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
June 22, 2018
Professionally, I’ve had some changes with my company that have caused me to take a break and reassess my options.
My co-founder resigned from the company a month ago. I work two other jobs and can’t easily run a company and the associated non-profit successfully alone.
To continue the clothing line would require a major restructuring and the legal fees to go with it. With a houseful of teenagers and my 60 hours per week of side hustles I just haven’t the bandwidth to address what needs to be done. I shipped my last orders and shelved it.
While working at my two other jobs I began to think in the framework of work as service. I am constantly aware of my contribution to these family run businesses. I put my focus solely on what I could contribute to help my employer succeed. I ensure that I am continually putting in the effort and hard work that I am ethically paid to do. It makes me feel really good to work hard and have that sense of peace and satisfaction at the end of a long day.
On Sunday morning, I tripped and fell in my bathroom. I’m sure everyone has had these close calls where we self correct, but I did not. After so many thousands of treacherous ski runs in white outs and so on, to trip in my house was quite shocking. Last year, I jumped off a giant boulder and fell. I misjudged the six foot drop on the steep slope and broke both my fall and my arm landing, ironically, in the ER on both consecutive Father’s Day’s after the death of my husband in 2016. The physical pain is my way of distracting myself from the emotional pain, or perhaps, the universe aligned to put an end to my working seven days per week. Either way, it was not my choice, but I am aware of the corresponding message and truly believe everything happens for a reason. Hopefully, I will learn my lesson this time and be done with it.
So, now I have to take a break from my time-consuming other work, and I am looking at my nautical clothing line again, but through a different lens. At this point in my life my endeavors must have meaning. I want to be of service and through this lens I begin to decide how I can dedicate my time and service to have the greatest impact.
Luckily, I’ve a rich network of contacts and a deep professional support system. I’ve always been attracted to brilliant original thinkers and these were the people I gravitated to and developed long lasting friendships with throughout my life, and especially over the past twenty years. I targeted the smartest women I could find as we watched our kids play in the sand box and created life long friendships with them. Later, I sought out interesting people on the sidelines at soccer games and tournaments, and lastly the dog park which is full of doctors, scientists, fund managers and lawyers.
As I enter this next chapter, I am calling on these friends for input. Yesterday, I had a long and enlightening conversation with Sandra Ann Harris, founder of Eco Lunch Box, for example. She most definitely encouraged me to continue to serve in the sustainable products realm. I was also contacted by a past employer and now happily have the option of heading back to the financial district in San Francisco. I remember these days fondly and miss wearing my Burberry raincoat, linen suits, and high heel pumps.
There is no real rush as I am enjoying my summer with a houseful of teenagers simultaneously. When my kids were little, I remember thinking, kids have a shelf life, and this is a valuable time that I will never be able to get back. The same is true for now.
Love and blessings to all.