The Power of Reinvention: Filling the “Mom-Gap”

Episode 54 October 04, 2022 00:29:20
The Power of Reinvention: Filling the “Mom-Gap”
The Edge: A Skillsoft Podcast
The Power of Reinvention: Filling the “Mom-Gap”

Oct 04 2022 | 00:29:20


Hosted By

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek

Show Notes

Learning provides employees with the power to completely reinvent themselves. But how can we inspire the people around us to take the first steps towards making such a drastic life change? And how can we get started acquiring the new skills we need to be successful? On this episode of The Edge, our host Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek is joined by Nesha Pai, an award-winning author, a popular speaker, a determined mentor, and a passionate advocate for small businesses and stay-at-home moms. Nesha draws on her own experience and journey as a stay-at-home mom who reentered Corporate America. She was able to completely change her career trajectory with the founding of her own CPA firm hiring stay-at-home moms. Nesha inspires others to step into their power, regain trust in the process, and live the life of their dreams.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 The views expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft. Welcome to the Edge, the Skillsoft podcast where we share stories of all of the ways in which transformative learning helps organizations and their people grow together. I am your host, Michelle bb. My pronouns are she and her. Thank you for joining today. This is season three of the Edge, where we focus on topics ranging from skilling and building sustainable workforces to the human revolution. Persuasive storytelling to digital transformation. And I've had the privilege to welcome some of today's most inspiring speakers, but more importantly, I've had the pleasure of introducing them to you. Our listeners here at Skillsoft, we believe that everyone has the potential to be amazing. And one of the most exciting aspects of the learning experiences that we develop is how they equip people to reinvent themselves, to imagine a different path, and to take steps to acquire the skills they need to succeed both today and tomorrow. Speaker 1 00:01:14 Now, reinvention is something that my guest today is very familiar with. Nisha Pie is the founder of Pie CPA in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of my very favorite cities. She's an award-winning author, a popular speaker, a valued mentor, and a passionate advocate for small businesses and stay at home moms. She also hosts her own podcast series piece of the Pie, which focuses on successful entrepreneurs sharing their business insight. NHA draws on our own experience in the journeys of others to guide people to step into their power, to regain their trust in the process and to live the life of their dreams, something we should all aspire to. Welcome to the Edge. Nisha, thank you so much for joining me. Speaker 2 00:02:02 Michelle, thank you so much for having me. I am honored to be here. Speaker 1 00:02:06 The honor is all mine. I am so excited for this. We'll get into more of why I'm so excited, but having visited your website, having learned so much about you already, Nisha, I think this is gonna be an amazing discussion and we're here today to talk about reinvention. Such a great topic. But before we go there, because I think it's germane to the discussion, let's talk a little bit about your background. First generation Indian American. Tell us about what it was like growing up in the 1970s, cuz I grew up then too, just so you know. <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:02:44 Yeah, so you know, you know the pain <laugh> of the seventies. I grew up in Greenville, Tennessee, population 12,000, something like that in the eastern tip of Tennessee. I think there were five Indian families in the entire state and we knew them all. <laugh> and so mm-hmm <affirmative> already. I had a sense of feeling different and being different and kind of being outta place because I wasn't really Indian. I really wasn't American. And it was kind of tough. It was tough finding my place for sure. Speaker 1 00:03:21 I can imagine. And I think that when I think back to that time and that era, really, really different mindset about culture and the way in which we celebrated culture. I grew up in Dallas, Texas in a very, yeah. Different Jewish community in which, you know, there was only a certain population. And so while I can't necessarily understand your experience, I can certainly empathize. I understand that your family, that you at home observe very traditional Indian values. That has to play into how you show up at school. And, and the difference is the dichotomy between the world in which you were living and the world that you had at home. Speaker 2 00:04:13 Gosh, that's such a great observation because I grew up with a subservient Indian mother and a lot of women in that generation, no matter what the culture is. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> or was, we're subservient, right? That was the generation. