Starting Y
Starting Y

Episode 17 · 6 months ago

How to Build A Global Startup As Mother of Three Sons

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Our Intro is based on Quantum Jazz’s piece “Orbiting a distant planet”, published under Creative Commons

Our Guest:

  • Lizia Santos (https://www.linkedin.com/in/liziasantos/) lives in Miami. She is the mother of three very active boys and the founder of Citycatt (https://www.citycatt.com/). Being a founder of Citycatt, she works with a global base of local scouts spread across all time zones. She tells us about her rules and experiences as a mother and multi-time-zone entrepreneur.

The Host:

  • Jörn is a podcaster, startup scout, consultant and entrepreneur, who is based in Frankfurt, Germany. He has a background of more than 12 years of management consulting but spends most of his time helping international investors and corporations to find, cooperate and invest in startups in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. He hosts an English startup podcast, covering the German startup scene (https://linktr.ee/startupradio) You can learn more about Jörn “Joe” here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joernmenninger/

You can suggest questions here, use #startingy

Twitter Michelle: https://twitter.com/salutemichelle

Twitter Jörn: https://twitter.com/JoeMenninger

Or send us a message via Anchor: https://anchor.fm/starting-y

This is a starting why podcast. Here we ask entrepreneurs, actors, investors in the native and hartist on the why why they are doing what they are doing, what motivates and drive them and why can't they stop? We will start in five, four, three, two one. Guys, you are listening to the starting why podcast, and this is Joe. Today I have another guest here with me. Hey, Lindsaya. How you did? I'm doing great. I'm so happy to be here. How are you? I'm doing greate as well. Thank you very much. It's a total pleasure to heavy here and actually we have to tell the people. Of course, you and entrepreneur, but you're not only an entrepreneur, you also the mother of three, yes, and to make matters worth, three boys. So it's not a joke around here. Lots of energy all the time. I'm not sure if it makes it better or worse. I'll not comment on that, but basically I can imagine the energy that is around there at your house. We are talking today because you are, despite being a mom, are in the process of building your own business, your own APP and would have wanted to talk with you about is how you structure you day. What you've learned what lessons you could share with our audience and I thought, HMM, the best way to start is in the morning. So basically take us through an usual daily routine and then we would talk about if you have some guidelines, some plants, some ideas on how you organize yourself, because that is also, as we said before, we are recording. This is a process.

Not only that you learned, but you also hear about other tools from other people. You try it out and there's a zero or one option. Either it works or it doesn't. If it works just a tiny bit or just a little bit, that's basically things I don't do, but if they are really a smashing success, I keep them. You do the same. Yes, yes, I can tell you about two specific things that I've learned in the process. First one being I learned to prioritize and that stuff when you have kids at home, when you have a home also to care for, and in the business in itself, so much to do within it. If I don't prioritize every day, I go nuts. If I try to do it all, I go nuts. I didn't mention but I also homeschool my kids, so typical morning to me means that I'm running school or running a business, I'm also trying to feed the family. So it's gets pretty crazy. And if I don't prioritize everything and each one of these things that I told you, you know, who's the kid right now that needs more help with school? What's the aspect of my business that needs more help, and what needs to be done at home today? I cannot do everything and I just choose three or four things and I deal with those and I just choose to not think about the other ones. Otherwise I go nuts. And the second thing that I've learned, it's flexibility to I'd listen to a lot of podcasts and the books of other entrepreneurs and you know, you always see the biggest one saying I wake up if I am first thing I do as exercise in and and talking about all those disciplines that can help you throughout the day, and it's all amazing and it's all like something that I would like to do at some point. But I got to a point that I had to realize, you know, I just can't do the same as sixty year old guide that wait, you know, that feeling, yeah, just not possible. After you've been awakened, but by your kids. You know, my...

...kids wake me up at least four times every night, sometimes only to tell me that they can sleep. I know I just can't wake up at thirty am to exercise. So I've learned to be flexible. You know, it's if I go to bed early the day before nobody wakes me up, then yes, I wake up early and I start to day with the exercise. If not, then I'm flexible and I give myself some grace and I wake up later and, you know, I just take it from there and then I fit exercise somewhere within the day without feeling guilty, because before I used to feel guilty. Why can't I establish, you know, that amazing discipline, and it's not that I'm not stablishing it, but it's a phase, right, and you have to give yourself grace within the face that you're living through. So that's another important lesson that keeps me going in this craziness that is my life. I've been there. Actually I'm now something like almost two years out there by myself as an entrepreneur, and I realized first you have to learn how the family usually runs. What I mean with that is when did when do the kids get up? For example? It doesn't make sense, as you said, just get your thirty am running exercise when you know that you'll be so tired that you can barely make it out of the door. That is something I had to learn the hard way, but right now it works pretty good for me because I take them to kindergarten and then I have some time, and that's actually also something I learned. I need some undisturbed time, so that means basically in the morning when only my wife is here. That is the time I focus on certain topics when I get work out of the way, because the afternoons day look totally crazy. Most of the time I'm booked with events like this, with my work or stuff like this. I'm most of the time booked between local time here, two PM and eight or ten o'clock in the evening. So that is something that worked...

