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Motherhood is complicated, especially in the US
As women are given more options when it comes to decisions around having kids, feedback we see time and time again when it comes to this decision is the lack of support for mothers, the financial implications of having a family, and the lack of access to care –– both for parents and children.
If you are a person who’s considered motherhood or already are a parent navigating a society that does not support you, it can feel like everything in your life gets flipped upside down. Emily Tisch Sussman is no stranger to this. She went from working in high-level politics to leaving her job after having three kids in under five years and realizing just how much motherhood affected her.
Now, Emily hosts She Pivots, a podcast that explores women making life-changing career decisions and what brought them to make that pivot. Tori sat down to chat with Emily about her life before and after motherhood and how her time in politics primed her to be an advocate for better parental leave policies and family support.
But why is the US so hostile toward families?
The odds are stacked against parents
“A lot of women will go back immediately because they can’t afford not to. They are physically healing,” Emily shares of the absolutely abysmal family leave policies in the United States.
“They have a baby that a daycare center won’t even take until six weeks… but they just literally can’t afford to not work.”
The federal policy on maternity leave is that you are guaranteed not to be fired and are guaranteed 6 weeks of UNPAID leave. SIX WEEKS. Barely enough time to recover from a cesarean (and that’s without any other complications). Not to mention, being unpaid, many women choose to go to work sooner than the 6 weeks of leave because they cannot afford to take a month and a half to stay with their babies.
Some states, as Emily mentions in the episode, are building better policies –– extended leave and requiring benefits. Individual companies also may offer better benefits that allow for a paid leave of up to six months, and sometimes more. Often, these are larger companies that can offer better health plans, better benefits, and better wages.
Unsurprisingly, this only continues to harm women and keep even the idea of motherhood out of reach for many who wish to be parents who’s jobs don’t provide these kinds of benefits.
Besides policy, how can we help?
Policy initiatives are incredibly important when it comes to making change at both the local and national levels –– but Emily also shared how important it is to check in on your friends who are parents and provide support individual to individual/
“Validate someone around you. Reach out to someone that you see, like you really see them. You see them. Trying their best to hold it together, trying their best to accomplish getting their kids out the door that day or trying to accomplish building something or getting through a day after. Maybe they’re suffering from loss and just validate them,” she shares.
“Say to them, ‘I see you hustling, and I know that you are capable of it.’ I don’t think we do enough.”
Listen to the rest of the conversation on this episode of Financial Feminist or check out the written transcript below.
[00:00:00] Tori Dunlap: I’m digging the purple hair.
[00:00:01] Emily Tisch Sussman: Thank you so much. Yeah,
[00:00:03] Tori Dunlap: Is it always purple?
[00:00:04] Emily Tisch Sussman: um, it has been for like a little over a year, but yeah, I mean, it’s a permanent choice for me now. I’m
[00:00:08] Tori Dunlap: I love that. I’ve never dyed my hair a crazy color, and I don’t know, I kind of feel like it’s a rite of passage that at some point you gotta, but I’ve also, I’ve never done it, so who
[00:00:19] Emily Tisch Sussman: I mean, I thought those were my teenage years and then it turned out. 39 was actually my next wave
[00:00:25] Tori Dunlap: It looks great. The purple looks great. That’s
[00:00:27] Emily Tisch Sussman: It’s sort of a,
[00:00:28] Tori Dunlap: concerned about, is it’s like either bleaching it beyond repair. Cause I’ve heard horror stories or just like, it’s just looking like washing me out or something, you know?
[00:00:37] Emily Tisch Sussman: well, I think it depends on the shade. Like I go darker purple in the winter and then more of a lavender in the summer, so it kind of moves with the vibe, you know?
[00:00:44] Tori Dunlap: I like it. It’s uh, it’s like a mood ring. Your hair’s a
[00:00:47] Emily Tisch Sussman: Mm. Exactly.
[00:00:48] Tori Dunlap: That’s amazing and iconic. Um,
[00:00:51] Emily Tisch Sussman: We went for, we went to Florida this winter for a long weekend and my hair was the winter purple, but in a summer location, so it was a lot of dis a lot of discussion among my kids.
[00:01:03] Tori Dunlap: Yeah.
[00:01:04] Emily Tisch Sussman: Yeah, big
[00:01:04] Tori Dunlap: they’re all on board. They’re like, they know what needs to ha. That’s
[00:01:07] Emily Tisch Sussman: They kept being like, but why is your hair dark purple here?
[00:01:10] I was like, I know. It’s
[00:01:11] Tori Dunlap: Uh, because it was dark purple somewhere else and I didn’t have time to change it. That’s very funny.
[00:01:15] Emily Tisch Sussman: I know. I didn’t, I couldn’t put on my summer hair for this.
[00:01:18] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. Sorry about it guys. didn’t have the chance. I’m so excited to chat with you. You and I connected because, uh, I came on a, uh, Instagram live with Marie Claire when I was marketing and promoting Financial Feminist, and your work has just been so impactful and so I’m just really excited to chat with you.
[00:01:36] You’ve had this long history of working in democratic politics. Can you talk about what brought you into politics in the first.
[00:01:45] Emily Tisch Sussman: I just always felt like I wanted to do something that meant something, like I didn’t know what the jobs were. I didn’t know like what I wanted to do or that I even wanted to work in politics. I felt like when I was like a sort of, you know, teen in college, like I just felt so. wound up like just so wound up like the injustices of the world and I didn’t really know what to do about it in a way that I think made me very rebellious when I was younger and also like a little un I couldn’t relate to my peers that well when I was in college.
[00:02:16] Cause I was like, oh, like aren’t you guys, uh, so fired up about this in a way that I’m angry that you’re not so right. When I graduated college, I went to go work on a political campaign again, not cause like knew what I was doing. It just seemed. The right thing to do in that moment. So I just like picked up and moved to the nearest swing state and worked on a campaign and then like this light went off and was like, oh my God.
[00:02:38] Like this is what I can do. I can make a career out of this. Like all this stuff that I feel like I’m doing it turns out are jobs and like all the, the way I wanna make an impact in the world, like this is a whole career path that I didn’t even know about and I. Hugely successful in school either. So I also didn’t, wasn’t sure that I was that smart, and then all of these things that I didn’t know were skills.
