The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount

Reimagining your career with multipreneur Blessing Adesiyan

October 29, 2020 Portia Mount Season 1 Episode 4
The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount
Reimagining your career with multipreneur Blessing Adesiyan
Show Notes Transcript

“Within two weeks of leaving the workforce, I made my salary for the year” - Blessing Adesiyan

Blessing Adesiyan is a mom of three and founder of the popular platform Mother Honestly and her new venture Villo. In this episode we explore what led her to leave her corporate career as a successful engineer to found not one but two startups focused on transforming the workplace for working mothers. We learn how she manages a busy life as an entrepreneur, raising three children and the advice she wants all working mothers to know. 

Have a question or comment? Email us at [email protected].

Topics discussed in this episode:

Leaving a corporate career

  • I did not want to give up my spot at the table
  • I wasn't really aligning my ambition with my personal goals 
  • I felt like I had no choice 

Making entrepreneurship your career

  • I spend a lot of time putting that roadmap together
  • Be strategic about how you're making the switch
  • Within two weeks of leaving the workforce, I made my salary for the year 

Integrating motherhood with your career ambitions

  • America is very behind when it comes to parental leave
  • We're gonna leave our careers to go touch groceries?
  • There are so many systemic challenges women face in this country 

Resources Mentioned 

Mother Honestly (link)
Villo (link)
Eve Rodsky (link)
Mom Congress (link)
Moms in Office (link)
The woman who wrote the viral 1,000 word job posting (link)
Calm (link)
Headspace (link)
Motherly Podcast (link)
The Daily Podcast (link)
How I Built This with Guy Raz (link)
Raising the Bar with Alli and Adrian (link)
Career Contessa Podcast (link)

Transcript Ep4 - Blessing Adesiyan 

This text has been edited for clarity. Please don’t quote without listening to the recorded interview.

Portia Mount  0:33  

We have got to set the stage here Blessing. Your company Mother Honestly just finished hosting the caregiving and work summit with over 1 200 registrants. You recently left your corporate job, which we have got to talk about. And you've just launched your second company. We also need to talk about the fact that you are a mother of three, two of whom are what under two? 

Blessing Adesiyan

Correct. 

Portia Mount  1:03  

I need to ask this question. Do you sleep? When do you sleep?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:06  

I think that at this stage we can all agree that sleep is overrated. I honestly truly believe that we are all operating at peak capacity. 

Portia Mount  1:19  

Yes. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:20  

If you are getting eight hours of sleep right now, I will need to come check your temperature and make sure that you're actually fine. What I'm hearing from a lot of moms is that we are either waking up early in the morning or we are burning the midnight candle. You and I are testaments that you're in a closet right now, I am in somewhat of a closet. 

Portia Mount  1:41  

It is weird. It is crazy if people could see us, we don't know what our kids are doing, you're trying to put the baby down, I'm trying to keep, my five year old has decided to be on nightclub hours, like she refuses to go to sleep, she used to be a great sleeper, she has zero interest in sleep anymore. So the world is upside down, right?

Blessing Adesiyan  2:02  

It's worse than upside down. I feel like we're in a different world. And like we need a different kind of oxygen.

Portia Mount  2:10  

We do, we do. While we're gonna get all into that, because I think, when we have been talking a lot online about what's happening to women right now. And I know with both of your companies, Mother Honestly and Villo, you are trying to not only create a conversation, but to actually bring real solutions to the problem. But let's talk about you first. So I want to start with something simple, which is how has your definition of success changed throughout your career?

Blessing Adesiyan  2:47  

Wow, that's not simple, right? So that's a trick question. 

Portia Mount  2:51  

It's not a trick question.

Blessing Adesiyan 

When I started off and you know this, my background is in chemical engineering, I was one of those people that I came to this country as an immigrant from Nigeria. So you know, I have this mandate to go to school, get a good degree, whether it's in engineering or as a doctor or a lawyer.

Portia Mount

Immigrant families, right?

Blessing Adesiyan

Exactly, don't be an accountant, because you're not gonna make enough money. 

Blessing Adesiyan  3:27  

So just focus, focus on engineering, doctor and law, and even law, probably not, right, let's just do sciences. And so, you know, that was my path. And even though I knew I was creative, you know, my sister, and I would, when we're young would, come up with business ideas, where we make all the money, we sell things, and we make all this money, and I end up spending all the money. So it was one of those like, in childhood growing up, and I just never thought about entrepreneurship as a path, because I have this path that was already created for me. So I ended up going to school, I went to University of Florida, and I graduated in chemical engineering. And, you know, I've worked for a lot of companies during my time in corporate America. I worked for DuPont for BASF. I actually also worked with Microsoft and HP. A lot of people don't know that. So I spent a lot of time working for Fortune 100 companies. And during my career, I still was hell bent on getting more degrees. So I went back to school while I was working, I got my master's in energy management, because I really believed in sustainability. And I wanted to be a champion for that and I never used it.

Portia Mount  4:55  

It's so timely right now, given what's happening  with climate change, and I suspect if you ever wanted to go back into that field, you would find a different world, right? Then it was when you first finished that degree. 

Blessing Adesiyan  5:12  

Absolutely. So I ended up doing energy consulting across Europe, Middle East and Asia for OCP, Morocco, which is the largest phosphate producing company in the world. And so I did that and I really enjoyed my time in corporate America. But then what I started seeing was women in the workforce, in the workplace, and our experiences. So I started off with a blog, you know, just kind of writing a blog. 

Portia Mount  5:43  

The working mother journal.

Blessing Adesiyan  5:46  

This is how we met, right?

Portia Mount  5:47  

This is how we met, like, eight years ago or something, right?

Blessing Adesiyan  5:52  

It's about my daughter's age. So my daughter is almost 12. So yeah. 

Portia Mount  5:56  

My son is almost 11 so it would have been like a decade ago. 

Blessing Adesiyan  6:01  

I know. We go way back. 

Portia Mount  6:02  

We go way back.  

Blessing Adesiyan  6:05  

So I spent time just writing about my experiences. And looking back, I kind of wish I kept that blog, because I started talking about the problems that we still face today, the challenges working mothers face and how we can reimagine something different for us at home and in the workplace. And at that point, it was to me, it was just about building my career, and I did build my career into a management level position where I ended up going back to school for an MBA as well finished my MBA, so I was on this field career track. But at the same time, I was being pulled by these forces to really be a champion for women. And that happened two years ago, when I had my son, and for the first time in 10 years I was able to go on a paid maternity leave.

Portia Mount  7:00  

So you didn't take maternity leave with your daughter?

Blessing Adesiyan  7:02  

I didn't take maternity leave with my daughter, because I was literally on the go, I literally had her and went back to work. And so with the second one, I was fortunate to work for a company that allowed me to take 16 weeks off. And so it sounds like heaven, but even that is still not enough, right?

Portia Mount  7:23  

It's not enough. When you look at what's happening in other countries where women get a year of paid leave, three or four months, it's absolutely not enough. 

Blessing Adesiyan  7:35  

We are very behind when it comes to parental leave. So I took that parental leave. And it really created this opportunity for me to bond with my kids in a way that I didn't have before. So I spent a lot of time with my family, with my kids. And we did a lot of mommy and me music and it was really a relaxing time. Picture a millennial that has been focused and dedicated to a career for over 10 years, and really just having this 16 weeks to yourself to heal properly. To have a baby and feed that baby, bathe that baby. That was a gift to me. And I really enjoyed that.

Portia Mount  8:20  

I want to ask you, did it surprise you? Because what I'm hearing is you were on this go, go, go track. You have your first child and you're still go, go, go. And probably from the outside, it looks quite glamorous, right? Because you're traveling all over the world, maybe staying in nice hotels? 

Blessing Adesiyan  8:37  

Absolutely, business class. 

Portia Mount  8:39  

Business class, everything right? Going to Dubai, going to London, you're going to Shanghai. I'm wondering, though, when you took the 16 weeks, if you were surprised at how fulfilling that was and how good it was to slow down?

