The conversation continues around “How does she do it all?” This time, we’re talking parenting, dating advice, and conversations about race at work.
ICYMI: House of Wise went live on Clubhouse with Jen Lee for a 30-minute empowerment convo. Clubhouse is an audio-only social platform for participants to drop into rooms of various topics.
Setting the stage
House of Wise’s founder Amanda Goetz, head of content Maria West, and Jess Sanfilippo, our head of social, spoke with special guest Jen Lee. Jen is a brand builder, people connector, and proud mom of three boys in NYC. She is the head of marketing at The Bump at The Knot Worldwide (aka Amanda’s former work friend). Before The Knot, Jen worked in digital marketing for brands, including her fashion startup, WorkShop Style.
About the series
Our monthly series interviews successful women who seemingly have it all together. We want to know what’s going on behind the scenes. Here are our favorite highlights from our interview with Jen on Clubhouse.
What does it mean to have it all?
Jen knows not everything is possible, and certainly not all at the same time. But she does believe we can have a lot — all it takes is some prioritization.
“We think in four-year blocks,” Jen said. High school and college condition us to that thinking. As anyone who has switched majors too many times knows, things change.
“I think the beautiful thing is that life’s priorities are on a spectrum, on a continuum. So there might be a set of things that you want to think about putting first now that might shift a year from now (or three or four).”
Dating advice that applies to life
When she was in college and her early 20s, Jen often talked with her cousin Chris about dating and marriage. A wise man, Chris told Jen you could look for three traits in a partner — for instance, someone kind, educated, and funny. But once you add on more qualities (say, rich, athletic, and great in bed), you’re looking for a unicorn. “Prioritizing what you want in certain seasons of life is much the same,” Jen said.
For the record, Jen found a partner who checks off the biggest must-have on her wishlist: a great dad.
Family and career integration
“There's a lot of fear around how a family will affect your career,” Jen said. “It doesn’t threaten it, but it shapes when, where, and how much you can show up for jobs.”
When Jen had her first son, she permitted herself to take small steps back, like skipping team happy hours or picking up bagels for the team. Pulling back doesn’t mean doing lousy work.
“It's really about figuring out how you can integrate a family into your life and how you can balance work with responsibilities for your family.”
Leaning into the areas where you shine
Jen focuses on using her strengths and turning to others for help where she needs it. “The less time you focus on trying to fumble with the things that you're not so great at but focus on the areas where you're a natural star, you can be more impactful,” Jen said. “It also makes working in whatever you're doing more enjoyable and gratifying because you're going to start to see faster results.”
The challenges of this past year
"What the last year has presented as a challenge as a businesswoman, a Black woman, and a mother raising black sons was to show up to work and act like that was the most important thing," Jen said.
Quarterly reports and Zoom meetings don’t seem as important when you’re worried about the next police shooting or fighting social injustice. These fears manifest themselves in every aspect of work and life for Black and POC employees, often without their white counterparts’ knowledge.
"There's a real fear and anxiety that Black and POC have of messing up,” Jen said. “Finding a way to create space in the organization to explain some of the more nuanced aspects of being a Black person was really important."
How Jen creates space
Have a strong friend network. Jen said this is her cheat code for life. Surround yourself with women who are going to challenge and encourage you in any season.
Speak up. This year revealed to people how much their workplaces did or didn’t value diversity and employee voices. Jen spoke up about concerns to The Knot’s executive team and was thankful for how they were addressed. “I stood my truth,” Jen said. “I was unapologetically clear about what was important to me, about what I valued, and to make sure that leadership heard my voice.”
Be vulnerable. Jen sat on a Zoom call presentation by a Black Lives Matter activist, sobbing while her team watched. Jen said even the tone of how Black people were sharing on LinkedIn changed to be more raw and real. “Showing vulnerability as a leader is really a strength and a tool,” Jen said. “It’s something that people need to see to be empathetic and understand what it’s like on the other side of the table.”
Self-care is me time!
Self-care for Jen is anytime she can sit back and say, "Self! What do you want to do?" Some of her favorite ways to spend adult time:
- Hiking weekly with a group of women, talking about everything from parenting and meal prep to negotiating a raise
- Riding her Peloton bike
- Engaging in new media formats like podcasts and Clubhouse or watching the “Our Rich Journey” YouTube series
- Using epi.logic skincare for her flawless glow
- Swigging water from her S’well water bottle
- Grabbing flowers from Trader Joe’s
- Instagram: @jenhayeslee
- Clubhouse: @jenhayeslee
- The Bump
You can also follow Amanda (@amandagoetz) and Maria (@mariawest) on Clubhouse.
About Wise Women Wednesday: We ask: How does she do it? Every month we interview women who are juggling it all. This is our space for real access and insights into women who juggle kids/careers/life and seemingly do it all.