Quality over quantity. Mom-guilt is legit. It was hard for me in the early days of being a working mom and became even harder as an entrepreneur. One of my mentors, Kate Northrup, reminded me that quality time is more important than the quantity of the time I spend with my kids. They remember when mommy was fun and engaging. I try to take some time during the weekend to spend 100% with them and then from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the weekdays.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Brooke Markevicius, founder and CEO of Allobee. She came from a fast-paced big tech and soon after becoming a mother, she realized the two worlds did not play well together. So, she ventured out on her own, building a freelancing business and simultaneously connecting with other moms.
It was through this journey that Brooke saw that moms had created their own little economy buying and selling each other’s goods and services. She recognized a way to bring people together — small business owners that needed professionals and women who needed work and wanted the flexibility to enjoy their families. Thus, MOMentum Market — now known as Allobee — was born.
Allobee is a cutting-edge, one-stop virtual business services solution designed for the frontier of the gig economy. Allobee’s innovative project-management platform seamlessly handles the logistics of hiring, paying, and managing projects to completion, while its algorithm connects business owners to a vetted, underutilized workforce of experienced, professional women who have left the traditional 9 to 5.
Brooke hosts the Allobee Radio Podcast (formerly MOMentum Radio) and is currently writing a book about the power of motherhood to enact change, out in Spring 2021.
Brooke has a Bachelors in History & Education from Appalachian State University and a Masters of Computer Information Systems from Boston University. She lives in Durham, NC with her two kids, Lily & Lukas, her husband and their two rescue dogs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share with us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career?
I grew up as the daughter of a teacher and a preacher. My worldview was serving others. I had no idea about the world of tech and entrepreneurship until I stumbled upon it after years of my career dots not connecting (or so I thought). When I was watching a video of how Microsoft was utilizing Tech for Good in low-income or third-world countries, I knew that I would similarly pursue a career in tech. I went back to grad school and got a Master of Science degree in computer information systems, which helped me land a job at Postmates and assist their Southeast region launch. After having my daughter, I became aware of my corporate job’s inflexible work environment and that led me to pursue entrepreneurship.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started? What lessons or takeaways did you take out of that story?
I always tell the story about my very first pitch for Allobee (then called MOMentum Market). I had just finished nursing my little guy after he went on an almost month-long nursing strike. I was pretty exhausted and hormonal from the nursing woes, but I believed in this idea so when I was asked to pitch at Seattle Startup Week’s “Future Founders” event, I said yes.
I had to find childcare, take the train to Seattle, take a pitching class and pitch my idea for the first time to a room of mostly men. I got asked to pitch first at the last minute, which made me incredibly nervous, but I showed up, walked on stage, and did great. That experience propelled me to pursue Allobee and after two years, we are growing in ways I could not have imagined.
What does leadership mean to you? As a leader, how do you best inspire others?
I believe that leadership is showing up in your authentic self and power daily to inspire and support others in gaining momentum towards their goals. I also believe that leadership is about offering something that is worth believing in, or solving a problem that has caused a great amount of hardship for people — creating something that someone can really get behind. I believe I best inspire by continuing to show up. I do not and will not stop, because I truly believe that the only way to create change is to keep doing it.
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?
This might be a cliché but my husband has been my greatest support. He believed in me before I believed in myself. He was there through my darkest times and waited for me to pull myself out. He did not push me or make me take a certain path, he let me be me and do what I needed, but it was so much easier because I knew I had him no matter what. He was the first one to believe in Allobee and has been my biggest cheerleader. He went 100% remote over a year before the pandemic so he could help more with the kids and we could get closer as a family.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main core of our discussion. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your life into your business and career? Can you articulate what the struggle was?
This question is the entire reason I founded Allobee: the life I desire and the flexibility I need, (and that many women and caregivers need) did not fit into the traditional nine-to-five job. This became impossible to ignore when I became a mother. I wanted to be able to work a non-traditional schedule so I could actually see my children and my husband. I wanted to be able to take off time to be with my family or on vacation and then work longer hours when needed. I stopped seeing this as a problem with my work and instead as an opportunity to create the work I wanted.
In order to give greater context to this discussion, can you share with our readers what your daily schedule looks like?
