The Future of Flexwork And Advocating For Women
Women and work is a big issue, and finding work when you're a mom or can't commit full-time can be a struggle. Ellevate Member Manon DeFelice is working to find a solution via her firm, Inkwell. Inkwell matches women to companies who are looking for flexible and project-based work.
Manon has spent her entire professional career as an advocate for women. She worked for the New York City Mayor’s Office on human trafficking issues and during law school interned at the District Attorney’s Office of New York's Sex Crimes Unit. Before law school, Manon worked as an associate for the human resource consultancy, Towers Perrin.
In her recent Twitter chat, she explored what motives her -- it's not money!-- and the importance of including women in the workforce.
How did you define your professional mission?
I want to change the way that companies work with women who have kids. It’s about making flexwork more widespread.
Did you always think you would end up doing what you do?
I never thought I’d start a for profit company! My background is human rights. I created Inkwell to help women and families.
What is the most important thing about building a good team?
Hire people who are better than you. People with skills that you don’t have.
What is your favorite thing about being a business leader?
I like advising other startups on hiring and strategy and working with companies to help them achieve their goals.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
To do a startup. It took a lot of risk to leave my job and build something with my own savings and resources.
What do you think is the most important trait in being a leader?
Know what you’re good at and stick to that. Delegate the rest. Bring in good people and trust them.
What is the most important strength that women bring to business?
If you tell a woman to do something, it gets done. They multitask, are time-efficient, & bring a new perspective.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career journey to date?
My mom. She’s very successful. I always knew that if I was working, it’d have to be something worth leaving my kids for.
What are your thoughts on mentorship and reverse mentorship?
Be nice to people below you because you’re going to see them on the way down. They could be your boss one day.
How do you turn your passion into a business?
Solve a problem. I saw a solution for women needing flexwork and for companies needing talent for less money.
What advice do you have about creating a personal brand?
Don’t undercut yourself. I have a friend who negotiated to get her old job back for less money. No man would do that.
What has your experience as an attorney and advocate taught you about business?
A few things: There’s no difference between the person that started Chobani yogurt and the stay-at-home mom. If they can do it, why can’t you?
Also, business leaders are just like us: They’re regular people. Don’t be intimidated. There’s nothing you can’t do.
My dad used to say, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." We make our own luck.
What do you think is the future of flexwork?
If companies don’t embrace flexwork they’ll be dinosaurs. Millennials want flexibility. Face time is gone.
Why is it important for companies to embrace the talents of women?
If you leave women out, that’s half the population. To succeed, you have to sell to women and work with women.
What motivates you daily?
I want to live the most exciting, fun life as possible. It’s not money. I do Inkwell because it’s fun.
Who inspires you?
Successful, powerful women who balance work and family. And go-getter 20somethings who have their shit together.
How do you stay resilient when things get tough?
I don’t take things personally. It’s water off a duck’s back. Nothing about work should ever be that big a deal.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do what you love and success will come. Do what you’re good at and eventually money will come too.
Do you have a role model?
No. I’m inspired by successful people.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Travel as much as possible. Don’t worry about money. But spend your money on experiences, not things.
What would you say was the biggest “learning moment” in your life?
Having kids helped me find definition. It made me realize I had to live my own life. They won’t always be there.
Any other advice?
It’s good to be a little bit selfish. Have your adventures. Your kids are your luggage: Take them along for the ride.
Do what you want and keep it exciting. If you want to work 100 hours a week, do it. If you’re stressed out, make a change.
Have passion. Spend time and do things with people you love and who make you happy. That includes work and personal life.