Blessing Adesiyan  8:58  

Oh, absolutely. I mean, it felt like I was a train that was going at, you know, 300 miles per hour. And I literally just took a detour to rest. And so I felt completely reenergized, I felt renewed, I had a renewed sense of purpose. And at that point I really started thinking about my experience, you know, right before my parental leave, and how I was just chasing this next thing, right? This ambition, which is a good thing, right? I pride myself in being ambitious and being courageous, and I go after that ambition. But at the same time, what I failed to realize was that I wasn't really aligning my ambition with my personal goals for my family and for myself, right? I didn't really create that time to say how do I take care of myself? How do I take care of my family? How do I take care of things that are important to me? And that slow down really allowed me to bring those things back in and really think about my ambition in a different way. I wasn't telling myself that I wanted to slow down. In fact, I told myself, I wanted to accelerate my career. But I wanted to accelerate it in a way that made sense to me and made sense to this new child that I had. And so that was how Mother Honestly came to be. Because I started thinking about all the ambitious women in my life. And I wanted to make sure that those women were living a healthy, full and productive life, by the way, just on this 300 miles per hour train ride, and not taking that time for themselves and not taking care of their family and not doing all the things that they really care about. And so that was kind of how Mother Honestly started, it was how can we propel women forward in motherhood in a way that makes sense to them, in a way that, you know, whether I choose to continue my career path, or I choose to take a detour or I choose to pause my career, or restart my career, I am doing that for me. And it makes sense for my personal situation, and it makes sense for my family. So that was where Mother Honestly started. Looking back, it was honestly a naive position. Because what I know now is that it's not as simple as saying, go ahead and be ambitious, and align everything and you know, map out all these plans, because there are so many systemic, you know, challenges yet women face in this country that makes all of those things impossible.

Portia Mount  11:34  

So it sounds like you had almost a values shift, when you had your second child, and that time for reflection helped you to and a reason why I think this is worth articulating, because when Jennifer and I wrote, Kick Some Glass together, and we talked to so many women, and a big pivotal point for many of them, sometimes it was having a child, sometimes it was, it's usually a life event, right? Like they may have gotten divorced or something happened. But they had a sort of shift where they said, this is what's really important to me. And they clarified those values. And then it was about how do I align my ambition and my values with how I also want to make a living and how I also want to go forward in the world. That reflection time that you talked about Blessing is so important, whether you do that reflection after having a baby, or you do it at some other point, because not every woman is able to have a child or desire to have a child. But what I'm hearing that I think is so powerful about what you're articulating is that reflection time, gaining that clarity about what it is that was really important to you, and then saying, okay, now let me go and do those things that kind of better match up with who I am right now. 

Blessing Adesiyan  13:02  

Absolutely. I think that a lot of you know, as women, especially mothers, we rarely have time to catch our breath.

Portia Mount  13:12  

I totally agree with that. 

Blessing Adesiyan  13:13  

We rarely have time to just sit in our thoughts, and really take time to figure out our roadmap. That is something that men are so good at. I was speaking to reporters this morning and one of the things that we talked about was, we've seen a lot of women dropping out of the workforce as a result of this pandemic. And really, the question is, how are they making these decisions? Right? Is this just the back of the napkin calculation that says, you know, it makes financial sense for you to stay home? Right, or for me to stay home?

Portia Mount  13:50  

Because sometimes it's a math problem, right? Who makes the most money? What is the cost, the opportunity cost of one or both people working or one person working? What is childcare cost? What does homeschooling take, and you sort of put that equation together and there's an answer that comes out at the end. 

Blessing Adesiyan  14:09  

Absolutely. 

Portia Mount  14:10  

Sometimes it's good. And sometimes it's not so good, though, right?

Blessing Adesiyan  14:12  

And what we're seeing is that it doesn't even matter if it's good or bad. It's the woman that stays home.

Portia Mount  14:16  

It's the woman that stays home.

Blessing Adesiyan  14:19  

And so it begs the question of, can we take some time to reflect on our past and where we're coming from, and where we see ourselves going, understanding the challenges that we currently face as women, as mothers, understanding homeschooling, virtual school, what have you. Can we sit in our thoughts and really map out strategically how we want to come out of this pandemic right, personally, not even looking at what does my husband think, what does my kids think, what do they need, but for me, what do I need and taking that and matching that to the values of your family and the needs of your family. Because I think if we actually do that, most women realize that there might be a different path. I'm not saying that the path is not going to be that you quit the workforce for now. 

Portia Mount  15:12  

Sure. 

Blessing Adesiyan  15:12  

I'm saying that you might find a surprising answer.

Portia Mount  15:16  

Yeah, I think that's right. If I think about the conversations I've been having over the last few months, there are some women who could slow down, if they could spend that time really reflecting. And I would argue that the time will never be given to you, you have to take it. 

Blessing Adesiyan  15:41  

Absolutely. 

Portia Mount  15:41  

And even if you're sitting in a closet, and you put your kids to sleep, and you have your journal, and you're doing it 15 minutes a night, for the next two months that you have to take that time. And oftentimes, we're not good at that, because we're used to output, right, we're used to giving everything to everybody. But I agree that I do think many women would make different choices about what it is they want to do. So speaking of choices, you recently then decided to leave your corporate life, which by all accounts and appearances was on the upward trajectory, you're stacking up degrees, stacking up working for blue chip companies, on the fast track. I remember when you posted that you were thinking about making a big change, and then you posted I've made this big change. And so I wonder if you can just talk a little bit about the thought process for doing that, because I'm sure a lot of listeners, they've got a side hustle, and they want to do something else. Or they just want to change jobs, or they want to switch industries. So talk a little bit about the thought process, the decision making process you went through to leave your corporate job and become a full time entrepreneur?

Blessing Adesiyan  17:14  

Absolutely. So it wasn't an easy decision. As hopefully you've imagined. Everything started with the pandemic. And I'd like to say that, we've seen a lot of women being forced out of the workforce. And I honestly don't want to say that I left the workforce, I think I was probably one of those women that was also forced out. But thank God right that I also have a degree.   

Portia Mount  17:39  

Where you're saying you're forced out? 

Blessing Adesiyan  17:41  

I mean, not necessarily in a way that oh, you're fired. 

Portia Mount  17:45  

Overt, right? 

Blessing Adesiyan  17:45  

You don't have a choice. Right? 

Portia Mount  17:48  

Talk more about that. Because... 

Blessing Adesiyan

Yeah, absolutely.

Portia Mount

...women are, maybe feel that and don't know that other women are experiencing that, right? If you're subtle, right? It's not overt, like, you're fired.

Blessing Adesiyan  18:00  

Nobody's going to come to you and say you're fired. Get out of the way.

Portia Mount  18:03  

Right. 

Blessing Adesiyan  18:03  

You know, when the pandemic started, what we started seeing was, you know, a lot of women basically having this increased output at home, right?

Portia Mount  18:14  

Right, unpaid labor. There's just a lot of cleaning, it's doctor's appointments, and grocery shopping. And it's everything, right?

Blessing Adesiyan  18:20  

It's everything. And so these are all disproportionately on women. And then....

Portia Mount  18:30  

Was that happening to you?

Blessing Adesiyan  18:32  

So that was not happening to me to a high degree, right. So one, I'm fortunate to have a nanny that comes and helps the kids. I'm fortunate enough to have a husband that supports my career, my ambition, and we support each other's career. So it wasn't as horrible. But at the end of the day, moms still have a special place in the hearts of their kids. That's just giving, you know when you're breastfeeding, right?

Portia Mount  18:57  

Right. 

Blessing Adesiyan  19:19  

I cannot wait to emphatically say that. Indeed. It is a full time job. One of the research shows that breastfeeding you spend about 1970 hours per year.

Portia Mount  19:32  

No wonder I was so exhausted when I breastfed for like 15 months.

Blessing Adesiyan  19:35  

Absolutely. So now think about having three kids breastfeeding. And you know, running Mother Honestly, which it's better than as a side project. And then with just the pandemic, it literally, we saw a huge uptick in the amount of women that really wanted solutions and wanted answers to everything they do experience. 

Portia Mount  19:40  

And it's become a huge forum for just women to engage is what I have noticed. 

