WHO SHE IS: Lynn Perkins, CEO, UrbanSitter, an online service that helps parents find & book babysitters through friends
SUCCESS STORY: Serial entrepreneur
WORK SCHEDULE: Full-time & then some….
KIDS: Ben (5), Will (5), Jack (4 months)
SANITY VICE: A good cappuccino in the morning and watching Homeland while on the elliptical machine
How she got here…
After college I worked for a large real estate investment firm in Chicago. Although I liked the job, I knew that I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. As I searched for jobs, I came across positions that would be ideal for friends of mine, so I began placing friends at startup companies. My roommate in Chicago happened to introduce me to two engineers in the Bay Area who were building a job board site. I ended up joining that startup, then working at two additional startups before shifting back into real estate. Most recently, I worked for a boutique hotel company on a team that acquired, renovated and sold hotels. I loved the combination of business and creative work. When my twins were two years old, I decided to take a break. While taking time off, I found myself drawn to startup ideas that revolved around the parenting space, specifically making life easier for parents. And now, here I am at UrbanSitter.
5 Questions for Lynn
1. You have three boys and you run a company. What kind of flexibility do you build into your day or week for yourself… or can you?!
We are a venture-backed startup with ambitious goals and plans, so truthfully I don’t have a lot of flexibility in a typical work day or week. However, because we are a small startup company, I can occasionally organize my schedule around volunteering in my child’s classroom for a couple of hours or to take one of my sons to the doctor. While I take advantage of this infrequently, I appreciate the option for flexibility, which is less accepted within large corporations.
2. There’s such a connection between good child care and being able to do your best work. How does that factor in at UrbanSitter?
As busy parents, my co-founders and I saw a need — we were finding it time consuming and difficult to find a trusted babysitter who was actually available when we needed the help. One of the areas where we see demand is from working moms when their nanny is sick, and we have a lot of moms and dads who use UrbanSitter to cover when they have project-based work. We know that parents need flexibility in their lives to make it all work, and our service is designed to help support that.
3. Many women who start businesses create the work culture they want to work in. What kind of culture are you creating at your company?
We are building a work environment where our team can be real and feel comfortable sharing ideas and feedback with one another. One of our core values is, “Be better than you think you are.” We encourage people to seek inspiration, internally in the company and externally, to create great stuff. Many of us have children or after work hobbies and interests. We leave in time to be home for dinner and the bedtime routine. Frequently, we are back online once the children are asleep, but there is an understanding that people have family commitments.
4. What’s your favorite working mom time management tip?
This time management tip is a little bit silly, but it’s a trick that works for me. When I returned to work after my twins were born, I felt like I was constantly showing up places with sticky handprints or baby spit-up on my clothing. So, after I got ready for work in the morning, I would put on a robe over my clothing to wear as I got the kids ready for their day. I’d take the robe off as I was running out the door, so I wouldn’t be covered in baby gunk. My other time management tip is to prepare everything the night before. Mornings are rushed, so getting everything ready the night before lowers stress and gives you more time to focus on the kids. This may not save you time, but it will set your day off on the right foot.
5. What advice do you live by as a working mom?
My friend’s mom once said to her, “You are a human being, not a human doing.” I think about that a lot when I’m over-committed or feel frazzled. It reminds me to slow down or take some things off my plate.
A piece of advice from my mom is “Don’t try to be perfect, try to be excellent.” I am my own toughest critic and this reminds me that it’s not realistic to do everything perfectly, but excellence is achievable.