Oct 14 • 48M

Beyond Two Percent: Episode One - Navigating Motherhood and a Career

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Appears in this episode

Helen Femi Williams
Julie VerHage-Greenberg
Beyond Two Percent analyzes the critical questions, issues, and dynamics that affect people differently by gender - and the intersection of those dynamics with finance. Our guests join our two fabulous hosts, Julie VerHage-Greenberg and Helen Femi Williams. We'll publish Beyond Two Percent monthly - if you'd be interested in joining an upcoming episode, let us know! Reach out to sponsor@thisweekinfintech.com.
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We're excited to announce the first episode release of our new podcast, Beyond Two Percent!

Beyond Two Percent analyzes the critical questions, issues, and dynamics that affect people differently by gender - and the intersection of those dynamics with finance. This week's roundtable focuses on motherhood and fintech, and we're lucky to be joined by Laura Spiekerman, Co-Founder of Alloy and Maia Bittner, Founder of Pinch and Voice of the Member at Chime. As always, our guests join our two fabulous hosts, Julie VerHage-Greenberg and Helen Femi Williams. We'll publish Beyond Two Percent monthly - if you'd be interested in joining an upcoming episode, let us know! Reach out to sponsor@thisweekinfintech.com.

SPEAKERS


Helen  00:14

This is the Beyond Two Percent podcast and I'm your host Helen Femi Williams.

Julie  00:18

And I'm your second host, Julie VerHage-Greenberg, this podcast is brought to you by this week in FinTech, which is the front page of global FinTech news, fostering the largest FinTech community through newsletters, thought leadership and events, and

Helen  00:31

of course, podcasting. And you might have listened to our other podcast. Hey, Fin tech friends. Well, this podcast series is all about women exploring everything from investing to motherhood, to intersectionality, and so much more.

Julie  00:45

And we encourage you to give us feedback on the topics you think we should be discussing and asking and future panels.

Helen  00:51

I think Julie and I and the way that this week in FinTech team recognized that ensuring women are well represented in any industry is always going to be beneficial. Gender Diversity has shown to spot better problem solving, superior performance, innovation, so much more I could go on.

Julie  01:06

You're right, Helen. And if we were specifically talking about FinTech, the industry could benefit for more women at any level, because women in general have not typically been in the spotlight as a target audience for financial products and services. They're an underserved customer segment with a massive unmet need.

Helen  01:24

And beyond that female founders and executives have personal experience understanding how to generate an ally new ideas and solutions in this field.

Julie  01:32

And that's why this podcast is called Beyond 2%.

Helen  01:35

There is a world of tech driven financial products and services that is yet to be discovered because of the lack of women leaders in this space

Julie  01:42

and through group discussions with leaders in these spaces. This is what we want to explore

Helen  01:47

this week. It's all about investing.

Julie  01:53

And thank you to our sponsors in New York City FinTech women, FinTech women's mission is to connect, promote, empower women to advance their careers. They need help from everyone if we're going to make a real change, encouraging male allies to become members and come to our events. Membership is free. And you can sign up at NYC FinTech women.com and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Laura speaker men are recognized by Crain's New York and 2021 as a notable woman on Wall Street is a co founder and chief revenue officer at alloy. Prior to alloy Laura led business development and partnerships at an ACH payments startup and was on the research and investment team at imprint Capital Advisors, which was acquired by Goldman Sachs. Laura is a proud Barnard College alumna and lives in Berkeley, California.

Helen  02:45

Maia has an entrepreneurial background as the co founder of Rocksbox, a subscription jewelry rental company and pinch a financial inclusion company that built credit scores by reporting rent payments. Now, my invest in technology startups and works at time, a financial technology company. She lives in Bellingham Washington, serves on the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering Board of Trustees, and tweet startup punditry at my OB on Twitter.

Julie  03:18

I am very excited to dive into this topic, because it is something that you know, I need all the advice I can get about now, given that I am about to become a mom and I want to continue working, I want to continue building my career, that's always been super important to me. And I know that Laura and Maia are very much of the same mindset. So I'm very excited to have them here for this discussion. I want to kick it off by just saying that I remember when I was running fin tech today, and I asked Laura to do a post about fundraising, I believe it was your series B that you were fundraising while you were pregnant. And I remember getting an email from one of your staff members that ally with your draft, like the day or a day, before Thanksgiving or something like that, saying like Laura is actually going into labor. She wrote this, like on the way to the hospital or something like that. And I was like that is so typical of like, hard working woman type thing. So I Laura, I want to start with you and just talk to you a little bit about, you know, the process of one going through that fundraise, but to you know, now I believe your son is what about a year old or so something like that? 22 months? Oh my God, he's almost two years old. Time is a very weird thing, especially when you're pregnant. I want to just talk to you a little bit about that, and then turn it over to Maia because she more recently had a child as well, like very, very recently.

