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To The Woman In Every Mom

S.H.E Summit's Founder Claudia Chan On Life, Family and Career as a Women's Empowerment Accelerator

Claudia and family: Photo by  Sarah Lehberger

Claudia and family: Photo by Sarah Lehberger

Claudia with her son Jackson wearing  the Elif Dress

Claudia with her son Jackson wearing the Elif Dress

Claudia Chan is a force to be reckoned with.  She epitomizes what it means to be a #MiteraMom - a woman who is truly unique, bold, beautiful and strong passionately pursuing big dreams while holding tiny hands and nurturing the next generation as a mom. She juggles many roles and wears different hats which include running her own media company as the women's empowerment accelerator, being the leader behind the 5th annual S.H.E Summit, women's empowerment conference, finishing a book on women's leadership due Fall 2017, and last but not least being a mom to a 15-month old Jackson and her second baby due Feb 2017.  

Just two weeks shy of the conference, she shares with us her personal insights into life and some important messages about what it means to be a woman and a mother in this modern world and a special invitation to join her and other amazing speakers at this year's conference.  Read on.  

Claudia Chan at 2015 S.H.E Summit

1. You are a Women’s Empowerment Guru.  What does it mean? Can you tell us more about what you do and how you came to doing what you do today?

My work is to get women to care about women. I am what I call women’s empowerment educator and accelerator.  I believe that we are living in the 4th wave of feminism.  We cannot really open a magazine, turn on TV, watch the news, read the paper without not reading about power women, united states of women, #girlboss, lean-in, there are so many women’s empowerment brands, and campaigns. What’s happening right now is unprecedented where everybody wants to empower women. I call these movements the macro movements.  There are literally thousands of women’s movements that are occurring all at the same time all across different sectors, industries, and countries and behind every movement, there is an individual, organization and campaign that is trying to achieve progress in that specific area. My ultimate goal is to connect, educate and activate individuals and corporations to clarify and amplify their specific area of women's movement so that there is more efficiency and acceleration towards macro-gender equality actually happening while I am alive. So what does it really mean?  Women’s empowerment takes not only working with and educating women but with men, too.  That is why S.H.E. Summit, an annual conference supporting thriving leaders (and their organizations) and women’s movement champions around the world, through a transformative experience of CONNECTION, EDUCATION & ACTIVATION  now stands for ‘She and He help empower gender equality.  

We know that women make up more than 50% of the world in both the developed and underdeveloped world but massive gender gaps still persist across social issues, industries, careers, etc. We hear words like feminism, women’s advocacy, female empowerment, etc., but they all mean the same thing and are trying to achieve the ultimate goal of gender equality.  We are all working, at the end of the day, to educate people on why empowering the women is necessary.

Women and girls are not valued equally.  There are 1,000+specific movements related to women’s empowerment that span across different fields, industries, issues and continents today but we are still from far from where we need to be.  For example, 1.4 million jobs today are said to be in computer science field but only a small percentage of girls are majoring in computer science leading to a small talent pool of women to take advantage of the job opportunities in the tech arena. So this is not only a women’s issue but it becomes an economic issue. Women are still making 77 cents to a dollar that men make. Five percent of fortune 500 CEOs are women.  In entrepreneurship, disproportionately large amount of funding goes to funding men-led companies vs. women-led companies. Women and girls are being undervalued, disadvantaged in global health, education, employment, etc. In order to lift them up and make an impact to improve the lives of women and girls, there needs to be a lot of structural and systematic changes.  We as women need to rise to the challenge.  If we don’t do it, who will?

Gender gaps are everywhere across industries - in advertizing, media, finance, tech, law, etc. There are so many women’s issues and movements and campaigns that need and can benefit from the gender angle.

Women’s issues in the developing world might address a different set of issues than what we face in our own circumstances.  For example, we need to talk about maternal mortality, the fact that a woman dies every two minutes due to complications from childbirths, education, sex trafficking, etc.  

I am passionate and committed in educating individuals - women and increasingly men as well as organizations to get behind, clarify and amplify what their movement is so that together we can accelerate gender equality in this world.  We need both men and women rising to their full potential, co-leading the world to lift each other. I truly believe achieving gender equality will lead to a healthier and more sustainable world.

2. What is S.H.E. Summit and what is its mission, philosophy and core programs?  What makes S.H.E Summit different/unique from other women empowerment summits?  

We are the only conference not backed by a major media company.  So, in a way, I can do whatever I desire to do according to my own belief system without any bureaucracy.  S.H.E. Summit’s mission is to support and develop female and male leaders to RISE to their highest potential and LIFT others in the process so that gender equality is accelerated and actually achieved by 2030 (Goal no. 5 of Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve gender equality by 2030.)

We are the only conference not backed by a major media company.  So, in a way, I can do whatever I desire to do according to my own belief system without any bureaucracy.  S.H.E. Summit’s mission is to support and develop female and male leaders to RISE to their highest potential and LIFT others in the process so that gender equality is accelerated and actually achieved by 2030 (Goal no. 5 of Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve gender equality by 2030.)

We give women amazing speakers and educators and topics for discussion to help women and men realize their potential and lift each other and do so holistically.  During the conference, we are going to talk various different topics from 360 degree angle including topics related to finances, marriage, relationship, parenting, corporate leadership entrepreneurship and teach you about women’s issues, and how to rise and lift.

My dream is to get each one of our attendees to reach 10 out of 10 in how she/he can thrive as a leader holistically and how they define and work towards achieving their mission and social impact.

