Lisen Stromberg, Chief Operating Officer of the 3% Movement – which aims to increase the number of women in leadership in advertising – is the ultimate advocate for those who want to start a family without sacrificing their career ambitions. In fact, she’s just published a book all about the subject: “Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood without Killing Your Career" is now on sale, and Lisen will be speaking about the book at the 92nd Street Y in NYC on March 1. Her #1 career tip? “Whatever immediate work/life 'balance' issues you are facing right now will change in time. Free yourself from guilt.”
Fairygodboss of the Week: Lisen Stromberg
Chief Operating Officer – The 3% Movement
San Francisco Bay Area, California
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
LS: Well, it certainly wasn't a straight path – that's for sure! I started out in brand management at Nestle, left because it sucked to be a mother there. Moved to advertising at Foote, Cone & Belding and left because it sucked even more to be a mom there. Pivoted to become a social entrepreneur. Pivoted again to become a journalist. Now I'm back to advertising trying to help the industry (and others) become more family- and female-friendly.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
LS: I am so very proud of my first book, “Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career,” which was published on January 31st, 2017. It's the book I wish I had when I was trying to figure out how to integrate kids with my career.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
LS: I've faced the same challenges women, and in particular mothers, face in the workplace each and every day: conscious and unconscious sexism, motherhood bias, ideal worker bias, and flexibility bias to name a few. But, in truth, the biggest thing I have had to overcome is my own self-doubt and fear about disrupting the traditional career paradigm to build the life and career I want.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? And why?
LS: Without a doubt, my Fairygodboss is the 3% Movement founder and CEO, Kat Gordon. She embodies all that you could want from a boss - she is passionately committed to helping each of us reach our full potential.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
LS: Right now I am busy with three key initiatives: 1) promoting my book, 2) speaking around the country on building the career that truly works for you and on how to create workplaces in which we all can thrive, and 3) building The 3% Movement beyond a conference to a full-service company dedicated to changing the ratio of women in leadership in advertising.
So...I'm pretty much always working right now, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But, I do love to ski, see movies, read, run, mountain bike, having dinner with friends, and cook with my husband.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
LS: Table of 8: Michelle Obama, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, Margaret Sanger, Sacajawea, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
LS: Let's be clear - I can't sing. But if we could totally auto tune my voice and I had many martinis, I'd would have sung these songs (by decade): In my 20s: You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman; In my 30s: Teenage Dream; In my 40s: Landslide; In my 50s: Dog Days Are Over.
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
LS: Really? That's like asking which child is your favorite.
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
LS: Middlemarch by George Eliot. It's long, mannered, and based in the cold, green English countryside, which should help offset the hot sun on that desert island.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
LS: Shopping vice? Sunglasses. I really don't need another pair and yet...
If I won the lottery, I'd finishing paying off my children's education and then set up a college fund to pay full tuition for as many under- resourced first generation women and men as I could. I believe a well-educated populace is the cornerstone of a thriving democracy.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
LS: Careers are long. If you chose to be a mother, you'll be a mother the rest of your life. Whatever immediate work/life "balance" issues you are facing right now will change in time. Free yourself from guilt and take confidence that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
LS: I get to work with inspiring people each and every day. I get to control my time and work where and when I want. I get to do work that has purpose and deep meaning for me. I believe what we do is making a difference for women AND men in the workplace.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.