Woman of the Week: Nataly Kogan
Nataly's Work it, Mom! website. (Courtesy: Creative Commons, Flickr)
April 23, 2008
This week, we’re featuring Nataly Kogan, a member of Excelle and also the co-founder and CEO of Work It, Mom!, one of our content partners. Nataly is, yes, a working mom, and also an entrepreneur. Here she shares with us her thoughts on her many roles as a woman and what strides she feels working mothers still need to make.
Company Name: Work It, Mom!
Location: Boston, MASend Nataly a Message
Excelle: Why did you start Work It, Mom?
Nataly Kogan: I was working in venture capital and had decided to change careers. I wanted to do something more creative and also get a chance to see my daughter more and have a more flexible schedule. So I looked for an online community for working moms so I could talk about my ideas, get advice, learn about how other working moms juggle work and family. When I didn’t find it I decided to create WorkItMom.com so that the 30+ million working moms (just in the US) have a community where they can connect, exchanged advice and ideas, share support, and get helpful information and tips to help them juggle work and family a bit easier.
WC: What lessons could you share about the experience of starting your own business?
NK: Starting my own company is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, career-wise. I’d spent 5 years before launching Work It, Mom! as a venture capital investor, working with small start-ups and helping them grow. I thought I knew how hard it was to start a business but I was wrong. One of the very important lessons I am learning is that you have to be absolutely passionate about whatever business you’re starting. If you’re not, then you won’t get through the hard times, and there are so many of them. Another thing I’ve learned is that you have to learn to be an optimist – if you’re not one by nature – and be your own cheerleader. Every day there are challenges, things that go wrong, competitors that pop up, technical issues, staff issues, you name it. To get through it and to keep working towards your goal you have to believe in your capacity to overcome all of that.
WC: What are the unique challenges mothers face in the workplace?
NK: I believe that there is still such a thing as “mom-stigma” in many workplaces. Once a woman has kids there are often assumptions that being a mom is now her entire identity, that she can’t take her work as seriously or be as committed. If you spend just a few minutes at WorkItMom.com, you’ll see that this is absolutely not the case — there are thousands, millions of working moms out there, who love their kids and their family and who are also ambitious, great performers at their jobs, and great contributors to their workplaces. But mom-stigma persists and working moms have to deal with it daily.
WC: What are some challenges you yourself have faced as a working mother?
NK: My biggest challenge has been – and I think this is true for most working moms – to find enough time and mental and physical energy to be a mom and a wife and to continue along my career path. I don’t think work-life balance exists – some days I am more of a mom, other days I spend 18 hours working. It’s hard, it’s physically draining (I don’t sleep very much or have any “me” time), but I love being a mom and I love growing this business. The other challenge for me is constantly feeling like I am not giving 100% as a mom, as a wife, and in my career. In each aspect of my life I could be doing more, but being a working mom requires giving up this idea of perfection, so I am working on it.