We are thrilled for our female founder feature, Suzanne Brown, Mompowerment. Suzanne is a fellow Austinite and has been a huge asset to Prowess to help us navigate the “mom space” and expanding our network.
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?
My strengths come from building bridges between groups, asking strategic questions to understand the why as people and companies are looking to make changes, and breaking things down and putting them back together better. In addition, a lot of my opportunities have come from saying yes in moments when I could have said no. I look at understanding the benefits of unusual opportunities down the road to know when to say yes versus no.
My background is unusual for what I do. My undergrad degrees are in finance and Spanish language, both from The University of Texas at Austin (hook ‘em). I have worked in the marketing world for 20 years, 12+ of which were at large marketing agencies and mainly in not financial roles. I did go back and get my MBA in marketing, also from UT. That gave me additional analytical and strategic skills to shift my areas of expertise (as well as an amazing network to tap into).
Mompowerment started when I realized there was something missing in the marketplace. After 11+ years in the agency world, I became a mom. Our older son was born 10 weeks premature and I wasn’t sure what life would look like post-maternity leave after 5.5 weeks in the NICU. While we had the best case scenario and didn’t need time with various specialists and doctors for our son (which is very much normal for NICU babies), I didn’t know that at the time. I negotiated with my manager to cut my time in half. And that was when I started getting loads of questions from other working moms at the office, friends, and friends of friends, etc. on how I made that happen.
When I looked for a resource to these working moms to, I couldn’t find one. And Mompowerment was born. Eventually I realized I needed to write a book as a resource for working moms to successfully transition to a professional part-time role. And then working moms approached me once that was launched to ask for a version that was for working moms in general to help them create greater work-life balance.
Somewhere in there, about a year after becoming a mom, I also transitioned to 100 percent entrepreneur. I had a side gig as a strategic marketing consultant for almost 8 years at that point. I thoroughly enjoy helping clients create new opportunity and grow their businesses in this role.
Part of what I love is that I have two unrelated businesses. Each day is different, which I like. Since I have a part-time schedule (I work 25-30 hours per week), I get to spend a lot of time with my kids as well. I get to do the mom thing on my terms. I’m the face they see at the end of their day and I get to see them learn and excel in their afternoon activities.
And, as an entrepreneur, I can do my job from anywhere. We love to travel, especially internationally, as a family. I traveled to 40 countries before turning 40 and we’ve been to 7 countries with the boys. Sure, some are countries I’ve been to, but it’s amazing to see the world through your children’s eyes. Really, though, we love to explore. If we’re not on some far-off adventure, we’re likely exploring a state park or Austin trail.
Life wouldn’t look the way it does without my husband’s support along the way. He looks at his role as that of a partner, so he tries to be supportive in my business and on the home front.
2. Tell us about your business.
I have two unrelated businesses: OKsuzi Strategy and Mompowerment. I’m a strategic marketing and business consultant under OKsuzi Strategy. I help seasoned entrepreneurs overcome their high-level marketing challenges (e.g., writing yet another business plan or understanding market potential before making an investment) to grow their business(es). I also help larger companies work more better with their marketing agencies since this is one of their biggest marketing investments.
As Mompowerment, I’m a work-life balance speaker, strategist, and bestselling and 4-time award-winning author. I help working moms and companies think differently about balance and take action. It’s easy to do what you’re comfortable with, but that might not be serving your needs, whether you’re a working mom or a company. I use my own experience and extensive research as well as insights, tips, and advice from interviews with more than 110 professional working moms. Working moms can find information on all sorts of aspects of work-life balance such as maximizing their time, developing relationships with mentors, sponsors, and allies, defining and maintaining boundaries, and finding time for self-care in my books, blog, and TED talk.
3. How does the Prowess Project mission -empowering women in the workplace – speak to you?
The Mompowerment brand is all about empowering a segment of women, working moms. Prowess Project puts a lot of effort into empowering this same group. I really appreciate how Prowess empowers women through skills and new knowledge while I get to help working mamas maximize how they use their time. I help these working moms continue to excel in their professional lives, which they’ve worked really hard at, and still be the moms they want to be. And I’m thrilled at how Prowess Project and Mompowerment complement each other!
4. What do you wish that your colleagues/coworkers knew about your work style?
Whether it’s working 1:1 for Mompowerment clients who need a change to improve their work-life balance or helping an OKsuzi client grow his/her business, I want to help my clients solve problems and get results. I want them to walk away from a project with me and feel like they have gotten value and a solution to their challenge.
