Your strength: You are surviving a global pandemic. Be proud of yourself for your resilience. This is not easy.
Your humor: Our world is churning out the memes, TikToks and Some Good News specials to keep us laughing and remembering the good that still exists. Take the time to focus on the positives. They are there when you look.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Goetz.
Amanda Goetz joined The Knot Worldwide (formerly XO Group) in 2015 as Vice President of Marketing overseeing brand and product marketing for The Knot. Amanda started her career in professional services by leading the marketing efforts for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year program.
Prior to joining The Knot Worldwide, Amanda founded a technology startup for the wedding industry after planning more than 100 high-end weddings worldwide with Wedding and Entertaining Expert David Tutera. A summa cum laude graduate at the University of Illinois, Amanda has nearly 15 years of marketing experience, including more than 7 years working in the wedding industry. Amanda resides in New York City with her three children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Thanks for having me! I’m a first generation college graduate from a small town in Illinois. I started my career in professional services as a marketer in the accounting industry. After a few years, I took the leap into startups and served as the brand manager for a celebrity wedding planner, which is where I fell in love with the wedding industry first-hand. I then started my own technology company in the wedding space that helped to connect wedding pros with couples based on their preferred wedding dates.
I learned so much during those few years of building a company and navigating how to be a tech and wedding-focused entrepreneur. It led me to a female pitch night where the co-founder of The Knot, Carley Roney, was speaking on a panel. We had coffee the next day and she invited me to join The Knot to help build the brand for the next generation of couples. I’ve been at The Knot for five years now and have navigated an acquisition, merger and managing a brand through a global pandemic, human rights movement and so much more.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
Personally, some of my most interesting experiences at The Knot Worldwide (formerly XO Group Inc.) occurred while I was having two of my three babies, followed by navigating a divorce. These times helped shape my leadership style to be focused more on “outcomes first,” and highlighted the importance of being an empathetic leader. At any given time, we are all dealing with personal matters, and I spent a lot of time focusing on how to do my best work while still allowing myself the space for self-care and balance, which is something I try to encourage my teams to do as well.
Professionally, one of the most exciting and interesting experiences I had while at The Knot Worldwide was relaunching the visual identity of The Knot back in 2019 with the help of Pentagram, in order to ensure our brand identity felt inclusive, vibrant and relevant to current and future to-be-weds. The amount of work that goes into relaunching a 21-year-old brand was such a rewarding endeavor. That was a career highlight for sure!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
As a leading international resource for weddings, we at The Knot Worldwide have had the opportunity to lead the world through COVID-19. As soon as the pandemic began impacting social gatherings and therefore weddings, we knew we had a responsibility to support not only our couples, but our vendors, the hundreds of thousands of small businesses who bring weddings to life, through these difficult times. Our job is to remind the world that love is not canceled, while setting the standards for the future of weddings and making this “new normal” just the “norm.” We’ve leaned into consumer insights, along with our 20+ years of editorial expertise to write more than 200 content pieces on how to plan a wedding during COVID. Every day we see how our 24/7 hotline, constant social DMs and other touchpoints help real couples through a very stressful and emotional experience.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Our CMO, Dhanusha Sivajee, is a fellow mom and badass. She pushes her team, myself included, to do our best work while encouraging us to find balance and uniquely making life work for you, whatever that may look like. Just today I had to take my computer into the bathroom to help my daughter while we were connecting and we just kept on talking! The blending of life and work during this pandemic only works with an empathetic and supportive boss.
One example of her support was when I was promoted to Vice President of Marketing after returning from maternity leave — I don’t think many male bosses would have made that decision, thinking a new mom wouldn’t be able to perform at the same level as before. Her confidence in me is always felt, no matter what I am navigating.
I encourage everyone to find themselves a boss that will push you to grow and learn, who also gives you support and sometimes space when you need it.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
Childcare. Childcare. Childcare. I’m a single mom so 50% of my time I am alone with three kids under the age of 6 with no childcare. Schools provide many things for our children but the biggest one we are feeling firsthand is not having a safe place for our kids to go every day. Being a home-school teacher nearly broke me. I felt like I was constantly failing my children AND my job because you can’t do both at the same time.
Moms are dropping out of the workforce. The wage gap has led to increased pressure to leave work vs. paying for childcare with your entire earnings. We need to ring the alarm and figure out how to get women the help they need to survive COVID-19 and not fall even further behind in gender equality.
The key is empathetic leadership and a culture of outcomes vs. output. Focus on the goals and not optics. I can’t be on Zoom calls from 9am — 5pm because I need to cook lunch, take the kids outside, etc. I get most of my work done after bedtime or before breakfast and we need to set up corporate cultures to align with this new, customized approach to work.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We have lived in 6 states in 4 months. My kids and I left our home in March and our modern family — my kids, ex-husband and myself — moved in together in an AirBnb with a yard to give the kids space to play outdoors while we tag teamed the new reality of WFH and WFHomeschool. We moved from North Carolina to Florida to Georgia to Illinois to Wisconsin based on family members that had space and free hands to help us. As a self-proclaimed “do-it-myselfer,” the pandemic has forced me to ask and accept help when I can get it (something pre-pandemic Amanda had a tough time doing).
