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“How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents”, With Dr. Ely Weinschneider, Thyme Sullivan & Denielle Finkelstein

We could not agree more about quality vs quantity. We live such busy lives with many commitments that we must carve time out in our days for our families. It is never perfect and not every day is the same. As we shared before, we both make time during the week for our kids to […]

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We could not agree more about quality vs quantity. We live such busy lives with many commitments that we must carve time out in our days for our families. It is never perfect and not every day is the same. As we shared before, we both make time during the week for our kids to be present and be part of their everyday lives. We used to swoop in and out of their lives and not know what was really going on. We both have teen and pre-teen kids and this time with them now is so important. As they navigate being a teen, they need us so much more emotionally and our time with them is so much more limited.


As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Thyme Sullivan and Denielle Finkelstein, Co-founders of TOP the organic project. Thyme Sullivan was raised in Monterey, CA and Pepperell, MA and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a B.A. in Economics. She spent 27 years as an Executive in consumer packaged goods with Nestle, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. She started her career driving a Frito Lay truck and worked her way up to managing a high performing cross functional team with over a billion dollars in annual revenue. She took the leap into entrepreneurship because she wanted to make a difference and set an example for her daughter. She wanted to show young girls that we all have superpowers to make positive change. Feminine hygiene was a category she noticed had long been overlooked, lacking both innovation and transparency. There were also environmental and social impact issues that were simply ignored. Thyme reunited with her cousin Denielle Finkelstein and TOP was born. Their purpose is to make better and safer period products accessible to all women. They are 2 Moms who care about their daughters, your daughters and our planet.

Growing up in RI, Denielle Finkelstein’s childhood memories were centered around two things that defined her future and career: soccer and working. From an early age, soccer became an extension of her all the way to college. She loved the commitment to team, competition, working together to find success, bonding through failures and ways to improve together. At age 9, she started her first job as a babysitter. She loved the idea of working from day one and still to this day. Finkelstein attended Union College in Schenectady, NY and graduated with a BA in Art History. Post graduation, she moved to NYC with her college sweetheart and started her career in fashion retail at Ann Taylor. From there she went on to Coach, Kate Spade and most recently Talbots. What Finkelstein loved the most in her career was building businesses and teams. She loved finding white space and growing opportunities within household brands. She was always challenged to take risks, think outside of the box and try new things. The biggest thing that was missing from retail was having a deeper purpose. After spending 22 years in fashion retail and at the height of Finkelstein’s career, she took a major risk, both professionally and personally. She left the corporate world to join Thyme Sullivan, Co-Founder & CEO, to launch TOP The Organic Project. She is grateful for the opportunity to build a brand together — as family, moms, women and friends. The duo has set out to create a brand of premium feminine hygiene products that are better for you, better for the planet and better for others.


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

Weare cousins and both had different upbringings but our families had very similar values. We were raised by loving, hippie parents. Neither of our families had a lot of money growing up but that never really mattered. Our Parents filled us with love and support and our Mothers taught us to be kind and confident and courageous.

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

Both of us were at a major crossroads in our careers. We were very successful in every measurable way yet missing out on being a good moms, good wives, good daughters, and good friends and being true to ourselves. We were on the road every week, working crazy hours and we had lost our purpose and center in life. When we left our jobs, we were seeking a role or company that would support the important things in our life and our career. We realized it didn’t exist and we needed to create it!

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

As an entrepreneur, no day is the same. This is what we love about our job, TOP is a lifestyle for us. We both work remotely when we are not in meetings together, so we spend many hours on the phone. We work extremely hard on the business every day and we have made a commitment to each other that we must make time for our families. We bring our kids to school, we are there for sports or activities and home for dinner. We missed all of this in the past. We work our TOP schedule around these events so we can be present. Most days, when the kids are doing homework or off to bed, you will find us on our computers, finishing up our days work and preparing for tomorrow.

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?

From our own experience as parents, we know that spending time with our kids is so important. We have both seen some children that don’t have this special and critical relationship with their parents. Kids learn from watching and experiencing life with us.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

Kids need a parental figure for love, support, learning and direction. Quality time with your kids Is so important for them emotionally and mentally. This relationship gives them security and a foundation. I remember my Mom telling me that all a child wants is for you to be happy to see them. We had lost sight of the importance of being present for our children when we thought our jobs were so important. Nothing is more important than family and nothing is more precious than time.

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?

We could not agree more about quality vs quantity. We live such busy lives with many commitments that we must carve time out in our days for our families. It is never perfect and not every day is the same. As we shared before, we both make time during the week for our kids to be present and be part of their everyday lives. We used to swoop in and out of their lives and not know what was really going on. We both have teen and pre-teen kids and this time with them now is so important. As they navigate being a teen, they need us so much more emotionally and our time with them is so much more limited.

When we can, we involve the kids into the TOP business as well. We have our daughters help pack boxes, edit our videos and attend donation events.

Since I made this career change, I promised myself that I would walk my kids to school on most days because I was never able to take them to school. The best part of this walk is hearing their kid chatter that is about school, friends, activities and life. It is the small stuff and these details that have rounded out my relationship with them. It is a natural conversation and not forced and on my time. In the past, I would be rushing in for bedtime to hear about their day and would always get, “It was ok.” Nothing more. — Denielle

I drive my children to school and pick up their best friends on the way. I have never felt more connected as I do now, its just being present for the every day activities that make the structure and connection that our children crave. I’m hosting “friendsgiving” tomorrow afternoon for a dozen 13 year old girls…I cannot wait! — Thyme

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.

Honestly, it is hard to find this balance with kids. We are all on devices and computers throughout the day, even when we are with our kids they are on their phones. We have to find ways to be present that work for both of you. The best thing to do is to start with 1 hour when you are with your kids and put your phone away. There is nothing urgent enough that you can’t respond in 1 hour.

Some of our favorite things to do to be fully present:

1). Playing a board game

2). Cooking or baking with the kids

3). Taking the dog for a walk

4). Going to the gym with the kids

5). Going to the beach

6). Working on the TOP business together

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

A good parent is someone who teaches their children to be kind and confident. Also listen when they talk to you, they know when you are not present! This is the best gift we can give our kids.

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

We like this question a lot. Dreaming big is important. We all need to have dreams and goals for the future. What we can teach our kids is that getting to the dream is not always an easy path. Along the journey, you must stay focused, set milestones along the way, learn from your mistakes, celebrate the wins, have fun and surround yourself with people who believe in your dream with you.

We have been lucky enough to show our kids that you can make a big life change like we did with our jobs and recreate your dreams. We are their role model for dreaming big everyday. You can change your stars, you just have to believe!

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

Success comes in all different shapes and sizes. Many people believe that success is about money or a big job. We believe that success is when you are positively impacting the lives of others. We want success from our business so we can impact the lives of our loved ones and also pay it forward by investing in businesses of other female entrepreneurs.

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

So many of the books and podcasts we listen to every day as entrepreneurs and for our personal development have also been great for parenting. We both LOVE Maria Forleo’s Everything is Figureoutable, all of Brene Brown’s books.

Each one of these books & podcasts teach us as parents about life and how we can be better in our everyday. They guide you and show you how to work through your fears, setting goals, being curious, accepting vulnerability and finding ways to figure it out.

As parents and individuals, we are growing and learning every day with our kids. Each stage in their life brings new amazing opportunities and some challenges. The best things we can do is teach them in the moment with real life lessons and nurture them.

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

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. — Maya Angelou

This resonates with us because the best thing in life is to be kind and caring. This is what people remember.

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. 🙂

Oprah said it best, “You become what you Believe!”

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

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