Blessing Adesiyan  20:00  

Absolutely, absolutely. So we also continue to have this huge dialogue around what it means to be a mother in the 21st century, what it means to be more than a mother and an ambitious woman in this current situation, and how we can support women in their careers, in their business, in their home. And what we're finding is that they're basically different sets of challenges. And these challenges require solutions from Wall Street from Washington and from their husbands or their partners. And so there's a whole bunch of different things that were happening at the same time. But anyways, I want to go back to leaving the workforce.

Portia Mount  20:05  

Right. And your decision making process, because you were saying that you use the word forced out that I sense you don't mean it in quite the literal way that maybe our listeners are thinking? 

Blessing Adesiyan  20:39  

Absolutely. So when we say forced out, we're not saying, you know, every one of those women got a pink slip, right? What we're seeing is that these women were left with no choice. I felt like I had no choice because I was, I had so many things that I needed to do at home with my kids. And then I have so many things, statistics is now showing that more people are working over 40%. Right? So if you were working hundred percent before, now that you're at home, it's 140%. So the expectation was to now do more, right?

Portia Mount  21:32  

Were you find yourself doing more? 

Blessing Adesiyan  21:34  

I was doing way more. 

Portia Mount  21:35  

Were you working, because I will tell you, I find that I'm on far more meetings because no one can just walk by your office, I'm on more Zoom meetings, and those days get longer. And then there's homework for the kids. And there's, you know, meal prep and lunches and bedtime. And by the time you're done you're exhausted, you have had a 14 hour day, and you're like, what have I been doing? 

Blessing Adesiyan  22:02  

Absolutely. And so I felt that way, because I was working around the clock for my full time job. 

Portia Mount  22:09  

Right. 

Blessing Adesiyan  22:09  

Working around the clock for Mother Honestly, working around the clock to breastfeed and, you know, keep the kids happy, and so it just became unsustainable. And I started thinking to myself, if I'm a champion for me, women, if I'm supposed to support being the voice for working mothers right now that I'm supposed to be, I just cannot continue down this path. Right? And so I had a few conversations with my company around, you know, hey, I'd love more flexibility.

Portia Mount  22:43  

Companies are dying to keep diversity. And I know I myself advise women, hey, before you quit, oftentimes companies, especially right now, will be far more flexible than maybe they would have even six or eight months ago. So I'm wondering if you had that conversation? 

Blessing Adesiyan  23:11  

Yeah, I did have that conversation. And what we're finding at Mother Honestly, and I'm going to be completely honest, is that a lot of women are having these conversations, but these conversations are not going anywhere, right? Because we're now in a situation where before the, in the beginning of the pandemic, employers came to everyone and said, hey, don't worry, take the time you need, do whatever, we're all in the same boat and now we're in a situation where employers are thinking ahead, right? They're like Q4, 2020, we got to have the results, we got to have the return on investment. What are we doing? So there's a lot more pressure on people to deliver.

Portia Mount  23:11  

So did you feel that pressure yourself? 

Blessing Adesiyan  23:55  

I believe so.

Portia Mount  23:57  

Did you, I know, you're channeling the women who are speaking through Mother Honestly, but I'm curious for yourself, did you find like your company was maybe not like, maybe not overtly telling you, they didn't want to be flexible, but maybe giving you signals that they were less, they are less flexible? 

Blessing Adesiyan  24:17  

I think it was more, the company was pretty, the company had a flexible policy. 

Portia Mount  24:23  

Okay. 

Blessing Adesiyan  24:24  

They had a very flexible policy. It wasn't really the company, it was just the general perception, right? That you are a mom, you have three kids. And you know, if you're not showing up to these meetings, and if you're not doing all the things you get immediately sidelined, right? 

Portia Mount  24:42  

Especially male dominated industries. You work for a technical firm, I work for an engineering firm. And so there's so few women anyway, so when you're asking for things, you're like, oh, should I ask and what are people thinking?

Blessing Adesiyan  24:58  

Absolutely and you know, so I'd like to use the word first because in a perfect world I wouldn't have a problem with it. Right? I would be okay with working my full time job, supporting Mother Honestly as best as I can. But it just became unsustainable. And I really wanted to, this was a discussion that I had already been having. Right. So this wasn't something that COVID created, or my company created.

Portia Mount  25:24  

So you've been thinking about it for a while?

Blessing Adesiyan  25:26  

I had already been thinking about, okay, I need to leave, but when do I leave?

Portia Mount  25:30  

But when do I do it right? That's a big question.

Blessing Adesiyan  25:33  

Yes, COVID accelerated that. And I didn't exactly just take the jump, right. I'm more methodical than that. So what I did was, I started looking at people to build something similar to Mother Honestly. And I said, okay, I'm gonna reach out to all of these people, and start asking some serious questions about how they did it.

Portia Mount  25:54  

What kind of questions did you ask?

Blessing Adesiyan  25:56  

I was very data driven. So I wanted to know... 

Portia Mount  25:58  

Of course, because you're an engineer.

Blessing Adesiyan  26:02  

You should have seen my spreadsheets, I wanted to know the challenges. You know, I ask them questions about the challenges that we're facing in building a community, in building a platform, similar to Mother Honestly and my new company Villo. So I asked them some serious questions around those challenges. And what numbers? Did they really, what numbers mattered to them? Is that number of members, is it your Instagram count, you know, how do you get revenue? What is the best way to find brand partners, and sponsors and all these different things? So I said, putting together a roadmap for myself. And after asking those questions, and collecting the data, and mapping out the data, and then making my own assumptions, because I made assumptions.

Portia Mount  26:51  

Because if you were thinking about leaving, then I'm going to assume you were thinking about how do I monetize this so that I can make, you know, make money? Like I want to make a living?

Blessing Adesiyan  27:09  

Absolutely. So I spend a lot of time putting that roadmap together. And what happened was, after putting all that together, the result of that, I went back to those people for feedback, and said, hey, this is what I've been able to put together. Does this make sense? Am I too optimistic? And a lot of them were like, oh, my God, you are spot on. But there's a lot of room, right to make more. And so they said they'd given me more because... 

Portia Mount  27:41  

They thought you were being too conservative?

Blessing Adesiyan  27:42  

Conservative. And so what that helped me realize is that a lot of us as women, when we make all of these decisions, we don't have a roadmap. And so when I'm making this decision strategically, right? And we, it's almost like, we talked about the back of the envelope calculation, you're not exactly being strategic about how you're making the switch, or making this jump from work to entrepreneurship. Or from work to being a stay at home mom. Right? So can we, if we can just have a roadmap? I mean, mine is very rudimentary, right? I just literally asked questions, collected that data. But how cool would it be to be able to have a framework that women can actually use in making some strategic decisions about their career and about their life? And so when I took that, the result of that, you know, that voice of the advisors, if you will, and I started implementing that within two weeks of leaving the workforce, I made my salary for the year. 

Portia Mount  28:51  

Wow. 

Blessing Adesiyan  28:52  

Within two weeks. 

Portia Mount  28:54  

That is crazy.

Blessing Adesiyan  28:58  

Absolutely. And I mean, this was September. So this is literally last month.

Portia Mount  29:05  

Were you surprised? 

Blessing Adesiyan  29:06  

My husband was like, are you kidding, right now? I said, no, here it is. Here's the invoice. There you go.  So just a testament to the power of understanding your own power. 

Portia Mount  29:27  

Yeah. 

Blessing Adesiyan  29:28  

And not necessarily tying that power to a paycheck. Because what's happening is that we're taking that $40,000 a year that we're earning, or $50,000. And we're saying, hey, childcare, $6,000. Net is zero. I'm out.

Portia Mount  29:41  

Yeah.

Blessing Adesiyan  29:42  

And then being out, but what is the plan? Right, what is the plan? And so one of the things that we're working on at Mother Honestly now as we build the next phase of Mother Honestly, would be building a product, a community and an app with roadmaps and frameworks and saying, you don't just get out.

Portia Mount  30:07  

Right, you need a plan. Otherwise you're sort of jumping out of an airplane without a chute. 

