Altoghether, this has brought my family closer- while I can’t wait to “hang out with friends” I am thankful that we have been able to (mostly) get along during this. I was also able to have hard conversations with people to come to some sort of agreement- this has brought clarity to me that anything can happen at any time. Hold the people you love close to you and stop being so petty. There are bigger things out there.
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 Cassie Ruby.
Cassie Ruby is an East Coast Regional Sales Manager for CA Build- a sales accelerator for CPG Brands ranging from national brands, CBD brands as well as start up brands. She has had many different positions in the “grocery world” and loves to see new products placed on shelf. She currently lives in MD and has a husband of 15 years, a 9 year-old daughter, a husky, a mutt and an 18 year old cat. When she is not working, you can find her out in nature exploring however she can (hike, bike, kayak, etc.)
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?
I was working at a bar, bartending and waiting tables and knew it was time for something better. I started my “normal job” being an office manager for a treatment foster care facility, and it was heartbreak everyday with those kids. I knew that this was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life and started to look for a new position, not knowing what I wanted to do. I was at a friend’s house, and she said her company was looking to hire someone. To be honest, I had no idea what I would be doing, but I knew I had to go to grocery stores and try to sell product, and I got to make my own schedule. What could be better? I started as a territory manager covering MD, VA, DC, southern Jersey and southern PA. I quickly, with hard work, moved up to a Key Account Manager calling on headquarters of grocery stores, and quickly learned this is where I belong.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
For me in the grocery business, it is tough to make sales calls and not be able to travel. While we did pivot for online meetings, it is not the same. You can’t always read the body language of people online. I guess where I am going with this is that there are always interesting stories. I have had meetings have technical difficulties, people miss meetings, and everything in between. Now-a-days, I feel like every day is interesting…
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am constantly working on new projects; I am really working to help make CBD “not a dirty word”- trying to teach people about the benefits of CBD and how it is completely different from THC. Getting grocery stores to carry is exciting, but scary for them at the same time. FDA gives very vague rules/guidelines and with raids on stores in the past, it is essential to make sure that they understand that even with the vague guidelines, reputable brands fit that criteria from the FDA- and we only work with reputable brands.
I am also working with a few start ups to gain placement at store level to become a new mainstream “healthier for you” product. (I would be happy to name drop a few brands if you would like.)
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?
There are a few people who come to mind, but I would have to say Holly Mazzoni who is responsible for getting me into the ‘grocery world’. She also taught me how to be successful in territory management. Sally Mangano had a huge impact on how I handle Mass market accounts. I would call her freaking out about accounts and distributor issues, and she would always tell me “You are selling groceries, not doing brain surgery. This is ok.” From then on, I learned that while things happen, and yes, they are a big deal, there are so many things out of our control that we can not freak out over every little problem. Best piece of advice I have gotten. Also, Jessika Morgan. She helped me professionally and personally, I learned a great deal from her. She taught me that while we have to be professional, it is ok to be yourself.
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?
My husband goes to work every day. While I work from home, I am also the teacher, day care provider, private chef, etc. as well as Mom. It can be tough to manage your career and childcare/school. There is no travel for work at this time, so I am home all 5 weekdays with my daughter, and I cannot really engage with her like a normal teacher/child care provider would.
I feel like she is bored most of the time, so I make her go outside, watch TV, play on tablet, etc to help with “boredom”
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I have made a schedule for her to follow. Wake up, do schoolwork (even in summer we have a workbook we got at Costco and it has 8 different subjects in it) she has to do 2 pages of each subject in the workbook. After that, she has free time. She has to read for at least 30 mins to an hour every day, and weekly she has to send out letters to someone. I don’t care who she writes to, but she has to write a letter to someone every week. She helps with dinner and sets the table. Weekly chores to keep her busy. It doesn’t work every day, but most days there is an understanding of do this, get this. It is a reward system, and if she does all chores and such, she gets money for that.
