I announced on social media a couple of weeks ago that I am expecting a little one in late January, and it was met by thousands of congratulatory messages across the various platforms with plenty of "wow's" and "such an extra exciting time!" It's extra exciting because this personal news comes on the heels of the announcement that my husband, Todd Gallant, recently left his network news weather anchor role to take on the role of CFO at BizBOXTV, our digital media company that has been creating and distributing online videos for businesses across Canada for the past nearly five years.
I left my TV news reporter role before launching the company, partly because after eight years in the business I desperately needed something new to sink my creative teeth into and partly because the schedule demands were not conducive to the life I desired. Todd's alarm would sound around 3:30am so he could make it to the news studio to do live television every morning and noon... while my news reporting shifts were rarely predictable, bouncing from days to nights to weekends and everything in-between. On top of this, there was already a little one in the house...and that little one was entering half-day kindergarten, which amplified our scheduling conundrum.
So, when it was time, I knew, and there was no looking back. One final catalytic remark from my then-boss consisting of "why can't you just accept your lot in life" after approaching him for the thousandth time with what I thought was another amazing idea...and I was done.
That night, I quickly typed up my resignation letter, and quit the next day. Was I scared? Truthfully, no. I felt it with every inch of my being that I was meant to be and do more, and this was my chance -- a massive kick in butt. I had plenty of comments like "what about your career?" from well-meaning friends and family, but also a lot of support from others, including some colleagues openly saying they wish they had the balls to do what I did, and was about to.
So, here we are years later...the business is doing great, increasing its reach, client base and bottom line year over year. It has been and still is a lot of work, and I expect it will be for years to come. While this digital media world is so familiar to me, it's still very new to many businesses who are still stuck in their traditional ways of thinking.
We're definitely in it for the long haul, which is to be expected when you decide to launch into sparking the growth of a brand new industry. It's exciting to run your own business, but with that comes huge responsibility, and a huge amount of work. I'm constantly learning and evolving.
So, now with major life change to come for both the CEO and CFO of a company still very much in digital "start-up" mode, there have come more questions: "what are you going to do?" "who will be your replacement while you are gone?" Obviously thinking a new baby equals the slow down of a woman or a company currently moving at a fast pace, or that all of a sudden I will be set to disappear into oblivion for a certain amount of time. I suppose that is because this is what happens to a lot of women -- the whole self-inflicted glass ceiling mindset.
I can't predict how the transition will feel, so I haven't planned to take a set amount of time off, nor do I think will ever fully absent, with the exception of during labor. If I can still run my business while fending off some serious morning sickness and fatigue for three months, I can still be present once baby arrives as long as I continue to take care of myself too.
I've always felt the ability to stay connected virtually via email, Skype or phone can often be more effective vs all in-person meetings, in fact, this is the way the company often handles much of our client communications already. We have a great team who I know I can delegate some of my day-to-day tasks to, and systems in place that leaves me comfortable that everything can still flow smoothly even if I am not there all day every day. If new mothers can take the time to upload and blog dozens of pictures of their babies on social media, and have long discussions online around them every day, I can definitely take the time to still be present in my business.
I know that some may not agree with my approach -- but the business won't slow down, and neither will I. Along with that, I know I'll still be able to be a great mother to both of my children, while continuing to build the dream.
In fact, when I took my year-long maternity leave from the news anchor desk when my daughter was born nearly 10 years ago, three weeks in I started my first online business which allowed me to still feel productive and creative outside of feedings and changings. I was a happy mama... and had a happy baby, and learned a lot about motherhood and business over the course of that year, and continue to do so every day. Did my split focus negatively impact my child? Not one bit. She has so far grown up into the sweetest, most considerate and creative little girl I have ever laid eyes on. One who is also in the process of planning to launch her own business. This makes me proud, and happy.
My life has been "busy" and a lot of work for quite some time now, and that's something I don't want to change. I still take the necessary time to unplug and fill myself and my family up, but cannot deny that I also thrive off of creating and growing in business. That will likely always be part of me, even with a new baby at my side. My work is very much tied into what I want to create for my family to benefit from.
I have complete respect for the women who grow up with a complete focus on wanting to stay home and raise a family... but for me, part of what I want to represent to my children is showing them that they have the ability to "have it all" in a sense, and not sacrifice one important part of life in order to gain another. I am confident I can be CEO of my business, and be present for my family. Once again, not skipping a beat as this massive and exciting change approaches on the horizon.
Lisa Ostrikoff is a TV journalist and anchor-turned-creator of BizBOXTV, a Canadian online video production, advertising and social media marketing agency.
Follow Lisa Ostrikoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@LisaOstrikoff