WHO SHE IS: Amy Norman, Co-CEO Little Passports
SUCCESS STORY: Building and launching Little Passports, a kid’s multi-media company
WORK SCHEDULE: 24/7 between kids and running the company; Actual days in the office: 3
KIDS: Cole, 7 and Will, 4
SANITY VICE: Mid-afternoon chocolate!
How she got here…
I went to Mount Holyoke College where I studied english and economics. My first job out of school was at KPMG working as an Auditor, and later in the Valuation Practice. I was also getting a Masters in accounting at night. I struggled to feel passionate about what I was doing but it has been a fantastic foundation for a business career.
After five years I left to get a joint MBA from Wharton and Masters in International Studies at the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. It was two of the most fun years of my life, and the MBA opened a lot of doors for me. I worked as a strategy consultant for two years before moving to California to work at eBay. It was there that I met my co-founder, Stella Ma. EBay also turned out to be a critical network when we launched Little Passports and started fundraising.
Throughout my career I had enjoyed my work, but I hadn’t LOVED it. When I had my first child it became clear to me that I wanted to continue to build my career but that to feel good about leaving my children at home, the work needed to feel meaningful to me and I needed to believe that what I was doing was having a positive impact in the world.
That’s really when I took the leap to co-found Little Passports. There have definitely been sacrifices along the way – from salary to the fact that I can never truly turn off – but I absolutely love my job at Little Passports and being my own boss gives me the flexibility to be the mom I want to be. I’m very grateful for what Little Passports has allowed me to do with my life.
5 Questions for Amy…
1. Tell us about Little Passports and its mission.
I started Little Passports with my best friend Stella because we wanted to build a generation of global citizens. From that idea came Little Passports, a kid’s multi-media company with two existing subscriptions that foster excitement about the world around us. Our monthly subscriptions follow the adventures of characters Sam and Sofia as they travel throughout the World and the 50 States on their GPS-enabled scooter. Each month, kids receive a special package in the mail with hands-on activities about different cultures, major landmarks, historic events, and more. Each package also includes access to online games.
2. I’m fascinated that you job-share the CEO position with your co-founder. How does this work and what are the keys to its success? Does this arrangement help with building in a little flexibility for yourselves?
Stella and I have a very open and trusting relationship. Without trust the CO-CEO position would not work. We each contribute our individual strengths to the business, and run different functional areas with clear lines of responsibility. I run finance and marketing and Stella runs product, operations and customer support. We share Investor Relations and decision making around the company’s overall strategy. Little Passport’s overall structure and our shared values create more flexibility on a day-to-day basis than the job sharing.
3. Many women who start businesses create the work culture they want to work in. What kind of culture are you creating at Little Passports?
Stella and I believe very strongly in building a culture around trust and transparency. Our Co-CEO relationship is founded in trust so it’s a natural extension to our employees. What this means on a day to day basis is that our team works from home several days a week, we don’t believe in face time, and we have an unlimited vacation policy. In terms of transparency, we try to communicate as much information about the company’s successes and struggles as we can. We have a very motivated, productive workforce as a result of this culture.
4. What’s your favorite working mom time management tip?
For me, it’s all about prioritizing. I am clear on what my top three priorities are for the month. If a particular task or to do isn’t one of my top priorities, I have gotten comfortable with it not getting done. This “top three priorities” framework has really helped me decide what are the most important things for me to get done each day.
5. What’s the media missing about working moms, in your opinion?
I think we are actually at a fortunate time when the media is paying quite a bit of attention to working mothers. That said, the focus today is largely on women working in Fortune 500 companies. I would love to see the small company/entrepreneur path highlighted more. From my perspective, founding Little Passports has been life-changing through the flexibility and empowerment it offers.