Blessing Adesiyan  30:41  

Absolutely. But in that situation, you're stressed and anxious. 

Portia Mount  30:45  

Right. And it's hard to make good decisions. 

Blessing Adesiyan  30:47  

And it's hard to make that decision. But if you had a framework, you're like, okay, I'm just gonna do this very quick. I'm gonna call up these people or do X, Y, and Z. And I'll be able to at least mentally understand that girl, you're gonna be okay, right?

Portia Mount  31:04  

I love that you did that and I think there's a couple of things that I'm hearing that I think are really important for listeners. One is, you sought help from a mini board of directors. And just go to people who don't have any skin in the game. They're not invested in whether you succeed or fail. So they can give you really candid feedback. I love that you did that. I also loved that you created a plan for yourself. So again, the reflection is creating the plan, and also seeking some outside advice for someone who can be a sounding board. Because oftentimes women, especially right now, we're cut off, we're stuck at home with our kids or we're in the grind, and it's hard to get out of your own head. I'm curious if you could distill what is your key two or three things for women who are thinking about leaving their full time jobs? What are the two to three things that you are telling women right now?

Blessing Adesiyan  32:24  

So one of the things and it's gonna sound counterintuitive to everything I just talked about. But my first gut reaction is, don't quit. And that is literally my first go to. What we're seeing is the millions and millions of women leaving the workforce. 

Portia Mount  33:03  

Yeah, almost a million women in September. 

Blessing Adesiyan  32:52  

The unconscious decision that we're all making, is that men are going to continue to lead the workforce, and women are going to continue to lead the home front. So for me, no, because I feel like it's incumbent on this generation to fight for our place in the workforce.

Portia Mount  33:20  

I am doing praise hands right now, because this is like the thing that I'm obsessed with, which is women have to stay at the table if we push back. And that table is in a lot of places. The tables in corporate America, the tables in politics, the tables in lead community leadership. But if we cede that ground, we will never get the policy change, because things like universal pre-K, and universal childcare and FMLA that's longer than eight weeks. If women are not in the place to get power and influence and wealth creation, we will not make these policy changes. So I am completely fired up about this. And that's why I feel heartbroken when I see really talented women leave the workforce because I'm a Gen X, you're a millennial. And so we need women to stay at it.

Blessing Adesiyan  33:45  

That was one of the biggest guilts that I felt leaving the workforce because the main reason I stopped was because I was in the workforce for so long. Despite the fact that I was creating businesses and that Honestly was doing well financially, I did not want to give up my spot. I didn't want to give away my spot to somebody else.

Portia Mount  35:04  

You've created a spot somewhere, you gave up a corporate spot, maybe in a traditional sense of the word, but you've gained a seat elsewhere, which I would argue is as important.

Blessing Adesiyan  35:19  

It's absolutely as important. And to me, so my advice for those women, the first thing is don't quit. And if you're going to quit, please have a plan. And make sure that plan is a plan that is financially proof, you know, prudent, it's a plan that prioritizes your mental health. Those two things are going to be extremely important. I hear from women all the time they give up their seat at a table. An example is the mom of three, who sold a law firm despite the fact that she was making more money than her spouse. Despite the fact that she had been working longer than he was working. She gave up a seat at a table and sold that law firm. And the result now is that she has to place a meeting on his calendar to even have a discussion. 

Portia Mount  36:21  

Ah that kills me. And I hate to say it, I'm sure that story is probably not very uncommon, right? Women giving up really lucrative careers.

Blessing Adesiyan  36:35  

This is a recurring theme amongst moms that we speak to on a daily basis. We sent out a survey two days ago, we said what are the biggest challenges you are facing in this pandemic? And one woman's answer was husband, period. That was the biggest challenge that she's facing in this pandemic.

Portia Mount  36:57  

Husband meaning is this what Eve Rodsky has been talking about in terms of just women, like not getting the support at home, women doing all of the work at home or the husband doesn't carry his weight?

Blessing Adesiyan  37:13  

Absolutely, absolutely. So the partner is not carrying his or her weight. And so that is of course filtering into the woman's life, the woman's career. It's just a lot. It's a lot and so that's an example of understanding your financial situation. And making sure that the decisions you're making doesn't leave you on the losing end.

Portia Mount  37:37  

That's great, great advice.

Blessing Adesiyan  37:39  

Period. I don't care how in love you think you are. The statistics are 50% of marriages are going to fail, don't get caught up in it girl. Have a plan.

Portia Mount  37:50  

Yeah, and you know, the financial impact of women leaving the workforce, and not having a source of income. And in the, you know, in the horrible event that that woman gets divorced. It's just, it's financially ruinous, actually. And that's something that people don't want to, we don't want to talk about that. Nobody wants to talk about that. But I advise a lot of women in my coaching, I say, you've got to secure your bag. You have to know where all the money is. Know what the accounts are. I got married later in life. And so we have separate accounts, that's probably impolitic to say, but I really believe in women having financial independence, financial freedom.

Blessing Adesiyan  38:47  

And you know, it can be simple, right? It can be really simple. And before we make that decision too it's really understanding whose career really needs to be on the chopping block.

Portia Mount  38:57  

Hmm, why should it automatically be the woman right?

Blessing Adesiyan  39:03  

Exactly. And do we even really need to have any career on a chopping block because there's one thing about the American culture which is this do it yourself mentality that we've all kind of, you know, subscribed to. 

Portia Mount  39:16  

It is, it's highly individualistic, which I think right now we are paying a huge price for.

Blessing Adesiyan  39:21  

Oh we are, we are because a lot of people are saying I don't want anybody coming in to take care of my kids. I don't want anybody doing my groceries shopping for me. I want to touch them. I want to feel them, really? We're gonna leave our careers to go touch groceries?

Portia Mount  39:36  

I know, I always tell people when I speak, I say, I don't clean my house. I don't clean toilets. I don't do it. Because it's not value added. It's low value like we women need to get comfortable outsourcing low value, no value added work, right. 

Blessing Adesiyan  39:59  

If something is not value adding to you, if you're not deriving any joy from it, right? That's how I calculate value. If I'm not deriving value from it then don't do it.

Portia Mount  40:09  

I don't get joy from cleaning the house. I get joy from cooking.

Blessing Adesiyan  40:15  

Same here.  

Portia Mount  40:16  

I'm always like, oh, what is Blessing cooking for dinner? I need to text her and see if I can get that. There's so many vegetables? Do her kids eat all those vegetables? My 10 year old eats vegetables. My five year old is like, no, if it's not a potato, she's not interested. But I digress.

Blessing Adesiyan  40:35  

You know, we need to ask ourselves, what are the things that are important to us? Yeah. And so this is where I always tell people before you make any decision at all, you need to understand your value as a human being, and what are your values for your family, if your family really values that you all touch groceries, that you're there in the morning to make breakfast and lunch and dinner, then maybe the workforce is not for you, if that is the value that is most important to your family.

Portia Mount  41:01  

Or if you like grocery shopping because it's the one time you can get out of the house away from your kids. I love what you're saying, which is you've got to make that assessment, right? You've got to make that assessment and if it's not value added, if you don't need to touch groceries, most of us actually do not, don't do it. 

Blessing Adesiyan  41:27  

I have never been to the store since the pandemic. I'm like, I don't care.

Portia Mount  42:02 

I love your point around, don't quit your job right away, have a plan. Think about what is of value to you. It's very pragmatic too because the emotion, you know what I read some of the things that women are posting on your site, I think about some of the emails or what some women are saying when I'm speaking. There's a lot of frustration and anger and pain that I think women are feeling right now.

Blessing Adesiyan  43:08  

Absolutely and a lot of that pain is directed at two entities. One is their partner, the second is the employer. So there's this enormous amount of frustration that women are facing at home and at work. And I think that's why this pandemic, in this particular situation, is painful. It is painful to watch, it is painful to realize that women have been slammed at every single point in their life right now. The kids, the home, the partner, the employer. I'm not trying to slam partners because, you know, I think a lot of men have stepped up, or what I've seen is that more and more men are getting promoted more and more men are doing great things in this pandemic.

