Leana Greene is the founder and CEO of kidsinthehouse.com, the world's largest parenting video library. With over 8000 videos from the 450 top parenting experts, the website features parenting tips for all parenting styles. Leana, originally from Sweden, is an entrepreneur at heart and a mother of three. She started her first company, Absolute Court Reporting, in her early twenties and was also was active in the entertainment industry as a model, producer, and had five Billboard hits. She is the winner of two ABA Stevie Awards for best use of video and an Edison Award for Innovation.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I have a learning disability--I'm dyslexic. I had a very hard time in school and in life when I was growing up, and I had to come up ways to compensate and learn to do things differently. I think dealing with a lot of obstacles early made me have more grit. As a leader it has enhanced my ability to recognize people's strengths and weakness and make the team more successful.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Kids in the House?
I feel like everything I have done before in my life was in preparation for Kids in the House, which is my vision and my passion in life. Most of my work life I have been an entrepreneur and self-starter. I had two other companies before Kids in the House. One thing I've learned from previous experience is it's important to pick a field that you are interested in because you will end up spending a lot of time in that industry, reading, and constantly learning more. Committing yourself to something is a lot easier if you are actually interested in it.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Kids in the House?
A business highlight was the day the website actually went live. Seeing all of my research and hard work materialize was an indescribable feeling. But sometimes the highlights that touch you the most are the smaller things like receiving an email from a parent who has been profoundly helped by using the website. I think one of the biggest highlights was making the #EndBullying PSA, featuring kids in the LA area who have been severely bullied. Beyoncé posted the video to her Facebook, and it felt great to be able to honor all of the kids who shared their story with the world.
As far as challenges go, starting Kids in the House was an enormous undertaking and a daunting task. At one point we hired a company to build the website, but they were never able to make it work well enough for us to launch it with quality videos that honored the experts. We struggled in trying to find the right company or person who could make the website work technically since it involved 8000 videos. We finally found the right person who gave us the answers and was able to get us to the point that we could launch the website.
What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
1) Find someone who does what you want to do really well and learn from him or her. This can involve working for someone or even paying to learn from that person firsthand. 2) Ask for advice. People are extremely generous if you ask for help. You would be surprised! 3) Take the time to hire the right people. The people who you hire are your most valuable resource. Take the time to check references, have them come in for a test, meet with lots of people. Your team is your most important asset. 4) Always follow your intuition. 5) Evaluate your "to do" list to see what is actually going to get you to your goal quickest. There will always be too many things to actually get done so you always have to keep in mind what is going to get you from A to B quicker.
What is the most important lesson you've learned by starting your own business?
I think it's really important to take the time to look back and see what you have accomplished because sometimes that will re-inspire you to push forward. I also think that you always have to remember that when trying to reach any goal there is always a point of darkness where you feel like it's not going to happen. But if you keep pushing it will come together. Another important thing that I have learned is that focusing on doing the right thing and being a good person is the best business decision because it will come back to you in your business. Being a good person is more important and will get you farther in life than being the "best" at anything.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I think the work/life balance is a myth that just increases a feeling of guilt because women think they should be able to achieve it, but it's impossible. Most women feel guilty about their work when they are with their kids, and guilty about their kids when they are at work. I think if we can give up the idea of the guilt and know that we will work a little too much one day but compensate for it with the kids another day then we can stop feeling guilty and stop the fantasy of work/life balance.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
It's harder for working women to deal with the additional pressure of school involvement and childcare responsibilities and so they tend to not have the same career as their male counterpart. I also think that if we could allow for the possibility for working mothers to work part time while they have kids and allow them to be both mothers and have careers we could solve the problem of women dropping out from the work force to raise children and then having a hard time coming back. I think this is a win-win solution for companies because when you have people work part time they don't accomplish 50% of the work, they accomplish 75% because they manage their time productively.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have not had one single mentor, but I have definitely learned that when I have reached out to people for advice I'm surprised at how happy they are to be there for me. It's very important for any entrepreneur or business person to find other people to learn from. I'm just about to start a Business Women Roundtable where we meet once a month and take turns presenting our business-related problems and have other people brainstorm solutions and provide contacts to move ahead.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I admire Arianna Huffington. I interviewed her for Kids in the House. She came in her Prius with no entourage, and she was the most generous human being. She gave us everything she had for 45 minutes and then was careful to keep on her schedule and honor her other commitments.
What do you want Kids in the House to accomplish in the next year?
Our number one goal is to reach a larger number of parents and help them become better parents. We are also launching a subscription version of our website, and we are also working towards doing a Kids in the House television show.