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
The biggest challenge is mental health. Women are superheroes. In the face of exhaustion we can put on a silly face to make our kids laugh and a corporate face to get our teams motivated but it’s hard to find time or space for our own needs.
As I mentioned, the new reality of WFH is increasing the gender gap. Household work falls on women more than men. When we’d normally be catching up, creating or pitching new ideas we are now at home making meals, cleaning up and coming up with activity #83769 of the day for the kids to do. We are treading water, so it’s hard to make any work breakthroughs during this.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The mental health issue is real. I am checking in with myself more and started going to therapy (via phone call) every week. This helps me process the immense amount of uncertainty my family (and the rest of the world) is facing. I also found a workout class that I enjoy and make time to do that 2–3x a week. The kids get some extra screen time and I get my endorphins going.
I moved in with my parents to get an extra set of hands for the past six weeks and that has been incredible but it’s not sustainable. We are headed back to NYC and looking for ways to get childcare for “core hours” of the work day (10am-3pm). This condensed approach only works with great meeting hygiene and ensuring you take back control of your calendar.
I use my calendar for everything. I plan meals ahead of time so I don’t have to think on the spot when my brain is still trying to think through a work problem. Overall I’m trying to reduce my cognitive load from my days so I can use mental energy on work.
I lowered expectations. Kids still in jammies at 4pm? Totally fine! Did we watch three movies because I had important calls? Ok! Non-urgent emails need to sit for one more day because I need to fall asleep a little early? Sweet dreams. We all need to give ourselves the grace we need to survive.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
A schedule is helpful but flexibility is necessary. On Sundays I try to plan out the week of meals and I pick 1–2 “activities” for the kids a day. I have smaller children so they still require my assistance on most things.
When school was in session I realized mornings were the best time to crank out school work so I worked with my daughter to get all work done by noon so we could have lunch and then go outside. I would do my best to block my calendar until 11 so she had me for the 8am — 11am “instruction” time and then she had an hour of worksheets to do. If we didn’t get work done by noon, chances are it wasn’t going to happen and I just made peace with that. We do the best we can.
From 12–4:30pm it was a free-for-all while I juggled Zoom calls and watching the kids — usually with a decent dose of screen time. I would block my calendar starting at 4:30pm so we could get ready for dinner, bath and bedtime routines. By 8pm I am back online catching up on the work I couldn’t get done during the day.
It’s exhausting and not sustainable but I focus on one day at a time. Not every day is a good day and that’s ok. Some days I rock at parenting and some days I make great progress on work projects. On rare occasions I do both and that’s fine.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
Changing your physical POV is key. I was inside my NYC apartment for 2 weeks with 3 kids under the age of 6 before we left for the AirBnB in North Carolina. Forcing the kids to play in a different room at different times was important. Again, a schedule and incorporating a “new” activity has been integral in keeping our sanity. We recently played charades and that became a household hit!
Recognizing when someone needs space is important. Kids struggle to vocalize emotions so we’ve spent a lot of time during the pandemic talking about emotions. It’s totally ok to want to be alone and it’s my job to protect their personal space when they ask for it. We created reading caves or alone-time spaces to allow for decompression since my kids are close in age.
Lastly, find an online community. I spend my free time on Twitter and have made so many incredible friends during COVID. I realized my other mom friends were emotionally drained just like me so finding other communities to tap into and getting to know new people has helped me feel less alone.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
5 Reasons to Be Hopeful:
- Your health & body: You are doing the things you need to do in order to stay safe and healthy.
- Your network: Spending time on the phone with friends, family and mentors can help start or rekindle relationships.
- Your strength: You are surviving a global pandemic. Be proud of yourself for your resilience. This is not easy.
- Your grace: We have never been forced to deal with this much at once and I finally see more and more women cutting themselves the slack they have always needed.
- Your humor: Our world is churning out the memes, TikToks and Some Good News specials to keep us laughing and remembering the good that still exists. Take the time to focus on the positives. They are there when you look.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Remind your family and friends to get into nature and get off technology. I recommend doing both of these things every day. It’s so easy, especially right now, to get sucked into the news cycle or social media feeds for hours at a time. The daily dose of conflicting information on top of political chaos is enough to feel like the world is ending.
Your body and brain need a break. Try to take a technology-free walk every day to reset.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life is tough…but so are you” is my favorite quote. I’ve battled infertility, miscarriage, divorce, single parenting during the pandemic, and, honestly, remembering that I am totally capable of handling it all is half the battle. We are all stronger than we realize.
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m most active on Twitter for leadership, marketing hot takes and Instagram to follow along my family adventures.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!