Portia Mount  44:10  

It feels like women are falling behind. Although if I could just be a little bit politically incorrect Blessing I also feel like all of these articles about how horrible it is for women are making us feel worse. I feel like every day I'm reading a flood of comments and posts and articles about how crappy things are for women and I'm like, enough. Okay, let's go figure this out. 

Blessing Adesiyan  44:43  

I send out newsletters and I send them when I have something to say. I don't want to just be you know, I'm just not that consistent in terms of my newsletters because I only send it out when I have something to say, and I've seriously held back because I've not had anything nice to say, because I've just been so hurt. I feel deeply unmotivated to engage in this painful, you know, conversation about women leaving the workforce and all those bad things that are happening. 

Portia Mount  45:18  

It's like, no, there's nothing new to say now. It's like, we know, things suck. 

Blessing Adesiyan  45:26  

If you live on the same planet, you know how bad things are.

Portia Mount  45:30  

We know how bad things are.

Blessing Adesiyan  45:31  

But my call to action is, yeah, we have got to be solution driven, we have got to be forward facing. 

Portia Mount  45:40  

Amen. My praise hands again.

Blessing Adesiyan  45:41  

We have got to be solution focused, because what's happening is that we have a call to action, every woman in America that is still in the workforce that is still, that is a champion for women has a mandate to go out and seek solutions, and stand and fight for the rights of women. 

Portia Mount  46:02  

Say it again, for the people in the cheap seats Blessing.

Blessing Adesiyan  46:08  

Because what we, what's going to happen is that more and more women are going to be left behind. And what are we going to tell our daughters? That we just sat there and wrote article upon article?

Portia Mount  46:21  

Exactly, how shitty things are.

Blessing Adesiyan  46:25  

And we did nothing. And what we did was retreat into our homes. And for me, I want us to really understand that there's so much more at stake than virtual schooling, because what I'm hearing is, I'm leaving to go to virtual school, and I'm leaving to do X, Y, and Z. Well, if we continue to virtual school our sons and daughters, and they have no place in the workforce, I don't know how much impact we think we're making.

Portia Mount  46:58  

Yeah, you know, I think you raise a really good point Blessing, there are a whole bunch of unintended consequences that we can't see yet, right? I mean, gosh, we could probably have another two hour conversation about this. But I'm thinking about what you're saying, the confluence of virtual school, women leaving the workforce, the fact that men are actually experiencing their careers and often many cases accelerating, let's face it, we have a really strong cultural pull that's happening right now. There's something happening in our culture. That is, and you can see it in the tension that in our politics, so there's a real pull to go back. I'm putting air quotes around the word “go back” to an era that really didn't exist for most of us. It didn't exist for black people. It didn't exist for other people of color, there's a pull for that. And I worry that that is also really toxic for us too, that we need to look forward. But I think our CEO said something really interesting Mike Lamacq, during our leadership conference. And he said, I'm paraphrasing, everyone's talking about things getting back to normal. But really normal wasn't that great. He's like, I'm a white man. And I can see that normal, maybe things shouldn't go back to normal. 

Blessing Adesiyan  48:42  

We need to create a new normal. That works for men, women, young and old, black, white, you know, people of color, Latina we need to create a solution or a new world that works for everyone. This is our golden ticket. This is our opportunity. And what I fear is that because of this political conflict that this society, we, you know, we find ourselves in this racial crisis and political correctness, we have a few people in power that really want things to go back... 

Portia Mount  49:22  

Back to the Stone Age. 

Blessing Adesiyan  49:23  

You know, the Stone Age. And so I find that that may actually make things a little bit more difficult for us in this pivotal moment, right? Where we need to redefine a lot of things, but we can't, for example, universal childcare, this is the moment.

Portia Mount  49:40  

This is the moment, right? Oh, my gosh. 

Blessing Adesiyan  49:42  

A single moment for us to craft a childcare act for this, for this for the society. And we have failed to do that because of the people that we have in power. So when that opportunity comes, we may never have it back. 

Portia Mount  49:56  

We will never have it again. So maybe this is where I should ask you about some of your work with Mom Congress. I think one of the best things about right now is the level of activism. In a previous episode, I talked with Cynthia Changyit Levin, who's a global health advocate. And we talked about her work in advocacy, and just the sheer momentum, that advocacy around whether it's racial equity, whether it's around, diversity, there's unbelievable momentum right now. And so, I'm curious about your work with Mom Congress, or as you're thinking about these sort of bigger public policy issues? Where's Mother Honestly planting a flag?

Blessing Adesiyan  50:59  

So we, so what we want to do is really just take a position, right, for working mothers in America and say, here are the challenges that working moms face. And here's some of our demands, right, here are the things that we think are going to be necessary for working mothers in America to live and thrive and survive, whether it's at home or in the workforce. And so we went to Capitol Hill virtually yesterday, and we said here are the different things childcare is number one. 

Portia Mount  51:34  

Is that through Mom Congress?

Blessing Adesiyan  51:35  

Through Mom Congress, so we have a partnership with Mom Congress. And the idea is really to have a nonpartisan conversation with our political leaders, so whether that's from congressmen and senators, and really try to understand what are some of the policies, right, that they have in the works that we can support? Right, so one of them was the the back to work childcare act, that Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, if I'm saying that correctly, she proposed a bill and it's supposed to give nine months of assistance to childcare providers, but it's supposed to support working families. So childcare was number one on our list, paid leave was number two on our list. Those are the two big things that we really believe that this is the time for us to pass those policies in this country.

Portia Mount  52:41  

I'm super hopeful Blessing about that. With it, particularly if we get a new administration, but I think  regardless, the public pressure of advocacy groups like Mom Congress, Mother Honestly, and others I think is really, really important. I also think we need to get more women elected too.

Blessing Adesiyan

We need more women in office, and one of the amazing groups that is doing that is Moms in Office. So I think it goes beyond women, it's also why we need to get mothers in office, because only mothers will understand the need for childcare, the need for paid leave, right? So for us, it goes beyond women, it goes more into, we need more parents in Congress in the house to come out and say, hey, time to pass this bill.

Portia Mount  53:49  

I want to pivot a little bit because we've kind of unpacked your corporate career and talked about just your vision for Mother Honestly, which is really exciting. I'm going to talk about Villo in a minute. But I want to ask you about failure and or setbacks. I'm wondering if you have had an experience of either failure or setback that has been pivotal for you in terms of your career?

Blessing Adesiyan  55:14  

I think failure is something that if you're an entrepreneur it happens automatically.

Portia Mount  55:20  

That's true. Like, you can't be afraid to fail if you're an entrepreneur.

Blessing Adesiyan  55:24  

Yeah, you honestly can't be afraid to fail. So we've done a lot of things. I actually joke that thank God, the single most important reason why Mother Honestly, as we've decided to not go for funding is because we fail so much. People don't know.

Portia Mount  55:39  

Yeah, so you're going for, for pre venture funding?

Blessing Adesiyan  55:42  

We were thinking of going for VC funding. But one of the reasons why we haven't is because we just pivot a lot, we pivot a lot that like, we would have to literally go get permission every time we pivot which would be every other day. That's something that I just know that it won't work for me. 

Portia Mount  56:32  

Okay. So that's like, a really important choice that you made is that you want to keep control of the company. 

Blessing Adesiyan  56:37  

Here's one thing I realized about Mother Honestly, and maybe Villo will be a different story. But I think whit Mother Honestly, what I find is that the needs for women changes, literally, like our lipstick, right? You know, back before the pandemic, it was ambition and how do you align everything and yet, you know, it was more around, let's try to make this amazing and amazing experience for you, right to be a mother and an exceptional, badass woman in the workplace. Right? Let's make this a really nice experience. That was literally what we were aiming for. And then the pandemic hit and it was like, whoa. 

Portia Mount  57:15  

Were there any ideas that you tried in the beginning that you thought, oh, they're gonna love this. And they just fell flat?

Blessing Adesiyan  57:31  

So in the initial stages we actually had...

Portia Mount  57:34  

And you say we, because you've got a team, you've got a team of people now, right? What I want listeners to understand that like, you're not speaking as a royal we you actually have...

