My Mom Left Her Stay-at-Home Life to Become a CEO — and I Thank Her For It Every Day

Like most 2000s kids, one of my earliest teachers was the Disney Channel. I grew up learning about who I was supposed to be based on the women portrayed on television. Most of the moms on my shows stayed at home or were mysteriously left out altogether, and the only working women I can recall watching were cruel high school principals, phone-addicted businesswomen, and maybe a sexy supervillain or two. All these women seemed cold and uncaring, not at all like my own mother, who left her job in tech when I was born to stay at home with me and my three siblings.

So when I was just 5 years old and my mom announced to our family that she would be returning to work and starting Hint, a flavored water company, you can imagine my surprise and, even more so, my understandable fear that my mom would turn into a tyrannical Disney villain. But over the past 12 years of my mom being a self-made CEO, that fear has completely disappeared, and I now see my mom’s choice to return to work and run her own company as one of the greatest gifts she ever gave me.

As more and more women begin to take on leadership roles in their respective fields, I feel the need to dispel a problematic rumor: boss moms aren’t always the emotionally distant workaholics portrayed on TV, and my mom’s work as a CEO has not ruined me. In fact, it’s changed the way I see things for the better.

My mom’s job exposed me to a business environment at an early age. In fact, my siblings and I were, in a way, the first sellers of Hint. When the company was just getting started, we took an old Kool-Aid stand that was collecting dust in our garage, colored over the logo on the front with black Sharpie, and began selling the drink to passersby. We would open shop every day after school, running around the neighborhood harassing strangers to buy a bottle for a dollar. Our stand was not incredibly successful (shockingly, not many people want to buy cold water in the foggy streets of San Francisco), but it was the first step in getting us involved in our mom’s work.

As I grew older, I was able to get even more involved, and in middle school I began spending most of my breaks working in the Hint office as an intern.

The greatest part of that experience has always been getting to see my mom in action. She is not at all like the bosses I saw on TV as a kid. Instead, she leads her team with kindness, a sense of humor, and ambition, setting a positive tone for the brand and driving the other members of her company to follow her example. Observing my mom at her job has thus broken down my preconceptions of what a woman’s role should be in the world and opened my eyes to what it means to be a true leader rather than a traditional boss.

Before long, Hint began to grow, and with that growth came more late nights at the office, lengthy conference calls, and extended business trips that forced my mom to travel for sometimes a week…

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