Michelle Yu is the CEO & Founder of Josie, an 8-week coaching program designed to equip and prepare women for their transition into working motherhood. She is also a mom of two children, ages 4 and 2.
Alright — tell us your childcare situation.
My son is in Pre-K4 at a local public charter school here in Washington, D.C. My daughter attends a Bright Horizons Day Care in Maryland at my husband’s employer (yay for companies with onsite childcare!)
What keeps your plate full these days?
I currently hold 3 jobs: Founder & CEO of my startup, Josie, Mother to my two children, and Chief Strategy & Operations Officer of my household (I just came up with the title of that last one, and kind of like it. Might undersell what I actually do though).
Among the 3, my role at Josie is the one keeping my plate the most full these days! It’s my baby, my third child, a passion project that is tremendously motivating, intense, and fulfilling. It’s my current “unicorn space” for the Eve Rodsky fans.
Do you work because you need to, want to, or some combination of both?
Both. My career is a big part of my identity, and it gives me a sense of purpose. I’m also an extrovert, and love working with teams. It’s incredibly energizing for me.
At the same time, I have financial responsibilities and take that very seriously. I credit my parents for teaching me the importance of financial stability and ownership. My career has allowed me to set and achieve goals here
What does your day-to-day look like? Walk us through your typical day.
Oh boy, there certainly is no “typical” day! But here’s how I’d generally break it down:
- 7AM wake up (6:45AM if my daughter has decided to climb into bed with me in the middle of the night)
- 7 – 8:30AM, get kiddos ready and drive my son and 3 kiddos in our carpool to school
- 8:30 – 9AM, make coffee and listen to The Daily podcast by New York Times. Wednesday’s it’s “Idea to Startup” by Tacklebox (amazing pod for entrepreneurs!) Also I do some tidying around the house – I need a clean space to focus!
- 9AM – 5PM, I’m hyper focused on my startup. I make every effort to keep this uninterrupted. I split my time between 4 major categories of activity: Product Strategy, Marketing, Employer Strategy, and “Team Love” (1:1 conversations with team members to align on priorities, show gratitude, and make space for 2-way mentoring opportunities).
- 5 – 6PM, carpool pickup. If it’s not my day for carpool duty, I’ll start dinner prep.
- 6 – 7PM, uninterrupted dinner time with family.
- 7 – 7:15PM, either I do clean up and hubby starts kid play time or vice versa.
- 7 – 8PM, evening play time – making forts / tents, playing “floor is lava,” role playing me or dad as monster, etc. Almost always involves the couch getting completely dis-assembled.
- 8 – 9PM, baths, books, and bedtime
- 9 – 11PM, back online to work, sometimes with a sheet mask and ice cream
- 11 – 11:30, Netflix, read, sleep.
How does being a working mom impact your kids — either positively or negatively?
I believe there are tremendous positive impacts on my kids. The “working mothers study” out of Harvard Business School is a great one – they found a host of benefits – particularly for daughters – of being in a household with a working mother, including higher performance at work, higher earned income, and possessing more positions of power. For sons with working mothers, they spent twice as much time on family care and household duties compared to those without.
The only negative I’ll call out is my ability to be fully present while with them. Because I love my career, I find myself constantly checking my phone, email, or social media to see who’s interacting with Josie. I’m working on it!
What holds the biggest tension in trying to manage everything?
Great question. In this specific season of my life, I would say it’s becoming an entrepreneur / CEO vs. everything else. It’s all-consuming in many ways, and that means tradeoffs when it comes to time for kids (yeah, that birthday party just isn’t’ going to have a theme), my relationship with my own parents (they aren’t thrilled I left the corporate job), and my health (I am stress eating a lot more these days. Klondike ice cream sandwiches and sea-salt potato chips are my go-to). But it’s a tension I was prepared for and am okay with.
What’s one resource that would make your life easier?
Okay, in the spirit of shameless and unapologetic self-promotion, it’s the Josie coaching program! In all seriousness, I went through the program myself, and it has been life changing. It’s not a mom hack, or a book, or an awesome babysitter – though those are of course, tremendous resources. But it’s about working with someone to create a vision, set goals, and develop skills that you carry with you forever. It’s about level-setting your expectations, learning emotional and mental management, and instilling habits of intentionality.
We are currently offering our coaching program through employers – if you think your employer would be interested in partnering with us, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are offering an amazing discount right now and an opportunity to be in a press release with us in October!
How would you encourage other working moms who are overwhelmed and in the thick of it?
“You are doing the best you can, with what you have, in this moment. And that is enough.” It’s a Josie mantra. Give yourself grace.
Any last words about working motherhood?
You’ve got one life. Make it uniquely yours, not one that you think it should be based on external factors. If it means right now you want that work/life blend to be 80/20, or 20/80, there is no “right” way. Only the way that serves you best in the moment. And remember it can always change!
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