[00:03:01] really made me successful working on a campaign, like I could grind out the work, I could stay focused for hours, I could keep morale up in the office. Like all of those things are skills in a workplace and huge skills on a campaign. So it was the first time that I was both personally kind of really turned on by the work, and it also made me feel like, okay, now I have something productive that I can do with all of this. we lost that campaign. Spoiler. So then I was totally lost again. But now realize that maybe I was not as, not smart as I had originally thought that I was. So I, so I was like, well, there were all of these lawyers on the campaign. Maybe I could be a lawyer. Like I thought lawyers were like these, like, you know, like untouchable, smart people.
[00:03:44] And I was like, well, I feel definitely felt like I was smarter than some of them. So I applied to law school right after the campaign and started right. So I went to law school and that was like another real turn on moment for me. But I was like, this, you can impact so many people this way. Like if you can change laws,
[00:04:00] Tori Dunlap: Right.
[00:04:01] Emily Tisch Sussman: your impact can be huge.
[00:04:03] And from there I went back to work on Obama’s pre first presidential campaign right after I graduated law school and just stayed in it. I stayed in it for like a decade and a half.
[00:04:14] Tori Dunlap: It’s so interesting to me to hear you say like, basically I was not confident, got into these places, didn’t think I had any skills. What was the realization of like, oh, I can make money doing this. Like was it a particular moment? Was it. Just the realization of like, oh, I’m good at my job, and a bunch of people don’t seem to be as good at their job.
[00:04:31] Like what was that, that light bulb moment or that shift for you, because I imagine we know a lot of people listening, right? You get into your career, you have this imposter syndrome, you’re like, oh my God, I’m not good at this. How do you shift from that to being like, oh, I’m actually pretty badass.
[00:04:48] Emily Tisch Sussman: It. I had a very administrative job, that first campaign job, I was lik
e the information hub for my team. So I had to compile all the information and check in with everybody and you know, print out daily reports, um, and. It just wasn’t skills that I thought that I was ne I could necessarily do, but I realized all of a sudden like, wow, I am really on top of my job and other people are not as on top of it.
[00:05:13] So I think having that little bit of confidence and then they eventually put me in charge of running our morning meeting, which meant that I came in every day and got everything prepped and put it in front of like the top people from the campaign, like from the state, um, and the fact that I could get little positive feedback.
[00:05:29] From p. Little pieces of positive feedback from my boss that, you know, he would go out, I was his admin. Like he would go out and he would do the big thing and then he would pass it over to me to execute it and for me to feel like I could actually execute. Like he trusted me enough to be executing on this thing that he was doing.
[00:05:47] I feel like that was the light bulb for me. And I was like, you know what? If he trusts me, I must be good at this. Like, why am I putting so much self doubt in what actually he believes in?
[00:05:57] Tori Dunlap: totally. Speaking of your career, you wrote this article with a, like, I’m glad my mom died. Level title, which is like, motherhood Killed My Career. . Um, I think it’s something a lot of women can relate to. Talk to me about motherhood and how it became one of the reasons that you decided to pivot your career and like what the impetus was behind writing that.
[00:06:24] Emily Tisch Sussman: Well, I mean, motherhood kind of killed my career for me. Like it pivoted my career for me. Like I didn’t really make the decision. So, you know, we talked. How I started out into it, so you know, fast forward like 10, 12 years is that I did really well in politics. I was very successful and I knew it. Like I knew I worked incredibly hard.
[00:06:41] I kept that hard drive and I knew that I was really at the top of my career. At what I had worked for until that point, but also like kind of I was above where I thought I was gonna be. Like I really was well accomplished in politics. Um, got married and had heard that all of my friends say that it’d take them like a year to get off birth control.
[00:07:02] So I thought like, oh, I don’t know, like maybe I’ll have kids one day, but I’m, but I really think about my life in terms of a presidential cycle and we’re going into a presidential, so obviously I don’t wanna have kids in a presidential because that would ruin my career and I’m doing so well. Um, and I got pregnant immediate.
[00:07:18] So also, this is this . This can also be like a real lesson to you there. And I just cried like I was so depressed. I was like, I, I just like, I just hadn’t thought I, I was never particularly drawn to kids. I was ne I never connected with babies. I only thought of, I had built a huge amount of self worth and it was all tied to being accomplished professionally and accomplished professionally in politics.
[00:07:44] And I knew what that trajectory looked like, and it was not possible as far as I could see with a baby, with a kid, or even, I mean, I was really sick through my pregnancies, so like immediate. I couldn’t even keep up during the day like I used to have in my desk. I had like that shoe pile under the desk.
[00:08:03] If people can remember going into the offices pre pandemic, we all had like a sh a pile of our heels under our desk and I would just lie on it at three o’clock every day. Cause I was like a dead weight and I couldn’t use my brain. And I was like, oh my God. Like I’m not the person that I was. So that was just a really hard realization to come to.
[00:08:21] And even when I. My first baby, I still didn’t feel a real connection to him. Like people say like, oh, you know, the minute the baby came out, we bonded and I knew my purpose. I was like, thank God that labor is over. , but now I have no idea how to take care of this baby. So I didn’t ha so I, I felt like my career was on the di was on the decline, and I didn’t have the positive coming back at me of what everyone had told me was this trade off was gonna be worth
[00:08:50] Tori Dunlap: Right,
[00:08:51] Emily Tisch Sussman: Like, I didn’t feel that at all.
[00:08:53] Tori Dunlap: for saying that because I, I go back and forth about whether I want children or not, and one of the things that I’m worried about is having children, even though I, you know, that’s not what I a hundred percent want, but feeling like I’m obligated and then like what happens when it’s not as magical as you , as everybody tells you what’s going to be.
[00:09:15] Emily Tisch Sussman: then it doesn’t like kind of click on.
[00:09:17] Tori Dunlap: Right, right, right. It’s not like a seismic shift out of nowhere.
[00:09:21] Emily Tisch Sussman: No, I didn’t have like an instinct on how to correctly wipe a newborn. Like no, there was no like
[00:09:27] Tori Dunlap: I dunno if anybody does, but like the way it’s communicated often is it’s like you should, I don’t know.