Laura  04:40

Yeah, I can't believe she's even here. I would have been right. Yeah, yeah. I think actually in the getting sort of writing that blog post and getting it sent has a lot to do with me being a procrastinator, unfortunately, and not a

Julie  04:57

you had a lot going on, you know,

Laura  04:59

yeah. A powerful pregnant lady. But it was, it was, you know, one of those things where I felt some amount of pressure to wrap up as much as I could before I headed into the unknown, which I'm glad I did, because it truly was I remember, like the first 10 days, 10 days into having a baby, I realized we needed to order some things from Target. And I could not picture I remember sitting there going, like, I have no idea how I'm going to open my computer and put the few things I need in my shopping cart, and then check out and do that I it was like unfathomable. And fortunately, I figured out how to do that. But the beginning was just so overwhelming and chaotic. But I remember I couldn't even imagine shopping online at that point. So I'm glad I tried to try to wrap up loose ends before I went on leave. Yeah, fundraising itself was I feel very lucky, I did it over zoom. Because we were in a pandemic, there was no no pressure to meet in person, there were no in person meetings at that point. And this was like summer 2020. So like, no one was traveling, no one was making me go down to Sand Hill Road. And I felt very lucky that I got to do it all over zoom, which meant I didn't have to travel and also meant no one could see my belly. So it was good for me. And no one, like asked me anything. And I saw I didn't have to figure out what to say no one said, Hey, by the way, are you pregnant? And so after, after we signed the term sheet, I did end up telling the people who are participating in our round like, hey, just a heads up. And everyone was supportive.

Julie  06:39

Yeah, I remember you saying in the post that there were actually a couple of people that like sent you parenting books, or like things off your registry and stuff like that, which I found super sweet as well.

Laura  06:49

There's Victoria Trager from Felicis ventures was really she was like, it's nice to send gifts, of course, but she was the most thoughtful like she was just like yearning to figure out how to get them to sleep and do what you know. And so she sent me a bunch of books that she liked and and I did end up reading them. They're quite helpful

Julie  07:04

the viewer you aren't able to see us filming this podcast, but a lot of the times when Laura was talking my was just sitting there shaking your head like yep, I can relate to that. Yeah, um, a few weeks in definitely feeling that.

Maia 07:16

Well, and I think, um, you know, it's funny, even hearing Laura's target story, I have a target story, which is I think on day three or something, right, we were also out of something critical. And I was going to do a Target store pickup, my sister was gonna go pick it up for me. And so I had my phone so I could handle like doing the order. But they were out of something. And they sent it a little notification, like we're out of stock of this thing. And I started crying, which is very unusual for me. I'm not a big crier, but it's like, I think and like, notoriously like three days in is like, like all moms are crying about like, just the most random things. And so like that definitely hit me hard. And it is just so funny that I was like I was crying because Target was out of stock of something. And even my midwife had said she was like, you know, like some crying is normal. Like if you're crying all day, or we'll know she was she said some crying is normal. But if it's all day, like that's what like she was talking and I thought that she was talking about the baby, but she was talking about me. Which I only realized, like, some way and through her advice.

Julie  08:29

Yeah, I remember when we were requesting people to be on the podcast, my email to my in particular is like, I totally understand if you can't do it, cuz you're like, what five weeks out six weeks out? Like it's very recent seven now. I don't know how you're doing it. Although the woman that ran my baby shower this past weekend had just had a kid and she was only six weeks out and I'm like how are you like catering something right now when she like, supposedly had like breast pump cups in and everything that you couldn't tell that was like collecting milk and stuff on like, God bless you. But like, I don't know if I could do that. Like, I think it just speaks a lot to the pressure not necessarily that society puts on it, but that we put on ourselves as well. Whether we're founders of a company, whether we're investors, or whether we're even just employees somewhere. I'd love to talk to you guys about that aspect. So, Laura coming from I mean, both of you are founders, so you'll have this perspective, but coming from the founder perspective, like you obviously still want to set a good example and take some time off, but I feel like you know, your startup is sort of like another baby and a sense that you're thinking of so taking too much time away. I feel like I feel like there's some different dynamics that go on in there.

Laura  09:46

Yeah, I mean, I think it's a little The hard part is I would love to be able to tell everyone like there's no great time do it whenever but I like knew I couldn't do it at series A Before, it just was not going to be possible. I was the only salesperson, you know, for a long time. So it just was not. I'm sure some people do it and they're successful, I didn't see a path for myself doing that. So I waited until I knew like, Okay, if I was going to take off, you know, three or four months, we'd be okay. And that's what I chose to do it. And that's, I mean, chose to do it as like, these things happen, you know, not always on the timeline you want. But that made it a lot easier, because I knew that if I left for four months, the world wouldn't fall apart, and it didn't. So I struggle with sort of like, their, you know, telling people to just do whatever they want when they want because it is a tricky thing. If you're running a startup, to just kind of like, be away for performance. I found myself personally, I was very bored during my leave, not in a way that I was like itching to work and solve hard problems and do a ton of interesting things in FinTech. But I didn't love being with an infant all day. And so I and you just have unbelievable amounts of time sitting there. Breastfeeding, trying to get them to go to sleep, holding them up right after they've eaten for 30 minutes, like whatever the things are, that you're doing. So much time that I was I read every single Slack message in that four months that went on in our company. And it's like a lot of slack messages because I didn't have to handsy with one hand and be on my phone constantly in that in that four months. So I didn't disconnect fully from alloy I did disconnect from, for the most part, being on calls and doing demos and all the stuff that I previously did, because we have people do those, but I I just wanted to stay engaged. So I think everyone has their own thing and everyone else or like you it's really hard to predict how you'll feel once you're there. I think some people really want to just completely disconnected and not have anything to do with with work. I just was I think so bored. I couldn't take it.