Blessing Adesiyan  57:45  

Yeah, we have a team thank God. It's literally these three mighty team and you know, they've been with Mother Honestly, literally from day one. So that's why I say we a lot because it literally feels like they own the company, too. And so you know, when we started it was more around, let's have events, right? Let's bring women together. So we were having this event literally every other week. And it just became unsustainable, because as soon as we finished one, we're planning for the next one.

Portia Mount

That's great for building up your following though.

Blessing Adesiyan

It was great for that. Right? We had a lot of conversations, we had a lot of momentum, but it was too much. 

Portia Mount  58:25  

It was hard to scale. Right? For our listeners, events are very difficult to scale, because they're capital and resource intensive. 

Blessing Adesiyan  58:35  

Absolutely. We were spending literally all of our money. And at that point, this was my first thing as you know, my first really entrepreneurial thing. And I had money, right? I was a manager, I had all this money. So it's like, oh, yeah, we'll pay for the events. We'll pay for the venue. 

Portia Mount  58:54  

Were you digging into your own pocket?

Blessing Adesiyan  58:55  

I was literally digging into my pockets, swipe the card, don't worry. By the end of the year, my husband was like, well, we have a deficit of $35,000. And I was like, wait, why? That can't be me. And he's like, you've swiped our personal credit cards for 35 grand? Where's the money? And I'm like, well, Mother Honestly, we only have about $500 in our bank account. And he was like say what? Well, you have got to be kidding me. This is not how you do business girlfriend and so we went on a date night and he was trying to school me in, you gotta get your act together if you're gonna run this.

Portia Mount  59:39  

Right, because you're gonna bankrupt us. 

Blessing Adesiyan  59:44  

And I think that was the point because up until that moment, it was a passion project for me. And so the following year after we had a tax, whatever, and you know, Uncle Sam also wanted a piece of the pie. I was like, okay, time to button up, right?

Portia Mount  1:00:17  

You gotta get serious.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:00:24  

So that was a $35,000 mistake that I had to pay off the following year, because my husband was like, yeah, you owe this family 35 grand, you gotta pay up. And I did that. Luckily, I was able to do that within six months. 

Portia Mount  1:00:43  

So you financed it yourself. But you were able to pay that debt off?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:00:47  

Absolutely. So that was one of my welcome to entrepreneurship. 

Portia Mount  1:00:53  

Yeah, well, that's a huge lesson, right

Blessing Adesiyan

A huge lesson for me. And it really taught me that no matter what, no matter how small, check on your finances, you know, be the CFO.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:01:12  

You gotta be the CFO, you need to know how much you have coming in, and how much you have available to spend in making sure that you know your family or you're not personally financing that. And if you choose to do that, understand how much you actually want to invest in that company, your company, right? Is that $5,000 is that $10,000 is zero dollars, you need to understand how much you have available to do that. So that was a huge lesson for m

Portia Mount  1:01:36  

I love that you shared that lesson Blessing. And that's great, because social media gives us this view that people are instantly successful, and they have these massive followings. And it's like, they're making it rain. And the reality is, you've got to grind it out. And there's investment that's required, and there's risk involved. And so I appreciate that you've opened up the curtain a little bit, because I think it's important that people understand what you had to do to get to where you are right now

Blessing Adesiyan  1:02:14  

Absolutely, absolutely.

Portia Mount  1:02:16  

Let's talk about Villo. So how did Villo emerge from all of this because you've just launched Villo. So tell us what Villo is, and what's the vision behind Villo?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:02:32  

Villo came as a result of all the conversations we were having at Mother Honestly, I don't know, if you read this article that came out, I think it was sometime in January, about this CEO who was looking for a wife, right? So she had this...

Portia Mount  1:02:47  

The post that went viral about, she basically was looking for a wife and people were horrified. But your response in your newsletter was like, well, you know, hang on a second. Maybe we shouldn't be judging her too harshly? 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:03:04  

Absolutely. It spoke directly to me, because we've been talking about how men have dominated the workforce for so long and women dominated the home, and now women are in the workforce and so we don't really have that support system. 

Portia Mount  1:03:27  

Right. And just to be clear Blessing, we'll link to that article in the notes, the gist of it was she's a woman, I think she was maybe on the east coast. She posted for essentially like a mother's helper, but the level of detail of what she was looking for was to the point where, you know, she wanted someone who was multilingual, who could schedule appointments and take the kids to doctor's appointments and schedule... 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:04:02  

And measure the right amount of multivitamin and can swim in an open ocean.

Portia Mount  1:04:11  

She basically took the list that was in her head, and wrote a job description and said, do all of these things and she clearly was a professional woman. But there was a lot of joking online of like, so basically, you want this person to raise your children and be a wife, to your husband, and a wife to you. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:04:33  

That's exactly what she was looking for. 

Portia Mount  1:04:35  

That's what she was looking for so just to give a little bit of context for that article that kind of went viral. And I think she did respond to it.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:04:45  

And I really loved her response because I think that a lot of women are going through exactly the same thing. But you know, one thing we talked about at the beginning of this podcast is we have been conditioned to believe that we have to do it all.

Portia Mount  1:05:01  

That's right,

Blessing Adesiyan  1:05:02  

Right? We have been conditioned...

Portia Mount  1:05:04  

It's very much the ethos. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:05:06  

And if you're not doing that you are somewhat failing as a mother. Right? So that's everybody. Everybody subscribed to that thinking, even for those that think they're not it's kind of like, oh, wait, why is somebody else going to pick your child up from baseball? Why aren't you there? There's this expectation that it's the moms role, to do certain things. And so the idea behind Villo, so we had this discussion as a group at Mother Honestly. And it became very clear to me that women needed a second you, right, women need it somebody else. We need someone that can actually do those things for us. And so I started thinking about what is the best way to do this in a way that doesn't necessarily in a way that doesn't necessarily, you know, take away from your experience as a mother, right? Because I still really want to take my kids to that summer camp. But I don't want to spend nine hours researching something.

Portia Mount  1:06:10  

Oh my God, I hate it's like the worst part. Finding the camp, signing them up for the camp, getting on the waitlist, finding another camp, if you can't get on to the camp that you really wanted to go...

Blessing Adesiyan  1:06:20  

It takes forever. I know, I really want to take them for the immunization shots, right? I really want to be there to hold their hands at a pediatricians office. But I don't want to spend an hour, scheduling and finding all the health insurance forms and doing all the things that are part of those things, that are non value adding to me, right, so we basically took all the list of things that moms were doing on a daily basis. 

Portia Mount  1:06:52  

The unpaid labor.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:06:53  

The unpaid labor, the mental overload. And we basically sifted through and we said what is more valuable to mom? What is more valuable to mom and dad? And it was I needed to be at my son's soccer game, I need to speak right? But I don't need to be the one ordering groceries, I don't need to be the one planning the meals, I don't need to be the one scheduling all the meetings and all the appointments and planning the vacations. So we took all those things that parents and individuals didn't really have value for and we said why don't we have professionals take this and really codify this and execute on behalf of these people. So that we're not spending time doing all those things. And we can actually have time back to focus on our career and our family. And we said even better why do we see if employers can pay for this?

Portia Mount  1:07:43  

That to me is what's the genius of your business model is making it an employee benefit. I just think it's so timely and it's something that employers can proactively do to support our employees.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:07:58  

Absolutely. So that was how Villo came about and it's been amazing to see a lot of people respond to it positively and we still have a long way to go because it's hard to convince women. We find that even people that sign on for Villo's services they go like oh so what do I offload now? Like I still want to I really still want to be the one to order all my stuff, and I'm like, oh no you're pregnant. No. So we're gonna handle all the diaper subscriptions and all the X, Y & Z we're gonna, make the appointments for the baby, we're going to do all those things for you. 

Portia Mount  1:08:42  

Oh I would have killed for that. I mean, I have a full time nanny. We've had the same nanny for 10 years. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:08:53  

I am so jealous. 

