“How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents”, With Daina Trout and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

I think there is this idea that you can do it all, but you can’t. So first, everything is a trade off. You HAVE to be willing to take something off your plate if you want to be with your kids more. An example of this for me was cooking. I love to cook real […]

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I think there is this idea that you can do it all, but you can’t. So first, everything is a trade off. You HAVE to be willing to take something off your plate if you want to be with your kids more. An example of this for me was cooking. I love to cook real food, and always cooked dinners my whole career. But it became difficult to do this when I only had an hour at home to be with kids. I had to give up on my “ideal” about cooking a bit in exchange for more quality time together. This isn’t the chapter where I can do what my mom did every night with food, and that’s ok! I feel like I covered my 5 ideas above, but here they are again

Asa part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Daina Trout, CEO & Co-Founder, Health-Ade Kombucha. Daina Trout co-founded Health-Ade Kombucha in 2012 alongside her husband, Justin Trout, and best friend, Vanessa Dew, in Los Angeles. Trout, who has Masters’ degrees in Nutrition and in Public Health from Tufts University, was working in corporate America when she decided to pursue her passion for “real” food and brew the best-tasting, highest quality kombucha on the market. Under her fearless leadership, Health-Ade has grown from a small production beverage made in her apartment and sold at local farmers’ markets into the fastest growing brand in the category three years in a row. When Trout is not tirelessly working to bring kombucha to every fridge in America, she is spending time with her family, traveling, adventuring, cooking and enjoying the outdoor life.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

My upbringing has definitely prepared me, at least in part, for entrepreneurship. For one, I lived in many different countries, traveled a lot, and was raised Lithuanian. This has made me open minded and OK with change, something very important for starting a business from scratch. After all, your idea has to be new and your plan will never go to plan. Secondly, my father was a very hard working businessman, who pushed me to be my best. I was also 1 of 4 daughters (no brothers) and had a serious case of middle child syndrome — Basically, I had to be EXTRA on everything to get attention. It’s pretty obvious how that family life has impacted my strong work ethic to never stop. My mom was the artist and real-food cook….I also took that with me in a very strong way when building a kombucha brand that resonated and a foodie could be proud of.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

8 years ago, I got the entrepreneurial itch! Despite having a promising, budding career, I really wanted to start my own business, make my own mark, and be on my own terms. My best friend and husband were in the same spot, and we decided to start a kombucha business, called Health-Ade, that would do beverage the RIGHT WAY by bringing real food to the commercial shelf. We always had a shared grand vision to be in every fridge in America but had no experience, capital or qualification to know what it would take to get there. We did, however, have all the grit in the world, and for our story that was enough — starting it from the farmers’ markets and brewing in our tiny LA kitchen. We currently still operate the LA business as chiefs, me in my dream seat as the CEO. Fast-forwarding to today, Health-Ade employs over 300 people, is sold in 26K stores nationwide, and will make close to 4M cases in 2019. We are proud to be the fastest-growing refrigerated beverage brand in the country 3 years in a row and feel extremely grateful for the team we have that supports our original mission to bring kombucha to every fridge in America.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

Right now I have a 4-year-old and a 3 month old, so day to day life changes quite a bit — but it is ALWAYS hectic. Also, I have an extremely supportive and hard-working husband who basically splits all the house chores down the middle without any issue AND will gladly pick up the slack at home when I just can’t. Without him, I really don’t know how I’d build in parenthood and being a CEO at the same time. Below is the typical weekday, although I have about 1-weekday event a week that changes the evening. On the weekends, I try to be with family no matter what. Sure we have birthday parties and playdates, but the point is that the family is together. Usually, one night a couple of times a month, Justin and I try to have a date night, and we will bring in a babysitter for that.

● 5:30–6 am : work out on the Peloton before anyone else is awake

● 6:00–6:30 am: urgent emails, shower

● 6:30–7:45 am: Family Wakes up, breastfeed, coffee, breakfast, get Hendriks ready for school

● 7:45 am: Nanny arrives and we take off for work by 8am.

● 8:00 am-5:45 pm:

○ I am in back to back meetings and conference calls with usually zero breaks. Sometimes I have a 15 min break for lunch (we always shoot for an hour), but it’s rare. My assistant usually even has to bring me water and heat up my lunch. We joke about catheters.

○ These meetings require major brain switching back and forth — from creative, to executive, to fires, to QUICK, BE INSPIRATIONAL, to check-ins, to terminations, to interviews, to innovation. It is super tiring but also feels very fulfilling (like I used my brain to its ultimate fullest) and the days fly by.

○ I have to pump 3 times a day for 20 min each time.

○ I try to fit in a 30 min walk during one of my conference calls, doable about three times a week.

● 5:45 pm: POP, I turn into a mom as soon as I walk into the door. My beautiful 4-year-old comes running to me down the front hallway and we embrace and kiss, and all my frustrations melt away for at least a minute. I usually throw my phone with some momentum onto the entry table and try not to look at it again for a few hours. I relieve my nanny, after she tells me the happenings of the day.

● 5:45–6:30 pm: We play together, bond as a family, and eat dinner together that our nanny prepared (this has been a critical thing I hired out for even though I love to cook). THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT HOUR OF MY DAY, so don’t mess with me at this time 🙂

○ I rely on my nanny for laundry, watering plants, keeping things tidy, cooking, and taking full care of my sons when I’m at work. She is not the same as a babysitter, at all. She cares just as much as I do about nutrition and feeding my sons the right things, and keeps the house in order. This has been critical for our ability to be good at parenthood and career-hood as executives.

