This Month came with a huge change for me: I started off at a new workplace! Having spent 14 amazing years in my previous workplace, enough years to call a place your home, I grew enough to feel ready to leave the nest.
My new workplace is absolutely thrilling. It’s a workplace I’m proud to call my new home: a brand that deeply resonates with my values, a firm which is or has been home to my biggest mentors and people I look up to in the professional sphere. A place that welcomed me as my whole self: a Mother, a Student, a Community Builder, a Thought Leader. And that last bit, to me, has grown to become one of my non-negotiables: I’m loud, swift, determined, and at the same time I want flexibility, space and boundaries as prerequisites to bring my best self to the workplace. Grant me this, and I thrive. Deprive me of my morning static cycle, my lunch-break and my early afternoon time with my son, I won’t feel balanced enough to bring my best line of thinking in the meeting. It’s that simple, and at the same time, so fundamental for me. And those people get it.
The first few weeks were hardly all rainbows and sunshines. Too much new stuff to handle, so many new people to connect to, brand new Projects and Stakeholders to build rapport with. Still, I’m putting my best self out there in order to transition toward a different pace and personal modus operandi, while maintaining the same levels of quality time and interaction with my family, as well as my contribution to the Project Mamager Community through our signature initiatives (on which I got great stuff to share in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!)
Is managing such huge amounts of a change at this point in time (and during a pandemic!) a smooth ride for me? No. Am I struggling? I am. Is this worth it? Hell yeah! This month brought an abundance of interaction, a frantic new rhythm and tons of… new noise that needed to be sorted out to be handled. It’s a work in progress. As am I. And that’s OK.
Speaking of Noise, I am ultra proud to welcome aboard the Project Mamager community a Guru of working Motherhood. A personal idol of mine and huge influencer of the Working Parenthood Community, whose amazingly inspiring book “Noise: A Manifesto Modernizing Motherhood” got released last month: Danusia Malina-Derben.
Danusia Malina-Derben is a mother of ten children, and still her own woman! From teen mother to tenured Organizational Behavior and Development academic, and onto award-winning, internationally published leadership expert. She traded academia to head a global firm that fixes corporate boardrooms and develops top talent. Danusia also hosts two critically acclaimed companion podcasts; School for Mothers and School for Fathers.
Danusia is more than my personal idol: she has received praise and recognition from The Sunday Times to Metro, Psychologies to Good Housekeeping. She lives in the South Downs, UK with her family, and their mini-dachshund, Dickie, and it’s a privilege to welcome her on board How She Does It, for her to share her wisdom and insights with the Project Mamager Community!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Danusia Malina-Derben and my motherhood story began when I was a teenager who made it to tenured Organizational Behavior and Development academic, and then onto award-winning, internationally published leadership expert. I traded academia to head my own global firm fixing corporate boardrooms and developing top talent. Hosting two critically acclaimed companion podcasts; School for Mothers and School for Fathers means each week I interview thought leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate powerhouses and celebrities from around the world, which is both impactful and a huge joy. I live in the South Downs of England in a cottage surrounded by vineyards – I’m mum of ten children. They range from grown up, teens and triplets of eight years old.
Stemming from your personal experience, what is the toughest part of being a Mom, and how do you manage it?
The enduring challenge of being a mum is the way society assumes once we’re mothers that who we are as people is swallowed up and subsumed under our role as mother. Being clear about what I want in life as me, not in relation to my children, is a crucial focus I return to as an important commitment.
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?
First of all, I’m a big believer in asking for help. It’s a critical skill that takes practice to master especially as we’re taught to try to be as independent as possible. Having said this, I lean into my inner circle of close family and friends for all kinds of support. I’ve got deep friendships with people from way back as well as newer people I’ve met through platforms like Clubhouse, for instance. The kind of support I appreciate most is people who I can laugh with because humour is such a salve in stressful times!
What’s the No1 Skill (or Ability, or Knowledge) you have found handy in your role as a Mom?
My ability to say No is invaluable. It’s at the bedrock of boundaries which is an aspect of being a mother that I’m pretty sure stands me in good stead to deal with whatever happens. Being able to say No, and to hold that No (when I choose to) means that my kids understand my Yes’s too.
Thinking of a specific example of when I use No as a mother is funny because I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have this tool in my toolbox. It certainly became unpopular as a parenting activity as if it was stifling a child whereas there’s so much evidence that points to the safety that boundaries create for our children. As I consider the role of No in my life I’m struck by the time when two particular publishers asked me to write a nuts and bolts guide to balancing career and kids. Except, I needed to say No to their request. My heart knew, instead, I had to write a book about maternal identity, modernizing motherhood, and unpacking what’s possible for us as women, once we become mothers. My firm No led to a Yes to my new book, NOISE.
What advice do you have for a new Mom?
Assume you’re the expert on who you are, what suits you, and all things to do with your family. Women are taught to be other focused and other referencing far more than trusting themselves. We grow our confidence when we act on our intuition regularly.
THE BOOK THAT ANSWERS: HOW CAN I BE A MOTHER AND STILL BE ME?
Part manifesto, part memoir, part guide; this book unflinchingly flips conventional thinking surrounding motherhood on its head.
From Danusia Malina-Derben, mother of 10, entrepreneur, thought leader, and critically acclaimed podcast host – this is a long-awaited, no-holds-barred book on why our current thinking about modern motherhood is overdue a radical overhaul.
On the one hand, this book is about being a mother, but it’s also about how, once we become mothers, we’re not allowed to be ourselves. NOISE is a powerful dismantling of the barriers and central tenets that hold women back.
This manifesto was built to start a conversation; it’s a call-to-arms to get ideas flowing through our communities, and an invitation to think differently about what we’re repeatedly told about motherhood. An intimate, bold blend of memoir, thought-leadership and research, Danusia provocatively reframes the NOISE around motherhood and repositions mothers as the social change agents our world desperately needs.
“A debrief on motherhood for today” The Telegraph
“Danusia makes motherhood political – giving tangible steps to help shift our societal views on motherhood and make a change.” Eve Rodsky, author of NYT Bestseller Fair Play
“It is a beautiful thing when a book about motherhood is about people; about remembering that mothers are people in their own right. I think we so often forget that. This is a soothing slap in the face reminder.” Hollie McNish, author of Nobody Told Me & Slug