Maia 12:05

Yeah, so I've been I'm pretty disconnected. And you know, right? Like I'm doing this podcast, kind of my cadence is, I do like one thing every day. Right? So like yesterday we did and a 30 minute zoom call is a pretty low ask or it's pretty like, well, not low. So I feel like that's like a standard for like the one thing that I do every day. Yesterday we did, we're taking this workshop called Bringing baby home together. And so like we did that. So like that was yesterday's one thing today is one thing is doing this podcast. It's kind of like carving out. I am. So I'm like I've been totally disconnected from work. And I'm not a founder, right? I'm just an employee. And so I'm very confident that everything is fine and not falling apart without me. And that's really nice. But I want to echo what Laura says, which is, it's much more boring than I expected. Like, I feel like I spend an infinite number of hours breastfeeding, and it's very sweet. I like it like I like and I kind of love like spending all day in bed, like feeding the baby like it is very sweet. But it is just outrageously boring. And so and it's hard, like the types of things you can do. It's like reading slack messages is the thing you can do. Watching TV is a thing. Like there's just I listen to audiobooks, mostly. But there's really not that many things you can do because you're pretty occupied with all of the baby things. And so I'm taking I'm I've been pretty disconnected, I was actually thinking about messaging my closest colleague at work, and saying, like, Hey, I've been really disconnected in the past seven weeks and like love that you guys haven't, right reached out. And I really respected that. But I kind of want to tell her, like, if there's any questions or anything like, I might kind of start plugging back in. And they feel like that setting a bad example. But it is I almost wish like that we had a different structure or that like I think I could even provide, like 80% of the value I provide to my company by checking all the slack messages for 30 minutes or an hour every day and pointing people towards the right resources and saying like, don't forget about this and make sure to check with this person on that. And things like that. And so it's one of the things I've been struggling with. I do wish that I had taken more time or had more space or support while pregnant. And part of that was I was being a little bit deliberate. You know, we have a certain amount of leave and I was like well, I'm sure I'm gonna want to spend as much of that as possible, like actually with the baby. But for me, first trimester. I don't know if it was particularly rough out. I will say it was average. I think I had a pretty average experience. It wasn't really easy. It wasn't really tough, but I was surprised at how Um, like, incapacitated, I was, you know, I felt like I had the flu for kind of a long time. We don't expect people to work at all when they have the flu. But I was like, not sleeping well and have right I was nauseous all the time. And I was eating only, like water crackers all day long. And I was just like, it's crazy. I have to wake up and do a zoom call at 9am. But also, I'm not telling anyone. So there's like no real strength. The first trimester thing was really weird. It felt like I have this huge momentous thing. But I can't tell anyone or I'm not telling anyone. And it might not materialize, right? Like it almost feels like if you get a new job, but it might be taken away from you. It's like, celebrate, but not too much. And don't tell anyone and it was a very uneasy time for me. And then later on my pregnancies have preeclampsia. A and I actually, when did you find out your

Laura  15:59

preeclampsia?

Maia 15:59

So after I delivered Oh, wow. Because like the blood like there was a mixup with the blood test. And so for a couple of weeks, we thought I had just just gestational hypertension, because it really, really high blood pressure. So really, really high blood pressure,

Laura  16:16

but post postpartum still.

Maia 16:20

I had so I had Yeah, my blood pressure has been like creeping down postpartum, which I think is typical and good. Yeah. But before I deliver like weeks, like skirt, yeah, it was really scary. Like weeks 3435 36, I had really high blood pressure. And I wish I had like my midwife was saying, like, hey, you need to take it easy. You need to be on the couch, feet up, like reading a book. And I started my leave at 36 weeks, which I even felt a little bit bad about I think most people start later, even somebody was telling me she was like, and she didn't know, she didn't know what I was taking leave and she was like my she's gonna tell you like I took leave at 37 weeks. And she's like, I love doing it so early. And it was such a big impact. I really encourage you to do that. And I was kind of like, Oh, I'm leaving at 30 Like 36 Like even earlier than her like indulgent treat yourself, leave start date. And then I ended up delivering it 37 and a half weeks. And I wish I had I honestly I wish I had started at like 34 weeks and not been stressed out maybe would have helped with the preeclampsia and hypertension, which is really scary. Preeclampsia is the number one reason why women that were causing maternal mortality in the United States. And I think I would have qualified for even I think it would have cut into my maternity leave I qualified for like disability medical leave, but I didn't understand that. So I have kind of like, it's funny, like, I almost feel like I have more space. And I think it's probably different for everyone, I'm more space than I expected. Now. It's like, I don't nothing to do all day. I'm just like, you know, but I wish I had taken more time or something. I wish there was some some more space in pregnancy, because that was pretty rough. For me

