Working Moms Mean Business: A podcast series for badass mothers

How to make your office a mom-friendly business

Many companies (finally!) recognize the challenges of working full-time and raising a family, and now listen to research that finds that companies that support working parents, including nursing moms, is better for the bottom line. Many started to offer perks to make it a little easier.

For instance, BBVA Compass recently announced a partnership with an awesome startup Milk Stork, a service that enables employees who are moms and are traveling on the job to ship breast milk home overnight for a nominal fee. Kate Torgersen, mom and founder of Milk Stork, shares on this episode why companies are inspired to support working parents with these benefits. Here are some things Torgensen recommends if you want to encourage parent-friendly programs in your workplace:

  • Understand your value to your employer.
  • Know what you want. It might be more money. Or it might be something specifically of value to you – like working from home certain days, flexible time off, or the ability to take your baby to the office.
  • Research the cost of not offering the service.
  • Know the best path. Ask others in your organization what path they took to negotiate perks or propose change.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you are the trailblazer. Someone has to go first!

Read or download the free (mega) book written by me: Free from Guilt: Why Moms Have it, and How to Conquer It, which is all about why so many of us struggle with being working moms, even though most of us need to work to live, and science says kids, families, marriage, society and moms thrive when we work.


Why are moms suddenly dropping out of the workforce?

Over the past 15 years, labor market participation for U.S. women in their prime working years has been on a steady decline, reversing the growth trend of the previous 20 years. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?!

In this Working Moms Mean Business episode, BBVA Compass economist Amanda Augustine, co-author of a recent study analyzing the shift, explains why this is happening, why you should care, and what can be done to reverse it. Also, my friend Betsy Smith shares about her journey from staff employee, to full time stay-at-home mom, to corporate worker, to a successful entrepreneur earning multiple six-figures.

Notable points of the BBVA study:

  • In 2015, the United States was the only Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development member country where this downward shift was happening.
  • Married moms with a household income of less than $50,000 were more likely to stay home full time with children, while those with a household income of up to $200,000 were more likely to work, because they could afford child care.
  • White mothers of young children are more likely to stop working or scale back because they tend to be in positions where more flexible schedules can be negotiated.
  • Black mothers with young children have the lowest income of the races studied in the report, and the highest workforce participation rate. Why? Black mothers, as well as Asian mothers, had the highest likelihood of an older person (such as a grandparent available for babysitting) also living in the home.
  • Policies that allow women to re-enter the workforce in significant numbers, the report suggests, would improve wages and the economy for everyone.

How to pay for child care without going broke

Surveys consistently find that the majority of mothers want to work, but affordable, quality child care is cited as the No. 1 reason they stay out of the workforce.

A quick glance at the figures, and it is easy to see why. By some figures, child care costs more than a college education, and a report by the Economic Policy Institute highlights the ballooning child care expenses, which exceed college costs in many states. For an average-income two-parent household in Tampa, Fla., with two kids, an infant and a 4-year-old, child care would cost 22 percent of household income. In Chicago, that figure is 28 percent.

On this episode, guest Jennifer Owen, editorial director of Working Mother Media, and director of the Working Mother Research Institute, discusses creative and practical ways to navigate child care. Here are some of her tips:

  • Brainstorm with friends and other parents in your community about creative, cooperative solutions to childcare challenges.
  • Research after-school and summer options at area park services, YMCA, community centers, and houses of worship.
  • If you or your partner decides to stay home, make sure you maintain your skills, network and earning potential.

Read more about the challenges of expensive child care here.

Rachel Cruze: #blessed vs. BLESSED and getting money RIGHT

I love Rachel Cruze! Look, her dad is Dave Ramsey, the personal finance and no-debt guru who has a rabid following of his books, programs, forums and radio show that have made him a very, very rich and famous man. It is easy to dismiss people’s success if their family is also very successful. I admit that I’m prone to this prejudice, though less so as I get older, and personally know many people whose parents money and influence are their downfall. This is not Rachel. Rachel is delightful, wise, humble and totally fun to talk to (and listen to!). I have interviewed her several times, read her books and trust my usually excellent instincts that say this is a wonderful professional, woman and mom who knows her stuff. And her stuff is about how to be freaking smart about your money.

In this episode, I interview the New York Times best-selling author, about financial wellness for moms, as well as about her most recent book is Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want.

Topics include:

  • Instagram and Facebook pressures. Beautifully coiffed children in expensive designer clothes in a granite-tricked-out kitchen, or families giddily frolicking on Caribbean beaches during winter break — these are not real depictions of people’s lives, Cruze says. But they can have a real impact on what we think is “normal” and how we spend. “When we play the comparison game, we’ve entered into a game we’ll never win,” Cruze writes.
  • #blessed vs. Blessed.
  • Say no to debt. “Debt allows you to have whatever you want immediately,” says Cruze. “But if you have debt, you don’t get to decide what to do with your money.”
  • Pick the right partner. Lots of advice about how to marry or partner with the person who shares your money values (which are really your value-values).

Check out more about his special Working Moms Mean Business episode with Rachel Cruze here.

How moms can build a killer business AND be awesome parents

Owning and building a successful business can be one of the most satisfying things you’ll do in your life. I know it is for me, and even more so as a mom: I am so proud to model for my kids the importance of going for your dreams, making your own rules, and building a life and career that works for your whole family.

In this episode of Working Moms Mean Business, I interview

Ayo Ogun-McCants, mom of five (!), and owner of Afro-vegan haircare line Soultanicals, as well as Nicole Feliciano, founder of the seven-figure lifestyle platform, Momtrends, and author of the recently published Mom Boss: Balancing Entrepreneurship, Kids and Success. Their advice includes.

