“To be a great parent, buy less stuff and spend more time together”, with Audrey Taylor and Dr. Ely

“To be a great parent, buy less stuff and spend more time together”, with Audrey Taylor and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

Buy less stuff and spend more time together. Cook together, read together, watch movies together, go see silly TV shows live and use your imaginations because these are the times that you remember. Also, don’t compare your own kids to each other, to others, or to milestones — as my pediatrician said — he’s yet to meet a college kid who isn’t potty-trained, off his pacifier and with teeth!

As a part of my series about “C-Suite Moms” I had the pleasure to interview Audrey Taylor. For 25 years Audrey has served in the health and human services sectors empowering organizations to translate data into actionable insights to solve real-world problems. Now in its 20th year, Audrey founded netlogx to guide enterprise organizations as they navigate change and make that change work for them by solving complex business challenges. Her leadership of netlogx, a nationally certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), has focused on creating an organization that’s “Diverse by Design:” building a workforce that looks like the clients it serves and ensures all voices are heard and honored.

In 2016, netlogx ranked among the 25 Largest Woman-Owned Businesses in Indiana by the Indianapolis Business Journal and Taylor was named Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine. The following year, Taylor was selected as Member of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-Indianapolis). Staff feedback has earned netlogx recognition as one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. In 2018, Taylor was honored as an Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) Women of Influence.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?

A long time ago in a land far away — Warrington, England in the 1970s — Sarah, a woman police officer, bought a home in my very suburban neighborhood. She was single, with no husband or children, and yet I could clearly see she was successful. This view of self-sufficiency and the ability to pursue my dreams is still a vivid memory and provided me with the role model who set my aspirations in flight.

To this day when I visit my Dad in the UK, I still connect with Sarah over drinks. Seeing this as a young girl opened my eyes to the world of possibilities for women. If she could work and find success in a male-dominated field, then certainly other women — myself included — could do the same. The opportunity to go to an all-girls high school (which is for students ages 11 to 18 in the UK) and while there be championed by the nuns to become leaders, also added fuel to the fire. Interestingly, the north west of England is often referred to as a matriarchal society, so strong women have been encouraged — no doubt why Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of women’s suffrage in the UK was from Manchester — and supported by their families, as my husband Nick so clearly supports me.

From the start of my career, I have largely worked on male-dominated teams both in the UK and the US and this background has made me comfortable working in a male-dominated field. I founded netlogx in 1998 to guide enterprise organizations as they navigate change and make that change work for them by solving complex business challenges. netlogx helps clients survive and thrive in a dangerous world. Constantly striving for excellence, I was inspired to create an organization that upholds the very best of business ethics and treats customers, employees, and partners with the utmost respect, honesty, and transparency. These goals are as true today as they have ever been and they have directly contributed to the success of netlogx. For example, our current client roster includes public and private agencies that trust us to impact their organization positively and keep highly sensitive data safe and secure. This could not have been achieved without adhering to those principles. Last year (2018), netlogx celebrated its 20th year in business and I am proud to still lead as CEO.

Can you share with us how many children you have?

Three — I have two boys who have grown up with netlogx as the middle child. Tom is 22 and after recently graduating has begun working as a journalist in the UK. My son Harry is currently studying video game design abroad. I think both boys have seen and heard often that they should pursue their goals and the chance to live in the UK is working well for both of them after being raised in the Hoosier heartland.

Where were you in your career when your child was born/became part of your family?

I was an employee of a consulting firm when I had my first son. During my unpaid maternity leave we were offered and accepted an opportunity to live and work in Munich, Germany through my husband Nick’s career. Interestingly, this didn’t work out as we expected, so we returned to Indianapolis and netlogx was born. I was an active consultant for netlogx then, and in fact interviewed and won a new client when pregnant with my youngest son. I am proud to say this project is now our longest ongoing client relationship. To work and be able to parent Tom, I managed my schedule tightly and leveraged an amazing sitter service to allow me to attend client meetings. Even in the late 90’s, tech consulting could be delivered remotely — though I don’t miss dial up! With Harry, the business was growing and we were able to hire a nanny to make our family life work.

Did you always want to be a mother? Can you explain?

As I shared earlier, I was intrigued by the freedom I saw in women who don’t have kids, so to literally wake up and realize I wanted children was a shock.

Did motherhood happen when you thought it would or did it take longer? If it took longer, what advice would you have for another woman in your shoes?

I was fortunate to have both an easy time getting and being pregnant, which I know is not the case for all my friends and family. I think as women, we should all be honest about our motherhood journey and then we’d all be more informed about the challenges some of us face.

Can you tell us a bit about what your day-to-day schedule looks like?

I’m currently enjoying time as an empty-nester with my husband so my schedule is very different than it was when the boys lived at home. As I sat at the airport to send my youngest back to college after Christmas, the first one our oldest did not join us for, he shared with me that he was proud that my husband and I have lives beyond them. Over the holidays, so many of his friends parents were concerned about how we were coping with both boys so far away and he was thrilled to share that we were travelling and enjoying cooking together. His point was he felt liberated to pursue his goals knowing that we have our own and want each of us to be successful.

