Editor-in-Chief & momma of 2, Marina teaches us about taking a leap of faith!

Name: Marina Mayer

Kid(s): Two kids: 7.5 years old & 4 years old.

Official work title and company: I am the editor-in-chief of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods magazine, a BNP Media brand.

Location: Office is in Deerfield, Ill., but I work remotely in Wauconda, Ill. (P.S. I grew up in Buffalo Grove, Ill.)

 Tell us more about your company/the company you work for? (How you got started, where did the idea come from, how it has grown to the success it is today, etc.)

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods magazine is a B2B publication targeting the perishables, refrigerated and frozen food and beverage industry, covering everything from supply chain and logistics and food safety to packaging, new product development, market trends and energy management solutions. 

While I’ve been with BNP Media for close to 12 years now, I accepted my current editor-in-chief position while still on maternity leave with my firstborn. Crazy, right? Lack of sleep, sore boobs, and a non-existent schedule can enable a woman to make rash decisions. However, I wouldn’t call this a rash decision. I was working as an executive editor for two sister publications. One of my two bosses was a woman, and a wretched woman at that. She was power-hungry and mad at the world and took her frustrations out on me. It was so bad that while I was on maternity leave I contemplated quitting altogether and just starting over. 

Then, the then-editor-in-chief of my publication called. He said he was moving on to another sister publication and wanted me to take his job. 

It was a leap of faith. Managing a magazine by myself. Managing a staff and freelancers and subject matter experts by myself. Learning a new industry, experiencing increased travel, and having to deal with lots and lots of deadlines—it was all quite the challenge. But it was a challenge I wanted and needed to further my professional career.

Sure, the opportunity came at one of the most pivotal times of my life, but it was an opportunity I could not pass up.

So, I returned from maternity leave, put in my two weeks’ notice with the two former sister publications (P.S. my former female boss was livid and refused to sign my transfer papers), and started a new job with a new baby at home. I was crazy. But, crazy in love with the challenge, the fear and excitement I felt, and the fact that my predecessor believed in me enough to take over his job.

Nearly seven years later, I’m still editor-in-chief of that magazine, I now have two kids, I present at conferences and client sales meetings, I’ve toured many cold food and beverage processing plants, and I now work remotely, which gives me a better work/life balance.

I also continue to grow the brand, both in print and online, increase our social media presence (which was non-existent when I came on board), and have managed to make a name for myself in a male-dominant industry.

Sometimes you have to face your fears, take the leap of faith, and hope you land on your own two feet.

What has been your biggest challenge as a working mom? Your biggest reward?

My biggest challenge as a working mom is the FOMO. I feel like someone or something is always getting sacrificed as a result. I’m at a tradeshow during my daughter’s school Valentine’s Day party, so I have to give up my volunteer spot. I have to duck out of my son’s preschool science fair to answer an urgent email. It also goes both ways. My kids don’t have the same summer that kids with non-working moms have. They go to camp, come home, eat dinner, take a bath and go to bed. They’re not out riding bikes or going to the park at 7 p.m. like some neighborhood kids. 

However, the biggest reward is setting a positive work ethic for my kids, especially my daughter, who at 7 years old, understands that mommy and daddy have to work to help buy them clothes, food, go to the movies, etc. The other reward is paving a path for my kids, again, especially my daughter, to prove that women can do and be anything and everything all at the same time. My job requires a lot of hours on the computer and travel away from home, but when I show pictures and videos to my kids of what I’m doing and why, it’s fascinating. 

Women shouldn’t have to choose. And, working moms prove that. 

 Where do you think working mom guilt comes from and how can women overcome it?

I think working mom guilt originally stems (unintentionally) from other moms. Especially in the summertime, when non-working moms are taking their kids to Great America, going on trips, crossing off to-dos on a summer bucket list. Working moms only have Saturdays and Sundays to play with, and those days are usually already packed with birthday parties, etc. 

 Social media also plays into that. We see what folks are doing on Facebook, and I’m stuck in a conference while my kids are in after-school care. 

 To overcome it though, that’s hard. I started this summer with our own to-do bucket list, with the understanding that these are goals, not priorities. It’s mid-June, and we were able to cross off one thing so far—the library. 

The guilt will always be there no matter what. I could quit my job tomorrow and face guilt that I’m not setting the right example for my kids. So, it’s on both sides.

 What have you found to be the motivations and benefits for women that take on the extra stress and time crunch of combining work and family?

The motivation is definitely doing something and managing something that is all mine, and I don’t share it with anyone. It’s my task to succeed or fail in. 

 It also helps that I have a very hands-on husband, who helps with household chores, pitches in with the kids when/where he can and notices when I’m feeling stressed, overworked or overwhelmed.  

What would be your time-saving tip for your fellow working moms?

Time-saving tip No. 1 is be organized and try to stay ahead of the schedule as much as possible. For example, I ordered stuff for goody bags for my son’s birthday party a month in advance. I don’t have the final headcount, but I can always return the extras. 

I make lists and lists to remind me to look at the lists. Lol. And, I teach my kids to be independent and self-sufficient. The night before camp or school, get your backpack prepared, are we doing hot lunch or cold lunch, etc. 

I also try not to agree to too many things. Sometimes it’s okay to say no to a birthday party or after-work event if you need the downtime. Personal me time is key to recharging the battery and staying sane. 

Who or what gives you your daily dose of inspiration?

Honestly, my daily dose of inspiration is knowing that I can make a difference somewhere along the way. Whether it’s helping out an industry client, teaching my children the importance of self-motivation, or developing a new editorial topic that covers women in logistics, for me, inspiration comes from within.

 What was the best advice a momma mentor in your life gave you?

Even though I work in a male-dominated industry, there are sprinkles of working moms in there. One of them said to me: one day at a time, one thing at a time, because at the end of the day, it’s just a job. That’s important to remind myself because it sometimes can be the job that overpowers the home life, and especially since I work from home, I try my hardest to keep that separated as much as possible.

What advice would you give to other working moms when it comes to balancing a career, family, and self-care?

My advice is to take care of yourself first, everything else will fall into place. Some people may say that sounds selfish, but think about it. If you don’t take care of yourself, how are you expected to take care of others? Make me time, whether it be a long shower, a yoga class, or a good book. And, of course, family time is key too, even if it’s something simple like checking out a movie at the library.

What is in your briefcase, purse, luggage, diaper bag, that you use every day, that you live for/need, in your life in order to make it a little less chaotic? 

In my purse is my sunglasses, wallet, cell phone, car keys, hand sanitizer, a pen, Tylenol, band-aids, a protein bar, and Chapstick. 

If you go back in time and give one piece of advice to yourself as a young mother, what would it be?

Not to sweat the little things or worry about the things you cannot control. I would drive myself crazy over work-related stuff, what my boss thought of my latest column, what the industry thought of the content in this week’s e-newsletter, etc. No news is good news, so if no one is complaining, I must be doing something right.

I would also worry about changes in the company (when they would happen) and how it would affect me and my job. At the end of the day, it’s just a job. There are many jobs out there, and if I can’t find the perfect one, I create it.  

Things happen for a reason, so just worry about what you can control and go from there.

If you could have a theme song for a “day in your life” what would it be? 

“The Eye of the Tiger,” the Rocky song. It always pumps me up and gets me motivated. The lyrics ring true to how I view my career. Hang tough. Stay hungry. Don’t lose grip of the past. Keeping the will to survive. 

Bonus: Do you have a favorite quote? Share with us if so! 

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, once said on Shark Tank: “Don't let what you don't know scare you, because it can become your greatest asset.” 

So true and so powerful in how women should view their careers, work/life balance and their being as a whole.