Portia Mount  1:08:55  

And she, I just think something and she knows the kids so well. Our house only functions because of her. I always joke when I'm out speaking I was like, I love my husband. But if he were to leave me I would feel sad. But if my nanny left me I would be devastated. Devastated and my life would fall apart. She does all the things that you're talking about. But I also want to acknowledge the work that there are women who operate in the shadows, like we've talked about our nannies. When we wrote our book, I acknowledged my nanny in the credits because there is no way I could do what I do and have the job that I have, without her. And so there are women, especially women of color, who forego raising their own children, to work for others. And the impact of this pandemic on caregivers is really tremendous. And so I just feel like we need to acknowledge that because that, in particular, affects black and brown women who work in the houses of other people raising other people's children, and are oftentimes at great health risk, because they don't have health insurance, they don't have benefits, etc.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:11:39  

I absolutely agree. I think the unpaid labor that happens at home and the ability to offload that is amazing.

Portia Mount  1:11:51  

It's amazing. It's a privilege, right.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:11:55  

Absolutely, and I know, some people are gonna listen to this and say, oh, my God, this, you know, they're so full of privileges. 

Portia Mount  1:12:03  

We're over privileged Black women.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:12:07  

And that will not be a bad thing considering everything we have to deal with.

Portia Mount  1:12:10  

I feel like we earned that Blessing. But that's a different podcast. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:12:14  

That's a different podcast. We're gonna have to come back for that one.

Portia Mount  1:12:18  

So stay tuned everybody for over privileged Black women. We could have, we could have some fun with that one. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:12:34  

All right. 

Portia Mount  1:12:36  

Heads are exploding right now.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:12:37  

Seriously, so there will be those people that think this is, you know, come from a place of privilege. But I also think that a lot of women don't have that, that privilege, to be able to afford that. And that's one of the reasons why we created Villo is that, you know, how can we make something that is so luxurious? How can we distill it down?

Portia Mount  1:12:59  

Right and make it affordable, is that why you decided to try to make it an employer benefit so that the financial burden wouldn't actually be on the family, but could be either shared or fully borne by the employer?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:13:14  

Absolutely.. So we have two options. Either we're gonna go employer based, right? Or we're gonna go non US based, right? And really make it cheaper for anyone to basically say, hey, I can do this for maybe $15 an hour, you know, 20 hours a month, like that's $300?

Portia Mount  1:13:37  

Because they're virtual, because they're virtual?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:13:40  

Exactly. 

Portia Mount  1:13:41  

What you're saying is, you thought about offshoring the labor?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:13:47  

Exactly, really doing this in a much cheaper way.

Portia Mount  1:13:52  

Yeah so for example, for listeners, call centers are often based in the Philippines and India that are English speaking, where the labor costs are a lot cheaper. Problematic, we know, but we're just trying to be super transparent about how that business model could work.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:14:10  

Exactly. And it's only problematic to some extent, right? Ebay, Apple, everybody uses the services, but they won't come out and tell us, right? Because that's just not how they operate. But you know, that's something that again, because we're not even at that stage of accepting somebody else, right? We're not as a society, we've not advanced to that level where we are like, oh, let's accept help. 

Portia Mount  1:14:38  

I will just say, and I don't know how it is in Nigeria, but Americans have a weird thing about having household help. I lived and worked in China for a couple of years. I mean, it's super common Singapore, same, super common, but here if you tell people you have household help, it's like, oh, you've got like, a nanny, you have a housekeeper. Whereas in other parts, many other parts of the world, it's totally normal. People are like, what, you don't have somebody?

Blessing Adesiyan

And you know, like people have domestic staff and they pay them really well

Portia Mount

They pay them well. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:15:25  

You know, we have professional staff that work in the workforce, and we have domestic staff that work in people's homes. 

Portia Mount  1:15:31  

We need to get over that, don't we? 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:15:33  

We need to as a society, I think it's because we've always basically looked at this unpaid labor as a woman's job. Right? So it's really hard for us to switch and say, this is something that we need to pay for as a society, it's really hard for us to get over that.

Portia Mount  1:15:49  

That's a really good point, Blessing. And so, you know, one of the things that, as I'm listening to you talk and thinking about the Villo concept, part of it is conditioning people to feel okay about getting household help, right? I mean, I know when I first got married, my husband was like, no way, am I gonna have a housekeeper. Like, let me tell you, I went on strike for one week, I did nothing around the house because we both had busy jobs. And my husband just didn't like the thought of somebody being in the house. And after a week, he was like...

Blessing Adesiyan  1:16:29  

What's the housekeeper's number?

Portia Mount  1:16:35  

So we were newlyweds at the time. And I was just like, you have lost your ever loving mind, if you think I'm gonna work a 60 hour week, and then clean on the weekend, you know, it's like, you'll be giving some things up. And the things are, you're gonna give up, you're not gonna like.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:16:53  

Seriously, and that's the reality that a lot of women are facing is that we're pulling the first shift at work, and we come home to pull the second shift. And now a lot of us are pulling a third shift, which is virtual schooling.

Portia Mount  1:17:05  

That's exactly right. I mean, and there's three shifts.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:17:08  

It's unsustainable.

Portia Mount  1:17:08  

It's unsustainable. So I want to actually pivot to that, you're a mom of three, you've got two businesses, you're running, you're breastfeeding. What's your energy management system right now? Meaning like, are you getting on a peloton every other day? Social media is weird, because you feel like you see people but you don't really, but it's clear that you get out with your kids a little bit but what is sleep, fitness, health, what I like to call energy management? What is that like for you right now? And what are you doing?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:17:56  

It's been really rough. I'm gonna be honest, because of everything happening. I came back from the hospital after having my baby and I have not lost a pound since then. I have given up because I eat healthy. I work out. It's just not happening.

Portia Mount  1:18:14  

I wish people will. And we're gonna link to Mother Honestly and I mean, I hope one of your other ventures is going to be like a cooking app. Or maybe you should just post recipes because it looks like you make some unbelievable Nigerian food too. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:18:17  

Oh, I love Nigerian food.

Portia Mount  1:18:31  

Yeah, I just, everything looks delicious.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:18:33  

I try to make them healthy too. So yeah.

Portia Mount  1:18:35  

Yeah, you cook with lots of fruits and vegetables. It's very colorful, too. So I know your children are being well fed. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:18:43  

Oh yeah. I mean, I joke, I'm like, you guys don't need multivitamins, like my daughter, just grab avocados and salmon and like just munch them down. 

Portia Mount  1:18:51  

Yeah, your kids look like they eat phenomenally. Yeah, you look like a phenomenal cook. But what is energy management like for you?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:18:57  

I think for me, I really prioritize getting out, you know, just getting out of the house, especially in this pandemic. It sounds very simple, but it's hard with the kids, before I grab everybody in the stroller.

Portia Mount  1:19:12  

Like getting outside? 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:19:14  

Getting outside of the house. And so I try to prioritize my daily walks. So I do a lot of that and I also do a lot of meditation. So I do, so I wake up earlier than everybody else. 

Portia Mount  1:19:26  

What time do you usually wake up?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:19:28  

4 am.

Portia Mount  1:19:29  

Oh my god! Is that because the baby's up and wants to nurse? 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:19:35  

No actually, the baby sleeps through the night. 

Portia Mount  1:19:37  

Okay, you make me feel like a slacker Blessing. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:19:40  

I do nap during the day because what I find when I nap during the day is I actually have more energy. So I have decided that since I have a nanny, I am going to take that time for myself. Just like plucking off. So I take my two hours and I literally come on my bed and I just doze off. 

Portia Mount  1:20:03  

You take a two hour nap?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:20:04  

Yes. Every single day.  

Portia Mount  1:20:07  

Glorious. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:20:08  

That was something that I decided I was going to prioritize in this pandemic, because I was losing my mind. 

Portia Mount  1:20:14  

Yeah. And you just had a baby and like, you're nursing and so you're tired? 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:20:20  

Absolutely, absolutely. So, again, I think sleep is something that is extremely important. Especially if you are an ambitious woman, I think definitely prioritizing sleep. Don't ever try to take shortcuts. If you take shortcuts, get a nap right, try to take a nap.