Helen  18:14

listening to all this, like, it's so interesting, hearing all your different aspects of like, you leave. And I feel like I would have thought post baby, you're like, I don't know, it's quite interesting to hear that you're kind of you want that time back. And like I've not had any kids, I've been around like my sister having babies, my niece and everything. But one thing that I think is so clear, maybe in this conversation is like the cultural aspect of it in the sense of like, I'm coming from a British perspective where I know that for instance, you know, people take leave at 26 weeks, and then maternity leave is, is around 52 weeks. And then I know for instance, in Finland, they've just passed the law where each parents gets 69 days. And if you're a single parent, that means you get double. And actually I was actually reading that Estonia, of all countries has the best, like maternity leave. And actually at the bottom of this unit report, at the bottom of the list of maternity leave was the US. And it was basically saying that the US has the worst laws for maternity. And I think even it's to a point where like National paid leave is not even a thing. So I don't know, maybe maybe that particular factor is wrong, but that's what it said in the report. But I guess the point I'm making is there's a if no one's taking leave, and also the government and things like that are not encouraging that kind of aspect. I think it probably puts a lot of pressure on women to kind of essentially like you were just saying, well with you and your friend, you thought that what you saw that you were taking a lot of leave when actually in other countries you would be you would have already been on leave and you would have been encouraged to take leave. So do you feel like there is a different way in the US and is there And what would be a better way to kind of have that leave? Like because it doesn't necessarily mean that Finland or any of these countries are correct in how they do it? Is that a third way that we should be thinking about?

Maia 20:12

Yeah, it's an interesting question. And I actually think I mean, I like my job. So I'm 16 weeks of fully paid leave, and then I had right and then you have more, if you for medical or whatever. So I think I had another week and a half for medical leave. And so within the US, it's like, I feel like quite generous. And about as good as it gets. And that is supported by so there's the You're correct, that there's no federal law around maternity leave in the US. Instead, we have a actually horrible patchwork of different programs. And so my leave is 100%. Paid, right. But that is cobbled together between the Washington State Medical Leave short term disability and because I have disability insurance, fraud, it's all of these different programs, and even trying to shoehorn pregnancy into like this disability application I had to fill out was very awkward. And there's all these things. It's like, like, when did this start? And how much treatment do you need for this condition. And I was like, trying to fill out this form for pregnancy, it clearly didn't make sense like we're trying to create. So I have a very privileged position where it's like 16 weeks, it's really great. But it's good. There's no sort of official support. And that's just that's a really big tax, write even even for me who I think it's kind of like this is as good as it gets in the US. And still trying to figure out like, how to combine my salary with with all of the other pieces of the puzzle? I didn't and I deliberately did that answer your question, because I do not know, a better way to to orchestrate it. Unfortunately,

Julie  22:02

one thing that is interesting to me too, is just that Maia feels guilty for going back to work too early, like, oh, like maybe I shouldn't be checking my slack. Maybe I shouldn't be doing these things. I'm setting a bad example. But yet, we would also feel guilty for the opposite, too. So like, there's no women just make themselves feel guilty, no matter what choice they're making, it seems like so I point that out, because I relate the same way. Like I don't want to set a bad example. But I also don't want to like overexert myself, or like take away from the from the time with me and my baby or things like that. And there's other like the entire journey of pregnancy, I feel like there's a lot of things that you do or say, and there's a lot of guilt involved in a lot of those things. So it's not just necessarily even the work environment. It's just the whole process, and maybe just the process of being a woman in the first place.

Laura  22:54

I think the whole thing is, you know, then you like we're talking about pre partum. We've in these examples, which I think is I've thought a lot about that first trimester too, which is it is like, arguably the hardest trimester right? It sucks, you feel super sick. Even in a normal experience, I think I had as well like a pretty average experience, and it still sucked every afternoon, I felt like I was gonna, you know, just completely fall apart. And then you think about people who have go through fertility struggles to have to go they have a million doctor's appointments, they're on all these drugs. Not to mention sort of the whatever the emotional toll maybe as well. But there's just these other aspects to of just trying to get pregnant, that play into this that I think are really hard, where we all we acknowledges is kind of like postpartum X number of weeks or sort of saying like, that is what you get for yourself, or your family. And that's it. We don't really acknowledge other aspects of fertility, which I think is really hard. I also think it's hard to say like, as an employer, it is, it's really hard to like to be as generous as I think, like everyone should be right. It's hard to say 52 weeks. Sounds wonderful, like a true nightmare as a startup to have to deal with someone who's potentially out for 50 weeks. Did you do weeks? Especially because I think in the UK, at least you don't have to tell people when you're coming back. So you can be like, it might be 12 weeks or maybe 52 weeks, you can't really plan ahead and say okay, we're just gonna hire someone instead, whatever. So it's really hard. I don't like there's no great answers, because as a startup, what do you what do you suppose to do? It's really I think being generous in your policies only works for certain stages of of startups.

