Say hello to our friend and fellow FamTech Collective member, Lori Mihalich-Levin. She has been a huge advocate for Prowess and empowering working parents everywhere. So much so that we partnered together to build a survey to hear from working parents. Read the below and take our survey here. Enjoy!
1. Background – what have you done (this is not limited to work), where are you from, what do you want us to know about you?
I used to be a risk-averse health care lawyer, but birthing two wonderful redheaded boys inspired me to become an advocate for working parents and an entrepreneur. In addition to remaining a bit of a Medicare policy nerd and continuing to practice law, I now help new parents transition back to work after parental leave.
I’m originally from Central Pennsylvania, but I’ve lived in Washington, DC (yes, actually in DC, not MD or VA) for the past 18 years. In college, I wrote a thesis about immigrant women in France who are victims of domestic violence. After college, I moved to France, where I met my husband, a career coach who is from New Jersey. Together, we love building our businesses. Making and eating crepes. And trying to create a more just and equitable world for our sons.
2. Tell us about your business.
Mindful Return’s mission is to empower new parents to go back to work after parental leave with calm confidence, not fear, guilt, and overwhelm. Through my business, I run a 4-week course that new parents take in an online (asynchronous) cohort to learn strategies about how to transition to working parenthood and support one another through this challenging life stage. There is a version of the course for new moms, one for new dads, and one for parents of special needs children.
Mindful Return is both a B2C and B2B business. 65 employers currently offer Mindful Return as a parental leave benefit, and the program has seen some amazing retention results. According to research from Ovia Health, only 66% of women return to their jobs after having a baby. Yet of the 1,000+ parents who have taken the Mindful Return program since it launched in January 2015, more than 85% still work for the same employer they worked for when they took the course. 93% of course participants are still in the workforce.
I also wrote a book called Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave, co-host the Parents at Work Podcast, and am a frequent presenter and speaker on topics related to working parenthood.
3. How does the Prowess mission -empowering women in the workplace – speak to you?
It is the message Mindful Return shouts from the rooftops! I started Mindful Return out of a desire to fill a gap in the market (there were courses out there for everything baby-related but not about the new parent’s professional identity…) and a determination to help put a stop to the leaky women’s leadership pipeline. Giving working moms the confidence to truly believe that parenthood is one of the best training grounds for workplace leadership – and destigmatizing caregiving for fathers – are two things I work toward every day.
4. What do you wish that your colleagues/coworkers knew about your work style?
Though I’m somewhere in the grey area of being an ambivert, stress really pushes me to need more alone time. Being home with my kids and husband constantly during COVID makes me crave this space more than ever.
5. What’s your all-time favorite productivity hack (this can be in personal & professional life)?
Though I’m a huge fan of the Pomodoro Method, I’m going to vote today for Daniel Pink’s MIT. You can see him explain it in this 2-minute video, but the gist is to write down your “Most Important Task” and do that thing *first* every morning. It’s so simple, and yet we often don’t take the time to prioritize prioritizing.
During COVID-19 in particular, my strategy has been to write down my “most important thing” on an index card before I got to bed at night and to put that card on top of my laptop. When I sit down to work the following day (whether that’s at 9am or 2pm), that card is there waiting for me. I don’t have to waste precious time trying to figure out what exactly I should be doing when I start working.
6. If you could bring attention to one thing that women deal with or excel at, that goes unnoticed or unthanked, what would it be?
I’d call attention to all of the immense work that goes into preparing for maternity leave. Planning for leave, and setting everyone up for success while a new mom is out, seems to me to be one of those tasks that falls into the “helping” category of work Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant dubbed “office housework” in their famous NY Times piece, Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee. I wrote more about this subject and offer three concrete steps you can take to combat it in this piece: Women’s Hidden Office Housework: Maternity Leave Planning as a Case in Point.
7. What does a “me” day look like to you? (how do you recharge?)
COVID or pre-COVID? Right now, I’m craving a business trip on a plane where no one knows me, to a city pretty much anywhere, where I can stay *alone* in a hotel room for a few days!!! It’s been really hard to be on lockdown and homeschool two children while trying to work full time (with a husband who also works full time). My husband and I each take 3 hours to ourselves on weekends, but that isn’t enough to fully recharge. A “me” day right now would be a silent retreat.
8. Define empowerment.
For me, it’s learning how to tune out the rest of the world’s opinions and show up in the ways you long to.
9. How can readers connect with you?
My website is www.mindfulreturn.com. I have a weekly newsletter called “Saturday Secrets” and blog, and readers can request a free copy of Mindful Return’s “99 Questions to Ask Before, During, and After Maternity Leave” on our website. If you’re an employer looking for resources for your parent employees, head over to www.mindfulreturn.com/for-employers.
On social media, Mindful Return is @MindfulReturn on Twitter and Instagram, and at www.facebook.com/mindfulreturn on Facebook. If you want to LinkedIn with me at httpss://www.linkedin.com/in/lorimihalichlevin/, simply mention you’re interested in Mindful Return, and I’ll accept your connection request. And finally, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.