Portia Mount  1:20:40  

I'm glad to hear you say that because I think sleep is the great cure for a lot of ailments. And I think especially Americans, especially women, there have been a ton of studies about women's sleep and especially on interrupted sleep. It's not just about sleep, it's about how much uninterrupted sleep you can get. And most of us need seven to nine hours is what the National Sleep Foundation says.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:21:06  

Absolutely. So I try to get enough sleep. And I also try to say no to a lot of things. 

Portia Mount  1:21:13  

Thank you for saying yes to the pod.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:21:17  

No, I love you and we go way back so I can't even say no if I wanted to. But so I try to say no to a lot of things just so I can create that space and time for myself for my family and for my work. What I'm finding now because I'm an entrepreneur, I really have to be disciplined about my time. 

Portia Mount  1:21:48  

Okay, do you try to follow a schedule?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:21:52  

So I have blocks where I'm kind of like okay this is dedicated for Mother Honestly this is dedicated for Villo this is dedicated for you know, business development, right, whatever it is.

Portia Mount  1:22:02  

Do you use a planner? Do you use Outlook or Google Calendar?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:22:06  

Google Calendar is literally I live and die by my Google Calendar. I'm tired of planners, because I never find them when I'm breastfeeding. And I'm doing a lot of different things. I just...

Portia Mount  1:22:17  

It's on your phone and.....

Blessing Adesiyan  1:22:19  

I'm always with my phone. If I'm not with my phone, my son is with my phone and I just say, hey, where's my phone? And he literally runs to me and hands me my phone. 

Portia Mount  1:22:30  

Oh my gosh. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:22:32  

So yeah, my Google Calendar has been really helpful. I use a lot of different apps. You know where to integrate them to make sure that again, things have been scheduled properly and I'm seeing everything. 

Portia Mount  1:22:45  

So I want to ask you, do you use any productivity apps at all that you find to be useful?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:22:55  

No, surprisingly no.

Portia Mount  1:22:57  

I'm surprised!

Blessing Adesiyan  1:22:59  

I know. Surprisingly no. I am one of those people that I am just like very old fashioned.

Portia Mount  1:23:07  

Okay, so like your tools like your productivity tools are pretty simple?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:23:10  

Yes. Extremely simple. I just do a lot of Word documents or Excel.

Portia Mount  1:23:18  

Excel, yeah, I was gonna say you engineers really like Excel.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:23:22  

We like to see everything, like okay for Mother Honestly we had all the speakers names, email addresses, phone numbers, X, Y & Z have everything and everything linked right so that way.

Portia Mount  1:23:35  

Excel by the way for our listeners is like most people are way under utilizing Excel. Excel is unbelievable.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:23:45  

It is the top tool. It's one of the most powerful tools.

Portia Mount  1:23:49  

It really is. Once I started working for my company, since I'm surrounded by engineers, I was like, oh my God, my Excel skills suck.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:24:02  

Absolutely. So I don't do a lot of productivity stuff because I just go in my Excel sheet. Okay, and I create workflows and I create you know, different things. 

Portia Mount

Oh that that's cool. Um, do you use any meditation apps? Are you using Calm or Headspace? Are you using something else for your meditation? 

Blessing Adesiyan

Headspace.

Portia Mount

Headspace is great. I've used Headspace before and now I'm using Calm. But I love Headspace and I love Calm and we'll link to both. We'll link to both of those. Is there anything that you either read or listen... like  podcasts or audiobooks you're listening to for pleasure?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:24:24  

I'm a voracious reader, so I tend to read a lot of newspapers, not books. 

Portia Mount  1:25:33  

Okay. So you're a newspaper reader?

Blessing Adesiyan

Yeah, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal. I'm subscribed to everything, Business Insider. That's my jam. I tend to do a lot of that, I listened to a lot of different podcasts as well. 

Portia Mount  1:25:49  

What podcasts are you listening to?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:25:51  

So right now I'm actually listening to something very simple. I listened to the Motherly podcast. So they're one of our one of our partners, so I listen to their podcast a lot.

Portia Mount  1:26:03  

Okay, we will link to the Motherly podcast.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:26:04  

Yes, it's a good one. For those that are interested especially in the mom's space. I also listened to The New York Daily. I know The New York Times Daily. I am crazy.  

Portia Mount  1:26:19  

Are you a news junkie?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:26:20  

I'm a news junkie, I listen to How I Built It, so that's a good one. I also listened to Raising the Bar. Yeah, it's a really good one because she does it with her brother and her brother is the CFO or the CEO of the company. And it's really, it's a really good one. I also listen to Career Contessa. So the female, I think it's the female podcast. I try to listen to women focused and like news types of podcasts. 

Portia Mount  1:27:05  

So the last question for you is, do you have a certain motto you live by or a phrase that describes you?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:27:20  

I always tell myself, you figure it out later. I don't have the answer to everything. And I don't have the answer to anything. I just figure it out as I go. So when you even with Villo, right, this was this was a space that I've never played in. I don't I still don't know what I'm doing. But I'm like, we'll figure it out. 

Portia Mount  1:27:40  

Minimal viable? Yeah. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:27:42  

Yes, get the MVP out, talk to as many people as you can. And you know, I'm always a firm believer that when opportunity meets preparation, right? It's just, it's only a matter of time. So my job is to continue to prepare. That's literally my only single most important job is to continue to prepare myself, and continue to prepare Mother Honesty and Villo for that opportunity. Those people that we see that are successful, right? It's really a drill, because they spent a lot of time building, right? That's the preparation phase. What we see is when the opportunity, you know, fortunately collides with the preparation. And that's when we see this massive, oh, my goodness, he's so successful. He's on Forbes list. He's on the Fortune 100. Hey, the job is really in the preparation phase. 

Portia Mount  1:28:48  

I love that. Final question, what advice would you give to 20 year old Blessing?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:29:21  

I think it sounds cliche, but it's really honestly believe in yourself. And it's not to say I didn't believe in myself. But I think that a lot of the things that I spotted back then, you know, for example, we're just talking about, you could have just continued right, like you could have just kept doing those things. And again, it's really at that age, if you're a 20 year old listening to this, it's heads down, do the work right. Cut through the noise, cut through, you know, the unimportant stuff, right, and put your heads down and actually get the work done. Because there'll be a lot more doors that will be open to you in your 30s. And the work that you've done in your 20s is really what's going to determine how successful you will be in your 30s. So I, you know, I consider myself a very successful person, I think I did all the right things. But, you know, I continually would sometimes ask myself, hey, this step I took when I was 20 something, right? If only I continued in that path, or if only I did things differently. So I would say believe in yourself, believe in whatever you have in your heart, that is a conviction, right? Because usually, we know what we want, 20 year old me was literally about working moms. Right. And that's where I am still today. So usually, you know, like you have that, you know, it's literally always at the top of your mind, about the causes that you need to believe in and you need to pursue.

Portia Mount  1:31:00  

There's a through line. So what you're saying is, there's a through line from when you were 20, what you're doing now, and you know, maybe it wasn't 100%, clear, but when you look back, you're like, wow, I've been on this path. I've been on this path, and you really have because I remember working mom journal, and you were doing reviews of the, I don't know, car seats.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:31:20  

I know, I did so many tests.

Portia Mount  1:31:24  

Right? And it's like, I don't know, but it's like, if I think about where you were then when you were like I think I met you at 23?

Blessing Adesiyan  1:31:32  

I was literally a baby. 

Portia Mount  1:31:35  

You were a baby, but you were, so I was like God, I don't think I had it together when I was 23 you like you just really I was so impressed because you were so put together at that young age. 

Blessing Adesiyan  1:31:47  

Thank you. 

Portia Mount  1:31:47  

If I think about that, you know, where you were at 23 and where you are now, a decade later, there's definitely a red thread that you could pull through, I think, from that time to now.

Blessing Adesiyan  1:31:59  

Absolutely. So yeah, go after whatever you have, in your heart, go after it. You know, whatever that conviction is, go after it with all of you might and all of your power and everything will fall into place.

Portia Mount  1:32:11  

I think that's a perfect place to end Blessing. Thank you.