Look for the positive. Don’t start or end your day with the news.
Appreciate and celebrate the small victories.
Practice a random act of kindness. Mail a letter. Zoom an old friend. Randomly send flowers to an old neighbor.
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 Lindsay Lockhart, Chief of Staff and co-founder of financial technology firm Neocova.
Lindsay is an industry thought-leader and brand expert with significant experience working with global corporations to create and refine business-to-business and business-to-consumer digital marketing and content analytics. She is a sought-after industry spokesperson and frequent speaker on topics ranging from community banking, fintech and digital transformation to effective team management in the modern workplace.
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?
My professional experience has been diverse, and I have bounced back and forth between more corporate environments and small start-ups. I’ve never had a bad job — just professional experiences that were not the right fit. Something that has been key in my career is exploring and entertaining any opportunity that allows me to grow and learn. Despite having numerous roles across a variety of industries, there has been a common thread throughout my career. I am an expert at listening, distilling and communicating the internal and external needs of an organization. I am a fact-finder, lover of analytics and insights and a strategic thinker. It is my keen ability to build and foster growth through strategic communication that well-positions me to now lead at Neocova, a financial technology startup that I co-founded in 2019, and where I serve as Chief of Staff.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
My most interesting story at Neocova is not a story at all. It is my observation that all people can and will succeed with proper support and appreciation despite their background and experiences. The team at Neocova is diverse in age, ethnicity, geography and experience. Don’t be afraid to break the mold and throw the status quo to wind. To be different, think different and act on it.
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?
I am a firm believer that no one can be successful alone. I am fortunate to have both a mentor and advocate by my side for my professional journey. My mentor guides me through difficult times and shares insightful perspectives — when I need it and sometimes when I don’t even realize it. However, I am forever grateful for my advocate, Norty Cohen. I met Norty fresh from college as an AE at his agency Moosylvania. Over my tenure at his shop, we developed a great relationship and common bond dedicated to my success. Our relationship is 16 years strong and counting. By definition, an advocate is someone who creates opportunities for you and challenges you to think bigger and reach higher. I will never forget that winter Tuesday night (after a spin class nonetheless) when he challenged me to walk away from a high-salary, full-time job offer to pursue my dream of being my own boss. I threw every excuse in the book at him about why it was a foolish idea, why it wouldn’t work and why the timing was bad. He wouldn’t hear it and encouraged me to put myself first for once. I took the leap of faith with the confidence that he would help me pursue my dream. In fact, I wanted to quit the whole thing about 9 months in. My business hit a rough patch and my personal life was messy. He could see the stress but made me promise that I wouldn’t quit and would stay the course no matter what. I am forever grateful — it was worth it.
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?
Early stage companies are hard. Being a mother is hard. Being a mother and a leader at an early stage company during a pandemic feels nearly impossible! There are challenges that abound and the list is long. I struggle with keeping my kids engaged and learning in a virtual environment, separating my work from home life (same space now) and taking care of myself so I can take care of my teammates and family. Although we are all in different boats, we are all in the same storm.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Despite all odds, I am learning to let go and accept the only thing I can truly control, which is my reaction. I accept the fact that my best is different everyday and remaining positive is key. Attitude is indeed infectious. I lean into my support system, and I no longer try to do everything by myself. I ask for help and encourage my teammates to do the same. I even moved into a different home so my kids could have more green space to stretch their legs and be outdoors. I ordered a studio bike so I can move my own body each day to relieve stress and calm my mind. I block out time for family and friends on my calendar each day and book my meetings around those obligations first.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
The biggest challenge for me is carrying the weight of being the emotional caretaker to both my kids and my teammates. As a single mom, I have to be mindful to not push my stress or burdens on my small children. Even though I am working and living in the same space, I establish firm boundaries between work and personal time.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I start with myself and then prioritize the mental and physical well-being of everyone else second. It might sound selfish, but my kids need a calm mom and my team needs a stable leader. I take time to reflect on my behaviors each day and make smarter choices the next day. I also highly recommend a good night’s sleep. Talk about a game-changer!
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Plan, plan and plan. I even plan for something (or everything) to go wrong so I can handle it with as much grace as possible. I do my best to build in extra time buffers between meetings and school work so I can calmly tackle any issues. I map out each day and identify my danger zones. If I need to push a meeting or ask for help, I do. Nothing is more stressful than troubleshooting a kiddo’s bluetooth headset and presenting on a Zoom meeting while making dinner. Nobody wins. Trust me.
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 creative and forget your old routine and habits. The kids and I have instituted dress up Fridays and we wear our fanciest clothes to the dining room. It’s silly but it’s a nice way to celebrate surviving the week. Because we are together all the time, the entire family is empowered to call quiet time and disappear for a walk or a solo indoor activity of choice.
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.
- Look for the positive. Don’t start or end your day with the news.
- Appreciate and celebrate the small victories.
- Set one small personal goal or task for you and/or your family and accomplish it each day.
- Plan a special activity or meal so you have at least one thing to look forward to each week.
- Practice a random act of kindness. Mail a letter. Zoom an old friend. Randomly send flowers to an old neighbor.
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?
In my experience, the most helpful thing I can do is simply listen. So many of us have lost our social lifelines and have few outlets to vent or share. Be the empathetic person when listening and remember to check on those who aren’t expressing any stress. All of our lives have been upended to various degrees, but it doesn’t mean the impact on someone else is any less or more than on you . This experience isn’t a competition.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine — and shadows will fall behind you.”
― Walt Whitman
Despite all the challenges at work and at home, I know that I will survive the day. It may not be perfect, and it might be messy, but I trust I will have another opportunity to try again tomorrow. Showing up is half the battle. Every step counts. Keep moving forward.