Lisa Parmley: “Light at the end of the tunnel”

That I do think science will save us from this and that’s really my light at the end of the tunnel. The day a safe vaccine comes out and my family can get it is a good day to focus on. I’m hoping we will hear about the results of some trials and that even […]

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That I do think science will save us from this and that’s really my light at the end of the tunnel. The day a safe vaccine comes out and my family can get it is a good day to focus on. I’m hoping we will hear about the results of some trials and that even others are starting in early 2021. That will hopefully be the downhill slide for us. From there we will just have to wait a little longer until we can get it.

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 Lisa Parmley, a serial entrepreneur who started her first business in 2001. She grew her first digital training company to success and has built up many others including, a site focused on helping others start and grow their own digital education companies.

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?

I was a research scientist which was a great job. I knew I was very fortunate to have my job, but something just didn’t feel right. It turned out it wasn’t the job as much as it was the fact that I just didn’t fit in as an employee.

I was what I now call a closet entrepreneur (someone who had no idea about their need to start a business). When I finally figured it out, everything just clicked. I got to work on starting my first company which was in the digital training industry, helping people pass a specific career test.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

The day I was able to quit my job and make it on my own was a great day. I cannot believe it has been so many years since then.

A lot of people thought I just quit to become a housewife which was upsetting to me. Although it was not fun to have friends, acquaintances and family think that when I worked so hard to start something on my own, I kind of understood that since I quit within a year of getting married people jumped to that conclusion. But I had only stayed as long as I did so we could pay for our own wedding and not have to go in debt!

I’m sure it’s been 15 years now since the day I quit. For each of those years I’ve earned more than I did at my old job (sometimes several times more). So I feel like that’s been a great thing.

It’s crazy how so many people who have never started a business or had the thought cross their mind just cannot grasp the idea.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I spend as much of my time as possible working on which is my latest business venture. I hope to turn it into a top site for people interested in starting their own digital training/eLearning company.

I know how fortunate I’ve been to run my own business. I started before I had children, actually before I was even married. It has been such a blessing to have flexible hours and make more per hour than I ever could with a regular job. I have been able to take maternity leave when my children were first born and then be there for them every day.

I’d like to help others get in that position. Whether it is for the same reasons I had or just because they don’t fit in a job, or they have knowledge they want to share with others. It’s practical, but can help people.

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 learned a lot about running a business from many people back in the early 2000’s. I’m very grateful to them for sharing their knowledge and their stories about what was possible and how to navigate life as an online entrepreneur.

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?

It’s been difficult to isolate, at least to the level we’ve been doing since March. Trying to find activities for the kids can be difficult especially when I also need to consider running my business and don’t always have time to think up something fabulous that’s also safe.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Any activities they can do on their own is great. That way I can work as they play. We figured out a way to go swimming, which was to rent a pool by the hour and that’s been really awesome for us. We also try to get out and ride bikes, the summer heat then makes sitting in the air conditioning for a few hours pretty nice!

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

Like many other parents, how to fit work into my life while making sure my children are still well taken care of is a challenge.

Our school district moved to online learning in mid-March and we will be doing online learning this year too, possibly well into 2021. So like most parents I am wondering how I will continue to find as much time to work and take care of my children.

We will not being forming a pod as that just increases our family’s chances of getting Covid-19. There are two within our household who are higher risk so it’s not worth it. We don’t know anyone else quarantining to the level we’re doing. So we are on our own.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I originally shared a home office with my husband on the main floor of the house near the living spaces and it didn’t have a door. Needless to say, with everyone home now, that just didn’t work. My husband has a separate office area in our for now unfinished basement so he has a place to go when he needs some quiet.

I really didn’t and that put a big strain on everything when school shut down this March. So we ended up moving my desk, computer, everything to our bedroom. Luckily there is space and of course, a door where I can have some quiet and focus. That simple change has made things much better.

I also have a schedule now which has helped because there are several hours of time I know I can work each day. That planning helps with some of my anxiety about how I can keep my business going during these times.

I’ve gotten a lot better with time management and going through tasks, goal setting. I track all the tasks I need to do to meet my goals and then I plan out exactly when I will tackle those tasks. That has helped keep my business on track.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Well unfortunately, when the family is happy and doing their own thing, you must use that time to work. You’re going to miss out and you have to adjust your work schedule. I know a lot of people won’t like that, but that’s the reality right now.

I let my children get up and play for an hour before school starts since that keeps them in a happy space for school. I work then.