[00:09:35] Emily Tisch Sussman: a tot, I mean, even like breastfeeding in the beginning there was no like instinct around it. I was like, holy shit, that hurts. Like are you really gonna suck this out? And it turned out it was fine or it wasn’t that fine, but whatever, you know, like it happened, like it was what it was. So I did breastfeed for a couple of months mostly cause I couldn’t figure out how not to, um, and which they also tell you that you can’t really get pregnant when you’re breastfeeding.
[00:10:01] Well guess what can happen? You can get pregnant when you’re breastfeeding So now I am
[00:10:11] Tori Dunlap: You’re really having, do you watch Gilmore Girls? I’m like, you’re really having a Lane Kim moment. You like have sex once. Did you ever watch Gilmore Girls where she literally,
[00:10:17] Emily Tisch Sussman: You know, I, I feel like I need to go back. I feel like I need to go back and watch it, but I do know that my mother was walking around saying to everyone, like, Emily is so smart, she can, you know, like she’s a lawyer, but she can’t even figure out how to not get pregnant. And I was like, it’s fair. You know, like it’s totally fair. So I’m pregnant again. I have like,
[00:10:34] Tori Dunlap: what? Two under two? Like we’re
[00:10:37] Emily Tisch Sussman: two under one and a half. I
[00:10:38] Tori Dunlap: Oh.
[00:10:39] Emily Tisch Sussman: one and a half, so I’ve barely begun to think that I’m coming back and now I’m back in the office and I’m sick again. Like I’m sick again.
I have a newborn. My, my brand bandwidth is getting lower. And by the way, this job, this, this amazing political job that I have was actually created to bring me into this think tank.
[00:10:58] So they. So the job was tailored to bring me in, so it played to all of my strengths. My strengths, like being able to be in multiple things at the same time, my strengths of being able to drive really hard, my strength of being able to stay on top of evolving information every second, which is like the 24 hour news cycle.
[00:11:18] well, what goes out the window once you’re tired and sick all the time? Being able to stay on top of multiple pieces, information, being able to give your head in multiple things. So I was totally failing at the job that had been created for me. So it was, it was impossible for me to accept, like I, it was so hard for me to accept that.
[00:11:37] So at the end of my second maternity leave, I was about to go. And I, I was like on the day countdown to go back into the think tank and I started to think, oh my God. Like I couldn’t do this job with one kid. I, I truly dunno how I’m gonna do it with two kids. And I don’t know what to ask for. Like, I don’t know how to say like, oh, this is how I’m gonna make it work.
[00:11:56] Like, I’m just so overwhelmed and probably a little depressed and not really connected to either of these babies. So I just didn’t go back after my second maternity leave. And I remember when I went to go talk to the president of the think tank and, and give her my resignation, she was incredibly supportive.
[00:12:13] And I was like, you know, I just, I don’t think I can come back. And she was like, oh, are you gonna take some time at home? And I was like, no. Who do you know? I was so offended by that idea cuz my whole identity was tied to being this political
[00:12:28] Tori Dunlap: I was just gonna say it’s an identity crisis because, okay. I had this identity as someone who’s really good at their job, who really thrives. Okay. I can no longer, uh, my output is no longer what it used to be. Okay. I could have an identity as a mom, but I don’t feel connected to that either. And then the guilt of feeling potentially not connected to that, and then it’s like, Okay.
[00:12:49] Uh, the Venn diagram, there is no crossover. I just feel in the middle, siloed in, in between the two circles, not in the two circles. So, yeah, it sounds like an identity. Yeah. Just like who am I? What am I supposed to do?
[00:13:03] Emily Tisch Sussman: Who am I? The ? The no Venn diagram is a perfect way to describe it. Like there was just no, so no identity, no positive identity and self-worth in any of that. So I just went to everyone I knew and I said, now I’m consulting. Do you want me on a project? So I started doing some political consulting and I did it through that cycle.
[00:13:24] After about a year of doing that, I had this kind of realization moment that I was working just as hard as I had before, but I was doing it from the floor of my closet because that was the only place that my kids couldn’t find me. and like no one’s. I, I felt like I kept feeling like I had something to prove, like I have to prove that I can be successful on my own.
[00:13:45] I have, I can prove that. I also, the, the think tank that I worked was very prestigious, so I really felt like I had to lot, a lot to prove that I had value in this industry outside of the think tank. Like, I wasn’t even sure for myself that I had it, like I was proving it to myself. And then I actually don’t really know who I thought I was proving it to, but I had this realization where like, I was like, I am just as tired.
[00:14:10] I’m just as overworked. Who am I proving this to? Like, nobody see, I don’t even see anybody. I just stay in the floor in my closet all day.
[00:14:17] Tori Dunlap: right.
[00:14:19] Emily Tisch Sussman: So I thought, okay, I’ve gotta recalibrate this. Um, pregnant again. I’m sorry to tell you I was pregnant again.
[00:14:28] Tori Dunlap: You can’t, you can’t see me. My mouth is wide open.
[00:14:32] Emily Tisch Sussman: So I finally think that I’ve, I started a political podcast.
[00:14:37] Tori Dunlap: which can I, can I just pause you? This might be crash. I’m just glad you’re having so much sex. Like I’m just like truly, like that’s probably, that’s probably inappropriate to say, but like the whole time I’m just thinking like, damn, she’s getting it though. Like times of crisis, you know. Great. We love
[00:14:54] Emily Tisch Sussman: I know, I mean, quite frankly, I wish, I wish that was the answer. It just turns out I’m like unbelievably fertile. And I feel like every conversation about like having children and working is like, uh, how to get through I V F, like how to get through fertility and all of those conversations
[00:15:08] Tori Dunlap: of the jam. I am just pumping them out, baby.
[00:15:11] Emily Tisch Sussman: I know. I’m like, I’m so sorry to tell you you can get pregnant like . And I was shocked that I was this fertile. I was like, I really like, I feel like I would’ve known this before in my life. I did not. So now I finally feel like I am starting to get maybe some sort of hang of my life. We’ve decided to leave Washington, move back home.
