I interviewed Catherine Harris, Chairwoman of Harris Farm Markets last week. We’ll be running that interview in the next edition of the Business Chicks mag, Latte (which incidentally is shaping up to be a bumper issue. If you’re not yet a Business Chicks member become one here so you can receive an annual subscription.)
Anyways, I digress. There are at least twenty reasons I could give you as to why I think Catherine is incredible – she chairs a business with annual revenues of over $300 million; she works in the business with three of her five sons (yep, no typo there – she has five sons) and her husband, David; she’s on too many boards to mention; and during our photo shoot at their Potts Point Sydney store called the staff by their first names (they have over 1000 employees.)
Catherine’s mum was another incredible lady, Mary Rossi. She was the first Aussie woman to have her own television show in the 50s and then went on to found her own business, Mary Rossi Travel. But here’s the clincher. Mary had ten children. Again, no typo.
Now as the mother of a mere two little tackers, I sat dumbfounded across the table from Catherine as she recalled how her mum worked full time and ran a household of ten children (plus gave back to the community – the Premier at the time, Neville Wran, asked her to be on his Women’s Advisory Committee, among other community initiatives she was a part of.) It wasn’t appropriate for me to ask during our interview last week, but the real question I wanted to ask was this: “ok, but HOW did she do it? What did she specifically do to make it work?”
It’s the same question I find myself asking of other super successful working women who have the majority responsibility for running their families/homes. I just want to get the inside scoop into what things they did differently to make life work. To make it a bit easier.
I’ve recently had my second child and so far so good. I’m managing. I could do with some more sleep, but I’m managing pretty well. Friends (mostly those without kids) are the ones now asking me “yeah, but HOW do you do it?” so I pondered that for a minute this morning and came up with a few ways that I’m making the juggle work.
1) I don’t do housework. Well I do a bit of it (tidying up, packing/unpacking the dishwasher and picking my hubby’s clothes off the floor is inevitable) but as a rule I try to hold back and not do it, which in itself is a discipline. I certainly don’t clean (not that I have anything against it – I actually find it quite therapeutic – but it’s just a stupid way for me to spend my time.) So, I have a housekeeper/cleaner come in three mornings a week to organise us.
2) I don’t strive for perfection. This is hard for me but I’m training myself not to correct my typos, spelling, grammar etc when communicating internally with my team on email/skype. Just saves time. I also don’t write lengthy messages. If something needs length then it’s better to talk. I try find as few words as possible to respond. Then I hit delete and move onto the next message. Obviously communication with our members, partners etc requires more polish, but the same rule – short and sweet where possible – applies there too.
3) I do all my shopping online. Each week I do a grocery shop online and a shop with the local fruit & veg market online (sorry Catherine – you guys have got to go online!) and it saves me a heap of time. I have lists saved in my profile and shopping for the family is generally a 5-10 minute task.
4) I have amazing family support. Love my mum. Love my mother-in-law. They save my life each week with the support they give us. But if I didn’t have them around I’d hire someone else to fill their shoes (sounds cold and mercenary but it’s not – I’m just trying to say that if someone else can do a job at say $30 an hour, I’d do better outsourcing it.)
How about you? Tell us your secrets and tips so we can all go on to live happily ever after. And have our own television shows. And businesses. And ten children.