Being a Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  I hope that this day finds you relaxing and taking a few moments for yourself.  My morning has started out wonderfully – sleeping in as much as possible (almost made 8am!), coffee in bed, time to write and my cute littles helping Jon with breakfast.  

I became a mom in 2009 when Katharine came into this world.  It seemed like a long time coming with a miscarriage along the way.  My mind was blown away by this little package of joy (and tears) that we had created.  Jon and I lived in Phoenix and brought this little bundle home to our small apartment, not knowing what we had gotten into.


Today, we are blessed with a caring, intelligent, strong, opinioned little 7 1/2 year old who is out to take on the world.  She makes me smile every day.  Posed below helping with Mother’s Day brunch preparation.  


Two years and 4 months later, our family became complete when Matthew was born.  By this time, we had settled back into Park City and I thought I had this mom thing down.  1 + 1 definitely equaled way more than 2.  Matthew was a calm little one, just rolling with it when his two year old sister gave him aggressive hugs and tried to “help.”

Matthew just turned five years old, and has fully lived up to his nickname (#shifty), so pictures of him not moving are hard to find.  He is one of the most kind, earnest kids I have ever met.  He loves life and makes us laugh daily.  I have never met a five year old who builds Legos like he can, and he still snuggles me every morning.  Posed below at his first ever t-ball game.  


Being a mother is more than I ever imagined.  It has challenged me to slow down and take it in, with the knowledge that these days won’t last forever.  Here are a few things that I have learned in the last seven years that in reflection have helped me to become a better person.  

  • Being a mom means being comfortable with constant change.  Early in Katharine’s life I remember thinking, I have finally figured this thing out (happened to be relative to her sleeping).  The next day maybe even the next hour, things changed.  Before kids, I thought I had life figured out.  I had a plan, and overall things seemed to go according to the plan.  Now, that just doesn’t work (it probably wasn’t working before either).  Having kids makes it incredibly obvious that you have to be flexible.  
  • Being a mom has helped me enjoy the journey so much more.  Often times before kids, I would set a goal and celebrate when I reached it.  Not a bad thing, but what I missed in that process was enjoying the actual journey.  With my kids, the journey is the fun.  Matthew is learning t-ball right now, and last week I went to his game and just giggled the whole time as they ran all over the field doing about everything but playing t-ball.  
  • Being a mom means you have to understand your values.  The clearer that I have been on what matters to me, what I value, the better I am for my kids.  One of the strongest examples of this for me has been with working out.  I have had an on and off love affair with fitness my entire life.  The last four years I have refocused myself on being strong and fit in order to live the healthiest life I can.  I value this and now so do my kids.
  • Being a mom means little eyes are always watching.  I want to role model for Katharine and Matthew that you can be a confident, smart, caring mom and worker at the same time.  I hope that this helps them to know that anything is possible. 
  • Being a mom is about helping my kids make their own dreams come true.  We talk about this a lot with together.  We can’t do it for them, it is about them identifying what their dreams are, working hard to make them happen and enjoying their own journey.  

I am humbled by how lucky I feel on this Mother’s Day.  Being a mom is the best.

Commitments: Take Time to Think

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Over the last month, and in particular the past two weeks, we have been in the midst of fall planning.  I tend to love this time of year, despite the fact it makes us really busy, because it causes us to step back from our day to day and assess how things are going and where we should go from here.  These reflection and assessment times are key elements to helping us propel our organization and our business to the next level.

After a tiring and inspiring two weeks, where I stepped away from my daily whirlwind for a full five days, whether it be for our executive retreat or my team’s leadership planning summit, I wonder out-loud (if that is what writing a blog is?) why I don’t do this more often? There is something ceremonious about the fall planning retreat, but truthfully I felt like we moved the needle on our organization more in the last few weeks that I may have all year.  So, why not do this more?  Why do we as business leaders see stepping away from the whirlwind as a luxury, or a bi-annual event, versus thinking of stepping back as more of the norm?

To be clear, I am not talking about having more “retreats” or big, off-site events, but instead I am advocating for creating more brain space in our schedules as leaders.  Time more regularly to think and reflect, to innovate and be creative.  This year, I have been working to create 90 minutes of unscheduled time on my calendar every single day.  This is really hard.  I have more than 100 people who want regular one-to-one meetings with me, as well as being a part of business reviews and accountability sessions with my team and others in the organization.  I am a part of at least two teams (mine and our executive team) whose team meetings alone take 10-12 hours a month out of my schedule, not to mention the working teams that break out of these groups to help to move key initiatives and projects forward.  How, amongst all of these pulls on my time, can I create more unscheduled time in my calendar?  And, since I am not used to having it, how will I prevent myself from losing it to distraction if it arrives?