[00:15:35] I am pregnant again. Cried all three times was like, I cannot handle this. I cannot go back into it. But so now I was like, all right, now I’ve got a roadmap. Now I know how to go back into this. So I, so I have this political podcast. I didn’t, I had been trying the whole season to get an interview with Secretary Clinton.
[00:15:54] Her team kept moving it, they kept moving it, they kept moving it. We finally have a date and they’re like, oh, I’m so sorry. We have to move it again. I was like, I got news for you guys. I am 10 months pregnant. If we are not doing this interview, she is gonna have to come to my hospital room because I am not passing up this opportunity.
[00:16:10] Like I do not care that I’m pregnant. The timing ended up being incredible that the interview with her came out the Friday, the Friday before the Iowa caucuses of the 2020 election, and she said on my podcast that she didn’t think that Bernie Sanders had done enough to bring along the Democratic Party.
[00:16:26] If you guys have memories that can go along that long ago, it’s a 2020 caucus,
[00:16:30] Tori Dunlap: I
[00:16:31] Emily Tisch Sussman: but so it ended up running an exclusive in the New York.
[00:16:34] Tori Dunlap: Yes.
[00:16:35] Emily Tisch Sussman: Rashida Tib responded to it at a Bernie Sanders press con, uh, rally. So the entire weekend news going into the Iowa Caucus was all based on the interview that I had done.
[00:16:45] Tori Dunlap: Incredible.
[00:16:47] Emily Tisch Sussman: well, I was like, mic drop. I can go on maternity leave Now, to some degree, because, you know, I work at the intersection of politics and media, both things that only matter as much as the last thing you did two minutes ago,
[00:17:02] Tori Dunlap: Right. If you’re
[00:17:03] Emily Tisch Sussman: ago. You’re dead.
[00:17:03] Tori Dunlap: Right. Right.
[00:17:05] Emily Tisch Sussman: You are irrelevant. So I was like, okay, maybe now I have the smallest amount of credibility to be able to take some sort of leave and then keep myself relevant enough to go into the 2020 Presidential and like get a great client.
[00:17:19] Maybe I’m actually gonna surprise myself and I’m gonna go back and work on the presidential. I don’t know. Then Covid hits,
[00:17:26] Tori Dunlap: Oh, I thought you were gonna stay pregnant again. I was waiting for pregnant again.
[00:17:30] Emily Tisch Sussman: You were like, girl, lock it up.
[00:17:34] Tori Dunlap: I was waiting for pregnant again. Yes. Covid Covid. Yes. Very serious. Yes.
[00:17:39] Emily Tisch Sussman: COVID hit. So I now have a three week old, a two-year-old, and a three-year-old, not even a two-year-old and a three-year-old. So I was like, it’s all. Gone. Like, I can’t, there is no part of my brain that can operate at a professional level. Definitely not at the way I wanna present myself professionally.
[00:17:59] And it just was the total gutter of self-confidence and professional opportunities. I didn’t even know how I could market myself as a pro, as a political consultant. I was like, oh, do you want multiple children crying? In the background of every conversation we have, then I’m your. You know, like and I had never seen a pregnant person or a person with young kids work on a.
[00:18:24] I had just never, I didn’t think it was possible. It did change in the 2020 Presidential, both, um, multiple Democratic primary candidates had people either pregnant, give birth, or with young children. So that, and I truly dunno how they did it, to be honest with you. Um, but that has changed. And it was on the Biden campaign too, but it was just like the pits.
[00:18:43] You know, like we moved, we kept, we moved eight times in 18 months. I cannot figure out how to take care of three children. Like it’s just so much chaos that I was like, I don’t even know what my professional North Star is anymore. like what? I don’t know that I can actually be what I want to be as a high functioning political strategist.
[00:19:05] I don’t think I can, and I don’t live in Washington anymore, so I’m not like in the mix either. I don’t really know what’s changing and what’s happening, so I started thinking, I just don’t know how to do. I don’t know how to see my way out of this. and I need to hear stories to inspire me. Like I need to hear examples of women who had been killing it professionally or maybe not killing it, but like professionally had been on track and something personal derailed them.
[00:19:30] It doesn’t need to be kids. It can be different things, but I need to know that there is a model that I’m gonna come out of. At all. Like I’m gonna come out of this with some sort of professional work product, some sort of identity. I don’t know what it’s gonna be, but I just need to see other models of women who have done it.
[00:19:46] And I thought, well the thing I know how to do is podcasts, so and how will I get the My idols to talk to me, put ’em on a show? So I created the idea for this podcast and it of she pivots where I do exactly this. I interview women who. Who have their lives have been derailed for totally personal reasons, and their professional career came out totally different.
[00:20:07] Like their perspective changed and then their output changed, and that took a bunch of different forms and turns. You know, I thought about. Launching it originally as an award show because I thought people would show up to get an award, and that was my revenue model. And then I, the podcast would be like the ancillary product for it.
[00:20:26] Um, I ended up changing that revenue model when the sponsorship person dropped out at the last minute, but it also meant I changed my trademark. And then when I launched the show as Pivot, I got a cease desist order from the trademark holder of Pivot. You know, like this has gone through like multiple iterations and it is still constantly evolving.
[00:20:45] And I’m not in politics now and I kind of wish that I still was, but I know that it’s not possible for this part in my life. But I also know that I’m super involved locally and I got to interview the Vice President of the United States, which I never would’ve been able to do if I was like still in the system.
[00:21:01] And I interviewed Lala Ken from Vanderpump Rules, which totally got my, through my maternity leave. So, you know, it’s like a, like the door had to close for this door to open.
[00:21:09] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. So let me, let me talk to you about that, because I think a lot of women don’t make the pivot that’s necessary. This becau uh, this has become this resounding theme somehow of this season. Is that like, when we’re comfortable. , and I don’t mean like a safety comfortability, I mean a, just like it’s fine, right?
[00:21:27] This is fine. We don’t pivot because it’s like fear of loss or it’s hard to look at a career and be like, I, I’m gonna do something different cuz this isn’t working. What helped you come to peace with the idea of a pivot? Even if it meant going into this period of uncomfortability and the unknown and leaving behind all of these accomplishments and this, you know, this again, identity.