...for me. I'm not sure how you do it. So you kids are homeschooling. I assume they a little bit older. You Get up early, give them pract first, or do they just fand for himself? Or do they even make breakfast for you? That would be amazing. I were almost there actually almost uh Huh. So I have a five or six and a nine year old, and the nine year old is very responsible. He's like I joke that he's my co parent. He really helps out around here. And I've also you mentioned practicality and fending for themselves. I'M NOT gonna lie. That also became a thing here where I just know, I know what each one of them likes and I have it always here and I make it super easy for them to if I'm not available, to do it themselves, so they're last starving on my account. So if I have to, because I also I deal with a lot of time zones because I'm building a global business and I have citycats all around the world. So I have early morning meeting sometimes, or like middle of the meeting where I just can't stop, and they go and they feed themselves. And with homeschool they've learned that if mummy is busy, they have to hold off on that question until I'm done. It took me a while to get them there. I'm not gonna tell you my kids were born like that. That wasn't like that, you know, there were a lot of embarrassing situations until they finally got it that it was serious business that I was dealing with. So now now they hold off on the by any given day I'm gonna stop like a call with another CEO, or I'm gonna be gonna Calla with someone from my team and right after I'm having to explain three digit multiplication and you know, you just have to go back and forth and all of these things. You know, it's just the way it is here in my household and I've learned to cope with it. It's crazy, but it's good, so good. So many questions, but actually, you know what popped into my mind when you talked about fending...

...for themselves? Popped in my mind like a huge, oversized freezer with a subterie of freezer with a lot of frozen pizza in there and a lot of vegetables and fruit in the fridge. That's what popped to mind. How did you know? That's exactly what I have to freezers, one in a garage, a big one of the kitchen full of frozen waffles and lots of fruits lying around and that, yeah, that's exactly what it is. It's one looks like Mac and cheese, you know. Yeah, I think parents think alike. And second thing, when you go back and forth a lot, how do you keep track of your tasks? Because there was something that became incredible hard for me when a lot of my consulting work conflicts with my podcasting work. What I mean, especially with podcasting, is I do my best to have a Keny, half a month, maybe month of content on the shelf already, but nonetheless it has to be published. And everybody who's ever been to my main podcast or this one, they can tell there's not only a publication. I press a button and bump it's there. It's across all the platforms. It's on Shimalaya in mainland China, it's on my Internet radio station I usually for my own podcast. I also write a blog post for it. It goes into a news letter. Yeah, yeah, the yeah, yeah, that's a lot of stuff, and that was something I was struggling with until I realize, okay, every Tuesday completely dedicated to all the stuff I have to do, and one of the first tasks I'm doing is doing the publication for the week. That's it. Publication every Thursday and so the people can listen to it during the weekend. What they actually also are really doing? Is there like a certain trick that you have, not using track of your tax especially when you are in a call with one of your...

...employees or with a business partner, the instantly write everything down you talked about, or you're just a genius and keep it all in your mind without forgetting anything? I wish that would be the coolest super power. I've learned about some tools that work for me. I don't know if it's the same for everybody. You know, I think everybody will have to find that their own. But beforehand I used to keep lots of notebooks around and I would write it down, but then I didn't know what notebook was in and it was a mess. Right when you go to start up conferences and they give you those cool like many notebooks, and I used to have them all and use them all, but didn't work for me that system. So I actually use this pretty cool tablet I have you heard about? Remarkable, I think so. Yeah, it's a tablet that's make for focus. It's made for folks. You don't go to the Internet on it or anything. It's kind of like paper on a tablet. It's super thin, super light and you get to organize your stuff and it also connects with Google drive. So ever since I bought my remarkable it became much easier for me because it's everything in there. I don't have no longer have five six notebooks Lyne around. I only have the remarkable and my Google calendar and that's what keeps me accountable. Sometimes use the notes on my phone, but I use the notes to list ideas because I always have my phone on me. So I'm running and then I have an idea for post on instagram because I have my personal instagram, my founder Instagram, then I write it down my notes, but any meeting, anything like that goes on my remarkable and different folders and then I take some time at the end of the day to grab beats and pieces from each folder and turn it into a to do list for the next day. So not everything that I write down on a day makes it to the to do list the next day, but things that I have to follow up on going there. So ever since I took on that system, it works for me.

