Some people actively seek out their Chapter Be path, while others are pushed or fall into it. Sasha McDowell is part of the latter category. She worked in youth development for many years, and loved the jobs she held that were focused around program development and management. Yet, when she became a mother she found herself facing having to put her daughter in daycare for 50 hours a week, and really struggled with this. A week before she was supposed to go back to her job after maternity leave, she decided to quit her job as there was no opportunity for flexible hours – it was either 50 hours a week of daycare or zero.
For almost two years she worked to try and find a job that would be fulfilling and challenging, but also allow her the flexibility to be with her daughter. She was looking for something that met her level and skillset, but would also permit her to create her own schedule. Her search brought of little to no options, and the more she talked to parents the more she learned that others were in the same position. Sasha recognized that there was a real need for something that would support parents who were looking for flexible, meaningful work. What started off as a women’s group that she started with another woman, quickly turned into Epicycle Group. The company “helps parents who are entrepreneurs grow their businesses through Mastermind Groups and provides career and executive coaching.”
Sasha and I discussed what it was like to start Epicycle, the best practices she has learned in the process and how she has balanced the stress along the way. Listen below to learn more about Sasha’s Chapter Be story…
PODCAST POINTS TO REFERENCE
[05:00] Sasha’s experience of becoming a career changer and how she was somewhat forced into it.
[07:00] The path to creating Epicycle started off with Sasha starting a women’s group with another mother and she had no idea what it was going to be. “I sorta quickly fell in love with it, and I didn’t mind that it was unpaid work.”
[10:00] What is a mastermind group?
[13:45] The stress of feeling like taking a break from work would result in never finding work again. Women have a tendency that the longer they are out of the work space, they internalize it as a personal failure, which is not the case!
[18:28] How becoming a parent forced Sasha to “slow way down” and the positive effects this has had on her.
[22:21] “The thing about entrepreneurship – it is not that it is an easier path. It’s not that you aren’t going to work a lot of hours – you are – but you can choose to grow your business [at your own pace].”
[24:16] What does “flexibility” mean? It’s about having control over your schedule.
[31:00] The importance of starting small to get big. “It can kill a business to try to do too many things at once.”
[33:47] Sasha’s advice on how you can balance starting up your business while still taking side work/jobs to pay the bills. “You have to remember to get to where you want to be there are hours and hours and hours that you have to put in that seem like they are going nowhere or are a waste of time, but you never know what’s going to be the thing that pays off.”
[38:03] The two best practices that Sasha is practicing and recommends you do as well.
[45:30] “Six people are just gonna come up with better ideas than you do on your own.”
[49:37] Sasha’s thoughts on and advice about networking. It’s not as bad of a word as we all think!
[55:35] How you can take some steps toward creating your own path and being your own boss.
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
What’s your favorite story to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Worst work experience?
I’ve had a couple of boring office jobs that have been monotonous and pretty devoid of meaning.
What is your definition of success?
Close relationships with family and friends; being there for my children emotionally and equipping them with the tools they need to live satisfying lives; doing work that I’m passionate about and that allows me to keep growing; and being able to look back when I’m old and feel that I really lived my life by having many different experiences and adventures
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
I tend to feel my most creative when I’m taking good care of myself. When I’m getting plenty of sleep, exercising and eating well, I feel energized and fully engaged in what I’m doing and the creative connections and energy stem from that. And spending time with interesting people and hearing their stories, struggles and victories inspires and energizes me!
What does “to be” mean to you?
To be genuine and authentic to however I am feeling in the present moment- for me it implies calmness and reflection, and it can be happy, sad, sentimental, wistful…any kind of feeling.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
When I’m procrastinating “productively,” I do something that has value in place of the task I’m avoiding, like cooking or organizing. For completely unproductive procrastination- wasting time online.
Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
Let It Be by The Beatles
LINKS & RESOURCES…
- Education Pioneers
- Le Leche
- Mastermind group
- Mom Corps
- Flex Jobs
- Park Slope Parents
- Seth Godin – Startup School
Images via Sasha McDowell & Epicycle Group