[00:21:52] Emily Tisch Sussman: The identity piece I think was the hardest part for me, and I think I structured a lot of the beginning of launching. She pivots around the identity piece for me that I felt like I had to reposition myself. In fields that I was not, not in. Like I have not been in, you know, straight media. I have not been in the career sector.
[00:22:11] I have not been in, you know, some, like a parenting lifestyle sector. Like I felt like I had no credibility. So leaving behind a field where I did have credentials, drove a lot of my decision making. Good or bad. Um, I think that, you know, the women that I interview on the show tend to have pretty extreme life events that happen to them, and I think that’s because we, we are afraid of change.
[00:22:35] Like we would rather just stay in the stasis and the fear of going into something new. So you often don’t change unless you have to. . There’s one guest that we have on this season who I accidentally, I accidentally booked by accident. Like I had kept saying yes, I thought that she was a different, I thought she was the cult, the escaped cult membe
[00:22:54] But , she’s act, which we did book, but, um, she, she started a, a STEM business, like a, a tutoring service. And by the time. Realized too, I had agreed to. I was like, oh, I didn’t mean to book her. But in the end, the lesson was excellent out of her conversation, which was that she was in a situation where she was, she had a job where she traveled a lot.
[00:23:17] Was getting divorced and if she stayed in that job, she would’ve lost custody of her kids. So she had the pivot was the safer choice for her, like she became an entrepreneur to be able to maintain custody of her children and also be successful in another field. So that was actually a really great perspective.
[00:23:38] and I’m happy to be able to add into the mix of it because it is scary to leave behind. Like I think often we don’t jump because we’re so afraid of the unknown. And I think a great place just to be, you know, very tangible and practical about it, is just to identify ourselves for yourself, what skills you have.
[00:23:55] Yeah, like hard skills, not, not specific to your industry and what industry do you wanna go into? And just start having conversations with people that are in that industry to understand how those skills translate, because I promise you, they do translate.
[00:24:11] Tori Dunlap: Hundred percent. The informational interview is super impactful. If you can, you know, take somebody’s, some people are typically so generous with their time and whether it’s 15 minutes, 30 minutes on the phone of just like, tell me about what you do. Here are the skills I have. You know, figuring out how to bridge that.
[00:24:27] That’s really impactful.
[00:24:28] Emily Tisch Sussman: Totally bridging that and understanding the language and the calendar of a new industry is. Because then you can actually start to take a about look inwards at what your skills are and apply it in a way that people who are in that industry can receive that information.
[00:24:48] Tori Dunlap: That makes perfect sense, uh, to do our own little mini pivot in this episode. But I’m, uh, we’ve talked at length on Financial Feminist about how the pandemic. Has affected women in different ways, and some of the data your team shared with us talked about how, as anybody listening probably knows women are more exhausted, we’re more burnt out than ever.
[00:25:11] But we also know from research that women are almost unilaterally. We’re the ones who left jobs to stay home and care for young children. During the pandemic and it’s, it sounds like it’s similar to your story, trying to figure out like, how do I support my family while also support my own career aspirations?
[00:25:27] So what sort of long-term effects are you seeing from the impact of the pandemic as you work with women?
[00:25:36] Emily Tisch Sussman: Well, I wanna start with the positive, which is that we. in, in the pandemic in breaking us down. Like we just went into survival mode. Like there was no, like, what is my best self? Like it was straight survival and it was get our kids through the day and hopefully they’re gonna be a little bit not weird because of this.
[00:25:54] Like it was just straight survival. So it really broke us down to what do we, what are the necessities? Like what do we really need? And it help us reimagine. Other parts of our lives that we thought maybe it’s the professional part of our life, but maybe it’s another part of our life that we didn’t think were movable, like, that we didn’t think could change and were flexible.
[00:26:13] So I think out of that, we’re seeing a lot of growth and I think that’s the place that women are starting to rethink, like, you know, this thing that I always thought that I had a passion for. Maybe that is a career. Maybe there are you. Maybe it’s an Etsy shop or maybe it’s going into financial literacy.
[00:26:31] Maybe it’s being on my community school board. You know, all of these different things that we didn’t think were possible, we now understand are possible, and we’re willing to make different choices. Like we’re willing to sacrifice different things to make those things possible. I mean, look, I am a suburban mom now.
[00:26:47] This is, I didn’t even have a driver’s license until my second child. Cause I couldn’t put two kids in an Uber with a car seat. You can put one in, you can’t. . So like this is a, this is, I’m on the school board, like this is a real new life for me. and women are just making different choices. We’re like a little bit out now and our kids are.
[00:27:08] In school again, that is all great, but a lot of the structures, especially for parents with young children are still really broken. The childcare industry was basically decimated, so if you’re looking for childcare centers, many of them are closed or understaffed, have very long weight lifts or or unaffordable.
[00:27:25] We still don’t have a national paid leave and companies are starting to cut their paid leave, which is bananas to me.
[00:27:33] Tori Dunlap: know that. Oh God, really?
[00:27:35] Emily Tisch Sussman: yeah. Many companies are starting to cut their paid leave programs, um, as a way to cut costs, which actually is totally counterintuitive to me because your employees will either quit or show up unable to do their job.
[00:27:50] So I actually think it’s like the dumbest financial planning they can be doing.
[00:27:54] Tori Dunlap: Yep. Gotta hate it here. Yeah, and I think the other thing that I saw too was like, just if, yeah, you’re leaving corporate life or you know, some sort of, uh, compensated job to work uncompensated as a caregiver, uh, for whether that’s children or family members, because we had, you know, plenty of people of course, get sick with Covid or die of c o.
[00:28:17] And the women of the, you know, of society, we’re going home to work or, uh, to, to care for them. I think that it, it’s stagnating earning potential if you do choose to go back, right? If you choose to go back to, uh, you know, a compensated work environment, well, you’ve been outta the game for, you know, three plus years.
[00:28:37] And what does that mean for, you know, the raises and the promotions and the, the kind of status that a lot of corporate jobs require?
[00:28:46] Emily Tisch Sussman: That’s absolutely right. And I think another piece that prevents women from shifting fields is that you’re not gonna be at the same level. Like that’s just realistic. You can’t go in at the same level that you were, that you were in a field previously. You know, having to start at a lower lo, at a lower rung, at a lower pay scale is just a reality of what’s happening, whether you’re changing industries or whether you’re going back in because you have been taking the time out.