Helen  24:41

So I was actually reading like with the Finland example, they have like 164 days actually, they just passed a law in August. And but the thing about that is it can be shared between both parties. So for instance, you can decide you don't want to take any maternity and your husband wants to take all of them off the paternity or vice versa. And I think, because people's family structures are so different and unique, and it's not always just necessarily mom, dad or whatever, I think an aspect of where I mean, this is just me just pondering, but it feels like an aspect where people can be flexible in who takes it, because for instance, like you said, as a startup, it wouldn't be feasible, but perhaps your partner is in a different situation. And in the law, like I was saying, if you're a single parent, then it's it. They have, they have structures for that. And I think because we can all recognize that, like, a nuclear family isn't necessarily always going to be like, the data is working, and the man is sitting at home. And you know, I mean, maybe it is around like, us thinking as a society about how we can be more flexible on like, we know that there is a baby at home, who is going to look after it doesn't necessarily have to fall on the woman. And I think that's also where a lot of the pressure for women comes from where, you know, you're, you're kind of having that guilt, like Julie said, between home life and work life and which one you're growing. And, and even actually, with a friend of mine, who's got two young kids, that's the situation she was going through her kids are actually both at school age, but she was basically saying, does she take a job where she's paid well, but doesn't necessarily have to think about so much? Or does she take a job? And therefore she can kind of concentrate on her family more? Or does she take a job where it's going to be a challenge? And she's going to have to like, give it her thought process? But yeah, I don't know. It's a constant thing. But yeah, that's what I was thinking about. Maybe it's about restructuring how we see family, like restructuring how society shifts families? I don't know.

Maia 26:39

Well, the flexibility piece, I think, is really key there. And even when I think about right, like for me, right, first trimester was really hard. third trimester was really hard. Honestly, I feel so much better now. Because yes, I had to recover from giving birth and things like that. But I feel like myself, while when I was pregnant, like third trimester, I did not feel like myself, right. And I was like getting winded walking up the stairs. And just and I had acid reflux all of the time, which was horrible. And I would wake up in the middle of the night, like, just burning in the back of my throat, and I just had a miserable time. And so but it's not like that for everyone, right. And I have support here at home. And so there's some flexibility there. It reminds me actually, I have a friend who was working for a company that had great work life balance, right. And she was checking in code at like, 2am. And she got kind of chastised at work, it was like, You shouldn't be working until 2am. Like, do we need to take things off of your plate so that you're not working so hard? And how can we create like a better balance, but for her, she was like, Guys, this is when I work best. And this is what a good work life balance looks like. For me. She's like, I don't show up at work. She's like, I sleep until noon every day. And I don't show up into work until later. So that's just the hours that work for her. But we have this kind of like, contrived idea that work life balance means like you're only working from 9am to 5pm, when that's work life balance for some people, but not for everyone, because different people want to work different hours. And so I think what it comes down to like, there is a big element of trust, I think we want to say like, rates, I mean, so my leave is right, 16 weeks, it starts the day the baby is born. And I don't work at all during that time, and I am 100% paid, and then I 100% come back to work after that. Right? So like, it has to be really constrained and really explicit like that. But I just wonder if there's opportunities like well, what if we trusted people more? Could we build in more flexibility? Or what would that look like? Right? Would it be? You know, would it be more creativity in the options so that people can come up with what works for them? And like, how can we support everyone? It's like, what is an equitable way to support everyone, given that they're starting in different places, and they're all going to have a different journey? Right to Laura's point about fertility issues, which is, which is a whole nother game. It's like everyone has a different journey. They need different types of support in different amounts in different ways. How can we create that for them?

Julie  29:14

Something else that I think, you know, we focused a lot on the actual process of like work, pregnancy, and then right after pregnancy, but this continues, like once you have a kid, there's so many that you might have to take the kid to daycare, they get older, there might be soccer matches and everything. So I think while I'm glad that a lot of the talk around this both in our conversation and in like the National or world conversation is focused on the actual process of pregnancy and like right after, I think there's a lot to be said about just the flexibility that companies can put in to be more family friendly. Like an Oran, for instance. If you need to drop your kid off at daycare at 9am and you need to block off an hour on your calendar. Do do that like just block off your calendar. It's no big deal where cuz I feel like there's other jobs service field, something like that, where it becomes so much more of an issue or if you're, you have a nanny, and they're out sick, and you're gonna like, hey, like, I might be in and out of calls today, or I might need to take the day fully off totally fine. Like, don't worry about it. So I think that, you know, we need to keep the focus on the first part as well, but also shifted to the process of like, what happens after those 16 weeks that we get off to? It's not like, Oh, now everything's easy and chill again. And I can simply go back to work, no big deal, like your life has completely changed.

