, as work and life were literally smushed together.

As both a parent and a restaurant owner with my husband, I see how much energy I get out of these other parts of my life, and how much they spark new perspectives in my job.  Our growing restaurant Tortello (and recent Michelin Bib Gourmand winner!) has enabled me to experience an array of SaaS businesses, and I pull from these experiences to make VidMob’s own SaaS offering stronger.  While my team often laughs at my endless restaurant analogies, I have no doubt that it significantly raises the level of my contributions.

I find myself spending more and more time interviewing job candidates on their “side hustles” rather than their actual corporate experience. I make a point to support these passions on my team, from moms and dads to a stand-up comedian, a lover of creepy clowns, a burgeoning snowboarder, a rural property owner who is currently building a yurt, someone obsessed with sneakers and another who starts every day with a tarot card reading.  It is these parts of our lives that make us better at work.  So that boss from many moons ago almost got it right – if you want a job done best, hire anyone who cares deeply for something beyond their day-to-day profession. Try hiring a mom.

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