[00:29:12] Look, a lot of pe, a lot of women in particular, made the decision that it was not cost effective for them to be working during the pandemic. Like the co
st of childcare just kept going up and up and up, and it was actually more cost effective for their family to be staying home. So it was not an ambition.
[00:29:28] Question. It was not a drive question. They
[00:29:31] Tori Dunlap: Right. It was necessity.
[00:29:32] Emily Tisch Sussman: they just couldn’t afford to work. And now going in to potentially a new industry or even the same one, I think companies are a little more understanding of this gap, like this resume gap of the last couple of years. But I honestly haven’t heard enough data points to know that for sure.
[00:29:50] It’s a little bit anecdotal. Um, but I think that women who are going back into the paid workforce do still have to make the. For them to understand that, you know, the skills are not rusty. My brain is still my brain, and I developed and honed a lot of skills in unpaid care.
[00:30:07] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. So you mentioned, you know, of course we know in this country there is no mandated, you know, federal leave. Um, can we talk more, in addition to a lot of the company’s cutting leave, what is the current state of paid leave? What’s happening in the political sphere? Can we get an update on that?
[00:30:26] Emily Tisch Sussman: So the current state is that you can’t be fired on unpaid leave after you have a.
[00:30:32] Tori Dunlap: Right.
[00:30:33] Emily Tisch Sussman: like birth the baby. That is, that is the status. It’s like not, it’s not great. So a lot of women will go back immediately because they can’t afford not to. They are physically healing. They have a baby that a daycare center won’t even take until six weeks.
[00:30:47] Um, but they just literally can’t afford to not work. My sister’s baby was born seven weeks early and was in the nicu, and the woman who was next to her was a city bus driver and could only visit the baby. , uh, you know, maybe once a day, probably not even that because she had to go back immediately to work, um, which is inhumane, truly.
[00:31:10] Tori Dunlap: Tru.
[00:31:11] Emily Tisch Sussman: So that is the saddest we have right now, is that you cannot be fired after you have a baby
[00:31:17] Tori Dunlap: the bar is on the floor is what you’re telling me.
[00:31:20] Emily Tisch Sussman: The bar could not be lower, and that is only unpaid. So the Biden administration last year had proposed this big budget, um, this big federal budget called the Build Back Better Plan that had both hard infrastructure things like roads and bridges, and then also we would call like economic infrastructure.
[00:31:38] Things like paid leave, um, increases for childcare centers. Et cetera. That was broken up into two pieces and like the roads and bridges pieces was passed. The piece that involved fam like family economies was not passed last election cycle. So if we can all remember back as far as November. Republicans took the house.
[00:32:01] Republicans now control the house. We all know how a bill becomes a law is that it has to be passed by the House and the Senate, both of them, and then the President signs it into law, even though about 75% of the country party. Regardless. Regardless, regardless, across the board, 75% of the country supports having a paid leave program.
[00:32:24] The Republican party does not support having a federal mandated paid leave program, so President Biden just put out a proposal budget that has robust 12 weeks of paid leave in it, which is the best we’ve ever seen from a president. So it the bar is going up of what we’re seeing, which is good. If we’re looking short term, the bad news is there’s zero chance that this Republican House will pass it as part of their budget.
[00:32:52] We actually don’t fully have the votes in the Senate either, but it is, it’s a one vote margin right now in the Senate, which is much closer than 0% in the house. I would say the good news is, That there has been more conversation in the country right now about paid leave than ever before, thanks to people like you.
[00:33:12] And this is now something that is on, you have to, I mean, you are using your platform on an issue that has not been discussed before. So lawmakers are starting to feel accountable for it. They’re, they’re starting to feel like they expect that people expect them to pass it, and that is how we build political momentum.
[00:33:29] To an eventual law. I think we are very close in the Senate. I think if Democrats take back the house again, it will be a very early bill that has passed. So I actually feel more optimistic than I have in a long time, just not in these next two years when Republicans control the house, and I will say there are Republican versions of paid leave, it generally borrows in the future from social security that you.
[00:33:53] Um, so it depletes it in the future, or it gets into payroll tax? It’s not really, uh, it’s, it’s not a federal subsidy. The way that the bill had worked in the last Congress was that there would be a federal subsidy to companies who provide leave. So it would actually help subsidize the business to provide the leave, um, which I actually think is the best option for small businesses cuz then they can actually afford to.
[00:34:16] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. So if we’re looking at basically two years till we see any progress, other than of course, continuing to talk about it, talk to our legislators. What else can we do? What sort of policies can we pass? I mean, obviously the, the obvious one for me is, is protecting, uh, a person’s right to choose protecting abortion access.
[00:34:37] Uh, what other things or what other policies can help women and families?
[00:34:42] Emily Tisch Sussman: So a lot’s being done at the state level. Actually, Illinois was just the third state to pass paid leave. A lot is actually moving. And at the state level is, yes, we see extreme partisanship, but we can also find some bipartisanship cuz they don’t feel like they’re responding to like the Fox news cycle.
[00:34:58] So there is actually opportunity to get involved and advocate at the state level. Look, not just all, our entire package of reproductive freedom is really on the chopping block right now. Like it’s not just that we’ve lost the right to an abortion nationally and in many states, but also there’s a lawsuit right now that is going to, um, that is going to decide the status of the medical abortion pill, which would be nationwide.
[00:35:24] It would ban it nationwide. Um, there’s also. Laws that are coming up around Plan B, you know, South Carolina just proposed they would actually have the death penalty for women who seek an abortion. Um, Texas already has laws around calling a, a driver who like, it’s like an Uber driver, essentially. Like take someone to a clinic would be charged as a accomplice in an
[00:35:45] Tori Dunl
ap: Right, right.
[00:35:46] Emily Tisch Sussman: The, this whole n um, this whole land, I don’t even know what to call it, uh, web of laws. Yeah, like this whole like web of laws is just continuing to chip away at a woman’s right to autonomy, to literally family plan, and then to be able to have enough economic security after you have the child to be able to be successful.