● 6:30–8 pm: We put Hendriks/Tavas to bed — one parent takes a kid and we switch each night.

● 8–9:30 pm: I usually have to do some more emails, but sometimes I can manage a 30 min Netflix show or a book.

● 9:30 pm: Bed.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

I don’t need research to tell me why I should be with my kids. I want to be with my kids — that’s why I had them! Above everything else in life, Justin and I wanted a family. To us, a family spends time together, loves each other no matter what, and helps each other grow. You just can’t do that if you’re too absent. For me, however, it’s not just about the # of hours you spend together, it’s more about the quality of hours. I have met many stay at home moms who have a weak relationship with their kids, and many working moms who have a strong relationship with their kids, and I have realized it’s more about what you do with the time when you have it.

I also think it’s important to give your children space with different caretakers and experiences. This space allows them an opportunity to test out what they’ve learned with a new audience, learn some new things, and gain confidence in independence. This space ALSO allows the parents to be more than just parents — and that cycles back to the home because they’re happier and more fulfilled (which makes them better parents). It’s a win win.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

When it comes to work, I don’t do anything that won’t move the needle. A few things I do to ensure quality time with my children include:

● 1–2 times a month, I take 1 full day to spend 1:1 time with my children.

● I outsource laundry and cooking, so that when I’m home I am not working on anything. I am only with family.

● When I come home at 5:45PM, I don’t look at my phone until my children are in bed.

● 1 week-long trip a year somewhere special where it’s just our family

● 1 weekend trip a quarter where it’s just our family

● Overall, just put the phone down/TV off when you’re together and 1 hour together will feel like 4.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.

I think there is this idea that you can do it all, but you can’t. So first, everything is a trade off. You HAVE to be willing to take something off your plate if you want to be with your kids more. An example of this for me was cooking. I love to cook real food, and always cooked dinners my whole career. But it became difficult to do this when I only had an hour at home to be with kids. I had to give up on my “ideal” about cooking a bit in exchange for more quality time together. This isn’t the chapter where I can do what my mom did every night with food, and that’s ok! I feel like I covered my 5 ideas above, but here they are again

  1. Take a vacation day once in a while to be just 1:1 with your kid at home. Your special day together.
  2. Housework is still work, and still distracting. Outsource things that you can or try to manage that better with your spouse (so you’re not doing it all).
  3. Put your phone down and turn the TV off. It’s amazing how much time expands when there are no screens.
  4. Carve out time to have family vacations JUST with your family (and for no other purpose).

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

I don’t believe in good or bad parents. I believe in good or bad decisions. And we all make bad decisions sometimes. I actually think as parents we judge each other too much — and we need to be more supportive. Parenting is super hard work, and we all bring our custom troubles to the table that make it difficult to sort out. So my only example of a “bad parent” is one that judges other parents. How about a high five to a parent that you see struggling instead of an eye roll, eh?

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

What better way to inspire someone to accomplish their dreams than for you to be a role model? I think this is one of the best things about being in a career you love as a parent. You are showing them that you are chasing after a dream and succeeding. I tell him this often. When I have hard days and great days, I share with him WHY I am doing this and how it all looks in reality. I also think that dreaming big starts small and giving him the freedom to try and fail at something is important. It may be just climbing a wall at the gym, but if I’m there right at the bottom ALWAYS there to catch his fall, afraid that he’ll even get a scrape, he may never feel like he can do it. So with most things, as long as I don’t think he will REALLY hurt himself, I let him explore. My child has more scrapes and bruises than the average bear I’d say, but I’d also argue he has way more confidence.

The other day, I told my 4 year old that I wished I could do something. He responded — “Mama, first wish, then do — that’s when wishing comes true! So just do it.” And I cried a bit because I taught him that.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success to me is a feeling. And the feeling comes when I have the space at least once a week to be 4 things: a great mom, a great wife, great to myself, and a great CEO. I no longer expect to be great at all those things every day (that’s a recipe for feeling like a failure.) But I can achieve each of these in a week. I also stopped worrying about the 20 other things that aren’t real priorities for me. 4 is plenty and all I need to feel successful.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I’m not great at looking outward for help. Mom friends who work are probably my best resource. We chat about the challenges and what’s working. I get a lot out of that.

I also like “taking cara babies” as an online resource for parenting (especially babies).

And “legendairy milk” on instagram for a great breastfeeding resource.

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

“This, too, shall pass.”

Every tough wave in business and parenting comes strong, and sometimes at the same time. This is helpful to say to yourself when mercury constantly feels in retrograde.

“The sky was meant to hold all the weather.”

I think we focus a lot on things always being sunny — -but rain is a part of the forecast too. And we need to remember as parents and as business people that storms are an important part of development.

“Just do it!”

Don’t get stuck. The ones that win always keep trying.

“Follow your gut!”

This has been huge for us — it started as a tagline for our kombucha but became our entrepreneurial mantra when we realized there was no guidebook for building a fast-growth business from scratch.

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. 🙂

I’d love to sponsor anything that will make more people inspired to believe in themselves and go after their dreams. If I could get you to “follow your gut!” and show the world what you’re made of, I’d consider myself wildly successful in business.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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