by Lou Russell

August 19, 2011

An Executive Soccer Mom's Guide to Indianapolis

I grew up in a small New England town. My mother stayed home and drove us places all day, and my father built his own business. My mother got up early and made us hot breakfasts, packed us healthy and creative lunches (it is quite embarrassing in high school to open your lunch bag only to find a hard-boiled egg decorated in complete pilgrim attire including hat), and we all sat down for dinner in the evening. My father grew his own business and modeled true entrepreneurial and technical behaviors, not to mention buying us all-family black leather jackets and motorcycles. I now strive to be both.

Sure, I know you can’t have it all. That doesn’t mean I don’t try. A young (let’s say the late 20s) woman asked me a brutal question during a Project Management Simulation I was running for the Dayton PMI group, “I read your bio, and I saw all the things that you do. How can you possibly do all those things? Do you actually use this project management stuff or do you just teach it?” Between leadership and project management background, I have all the knowledge to juggle many balls. But the truth is, I drop a few quite often. It turns out that ‘balance’ is a journey, not a destination. It takes discipline, just like eating well and exercising, which I also don’t always do.

I talked with some of my female executive friends at dinner last night about this. They agree that there isn’t a magic place. We are all struggling to prioritize and adapt, holistically managing the project of our lives – families, staff, bosses, customers, churches, relatives, and anyone else who pops in the door. Our dinner last night is a case in point – we rented a limo for 14 of us to go up to Bonge’s Tavern in Perkinsville for a one-year anniversary of our Whine and Wine group. Two got stuck at corporate meetings in other states and canceled. One was at the hospital at the side of a sick friend. Many of us were on the cell phones to our kids on the way there and the way back (not much signal up in Perkinsville). One woman said ‘sometimes I think if I had it all to do again, I wouldn’t have had children, at least not so early and we all silently mulled this over. We talked about conference calls (where were YOU when the call was held), menopause, Kmart and Sears, Mr. Hilbert’s poverty, mergers and acquisitions, plants, and plans for Thanksgiving (does anyone still cook?). One woman still had a critical coaching call to make after we returned. One is about to be laid off and get married.

The most surreal was the bachelor party of men (it was a Wednesday night!) our age that tried to get us to join them (we interpreted this as being hit on – ok, you gotta go with what you can) unaware that much of the IT power in Indianapolis was seated at the table. At the next table, the women were friendlier to them, but it turns out one had a husband in Fallujah which was sobering to say the least.

So what makes a good day for an Executive Soccer Mom in Indy?

  • Good friends, moderately good wine, and great conversation
  • When your family members have picked up before you get home from the dinner
  • A vacuum cleaner that actually vacuums
  • A pedicure and a manicure
  • Good report cards
  • Teenagers that talk to you
  • Successful projects, big sales, challenging work
  • Some significant other who loves you
  • Respect and acknowledgment
  • Staying under the radar to be just a girl at local taverns.

Lou Russell

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