[00:36:11] So I would say every opportunity there is to sit down with the lawmaker. And by the way, they are looking for people to talk to them like we think that we can’t talk to them, but actually when they hold town halls in your town, the same like six people show up every. like you can have a big impact. Go to the local school board.
[00:36:28] Talk about what paid leave your town has, what does your county have? Like what are you doing? Are there childcare subsidies that are available? Is there housing subsidies that are available? Cuz there affordable housing tax credits. A lot of counties will have first time home buyer tax credits, like really dig in locally and there’s actually quite a lot to be.
[00:36:49] Tori Dunlap: We had Amanda Lipman, who co-founded Run for Something if you know her. Yeah, so she was on the podcast. She was incredible. And, uh, we’ll link the episode in the show notes, but basically her whole, her whole thing, right behind Run for Something and, and one of the most well spoken people I’ve ever talked to, she discussed like there’s this, all of this focus on these national elections, right?
[00:37:12] The presidential election, which is so important, right? But really the things that are going to impact you on a day-to-day basis are the local laws. and that’s where you have the most sway. So you’re saying the school board, right? Like perfect example, people are trying to bars, you know, or ban certain books.
[00:37:29] They’re trying to remove critical race theory from schools, right? Like you can have so much impact that will, that will affect you on a day-to-day basis at the local level as opposed to just these national politics that honestly sometimes just seem like way outside of, you know, our reach.
[00:37:48] Emily Tisch Sussman: Totally, and I, it’s hard to access information on the locals. Like, look, it’s hard for me to access information and I know what to look for, but the races are one in law. And so in that case, I would say, Go find a trusted source. Like it might be a person in your community that really is super plugged in.
[00:38:07] It might be the local paper that you feel like covers everything really well. Like it might be a community blog, like our next door is popping off like maybe sometimes in sort of a weird way, but like our towns next door very big on the local propositions, like people are discussing and debating it.
[00:38:24] It’s, there are ways to actually find out what is going on and the amount of power that your one vote has on the local issue is massive. My dipping my toe back into politics this cycle is that I worked on our local community affordable housing proposition that was in the three towns around us in our county, and one of them won by less than a hundred vote.
[00:38:49] like you can literally talk to a hundred people. You probably do. And and say like, this is how I feel, this is what I’m voting on. You can act like one person can really have an impact on local elections.
[00:39:02] Tori Dunlap: That’s incredible. That margin of a hundred votes. You’re exactly right. Like I know a hundred people, maybe like, okay, I know 50. Cool. Like, I’ll talk to 50 people, or I’ll talk to 20 people. Or even like two people. Cool. It’s better than nothing. Um,
[00:39:16] Emily Tisch Sussman: Better than nothing. And also where the, honestly, where social media can have an impact is that we were not sure if it does or if it doesn’t. I mean it does on your local community, like if people just know where you stand. You are a validator of your circle of influence and your circle of influence is probably bigger than you think it is.
[00:39:35] So if they, you don’t have to go around, like if you’re uncomfortable making cold calls, that’s totally fair. That’s a little weird if you’ve never done it before. So if you can just say, I support this and this is where I stand. It makes an impact. Like I tried to do, um, an organizing training for our PTA around the affordable housing.
[00:39:53] Not a huge success, I’m gonna tell you, but not, not I, my presentation was excellent. I’m not gonna say there was a huge turnout, but the fact that I put it out there that this is something that I have a stance on and something that I think is worth of my time. I like to think at Le at least sent that message to those in my larger.
[00:40:13] To say this is something that I should at least pay attention to and maybe vote if I wasn’t going to thinking about voting in an off year.
[00:40:19] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. Um, one of my last questions for you, uh, when I’m thinking about navigating. Uh, life as a woman in a country that doesn’t seem to respect me or, uh, be interested in giving me rights, what hope do we have? , like, I know that’s a big question, but like, what do you hold onto and what can we concretely do?
[00:40:45] Like what is one thing that somebody could do that’ll take them 10 minutes after listening to this episode that will feel like, okay, I made an impact.
[00:40:55] Emily Tisch Sussman: Validate someone around you. Reach out to someone that you see, like you really see them. You see them. Trying their best to hold it together, trying their best to accomplish getting their kids out the door that day or trying to accomplish building something or getting through a day after, maybe they’re suffering from loss and just validate them.
[00:41:16] Say them. I see you hustling and I know that you are capable of it. I don’t think we do enough. And this is not some like toxic pos positivity, bullshit. This is like we do not. Give and receive affirmation and confirmation unironically, like we don’t know how to do it. Like if someone says, like if you hear someone say, I really see that you are doing a great job with this.
[00:41:42] You’d be like, oh no, I’m not sure. Like, no, just say it and stand by it. Like there’s no, but there’s no follow up. And I think I’ve seen more of, I definitely have seen more of that than ever. The way. I think moms of young kids in particular have banded together in the last three years in a way that I didn’t know as a, not as a childless person.
[00:42:04] I didn’t know this happened, and I don’t know if it did happen before. Covid, , I have no idea. I, this wasn’t my life. But the way that moms have banded together to say, I will help with your pickup. Do you need me to watch your kid? Do you want me to pack an extra snack? Has. Unbelievable. And the only way I’ve been able to operate, quite frankly, like it’s the only way that I’ve been able to do what I can do.
[00:42:27] You know, when I got the opportunity to go interview the vice president, it was in 24 hours in Minneapolis. Wher
e I do not live. And the only way that I was able to pull that off was by, you know, looking out to my network of moms. Some work, some don’t work and saying, Hey, can you, can you do this pickup?
[00:42:43] Can you keep my kid happy? Can you grab them here? And I think that has been so strong and so powerful. I think we’re just waiting to see it bubble up into culture change and into law making, you know, hopefully the. Step will be people raising their hand with Amanda’s group and run for something and say, yeah, now I’m ready to take on the local water, water board.
[00:43:04] Now I’m ready to take on the school board and then we’re gonna see real impact from that. But I think it’s already happening.
[00:43:11] Tori Dunlap: Well, and what a beautiful example that I don’t know if I fully put together until you just said it. Like, you know this, the whole old adage of parenting takes a village. Right? And just what you said there of like, fucking love women, women are the best. Right? Like coming together, like, you know, uh, what, what do you need?