It’s early in the morning and I guess I could use that time to sleep in or get ready, but I find I’m happier when I can take that hour to work on my most pressing issues for the day. That way at least an hour’s worth of tasks can be completed while my children are happy and busy.

I’m not neglecting them since they’re doing the things they love the most (like Xbox or whatever). I take advantage of that and we do that every day (even on weekends) so I work then too.

With our online learning set-up through the district a teacher will be ‘holding class’ online. I plan to take advantage of all those times to get some work done too. I need to available for my children when they have projects or homework that they can’t complete, but the teacher should be able to help them at those scheduled times.

I know I can still squeeze in a lot of work time now that I’ve already gone through this in the spring. It’s just not me working all at once while my kids are at school. Instead, it’s an hour here and there. Some of the time is in the morning, the afternoon, the weekends, and in the evening. It’s not so great, but hopefully I won’t have to do this forever.

We also make sure to have family time. Since we’re all home we always have lunch and dinner together. Then we have some family time after dinner every evening as well as plan a fun activity (hiking or something outdoors) on weekends when we’re able to.

I try to really be present for my family when it’s not work or school time. I don’t drag my laptop around the house and half listen/half work. It’s really either work time or family time. I also am OK with my children interrupting me throughout the day although they’re pretty good about not coming into my office while I’m working, but that helps them feel like I’m there for them. I know life is stressful for them too!

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?

We definitely try to get outside when we can. There’s a bike trail and open space near our home and we feel pretty safe spending time on it now although there were a few weeks this spring when we were inside most every day. I’ll take the kids outside for a bike ride or scooter time and sometimes we all go as a family. Then there are beautiful trails a short drive from our home that we try to make it to when we can.

Over the summer we did purchase a small game table as an indoor activity. It has a very small version of pool and foosball which are the big hits. There’s a few other games you can play on it too. It was not very expensive and then we also bought a stationary bike. It’s something. That and building Legos or other building projects have helped us through the times when we feel we can’t get outside.

We are looking into martial arts classes online now too.

Exercise and activities are helping us get through this. Both my children are into bug hunting so that’s been a big hit just around our yard and the open space. We’ve even bought them small terrariums so they can bring the bugs inside. It’s not my favorite thing, but as long as the bugs stay in the terrariums, I’m OK with it. It keeps them happy!

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.

As a former research scientist before I became an entrepreneur I might have a slightly negative view of the pandemic. I think we are in for a very rough fall and winter and I am just trying to accept it and what it will mean.

But I am still hopeful and my top 5 reasons to be hopeful are:

1.That I do think science will save us from this and that’s really my light at the end of the tunnel. The day a safe vaccine comes out and my family can get it is a good day to focus on. I’m hoping we will hear about the results of some trials and that even others are starting in early 2021. That will hopefully be the downhill slide for us. From there we will just have to wait a little longer until we can get it.

2.I’m also hopeful for better treatments too. That would make a lot of this less scary.

3.Scientists are figuring out how to mitigate the spread of Covid and people seem to be coming around to these ideas. Governors are pushing out mask mandates and at least some people are taking them seriously.

In our state, we had a big jump in mid-summer where hospitalizations and new cases really climbed up. Our governor started a mask mandate and they actually went down. So that is something I’m hopeful for, that we can keep these numbers at a lower rate until we get to those vaccines and treatments.

4.Our children will be changed from this (just like we will too), but we’ll be OK. Maybe we’ll all come out stronger. I do wish more people were coming together and bonding over the pandemic, but I don’t yet. It seems to be tearing people apart more than anything. Maybe we just aren’t around the right people! Despite that, my family is together and that is how we will get through this.

5.It’s going to end, we just need to be safe and smart about things until it does and then we can look back on all this family time we had!

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?

I keep telling my family that they are safe. That life is different right now, but changing some things is what’s keeping us safe and that it will end.

We talk a lot about why my husband and I have chosen to cut out a lot of activities we use to do. My children seem to understand as they don’t want to get sick more than they want to go to Target or some other store.

It’s definitely hard, especially when we don’t know when this will start to turn around.

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

‘Be present.’ I try to be present during every day, as much of the day as possible.

This is relevant to me because I see so many people practically sleep walking through their lives. I don’t want to be like and I definitely don’t want my children to think of me like that.

I think about how to be present all the time. Although I’m not perfect at it, I know it doesn’t include ignoring people for my phone or like mentioned before, carting my laptop around the house to get in a few minutes of work here and there.

I really focus on doing the activity at hand and try not to worry about something else while I’m doing it. It keeps me happier and I think the people around me notice it.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can see what I have going on at as well as:

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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