As far as work goes, I do have the luxury to work whenever, but I do have calls/meetings every day that I need to be a part of. She knows that unless she is dying, or set the house on fire, I need to be present in those calls. I leave my door shut, and she knows not to come in unless it is a dire emergency.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
I think most women will feel just like me. Extra pressure to be all and do all. You have to balance family, school, cooking, cleaning, entertainment, and your daily pressures of your job. When you work from home, it is hard to turn off work… When you go to an office, you have a hard cut off at 5 (or whatever the hours may be) and it is easy to turn your brain off from work. When you work from home, there is always the thought or pressure to respond to emails/phone calls. The lines get blurred, but I have learned that I deserve a life too. While my career is my paycheck to do things with my family, my family deserves the attention that I give to my career. They deserve to have me present in day to day family activities. Make a cut off and stick to it. You wouldn’t stay at the office until 9 pm, why should you be expected to do so at home.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I keep myself open for business 8 am — 5 pm. At any time, anyone can contact me, and I am 100% available during those times (well, most of the time. Sometimes there is a dentist appt or something like that.) If you need to arrange something outside of that timeframe, it better be very important. Of course, there are times when things come up, or a deadline is fast approaching, but that is par for the course with any position.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Make a schedule and stick to it!! That is #1 for us. If you find yourself (or your child) getting frustrated, it is time for a break! This is new for the kids too, and they are just as scared and anxious as you are, so keep in mind- this is hard for them too. Lots of breaks, and reward good behavior.
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?
Get out in Nature. Take a walk. Go to a river, just get outside! Fresh air and nature do wonders for a reset. (We do everything from hiking, biking, kayaking, etc) Enjoy nature. Also, alone time. Somehow you need to figure out how you can get time to yourself to do what ever it is you want to do. Read a book, do a face mask, watch bad tv- what ever it is, make time for it.
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.
I will preface this by saying that I am cautious, but I am not fearful. Myself or my family do not have underlying health conditions. But-here you go
1-It can’t get worse- can it?
2-Think of how great it will be when we can all come together and spend time with loved ones.
3-Altoghether, this has brought my family closer- while I can’t wait to “hang out with friends” I am thankful that we have been able to (mostly) get along during this. I was also able to have hard conversations with people to come to some sort of agreement- this has brought clarity to me that anything can happen at any time. Hold the people you love close to you and stop being so petty. There are bigger things out there…
4-DO NOT watch the news. Once I cut this out, my stress level dropped significantly. Become an independent thinker- do your own research, look at the numbers, but keep in mind that newspapers and TV station’s job is to sell you- sometimes the facts get a spin from the person writing it. Do not believe everything you read or hear. (Sorry…)
5-Imagine the freedoms parents will have once things return to somewhat of a “normal”. I will not take school for granted anymore!
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?
I try to listen to family who are feeling anxious. I let them talk, let them confide in me. I always try to play devil’s advocate, so I will bring their attention to a positive that they may not have thought about. I try to make them laugh. Just having someone listen and offer advice (if they want it and you can usually tell right away if they want advice or not) and try to make them smile, can be the biggest form of help there is.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s not the number of times you fall, it is how you pick yourself back up.
I have had many mis-steps in my life and my career. It is ok to fail, but it is not ok to dwell in your failure. Learn from your mistakes and move forward.
Do what you feel is right. You will be judged for everything you do. Might as well be able to stand by your decisions.
This hit me hard when I became a parent. I was so afraid of being judged that I would do things I thought I should do. I had a friend ask me why I was doing something, and I said it was because I was scared to be judged by other moms, and then that came flying out of her mouth. It was great because I was able to apply that to all aspect of my life, not just being a mother.
The only way to achieve your goals is to enjoy the process of reaching the goal, not the actual goal line.
I wish someone would have told me this early on… Why strive for a goal if you do not enjoy the process of getting to that goal? Reaching for a title just for a title? Nah, enjoy the climb up!
How can our readers follow you online?
I have instagram, and FB- but I am not active. If someone wanted to reach me, it is probably best to email.