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WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Being CEO Makes Me a Better Mother

Apply the skills that you learn from being CEO to your role as Chief Mom Officer (CMO).

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Since my article on the myth of work-life balance a couple of posts ago, my life has gotten even more complicated. My son, Zane, was recently diagnosed with some developmental issues--nothing that can't be overcome, but the situation is very real nonetheless. My work-life balance is once again upset, and I have had to relocate my equilibrium. As hard as it has been, though, my experiences as CEO of Happy Family have also trained me to be the perfect mom for Zane, especially right now. Here are some of the transferable skills that anyone can take from the office to the home:

1. Being CEO requires that you set goals, organize a team, and manage that team until you reach those goals. This cycle continues for every milestone met, but one example of how this has worked at Happy Family follows:

Many years ago, I set the goal of creating a viable, nutritious alternative to the archaic jar of baby food. I believed that in doing so, we would achieve annual sales of over $50M. I gathered the perfect team of employees and nonprofit/corporate partnerships, and led and collaborated with that amazing team to accomplish that goal. With the right teamwork, I have seen our small business move mountains and achieve what seemed impossible to many onlookers. We are now past the goal and setting a higher bar.

More recently as a mom, I have worked with doctors in many different fields to understand what is going on with Zane and then what realistic developmental goals are for him. After setting those goals with a general goal of total recovery, I then identified and organized a team, consisting of those doctors, therapists of many fields, experts, close friends and family members and we all work toward Zane's milestones, which are lofty yet achievable.

2. Managing relationships is a big part of being CEO (especially as you grow and get more and more employees. More employees means more personalities with increasingly varied skill sets, and more personalities means more potential for personality clashes...you can see how this can get complicated, right?) One thing that I often talk about in our Happy meetings is how we are all working toward a common goal. This can be a very powerful reminder for everyone to work together.

In my role as CMO, managing relationships looks like this:

Part of Zane's treatment includes 32 hours a week of intense therapy from seven doctors and therapists from five different specialties. These specialists often disagree with each other on what Zane's treatment should be, but ultimately our goal is the same: to synergistically combine many expert approaches to holistically help Zane overcome his developmental delays as soon as possible and thrive. Again, I find myself in a situation where I'm managing these relationships, making sure we are all on the same page with the most current progress and information, and reminding each member of Team Zane of this common goal.

3. I know how to compartmentalize what's going on, separating the professional realities from the personal (and often emotional) feelings. At Happy Family, I often have to take a step back and remember that the business that I have poured my heart and soul into for so many years is still just a business. I am very emotionally attached to Happy Family (and often think of it as my first baby), but it is so important that I ultimately view this business as a professional side of who I am. Believe it or not, being able to separate my emotions from getting Zane the help he needs has been an invaluable skill. Don't get me wrong, this has been emotionally trying as a mother at times, but after processing through the lows, I am able to dig in and manage the process professionally, which allows for traceable progress and will eventually mean succeeding at the biggest challenge I've had to face yet.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jul 6, 2012

SHAZI VISRAM is the founder and CEO of HAPPYFAMILY, the leading premium brand of baby and toddler meals in the U.S. HAPPYFAMILY is sold in over 13,000 stores with 9 different lines of optimally delicious organic foods.
@shaziv




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