Laura  30:32

Yeah, I think the flexibility part, I mean, I think it's should be the case for anyone, right. And I think you've had this like, at least at alloy, but I think this is probably true, more broadly. Developers, I think I've always had this, like, we can stay up late and come, you know, we sleep till noon. And I think that's always been a little bit of a culture. And we've allowed that because they're very special creatures who need to be taken care of in the ways that they need to be taken care of. But I don't think we have that expectation to Maia’s point for other other people. And what you're saying Julie's so erratic, once you become a parent, your schedules 100%, not your own, you are reliant on your kids schedules, school schedules, the nanny schedule, our nanny just texted us while we were doing this, that she's going to be running late today. So it's like, alright, well, now my, you know, my meetings are like, whatever are thrown off. And that's just how it works. And so you have to build in a lot more flexibility. And it is, I will always have my pediatricians appointments during the day, they cannot happen on weekends or nights. And so I have to be able to take off two hours during the day, go do that. And I'll get my work done at other points. And so I also don't like that sort of like you can't text or slack or whatever, on weekends. It's like, that's just not that is my time to catch up on things. And I think every company deals with it differently. We've struggled with it, where what do you what, how do you set expectations, and it's okay to do work nights or weekends, but then not expect a response from certain people on nights or weekends? Because we're not saying you have to work on weekends. So it's a little it's definitely hard, especially when you're making asynchronous decisions, like how do you set up that framework? I don't think we've solved it. I don't know that anyone has. But there is something around how you communicate and how you do things. asynchronously, I guess that either makes it work or makes it doesn't work? makes it not work?

Maia  32:22

Yeah, well, if that reminds you so when I've managed parents on my team, that synchronous versus asynchronous has always been the balance. If they say like, oh, this thing came up, right? Kids are sick, they're home from school, and I got to watch them or take care of them. It's like, Great, how can we shift your work from something that needs to be done during the specific hours, to something that you can do when the kids are in bed or when you have that free time? And sort of shifting around the work? I think Julie was talking about service workers, right? There's a huge element of privilege and all of this. And even it shows up in how Laura was talking about developers like developers, right are very highly paid very high status position in tech, which is a very high status industry. And so it's like, okay, for them, they can set their hours, right. And I think as you sort of like, take your way down the totem pole of status, people get less and less flexibility, right, such that, you know, if I'm for most service workers, so they don't have any paid parental leave. And they have zero flexibility in terms of I'm going to show up an hour late or a missus shift or other issues with childcare. And so that's, that does feel like all of this privilege and status that sort of imbues this whole conversation. And where are we focusing? Like, are we focusing on improving work life balance and support for families for the highest status members of our society or for the lowest status? Like where are we making improvements here is something that I think about a lot, too.

Julie  33:51

I mean, I can't even like I'm thinking back to my first trimester. And I can't imagine being like a bartender or a waitress or something during that because like the smells you're so exhausted from being on your feet all day, like you're not seeing your brain like pregnancy brain starts way earlier than I thought it actually did. Like I couldn't concentrate on things anymore. Like all like mindset, like all of this comes from a place of privilege, where every single one of us was able to have our pregnancy, while working remotely from home, I can lay in bed and take a zoom call if I want to, and my team's okay with it like that.

Laura  34:26

I did a lot of zoom calls at like, three o'clock in my bed with saltines in my mouth. And I still was like, very self pitying, I was like, this is awful, you know? And yeah, imagine having like a real job where you just show up in person, and be nice to people.

Helen  34:43

Yeah, I mean, if I was to ask a closing question, I think we've covered a lot here actually. It's been really, really interesting, I guess. I guess the question I have is, if there's one thing you could change basically about the way like motherhood or or maternity is treated, like what would it be

Laura  34:59

one that surprised me was how much I'd heard this sort of narrative around like, breast is best is no longer the message that we send to people. But I very much did not feel that in the hospital postpartum, like with our pediatrician with I've message that was given to me it was still breast as best and I did breastfeed I have a hard time believing that it is worth it for a lot of people. I think doing my own sort of crazy person research when I was born in maternity leave was like, I was led to believe it was just, you know, you have to do it. And then I'm sort of looking at it. I was like, man, it was something like 10% less chance of an ear infection in the first six months. I was like, who, like have an ear infection, then save me all this time. And again, I did do it because your beef, I don't know, for me, at least I felt pressure and it was sweet. There are like, I think to minus eight. There are moments that were really sweet. And I'm glad I got to experience it. And some days now I even miss it. But man, it is a time suck. And it means that you cannot have an equal relationship with your partner.