With this pursuit, I have definitely improved my time dedication to assessment and reflection, but not near to where I would like it to be.  Here are a few things that I have learned that may help in this journey, or at least remind me in the future, as I am sure I will have times I forget.

  1. Have a plan or a goal.  I (and likely many business professionals) work better with a plan or a goal.  Whether it be 90 minutes a day of unscheduled time, or simply a bike ride a week, this helped me focus my energy and time effectively.
  2. Tell people about your goal.  Accountability is an amazing thing.  The more you socialize what you are doing, the more I have felt accountable to not just myself for this improvement exercise.
  3. Don’t be down on yourself.  Change is hard.  I failed more days this year than I have succeeded, but if I get down on myself for this, it defeats the purpose.  Being kind and forgivining to myself is hard, in fact, sometimes almost impossible.  The more accepting at my own misses, the better I am at improving.
  4. Get creative on solutions.  For me, unscheduled calendar time isn’t the only way to create time for reflection (despite the original goal).  Ensuring that I have time dedicated to other activities like riding my bike, working out, outside learning time, reading, community events has helped this journey.  During these times, although my mind is far from quiet, I think and reflect.  In fact, my best organizational structure idea in the last two years came while on my mountain bike riding “Flying Dog” trail in Park City, Utah.

I guess it would be fitting to close this blog post with a commitment.  In a life with a lot of things pulling at me – my adorable children, a desire to have quality time with Jon, my job, business travel on both sides of our family and a desire to stay healthy – it is easy to not keep up with this.  My commitment today is that I will keep trying, and not be frustrated with my progress or failures.

Making Change Happen in Utah

Last night at the Oscars, Patricia Arquette used the stage to speak about an incredibly important issue to me – equality for women. Unfortunately, her memorable Oscar speech was followed with backstage words that didn’t help the cause. You can agree or disagree with her backstage follow up, but I hope that it is hard for any of us to disagree with what she said behind the microphone.

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”             – Patricia Arquette

The issue of equal rights, and equal pay for women has been on my mind a lot lately. Since last fall, I have been spending a lot of thinking time about how I can help the women in my life succeed professionally. Whether it be giving my time to them, or clearing the path for their success, I have become more aware that I have a key role in helping the people around me succeed.   Last nights speech from Patricia renewed my energy, and I decided to write tonight about an experience I had last December. I had intended to blog about it then, but lost momentum. Thank you Patricia for helping me to get pissed off again (the most productive time to channel my inner feminist!).

In December, Jon and I were watching television after our kids were in bed.  He was on his iPad browsing Facebook, and ran across an article from the NY Post that caught his attention.  The headline….”5 places women shouldn’t spend their travel dollars.”  He asked me to guess to see if I could come up with the list of places before reading me the article.  I rattled off Saudi Arabia (on the list), Iran (not on the list), a few countries in Africa (not on the list), and he continued to say no until I couldn’t come up with any more ideas.  Finally, he just started reading me the article.  My jaw dropped with the mention of Utah as #5.  And Turkey for that matter, which when visiting I found a wonderful open place.

The article leads with:

 “It’s a sad fact that in the 21st century, women around the globe continue to encounter rampant discrimination, harassment and inequality. Sad — though not necessarily surprising. Here are five places where women’s rights are being exploited and sexism reaches into the highest echelons of government — reason enough to take your travel dollars elsewhere.”

The state I love to live and work in meets this description?  That sucks.  I found myself a combination of pissed off at the state of affairs for women in Utah, and frustrated with the quality of journalism demonstrated by the NY Post.

Part 1:  As I mentioned in my previous post, we do need to make progress in Utah.  We need to raise young men and women who think about many options for a woman’s career – both going to work and being a mom.  We need to close the pay gap between men and women which is ranked 49th in the United States for equality.  We need more females in our state government.  We need more women in company leadership.  We need more young women to complete post-secondary education.  And, we need companies to lead the way to make this change happen.

Part 2:  Good journalism is dead.  This may be extreme, but so is calling Utah one of the top 5 worse spots for women to put their travel dollars based on discrimination, inequality, sexual exploitation, etc.  There are countries around the world where women cannot show their face, where over half of new brides are under 16, where over 80% of women report domestic abuse, and you put Utah as #5 on this list?  I appreciate the journalist bringing attention to women’s issues, and even the women’s issues of Utah, but do your research.  This article was simply inflammatory (which of course I fell for hook, line and sinker).

