Prioritize Your Mental Health. One of the new ways I’m redefining success for myself is by prioritizing my mental health more. It can be easy to ignore how you’re doing mentally until your mental health has actually declined. Now, I’m trying harder to check in on how I’m feeling and taking more preventative steps to protect my mental health.
Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Carli Evilsizer.
Carli is the founder of Partum, the online marketplace connecting mothers to virtual maternal health & wellness providers and mission-driven brands. With Partum, families can easily find products and services specifically for mothers while shopping by values like ethically made, vegan ingredients, BIPOC-owned, etc. Carli is passionate about supporting women through every stage of motherhood, increasing visibility for female-founded small businesses and raising awareness about maternal mental health.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
This will sound cliche but becoming a mother has absolutely shaped me into the person I am today. Becoming a mother is such a huge transformation physically, mentally and emotionally (there’s even a term for this transformative period — matrenscense!).
Before becoming a mother, I struggled with depression and anxiety but was very good at hiding it. However, once I became pregnant and gave birth, the coping mechanisms I’d had and my ability to “hide” my struggles were gone. It’s taken a lot of time (and medication) to get back to a better place. And now as a new mother of two, my priorities and goals have changed significantly.
This rough start to motherhood has made me really passionate about connecting with mothers and trying to help make their transition into parenthood a little bit easier and less lonely. Looking back, if I hadn’t struggled so much in the beginning of my parenthood journey I probably wouldn’t have been inspired to launch an online marketplace for families to find the products, resources and support they need for every stage of motherhood!
We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?
I’ve always worked for entrepreneurs throughout my career and have always admired their work ethic. But in the startup world, there’s a misconception about what success looks like. There are so many articles and social media posts that glamorize the “startup hustle” of working crazylong hours and putting your company ahead of everything else. When I first started building my startup, I definitely believed the only way to be successful was to follow this model and work on your company at all hours of the day and powering through even if it meant sacrificing your mental health.
How has your definition of success changed?
Now that I am a mother and an entrepreneur myself, my definition of success has changed drastically. When I am able to prioritize my family and schedule my work around my children’s needs is when I feel the most successful now.
When I first began building my startup it was right when lockdowns started and all of my childcare plans were no longer an option. I wasn’t able to devote the time I wanted towards my business and I definitely wasn’t able to work a traditional 9–5 schedule but this experience helped me shift my mindset about what success looks like.
It’s not always easy when work and family time are blurred but I find so much freedom having the ability to shift back and forth between “work life” and “family life” as much as I need throughout the day.
The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?
One of the biggest collective shifts I’ve personally noticed during the pandemic is how parents seem to feel comfortable being more open about their personal lives and family priorities with their employers. Before the pandemic I think many parents might have felt the need to keep their personal, family lives separate from their work lives. With lockdowns, homeschooling and frequent quarantining, companies and employees had no option to blur the lines between work and home. It’s not really ideal trying to make it through video meetings with kids around but it’s the new normal for many of us and as a society, I think we would all feel more successful and happier if employers continued to be supportive of parents and offered more remote, flexible work options.
What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.
I think one of the biggest silver linings of the pandemic is seeing parents, both women AND men, simply being more open about parenthood. It’s been so amazing to see more parents raising awareness about issues that affect them such as paid parental leave, flexible work hours and affordable childcare options. The pandemic has been extremely difficult for parents working from home but it’s also helped shine a light on some of the very real issues that many parents face.
Another unexpected positive to come out of the pandemic is seeing more men in the workforce taking on more of the childcare duties than they had before. In fact, my favorite VC meeting I’ve had so far was with a male investor who needed to help his daughter with her homework periodically during our meeting. It was not only refreshing to see a father juggling two roles at the same time but it also helped me pinpoint some of the values outside of funding that are important to me in an investor.
We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Take More Days Off to Rest
Taking more time off of work might not typically be suggested as a strategy to be more successful but I’ve found taking time to rest and recharge is essential to being successful. I think a lot of people wait until they are feeling burnt out to take some time off to rest. It’s taken me a long time to not feel guilty about resting more often but I’ve learned taking a little bit of time off helps me stay happier and more productive in the long-term.