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. I felt this massive chasm in what my mom wanted me to be or what I should have been versus who I truly was inside. And who I was inside was the girl that wanted to always be loud. And so I always had sort of that inner fight of, no, you've gotta be subservient and quiet and not speak up. And then the other side of me saying, No, speak up, be loud, be yourself. Just go out there and do non girl things. Speaker 1 00:04:58 Growing up in this way, did that then affect what you wanted to be when you grew up the choice of careers that you were going to have available to Speaker 2 00:05:08 You? A hundred percent. So back then, you know, we didn't have Mindy Kig, we didn't have Hassan Minaj, we didn't have all these cool Indian people doing creative artsy things. We had to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers. I remember I wanted to go into fashion. I wanted to go into fashion since I was four years old. I had made my mom take me to, uh, Woolworth's, if you remember that drug store. I Speaker 1 00:05:33 Love Woolworth's <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:05:35 I had her bon mint green eyeshadow and the big mint green earrings, clip-ons. I was four. I knew at an early age I wanted to go into fashion and beauty. And when I got to graduating high school and heading into university, I was like, I wanna go into design school and I wanna go to New York and I wanna be in fashion. And my parents are like, Nope, we are not paying for that. And <laugh>, you've gotta go into one of those four things that Indian people go into, right? So I ended up being an accountant because I was good at it, but not because I really wanted to. So that's how I ended up as a cpa. Speaker 1 00:06:14 How did you maintain your sense of self in a culture, in a field that truly wants you to conform? Speaker 2 00:06:23 That is a great question. You know, I would first of all back then to, if you remember Michelle, we had to wear hoes hory, if that's what that is, and wear these navy suits and such. I didn't last long in that I started slowly bringing out my bold accessories and just dressing a little funer and kind of putting my own style into it. And just at one point in my career at a firm, I remember a colleague saying to me, Well Nha, we can really tell when you're walking down the hallway because you're really colorful <laugh>. And I didn't know whether to take that positively or negatively, but I took it positively. Cause I'm like, yeah, I'm different. Yeah, I am different Speaker 1 00:07:07 <laugh>. I think that's a wonderful thing. By the way, I found a stat, Forbes magazine did a study and among currently employed Gen X, which we are millennial and Gen Z individuals, 65% work in the field that their parents wanted for them. So if you think about it, so you, you go become an accountant, you then followed a what I'll call a fairly conventional course marriage, motherhood. Yes. Speaker 2 00:07:33 But Speaker 1 00:07:34 Then something happens, and this brings me, I think to the favorite part of your journey. You can call it the Jerry McGuire moment, the leap of faith moment. But something changed for you, something shifted. Speaker 2 00:07:46 I was a stay-at-home mom for six years, Uh, when my son had turned six, I decided to walk out of my marriage and went back into corporate America and went back to a local public accounting firm. And I was there for about five years. And I remember walking into my boss's office after this five year mark with a list of accomplishments and accolades and I was like, I'm going in there. I'm gonna ask for this raise and I'm gonna get it. And I walk in, I'm like, Okay. Prepared to have the raise talk. I wasn't even asking for much. I think I was asking for like $10,000. So do the math of what that really equates to take home <laugh>. So not a lot. And I wasn't even where my peers were. And I gave him this list and I looked at him and I said, I would like a raise or something to the effect of, can I have a raise? Speaker 2 00:08:40 And he looked at me and he said, No, you are not where your peers are because you have a mom gap in your resume and I am declining your request. And something came over me, we can call it the universe, God, just your inner younger self. And I looked at him on the spot and I said, I quit if I had a millisecond to even think about saying that, I wouldn't have said it. And I said that, and I walked up and I kind of ran out the door, took the goldfish with me referencing the movie, took my one big client <laugh>. And I'm like, What the hell did I just do? Right? I'm a single mom, I have a mortgage. And I said, I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna do this because I'm never gonna let another man really human. Right? I don't wanna put men in the category, but I'm never gonna let another human dictate or limit my future. And as I was walking to my car, I had this whole idea of a logo and the colors and it just kind of took over me. And I'm like, You're gonna figure this out as you go along and you're gonna do this and you're gonna serve clients better than the people in your firm did. And that was that. That was 11 years ago. Speaker 1 00:09:58 Oh my God. I love that. As we would say the the hot spa. I mean, but my gosh, as a woman, I celebrate you for thank you being willing to take on something that we should all feel that we have a responsibility, frankly, to other women as well. Right? There was even still a gender pay gap. And so I think to acknowledge that and to recognize that I am not being paid my worth or my value, and to be able to say this is not acceptable. I commend you for that because I think other women need to hear that it is an incredible story. But the reality is, is that you have parlayed that into something of your own that is now helping other people. And so I wanna know how is PI CPA doing what the 11, 12 years later? Yeah, Speaker 2 00:10:53 So it's funny, you know, I had to fight for severance and I think I got two months of severance. And I said, Okay. Oh my gosh, you've got two months. You've got two months to get this going. I built off of that one client and I now have 80. And when I walked out that