I feel lucky to have a support network in my husband, family and friends that help support my desires professionally and personally.  I am grateful for my upbringing where my parents taught me to only see what is possible for me, never the barriers in front of me, and to work hard to achieve what is possible.  I feel proud of my company, CHG Healthcare Services, for creating a culture to work where women in Utah (and around the country) can have the career that they want, while balancing a family at home if they choose.  Our leading brand, CompHealth, has an executive leadership team with 50% women leaders.

This recent speech by Patricia Arquette and the preceding NY Post article has elevated my commitment and my desire to utilize my experiences, and the experiences at CHG Healthcare to lead Utah out of inequality, to show other companies, and women living in our state, that change can happen if we all put our energy, our money and our time towards making it happen.  In doing so, we will not only create a better culture in Utah for females, but equality for others who are underrepresented.

So what, you may ask, am I going to do about it?  No answers yet, but stay tuned.  Today it begins with telling you that change can happen.  We are doing it at CHG Healthcare….why aren’t you?

Commitments: Help Utah Female Professionals Succeed

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Recently, my friend pointed me toward an article in the recent Utah Business magazine that gave the facts on the employment of women and men in Utah and their current wages.  The data was sourced to the U.S. Census Bureau 2008 – 2012 American Community Survey.  And, it made me sad.  Out of just over 1.2 million employed, civilian workers females made up 44.4% of the workforce and earned a median $20,053 per year (compared to males at $39,880).

In doing some follow up research, I got a lot more sad at the current state of affairs in Utah for female professionals.  It ultimately makes me worried for my daughter, wanting to figure out a way to help her lean to navigate the workforce reality.  USA Today stated in a recent article that Utah is the #1 worst state for women.  The methodology for their rating looks at wage gap, women in private company leadership, women in state legislature, poverty rate and infant mortality rate.  The article even noted that in Utah, women are holding less than 1 in 3 management positions.

I have been a resident of Utah for about 10 of the last 13 years.  I never thought I would live in Utah.  I met Jon at a wedding in Ohio, and I vividly remember him telling me he lived in Utah.  Utah?  I knew California, Las Vegas, Yellowstone and the Colorado rockies, but Utah?  Weren’t people from Utah either Mormon or ski bums?  Jon didn’t seem like either when I met him, so I went with it.  I was simply a love-struck 20 something, wondering more about where our next date weekend would be than the state of the workforce for female professionals.  I ultimately moved here, have fallen in love with the place, and have led about half of my 16 year career in the state.

Now, I consider myself a Utah local, a professional woman, and one of the apparently few female company executives in the state. I sit here thinking about how my role as a female executive can help drive change.  It is ironic to think this way, because I rarely, if ever, think about being a woman at work.  Over the years, I have come to work, tried my hardest to succeed every day, looked for opportunities to stretch myself, learned a lot, and ultimately tried not to take no for an answer.  By not defining myself using my gender, I have never seen professional boundaries.  This boundary-less world view has by its definition opened up my eyes to opportunities that I would otherwise never have seen.

I want to help, and take a purposeful role in making the future better in Utah for women.  But, I feel stuck.  Due to the fact that I am a working mother of two, and have the job that I have, I have little time to give to anything beyond my family and my job.  I feel guilty and sad to see this state of affairs and not be able to give more to help change it.  That said, this reality I live in of having to forcefully prioritize the time that I have, has been one of the things that has made me successful over the years.  So, my game plan is to help in the way my schedule and life allow.  I figured writing down a few commitments would help me to remember to stay accountable.

  • Raising strong-willed, independent children with Jon who see professional women as the norm;
  • Helping people in my team succeed as female professionals (in particular working moms);
  • Continue building a culture at CHG Healthcare where it is possible to be a successful working mom and a working dad;
  • Mentor people whenever I can find a spare moment helping to guide them through the choices that they need to make;
  • And, most importantly, never give up on my own dreams.  Shape them to be what I want them to be, not what others think is the right answer.

A short but important list that will hopefully help make a difference.

Commitments: The Pursuit of Clarity

The power of clear thoughts, words and writing.  As a marketer,  I have built my life’s work about making words (amongst other things) work to drive a purchase or a response.  That said, almost every day I feel as if I learn about how to make my words more effective.  Much of this learning comes through the pursuit of clarity.  In every facet of my life, clarity is critical and difficult to achieve.  As a constant learner, I feel like it is something at which the learning will never end.