- Blend Work Life & Family Life
With school closures, work from home and plenty of lockdowns, the pandemic has forced many families to blend their work lives and personal lives like never before. And it hasn’t been easy to work from home with children at home but blending our work lives and personal lives a bit more has also given so many families the flexibility to connect and do things that might not have been possible before like eating lunch as a family, taking your kids out for activities as a work break and letting your kids see how hard you work. It’s not for everyone but I feel more successful when I don’t feel the need to keep my family life separate from my work life.
- Normalize Flexible Work Hours
The pandemic has helped normalize remote work which is amazing. I’d also love to see flexible working hours more normalized, especially for parents. For those of us who do have the opportunity to work flexible hours, I think it’s important for us to talk about it and share the benefits and disadvantages to help normalize fitting work around our personal lives instead of scheduling our personal lives to fit around our work lives.
- Prioritize Your Mental Health
One of the new ways I’m redefining success for myself is by prioritizing my mental health more. It can be easy to ignore how you’re doing mentally until your mental health has actually declined. Now, I’m trying harder to check in on how I’m feeling and taking more preventative steps to protect my mental health.
- Advocate For Yourself & Others
Last but not least, I think one of the final ways we can all be more successful is to advocate and talk more openly about important issues. I don’t think a person or business can be successful today without taking a stance on issues and advocating to help improve things for everyone. As a mother and founder of an online marketplace full of small businesses and female-founded brands, some of the issues that I’m really passionate about are maternal mental health, supporting mothers in the workforce and making more effort to shop from smaller, more sustainable businesses.
How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?
I think society would be much happier and mentally healthier if we stopped glamorizing the “startup hustle” and praising founders for working long hours into the night. Instead, if we changed our definition of success to prioritize mental health and more flexible work hours to better accommodate our personal lives, families and employees would be much happier.
What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?
I think one of the biggest obstacles standing in our way of redefining success is thinking too much about everything we “should” be doing instead of focusing more on what we want to be doing. As a new entrepreneur I’ve definitely felt a bit of imposter syndrome when I think about everything society says a startup founder “should” do, like work crazy hours, raise tons of money and prioritize their startup. But as a mom of two very young children, these “should do’s” aren’t always possible for me to achieve. I’ve been able to overcome this by connecting with more parent founders who are in the same stage of life as me. (For any parent tech founders, Parenthood Ventures has been an amazing community to connect with founders in the parent/tech space!)
Where do you go to look for information and information about how to redefine success?
There are SO many places I like to go to get inspired and help redefine my version of success. I love listening to the Entreprenista podcast for different stories of success by inspiring female founders. And lately my favorite source of inspiration has come from connecting with the founders behind all of the brands we’ve partnered with through the Partum marketplace — many of our partners are small businesses owned and operated by moms. Being able to connect with so many mothers and fellow entrepreneurs has really helped me redefine what success looks.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.
I would absolutely love to meet with Katia Beauchamp, co-founder of Birchbox for a coffee date. I’ve always been impressed by the Birchbox journey and I would love the opportunity to chat with the entrepreneur behind many of the innovations in the subscription, DTC and curated e-commerce industry.
Also, I think Katia would love what I’m building with Partum! I’m building an online marketplace for women to discover all of the products and services they need for every stage of motherhood, like pumping bras, online birth courses and more. Katia is a mother of four and once mentioned if she were to start another side hustle she would create a “one-stop shop for all things lactation” so she would totally be my dream mentor!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Anyone who is a parent or looking to support their friends and family members along their parenting journeys can check us out at www.joinpartum.com to shop products like nursing bras, postpartum recovery essentials, mama graphic tees and find virtual support with online birth classes, breastfeeding nutrition guides and more created by maternal wellness experts. Your readers can also follow us on Instagram at @joinpartum where we share real stories from our customers and lots of content to normalize issues mothers may be experiencing such as depression, breastfeeding, birth trauma, infertility, loss, etc.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.