Women are now leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men. What needs to be done to alleviate this?

It’s terrifying to think about how far back losing 3 million women from the workforce will set us. As a working mother of four daughters, I’ve experienced first-hand many of the drivers behind the new “She-cession.” The pressure of trying to manage my job, while also trying to help my kids navigate the new perpetually glitchy world of online learning, trying to acquire food and then having to cook 147 meals a day, as well as manage all of the other household needs, is enough to burn out Wonder Woman. Normally when I’m overwhelmed, I turn to my go-to self-care strategies. But in Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast, she discusses that “the cure for burnout isn’t and can’t be self-care. It has to be all of us caring for each other.” I believe that is the reason I’m still working. In my company we have a culture where we all truly care for each other. We recognize that employees have kids at home and need to get work done. So, there’s no discrimination when someone needs flexible working hours because of daycare challenges. No one is stigmatized when a child pops into a Zoom call screaming. There is no perception that any of us are less reliable when we have to juggle competing work and family priorities and we don’t feel like it’s a career-limiting move when we have to.

Women lift up economies and businesses. It’s imperative for companies to adopt a culture of empathy to help stop the burnout and set the tone that women matter to their business. Every company must adjust the norms and expectations that can cause employee stress and burnout. Because we can’t afford to lose another single woman to the She-cession.

Who was your mentor and what are you now doing to send the elevator back down?

I have been so fortunate to have many people invested in me and I stand on the shoulders of so many amazing women today. One of my most inspiring mentors is my current boss and friend, Leslie Zane. She is a serial glass-ceiling breaker and was the first woman to found a brand consultancy and CMO advisory group 25 years ago. I always joke that working with her is like getting your Harvard MBA every day. It’s really important to me to pay that gift forward.

I strive to consistently adopt and live a mentor mentality, because when you do, you earn a reputation as someone who sincerely cares about lifting up other people and that will attract phenomenal people to you who will be loyal to you for life. And if you surround yourself with amazing people, you are going to have more successes, and be seen as that goddess who is always delivering and who everyone wants on their team. In fact, research shows that mentors are six times more likely to be promoted. It’s no wonder that nearly 90% of those who’ve been mentored go on to mentor others. 

One of the ways I’m sending the elevator back down is through my involvement with the National Charity League with my four daughters. NCL is a philanthropic organization of mothers and daughters whose mission is to develop socially and self-aware female leaders. It’s important to teach women not only about how to speak up and have confidence, but also to educate them about strategy, negotiation, fiscal responsibility and risk taking. Those are often gaps that keep women from getting to senior leadership levels.

The more that we each lift women up and celebrate their successes, the faster we’ll ultimately shatter all glass ceilings!

What is your golden rule at work?

You will never make history in your comfort zone. As the head of Triggers’ healthcare practice, I strive to challenge the status quo every day, not for the sake of being a “challenger,” but because I know that we can make our clients’ lives (and their customers’ lives) better by doing so. Triggers’ New Rules of Marketing are a set of advanced principles based on behavioral science (versus traditionally used conscious approaches.) They empower our clients to leverage HCPs’ and patients’ cognitive shortcuts to accelerate conversion. The upside is tremendous — often a two to three times increase in their growth rate. They also help patients directly by increasing primary and secondary adherence.

The most visionary CMOs we work with know that current marketing methods have been “hit or miss” and that they must evolve their approach and live outside their comfort zone, if they’re going to succeed. These new best practices enable them to accelerate growth and unleash their companies’ full potential. There are phenomenal examples of healthcare leaders who dove headfirst out of their comfort zones to collaborate and reimagine what is possible at record speed, especially in terms of the miraculous achievements in vaccine development, commercialization and distribution. And they actually have made history doing it.

We are living through one of the most exciting and promising periods of medical invention and innovation in history, and I’ve never been prouder to be part of the healthcare community than I am today. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish next!

How have you coped with the unique challenges of the past 12 months?

It’s not often that insights from my professional life cross over into my personal life in quite as profound a way as it has from COVID. Our company did research throughout the pandemic to understand what the new emerging subconscious drivers and barriers of behavior were, coming out of the biggest global behavior change in modern history. We uncovered that there were two competing branches of instincts: preservation (fear-based) and perseverance (progress-based). Armed with these insights, my family and I made a concerted effort to focus more on perseverance. We sought out opportunities to overcome the pandemic-induced disruptions in ways that also emphasized the silver linings of the crisis. Not having so many commitments meant that we could have a home-cooked family dinner together every single night. And we got really creative! We had themed dinners where we dressed up to match the dinner (cowboy hats and boots for BBQ, kimonos for sushi night, etc.). We actually made up our own board games, created exercise stations and did treasure hunts around the house and yard, did our own Iron Chef cupcake competitions, made cards and posters for the local nursing homes and disconnected from our phones — we’ve listened to each other, learned and laughed more than ever before.  

One of the biggest silver linings was that COVID very effectively got our entire family off of the hamster wheel that we didn’t even realize that we were on. We were all running so fast in so many different directions that we weren’t taking the time to question how over-extended we were. Getting off that wheel has made our family stronger than ever and all of us have learned first-hand the power of perseverance.

What are the first things you plan to do when the pandemic ends?

I plan to follow my newly rediscovered philosophy of collecting moments and not things. I learned this lesson at 19 when I was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, but somehow lost sight of it over the years. If there’s anything that COVID has brought clearly into focus for me is that lasting joy doesn’t come from objects, it comes from experiences. We lost two family members in May within 12 hours of one another. It was a devastating reminder that we have a finite amount of time to collect these experiences and that the lasting memories they create are far more valuable than anything you can buy. So, now we’re “memory curators” — for ourselves and for our extended family. Some family adventures that we’re planning are: getting lost in the magic of a Pink Floyd laser light show, being humbled by the Philadelphia Pops orchestra playing our kids’ favorite Beatles music, visiting another world to soak in Iceland’s geothermal Blue Lagoon and paying homage to our ancestors’ origins in Ireland, Scotland and England.

But my most urgent and important plan is to spend time with my mom, whom I’ve only been able to see twice in the last year, because her long-term care facility has been on lockdown due to COVID. I can’t take back the crushing loneliness that she’s lived with over the last year, but I can fill every one of her days moving forward with beautiful moments, whether it’s giving her a huge looooong hug, having a meal together or just brushing her hair. I want her only to know lasting joy from now on.

I’m not saying that you won’t still occasionally find me at HomeGoods, but if I am, I’ll be there with my kids playing hide and seek (and maybe just a teeny tiny bit of shopping.)