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The Business of Balance


“I hate the expression work-life balance.”

Thus began Lean In DC’s panel discussion on the work-life divide, hosted by Blue State Digital on Tuesday evening.

Kate Perrin, founder and CEO of PRofressional Solutions, LLC, went on to explain that “work is often the best part of our lives. Work-life balance implies that there’s life—which is wonderful—and work—which isn’t.”  Instead, Kate urged the audience of fifty women and a smattering of men to view the demands on their time in a more integrated way.

Kate was joined by fellow panelists Sarah Newhall (Managing Director of Blue State Digital, triathlete, DIY wedding planner); Shelby McIntosh (VP of Research at K12 Insight, mother of a two-year-old; skier); and Lacey Faeh (founder of A Lacey Perspective Consulting, wife and pug owner), as well as moderator Jennifer Meffert (a leadership development professional with an interest in diversity and managing work/life issues).

Each woman drew on her experience juggling high-powered careers, meaningful relationships, volunteer work and hobbies to advise the audience on how to lead a more balanced life.

“Perfection should never be our goal.” The fuller Shelby’s life gets, the more near misses—and even total misses—will happen. Take this panel, for example. Shelby thought it was taking place on Thursday, not Tuesday. Yet she managed to arrive on time and didn’t seem at all flustered by her scheduling snafu.

Remember your agency. “You are the one who is ultimately making choices about how you spend your time,” says Sarah. Often, she has competing deadlines at work and at home. But work doesn’t automatically trump everything: “I’m the one who chooses where my time goes.”

"Change is a constant," Kate reflects. After founding her business, she didn’t take a vacation for three years. Would she do that now? No way. “You make different decisions at different times of life.” She says her hard work when she was younger has definitely paid off. 

“Shut up and listen.” For years, Lacey worked in the political world and maintained a successful personal style blog—A Lacey Perspective—on the side. She wasn’t planning to change careers until countless friends urged her to acknowledge her unique skills and passion. She’s since transformed the blog into an all-inclusive styling and digital/brand consulting business.

Lead by example. “Part of being a manager is coaching people that working longer doesn’t necessarily mean working better,” says Shelby. Sarah agrees, adding that she doesn’t send emails late at night. “If I send an email at 11pm, I’m saying I expect you to be sending emails at 11pm at night.”

Don’t judge. As moderator Jenn reminds us, “there’s enough judgment in the world.” It shouldn’t matter to you if a woman wants to spend most of her time at work or most of her time at home: it’s her choice.

Delegate. Your husband might not be the best cook and your coworker might not get every assignment right. Does that mean you shouldn’t delegate? No way! “It’s impossible for you to manage everything,” says Sarah. So what if dinner doesn’t taste perfectly normal. Give people space to help you and, eventually, their help will get better.

Find support. Shelby’s Lean In Circle is always willing to offer professional advice and the support she needs. Kate chimed in that even she “hasn’t outgrown the benefits of that sort of organization.” She and fellow “Boss Ladies” take an annual spa trip which serves as equal parts vacation and business retreat, perhaps the epitome of balance.

If you’re interested in finding a Lean In Circle of your own, or would like to invite more women to join your existing circle, please let us know here.

-Sarah Rutherford


#tbt to our conversation about mentorship with Anita Dunn and her mentee, Safiya Simmons


We haven’t wanted to write this one.

But yesterday we were interviewed on NPR (!). When we checked the website, we saw this in the comments section from a Gordon:

"Wow. So, with a million plus in funding, they produce a *newsletter* that gives me headlines? One can only politely…


Don’t Grow In, Lean In

This is one of the most powerful slam poetry performances I’ve ever seen. 

Lily Myers, the poet featured in the video, accurately portrays social norms which encourage women to be quiet, submissive, and take up as little space as possible. 

While the whole video is definitely worth your time to watch, pay close attention to 2:49-3:12, where Lily hits on a phenomenon which, as a student in a women’s college, I witness take place daily. She says, “I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word sorry.” Apologizing before asking a question in class is something that I’m sometimes guilty of myself, and it represents a broader problem about how women view their roles within society. 

Women have no reason to apologize for asking questions, for raising their voices, or for taking up space. Women should be proud to take a seat at the table, and lean in at work, school, and every other area of their lives. Lily’s brave performance is just one example of a woman speaking her mind unapologetically.



37 Men Show Us What Real Men’s Activists Looks Like

Source: PolicyMic

Lean In DC Merges With Local Lean In Circle

The threat of rain couldn’t keep the ladies of Lean in DC from hosting a happy hour on Thursday, June 19th. In addition to all of the networking among new and returning Lean In DC members, there was much to celebrate. This event kicked off the merger between Lean In DC and another group of women who launched their own Lean In DC circle in April 2013.

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10 Quotes from Key Leaders at the White House Summit on Working Families


This past Monday, The White House partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress to host a summit on working families. Discussions ranged from how to incorporate flexibility into a corporate structure to allow men and women to make caring for their families a priority, to instituting paid maternity and paternity leave so that parents get that valuable bonding time with their children in the first months of their lives, to creating stronger, more trusting relationships between employers and employees. Here are the ten most striking quotes that I jotted down during the full day event:

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We have a busy summer … want to help? 

Join Our Summer Happy Hour!

Summer is here! Help Lean In DC kick off the season with a Happy Hour this Thursday at Dacha Beer Garden.There’s no better time to meet new friends, catch up with old acquaintances, and enjoy a cool drink outside.

What: Lean In DC Happy Hour

When: Thursday, June 19 at 6:30pm

Where: Dascha Beer Garden 1600 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001. In case of rain, we’ll announce an alternate site.


Our Man Up, Lean In event!

Man Up & Lean In

You’re Invited To Man Up & Lean In: our first event designed especially for men!

Join Lean In DC and LeanIn.Org for a conversation on how millennial men can man up and lean in to the gender equality movement. Kunal Modi, a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, will discuss his chapter in Lean In for Graduates—released earlier this month—with Hannah Seligson, a regular contributor to The New York Times.

For more invormation and to R.S.V.P., please click here.

National Press Club
529 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20045

Wednesday April 30th
6:30pm - 8:00pm

Space is limited, and RSVPs will be accepted on a space-available basis. For those who aren’t able to join in person, we encourage you to watch via livestream at:

It’s Time to Make a Change

Women should be charged 77% of menu prices at restaurants and 77% for their prescriptions at pharmacies. With women being paid only 77 cents to a man’s dollar, and no indications that the gap will change any time soon, this seems like the most logical approach.

This Equal Pay Day, we’re doing things differently. We’re tired of talking about the same numbers year after year, tired of explaining where the wage gap comes from, and tired of unpacking the nuances behind the 77 cents to a dollar ratio. So this year, we’re getting more direct; we’re working to institute a gender charge gap.

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Where to Shop, Eat, and Exercise on Equal Pay Day Today

12 local businesses have teamed up with Lean In DC to offer Equal Pay Day Deals. 

These 23% discounts call attention to the fact that women still make 77 cents to a man’s dollar, and we encourage community members to take action towards ensuring women achieve equal pay for equal work.  Today marks the point in the year when women’s wages finally catch up to men’s from the previous year meaning that because of the wage gap, women worked an average of 59 days out of the year for free in 2013.

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What a Lean In DC Event Means to a Millennial Man

When I received a text from my friend Nicole saying, “Do you want to come to a lean in event? They are trying to get more guys involved,” I was hesitant for a couple of reasons.

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Is your business interested in offering an equal pay day deal? Email Sarah Rutherford ( for more info.

Interested in engaging online? Check out our Prezi!

We will release a list of participating Equal Pay Day businesses in April!