Kellyanne Conway: Bergen County Mom on a Mission

Wellness  / 

We are continuing our Bergen County Mom on a Mission Series by highlighting local M.O.M.s we awe and adore.  Kellyanne Conway is Founder and President of The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend a privately-held, woman-owned corporation founded in 1995.  The firm is headquartered in Washington, DC and maintains an office in New York City.  Kellyanne is one of the most quoted and noted pollsters on the national scene, having provided commentary on over 1,200 television shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, HBO, Comedy Central, MTV and the Fox News Channel, and numerous radio shows and print stories. She lives in Bergen County with her husband and four kids.

Bergen Mama: Tell me about yourself: describe you; what are your priorities and qualities? Give me three words.

Kellyanne: Family. Faith. Constant Motion. But if I were to describe myself, I guess I would say, curious, confident … and I love the cheerful chaos that goes along with having four kids (ages 5, 6, and two 10 year-olds) two dogs, and an adorable husband who is really like a fifth child!

Bergen Mama: What was your own childhood like, and how does it influence you now?

Kellyanne: I grew up in a very unconventional household: I was raised by four Italian Catholic women: my mother, grandmother, and two aunts (my dad left when I was two.) There were no men in the house; even our dog was female! It was kind of a South Jersey version of the Golden Girls, complete with housecoats. Still, to this moment, I don’t remember my grandmother ever raising her voice, or complaining, or seeming unhappy, or saying “I’m tired”— and I wish I could say the same! The way I grew up definitely inspires my approach to parenting, because everyone seemed to have their priorities in order. This perspective has helped me to get organized and know the difference between “need to do” versus “nice to do”. I’ve learned to not overestimate what I can get done by this Friday, and to stop underestimating how much I can get done in the next two weeks. This allows me to find the balance between curiosity and urgency, and enjoy every moment.

Bergen Mama: So how do you do it? How do you separate work and family so you can be present for each one?

Kellyanne: I wake up one to two hours before anyone else in the house, and I will work as soon as the last head hits the pillow and the last set of eyes are closed. When we’re together as a family we strive to be fully present. I’ve also learned to say no. That is an incredible achievement because we’re all so conditioned to be the “yes” girls.

Bergen Mama: What piece of advice would you give women and moms starting out in business and in family life?

Kellyanne: Learn to hear and accept the word “no” more than you say it. This is definitely true in business where rejection is a big part of the process. I don’t believe in the old saying that opportunity knocks twice — sometimes it taps once and you’d better be there to grab it.

As for family life, what I found through trial and error is that there is no better expert on your needs of your family, than you. Ladies, don’t be so hard on yourselves! I love all of my children equally but I respond to each one differently. It takes some effort to figure out where your kids flourish and where they are most happy, but it makes for a more thriving child and happier household.

Bergen Mama: What have you learned from being a successful businesswoman and a working mom?

Kellyanne: I’ve learned more from my failures and missteps than I’ve learned from successes, by miles. I work in a male-dominated field in New York and in Washington. There is plenty of room for passion, but very little patience for emotion. Which means as a woman, you cannot approach professional situations emotionally. I’ve learned to take four breaths, because we often don’t regret what we don’t say.

I love my life. I had dinner with a U.S. Senator Monday night, briefed 15 members of congress yesterday, and today I’ll volunteer for the lunch program at school. I love all those different experiences. Part of why I work is that it keeps me structured, intellectually stimulated, and less focused on me. I am also thrilled that my three daughters see examples of different life choices. They see my cousin who, like our grandmother, did not work outside of the home, and then they see their mom who works, and they know we both are happy. My girls should learn that yes, they can have it all but just not at the same time. I worked plenty of weekends and delayed marriage and motherhood by nearly a decade. Also, and maybe this is because my father left my mother when she was just 25, it seems important to have a way to support my family in case my husband loses his job or I lose my husband.

Bergen Mama: What made you know what you wanted and think that you could get out there and succeed?

Kellyanne: I always knew I wanted something different and more for myself, but it was never an escape from the place I called home. The reason I could spread my wings and start my own business is because I had a family that said to me: we will love you no matter what, so go out there, and if you fail you can always come home. And they meant it. The shame is in not trying, not in not succeeding. This was really encouraging.

Bergen Mama: How do you balance it all?

Kellyanne: I prefer to be the fulcrum, not the juggler. I can’t complain because I’m either in a suit on an airplane or I work from home. And that’s a great gift for me. It allows me to do pickups most days and pack their lunches. Every morning I make them a full hot breakfast regardless of what’s going on, so at least I know we started the day talking and engaging. Dad takes them to school and I head upstairs to my office or to the train station.

Here’s how I stay organized: For me things go in different baskets: urgent (today) important (tomorrow) and nice to do (versus need to do). It would be terrific to see more of my friends on a regular basis, have washboard abs, and clean out every junk draw I just keep adding to, but life intervenes. Sometimes we need to stand back and realize how many blessings we already have.

Related Posts