Office Hours: I’m the CEO & founder of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. I’m a strategic advisor at Hubspot and have 20+ yoe in growth and innovation strategy. I’m Leslie Forde. AMA!Featured

Hi everyone!

I’m Leslie Forde and I’m the CEO and founder of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, where we provide Moms with products, research, and community, to reclaim time from the never-done list for their well-being.

I’ve used research to inform growth and innovation strategy for over 20 years, holding brand management, product marketing, business development and strategy roles in consumer tech, market research, media and publishing companies.

I most recently held leadership positions at a mental health startup, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, and CSpace and am currently a strategic advisor at Hubspot.

My writing on parenting, motherhood, and equity has appeared in The Washington Post, Slate, Parents Magazine and my website, Mom's Hierarchy of Needs, among other publications. I’ve also been quoted in CNN, National Geographic, Fast Company, NBC News, US News & World Report and several other outlets and books.

I’m an avid runner, passionate foodie, and committed self-improver.

Ask me anything about creating inclusive cultures for caregivers to thrive, motherhood and equity, retaining working parents, DEI, product marketing, self-care and growth with kids, career pivots or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @LeslieForde!Elphas – please ask @LeslieForde your questions before Friday, March 10th. @LeslieForde may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Thank you, I'm delighted to be here @ElphaStaff!
Hi I have been a SAHM for the past 12 years. Prior to this I was really driven and had lots of goals (college/ medical school, etc) and expectations. I felt a lot of pressure to trying and juggle both when my children where young but decided to become a full-time mom until my children got older. I felt like I had a lot of pressure on myself and from everyone around me (I was the first to attend college in my family). My family still asks what happened to going to school during family reunions and I constantly find myself explaining why I never became a PA or what I am doing right now. I started to have a lot of anxiety around making goals about my future. I find myself making superficial ones, so that if I didn't accomplish them it wouldn't feel too badly. My family recently separated from the military and I am trying to set myself up to transition back into the workforce to help my family further. I am studying a coding program to be a software engineer. My family has been encouraging but I am beginning to feel the mental pressure of failure as time passes. I didn't realize how much I was out of the loop and how narrow my window had gotten just taking care of my children. I am finding it hard to find who I am as a person besides being a mother and feel a little discouraged on this journey. What advice would you have for me or any other mother that is trying to get back in touch with themselves as an individual?
Hello @kqblacka! This is so important and you're asking the right question! Getting back in touch with YOU... what you really want and need is the priority. I understand the commitment you feel to your family and desire to support them, but as you explore what's next, if you choose to return to the paid workforce, make sure it's what you really want for yourself and that you're doing so in a way that you're excited about.1. Carve out a little space for reflection: Perhaps when the kids are at school, or before you go to bed or mid-day...whenever you're most likely to have childcare coverage or a window of time alone, if it appeals to you, consider some journaling or meditation. 15 - 20 minutes of free writing (there's a practice called Morning Pages from Julia Cameron's book, The Artists Way that I love, basically try to write 3 pages a day about anything, just for you, no one else reads it... but it's amazing what thoughts, feelings & ideas bubble up when you give yourself the space. 2. Make sure Coding is what you want to do:There's also a book, a little dated now but so good called, "What Color is Your Parachute" by Nelson Bolles, designed to help you match your superpowers & interests with a career path. It's natural to feel frustrated when learning a new field, but raising a family & being a Mom enhances so many leadership skills (and there are studies that back this up btw.) So, you'll get there with the right support, if coding is what interests you. There are also programs designed for returning Moms & consider joining a virtual or local community for other women learning these skills.3. Talk with your family about how you feel:It's hard... I'm from a very strong-willed family and understand that you're feeling a lot of pressure to do your life their way. But it's your life and you're in charge. If their vision for you is not aligned with what you want for yourself, have some candid convos about that. It can start with, "I love you but..." I interviewed an amazing Psychologist (and Mom) Dr. Komal Gupta about the role of family pressure on Mom guilt, the link is here:
Thank you so much for the advice, I've already downloaded the book and look forward to reading over the material and interview.
Lovely, you are very welcome @kqblacka!
My question is how do you prevent yourself from feeling resentful towards your partner/spouse? I am the working parent in the home and though he helps around the house and with our 6.5 month old, I end up feeling like I am doing most of the work! He just doesn't seem to worry or take on tasks and stay proactive about getting things done the way I do. I worry it will ruin my marriage if I keep resenting him! As much as Id love to be a stay at home mom and have him work, I also worry about losing my career and myself entirely.
Thank you for this question @Ashli108!So, first, don't feel badly about feeling resentful. Think of it as an emotional signal, that's letting you know something is wrong that needs adjusting. I've run research studies on stress and self-care for Moms for 6+ years now, and the uneven weight of household/childcare responsibilities is probably the #1 concern among couples, for Moms partnered with Daads.A few ideas to consider:1. Start talking with your partner about how you feel. It brings some of the pressure down, even though the problem itself will take time to solve. Begin with specific asks (i.e., can he take over bedtime or morning routine, can he take over meals X nights per week, can he take the baby weekend mornings so you can get more sleep? etc.)2. I've interviewed 2 authors who have written about this, Eve Rodsky's 'Fair Play' has a really strong 'operating' system for how to make things equitable and even scripts to have the conversation. Tiffany Dufu's 'Drop the Ball' is less system focused but describes the emotional shift, reasons why & how to use the time you gain. You may not have time to 'read' the books, I listen to audiobooks while I cook. Here are the 2 book reviews that go into more detail: for Fair Play & Drop the Ball While working through a more equitable system with your partner, can you get additional support and help, even if it's short term? Either outsourced (if that's affordable and available) or from friends/family (i.e. house cleaning, meal delivery, babysitter/nanny coverage, local family help, playdate sharing with a friend, etc.)
@LeslieForde Looking back 15 years, what is the best advice you would you give to your younger self?
Thank you @juliadrewitz Oooh... so many things! First, I had several business ideas that I talked myself out of, mostly due to fear. But I was pre-kids then and had more discretionary time to pursue an entrepreneurial or passion project while working in corporate. I would also tell that version of me, to write creatively again sooner and to put my thought leadership out there. I wrote a LOT for each of my employers but was reluctant to write publicly as myself.
Welcome Leslie, former HubSpotter here! My question for you is how you were able to retain skills within Business Development, Product Management, and Marketing. Biz dev and marketing seem to go hand in hand, but product management seems very technical. For context, I’m currently in product but would LOVE to pivot to marketing. Finding ways to apply marketing in my current role would be incredible.
Good morning & great question @uroosashah! My path was from market research to product marketing on fairly technical products from early in my career (i.e. medical devices, hardware, etc.) And I was 'pulled' into product management mostly because of my strategy/P&L management experience. So, you are already translating business requirements and customer needs into 'product' priorities, and you can take some of that a bit further. For example, ask if you can get more involved in the customer research behind the user stories. Ask if you can conduct (or join) customer interviews and perhaps recommend some areas to explore for evolution. Even without doing customer research directly you can gather secondary data on the size of the market you serve, and share your understanding of the audience & ask a lot of questions about what they might need next.