Community//

“Focus on self-management.” With Penny Bauder & Sylvia Kang

No one ever expected 2020 to be like this. Many were panicking or not sure how to react. Managing my family members’ emotions was a challenge for me while running the company at the same time. I wanted to make sure my loved ones are calm but not in anxiety. We now spend the majority […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

No one ever expected 2020 to be like this. Many were panicking or not sure how to react. Managing my family members’ emotions was a challenge for me while running the company at the same time. I wanted to make sure my loved ones are calm but not in anxiety. We now spend the majority of our time together in the house every day. Everyone’s emotion is important to keep the whole family sane and calm.


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 my series about how women leaders in tech and STEM are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sylvia Kang.

Sylvia is the co-founder and CEO of Mira, a fertility tracker that tracks the numerical fertility hormone levels at home. Mira tracks cycle, predicts ovulation, monitors fetal health, measures ovarian reserve, and detects menopause at home, using the hospital-leveled technology within a palm-sized device. Sylvia holds an MBA from Cornell University and an MS in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University. Sylvia is also a Concert Pianist. She has won multiple international piano competitions in France, China, and Hong Kong.


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?

Istarted Mira a few years ago when I saw many women around me suffered from infertility. Just like myself, women now have higher education and advanced career growth. Many of us choose to delay the maternal age. There is limited education about our fertility beyond high school health class. We know little about our bodies. When we believe it is the time to start a family, we found our fertility has declined, and many problems happen. Many of us end up with fertility treatment or IVF, which is a rather painful process with high cost and only 30% success rate per cycle. What if we can bring the lab test home, giving women full clarity into their cycle, and help them learn their bodies before it is too late? We can then make our important life decisions based on science and facts.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

It was amazing to see we were able to help women going through their tough time. As a woman with a STEM background, I always want to see how my background can truly impact people and give them help. Mira is the perfect opportunity for me to do so. From an idea to a prototype, the first user, the first pregnancy, and a whole community of engaged users today, I have seen many different stories and fertility challenges faced by women, and I see exactly how we can help them with what we are doing. We are constantly improving, to provide women the most scientific tool and best support to help them to know better about their bodies. It was a challenging but very rewarding process. It was exciting because you saw the direct impact of your work.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are launching a new product — Mira Fertility Plus, which is the only fertility tracker that measures both numerical Estrogen and LH hormone levels at home. This will give women their full fertile and infertile windows. The numerical hormone numbers and the ratio between them will also help women to learn more about their cycles — for example, tracking the PCOS condition, preparing for the fertility treatment, knowing when ovulation will come back postpartum or after a miscarriage, or tracking if she is approaching perimenopause. This will be the first product that gives women this level of clarity into their cycles. We believe women should own their bodies and their data, so they can make the right decisions in life.

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?

Many people have helped me in my career. I am particularly grateful for my business partner at Mira. He is the technical co-founder at Mira. He often approaches the question from a slightly different angle than me. This was helpful to keep me open-minded, and lowered the risk of making wrong decisions for the company. I have learned many great ways of managing a business from him too. Our complementary skillsets made Mira’s success today.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. 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 in STEM during this pandemic?

No one ever expected 2020 to be like this. Many were panicking or not sure how to react. Managing my family members’ emotions was a challenge for me while running the company at the same time. I wanted to make sure my loved ones are calm but not in anxiety. We now spend the majority of our time together in the house every day. Everyone’s emotion is important to keep the whole family sane and calm.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Although working from home, I planned my time strictly between work and life. There were multiple days that I had to work late at night to get the work done. But I tried to schedule everything upfront and execute according to my time table as much as possible. This ensures I have high-quality time at work, and I reserve time specifically for my family too. I was even able to do more exercise during sheltering in place. Good time management is so important when staying at home. When I’m at work or with my family, I tried to be not distracted by other things to get the most out of time.

Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?

The team is now all working from home. It is a challenge for everyone with the kids around, and communication becomes harder. Balancing time management, self-care, and work efficacy are challenging. Many of our women team members will have to cook meals, watch kids, alternate schedules with husbands or parents while getting the work done. As a woman in STEM, I understand how tough this can be. I was then looking for some tools and ideas to help everyone going through this tough time.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I wanted to give my team enough support and being flexible. We respect their schedules. We tried to be rather overly-communicate than under-communicate. We encourage team members to freely share the personal time they need to get the family stuff done, for example, homeschooling for their kids, so we can arrange work around that time. For teamwork that can be planned, we developed a calendar to share with everyone, so they can plan their work upfront and avoid misunderstanding due to the remote distance.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Self-discipline, and have a plan. We are easily distracted while working from home. Having dedicated hours and arranging family things around work time keep our work be effective, and save us more time to spend with our family. I often look into my to-do list for the next couple of days to identify quiet hours that I need no interruption to focus on my work. Then we look at the schedule of my family members to coordinate the list of activities with them and plan the time. Good communication among the family members helps too. Having a plan gives me peace in mind and prevents unwanted surprises.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place for long periods with your family?

Do good self-management, focus on a few specific goals, and make sure to spend time with yourself. Self-management makes us disciplined and effective. It gives us peace in mind. I take the sheltering in place time as an opportunity to focus on something that you were thinking for a long time but never had time to get it done. It can be some work for catching up, a new recipe to try, or daily exercise to lose weight. This gives us a sense of goal and achievement. The time spent at home won’t feel boring or chaotic. Sheltering in place is also a perfect time to be mindful. Daily yoga or meditation brings great self-care.

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.

  1. In many countries, the coronavirus outbreak is under control. Several Asian countries have reduced Covid19 cases to a minimum. Many European countries now see a constant decline in the number of cases. There is a way to control this virus, and we know how to to it.
  2. We now know a lot about this virus. We know how it spreads, who it infects, and what the consequence is likely to be. More importantly, we know how to prevent it and what to do to stay healthy as much as possible during the pandemic.
  3. Our immune system can beat this virus. Once infected, most people will recover by themselves within a few days.
  4. We know there are love and care surround us. Our family, friends, and all loved ones are here to support us, providing help when we need it.
  5. The new norm may disrupt many industries, but new technology and businesses will kick into action. This will bring in new opportunities.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to your family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Spending high-quality time with them and talk them through worked well for us. There are a lot of uncertainties out there, but it is also a special time that you have more time to spend with yourself and try what you want to do. Focusing on what you can control helps to reduce anxiety. It makes us more productive and feels more fulfilling.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger — Nietzsche. We all have gone through many challenges in life. We bring value to the people around us because we solve these problems. Success comes after many failures. Be strong and get it through — we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

How can our readers follow you online?

If interested, all readers can now purchase Mira Fertility at https://www.miracare.com/.

Mira can be found on Instagram under the username @mirafertility and on Facebook under Mira Fertility. I am greatly looking forward to connecting with you all on social media and having you follow our Mira journey as we continue to expand our product line to make affordable, at-home women’s health testing and analysis accessible to all.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“Give Patients More Emotional Support” With Bianca L. Rodriguez And Sylvia Kang

by Bianca L. Rodriguez, Ed.M, LMFT
Community//

Despite Fertility Challenges, Your Life Doesn’t Suck

by Stephanie Roth
Community//

Josephine Atluri: “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”

by Beau Henderson

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.