day, Michelle, I said, I'm gonna hire stay at home moms. And I created my business model where I would be supporting stay at home moms and giving them a bigger sense of self, right? Like you're not just a mom. And so I have six stay at home moms that work for me now and looking for a seventh. And I never wanted another mom to feel the way that I did that day when he looked at me and said, I didn't deserve the raise I was asking for. And we are thriving. We are thriving and doing well here in the Charlotte area. And you know, just one by one, we're getting new clients almost, to be honest with you. Like weekly, we're getting inquiries. So, you know, we've been growing slowly but surely. And I will always hire stay at home moms. Speaker 1 00:12:02 I love that. Tell me about how your clients react to this, because this is something that is different and I would assume that some initially are, Ooh, is this something that I'm willing to sign up for? My guess though is that you have an amazing, talented staff that is providing exceptional service. So tell me about how, how do clients receive this business model of yours? Speaker 2 00:12:31 When I started this model 11 years ago, remember there was no such thing as remote work, especially in the accounting industry. So my colleagues thought I was crazy. I had male colleagues literally tell me, what are you, you're crazy. What's, what's this model? They didn't get it right. But I knew that one day, this model, this was the future. And so I had to hard sell initially to clients, but they knew me. I would go to people that I knew and I would build relationships. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And they began to trust me and I said, This will work. If you give me the opportunity in my firm, the opportunity, this will work and it will make your life better. It was a hard sell at first and now, you know, 11, 12 years later it's like, oh, I kind of fit in now <laugh>, or I should say the industry caught up with me. Speaker 1 00:13:23 I would say that you are far ahead of the industry. I love your success and your model. Thank you. I hope that it serves to inspire others, but I wanna get back to something that you mentioned a little bit ago, this notion of the mom gap. And I think it's a much bigger issue than a lot of people realize. Time out to raise a family. It affects mostly women in myriad ways, right? It can stall careers and in some cases end them. I think it can cause loneliness, a lack of self, self-esteem, anxiety, depression. I think it can lower benefits, right? So we don't necessarily have access to healthcare, social security, retirement. And that has an impact on our long term financial stability. And then you cobble that with Covid 19, which forced so many working moms who were working outside the home to leave the workplace because of the demands of I don't have childcare or I don't have the family care that I need for other loved ones. Speaker 1 00:14:22 And we found in some of the reports that we published here at Skillsoft, that Covid Aply named the Pink Pandemic, has disrupted women's lives to a far greater extent than their male counterparts. And at the same time, I think, or or I guess I hope that it's proven that as we work in a distributed or hybrid or remote environment, which can accommodate what I would hope is a better work life balance for parents, this is a viable way to conduct business. As you think about sort of your success, what are some of the suggestions you might have for women who are either looking to or have just transitioned back to work or work at home? What are some of the things they need to know? Speaker 2 00:15:13 Yeah, that's a great question. In fact, I interview a lot of these moms and the number one thing that I share with them is we are at an age of fast technology and everything is technologically driven. And especially the accounting industry, I tell these moms like, we have so many options out here now to learn a new software or a new skill set. And if you've been outta the workforce for five years, 10 years, you can catch up because of the technology available to learn these skills. I actually interviewed somebody who had quite a large mom gap and she's like, I really wanna get back out and I really wanna do bookkeeping. And I said, I'd love to hire you. I said, I cannot hire you right now, but here's what I suggest you do. I suggest you go learn QuickBook, you go learn the basics of accounting again, and you can do all this online and then we can talk, cuz I'd love to talk to you further when that happens. We have all of this available to us now, and I think that moms can actually come back and learn a new skillset or brush up on a skillset from 10 years ago and learn the technology and are just as viable as talent as anybody else out here. Speaker 1 00:16:34 I think investing in yourself and investing in new skills is a game changer. And it opens stores and unlocks opportunities that you may not have thought were available to you or frankly probably weren't available to us as we were coming up through the rank. Absolutely. And so this idea that you can go out and learn a new skill, improve the skills that you already have, and it's completely available and accessible that we've democratized learning in a way that gives people more opportunity. I just love it and I, I, I could talk about it forever, but I think that the reason that you hear the excitement in my voice as soon as this is what we do at Skillsoft and it's what we help people accomplish. Let's turn the table around a little bit. What advice would you give to managers, leaders, and organizations that are working likely in a