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Jen Riley

Producer

Vancouver, BC

Be true to who you are. If who that is happens to be a kickass-superhero-working-mom-quasi-entrepreneur, then more power to you.

I remember the fear I had as a 10-year-old so vividly. How am I going to manage a family while simultaneously running the world? I grew up in a world where a glass ceiling was something you could tap dance on after you found the ladder sitting right next to it. I knew I could be whatever I wanted to be, but was petrified that the pressures of motherhood and worker bee would force me to lean back one way or the other.

Fast forward to one year ago and the birth of my daughter: Lucy Dime. I was holding this human in my arms and was in complete and utter shock. What now? Leading up to her birth, I had been in what can only be described as grief. Grief for my life. The one where I was kicking ass at work all day and loving every moment. During those first few (crazy, sleepless, barf-filled) weeks, I would find myself logging on to my email during night feedings and wanting to chime in on a thread so I could be heard. I missed work. A lot. That would inevitably be followed by horrible guilt that I wasn't satisfied with what I had right here in my arms.

Enter my Lean In moment. I am an avid yogi and was looking for an app to give me a guided yoga program while my daughter was down for a nap. What I discovered on the App Store was an unmet need that I felt that I was uniquely qualified to bring to market. Inspiration struck and everything inside me leaned into it. I set out to ignite what was a spark of vision into reality. I was going to make the best yoga app in the world—one that featured really good yoga classes in an easy to use experience that you could take with you on a trip to Hawaii, or use at the end of your bed when your daughter is sleeping. It started with a user experience flow plotted with Post-It notes on cardboard, grew to a design built on App Cooker for the iPad, to a fully-funded App and development plan in the span of two months.

It was at this point that the people who believed in me expanded past my family at home, to my family at EA SPORTS where I worked as a Communications Director. I initially approached the organization to get approval to develop the product on my own, but was very pleasantly surprised when my manager told me there was interest in the idea internally. I was given the opportunity to pitch the concept, and after proving out a strong design, a booming market opportunity and a low cost development plan that had upside, we were approved to move forward with my second baby, Yogify.

This process completely changed the course of my maternity leave and suddenly everything felt like it was in Technicolor again. My time with Lucy was more fulfilling because I was feeling fulfilled: I was happier doing something that I was passionate about.

What came out of my Lean In moment was a completely unexpected career evolution and a sense of release that it was okay to be just who I was. I am now back at work and am officially the producer of Yogify—something I would have never believed if you told me it was true one year ago.

So my advice? Be true to who you are. If who that is happens to be a kickass-superhero-working-mom-quasi-entrepreneur, then more power to you. You are never going to make the world happy with how you choose to live your life. You might as well stick with doing what makes you happy.

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