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Transition, Work & Motherhood: Picking The Right Team Members In Business And In Life


Ed: Sydney Chaney Thomas is a Moraga-based writer and businesswoman with three books to her name, all currently available on Amazon. She is also co-founder of a sustainable sailing apparel company called Ocean SF, and operates a nonprofit that works to reduce plastic waste called the The Trident Project.

Sydney teaches entrepreneurial marketing at UC Berkeley in their International Diploma Program and, in addition to this column, she writes a popular lifestyle blog, which can be found at sydneychaneythomas.com.

Transition, Work & Motherhood
Moraga, Calif.
April 13, 2018

For a myriad of reasons, before my husband died, I would tolerate toxic relationships in my life. Sometimes, I would think this person really pushes me to be better, when in reality, they were just putting me down, or I would think, I had to tolerate spiteful comments, and disrespectful treatment, because our daughters were friends, or this person was a relative.

After my husband died, my heart was so raw that I could only be with my kindest friends and family. I could no longer listen to someone tell me not to be so sensitive, when I called them on their bad behavior, or listen to them apologize for the same things, again and again. With my heart broken, I allowed no discussion, I simply notified them, and swiftly removed them from my life. At first, I thought, I’ll get back to them later, but now that I know how liberating it feels to surround myself with only loving people, I may never let them back into my life.  

To allow myself to be only treated with the respect and kindness that I deserve, has been an amazing gift to myself, and what an enormously positive impact it has had on my life as a whole.

Initially, there was the fear, that if I kept tossing people out of my life, I would end up very much alone, but this has proven unfounded, and the reverse has been true. I now only spend time with, and work with, people who demonstrate integrity. I gravitate to those who are authentic, hardworking and kind.  As a business owner I choose the people that I work with very carefully now. In the past, I would make excuses for someone who was very talented, but unreliable. No longer. Having a solid core of dependable, reliable people surrounding me in business and life is not just a nice to have it is a must.

Recently, I’ve spent a good deal of time in Los Angeles working on the production for my apparel company. In some ways, it has been a comedy of errors, there are mistakes and people must be accountable. Making clothing is a physical effort. It produces something and it is either right or it is wrong. I am now very quick to find the problem in these situations and eliminate it as quickly as possible. We are now on track to building a fantastic team that will be in place for years to come.

My life is very busy and it can be stressful. To be successful I must ensure that my inner circle is tranquil.  This is true in both my personal and professional life.


  1. Honey – we need to talk. Experienced and felt much the same and I agree: its critical to make sure you really know the people you allow into your life. As much as that is possible in any case. It has saved a lot of time and bother.

  2. O so sorry. I lost someone close to me too and although that hurt never really goes away things are better. I agree you have to pick the people you want on your team, starting with family if you are lucky enough to have it. But it sounds like you’re doing great and that is just where we all need to be. Some have better luck at it than others.

  3. @Kelly Thank you! I feel very fortunate that I am surrounded by some really amazing and wonderful people. I’m very close to my family, neighbors and life long friends. I do encourage everyone to make new friends and strengthen and deepen existing ties by making new memories. Activities like skiing, hiking and concerts are great for this.

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