Maia  36:13

Well, as I say it's so it's a time suck at it. But I think we should be very explicit. It's expensive. I think people say that breastfeeding is free, but like, Laura's time, right is so valuable when you think about the amount of time that Laura and only Laura can breastfeed her son right or so like that. It's like it's outrageously expensive. And so maybe maybe we might still make the decision to do it. But I think we should acknowledge how much it's costing. It's like, look, this is like truly, truly, like our registry. And I mean similar what I really kind of idolized, I think breastfeeding before I was doing it. Now that I'm in it, right? I think, right? It's it there's parts of it that are that are very sweet, but it feels very there's parts of it that also feel very unromantic, and very, like, cool. This is just like this child is like literally sucking the life force out of me as like, and you're gonna be doing that quite a bit. So yeah, I just want to plus one that I was very surprised by that narrative as well.

Laura  37:30

I don't think I don't maybe this is people know better than I, I've never, I've never really been around babies until I had one. But I didn't realize like, it's like you feed them every two to three hours. In the beginning. At least that was the case for us. And but that means like from the beginning of breastfeeding. So if it takes 45 minutes to breastfeed, which it kind of does in the beginning, then you're like, doing basically an hour we get like an hour break, maybe an hour break, you're probably changing a diaper during whatever. You're definitely not like having a great time, our being productive. And I would just like it'd be like, Okay, now it's time again. And it was just like, Oh God, I keep like, I just did this. And I just ended up feeling so resentful. Like I don't even want this right now. That it kind of ruined some of the sweetness for me. I think it gets better. I stopped breastfeeding it. Maybe five months or something? I think it started on sparking. I think it gets better from what I understand because you're breastfeeding less and less over time as the kid gets older. But it's pretty brutal in the beginning.

Helen  38:35

I think a point you kind of like the underlining thing there is that goes back to like guilt. Because you like feel like you're not doing the right thing if you didn't breastfeed. So you feel like you have to everyone's been doing it

Julie  38:49

for you feel guilty, because you don't want to do it. And everyone talks about how special it is.

Helen  38:53

Right? Yeah, exactly. That's a really good point. Exactly. Gosh, she just could never win. Yeah. And there was there was a formula short. Well, I don't know if the formula shortage is too long. But that was quite a big deal. Right. A couple of months ago, there was a formula

Julie  39:07

getting better, but it's still there. Yeah, because like, I saw

Helen  39:11

that the price of formula was going up people were selling like it on Facebook for ridiculous extortionate prices, of all things to kind of extort people for smart. What about you, Maia?

Maia  39:25

Here's what I would change. I would make it so that your baby shower happens after the baby's born? Because I mean, we that's not what you do you have a baby shower before, which makes some amount of sense, but I feel like I was very surprised by again like Laura, I hadn't spent that much time with babies. They actually don't need very much like diapers. I feel like they need diapers and that's it like your breastfeed. They don't need anything else that and everything else is a bunch of things that might make your life slightly nicer. Like having a diaper pail. I don't think I need it, but it is slightly nicer. Um, then, you know, my trash can I like live in a house in the suburbs, my trash can is right outside my front door. Like we can just take the diapers out, you know, once a day or twice a day. And so, but I feel like if you had the baby shower as you would have a better idea of what you need or what the baby is interested in or more of like a rolling baby shower. Right Like we've been, I mean, our baby loves, loves to be swaddled, I think almost all babies do. Also, a lot of the swaddles end up with spit up or pee or other bodily fluids on them. So we're like cruising through swaddle, so I bought a lot more swaddled, right. And if I had gotten to sort of experience that and trial that I would have been like, cool, I need a lot of swaddles on my, on my baby shower registry, and I don't need all of this other stuff. So that's something that that I would change as baby showers after the baby's born. Plus, you can drink that at your own pace, you can drink, right? You've got so much more, right? You feel better, you look better.

Helen  40:59

You do a rolling baby shower. Sounds good. Like, you could just have it up until the child's 18th. So everyone can just help you.

Maia  41:07

Well, that's kind of I mean, after I announced the baby on Twitter, like some people asked me for my registry, and so I did get that I was like, okay, cool. Like, you're getting the version change it. Yeah, where it's like the things that I know, that I want and need. And so that was actually kind of cool. But right, realistically, the baby shower had before that, and I didn't, you know, I've never been a mom, before, I had no idea what kind of stuff I needed. I was like, at this thing. And that thing, and, and I am using all of it, but some of it is much more valuable than others. And I would have had a better idea after the baby's here.

Helen  41:39

So I'm Nigerian and 12 days after a baby's born, we have a naming ceremony, which is essentially a baby shower. But like the thing about the naming ceremony is like you get different names for different people like your paternal grandfather, etc. So technically, I have like seven first names only use two though. But essentially, that's kind of a baby shower, because that's when I mean 12 days is not that much of a difference to like, I guess before but like, that's when they do it. Because like, people can party properly. Or ish. That's yeah, I guess. I don't know. Maybe it's so that they have a better idea of what they need. I'm not really sure about that aspect. But actually, it's 14. It's also nice, because people can

