Cassandra Bailey, CEO of Slice Communications, is one of the millions of entrepreneurs in the world who are also mothers. Additionally, Bailey is the author of a new series of children’s books about women just like her. The “My Mom Is…” book series offers moms from all industries a child-friendly way to discuss why they work, what they love about your jobs, and why it matters. Octane recently got the chance to talk with Bailey about the inspiration for her book series and her experience as an entrepreneur.
Can you share what inspired you to launch this book series?
Back in August, I was visiting with my college roommate. She has 8-year-old twin girls. She was talking about how they asked why she works. She explained that she had to make money for food, clothes and all the fun things they like to do. Then one of her mentors suggested she tell her girls what she does at work and why she is fulfilled by it.
I have a daughter who is 19 months old. She was actually playing with the twins as we had this conversation. I was thinking about what to get her for Christmas, since she has basically everything she needs already. She loves to read, and we do that together a lot. So I decided to write a book just for her. I found an illustrator, and suddenly had a book.
From there, I decided to write one for my cousin who is a nonprofit executive director and her daughter, who is 3. And then one for my sister-in-law, who is a lawyer, and her three children.
What do you have in mind for future books in the series?
I realized a lot of moms have difficult-to-explain jobs, so I want to write books for them and their kids. That’s how this journey began, and it has no end in sight. I have books in mind for moms who are COOs, CIOs, CFOs, CMOs, CHROs, IT executives, sales executives, public relations professionals, manufacturing executives—the list goes on.
In a recent conversation with a female CEO who has an 18-year-old daughter, we also discussed that a lot of women start their businesses after their kids are grown. So I can definitely see a “My Grandmom Is…” extension of the series.
What challenges do you believe mothers who own businesses face?
There’s been a lot written about the mental load women carry, and female business owners are no different. But I think the real challenge we face is one of expectations. A lot of moms probably have a similar experience: as a business owner, people expect that you’re rich and can make your own schedule. Of course, neither of those things is generally true.
So I think we need to do a lot of expectation setting and educating so that people know what is possible and what’s not for us. We are not superwomen. And we need a lot of help.
What unique strengths do mothers bring to business and leadership?
I’ve only been a mom for 19 months, so I’m sure there are a lot of people who have much greater insight into this question than I do. In my experience, there have been two major shifts since becoming a mom that have benefitted my business.
First, I’m way more efficient than I ever was before. I get a lot more done, more quickly because I want to spend as much time with my daughter as possible. Second, I have a much different view of what matters. I find that I’m not nearly as stressed out about little things in the business as I used to be. That helps me keep focused on what is going to move the business forward.
Do you see specific ways that we can support women in business?
Yes! First, I think we need to seek out and support them. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) has a #WomenOwned initiative. We can all decide to only buy Christmas, birthday, and Mother’s Day gifts from those companies.
Second, we need to show little girls how to be great CEOs. We need to celebrate them whenever and wherever we can.
Third, we can help them make connections. It’s one of the things you’ll hear over and over from women business owners. They need to be invited into the room and at least have a shot at a seat at the table.
Do you have a role model?
My grandmother was one of my soulmates in life. She was an amazing woman who taught me so much about everything. She used to take my cousins and me on “adventures.” Sometimes they were awesome road trips and sometimes they were total disasters. When the disasters happened, she would always say, “At least it was different.” It made me believe there was inherent value in having diverse experiences. Now, one of our mottos at Slice Communications is, “Different is better than better.”
In recent years, we’ve heard more entrepreneurs saying that work-life balance is a myth. What are your thoughts on that?
I generally believe in balance in all aspects of life, but that it is impossible to find balance at all times in all parts of your life. Someone coined the term “work-life” harmony. I like that way better. There are times when my work needs to support my personal life and times when my personal life takes a backseat to work. But neither can be a constant state. There should always be an ebb-and-flow. I think that’s the best we can expect.
You are a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). Can you share how EO has shaped your journey?
Yes, I am a member of the EO chapter in Philadelphia. I have the world’s best Forum. They have been supportive through every step of becoming a mom. I first told them I was pregnant on our annual retreat. They were beyond accommodating. They made sure I had the best room with the most comfortable bed in the house we rented and offered to make other changes to the agenda. A few months later, they threw me a surprise baby shower complete with silly games and presents.
When I was two days from my due date, they changed the location of our monthly Forum so I could be close to the hospital. The following monthly Forum, they agreed to let me come with my baby so I could nurse her at breaks (she slept through the rest of it). The first retreat after she was born, they were super cool when my daughter and mom came along and worked the schedule so I could nurse and put her to bed.
All of those things are incredibly important to me, and my Forum made them all happen. No one of us can do it alone. I’m so lucky to have my Forum along with me on this journey of being a mom CEO.
Cassandra Bailey is the CEO of Slice Communications, an integrated communications agency with fully dedicated public relations and social media teams that provide clients with actionable content and data-oriented approaches. Slice Communications is a certified woman-owned business and a 2019 Best Places to Work.