“Other Entrepreneurs will be your Best Friends” 5 Leadership Lessons with Melissa Gerstein, Co-Founder of The MOMS Network

“No one else will understand your madness and obsessions to succeed, no one else will dive in and support you and connect you like other entrepreneurs.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Gerstein, Co-Founder of The MOMS Network, a multi media company based in New York City. Melissa has also hosted a national SiriusXM Radio Show, a People Magazine series, created an NBC Show and she is a former Breaking News Producer who traveled with President Bush during the 2000 election BUT most important, a very proud Mother to 3 Children and devoted wife to her Canadian husband.

What is your “backstory”?

My backstory is I am from St Louis and I have worked my entire life since I was legally allowed to work. From waiting tables to MTV Newtworks, which is how I got to NYC! I am a former breaking news producer who found a conversation missing in the parenting space once I had kids. I was working on a show called the Big Idea at CNBC producing segments with entrepreneurs every night. I became obsessed with their success stories, their passion and their autonomy. I took that obsession and with my now business partner who shared the same vision and ideas around launching a media company. It did not happen overnight. Through a column in a newspaper, TV Show, Radio Show, Live Events, Blogs and Brands, we now have a successful company called The MOMS.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Wow. Where to start?! I think one of the most interesting stories would have to be the “birth” of our celebrity town hall events that we call Mamarazzi. I was intervieweing Sarah Jessica Parker for a film called, I Dont Know How She Does It, and we were so engrossed in the conversation, and we both said, “there is a bigger conversation to be had here with other working moms” Two weeks later we had our first live town hall event with SJP and the rest is history! Most of our events are around film premieres, but suddenly many celebrities started contacting us on their own for their own projects and philanthropies. I knew then that we were resonating and making a difference.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

The MOMS Network stands out because we have created something that no one else does and this is our Mamarazzi events. Mamarazzi is a live town hall event series where we interview celebrities with an audience full of Influencers and we partner with top consumer brands who want to reach the influential mom audience. In the past 5 years we have hosted over 300 events. As Sarah Jessica Parker recently stated to us at one of our events, “ you had an idea that was really smart and what you wanted to do no one had attempted” I still pinch myself in those moments.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

I think the most important thing is to respect work time and out of work time. With technology today and our smart phones attached to us, it is really crucial that you let your employees have their own down time. As an entrepreneur you will never be able to really turn it off; the wheels are always spinning on how to grow and how to build. Your employees may not share that same feeling. It is also important to listen and let them lead. It might be hard to take a step back, but you must.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

There are so many people to thank but I have to say I would not be where I am without my business partner Denise Albert. She and I call each other WorkWives and we work side by side everyday either in person or virtually. She has been the one who has helped us grow together and she is the one who has believed in our vision with me. Everyone needs a WorkWife!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Any opportunity I get to help others I will. I have hosted many events for charities, this includes R Baby, helping Jada Pinkett Smith for a philanthropic event, sitting on the board of Concerts in Motion and grassroots charity programs for hurricane relief efforts and working with the Susan G Komen organization to help raise funds and awareness for Breast Cancer. I was just asked to host Marc Anthony’s MaestroCares gala next week! I cannot believe it! I include my own children in many of the philanthropy programs and work I do as often as I can. They are also involved in community service on their own.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

I wish someone had told me that

  1. There will be more downs than ups. 99% of being a CEO is putting out fires.
  2. I wish someone would have explained to me what it is like to own and operate a company. The operations of a company were foreign to me.
  3. Other Entrepreneurs will be your Best Friends, no one else will understand your madness and obsessions to succeed, no one else will dive in and support you and connect you like other entrepreneurs.
  4. You have to create the opportunity, no one is going to give you anything. You have to be the one to always hustle. It is a never ending hustle.
  5. Your business is your baby. I have 3 children, and my company is my 4th. People can tell you this but until you live it, you don’t truly understand. I eat, sleep and breathe my business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

Don’t take No for an answer.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)

I would like to have a breakfast meeting with Oprah Winfrey. Does she need an explanation?