And then the calendar. Of course, I'm nothing without the calendar. I have to put it immediately in account if in the phone, otherwise I'm not. Yeah, same here. So basically I also have like a hybrid system similar the to what you're doing, but actually during the day I'm still writing on paper and everything that was not finished goes on to my digital to do list and then I a lot time basically to work on my digital to do list, which then really helps me m that is basically what works for me but, as you said, there is a lot of different methods that work for people. But basically I think what we both talking about is the other small short term to do list and everything else is on long term to do list, like the Oh holy Shit, don't forget that, correct exactly. One more question before I forget that. When you've been talking a lot of international meetings, how do you deal with the different times? You change into daylight saving time, because that always gives me and my partner radio stations across the world, the Internet radio station, a big headach because the United States change into daylight savings time. I think this your two weeks earlier than the Europe and they staying there a little bit longer than Europe does, which always makes for like two three weeks within the year with the time differences are not the same. It's I'm losing hair over that one. Well, I'm an expect I'm Brazilian living in the US for the past six, seventeen years now, so I've had to deal with it before. My professional life had me dealing with it, you know, in order to talk to my parents, my relative so I was kind of used to it. It just it's became part of my life. I also have family all around the world. My...

...family is has been like that ever since I was a kid. I have cousins living all around the world. So to me it was just normal already. I just had to add some more time zones and you know, as I said in the beginning, it's to me it's all about flexibility. I kind of know that I work all day in a sense, because I have to be available in different times of the day. So I cannot do like just work in the morning. I work a little bit in the morning, a little bit in the Afterno, a little bit at night, so I can accommodate the time zones. And then then between I accommodate time with my family, with my kids, you know, driving them around, because you know, I'm a new good driver for them and I get no tips. So it's just it's working all days really that. That's the mindset that I had to take on. Well, well, a friend of mine, she's also driving around her kids and she sets the only tips. She's get our empty chips backs. Yep, yeah, that is so true. And they even drink my water, these kids, I see. So basically, I also see another similarity. You also split during the cause of the day, work and none work related stuff. So basically, for me it's also to go running in between to do the grocery shopping for the family, like all the other stuff around the House that you don't get to usually, like taking care of the Guarden, moaning the lawn and whatever is is out there, for example, cleaning car, the family car, right, stuff like this. Yeah, I'll give you an example. Just last week I have this a weekly meeting with my cofounder and we usually meet it at a starbucks while my kids are a Tekwondo, but that day I had to do grocery shopping because the next day my parents were going to ride from Brazil and I had no food at home. So we actually met at a starbucks inside target and I had to meet with her and then, right after meeting with her, I had to do an interview with a possible intern and right after I ran did my groceries and came running back to pick up my kids and get home...

...to another meeting. That's pretty much how it goes regularly for me. I also realized when I was starting that I have to manage my energy and, as he said, with three boys it's also crucial. What did you learn there, and, especially since you told us they waking you up like four times a night, how you dealing with that? When do you would have a how do you recover? Is there like a magic trick? You keep bringing up these magic things and I wish happened to be every day. I'm looking for magic here, as this our audience, audience. I wish I knew where the magic tricks are lay. But I do some practical stuff. I've established some routines. So I don't think an entrepreneur that is also a parent has the luxury of eating bad and not exercising. That's just you have to do it. You have to find some time to do it because you know, we're not getting any younger and our bodies need that in order to function like just in a normal life. Being an entrepreneur just makes it even crazier. So I have to do that. As far as sleep goes, I don't sleep as much as I should. It's just not possible, but I think my body kind of adapted to it. But I have to eat well, I have to eat healthy. I have to eat whole grains every day. Not to say that I only eat that. I also eat lots of chocolate and that's my happy place. I can in the middle of the day, but even well, and I yeah, of course, man, dark chocolate is just in coffee. Have kept me. I'll tell you that I started drinking coffee after I had three kids and in started city cat before that I was not a coffee drink. I didn't even like coffee and I've learned to like it and at least once a day I have to have it. But the exercising, it really makes a difference in my life. At...

