I’ll admit it. I’m a mixed breed career woman/military spouse. When first meeting someone, I always stumble to state my roles in life quickly and concisely. In short, I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom/wife and a full-time CEO. (Please go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor.) Then I usually get a, “Bless your heart—how do you balance it all?” I almost always have a snarky comment like, “Wine and Jesus.” Truth be told, I’ve been processing how I do it, and it boils down to this: I’m a non-traditional CEO.
Allow me to explain.
I don’t hustle.
Over the past few years I’ve read article after article about “hustling to succeed.” Let me tell you, the only hustle I do is at 8:45 A.M. Monday-Friday to get my oldest to the bus stop. To me, if I’m “hustling” in my business, then I didn’t plan appropriately. I don’t want to work in chaos. I like order, plans, and processes. So, I’m not a CEO you’ll find hustling to drum up work.
I flex my goals.
I’ve said for years I would aim to publish and present each year. This year I didn’t present. I did, however, have many days when I was present in my children’s lives. I’m not dwelling over missing that one goal because something tells me my children’s hearts were poured into pretty heavily this year—and that’s a freaking awesome accomplishment.
I sat out the conference season (again).
This is the time of year when you start seeing conference picture after conference picture and fellow CEOs begin receiving award after award. In this season of life, that’s not me. I’ve chosen being present with my family over attending large-scale networking opportunities. I know there will be a time when I’m going to have that professional flexibility again, but I also know the years with my littles are going by fast, and I can’t miss this stage of life that only comes around once. So, I cheer from afar for my CEO counterparts and stand proudly at home, growing a company.
I rethought my approach to networking.
Bus stop. Playdates. School holiday events. Local events. That’s how I “work it” these days. For years I thought I needed to attend any and everything I could get my hands on to build leads. Then I quickly realized that the more I made legit friendships the more people learned about my company, and that turned into business opportunities. Simple conversations on the go have turned into profitable contracts. It didn’t require me to get all fancied up or spend a butt ton on airfare and hotels. It took me chatting, getting to know someone, and speaking about my company (and their needs) when the time was right.
I keep politics out of my social media posts.
I don’t take a public stance on my political position via social media. I welcome the opportunity to chat face to face with anyone about my beliefs regarding religion, politics, etc. My personal and professional social media feeds will continue to be pics of my fat babies and furry pets, primarily because I want to work with diverse clientele. I don’t want to work with people who are just like me; I want to learn from others. I believe that when you start sharing your beliefs as the best (and only) option out there, then you lose opportunities to learn from others. And, to me, that’s potentially lost goodness I could’ve had in my life.
I am transparent on social media.
I have two social media pages. I have my personal page and my business page. I’ve noticed over the years many CEOs opt to have a personal page and then a separate personal page that’s only used to show their professional side. #1, This mama ain’t got time for that. #2, I am who I am. I want to be transparent. If my personal life is so crazy that I can’t show everyone “who I am,” then in my mind I’ve stepped away from who I aim to be.
I created a non-traditional corporate culture.
I strive to prioritize my life in the following order: faith, family, and then career. I encourage it daily at our company. In the beginning, I remember people would be worried to tell me they had to go on vacation for five days and they’d make sure to bring their computer. My answer was (and still is), “Heck to the no.” We need breaks. We need to feed our souls. We’ve implemented policies where team members cover other members so they can step away.
I’m not striving to be rich—I’m striving to do good.
If I die and have grown a company that’s insanely successful, but I have a ton of money just sitting in the bank, then I’ve failed with how I define success. I’m human; therefore, I enjoy nice things. But I also know I’m crazy privileged, and that means as our company grows we need to share the goodness. If I’m not giving more as I continue to gain more, then in my mind that’s failing. I want us to “Share the Goodness.” At my company, Powerhouse Planning, we support local and international efforts that give back to our world. We’ve done simple things like race sponsorships, and we also engage in large-scale efforts like sponsoring a girl monthly so she has food, shelter, and an opportunity to receive an education.
So that’s me.
I know I’m different, and I know many people will tell me I’m sipping on crazy juice. That’s okay because I’m me and you’re you. But for those of you out there thinking you have to hustle and kill yourself on your way to success, look at your season of life. Look at the season of your company. Start to embrace and celebrate your ideal image of what a successful CEO looks like.
So go onward. You be you, and I’ll be me—and we can all just be proud of how we find success.
Jessica Bertsch is a proud Coastie wife and mom of a six-year-old son, two-year-old daughter, and one-year-old daughter. In her “spare” time she runs Powerhouse Planning, LLC, www.powerhouseplanning.com.