Managing people is just as important as balancing the books. I am a team oriented person because I firmly believe that a meeting of the minds, especially the minds of strong, smart, and energetic women, propels our business forward. However, I occasionally find myself in the middle of strong and compelling arguments and I have learned that diplomacy the best policy.
I had the pleasure to interview Layla Lisiewski, Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer of The Local Moms Network. A graduate of Brown University, she spent six successful years at Merrill Lynch in NYC before entering the exciting world of parenthood. Upon returning to her hometown, Layla was eager to connect and share resources with other moms and create a sense of community for herself, driven by a love for the town she lived in. The Local Moms Network has established a national brand that is recognized as a parent’s modern-day connection to their community that is enjoyable to reference.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Layla! What is it about the position of CEO the most attracted you to it?
I always remember my father telling me that it’s important to be your own boss. Because I started my own business, I have been able to maintain my own work/life balance and grow the company in a way that makes sense on a personal and business level. I enjoy building the company culture from the ground up which is very different than working in a financial institution which is where I previously worked.
Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO does, but in just a few words can you explain what a CEO does that is different from the responsibilities of the other executives?
Particularly at a quickly growing startup, I am the middle man and the final decision maker.
What were your biggest struggles throughout your professional life and how did you overcome them?
My last job was not holding my interest and my biggest struggle was not finding something I was passionate about. My new journey would need to be exciting and helpful for the community I was living in. My father and sister are both doctors and I also knew I wanted to help people but did not want a medical career. As CEO of The Local Moms Network, I’m helping hundreds of thousands of moms across the country by providing the resource we all need most, the gift of time. I am also proud to have created over 100 flexible jobs for moms which is infinitely more rewarding to me than making more money for a financial institution.
What are the biggest challenges faced by women CEOs that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
The biggest challenge I come across as a female CEO is going into meetings and having men underestimate me because I am a woman, and a mom. We have grown our business over 5000% in two years and I am still convincing people that this is more than a hobby.
What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being a CEO?
I enjoy having a hand in helping build all aspects of the business.
What are the downsides of being a CEO?
I must make the most of every moment whether it’s at the office or at home.
Specifically, what is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
When I went from one hyper local platform to over 80 in less than a year, the most striking realization was the number of lawyers, accountants, and back end web development that needed to be involved.
Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be a CEO, what specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful CEO and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be a CEO?
Time management, agility and perseverance are key to becoming a successful CEO.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
The same advice I would give to any leader. Big decisions are normally made when tensions are high and anxiety is running rampant. My advice is to walk away and make those decisions when you’re mentally ready.
Who inspired/inspires you and why?
The moms that we have hired all over country inspire me every day. They are former lawyers, marketing executives, missionaries who are committing to second acts to help other moms and taking a leap of faith with a startup.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Our entire company is based on helping moms by “giving moms the gift of time” through hyper local resource platforms across the country. Our brand has also created over 100 jobs for entrepreneurial moms across the U.S. This is much bigger than me.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Don’t compare your start up with other start ups. I was consumed with comparing The Local Moms Network to other start ups without taking into account that the growth trajectories for start ups differ depending on industry, product, and scope. Initial investment is also a huge factor which can be to your advantage or disadvantage.
- Find your team as soon as possible. Building a business from scratch proved to be the quickest way for me to realize my strengths and my weaknesses. I carefully selected my team by focusing on character, passion, perseverance and what they could bring to the table as women.
- Don’t be afraid to spend money to grow your business. I have always been careful with spending money to grow the business, sometimes too careful. Reinvesting in a start up is the only way to grow.
- Build your business only as fast as you can monitor it. The Local Moms Network grew exponentially in less than a year and we put a hold on that growth for months in order to catch up and ensure the infrastructure was solid. Growth was a good barometer for gauging the character of my team.
- Managing people is just as important as balancing the books. I am a team oriented person because I firmly believe that a meeting of the minds, especially the minds of strong, smart, and energetic women, propels our business forward. However, I occasionally find myself in the middle of strong and compelling arguments and I have learned that diplomacy the best policy.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“When you start seeing your worth, you will stop giving things away for free”
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 with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them