Building Bridges.
Creating Opportunities.
Transforming Lives.

Building Bridges
Creating Opportunities
Transforming Lives

Photo by Angela Restrepo Holter.

A Week in the Life: Nikol Mard (Entrepreneur & Mother)

As women, mothers, entrepreneurs, and professionals, we are often asked “how do you do it?” How do we manage to joggle multiple projects whilst balancing life, family and friends? With strings pulling us in different directions and seemingly mounting tasks, it is no wonder that women are superheroes. We do what we need to do, we handle our business, mostly without complaints and often without recognition. For entrepreneurs especially, each week is different, which makes the journey oh so exciting and sometimes, overwhelming. Over the past couple of months, we have sought to better understand what makes, whilst illuminating, inspiring women. To this end, we have started this new segment to mirror what a week or two looks like for our superwomen. To kick this segment off, as is norm, we asked our friend, Nikol Mard, Founder of Network for Work, and co-Founder of Grundr to allow us a window into her week and share her experience. Enjoy!

Monday

Hectic morning as usual. Norwegians have a very fitting term for the morning (and afternoon!) experience of families with young children: tidsklemma. It literally means time squeeze and it perfectly describes the race against time of trying to make breakfast, getting dressed and getting everyone to their destination (kindergarten/work) in time. Luckily, I only have one meeting today. It starts at 12 o’clock, so after getting out of the morning time squeeze, I can catch up on emails for Network for Work and make a ‘last chance to sign up’ post on Facebook for our tomorrow’s workshop about job search in Norway.

At 12 o’clock, it’s lunch meeting with my colleagues from Grundr. One of them is a newly onboarded sales professional and we all need to discuss a new sales strategy for the second batch of our online accelerator. I love the synergy in our international team! When our strategy is agreed on and tasks are divided, we can get to work. One of my responsibilities is to oversee the production of a new promo video, so I send a message to the videographer straight away. He sends me some raw material and I spend my afternoon selecting the best cuts and creating catchy captions.

Tuesday

Today is going to be a very busy and long day. Morning starts with the meeting with one of the first partners of Network for Work. Generation Mobility works towards the same goal as Network for Work – enabling seamless transition for international professionals – while addressing different aspects of challenges connected to global mobility. We have been following each other’s journey and today we are meeting to share updates – change of strategy on the side of Network for Work, and a new app launch on the side of Generation Mobility. We are planning a tighter collaboration in the future for even greater impact. We are both great believers in collaboration instead of competition.

In the afternoon Network for Work is hosting its first job search workshop of the season. I come to SoCentral, where the event takes place, 30 minutes in advance to meet with the workshop facilitator and set up the room. The workshop is fully booked, and we spend the next three hours talking about the specifics and peculiarities of Norwegian job search. Even though I got home very late, I feel energized – meeting talented and resourceful people and seeing the difference we make for them, gives me energy to do what I do.

Wednesday

Did I mention new strategy of Network for Work? Yes, we are working on a major change and new exciting ways of empowering internationals. This morning I am meeting my business adviser from Charge Incubator to work on a new business and branding strategy. Network for Work has been a part of the Charge Incubator program since November last year and thanks to the brilliant business advisers and partners, we have managed to create and start materializing the new, much more powerful and impactful vision of Network for Work. Watch this space for some exciting info coming soon 🙂

In the afternoon, I am meeting the talented multimedia journalist Sandra Larriva to discuss the content of blog posts she writes for Network for Work. We talk about different content formats that can be used to promote our mission and what topics are relevant for people in our Network. Sandra has many great suggestions; I love learning new things from people who are not only experts in their fields but share the same mission of empowering internationals!

Thursday

Starting the day with a meeting again! This time it’s a ‘pay it forward’ type of meeting. I agreed to meet a lady that came to the joint event of Diversify and Network for Work and would like to learn more about starting a non-profit and different funding options. We end up talking not only about that, but also about her business idea and who can help with that. I am so impressed by her drive that I immediately send a couple of emails to people who could be relevant to her to connect them.

Thursday lunch time is the favorite part of my week. It’s the time when I meet with Candela Iglesias, my friend and mentor and a brilliant inspiring woman. Candela and I started in SoCentral – the incubator for social entrepreneurs – at the same time and were put in a ‘buddy group’ together by the community managers here. The idea was to share everyday challenges we face and get input from each other. It turned into a weekly friendly brainstorming and inspiring session and we have held this tradition for a year now. I take our lunches as a part of my mental hygiene and self-care. You cannot work for others if you don’t take care of yourself first!

Friday

No work today! Or at least no job-related work, I should specify. My son’s kindergarten is closed today (one of the Norwegian specificities – the so-called planning day at kindergarten when staff attend courses or plan the operations), so I am on a full mother duty today. I am very grateful to have such a flexible job that allows me to spend time with my son without feeling guilty or stressed. I thoroughly enjoy our time together. The weather is nice, so we go out. We go to visit ladies from his previous kindergarten, as he just started in a new one at the beginning of August. Coming to the ‘old’ kindergarten feels like coming home. We bring a cake with us and I spend a lovely day chatting with the ladies who work there, while watching my son play.

People say that having your own business is not a career choice, it’s a lifestyle. And it is true indeed that your business becomes such an integral part of your life that it can’t be called just ‘work’ anymore. At the same time, being an entrepreneur gives you a certain level of freedom. Exactly because it is a lifestyle, it’s important to build the business around your life. At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I was reluctant to really go all in because of all the stories about entrepreneurs working around the clock, sacrificing their family life and their friends for their business. Then I met Babou Olengha Aaby, a passionate advocate of female entrepreneurship, and she became my business mentor. She helped me with a lot of practical things around setting up a business, but the main lesson I learned is this:

Decide what your priorities in life are and build the business around it – it is YOUR business, so you can build it any way you want! It was such a relief for me to realize that I don’t have to give up afternoons with my son and I don’t have to give up evenings with my husband.

Some days I work hard, I work all day and then again in the evenings after my son goes to bed. And some days I take it easy and do things I love to ‘fill up my cup’ – so that I can fill the cups of others too.

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