In episode three I chat with Stephanie Latham about her experience battling cancer while pregnant, finding her north star, and pivoting back to her career after this life-changing experience.
A little about Stephanie:
Stephanie is well-loved member of the Facebook Global Marketing Solutions team, currently she’s Head of Industry for the Automotive vertical and previously led teams at Facebook focused on the retail, financial services, and restaurant industries. Stephanie has also led client services groups at multiple ad agencies in New York and earned her MBA from NYU.
- Her Cancer Diagnosis -Picked up and moved life from New York to San Francisco for new opportunity. First step was to get a physical on campus. Uncovered a mass under her arm, which led to a series of appointments. Learned she was pregnant and when she had the ultrasound they found cancer in her right breast.
- Her Reaction – Experience grounded her in perspective. Had two options: curl up in a ball or think about “what would Caroline’s mom do? What would I want her to do?” This was Stephanie’s true north, as well as her husband’s and her doctor’s. When you find your true north, everything that follows is so clear.
What is that true north? All decisions become clear when you’re clear on where you’re going.
- “Life is Choices” This has always been a mantra of Stephanie’s – it even dates back to her 7th grade yearbook. It has been powerful for Stephanie to take that back control. This is something her mom taught her at an early age and which Stephanie will pass along to Caroline.
You always have a choice. Even in the most trying situations, you have a choice in terms of how you respond. As life continues, you don’t always get to choose what happens to you or when it happens to you, but you do always get to choose your response.
- How they are doing now – Stephanie and Caroline are both doing well. Appreciating every day – their health and the support of her employer.
- Returning to work – It was not easy, a major transition. One big thing that helped Stephanie was having a very supportive manager, who included her on a few important things while gone, and also dedicated four days to get in sync together before Stephanie returned to the office.
- Finding her voice again -When she returned, she felt she has lost her voice. Had been SO focused on health and becoming a mom, which meant she had to find her confidence in returning to work and showing up for her team. Learned that the effort you put in before leave does not go away. Stephanie now helps other moms with this re-entry.
- Advice for managers helping a mom return:
- Be aware of how tough re-entry is.
- Try to dedicate the time with them in those first few days to get caught up at their own pace.
- She also recommends one thing her manager suggested to her – put all emails into a “maternity leave” folder and don’t bother reading them. Odds are someone has already handled or if important, the person will come find you. Allows you to start with a clean slate.
- Finally, share “life hacks” openly (e.g how to fit everything in.) And lean on others for help.
- Post-baby experiences – Stephanie found her voice across the board and learned how much sharing her story could help others. Spoke at Facebook’s Women’s Leadership Day – was scary but exhilarating. Centered that speech around “Life is Choices” message to encourage everyone to take ownership of how they respond to any tough situation.
- 10/10/10 rule – In business school, she saw Suzy Welch speak about a framework suggesting considering decisions based on impact in next 10 minutes / 10 months / 10 years. Stephanie often use this to make decisions, especially because the “10 year” impact is so easy to overlook.
- “It could always be worse” – Sheryl Sandburg and Adam Grant have talked about this concept. There are so many people going through cancer and many other hard things without the health benefits, support network, amazing medical care, family, etc. that Stephanie has – important to keep this perspective and appreciate what you have.
What do I want to remember in ten years?
Thanks for listening to episode three. If you have a second, an iTunes review would be MUCH appreciated, as it will allow others to discover this podcast and the incredible women it highlights. -Becky