This is an opportunity to lean in to your gratitude. Your loved ones. All that you have. No doubt there are hard times, ask for help when you can, buckle down when you can’t, and give yourself and others grace.
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 Lindsey Rowe Parker.
Lindsey is an entrepreneur, small business owner, author, and mom. With 15 years experience working with corporate brands in marketing and PR, she decided to start her own company Lindsey Rowe Parker Consulting in January, 2020, just shy of the COVID shutdown.
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?
Like so many of us, I didn’t set out to be in marketing. I don’t think I understood what a career in marketing and PR meant exactly (I’ve explained to family members and friends what I do many times in life). I started my career wrangling preschoolers by day and slinging drinks at a restaurant by night. Although seemingly unconnected, I think both those jobs positioned me well for the rest of my career.
Everything I do — from client relations to pitching media, to crafting campaigns or brand messaging — is about understanding people. Knowing what they want, what they need, and packaging it up for them to receive.
I was fortunate enough to cut my PR teeth for six years at an entertainment marketing agency connecting brands with celebrity activations. I got a glimpse of the glamour, the grittiness, and gumption needed to be successful working in Hollywood.
I dove head first into documentary filmmaking with Gwapa Film, about children with cleft palates, then followed my passion across the country to work for a global nonprofit called Operation Smile, a cause that is personally near and dear to me, having siblings that were born with cleft palates. I have witnessed the struggle that children with clefts and their families endure. I have also seen the resilience and spirit of those same children who are provided access to healthcare and safe surgery.
In January of this year I officially started my company providing marketing communications consulting for small businesses and nonprofits. When the shutdowns started in March, I was barely up and running. The nature of my work in mainly digital media lended itself to be sustainable when so many were losing their income. We have been very fortunate to stay afloat and help my clients shift gears to sustain themselves.
There are so many nuanced paths within each of our careers that a bio can never quite capture. The threads that weave our lives together, the experiences that mold and shape us, revealing to us what we are really made of. And helping to carve that path? The invaluable network of career and personal contacts that light the way — providing guidance, support, and if you are really lucky — true connection.
That is what I strive to do every day. Connect people and help them on their path to whatever success looks like to them.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
The most interesting thing I have found since starting my company, and in the 15 years in building my career, is that the relationships you build and nurture over the years truly do stay with you. So many former colleagues, peers, connections and acquaintances have popped back up in my life, enriching my work and personal pursuits. I learned early on in life not to burn bridges, and while I have lost a couple friends along the way, overall I have been able to maintain connections and relationships with people I admire, respect and bring light to the world. And I am so grateful for them each and every day.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Working with diverse clients in different industries gives me the opportunity to experience so many different things, it keeps it fresh and exciting! But a personal project that I am working on now is the release of a children’s picture book about sensory differences, called Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down.
There were sensory preferences that I had as a child that I thought were weird or strange, not like other people I knew. After I learned that my daughter is autistic, I began to dive down into the neurodiversity community, learning all I can from autistic voices — and I am learning more every day.
Through pediatric occupational therapies with my kiddos, and a recent adult diagnosis of ADHD for myself, I have a greater understanding of not only some of their sensory needs, but my own. It’s as if a light bulb went on, and I thought “Oh wow, now I get it.”
The book is written from my own sensory experiences, and now also as a mother learning how to provide sensory input to meet the needs of my kids. But I think this story applies to many kids and adults that are looking for that sensory input, which theyl
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?
Oh goodness. Too many to name. So many people have helped me and influenced my journey. I think I have learned just as much from those I have mentored, as I have from those that have taken the time and interest to mentor me.
I am very fortunate to have some phenomenal women in my life that I lean on, learn from, support and share life with.
The person who inspired me to start my business is my one time client and recent mentor Angela Hayes. She and I worked together a decade ago with the American Cancer Society, and I was fortunate to reconnect with her a few years ago on the East Coast. She mentored me and inspired me to believe in myself enough to start my own business, to tell my imposter syndrome to move on, and to value my experience and insight without a big name brand to back me up. And she was so right. I will be forever grateful to her.
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.
The availability of childcare is my number one challenge. A week, 2 weeks, a month goes by. You work when you can, during nap. At night. On weekends. My husband and I had the added challenge of actually contracting COVID-19. We had a rough few weeks, as understandably no one wanted to expose themselves, so help was not available. It was an incredibly difficult, lonely and isolating experience.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I’ll be honest. This is hard. Many of us are working from home; parents are homeschooling or virtual schooling; or wrapped up in some other cobbled-together semblance of a schedule that tries to balance work, life, and family.