In marketing:  Often times when we are working hard so create the most effective marketing, we miss the obvious.  You can get too close to the work, review the copy too many times, overthink the headline, or forget to look at the marketing exection with your customer in mind.  Just this week, I was looking at an email campaig where we were trying to be too cute with a headline, and it just wasn’t clear.  A lack of clarity is often driven by not stepping back and looking at your work with fresh eyes.

In leadership:  My most difficult work experiences have been times where I wasn’t being clear to my employees.  The worst of these has typically been whe an employee is underperforming, and I needed to let them go.  This is never a situation you want to find yourself in, as either a leader or employee, but it happens.  The first time I had to do this, I thought I had been explicitly clear with the employee both verbally and in writing of the gaps in their performance.  The day came that I was going to fire them.  They were shocked, angry and sad.  Angry and sad were to be expected, but SHOCKED?!?  We had been having conversations for going on six months about their lack of performace.  I was taken aback, and decided to just ask why they felt so surprised.  Verbatim…”You never told me that wasn’t doing what you wanted me to.  Isn’t that unfair?”  Ugh.  Despite my best attempts, and even a belief that been clear, I hadn’t.  A lack of clarity is often driven by not confirming that what you think you said was heard.

In being a mom:  The power of words.  In no place in my life is this more apparent than with my two year old Matthew (and prior to him, Katharine).  Matthew is learning words everyday, and it is so refreshing to be able to communicate with him.  Only a short 3 months ago, he was getting frustrated all the time because despite what he was thinking, he couldn’t form the words to tell us what he wanted.  Now, the smille on his face when he tells a little joke, or can tell us he loves us.  Priceless.  A lack of clarity is often driven by not understading each other.

In being a wife:  In my life, everything seems to be planned.  So, a moment without a plan typically means something is wrong (unfortunately!).  One morning as I was running out of the house to work, I yelled back to my husband, “You are picking up the kids from school, right?”  To which he responded with, “I can’t, I have an appointment.”  Unfortunately, I didn’t hear him.  I had asked a question without listening for the answer, and thus our kids were awaiting a pick up at daycare with no parent headed that direction.  After a few calls from the teacher, we got it figured out.  But, a lack of clarity is often driven by not listening.  Particularly detrimental if you were the one who asked the question to gain clarity (and when your kids end up stuck at daycare!).

So, the pursuit of clarity is my commitment for the week.  In the way that I communicate and in the way those around me commuicate with me.

Creating a System

I am excited to report that after two weeks straight of Jon traveling, our new system seems to be working.  What a difference a year makes, and it is a good thing.

Last year (2013/2014 school year), both of our kids went into a great daycare/preschool for the first time.  For Katharine (our then 3 1/2 year old), it was her second year, and for Matthew (our then 16 month old) it was his first time in any kind of away from home child care.  We were super excited about getting both kids a spot in the school as there aren’t many to go around, but worried about balancing two busy work lives with daycare schedule.  Once we got through the drama of the first two weeks of Matthew’s adjustment to the school, we felt like we were settling in.  Oh, but we were wrong.  The next 8 months proceeded to be full of sick days, Jon traveling more than he ever had and me trying to hold on for dear life.  On the positive side, the kids absolutely loved the school and were growing so much every single day.

As the end of the school year approached last June, we were thrilled to be planning on a full-time nanny for the summer.  It felt like it was going to be a vacation.  Not rushing to get two kids out the door in the morning, not dealing with sick kid coverage and unplanned time off work.  We had a great summer but those brief 9 weeks between school years moved faster than I could have imaged.  As this school year began approaching and our fall travel schedules began to fill in, I started to freak out  I seriously didn’t think I could survive another year like last year.

Enter problem solving mode….we ended up deciding to build a system.  We hired a wonderful babysitter help with the kids.  She helps us both with the kids and doing odds and ends around our house including a weekly grocery store run.  We are two weeks in to our new system and I feel like I may survive.  That this small choice to get some help has built more sanity in my schedule than I ever could have believed.  The downside – guilt.  I feel like I am yet again outsourcing my life.  What is it about guilt?  It seems to haunt me despite the positive energy the system is helping me to build.  Another topic for another day….

For now, I am highly recommending a system.  It is helping to bring order to chaos and allowing my time with my kids to be as positive as possible.