Laura  42:17

meet your mate. Yeah, exactly. Like you're knocking it all out at

Maia  42:20

one. Yeah, I'm actually going to do I that's, that's such a nice idea. I know, Asian cultures have 100 days party, right? So when the baby is 100 days old. And it's sort of it's sort of like that's when we celebrate the baby being born, right? Because infant mortality has historically been really high. And it's like if you make it through the first 100 days, right, you're like, good to go. And they do a naming ceremony, Anna, and a couple of different things. So I was going to kind of co op part of that or maybe do like a graduation from fourth trimester, which is really about the same time party and do a couple of different things that I think it just just with my my my family. But that's cool to hear, right that Nigeria does the 12 days party, because it's very much in line with the timeline that I think would be really useful for for getting support from from your family. I also think when there's a baby shower, you only get stuff for the baby. My priority list for postpartum would be number one is diapers. Number two through 10 would be things to support the mom like, or like, that's how I felt. Yeah, like so much. So it's like all

Laura  43:29

my baby gifts for people now or like massage. It's just like, all the baby stuff is like you can either it's hand me downs, or you put on your restaurant or you buy it later or who cares?

Maia  43:38

Yeah, who cares? Used onesies or whatever, like, it doesn't matter. But like, yeah, stuff for Mom is, is critical and so much more important.

Laura  43:48

I agree. All my baby gifts are our mom gifts at this point, because I'm like, Who can I just like that? So yeah, I did, at some point prioritize myself. And I was like, this was gonna be better for the baby too. But like, I'm the one who's just been through something horrific.

Julie  44:03

I should have had this conversation last week. So I could have made a quick changes on my baby registry stuff.

Laura  44:09

Yeah, yeah, we've done normalize that though, because I think it would be a little odd if you went on to register and it was all like, facial notes,

Maia  44:16

massage or even I was like, I don't know, can I put like nipple ointment on my baby registry? Like, is that a normal thing? Or is that a weird that

Helen  44:23

seems like that seems like that makes sense. I'm sorry. I feel like if I saw nipple Reutemann I'd be like, Well, yeah, fad. She's breastfeeding. Yeah, but that seems vaginal ice packs. high waisted underwear,

Maia  44:36

you know, diapers I always

Laura  44:37

you know those. That's my other gift for a C section. People I have a C section like buy get the height. Just get the giant underwear. It's always as

Maia  44:45

high as they go. It's what you want.

Laura  44:47

I still wear it. I love it. Yeah.

Julie  44:48

Oh, man. Well, on that note, this was an amazing conversation. I really appreciate it you guys, you know validated a lot of the things that you know I'm going through and we It'll be going through very soon. With the breastfeeding, you know, I kind of my goal is to do 5050 Like 50% formula 50% Breastfeeding so that I'm not spending as much time doing it, but I don't have the guilt of not doing it all.

Laura  45:13

You break the seal and formula early like you just we had to because he worked, couldn't get enough food early. And it was it was a blast. I was like really emotional about it in the hospital and then being a great thing because I felt less pressure than it was like he's already had formula. If we've ruined him. He's already ruined. So that's fine.

Julie  45:31

All the things I have to look forward to in about 10 weeks crazy.

Laura  45:35

Crying constantly about your target order. I'll literally

Julie  45:39

be like super hormonal bag. I'm just gonna go back and listen to this podcast to make me feel better about what I'm going through

Laura  45:44

such a wild experience.

Julie  45:47

Well, thank you so much for joining you guys. This was super helpful. Helen, Did we scare you away from motherhood? Do you feel better about it? Potentially? What's your vibe from the other point? Do you know? Okay,

Helen  45:58

number one, I think has been really educational. Like that's what I would say that's how I would describe this. But also like, I've always been one of those people who's wanted maybe because I had a nice, so young, like, I became an auntie when I was like 15. So I mean, she's made she's like, she's like 11 now. And we wish she was born on my 16th birthday as well. So it was quite like I didn't know there was something really, really there. And so I don't know, like I've always been around babies. Like my friends have babies, all that sort of stuff. And I like to live vicariously through people. I don't want a child right now. So I love to babysit. I love to hang out with babies. I just think like oh, but then I love that I don't have one. But no, it didn't put me off it just educated me on what to expect when I expect but no time soon.

Laura  46:45

I really hope we didn't scare you away Julie are about to enter the Abyss but it's it's in my eyes really truly in it. And good for you for doing one thing every day. I think I did zero things for most days for a long time. But man now like, it gets so much better.

Julie  47:02

So much better. Yeah, I'm looking forward to those fun times.

Laura  47:05

I think like four to six months. I was like, Okay, this is actually fun. I could do

Julie  47:09

right around the end of that. fourth trimester.

Laura  47:12

Yeah. Yep, that's a real thing.

Julie  47:16

It's appropriate that I can hear your child in the background. Children. That shouldn't be the outro music Yeah, beyond 2%

Helen  47:29

Wow, what an incredible episode to start the beyond 2% series. So next episode is stock girl summer, which is something I'm not only passionate about. But I think it's so important. We'll be discussing all things investing, if gender matters in this topic, and honestly where to begin because honestly, it can be very intimidating. Tune in next month to have a listen