Mom Wars is one of the media’s favorite story lines. The Time Magazine Are you Mom Enough Dare is only the latest chapter pitting stay at home moms vs. working moms, breastfeeding moms vs. formula moms, or babywearing moms vs. Ferber-loving moms. It sells magazines to depict us as dueling, mud-wrestling amazons, but each of those pieces is missing the mark.
How much energy do you spend dueling with moms who don’t share your parenting views?
I just attended a mom blogger event at Coca Cola headquarters last week. (To be clear: Coca Cola flew me down to Atlanta and paid for my hotel room and meals.) The two day conference included a panel with six of the top female executives at Coca Cola. Our genders seemed to be the only thing we all had in common. They run large divisions at one of the most recognized brands in the world. We work from home, building our personal brands by ourselves. The panel could have been pitched as a reality show: Mom Wars: executives vs. mompreneurs. But as the dialogue began, it soon became clear that we had a lot in common and that these powerful women had inspiring stories that were very relevant to our careers and lives, no matter how different.
My corporate days are long behind me, but these executive women shared advice that resonated within me. These words will fuel my decisions in the years to come, keeping me growing and challenging myself:
- Don’t try to be a man. Our gender’s gift is empathy and it is our secret weapon. Be a woman and you will be successful.
- Always be a little uncomfortable in your jobs because that’s when you’ll learn and grow the most.
- Give your mentors the permission to be honest. Feedback will help you grow.
- Define your own success. Don’t let anyone else’s vision dictate yours.
- The test of courage and the key to success is to walk through the door when opportunity knocks. Learn something and have fun.
- Whatever you are doing, focus on it exclusively. Work while at work. Play at home.
- Let go of trying to be perfect.
During our two days in Atlanta, we toured the World of Coke and met with many other speakers. We heard from Megan Calhoun about building brand pillars. We assembled vision boards. We learned about Coca Cola’s goal to create 5 million female entrepreneurs before 2020 and about their community service outreach programs locally and globally (more on that soon). We spent a great deal of time talking about obesity, fitness, nutrition, and the environment. We even did a little sweating courtesy of Monica Vasquez, Subway official trainer. We got a much greater appreciation for the power to do good of a mega brand.
But having taken the weekend to digest the trip and all the information, the most powerful presentation was definitely the panel with Coca Cola’s female executives. Rather than spending time focusing on our differences, applying their lessons to my life, no matter how different, has me walking a little bolder, a little more proud to be a woman and a mom.