Some Days

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Man, some days just get you. Let me say that louder. GET YOU.

In this particular week, I’m talking about the absolute, sheer, complete parenting madness that takes hold of every household I know. Decorations, costumes, makeup, neighborhood block parties, negotiating with whom to trick or treat, runs to Costco to buy candy, pumpkin carving, office decorating, school/office/grown-up parties (I won’t even get started on the grown-up aspect of this). And all of this… ALL of it… is simply a lead up to the main event. The part where your kids run out into the dark of night to beg candy off of your neighbors until you put the kibosh on the whole thing. And if (like me) you share parenting duties with someone with whom you used to be married, there is some amount of… lets call it “coordination”… to be done to make everyone happy. And if (like me) you also work for a software company with month-end sales targets, October 31st is also the last day of the month and therefore a working day until 11:59:59pm.

So, I was really at the end of my rope by approximately 8am this morning. The L’s (Littles if you are new here) didn’t have school, so I ran out the door by handing the nanny a post-it with scrawled-out instructions and promises to text her addresses later. As I was driving home, I got a friendly (but, you know, “friendly”) note from one of the L’s teachers telling me s/he was late on some homework. I almost cried.

Anyway, friends, I’m writing this particular day up because, by the time I was settled into a pair of sweats and a glass of wine and the newsletter that a dear and inspirational friend writes (she’s brilliant – more on her later), I had recovered just enough to realize that my day was a sign from the Universe… a reminder that I am, in fact, on a mission.

As I finished up my long day/week, I realized that the app we are working so hard to build for you would have completely changed the ending to my day (and week). We’re building something we truly believe in… because we’re living it as busy, hard-working parents doing our best to do everything and be everywhere all at one time.

Hang tight my friends – good things are brewing here at My Cluck Cluck. We cannot wait to share them with you!

The Flu, Resolutions, Bribe the Chicken, Startup Crushes

The title of this post is absurd. But that’s because we have a lot going on.

First of all, one of the Clucks is writing this post from a tres-chic hotel in a fancy ski town in Colorado that will remain unnamed. She is with her very sweet fiancé, who is currently down-and-out with the flu. What’s a startup girl to do? Break out the Mac and get to work! We feel badly that there is a part of us that is gleeful for a night that began with completely unfiltered Twitter surfing, and that has yielded enough time for a new blog entry. We are sorry, fiancé, but we are making the best of things.

Next, both of the Clucks are fired up about 2013. We have business plans in the works, beta testing (hopefully) in the near future, and we’re planning on stalking some other companies (mostly other startups working in the same general galaxy as ours) to see if they want to partner with us. If you are reading this, awesome startup with a parenting/content/distribution focus, we may come calling.

In addition, we are always impressed and humbled by the sage advice of the folks that have built successful companies. Tonight the thoughts of David Cummings (http://davidcummings.org) really resonated with us – what to do with the chicken and egg scenario when you are building a startup. When you (we) need one thing to reach another (equally important) thing, and the growth of each is co-dependent. “Bribe the Chicken” can be found here: http://davidcummings.org/2012/12/30/startup-strategy-bribe-the-chicken

It sounded a little iffy at first, but when we dug in, the premise was authentic for us. We have more thinking to do about how My CluckCluck is going to run around bribing other chickens (terrible play on words – could not resist).

Lastly, while we are working away at our app, there are parts of it that will ultimately only work out if other partners think it’s a good idea too. We’re compiling our wish lists… and in that process finding ourselves with a few startup crushes. It’s the equivalent of gazing across the gym with puppy dog eyes just hoping that guy/girl will somehow intuit that we are really, truly meant to be together if s/he would just look our way. Stated another way, we’re constantly impressed with the cool, daring, thoughtful, great things other people build.

With all of this, this Cluck is going to sign off, and perhaps use the remainder of the free evening to refine some 2013 resolutions.

Happy New Year from My CluckCluck!

Kickoff!

So we seem to have moved to a new stage — if I had time to read more books and articles on startups, I imagine there may be a name or title for this stage.

I’m calling it “Get IT done.”

We’re really excited – kicking off development this week, working through the details on the app.

It’s really gratifying, and exciting, to see the beginnings of something about which we feel so passionately.

So… E and I are heading into our holiday weekend with an absolutely GIANT to-do list, big smiles and uplifted hearts. How exhilarating!

Hope you are kicking off your summer right too!

~ H

“Mommy Wars” Are Dumb

I said it.

I have thought this for years.

I’m going to admit that I have bought into various segments of the issue at various (conveniently synchronistic) times in my life.

But I swear I am older, wiser, less silly.  Mommy wars are dumb.

I am prompted tonight – exhausted after working at my (challenging!) day job all day, combined with a school pizza party that ended with ice cream, followed by a rather difficult “winding down” time at home…  I’m just tired, y’all.

So when I read this blog tonight, I agreed completely:

How about all of us — working, stay at home, whatever – collectively agree that we’re doing our best, that the world goes around because we’re all different, and nobody NOBODY is right.

But what’s absolutely right is this:

kids. just. need. parents.

I ALSO wanted to interject that guys (I’m referring to dads, step-fathers, uncles, friends and other awesome guys that care a LOT about the kids in their lives) also deserve equal credit.

Furthermore, I want to interject the notion that those of us that actually participate in these so-called “mommy wars” may actually just have the privilege of doing so because we are the benefactors of education, and opportunity.

In my own case, my mother deserves most of the credit — she turned me down when I asked if I could “travel in Europe” instead of embarking into my first year of law school.  I ended up thanking her outright when my life circumstances didn’t work out as planned.  I’m happily working (some days harder than  others) as a single mom to 3 kids — and I don’t doubt for a second that my own daughter AND 2 sons are going to ultimately understand that the privilege I actually enjoyed was this:

The choice not to work outside my home for awhile, and the privilege to get back to work when I wanted and needed to do so.