When it comes to how I work, I am a make things happen kinda gal. I will change up how I work so that I ensure I add that value.
When it’s the normal school year time (i.e., not summer or dealing with distance learning because of a pandemic), I batch my work. That allows me to work on like things together (e.g., research for clients, answering emails, etc.) so that I can hit my groove better and longer.
Lately, though, to deal with the choppiness of my day with constant interruptions from 9 and 6 year olds, I have switched to the Pomodoro technique, where I work in 25-minute spurts with 5-minute breaks. After a few of these rounds, I get a 15-minute break. It gives me dedicated time, but allows for more engagement with my boys.
Regardless of which productivity method I use, I try to ensure I’m maximizing my time during my peak productivity. It turns out I’m most productive in the morning. And this is the time I work on the most challenging and strategic projects that I have on my plate. This is when I wrote my two books. It’s when I work on and not in my business. Lately, I’ve been getting up earlier than anyone else so that I can do more challenging work, so that it won’t matter that my day is choppier. I feel like I’ve hit my big goals for the day before everyone else is even awake.
5. What’s your all-time favorite productivity hack (this can be in personal & professional life)?
The thing that has made the biggest impact in my productivity is to plan my week on Sunday when the kids are in bed and then plan each day the night before. It takes about 15-20 minutes on Sunday and 10-15 minutes each day, but this combination saves me loads of time each week. With this combination, I’m able to set my goals and priorities for the week as well as actually plan how I’ll spend my time. I know my non-negotiables and my deadlines and know how I can change things up when (not if) things happen during the week that require my reprioritizing things. Especially now and during the summer, this ability to change things up is really helpful and makes a big difference in my productivity.
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?
When women lead in an organization, everyone wins. It’s not about women succeeding when a women is a manager or senior leader. It’s about finding a way where everyone feels valued and appreciated. It’s a place where everyone gives his or her best. Not to mention, having women in the top 30 percent of leadership positions leads to a positive financial benefit, according to studies. I wish more organizations recognized how women leaders make such a positive impact for everyone.
7. What does a “me” day look like to you? (how do you recharge?)
The ultimate form of self-care for me is to travel, especially to a new international destination where we can explore as a family. I won’t be doing a lot of that, so we explore on a local level at a nearby state park. If I need something girly, I usually have a monthly pedicure. It’s a perfect moment of me time in a house with all males. And my husband knows how important that moment of self-care is for me.
I’ll add that I bookend my day with self-care. I start my day with a self-care check-in so that I know what changes to make to set myself up for success for the day. It’s moments of my day with a big impact. And then I write in my gratitude journal and read each night before bed. Doing this before bed helps me turn off my mind so I can fall asleep.
This morning plus nighttime combination help me get small doses of self-care each day so that my cup is full. And this way I am able to be at my best in all the areas of my life.
8. Define empowerment.
Empowerment is giving people the tools they need to achieve their goals in their own way. Mompowerment is all about empowering working moms to create more of the work-life balance they need. It’s giving working moms ideas, tips, insights, and advice so they can create more of their own version of balance. Work-life balance is personal and is based on what you and your family need, mixed in with what works with your professional needs. I share all sorts of things in the books, on the blog, in interviews I do on podcasts, in articles where I’m quoted with the idea of sharing many things so that nuggets resonate with working moms like you. And these moms can implement some ideas as is into their lives, change other ideas to fit their needs better, and leave some behind because they don’t work with what they need (or maybe they don’t work right now). And that empowers the working moms who engage with Mompowerment to create more of the balance they crave in their way.
9. What career advice would you go back and tell your 15-year-old self?
I’m not sure I would have done anything different in high school, but I would tell my recently graduated from undergrad self to get into the digital world as soon as it opened up. I wish I had entered that side of things much earlier in my career. And I might have suggested focusing on the financial side of things a bit more. I realize now that I might have enjoyed a long-term career on that side of things.
10. How can readers connect with you?
The Mompowerment Guide to Work-life Balance book on Amazon:
Insights from Working Moms on Balancing Career and Family (2nd book for all professional working moms)
Mompowerment: Insights from Successful Professional Part-Time Working Moms Who Balance Career and Family (original book for moms interested in transitioning to a part-time role)
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