Realize you can positively impact the lives of your team; celebrate them and their personal milestones, and invest in them through the health care you provide, paid time off, educational classes or otherwise, and see it as a beneficial investment.
As a part of my series about how leaders can create a fantastic work culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yasmin Kaderali.
Yasmin grew up learning from her mom, Roshan, about the miracle of life, surrounded by the realities of childbirth and infant health through her mom’s maternity center. After attending college at the University of California, Davis, Yasmin spent two years living in Central America, volunteering with programs focused on women’s and children’s human rights. Inspired to learn more and make a difference, Yasmin pursued an MPH and MBA, and continued this work in the non-profit sector for five years. Her path led her back to Mommy’s Bliss, where she is now CEO of the company. Both Roshan and Yasmin share the dream of helping children and women all over the world to live in bliss with food, good health, respected human rights and peace.
Thank you so much for doing this with us. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Running my family’s business was never part of my plan. My mom and I had always shared a passion for women’s and children’s health, and initially my career was focused on non-profit work, including helping women get access to health care and basic human rights. Due to family circumstances, I joined my mother for what was intended to be a short-term, “helping mom out” kind of project, but soon thereafter, I began to immerse myself into the company. I fell in love with the products, the impact we had on families based on the feedback from parents, and the potential I could see for growth within the business.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Becoming a mom was an incredibly eye-opening experience on many levels. Many of the lessons learned have applications to my daily life as the CEO of Mommy’s Bliss. First and foremost, it taught me that more patience and flexibility is needed for new parents. There is so much emotional stress and extra responsibility as a parent, and I now know that when we support this in the workplace, it leads to so much less stress for everyone. When you have a sick baby, you likely didn’t sleep well, and you’re probably also juggling doctors’ appointments, and may need to run to a pharmacy before you get home. There are many instances like this that can affect all aspects of your life. I am proud to lead a company that encourages team members to find bliss when times are tough, by helping them make those moments a bit easier.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
One of my proudest moments has been bringing a longtime passion — of both my mother’s and mine — to life. In 2018, we launched the Mommy’s Bliss Foundation to help reduce the risk of preventable and treatable disease in babies and young children across the world. We partner with select U.S. and international organizations focused on infant and maternal health, that place care and compassion for children at the center of their work. Our current partners are The Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action in Mumbai, India, and The Children’s Health Fund in Southern Arizona. One of our recent initiatives for The Children’s Health Fund, for example, was helping fund education for first-time mothers of immigrant children. In these programs, they learned how to provide care for their babies.
Only one year in, we’ve already helped more than 20,000 children. We’re currently working on ways to provide more funding to these organizations and find ways for our team members to visit India and/or Arizona to see firsthand how our funds impact the lives of these families. You can read more about the foundation and the organizations we’re currently supporting by visiting https://mommysbliss.com/foundation/.
We’re always working on new product developments to help families care for their little ones. Our latest project, SoothEar, is a unique lollipop that helps unblock middle ear pressure. By sucking on the uniquely shaped lollipop, the pain in the ear is quickly relieved because the movement unblocks the fluids causing pressure. We design every product from a mom’s point of view, and we have generations of experience. Our goal was to develop a product that would provide a more natural solution for fast-acting earache relief, be a good source of Vitamin C, and help avoid antibiotic use.
Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
I think people are unhappy at work because they feel like they can’t be themselves, which leads to not feeling supported. We have all been taught to leave your personal stuff at home when you walk into an office, and we all know that just isn’t possible. I don’t believe it’s healthy to turn off your emotions in the workplace. Especially with the chaos of our country right now, I think we all seek purpose and connection, and finding ways to fulfill this at work can make a big difference in someone’s life.
I remember when we were establishing our maternity leave program, and we decided to offer five months paid leave at 100 percent wages. In doing so, I was asked, “What if the employee leaves the company after you just gave them all that paid time off?” And I responded, “Well, then how wonderful for their family that they had the time to be at home with their child. The cost to our company is nothing compared to the benefit they will get as a family, and it’s a risk worth taking.” I share this because I think celebrating people and their life events that impact the world in a positive way creates trust, loyalty and respect in professional relationships.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity, b) company profitability, c) and employee health and wellbeing?