distributed model? What advice do you give them in terms of how they hire, who they hire and what it means to really go out and open their aperture a bit to maybe think of different populations that wouldn't have necessarily been top of mind before? Speaker 2 00:17:42 I have to tell you what I love about the stay at home mom population. Mm. Is moms, whether you stayed at home or not, moms automatically know how to multitask. Yes, they right. They're Speaker 1 00:17:55 Nurturers. Speaker 2 00:17:56 They're nurturers by trade, right? They multitask, they're loyal, and when they get into the work, they will get it done. And they're detail oriented. And so I've talked to a lot of managers actually here in Charlotte of mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Hey, now that you're going to a hybrid or remote workforce, consider that population. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because that population will bring skills to you that you might not have from the traditional college grad that comes in, or somebody that's been in corporate America for years. They're gonna add something special and different that you need in your labor force. Those are the conversations I've been having. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> is, hey, look at these other, well, the state at home mom population, which I'm very passionate about, that is an untapped labor pool. Speaker 1 00:18:42 So if you think about an organization now that is eager or willing or open to hiring, be it a stay at home mom or somebody who's left the workforce and come back, what are some of the things that they're gonna need from their organizations? Speaker 2 00:18:59 Definitely training and offering them the training support and the tools so that they can get caught up with the technology or just really the support around the training. Yeah. I think if you can give them the training or give them a roadmap, they're gonna be able to follow it and just fit right in. And I think a lot of organizations kind of miss the boat on the training, Right. They don't give it a whole lot of value. And I think training them and giving the support around the training Yeah. Will go a long way. Speaker 1 00:19:34 I think that's right. I also know that one of your passions is mentorship. And for me that's been everything. Because I think when you have a good mentor, when you have someone who's invested in you, you're gonna be more successful. And it's somebody also who's gonna help you understand the unwritten rules of an organization, which by the way, I talk a lot about, right? You come into an organization and there are all the things that are in the handbook, but then there's all the things that nobody's telling you about how that organization actually works. So having peers and a mentor, that relationship is so important. And you've made it a point to mentor future leaders, whether they are professional women working moms, or people launching small businesses. So tell me about the importance of mentorship. What have you observed? What advice do you find yourself giving? Speaker 2 00:20:27 Thank you for mentioning that. This is also a passionate thing for me because when I graduated college and I went to go work for the number one accounting firm in the world, Arthur Anderson here in Charlotte, I didn't have mentorship, I didn't have that, I didn't have that at all in my career. And there were very few women at that time in the senior levels, in the C-suite in accounting. So I never had that. So a, aside from supporting the stay-at-home mom, I said, when I came out here and started my company, I said, I'm going mentor, I'm gonna mentor women. It doesn't matter where they are in their career. I've even mentored a few men, a few young men. It's huge for me because had I had the mentorship, I think that my life could have been very different and I could have, you know, I know our journey's, our journey, and I'm grateful for where I am in it. But I believe if I had had the right mentorship, I would've had other opportunities open up for me that didn't. I tell my young people, I say, go find somebody that you connect with and create a relationship with them in the organization and ask if they can mentor you or just have a natural mentoring relationship that might come about. I think this is also missing, The mentorship is missing when we get into corporate America. I'm hoping that more leaders will see that they need to kind of create this environment. Speaker 1 00:21:55 I agree, because I like you, I didn't have mentors when I was coming up through the ranks. And I was very fortunate when I was at IBM to have just an amazing mentor in Caroline Taylor. And the interesting thing was is that I saw her as this amazing leader in the organization, well regarded. And I'm like, Why would she ever wanna mentor me? You know, who am I? And all it took was asking. And so I think one of the things is leaders we have to do is we've gotta make ourselves available and accessible and we've gotta open ourselves up. I often tell people, Look, I am more than willing to mentor and help and support. But I think that's something that we've gotta put ourselves out there because in a lot of cases I think people are afraid to make the ask or they don't want to bother because they know how busy you are. When in fact, as leaders, to me, this is one of our most important jobs and the most important gift we can give back to the organization. Because when you've got people who are fulfilled, who have a roadmap for where they're going and they feel like they understand what tools they need to be successful, they're gonna stay with you longer, they're going to