...least four times a day I'll go to the gym for like forty minutes and I lived weights. But when I cannot do that, I take a walk and I try to keep my tenzero steps in, even if I have to walk around the House with my laptop, like watching something or being a part of a Webinar. I try to do that and I found that before I did this, versus now, I have much more energy. Not to say that I don't get tired. I get tired. There's no magic in it. It just makes it more bearable and I think I'll give me more health for the future. I'm counting on it. I see, see what my question because I was standing here just before we started recording and had some print stomming session with my wife, because there's like a big calendar of the whole year on the wall with like all the potential days for vacation. In Germany, we do get a lot, but as entrepreneur, I basically have to give up revenue for this, so there's some negotiations going on. As well as all the birthdays and the holidays and all that stuff. Do you also do like at least a quarterly planning or an annual planning or something like this? I'll be honest with you that like you. You're my hero, you guys. You guys are killing it, but you know, I joked around with you. We've always started this it. We were joking around that you're your German, I'm Brazilian. I will do plenty as well as you. It's not in my blood to plant them much. But yes, I have to plan because once the family grows, it's just given. You have to because you're acommodating everybody's lives, but not that much. And I usually plan around my family's trips because I live far from my whole family, my parents, my sister's they all live in Brazil still and they come once a year. So that's usually my vacation time. But vacation for an entrepreneur, if...

I hope. I think it's the case with everybody. It's not really vacation, right, we take the laptop with us. It's occasion for the kids. It's vacation because it means my parents are helping out with the kids as well, but I'm also working in a more flexible it just take less meetings, but it's I have to adapt, at least for now. Maybe in the future, right when we get to the other side of the rainbow, it's kind to be better. Well, we'll see. I really enjoyed this interview and apparently we do have a lot of similar struggles, even though you're threefold that mine. But nonetheless I like your approach and it appears to be that we have sometimes kind of similar solution to problem. But I was thinking about weekends. I would imagine that you also try at least to take off some time of work on the weekends, because when he said you walk around on with the laptop, you take it on vacation, I thought, yeah, so do I, and usually even on the weekends I'm on my cell phone. I still reply to messages, but I try to minimize it. What is your best practice on that? On Saturdays I usually try to tackle laundry. Laundry is a big problem in my house. Were family of five and four of them are men, so it's a big problem and I haven't found it a start up to deal with. I yea. So it's me. Guys, if you're listen to us, if you have it a startup or you have an idea and look for funding, reach out to me. Yes, yes, and please, I'll be your bet at taster, whatever it takes. But what I do is I'll do it while watching something. So watching to something. I'm a subscriber to master class, the EPP, but anyway I have to do it laundry and I usually pair it with watching to something that educate me further, because during the week is just really hard...

...and that's kind of what it means for me working and the weekend. If I have to, I'll reply to an email, but that's pretty much what I do. And a Saturday Sundays are my days that I try to keep it off work completely as much as I can, and people in my company they know they we give each other time, because all of us have an entrepreneurial mind that, if we let ourselves, will work through the weekend. But we have found least we have to also take care of them. So I'm trying to establish that as a habit and within the company that at least one day a week which leave each other alone. HMM, yeah, not a lot more to say. That's just a little bit of inside I went from you adding to that interview because you made the cut at tech crunch disrupt at NPR, how I built this fellowship program and Babson's win a lab. How did you do it despite your time constraints, or did it just like you? You know, it's funny that you bring this up because NPR, how I built this summit. I was between the thirteen first follows that they brought into the first summit and that happened the same weekend as Babson's win lab accelerator welcome retreat and Boston. So I had to be in Boston for three days. I went to Boston on a Thursday. I had to be in there for three days and I had to come back to Rolando. My mother in law was watching the kids, but the flight was from here to San Francisco. I came back home. I spent three hours at home, something like that in my youngest was like two, so he was very sad about that, like he was not happy, and then I left. I put them to bed and I left again to San Francisco and my mother in law,...