I strongly believe investing in the lives of your team members, caring about what they care about, and putting their health and wellbeing first, will increase employee productivity and lead the company to growth. If you have an unhappy team, productivity can decrease and retention can become difficult. The more ways we find to bond as a leadership team, encourage one-on-one time, and learn about each other’s lives and families, the stronger we are as a company and the closer we are to our goals.
Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
- Get out of the office with your team to have real discussions about leadership and strategy, and build in time for personal conversations about their home lives.
- Consistently provide tools for self-awareness, professional development, personal growth, and check in on progress and learnings.
- Ask people what makes them feel valued (outside of compensation) and act on it.
- Refer to, and view, your employees as your team.
- Celebrate vulnerability because it builds trust.
- I remember a few years after I became the CEO of Mommy’s Bliss, we were planning an engagement party at my home. Initially I hadn’t planned to invite anyone from work, but then I realized I had really important relationships with my team and I didn’t want to celebrate without them. I decided to invite the entire Mommy’s Bliss team to my house for the party. I remember my parents questioning me about this since I would be opening up my home and sharing my personal life with the entire team. It was assumed this would be crossing boundaries, which would be uncomfortable for people. However, my team loved seeing my home, meeting my friends, and feeling like they were a part of my life and not just an employee. The simple gesture of the invitation, the bonds we built and the trust that was formed at that party are still alive today.
- Realize you can positively impact the lives of your team; celebrate them and their personal milestones, and invest in them through the health care you provide, paid time off, educational classes or otherwise, and see it as a beneficial investment.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture.” What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the U.S. workforce culture?
If we lose the formality of professional boundaries, and instead focus on encouraging individuality and authenticity, people will be more apt to embrace and connect with each other. The mental shift of keeping work life and home life separate, and instead having an appropriate merge and balance of the two, would naturally change work culture.
How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?
Caring, curious and confident. Those are the three words I used as my mantra at our recent leadership retreat. I developed an initiative with our management team that we refer to as a “blisscussion.” This is a four-hour block of time set aside for the five of us to talk about our relationships, families, health, challenges with our teams or projects, and our overall well-being as leaders of Mommy’s Bliss. Typically, these blisscussions occur at one of our homes or outdoors in a relaxing environment like a local park. A presentation isn’t required, we just talk; there’s no formality. The objective is for us to connect with each other and maintain the strong bonds we have. This initiative works. We are closer than ever, and have created a deeper bond typically not seen within corporate leadership teams. With these relationships, we can achieve anything.
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 two people who certainly have influenced my path. The first is a woman who I deeply respect for changing my perception of leadership and I don’t personally know her, but I feel like I do: Brené Brown. Second, and closer to home, my Vistage coach Lance, has been an incredible sound board and has encouraged me to navigate leadership in my own way. He understands that our family business encompasses both my heart and my mind, and he helps me find the real purpose behind business strategy. He is an incredible friend who I know I can call any time.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The Mommy’s Bliss Foundation is a great example of how I’ve brought goodness to the world since joining the company. Not only do we develop products using the best ingredients to support the health and wellbeing of little ones, but every purchase supports someone in need. As our company grows, the more we will be able to give to organizations that support mothers and their children at pivotal times in their lives.
Additionally, when we decided to create a maternity leave program that allowed a new mom to take roughly five months off to spend with her new baby and still receive 100 percent wages, I felt this was a positive way to bring a lot of good to a family and in turn, our community.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quotes”? Can you share how they were relevant to you in your life?
Three of my favorites that I have held with me my whole career:
- “If you are determined, you can do it.”
- This was due largely in part to watching my mom build Mommy’s Bliss. She was incredibly compassionate toward other moms, which inspired her determination to bring Gripe Water to the U.S., and start a business from the ground up.
- “Don’t be afraid to do it your own way.”
- “Hire smarter.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe we need to embrace every aspect of an individual in the workplace, and that means investing in them and their families. I see a specific need for there to be more flexibility and understanding with new parents and their needs as they strive to have a career while building a family. To show this value, I believe every business needs to develop maternity and paternity leave programs that allow for full wages and longer leave so that those incredible moments of bonding can be cherished.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!