Marisa Lonic is a keynote speaker, life & business coach, 3x author, top-rated podcast host and the founder of Mama Work It. After spending nearly 15 years in corporate leadership positions, Marisa shifted gears to become a full-time Time Momager & Biz Momager. Through her books, courses, and coaching programs, she helps busy moms juggling mom life, work life, wife life, and filling in the blank life. Her time management and goal achievement strategies have helped the most overwhelmed mamas turn their dreams into reality, even when they thought they had no time to make any of it happen.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I grew up bicultural and bilingual in the U.S. and in Italy. This gave me a deep appreciation for other cultures, languages, and overall empathy. Because of this, I began my career serving others through education and then in the corporate world, always in global environments. I worked in learning and development, customer experience, operations, sales and marketing. With each role, I realized what I loved most was helping others thrive and develop themselves personally and professionally, and seeing them grow-either within the organization or upwards and onwards elsewhere. As a teacher, professor and corporate leader, coaching and mentoring my students and team was always my favorite part of the job. I’d spend my educational stipend developing deeper self awareness, tapping into emotional intelligence tools, reading tons of self development books about leadership and communication from mentors like Brené Brown, Gary Chapman, Marie Forleo and Mel Robbins and then put the principles into practice in my leadership or share and recommend the insights and materials with my team. Any time I was given the opportunity to speak on stages, no matter what I’d be tasked with presenting, I’d bring an element of self development into the discussion because I knew if I was passionate about being the best version of myself, others had to feel the same way.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
Motherhood definitely changed my journey, but not from the beginning. At first, I became a mom of premature twins and felt like a hot mess. I needed to find my rhythm as a corporate executive who was now also a working mom. I couldn’t travel as often and didn’t want to spend endless hours working away from home. I wanted to be an exceptional mom, but I also wasn’t in a position to quit my job and devote all my time and attention to my children as a stay at home mom, nor did I want to. It’s not because I didn’t love my kids-of course I did. But, I had worked hard to achieve career success and have always been ambitious. My career was a big part of me. At the same time, I struggled with figuring out how to juggle the two worlds and show up as my best in both. Once I got into a good routine and found myself thriving at work and at home, I was pregnant again and introduced a new baby and a new dynamic to my working motherhood. I started to feel called to support the working mom community more and more–not just in casual conversations with friends who asked me how I found the time to do it all, but on a larger scale. I loved to write, so I started a blog. I started to write about my time management tips, my practical life hacks, my humorous yet sometimes stressful and always less than perfect life as a working mom. I grew my blog and business alongside the already demanding world of corporate mom life. I wrote, I spoke, I created courses and programs to help other moms thrive in the juggle of work life, mom life, wife life, fill in the blank life. Over the next few years, my business, family and passion for supporting the mom community continued to grow, and I made the full transition from employee to entrepreneur. It was one of the scariest leaps of my life, but also one of the most rewarding, fulfilling and aligned choices I’ve ever made.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”
I’m super analytical and practical, so even though my answer is going to sound woo-woo when I tell you it was my intuition, I will tell you I didn’t listen and follow it right away. In fact, I chose to question it for so long, it ended up getting so loud and so apparent, it was simply impossible to ignore. During this time, I did a lot of reflecting, soul searching, had an internal dialogue on repeat that even I was so sick of hearing, and finally couldn’t silence any more. No matter how safe and cozy and familiar being a traditional working mom had been for me, it wasn’t serving me any longer. It was just time, and deep within me I knew it. I had given myself a deadline, declared it aloud to a few important people in my life, and felt it was honestly my only choice at that point: to quit my career as a corporate executive and go all in on my business: Mama Work It.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
When I went all in on my business, I inherited what some may call the most demanding boss ever: myself! The immense pressure and impossible expectations we can sometimes set on ourselves as entrepreneurs needs to be spoken about. I still need to check myself here and there and remember to show myself grace, compassion, and expect realistic milestones. It helps to always bring it back to your ‘why’, why you decided to start your business in the first place. For me, it’s a combination of passion, ambition and most of all: time and financial freedom so I could create the balance and life I want, to be able to show up as the best version of me to my family and my work.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
I agree that while the pandemic was burdensome and caused many people hardship, myself included, it was also an introspective and reflective time for many. We were finally able to slow down and just think. We were finally able to stop the hustle and bustle and realize what our priorities truly are, without the distractions and nuances that surrounded us prior. For me, the biggest challenges were the logistics and lack of support. Like many other working parents, the pandemic caused us to lose our support systems to be able to make it all work: the job, the business, the home, all of it. I found myself in an impossible situation: leading a corporate team, growing a business, caring for my children, and managing a household-all at once and mostly alone as my husband was considered an essential worker and consequently worked outside the home daily. It was overwhelming to say the least. As I found ways to thrive and make it all work, I started sharing those mindset shifts and practical hacks with other parents. I created a course that helped working parents in over 90 countries also thrive during this challenging time and it was not only a humbling experience, but a confidence boost that my work was gaining traction and my message was positively and globally impactful. In 2021, a year after I released that course, I went all in on my mission and my business.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
Thank you–some of my biggest accomplishments include publishing my 3 books: Time MOMagement: How to Get the Time You Need to Do the Things You Want, Word to Your Mother: A Mama’s Guide to Journal Today & Slay Tomorrow, and Biz MOMagement: The Working Mom’s Guide to Go From Employee to Entrepreneur. I love to write and while these books have been labors of love, I am still in awe when I read them because the words are powerful, the stories are so vulnerable and relatable, and the motivation and direction is so clear and blunt, you can’t help but get a kick in the booty to turn your dreams into goals and your goals into your reality. I also love to use my voice to motivate, inspire and connect with others and I’m proud to say the Mama Work It podcast was named #21 of the top 50 podcasts for moms in 2022 by Podcast Magazine.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
Don’t let excuses or circumstances stop you from going after what you know is right for you. I’m generally a risk averse kind of girl so I understand lots of decisions can feel scary when you’re entering a new and foreign world without a steady paycheck or PTO or a 401k. Just take one small step today. Then another tomorrow. Then another the next day. When you use your time with intention, small steps lead to big destinations. I could have said many times, “I don’t have time to start a business, to write a book, to host a podcast” especially when I was juggling my business as a side hustle alongside a demanding career and a growing family, but I took small steps daily and now here I am, pinching myself that this is real.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
I get to decide how I spend my time. I truly believe how we use every minute, every hour, every day is a choice we make and I feel empowered to know I get to decide how I choose to spend it. I am firm believer that when you manage your time and prioritize effectively, you can make anything happen because you’re being intentional about what you want to do and taking action to get there. This doesn’t mean I hustle 24/7. It means I prioritize what matters and don’t waste time filling my days with things that don’t.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I’ve always been fortunate to work in environments where women were in leadership positions and, while I recognize this isn’t the case everywhere, I can proudly say that my experience has been ones where women were recognized, rewarded and in charge of leading companies to success. Hopefully organizations who don’t have this diversity currently in place will realize that as long as the common denominator is a passion for your company’s mission, the differences a diverse leadership group will bring, women included, will only amplify your ability to grow and succeed.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Go for it, girl. I’ve failed many times. I regret none of those experiences. In the end, it’s not failure-it’s feedback. And feedback is always good. It helps you reflect. It pushes you in the right direction. It gives you invaluable insight you would have never seen if you just walked straight down a narrow hallway. You will be plagued with regret if you don’t try, but more than likely regret nothing if you do.