Has being a parent changed your career path? Can you explain?

Being a Mum taught me to prioritize, in fact I sometimes wonder what I did with all the time I had before kids. I believe founding netlogx created a focus for how I wanted to fulfill my own ambitions, but also afforded me time to be an active parent. As a family, the decision to have both Nick and I only have netlogx as an income source was significant and lead to us establishing clear expectations for balancing work and family. Nick has always been willing to be there for the boys and cheer me on. He has helped raise boys who are natural feminists and sees no humor when people react to the statement, “Mum is Dad’s boss” as a joke!

Has being a mother made you better at your job? How so?

I think the idea of having responsibility for the boys created the spark to be more ambitious and learn to manage my time and delegate work to better resources to allow my vision for netlogx to grow.

What are the biggest challenges you face being a working mom?

Not being there for all the boy’s events and not being the most active parent when the boys were in school.

Are there any stories you remember from the early days of parenthood that you want to share?

I know the boys have the ability to make choices from a menu better than anyone I know as they’ve attended numerous business lunches and dinners over the years as we worked to grow netlogx. They are also very comfortable engaging in conversation and making eye contact with others as this is what they’ve seen their whole lives. Interestingly, I recently saw our first accountant at a social function and he shared his memory of me taking Tom, in his stroller, to their corporate offices to discuss retaining them as our accountants. While we discussed the approach, Tom played with Thomas the Tank Engine along their floor to ceiling windows.

Harry’s favorite stories are of summer internships at netlogx. There was the instance where they had to roll netlogx-branded exercise bands in a blue rubber band. Since they were in a small room, they eventually were inhaling copious amounts of synthetic rubber scent. His second favorite story was unwrapping branded pens and asking why we bought something that required this extra, very inefficient step — six sigma in action! In both cases he points out that the other interns got better jobs!

Are there any meaningful activities or traditions you’ve made up or implemented that have enhanced your time with your family? Can you share a story or an example?

We purposefully spent vacation time with the boys and traveled. One of our favorite trips was a surprise long weekend during a teacher in-service day to the Nickelodeon hotel in Orlando. The boys flew in their school uniforms with no idea of the destination. We had breakfast with Spongebob, Slime Time by the pool and game shows at night. They were smiles from ear to ear and we recognized that childhood flies by, so intentionally carving out time to be with them and making memories was what we were going to do.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 3–5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

We’ve found areas where we are genuinely interested in the same things — cartoons we all liked — Spongebob! Learning about the bands and music they liked, eating dinner together and inviting their friends over and making breakfast fun. Encouraging their interest in sports or theatre and then participating in supporting those activities. We have also included the boys in decisions we are making. For instance, when business travel came up, we’d talk about what that meant and how we’d step up to help each other out. Being honest about what we can do — and what we need help with — has paid off in mutual respect.

I also found that car time was a great place to start conversations — something about sitting side-by-side and looking forward created enough space to share things and learn what was going on in their lives.

Teaching the boys to drive also created time with each other.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

We have always shared with the boys how we celebrate each other’s successes, how we help each other achieve changes, and what the actual work looks like to get what you want. We have encouraged them to pursue their own goals. When Tom wanted to attend university in England — where final IB exam scores would make the difference — we talked long and hard about safety schools, but Tom was certain where he wanted to go and he really did put in the work to get himself there.

Harry loved the technical aspects of theatre productions and it was wonderful to see him put himself out there in IB theatre class pieces, all the while training and ensuring his technical advances in production would be moved forward after he left high school.

I believe the time the boys have seen us spend in mentoring others has lead them to seek mentors for themselves and to share their own knowledge with others.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I loved reading to the boys when they were small — from Dr. Seuss and Thomas the Tank Engine to Harry Potter and more books on dinosaurs than you’d believe. I asked my Mum a lot of questions and then looked at the lives of those parents I admired and asked them questions. My children pre-date podcasts!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you share or plan to share with your kids?

I believe we are a very fortunate family. We are healthy and happy and have enough to be comfortable — I believe we should be aware of this good fortune and not get sucked into complacency. When the boys were small, this was a simple statement that “we don’t hate anyone or anything,” but we are always willing to talk about differences and listen to each other. Additionally, we believe in saying please and thank you to all those who help us. I am proud of how many times I’ve been told the boys are “so polite,” especially when I wasn’t there — but a little sad that this is noteworthy in our society.

If you could sit down with every new parent and offer life hacks, must-have products or simple advice, what would be on your list?

Buy less stuff and spend more time together. Cook together, read together, watch movies together, go see silly TV shows live and use your imaginations because these are the times that you remember. Also, don’t compare your own kids to each other, to others, or to milestones — as my pediatrician said — he’s yet to meet a college kid who isn’t potty-trained, off his pacifier and with teeth!

Thank you so much for these insights! We really appreciate your time.

About the Author:

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment.

An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, clergy, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits.

Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”.

When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey.


“To be a great parent, buy less stuff and spend more time together”, with Audrey Taylor and Dr. Ely was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.