How She Does It | Maria Leontiou

A few days back, I had the chance to reflect upon the year and its blessings (yes, I truly believe 2020 had those!). Today, as I am getting ready to wrap this year’s interview section by welcoming our newest How She Does It guest, I feel truly humbled (and a bit amazed) by how this space is progressing.

When I kick-ed off Project Mamager back in January 2019, I didn’t expect it to grow into an entity of its own, with avid readers, followers and supporters. Driven by a deep uncertainty around my parenting aptitude (call me impostor syndrome!) Project Mamager stemmed from an inner need to prove myself wrong, eager to mentally connect with others on the same boat as my self. I created a channel to vent out about the complexities of early parenthood, while exploring a empowering perspective around parenting competencies.  696 days after my first blog post, and 917 days into Motherhood, this passion project is growing into a definitive part of my life’s journey.

This year, Project Mamager has had a little over 4.000 views, welcomed 2.500 unique visitors (2019: 1900), and got followed by 41 people (2019: 14). My thoughts and writings have reached over 2.500 people (2019: 1.900) spanning in 82 countries across the Globe (2019: 67). I am amazed and grateful that this content continues to get noticed outside Greece, with followers from the United States, United Kingdom, China, Germany, India, South Africa & Canada topping the visitors list! Thank you!

This year has left me undoubtedly richer in social connection. I got to meet and interact with some amazing people: working Moms and Dads who have entrusted me with their precious Parenting stories, inspiring hundreds along the way to embrace their own! I got to chat with people I longed to connect, like the #1 Voice for Working Moms and best-selling author Christina Michael Carter, my favorite Organizational Psychologist and effective communication guru Agnes-Alice Mariakaki, the amazing Debi Yadegari, CEO & founder of Vyllige which is forging parent-friendlier workplaces, and powerhouse working dad and equal pay activist Vidir Ragnarsson!

I continued to receive dozens of messages of support, coming from Parents (Moms and Dads alike!) telling me to keep working on this space. To not be intimidated by the pandemic. To keep forging the working parent’s job description, one skill at a time. 2020 was all about Gratitude, Resilience, Consistency, Navigating Change, and Crafting Solutions. I feel humbled by your response, and remain true to my promise to keep this up. Having said all that, off to our outstanding featured Mom of December, Maria Leontiou!

Maria Leontiou is my friend, and getting to write this sentence fills my soul with grace. Maria is my friend. Not because I have known her for years (which I have). Not because we have connected at a deeper level (which we have). Not because we make room and time for meaningful conversations (which we do). Not because I am a fan of her work around Business Innovation (which I am). It’s because I don’t have one shed of a doubt when I get to write down these four words. Maria is my friend. And, being able to acknowledge this, nourishes a precious feeling: I am truly privileged to have a friend like Maria.

Maria Leontiou, Business Innovation Expert

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a senior executive with over 17 years of managerial experience and a track record of operations streamlining, project management, business development and corporate innovation. Engineer by degree, Financial Services expert by profession, innovation enthusiast by nature, I help organizations navigate through a disruptive environment to ensure business relevance in an exponentially changing landscape.

Motivated by an inner need for change, I love building things from scratch. I am a public speaker at international FinTech conferences, mentor to wannabe startups, and enjoy both creating and sharing interesting content on digital media to engage with like-minded professionals. Being a strong believer in “ideas worth spreading” I was a member of the TEDxAthens organizing team for 6 years, and I am now a Board Member of Ethelon, a nonprofit organization, promoting the concept of volunteerism in Greek society.

Proud Momma of 14 y.o. Elena and always in motion, I make sure I remain on the move both physically and mentally!

Stemming from your personal experience, what is the toughest part of being a Mom, and how do you manage it?

The realization that you are prone to error, and these errors affect your child and the type of person they get to become. Realizing this is the toughest part that every Mom should accept and live with, and at the same time do her best so that those errors don’t affect their kids in a huge way, in their path towards growing.

I try to pass the right messages, become the best possible role-model, but those weak or human moments (like when I am impatient) are so prominent to the child. Those errors of judgement worry me when I contemplate how deeply they could affect my daughter and her potential.

Who is (are) your go-to person(s) when you need support as a Mother? What type of support are you mostly in need of?

I have an amazing friend-mom, a deeply intellectual person. She’s the mom of my daughter’s best friend. She is open-minded, and our viewpoints are aligned. We talk a lot about our struggles and experiences. When my late mother was still around, this friend was my go-to person. She’s my reference point, and I reach out to her with my questions and thoughts.

I like the fact that my entourage of parents are there for me. They form my first line of support when in need of advice. Of course I always filter what I hear, but I use my entourage as reference. We exchange knowledge and experience. We offer each other and abundance of emotional support and mutual understanding. 

What’s the No1 Skill (or Ability, or Knowledge) you have found handy in your role as a Mom?

Take a deep breath, step back and check-in with your brain before answering. Be patient and process all incoming messages. For instance, now that my daughter has entered puberty (and given that I was raised with a multitude of topics considered taboo) I try hard not to pass down social dilemmas that puzzled the previous generations.

Trying to let go of my own limiting beliefs and catching up with the modern ecosystem, I want my child to think of me as the go-to person for advice. I don’t want her to be afraid to bring me the tough questions. I want her to realize that I’m there to share my experience, having learnt from my own mistakes.

I want to avoid passing down my own dogma or bias, and I try to give her the context so that she forms her own voice and understanding of what’s going on. Stepping back to reflect in order to respond in the most open-minded way possible, is my best bet in supporting my daughter so that she grasps how some topics are important, and at the same time have a firm ground over the fact that I care deeply about her safety and well-being.

What advice do you have for a new Mom?

Not even the Pope is error-free! Trust your instinct; listen to that tiny voice inside of you. Your gut feeling is your strongest parenting compass. The North Star of every Mom is her ability to help grow a healthy child, with mistakes being a regular part of the agenda!

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