But here’s the deal. We are adapting. The word pivot is now burned into my 2020 memory bank for good.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
One of my biggest challenges is that I am a full time work-from-home mom, with a full time work-from-home husband (since the pandemic) with three kids, one of which is special needs. My four-year-old daughter is autistic, and the challenge is not that she is autistic by any means. The challenge is that the supports and opportunities available to her, and to us as a family, are few and far between.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Everything is shifting weekly, if not daily. We make the best decisions with the information that we have at the time. We plan, pivot, negotiate and regroup. Nothing is set in stone. Part of the extreme gymnastics of Work- Life-Balance right now is that it is a myth. At least in my reality.
I think it would be presumptuous to give recommendations of things that work as blanket statements. One of the things that has become so clear to me personally during this time is the quote: “We are in the same storm, but we are all in different boats.”
EVERY. STORY. IS. DIFFERENT. So it is not so much the To Do lists, or time blocking, or specific strategies that will make this easier, as it is an awareness and acknowledgement that our stories are varied. There is not a one size fits all solution to these struggles.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
- Intentionality. Having a clear path or goal for the day, prioritizing the things that move the needle, and addressing those things that are important vs. urgent.
- Flexibility. Realizing that you can plan your time down to a T, but life happens. Be ready to shift and be flexible, build extra time into your timelines, manage expectations, and communicate when things change — with your family, your colleagues, and clients.
- Vulnerability. Show people who you are. We are not perfect, we make mistakes, take your armor off, and check your ego at the door. When you know better, you do better.
- Empathy. Listen to your partner, your kids, your team, your coworkers, your clients. Hear where they are coming from, share in their struggles and their successes. Build something together that outlasts the immediate need to be right.
These things seem counterintuitive to business. But it seems that they may be catching on, or maybe we are catching up with what truly matters. People are not separate from business, and the more I learn that, the more I am able to serve my clients and my family in ways that benefit all of us.
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?
GRACE. It’s been about six months since we’ve had any semblance of normalcy. And some days I feel like we have it all together and it’s laughter and instagram worthy moments, other days I wonder “who are these people in my house?” As I answer these questions, my kids are climbing on the couches screeching while my husband tries to work from the living room and corral them. It’s life. It’s beautiful, it’s messy, it’s hard sometimes. But when I feel like I am frustrated and overwhelmed, I take a minute, take a few breaths and try to empathize with their frustration. Because all of us are dealing with the loss of our normal, not just me. All of us miss our family, friends, and to some extent our freedom.
But I am incredibly fortunate. Incredibly privileged. I have the opportunity to shelter in place. With my loved ones, without loss of income. My husband and I recovered from Covid without extreme loss. We also have the responsibility to take care of our community, by following the guidelines and caring for our neighbors.
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.
- This is an opportunity to lean in to your gratitude. Your loved ones. All that you have. No doubt there are hard times, ask for help when you can, buckle down when you can’t, and give yourself and others grace.
- This is an opportunity to look for the helpers. There are beautiful ways people are helping each other all around us. Recognize their contributions, and support them when you can.
- This is an opportunity to take care of yourself. Whether that be taking a break, self care in whatever form works for you, keeping your body, mind and spirit healthy. Exploring counseling, or medication. In order to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself.
- This is an opportunity to take one step at a time. This is a season, everything will continue to change and evolve forever. Do the best you can with the information you have today.
- This is an opportunity to listen and learn. Every day is a chance to be a little wiser and kinder than we were the day before. The time passes anyway, let’s be better on the other side.
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?
We hear a lot about reaching out for help. I saw something lately that shifted that for me, and it was a meme of someone reaching in. Sometimes we can get so caught up in treading water, that we don’t realize we need assistance. If you see someone in your life struggling and needing assistance, reach in. They may not immediately take your help, but if you can switch your mindset from passive support to actively supporting, you may be the relief they didn’t even know they needed.
A beautiful example of this happened to me recently with one of my clients. When they heard that my husband and I had Covid and were isolating at home with our two youngest kids, they immediately covered all our family meals with delivery service. It was one of the most heartwarming gestures that took a ton of weight off my shoulders, something I would never have asked for, yet was an absolute gift to our whole family during a rough time. Love in action.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My sister and I joke that we are on Life Lesson #890,487,912. I think different lessons are needed during different chapters in our lives. You can hear one at a point in time that does not resonate until you are ready to absorb it. That comes with personal relevance and self awareness.
Two that speak to me right now are:
“You can’t have it all, all at once.”, Ruth Bader Ginsburg — As a working mom in a pandemic, I feel this in my bones. Every day I make decisions, based on priorities, of what has to be done, and what can wait. Even when nothing can wait. This is a season, and like everything else, seasons change.
“The greatest cruelty is our casual blindness to the despair of others.” Anonymous — Empathy in life, relationships, and business makes us all better. It softens your heart, and opens you up to the lived experience of others. Those you think are so far from who you are both physically, geographically, spiritually — typically are not as different at their core as you believe. Don’t take the easy route, listen to their story, hear what they have to say. Don’t talk, just listen. Then ask how you can help.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!