So, I had a horrible day yesterday. Probably one of my worst days of 2020. (In fact I have the data on that because I’ve been tracking my mood everyday via the new Chairman Mom app…it officially was.)
And yet, there was one massive, massive ray of hope. One thing that kept me going: The insane reaction we got to our announcement that we want to buy every working woman and her friends dinner this year. More than a dozen women wrote to us asking to be hosts, and some of the reasons why were so beautiful and so touching.
One of my favorites was from Erin S. in Birmingham:
“I’m a 40-something mom who is passionate about helping women connect and help one another.…
For the past few years, I’ve advocated for women in sobriety, and written about the media/marketing narrative and culture around alcohol (my Tell Better Stories project has helped contribute to the examination of the mom-needs-wine narrative.) Today I’m interested in going deeper — beyond alcohol, what’s going on under the surface for women who constantly feel they aren’t enough? …
I really believe in the power of getting together with women in real life, to share stories and what’s helped us….Every day I have conversations with friends — here in Birmingham and around the country — about how we’re navigating this insane time in our history, while taking care of our work, our families and oh yes, ourselves.
Sometimes I believe the false narrative that I have to do it alone, which I know, from recovery, is not true. But then I run into a friend who is also grappling with issues around work/family/life — and I remember — we are stronger together. Selfishly, I’d love to be part of an event here in Birmingham where I could be in the same room with other badass women who are down for sharing and building relationships!
Birmingham doesn’t have anything like this and so needs it! I’m envious of women in bigger cities where there are more opportunities for women to get together and connect. Things we have here are more traditional “networking” events (“put your card in the bowl” — eh, no thanks.) So there’s this huge need for it. Recently I’ve started working one day a week at a local women-owned coworking space and every time I’m there I’m connecting with other women who, like me, are looking for deeper connections.
Also, we’re obviously in a deep red, deeply conservative state, and that can be very isolating. I’d love to be a part of an event that welcomed all women to let them know: you’re not alone! Your people are here!”
Erin was hardly alone: More than half of the emails we got were from women in the South! I can’t tell you how validating that was for me, as someone who grew up in the South and knows the need there is for women to rally around one another there. (In fact, Petya is going to host a dinner in my hometown of Memphis!! If you are a Chairman Mom user in Memphis and want to attend, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
The other big trend was women in suburbs writing in, women who typically have to drive hours and sit in traffic after a long day of work to attend stuff like this. We had few in San Francisco offer to host, but women in Oakland, Mountain View, Alameda, Walnut Creek and San Jose all raised their hands. (If you are up for co-hosting something in Pleasanton, CA, let me know! I’ve got someone to pair you up with!)
We had multiple women in Toronto, one in London and several in the Midwest. (We have another dinner with four open seats on February 28 in the Hawthorne area of Greater LA’s South Bay if anyone wants to attend email me!) The amazing thing about this model is that it works better when multiple women in a city want to host, because not everyone will be able to attend, and most women will only want to host a few times a year. More is more is more.
This is what will be so powerful about this. What didn’t work about our events before wasn’t just that you might not live where we do them, or they might be expensive to attend. It was also that working women are incredibly busy. The reason I had such a horrible day yesterday was because of that all-too-familiar feeling of giving and giving and giving everything you have and none of it being enough. To create something that’s truly scalable and relevant for every woman, we need a format that works around her schedule, no matter what that schedule is.
When I first started doing these dinners, I hosted them on Wednesday nights, because that’s when my kids were at their dad’s house. That didn’t work for everyone, but that’s what I could give. For some women, weekends might be better. For some it might be brunch. For some it might be Mondays. Finally, this is an event series that you can customize precisely to your needs. If you are a host, you don’t even have to leave the house.
You don’t have to sit in traffic for hours if you live outside a major city. There are 6-12 women who live near you and are also sick of that commute, I guarantee you.
I wanted to write this today to thank you all for lifting my spirits yesterday with your response to this, and highlight the dinners where we’ve already got open seats (Memphis and LA’s South Bay for now!). But I also wanted to give an extra nudge to women who were tempted to sign up to the waitlist yesterday, but something held them back. So many of the women who reached out to me yesterday also felt like this was just slightly out of their comfort zone, but they wanted it to exist in their community badly enough that they fought those voices. I promise you: You can do this. We will help you every step of the way and your dinner will be amazing.
We said yesterday we wanted to sponsor 100 of these dinners in 2020. Wouldn’t it be great if that was just the beginning? What if we sponsored 500 dinners? Or 1,000?
If you can hold the space, I promise you I can find the money to keep up with you.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- Why is figuring out a plan for elderly parents so hard?
- Have you ever Airbnb’d your primary residence?
- Do you work out when you are sick?
- How can I get my partner to do the household chores he agreed he’d do?
- Looking for a woman-owned/run outsources accounting agency that’s affordable.