“I created my professional life around [my kids], I think that’s pretty badass”
Past guests on my “Uterus is a feature not a bug” podcast on working moms have included not only women who inspire me but also help me be a working mom, like Lynn Perkins of Urban Sitter.
I didn’t realize this before this interview, but this week’s guest Allison Fishman Task actually helped teach me to cook. Task has been a TV personality for everything from Yahoo, QVC, TLC, Lifetime and an author of a few cookbooks. But one of her first jobs in that phase was helping launch Everyday Food-- the astounding Martha Stewart property that taught foolproof thirty minute recipes for everyday living. I still have a little library of them in my house and cook recipes from that show nearly a decade later.
Indeed, this allowed her one rare working mom life hack: She doesn’t cook. She gives her nannies her own cookbooks and asks them to make specific recipes on specific nights for her kids. “I have contrived a way to have my family eat my homemade food all the time except I’m at the office when someone else is making my food,” she said.
But television chef was just one stop on Task’s varied career that has gone through tech marketing departments, TV studios, teaching people to cook in their homes, and now life coaching. Along the way she got married-- and got a step daughter in the process-- and had three kids of her own.
This is a fascinating episode about balancing the always changing needs of a growing career and a growing family, and exploring how quickly all the phases go. The right “balance” isn’t a static thing. Task talks about the year she quit working… and why she went back. It’s our first episode that’s talked about the art of being a stepmom, the aftermath of divorce, and about what it’s like to have a teenager and toddlers at the same time.
Task is a non-traditional entrepreneur from others we’ve had on this show in some ways. She may not have raised venture funds, but she’s created a life where she works for herself full time and on her terms, and is able to spend every afternoon and evening with her kids.
But in other ways, her path is like so many others we’ve documented in this series. It’s about building a startup on your own terms, not according to some Y-Combinator ideal or textbook Silicon Valley playbook. Jessica Herrin of Stella & Dot started her second startup without venture capital so she could build it on her terms as a new mother, Lynn Perkins started a company she and her co-founders needed to be working moms, and Julia Hartz started her company with her new husband, had a baby right after and raised money in the bleak years of 2008.
My favorite part of the interview was Task’s advice to young women just starting their career and wondering how they one day might be able to have it all: Develop a skill and be great at it, she said. She pointed out that if you are good enough, most skills can be done as flexible jobs. Doctors, lawyers, writers, therapists, actors, even. The key is you do it better than anyone else. And that in turn, she believes, makes you a better mom too.