[00:43:27] I’m here to support you. That’s how we change anything, right? And I think that when we look at these huge problems, or we look at. , even our day-to-day of like trying to figure out how, how we’re going to exist in society, what sort of, you know, what is our, our passion, what is our purpose? It’s very easy to get, again, really discouraged and feel really hopeless and it’s, that’s how we’ve changed everything.
[00:43:50] It’s just like a couple people coming together and a couple more people, and then a couple more people. And it’s, that’s all you do is you have, that’s all you can do is have these, these micro interactions. Doing what you can and allowing that to grow into a movement eventually.
[00:44:10] Emily Tisch Sussman: Yeah, exactly. We’re, look, we’re social creatures. We wanna feel included and just, and we don’t say enough that when we respect somebody or when we see what they’re doing, You know, we think that it has to be some like great big thing for people to be acknowledging that we’re putting in the workforce. So just, you know, looking over to someone and saying, I see that you’re doing it and I really respect it, I think goes a very long way.
[00:44:37] Tori Dunlap: Um, talk to me about she pivot.
[00:44:40] Emily Tisch Sussman: So she pivots is out every week where I interview a different woman who is just, what we’ve talked about, like had, was had some career, something crazy happened in their life, and then. They, it changed their perspective and they changed their career as a result and found success. I think sometimes she pivots, gets kind of pigeonholed as like a mommy podcast because that was my story and that’s how I came to this.
[00:45:03] So I’m actually pretty specific to not have other women that have the same story as me, like having the, the kids change their lives. Um, so it’s a whole variety of things. It is everything from coming out as trans. It is. Leaving a cult, um, finding sobriety, like it’s a whole, we have a huge range and it’s something that we really prioritize in the conversations to make sure that.
[00:45:27] We do, we are able to hit on women who were in different phases of their lives, but we have this common thread that it was the perspective change that led you to the success. Like you could, not to say it the other way you, but for the perspective change, you could not have had the success that you had in the end.
[00:45:44] I mean, we really wanna break this cultural myth that we make all of our professional decisions for professional reasons. It’s really a combination of personal and professional, and I think the way that we’re gonna. Is by uplifting the personal in the professional decisions.
[00:45:57] Tori Dunlap: I love that I can speak to my own. You know, I majored in theater and organizational communication, and at first I thought I was gonna be an actor. Got into college, realized I wanted them more stable options, so decided to become a marketer, was doing that. And then Donald Trump got elected. And I don’t think Financial Feminist would have existed.
[00:46:14] I don’t think her first hundred K would’ve existed if I hadn’t been sort of radicalized when I was 22, 23. So, Yeah, I’m thankful for that. Also pissed off by that , but I think that, um, yeah, that, that was my story as well, is this kind of this, this realization of like, what kind of person do I wanna be in the society that I didn’t expect.
[00:46:34] So I love
[00:46:35] Emily Tisch Sussman: And actually the more conversations I have, that actually was a big pivot moment for a lot of women.
[00:46:40] Tori Dunlap: Oh, I’m sure.
[00:46:41] Emily Tisch Sussman: for the, for a lot of women about where they wanted to spend their time and how, what kind of impact they wanted to have on society. I hear that a lot. It is a little dark for me to keep revisiting that moment over and over in conversations, but
[00:46:53] Tori Dunlap: I think, I mean, it’s pandemic. Same thing too, right? We’re gonna have these like very two big shifts in the last 10 years, which was, you know, Donald Trump and then Global Pandemic. It’s, it’s,
[00:47:02] Emily Tisch Sussman: It’s absolutely true, and I also wanna validate your theater background is that throughout my entire career in politics and now on, she pivots, it is unintentional, but I seem to only hire people that have backgrounds in theater.
[00:47:15] Tori Dunlap: Fuck. Yes. I see it all the time too. It’s so interesting. I have a TikTok going viral right now talking about like my experience in theater and so many people are like, that makes perfect sense. It’s really transferable skills. Yet, of course the narrative is like, what are you gonna do with that liberal arts degree?
[00:47:30] And I’m like, I don’t know. Make a bunch of money. Start a. Global movement, not a company, but Okay.
[00:47:35] Emily Tisch Sussman: Let me tell you what I’m gonna do with it, and actually this season I have coming up an actor named Carlos Stickler who went a little bit. Do you know who Carlos is?
[00:47:44] Tori Dunlap: I do.
[00:47:45] Emily Tisch Sussman: She went a little viral during the pandemic because she played Alphabet on Broadway, retired from theater, became a software engineer, and
[00:47:54] Tori Dunlap: the one who came back and like saved Wicked, right? She played Alphabet and like came back.
[00:47:58] Emily Tisch Sussman: They went through like 10 Co with 10 Alphas who all had covid and they brought her back in to be Alpha Bette. So I have her on the podcast this year and she’s actually in the print issue of Marie Claire because the point that she had really brought forth in that conversation that
we hadn’t heard before was that you can love something with your core and it can still burn you out,
[00:48:19] Tori Dunlap: Yep. Totally.
[00:48:20] Emily Tisch Sussman: I needed to hear.
[00:48:21] I loved politics with all my core and it still burned me out.
[00:48:25] Tori Dunlap: Yeah, totally. Because capitalism, and I’ll just end it there, because capitalism. Um, Emily, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you for all of your work and your expertise. And, uh, I’m just so inspired by you and your pivot and your, uh, broadening your story to be able to include others so that we all feel a little less alone.
[00:48:46] So, in addition to She Pivots, tell us where we can find more about you.
[00:48:51] Emily Tisch Sussman: Well, we’re on Instagram, we’re newly on TikTok at She Pivots the podcast. Um, and you can find my column every week in Marie Claire, but I’d say mostly go to She Pivots. Wherever you get podcasts, check it out.
[00:49:02] Tori Dunlap: I love it. Thank you for being here.
[00:49:05] Emily Tisch Sussman: Thank you so much.
[00:49:07] Tori Dunlap: Yay. That was great. Anything we didn’t cover that you wanna make sure to cover that we can splice in?
[00:49:15] Emily Tisch Sussman: Uh, I really feel like we covered quite a bit. Oh, maybe that I actually like my children now. I feel like I am trying not to scar them too much.