As a CEO and mom I believe in doing the maximum of things I can with the time I’m given, but I also believe that when my brain asks for some time off it is important to give it the time, so I can come back to my tasks with a clearer mind. I also see the difference in productivity when I got a few quality hours with my little ones rather than working day and night. After spending some time away from the phone and computer and instead of reading books and getting lots of snuggles I come back refreshed and creative..
As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Ana Pompa Alarcón Rawls, founder & CEO of findSisterhood, the social network app founded by women, for everyone identifying as a woman. Launched in 2018, the findSisterhood community comprises women across 23 countries. The light speed growth has attracted the attention of the international start-up and media communities as well: in its short time, findSisterhood was a finalist for MassChallenge, won Atech, and has been profiled in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Thrive Global, to name a few. A mother of two, Ana shares Mexican and Austrian heritage and is fluent in 3 languages. Splitting her time between California and the East Coast, Ana is passionate about all things having to do with the reality of women’s lived experiences. Ana is a frequent panelist on women’s issues, including gender-based violence. However, she is most passionate about playing her role in making this world a better place for our next generation of leaders.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
I moved to the United States 6 years ago and had my first daughter in NYC. I had no family or close friends in the country back then and it was very lonely in the beginning. I suffered from postpartum depression and I could not relate to the beautiful motherhood pictures and stories I saw on Social Media. At the same time, I felt stuck like I could not talk to anyone about how I actually felt being a first-time mom. I thought about how many new moms must feel that feeling of isolation and how they do not fit in the picture that we all paint on social media. With that in mind, I started a support group in NYC. But soon I realized that even if we connect to other women that are going through the same things, it can still be challenging to open up and share how we are really doing behind closed doors. That was the birth hour of findSisterhood, an anonymous social network for women where you can be vulnerable, honest, and kind to yourself and others. I wanted to make sure women had a safe space to share their stories and feel heard, a place where we know that we matter and so does our voice in this world.
According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?
I think that with the internet, and social network days we have this feeling of always being connected 24 hours a day. Even when we are sleeping we are still getting notifications and people are still trying to reach us. So I believe we have a sense of always be working because even when we are not in the literal sense we are answering to a notification, messages, and requests. Even for work itself with smartphones, it’s hard to complete disconnect to have some personal time. You are never fully disconnected if you have your email on your phone, and will always be checking for new notifications.
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
If you are never able to concentrate on one task at a time you are never able to 100% complete something. You might be forced into taking the easier way out because of the limited time. Also, it is very important, mentally speaking, to be able to disconnect and be in touch with yourself and your loved ones. Think about it this way, when you are hanging out with your best friends, do you want to be rushed? The answer is probably no because it affects our happiness if we can just enjoy time with our loved ones without being rushed. The same goes for work when working on something that really fulfills you and makes you happy, you need moments to slow down, celebrate your victories and reflect.
It is also proven that spending time with friends and loved ones improve your mental health. With a happier mind, you are able to be more productive and live a better life.
On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?
Nowadays if someone asks you something you don’t know, you can literally find it out with a few clicks. There are so many more resources and ways to research things that don’t require days in the library anymore. Smartphones have also given us the freedom of working from anywhere in the world, we don’t have to be present in the office at all times in order to work with our co-workers.
As a CEO and mom I believe in doing the maximum of things I can with the time I’m given, but I also believe that when my brain asks for some time off it is important to give it the time, so I can come back to my tasks with a clearer mind. I also see the difference in productivity when I got a few quality hours with my little ones rather than working day and night. After spending some time away from the phone and computer and instead of reading books and getting lots of snuggles I come back refreshed and creative.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
My first advice would be to spend quality time with the people you love. For me that is daily 1:1 conversation with my kids and I love meeting my friends and having a good time out while leaving my phone in my purse, really focus on conversations, listen, laugh and have good food over some drinks. I will start the next day more productive and energized after having had a great time with the people in my life. My next advice is to take breaks from work and technology. At night before putting my kids down we spend an hour reading books and listening to music. That hour I like spending without any technology other than speakers for the music, no interruptions and just us. We snuggle, dance and learn new things. Afterward, I often start my second work shift but I am so much more focused and fast (also because I want to go to sleep ;)). Travel. Currently, I only have time to travel for business, but I still enjoy it. And while traveling take time to meet new people and discover new places and food! I love food. I avoid connecting to wifi while I am on the airplane so I force myself to read a book or listen to a new album. Sleep without setting an alarm. Now that’s a hard one as a parent, but try to find days when that’s’ somehow possible. Turn everything off and sleep until your body wakes up on its own. Listen to a lot of music and dance. Ok, I am repeating myself here but hear me out! Good music and dancing, singing or just jumping around like a crazy person for a few minutes energize your body, soul, and heart. Trust me!
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
I believe mindfulness is being able to focus on the present. We cannot change the past and the future depends on what we are doing now. When we are not able to focus on the present we spend time worrying about things we cannot change, I am guilty of that so I try to be more mindful. When the kids and I are playing some silly game and are having a good time I try my best to put aside my thoughts on all the tasks I still need to finish that day and rather focus on enjoying the moment. At work we try to laugh a lot, listen to music and chat about what’s happening, I think being mindful that we all need to hit the pause button sometimes is something most of us need to practice more.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
I believe doing things that you love, with people you love is a great beginning. Exercising especially pilates or yoga are also great tools to stay in the moment and work on your mindfulness. Do more of the things you really love, challenge yourself. Find the time to learn a new dance, a new musical instrument, or cook a new dish.
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
I like to do a standup meeting with my team every morning to discuss what we have for the day. I believe it is a great way to organize tasks, prioritize and keep everything on track. This way everyone in the team knows on what each person in working on and they can help if they have free time. It is also a great way to ask for help if you need it and keep deadlines in check.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices
The calm app for meditation on the go, and the book Waking Up by Sam Harris.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The way people treat you is a statement about themselves, not about who you are.” This is relevant for me as a latina, immigrant solo founder and mom. There are so many hoops I had to jump through, double standards and jealousy. It was really important for me to distance myself from toxic people and situations in my life and focus on the ones that treated me well. And as a mother I think this is an important lesson to teach my children, rather than focusing on how other people treat them, I want them to be mindful about how they treat others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I believe we can all help create some change in this world by being more humble and comprehensive with other people’s limitations. I hope findSisterhood can be one of these tools to bring women more joy and good. I created the app with the goal of providing a safe space for women to share about the beautiful messiness of life and disrupt the way social media affects our mental health. I believe that we can connect, share and tell our stories without competition and without creating an artificial picture of happiness. Being vulnerable, real and honest has made me a much happier person. Being able to connect to other women knowing I am not alone in my struggles and knowing that no one has it all figured out was an important part of my journey as a woman and the CEO of findSisterhood.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!