I am a mom of a 3 and 5-year old, so my daily schedule (especially during the pandemic) has varied. Here is the best look:
I wake up at 5:00 a.m. (my 3-year-old and I are early risers.) I get him settled with a TV show or a book and make a cup of coffee. I then knock out an hour of work and do whatever is the most pressing or needs my full attention. Around 6:00 a.m. my daughter wakes up and I make my kids breakfast before I shower. I then make lunches and lay out my kids’ clothes.
While I’m doing this, my husband meditates. We then switch and while he gets the kids dressed, I meditate. We leave the house at 7:55 a.m. to drop off the kids at school and at 8:30 a.m. I either take a walk with my husband or prep for a meeting.
I work from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and squeeze in a workout before picking up my kids at 3:00 p.m. From 3:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., I spend some time with the kids, responding to emails or sometimes doing a quick team touch base. We have dinner at 5:00 p.m. and put the kids to bed around 7:30 p.m. I then wrap up anything outstanding and set plans for the next day before turning off my screens at 8:30 p.m. I spend some time reading and then go to bed at 9:30 p.m.
My weeks have to be planned — but weekends are to relax and spend time with family.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life? Can you explain?
Allobee is thriving, and that success is bittersweet because it is due in part to the struggles women, caregivers, and small businesses have and are enduring during the pandemic. The onset of the pandemic was a tipping point for me — there was no choice but to be very focused and on a tight schedule. From March to June we had no childcare, and Allobee was taking off so I did not have the option to just stop and take time off. My husband, on the other hand, did have extra time on his hands and was focusing on meditation and yoga. I was quickly resentful and jealous of that time he was claiming. I re-read the book “Fair Play” by Eve Rodsky, where she talks about unicorn space and how it must be equal for partners, so I started claiming my unicorn space to read, write or meditate. Sure enough, things got better! Finding balance would have been a struggle even before the pandemic, but it created an opportunity for self-awareness and reflection that has made both the family and my business stronger.
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal/family life.
At first it was simply leaving my job and pursuing the path of entrepreneurship, but eventually that became full-time even before the pandemic. I recall sitting at my dining table with my husband trying to figure out how we would juggle two young kids and two full-time careers with no childcare. I knew if I did not make some major changes and pivots quickly we would lose momentum and fall apart as a company and a family. As I was making a plan of action for my family, I realized my husband and I are really good at delegating and supporting each other, which is not always the case in marriages or as teams at a startup. My company was different. Our little team, “the trifecta,” was GREAT at supporting each other. I knew in that moment that we could do this, we could be successful even in this crazy year, if we just supported each other.
Ok, so here is the main question of our interview. Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal/family life? Please share a story or example for each.
- Not everything is an active fire, it can wait. When you are in a client/customer-focused company, it is hard to not treat everything like a fire. Yet, I remember why I left non-profit work, I did not want to get burnt out by the fires. So instead, I prioritize and ask myself if it can wait or if I am the only one that can handle it.
- Empower others to do their job and do not micromanage. You hired talented people, let them do their jobs and empower them to do it even without checking in with you on everything.
- Delegate. Do this as soon as possible. You are not a superhuman, you cannot do it all and that is okay, you are not meant to. Delegate, empower, delegate, and repeat.
- Claim unicorn space. Read “Fair Play” by Eve Rodsky. Find out what you want to be your unicorn time and then add it to the calendar, tell your partner and just make it non-negotiable. You will thank me.
- Quality over quantity. Mom-guilt is legit. It was hard for me in the early days of being a working mom and became even harder as an entrepreneur. One of my mentors, Kate Northrup, reminded me that quality time is more important than the quantity of the time I spend with my kids. They remember when mommy was fun and engaging. I try to take some time during the weekend to spend 100% with them and then from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the weekdays.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time,” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg
In our society, we want instant gratification and want to see the fruits of our labor. Yet, sometimes it takes YEARS, and once I embraced that, I started to enjoy the journey more. I also started taking more risks as well as enjoying the present moments. We can be major change-makers, but change does not need to happen overnight.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement I am currently creating, a movement of a flexible future of work for caregivers. This pandemic has illuminated the issues with our work culture. We must provide flexible work or all of the work we have done over the years to support women in the workforce will be taken away. With over 2M women being forced out of the workforce this year, we are in trouble. Through the work at Allobee, our events/workshops, our podcast Allobee Radio, and everything else we have our hands in, we are working to bring a movement of change so that every caregiver has the option for flexible work.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.