    • How to write a business plan (and why you need one!)
    • The importance of staying nimble.
    • Test first, then grow gradually.
    • Dream big, but start small. In other words: Don’t quit your day job — yet!
    • Be realistic about child care.
    • How to build the right network.

Learn more about this episode here.

Are breadwinning moms good for families?

A few years ago headlines screamed when Pew reported that 40 percent of families with kids were headed by breadwinner moms. This is a prickly social shift: On one hand, hooray for gender equality! On the other, swarms of anecdotes from both men and women quickly reveal that this result of the feminist revolution is rife with as many challenges as there are joys: Divorce rates soar when women earn more than their husbands, men are more likely to cheat if they are financially dependent on their female romantic partner, and the more professionally successful wives are, the more house- and child-care they perform.

This episode explores both the complications of this enormous culture shift, as well as offers practical advice for navigating romance, social expectations, and that working-mom guilt that seems to plague breadwinner moms more than others.

Read more about the guests, and related research here.

Can moms close the gender gap in STEM jobs?

The number of women represented in technology jobs, and venture capital firms and startup CEOs, is dismal. But these field are ballooning in demand for skilled workers, and many positions — remote and from home work — are often excellent fits for parents. And by ‘parents,’ I of course mean moms.

In this episode, I interview Scarlett Sieber, former Senior Vice President of New Digital Businesses at BBVA and former Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder of tech startup Infomous, who frequently speaks on topics of innovation, women and tech.

Also, we hear from single mom Nicole Smith, founder and CEO of Flytographer, a travel photography startup, and three years later is reports multiple 7-figures in revenue. We talk about:

  • The importance of mentors of both genders, and how to find one (and be one)
  • The realities and myths about startup life and work-life balance
  • Why moms are so great at innovation
  • When to take the risk and quit your cushy corporate job, and start your own company
  • Why the lack of diversity in technology is a fantastic opportunity for women

Learn more about moms in tech here.

Samantha Ettus: Stop feeling guilty for work, it’s good for you

Samantha Ettus, is a Los Angeles mom of three and author of The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe For Success and Satisfaction, in which she advocates for women to be whole, dynamic women — not just moms OR professions — including family, romance, hobbies, a spiritual life, friendship, community. I love her message, because, like me, she calls women to ask more of themselves, because she believes they can achieve it. Basically, Sam is me, but 30 pounds lighter, with one more kid, and a handsome husband. The best part about her is that her witty, positive voice in this book and on this episode makes you love her for all of it. “When you honor all the parts of yourself, they make you a better mother, not less,” Samantha told me.

Here, Sam shares the importance of all women working, how to get your kids’ father more involved in the day-to-day care of the children, and recalibrate your priorities to get the most out of your time and energy.

Learn more about this episode here.

Fact: Working moms are good for kids. Stop the guilt!

A 2014 Pew Research Center study found that 60 percent of Americans believe children are better off when a parent is at home, and only 21 percent of adults say the trend of more mothers of young children working outside the home has been good for society.

Therein lies the paradox of our time: While a majority of Americans believe that children fare better when their mothers stay home full-time, the majority of American moms work.

But take heart, working moms: Science is on our side. Studies show mothers, children, and marriages benefit when moms work and earn.

In this episode, I interview Kathleen McGinn, Harvard Business School professor behind the recent Harvard study of 50,000 adults from 25 countries that found growing up with a working mother improves future prospects, especially for adult daughters who grow up to earn more, and sons grow into men who spend more time on child and home care. Prepare to have your guilt assuaged and mind BLOWN!

“What this research says to us is that not only are you helping your family economically—and helping yourself professionally and emotionally if you have a job you love—but you’re also helping your kids,” says McGinn. “So I think for both mothers and for fathers, working both inside and outside the home gives your kids a signal that contributions at home and at work are equally valuable, for both men and women. In short, it’s good for your kids.”

Learn more on this article about McGinn here.

Why you need a mentor, and how to find one to advance your career

Successful people often give credit to mentors. But where do you get one of these magical career docents? And once you find one, how do you make the most of the relationship? Better yet – how do you become a mentor in a way that helps both parties?

Patrice D’Eramo is vice president of Cisco, and member of the leadership council of Million Women Mentors (MWM), a nonprofit initiative aimed at increasing the number of high school girls pursuing undergraduate STEM degrees, and improving workplace retention of women through mentoring programs.

“We’re not born with a book on how we are going to be successful in life. A lot of it is by learning, by observing, by reading,” says D’Eramo. “Mentors have been critical in my success. I’ve looked at mentors in a couple different areas — whether it’s been the types of jobs they have had, the types of leaders they are, and working moms — those have been the general categories I looked at throughout my career. What I’ve done is attach myself to those particular folks depending on where I was in my career.”

Other ways women can find mentors:

  • Mentors don’t have to be mirrors. Great advice doesn’t just come from senior leaders in your industry, or people who are of the same gender or racial background.
  • Give as much as you take. Let your mentor know you took their advice, the outcome, and when you pay their generosity forward.
  • Expect to do the work. Be willing to invest the time to study, shadow, or meet with your mentor. You should expect to do much of the work because it’s your career.

Read or download the free (mega) book written by me: Free from Guilt: Why Moms Have it, and How to Conquer It, which is all about why so many of us struggle with being working moms, even though most of us need to work to live, and science says kids, families, marriage, society and moms thrive when we work.


About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, 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,, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

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