be more satisfied, and it's going to help in terms of performance of the overall organization. Speaker 2 00:23:14 Thank you Michelle, for saying that. I think it's our responsibility as the leader to come forth and say, We want to mentor you. Hey, you know, my door's open. And you're absolutely right on that. Speaker 1 00:23:28 Okay. I have to ask you, you have a book Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles. Tell us about that. I'd love to know more Speaker 2 00:23:35 About three, four years ago, this book had been on my heart. And when I was telling people I was writing a book, they were like, Is it gonna be about accounting <laugh>? They said it's gonna be the exact opposite of accounting. It is a book about my journey as a first gen Indian woman born and raised in the south. I cover everything from being born in Tennessee to divorce and postpartum depression and getting fired a couple of times, starting a business. Even my journey in how I found my faith. And I wrote this book for two things I wrote to heal parts of my heart that were still un heeled, that I didn't realize. And two, I find that we connect humanity as we, we connect through pain, through suffering, through obstacles, and we all have the same pain. It might look different, but we all have the same pain. And so I found that writing my book connected to everybody, everyone from a 29 year old white male to an African American, 20 year old female to everybody. And the more people that have read my book, they're like, Man, I find myself in your book and in your story. And it made me realize we are truly one. We are one. And I wrote that book really to connect with everybody else. Speaker 1 00:25:06 I love that. Cause there's a lesson for everyone. So here's a plug. Go out and get Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles by Nisha Pie. Nisha, I, I, I struggle because like the time just is clicking by and you know, we're coming to an end and I have to ask you the questions that I ask every single guest. Speaker 2 00:25:29 I love these Speaker 1 00:25:29 Who join me on the edge. Oh good. I'm so Speaker 2 00:25:31 Glad. I was like, I love, I always do this too, so I love any kind of cool questions at the end. Speaker 1 00:25:37 Yeah. Well, so, so first, um, before I do that, it's September and here's what I need to know, right? It's September here in the United States and pumpkin spice has exploded. So are you camp pumpkin spice? Are you Oh gosh, no. I can't even, It is far too early for me to be breaking out pumpkin. Which are you <laugh>? Speaker 2 00:26:01 Well, it is still 85 degrees in Charlotte, North Carolina. So I am, I am camp no until it gets cold, which who knows when it'll get cold these days. But, um, no <laugh>, Speaker 1 00:26:15 So, so I was with you until Trader Joe's broke out. The pumpkin spice cream cheese and hammus and pumpkin spice, everything. It's exploded in my Trader Joe's. So <laugh>, um, I had to kind of, yes, I was with you, but now I'm, Oh heck yes, I do love this. Speaker 2 00:26:33 I might have to go check that out. Speaker 1 00:26:34 Oh, it's really, it's the hummus. So good. Anyway, Nisha, this is a three parter by the way. What are you learning right now or something that you've recently learned that's had an impact? Second, how are you applying that, whether it's in the flow of your work or your passion projects or just in life. And then the third is what advice about learning would you share with others? So what are you learning? How have you applied it and what advice would you give? Speaker 2 00:26:59 Ah, that's a great three part question. I am right now learning the art of public speaking. Yes. And I you love that. Enrolled in Heroic Public Speaking, which is a school in New Jersey. And I am using that because I am sort of launching my speaking career so that I can serve more people and touch more people through keynotes of my book, but also, you know, entrepreneurs. How can I reach entrepreneurs? So that is one of the things I'm learning and how I'm applying it. And I just give this advice all of the time. And I tell people, just be a learner, be a lifelong learner. I think that learning new skill sets and learning new things for me gives me energy. It gives me joy. And so I just tell people whatever it is, ballroom dancing, pickle ball, which is a big craze right now, you know, leadership, whatever it is, a new software. Just be a lifelong learner. I will be one until I die. I will always be learning something new. Speaker 1 00:28:01 Oh my gosh, I absolutely, absolutely love that. And as a fellow lifelong learner, I applaud you for that. And thank you so much, Nisha. Oh, thank you for your time. I think your story, which we only just touched on and, and there's so much more to it, but I know that this will resonate with so many of our listeners, and perhaps they'll consider the path they're on and, and what other paths there might be for them to explore. And speaking of our listeners, I wanna thank you all for tuning into this, into every episode as we unleash our edge together at Skillsoft, we propel organizations and people to grow together through transformative learning experiences. Anisha, my guest today is a sterling example of the power of transformation and reinvention. I hope you found her story as inspiring as I did. And you can learn more about Nisha by tuning into her podcast piece of the Pie. And you can also check out her book, Overcoming [email protected]. That is N E S H A P A Thank you again for listening. This is the Edge. I'm Michelle Bebe. Until next time, keep learning, keep growing, and be well.

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