More lessons on business and motherhood from a tech conference

As I wrote earlier in this post Wednesday, I got a ton out of my recent attendance to BehaviorCon, a new conference that explores behavior psychology as it applies to marketing. My takeaways from these two days were applied equally to work and parenting, underscoring the recurrent theme in my life: work and family are not separate spheres, but simply two of the many facets of one woman.

Here are a few more lessons:

Create a revolution. Author and entrepreneur Jonathan Fields urged business owners to identify a dictator and position their products as the savior. Chipolte is a leader in the sustainable food revolution which names commercial farming as the dictator. A recent Kickstarter campaign launching “10-year hoodie” went bananas. Donors intuitively understood that this simple concept could revolutionize the quality of clothes in this country, which crap out after a few months — and overthrow the dictatorship of manufacturers who intentionally make disposable clothing.

How I will apply this to business: I will be clearer in my initial intentions for this blog: To empower women to embrace the idea that they can be powerful, wildly successful professionals AND dynamic, successful moms — no matter your family structure. The dictator  is negative messages from media, other people, and OURSELVES.

Working revolution name: “Bitch, Yes You Can.”

How I will apply this to my family: I will create a stronger manifesto for my family. I don’t have a problem saying, “That is fine for Tiffany’s family that they choose to go to Disney world every year. We choose to take other kinds of vacations.” But I want to turn this around to build a powerful identity for who our family is, following Field’s credo to create a “unifying belief.” Ideas: We are a family that is curious and seeks adventures. We are a family that helps other people. We are a family that sticks by each other no matter what.

Do what works. Adam Ferrier, a psychologist has launched many successful campaigns through his Australian marketing firm, Naked Communications including this viral video for Oxy Australia aimed at teenaged boys. Not for the squeamish. (Or anyone who is not a teenage boy, really):

The creators simply found the top-ranking pimple popping YouTube videos — many with more than 1 million views– and created a montage. The vid was not rooted in deep scientific research or focus group results. They just took a message (repulsive pimples) proven to resonate with the target audience (teen boys) and made it their own.

How I will apply this to my business: I have a pretty high threshold for criticism and thrive on debate. But I’m also human, and some days I question whether I should tone down some of my strong opinions expressed on this blog. Days when I may have offended someone I care about, for example, or when comments from strangers turn personal. But this project is working — it resonates with lots of people, incites important conversations I don’t see elsewhere, and it makes me really, really proud. Plus, I’m having tons of fun with it. It’s working. and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing — only better.

How I will apply this to my family:  Like most parents, I have lots of ideas about how my family should be run. We have plenty of rules around here. But some days, you gotta just do what works. Last Thursday evening the kids were driving me nuts. I mean, totally insane bonkers. I baracaded myself in my bedroom when they wouldn’t stop squabbling over who got to feed the cat or following instructions togetinthebathalready! I emerged to find an abstract painting created with little fingers and 2% Stoneybrook Farms milk on the Danish teak dining table. The smoke whistled as it blew out my ears.

Instead of ordering an early bedtime, I did what worked: Instructed the kids to grab their Kick scooters and follow me eight blocks to the icecream parlor (breaking yet another rule: no sweets before bed). Did I mention they were in their pajamas? Or that Lucas’s were the glow-in-the-dark Halloween variety? And it worked: we all ended the day on a giddy note.

Go big. Jonathan Fields pointed out that it is easier to launch a really huge idea than a medium-sized one. A big idea gets people excited, rallies enthusiasm and investors. A lukewarm idea is tougher to sell.

How I will apply this to my business: Attending this conference was a good first step in my business. I’ve been frustrated in trying to find a personal brand /blogger I could look up to. I am compelled to go big, do something new — and make tons of money. In the past two months I’ve met several really successful entrepreneurs building very lucrative and interesting businesses based on their ideas, messages and personality — just like I aim to. But I had to step outside of my current circles to find these people — and be bold enough to ask for their help. Guess what? Truly successful people take your call. They tweet back. They gladly offer up time to answer your questions and pick their brains. I’ve been making those requests to people who then introduce me to even more amazing people who I can learn from, and on and on.

How I will apply this to my family:  As I’ve been saying all along: My goal is not to celebrate paying my bills on time. My goal is to have a really huge, fantastic life — including my family life. I dream of amazing trips around the world with my children. Be part of our community in a meaningful way. Build lifelong relationships. And ride our scooters to the ice cream parlor in our jammies in the dark.

Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour,, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.

The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.

Her popular blog, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.

Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.

2 thoughts on “More lessons on business and motherhood from a tech conference

  1. Agreed! No toning!

    I’m inspired by what you’ve created and continue to be inspired by your vision and purpose. Go big or go home is what I say …

    Rock on, lady! I’m lovin’ your show.

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