Monday, September 10, 2007

Work It, Mom's inspirational CEO

I met Nataly Kogan by accident, after following a link from one of my favorite bloggers to a post about freelance writing on Nataly's online community for working mothers, Work It, Mom! It only took a few emails before I decided I just had to write about this amazing and inspirational person; that profile appeared in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine yesterday, as the "First Person" feature.

September 9, 2007

Working It
How can women juggle parenting and a profession? The question
drives Nataly Kogan, CEO of Work It, Mom!, every day.

By Lylah M. Alphonse

Why start an online community for working mothers?
Last fall, I said to my husband, "You know, I want to talk to other career moms." I'd always had this kind of very high-powered office job. I didn't know how else to do it, and I didn't know what the options were. So I went online and started typing in "communities for working moms" and "connect with working moms," and I kept coming up empty. And I said to him, "Avi, I'm going to do this."

How is different from other mom-oriented sites?
One of the things we really wanted to do is present for moms the different ways you can work. And I think, in a broader scale, if we can influence change, I'd love it, because I think corporations have to understand that you can have a mom who works from home two days a week, and she's putting in a tremendous amount of time and energy. She's not slacking. ... [More]

What's not in this short, Q&A profile could fill a book. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, and raised in St. Petersberg, Nataly immigrated with her parents to the United States via refugee camps in Italy and Austria, arriving here at the age of 14, speaking nearly no English. She decided that the first thing she needed to do was to master the language and lose her Russian accent; she did so quickly, and now has only the slightest hint of New York in her speech. It's typical of the way she approaches life: Determine what needs to be done, and then do it; failure doesn't seem to be an option for her.

"Coming out of Russia, being a Jew in Russia, there were only certain things that you could do," she told me during a recent interview. "America -- it truly is a land of opportunity. I feel very justified saying this. You can try to do whatever you want to."

For instance: Only a few years out of college and newly married, she and her husband, Avi Spivak, whom she calls "a recovering English major," found that life in New York City would require a bit more money than they were pulling in. "[Avi] went in to work in publishing and then realized you can't really live on $20,000 a year, so... I pushed him, and I said, 'You don't have to rise up through the ranks, we'll start our own company'." They founded Students Helping Students, running it at night and on weekends since they also both had day jobs, and later sold it to Penguin Group's Perigee imprint. She blogs over at The Huffington Post, has another blog about being an entrepreneur, and her first book, The Daring Female's Guide to Ecstatic Living, was published last year by Hyperion.

And she's hit the nail on the head with Work It, Mom. There really isn't anything else like it out there. It's a fantastic resource to women who are trying to juggle their careers and their families, and I'm looking forward to being an active part of the community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you wrote this. I know from WIM that I like Nataly; now I admire her, too. She struck me as a dynamo on the site -- so much energy and creativity! Now that I have a better idea of her history, she's that much more interesting and inspiring.