...she kept sending me videos of my baby running around the house looking for me. Why would you send someone a video like that? It's so heartbreaking. I foot of San Francisco and it was part of this surreal experience where I'm at so many entrepreneurs, so many great founders, like the founders of method, the founders of Air Bein B it was so cool. And and then I came back to six straight taking care of the kids again because they've missed me so much. But it all happened within those five days. It was so intense but such a surreal experience. And Tech crunch was way later than that. But it's the family supporting me and within all these situations, my husband, my inlaws, they live in Boston, so they'll travel here and help me with the kids, and that's how I make it work. I see, I see, see, so a lot of supporting I would call it a social network family friends around. That is amazing. If we come to the end of this recording, can you tell us a little bit about you start up and what you are doing there at city cat and how people can learn more about it, and we, of course, will link it down here in the show notes. Yeah, of course. So, as I mentioned before, just to give you a little bit of the story behind it, I am an expert and from Brazil, I'm a travelover, I am a mom and my professional background is I'm a journalist. So all these things kind of came together when I had the idea for city cat be because I was, as a travelover and mom, frustrated with how hard it is to plan trips if you're trying to go beyond the traditional ten top things to do list. That comes up every time you google attractions and any given destination. So I got frustrated with that because I want to travel and get to know the real the true core of cities, what's really unique culturally within that city, and I couldn't find that information online. So I went after the problem and I realized it's a big problem for everybody. There's a whole...

...lot of people try and find ways to experience authenticity when traveling and they're all frustrated. They're all kinds of platforms in search of this information. That's when I also realize that it's not a problem of not having lack of attractions. Cities have enough attractions, they have enough authenticity. The problem is informational people just don't know how to access information and you always end up there, you travel there and you don't know what to do, like, besides the the ten top list that you get, you into crowds, you don't know what to do afterwards and you don't know what to eat and all of these things. So I applied a very basic journalistic principle, which is, you know, every journalist has its sources, their sources of information, and I created city cat. So citycat is a platform where travelers get to plan trips with help from local sources, and these local sources are local or travel influencers that either live or have traveled to their destination many times before. So you get to plan your trip with the help of them in collaboration. When, inside a trip planner, they used our planning of trip and citycat and these local sources that we call city cats, they come in and they basically help you throughout the planning by answering your questions, by giving you suggestions of things to do. It's all based on your own needs and also on the cultural authenticity of the place. So it's very personalized and we do not compromise that authenticity. We're not selling attractions, we're not selling your tickets, we are just sharing information with you based on what you need. So we've built citycat. We launched citycat. City cat has already influencers and sixty six destinations and thirty three countries around the world, and I would like to say here that we're looking for more city cats. So if you are local influencer yourself, if you know local influencers anywhere in the world, you're welcome to apply to be...

...a city cat and if you're traveler looking to get more out of travel, I will also welcome you to come and try out city cat where in Beta. We welcome every feedback and we're very open to to talking and listening and this process right now. That's what I'm building. Sounds pretty good at two questions. One, I would assume it includes opportunities also for travel with kids. Yes, yes, so, being that I am a mom, that was also another thing that got me frustrated is that there are platforms out there where you can hire locals. It's not that we're for the first in that sense, but they're not catering to families, meaning there's no safety guards in place. It's like any person that's a local can sign up and be a person providing a service, and how do I even know if that's safe, if that person has gone through a background check or something like that? That gives me the peace of mind, being a mom, that I can put my family in that position. So with city cat, that was really important to me that all those locals were validated, that they went through a process of recruiting, on boarding testing. So we're sure that the platform has done its job of like securing that and so every family feel safe and many of our city cats we have, we categorize them, so many of them are moms. We have lots of expects, lots of food is, but lots of MOMS as well. So you also get to find a city cat that is family friendly, that knows about the playgrounds, that knows about the museums and all of that and they can help you plan a family friendly trip. Sounds pretty interesting. And just one more question. How you're going to earn money on that? As a platform? Where marketplace? So the city cats, they charge whatever they want for helping you plan your trip. The averages are from ten to forty dollars per day plan and when you pay your city cat that we charge you a service feel on top of that, twenty five...

...percent the plan with the cat. It's the first service. So the city cats in the future will also be providing other kinds of help, like taking your pictures if you want to meet them up for a photo session, because their instagram is a good good pictures. They can give you a ride, they can guide you through the city. So in all of these services that cats will be offering, it's always going to be a service feed that we will charge, will never take commissions out of the cats or NIS. Sounds pretty promising. So everybody would like to learn more? Down here in the chowne notes there will be a link to city cat and they're people can learn more. Yes, visit us. Awesome, Great Lythia. It would just a pleasure having you as yes, thank you very much for being here and sharing oh with us. You're totally crazy, like normal life. It was my pleasure, my pleasure. I hope it gets normalized at some point. Yeah, when we are in retirement. Yeah, maybe, maybe, and then they'll be the grandkids. Oh Yeah, guys, thank you very much for tuning in to starting y again. Hope to hear soon. Bye. Bye.

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