WHO SHE IS: Lindsey Gladstone, Editor and Director for DailyCandy Kids
WORK SCHEDULE: Full time, 5 days a week,
KIDS: Nora, 4 ¾ (and that ¾ is very important)
and Lila, 3
SANITY VICE: Who has time for a vice?
MB: Walk us through how you got to this point in your career.
LG: I graduated from Northwestern with a theatre degree and a three-day-a-week sales gig at Banana Republic. Yes, I owned a safari-inspired two-piece belted suit. You did, too. Admit it.
But a few years out of school, I realized that my true passion wasn’t performance, it was the written word. Through luck (and a friend in human resources), I landed a job as a copywriter at a consulting firm that did back-end computer systems integration. Businesses were just beginning to launch websites with e-commerce, and this company was complementing the backend build with a front-end design team to express brand and voice. With a very unimpressive portfolio of “Sex and the City”-style essays and no real “writing” experience, I managed to convince the creative lead that I was a digital copywriter. And that’s how my writing career began.
I hopped over a year or so later to a digital advertising agency and spent the beginning of the aughts writing banner copy, concepting interactive experiences, and learning how to speak the emerging language of digital brands. But the whole time, what I loved most about the Internet was an email I got to get in my inbox every morning from DailyCandy. When I heard the company was launching a Chicago edition, I sent a blind, earnest note to the founder professing my love for both her brand and my city—and she bit. When her reply came into my inbox, I wept. Not kidding. I was hired as the Chicago editor and stayed in that position until I left to host a television show, The Shopping Detective.
After having my first daughter five years ago, I returned to DailyCandy to oversee its Kids content—local to national. All of it from the comfort of my home office. A reason to weep again.
MB: From an outsider’s perspective, you have such a fun job. Is it as fun as it looks?
LG: That is a loaded question because it’s still work. And work isn’t always supposed to be fun. But the fact that it’s my responsibility to explore, discover, and connect with emerging designers, brands, and businesses is awesome. And yes, very fun. I am aware that not everyone can say that about their jobs. I consider myself lucky.
MB: You work from home. How long have you done this, how did it come about, and what are the pros and cons?
LG: I have been working from home since I joined DailyCandy in 2003(ish). The city editors all have remote, home offices. When I returned in 2008 to oversee Kids it was just natural that I would continue to work from home, since the main office is in NYC and moving wasn’t in the cards for my family. I’ve been doing it so long, I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to go into an office. The pros: I can wear whatever I want, I don’t worry about pimples anymore, I can schedule the phone/cable/washing machine repair visit for the middle of the day, and, of course, I get to see my kids right at closing time—or whenever I want if I can swing it. There’s no commute to daycare, no rush to make dinner, no compressed quality time at night, I can easily duck out to be the mystery visitor at school or attend a midday recital. However, believe it or not, there are cons. I miss human interaction. I feel like I have to work twice as hard to stay involved with what’s happening at the office in NYC, and because my office is my home, I never really leave work. My computer is always on. I have to pull myself away from email on the weekend. Although I suppose with mobile technology these days that is something we all struggle with. On a personal note, my husband and I have had to figure out how to balance our roles. We both work full-time jobs—mine just happens to be at home. We have to work hard to make sure we aren’t abusing the fact that I’m here and even out the responsibilities when it comes to the kids and managing our home and lives. Not easy, but we try to maintain an awareness about it.
MB: How did you react to Yahoo banning all work-from-home-only employee situations?
LG: My first reaction was one of disappointment. While I understand Marissa Mayer is not the poster child for all women/parent workplace issues, it was so disheartening to have that mandate come from a woman in a leadership role. But then came all of the articles – and the comments – and it was, I think, an incredible silver lining. We are starting to have a national discussion about making work work – for parents, for families, for women. I have been so fortunate at DailyCandy to work for managers that never questioned my ability to produce, lead, or grow despite the fact that I work from home. I am so fortunate that when I say I can’t travel on certain dates because my husband is traveling and there needs to be a parent at home it isn’t seen as a mark against me. The key in my mind is flexibility – and the Yahoo decision felt like it left no room for that.
MB: I remember Lisa Belkin (former NYT, now Huffington Post) telling a crowd that she would dress up to go to work in her home office as a way to communicate to her kids that she wasn’t available to them, even though she was home. Do you do something similar?
LG: Oh, Lisa Belkin is so smart. I adore her writing and insight. Before kids I used to leave every morning to get coffee and then re-enter to start my day. Sadly, since kids I’m not as disciplined about that. And I certainly don’t get “dressed” every day. I love me some sweatpants—not going to lie. I do find though that as my kids get older, it’s getting harder and harder to get them to respect my work space. The other day I was on a video conference call with the edit and marketing team and my boogery 3-year-old walked in, jumped in my lap, and curled up in my arms. At first, I thought, “Oh, no!” And then I remembered that fantastic image of the Italian MEP attending a European Parliament session with her baby in a sling sleeping on her chest. Yes, we can! She needed a hug; mom needed to work. The only disruption was an “awww” from a co-worker on the other end of the video call.
MB: Working from home can be so productive but also isolating. What steps do you take to ensure you are part of the team?
LG: I agree. I find it to be incredibly productive. My co-workers often say they can’t get over how quickly I produce content. I remind them that there is no water cooler chat in my home office. Then again there is no water cooler chat, so I do get lonely, no doubt. But I have also found that with video conferencing (thank you Google Hangout!) and rapid-pace instant messaging I can still feel incredibly close to many of my remote co-workers.
MB: What’s the media missing about working moms, in your opinion?
LG: I don’t know if it’s what they’re missing as much as it’s where they seem stuck. Get over the mommy wars, people. Stop pitting working moms against stay-at-home moms. And really, let’s evolve the conversation so that we are talking about working parents—both moms and dads.
MB: What’s your biggest challenge as a working mom and what do you do to address it?
LG: Balance. I say that and I mean it, but I’m not really completely sure what it refers to. Does it mean time for work and my kids? Does it mean time for me separate from my work? Does it mean time for me and my spouse versus me and my kids? It means all these things at once, I think. I try to address it by being conscious of it. By not beating myself up if I miss something—either at work or with my kids. By talking about it—a lot. Maybe too much. I think awareness is the first step to achieving it. I’m not sure if I’ve made it past step one, but I’m hopeful someday I will.