But no matter what, my kids have me, their dad, and a lot of other people around them that truly care about them.  Each of them will grow up to be as complicated as the next person (aren’t we all?), but no matter what, I know each of my children knows that he/she is loved.

Which is more than I think we can say for kids that just don’t have parents.

So how about we quiet those so-called wars, do the best we can, and maybe even do better and open up the world of love and opportunity to some kids whose needs go beyond whether they got formula or breastfeeding for the first 6 months of their lives.

I’ll step off my soapbox here. Isn’t this a startup blog?

Yes.

But we’re building our app ONLY because we believe so passionately in the connection that parents feel to the little people they care about.  We actually think we can do something that matters to a bunch of us (which, in turn, matters to our little people…)

Thanks for being patient with this blog entry….

H

For Our Girls

H and I have five children among us, three boys and two girls. They are uniformly funny, smart, all-around excellent kids, and we love each of them to pieces. We work hard to be good moms to them, to provide for them. Basically everything we do is done with one end goal in mind: helping our children grow into healthy, happy, smart, productive adults. And I think we try to provide for each of our children equally.

But just for a moment, I want to focus on the girls.

The video posted here has been making the social media rounds for the past month:

While I normally don’t buy into statistics without knowing the sources and methodology behind their calculation, the numbers in this video were lopsided enough to give me pause. Only 16% of America’s business leaders are women? Only 18% of legal leaders? Only 21% in nonprofit, a field we often think of as more willing to accept female leadership?

I was horrified, to be perfectly honest. I probably shouldn’t have been; I’m a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg, who quotes statistics like these all the time. But I was. And more than ever, I wanted to lean in for our two girls, H’s and mine.

The truth is I have struggled with being a working mom ever since my oldest child was born and my maternity leave ended and I headed back to the office. It is incredibly hard to leave that precious baby, that tiny person who is suddenly the center-point of your entire world, in the care of another person while you go off to work everyday. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably lying.

But I believe in the value of equal power in the home and in the workforce. I believe in my core that women in leadership roles across a variety of industries and settings and governments will ultimately make things better for all of us.  And that is why I hug and kiss my wonderful kids goodbye each morning and head to the office, and that’s why H and I are throwing our energy and our passion into this project. We are demonstrating to our children (both the boys and the girls) every single day that mommies have important roles in the working world and can build meaningful careers just like daddies. And we are helping to pave and smooth the path on which our daughters will walk when they become adults and must make their own choices about whether or not to focus on their own careers.

I want my daughter to be a leader. I believe H wants the same for hers. At the very least, we want them to have the option to pursue leadership. And that is one very important reason why we are on this wild ride together.

Not only are we trying to ease the way for our own daughters, we are trying to create something that will make it just a little bit easier for other moms to pursue their careers should they choose to do so. We hope we are handing them a tool, just one small tool to add to their arsenal, to make their challenges a little less daunting. Because the world needs more women in leadership roles, and we are going to do what we can to help get that done.

-E

Yoga as Startup Inspiration

Went to yoga this morning. My favorite instructor, Phil, was teaching. When he saw me, he gave me BIG EYES… as in “Holy wow, I thought you must have QUIT yoga…it’s been so long…” But, as most lovely yoga people are, Phil was forgiving and funny and great.

About an hour into the class, we moved to the wall. This is part of Phil’s yoga magic, of course. The part where we practice handstands.

I dutifully moved my mat, placed my hands on the mat, and walked my feet up the wall until my torso and legs formed an EXACT (irony included) 90 degree angle. I took a few breaths, smiled, pretty much collapsed onto the mat.

When it was all done, Phil had us all move back into our places on the floor, and offered this wisdom:

Handstands are scary because you are afraid that you will fall on your head.

Pretty much everyone that tries to master this rather challenging feat does, actually, fall.

You practice on the wall so you learn that you have all the power you need to support all that will come when you fully commit.

***

As a part-time, totally humble yogi, I appreciated his humility.

As a full-on entrepreneur trying to bootstrap a startup, in this wild, wild world where all of the rules have changed, I heard something else:

In the new, crazy world, we (along with all of you) have the power to realize your dreams. That power is based on all of what’s inside of you. In our case, that’s a collective foundation of 20+ years of being students, lawyers with serious jobs, 5 kids, 2(ish) years of blogging, and (with much much humility) leaning in on all of the connections, goodwill, friends, and friends-of-friends that all of the foregoing has given us.

And as a direct result, E and I are also spinning. We realizing that, ironically, the biggest challenge in all of this is staring down (and planning for) what happens if your dreams and plans GO BIG. It’s actually easy to deal with the opposite… an app and idea that lives in mediocre-land for awhile, sputters along. That’s easily scalable, not that hard to support.

But GO BIG? Oh sheesh. Lets start with the fact that it’s a champagne problem. But more realistically, it’s a challenge – how MUCH do we care about the problem we’re trying to solve here?

A very good friend (who happens to be awfully awesome in the VC world) pretty much asked us this question last night. At almost midnight. On a flight, far away from his sweet family, and at the humble request of a friend he had not seen since the 80’s, and with whom I was only connected in a real sense via Facebook. THIS, friends, is the new paradigm. “WHAT are you willing to do? HOW are you going to compete with all of the 20-somethings with unbelievable connections??”

Got it B. As lawyers, we plan for the worst. As entrepreneurs, we absolutely MUST plan for the best.

Thank you B. Truly.

E and I have our own answer.

And, I suppose we’re posting this because we wanted to share the same query to our other friends – far and near- considering the same thing.

WHAT are you willing to do in your life for what truly moves you?? Do you have a plan for the best?

Thanks y’all — good week!

xo

H