S.H.E Summit 2016 Speakers

3. You talk about ‘stepping into a new consciousness of what it means to be a woman in today’s world’.  Would you elaborate on this?

You cannot control the future but you can seek your purpose in life and be driven by WHY.  We all get caught up with things that do not mean that much like ego, materialistics possessions, money, fame, etc.  We are all driven by something.  We all want financial security but purpose to me is beyond that. My purpose is my personal work and coaching with high ranking corporate leaders, head of women’s initiatives, campaigns and individuals to identify and amplify their gender movements.  I want women to fight for the things they want, while focusing on the product they want as an outcome. Ask yourself about the impact you want to make in this world, and work backwards from that goal and be driven by that goal. Through this process, you will have the clarity and efficiency to work towards that identified passion and goal.  

When I was 35, I broke away from the path. I took the leap of faith to start my company. Doing that takes an act of courage. Taking the time to see what’s happening around and inside you, breaking away from what everyone is doing and pursuing and choosing a harder path takes tremendous courage. But if you look at all the leaders, everybody needs a source. One cannot be like a tree without any roots in the ground and you should not be driven by things like ego, popularity and money. For me, the source is God.  I believe in God and I believe God tests you before he proves you. My belief and trust in Him helped me choose courage over comfort.

Building this company in the last 4-5 years, I have grown in such a profound way.  The Universe gives it to you when you are ready for it.  They (the Universe) want you to cultivate certain skills, before they will give you the challenge you deserve.  You have to have faith. I think living life without faith and trust is meaningless.

Claudia and family: Photo by  Sarah Lehberger

Claudia and family: Photo by Sarah Lehberger

4. Now you are a mother to a beautiful boy.  How has becoming a mother affected to your thinking, your belief, your perspective and what you do as a female empowerment guru?

Conceiving, carrying, birthing and bringing a child into this world comes with a responsibility. My experience of becoming a mother has had a profound influence on me.  As a woman, you try to imagine how it might be to be a mother but in fact until you go through the experience yourself, you cannot truly imagine how it truly is. Running a women’s empowerment company, we would have panel topics, on topics like juggling, motherhood, career, etc. and I used to have a perception of what it would be like.  Nothing prepares you for motherhood and this whole process.  Period.  

I am in complete awe of women.  Women are extraordinary - women birth everyone in our society, in the world.  That alone is truly amazing.

Motherhood changed me and strengthened my perspective of women who I know are truly extraordinary. How do you conceive, carry, birth, feed and raise a child? I know that everyone’s experience is unique and individualized. Everyone has a different experience because there are so many different factors, and scenarios that go into pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing. But it is all something to be proud of.   Birthing is an extraordinary process! I believe what is missing from the motherhood conversation is your relationship with your partner and how it affects your motherhood experience and your ability to function as a mother.  I want to explore further the topic of how we actually cultivate, invest in and allocate time to healthy relationship at home?  

Huge theme in my new book is on how we have to shift our relationships.  For example, marriage can be a struggle. We are at a place in history where in order for both genders to be successful and thrive in terms of family and societal structure, they need to start communicating what they want and need as well as what their fears and vulnerabilities are. We don’t talk about this topic enough but my husband and I, through our premarital counseling through our church, were taught that your relationship with your spouse is the most important, more than your relationship with your parents and your kids.  Your partner is the one you chose to spend the rest of your life with, your partner in crime and when you are happy in your relationship, you can be happy parents.   

My son, Jackson gives me the male eye.  Through thinking about how I parent a boy and raise a son,  I am thinking about how I want him to see the gender conversation and how I get men to be involved in this gender equality movement.  Having a son definitely affected me positively.

5. As a leader of an organization, do you think being a mother makes you a better leader, CEO?  Are there any principles and skills that you apply to your work that you also employ as a mother?

It is about people.  Who is the individual behind every movement?  Be selective and intentional about the community you want to build because you become the community you keep. Who we are is so much of a reflection of who we surround ourselves with.

Motherhood is about raising, growing, and nurturing. What a leader is to me is rising to your fullest potential while lifting others.  The only way to lift is when you have clarity.  What are you nurturing? What are your core values and intentions? Having a clear mission, vision and structure in running an organization or a company is key and I have definitely been humbled by and learn new things daily from motherhood and parenting which I apply to running my business.  When I wake up everyday, I think about how I want to nurture my team in a very similar way to how I think about how to raise my son. As a leader, I want to mentor my team and show them the way so that I can help them become who they want to be.  People are everything. You can have grand ideas but it is the people who are going to execute them.  

I try to treat my whole life like the organization that I am leading where I am focused on being a holistic leader.  As a wife, a mother, a daughter and a business owner, I am constantly thinking about so many parallels and dealing with so many moving parts like where we are financially, what medical appointments we have, how to work with our au pair as part of our parenting team, how to be there for my mother, how to work with my team, etc., etc.   I truly believe in order for women to be successful, we need to think about it in a more holistic way in terms of how we run our families and our career/ businesses.

8. How do you and your husband/partner juggle all the demands of your career and childcare?

After I went through pregnancy and birth, I was like ‘why aren’t there free doulas for people?’ ‘ how about free coaching sessions for new parents?”  When Jackson was a month old, I had a series of really valuable conversation with some of my peers who are also moms like Meighan Stone, the CEO of Malala Fund, Reshma Saujani from Girls Who Code, who also breastfed, Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Keifer, and they shared honest stories about their own experience of juggling motherhood and their career, and it helped me tremendously to see that my way of doing things was ok.  I have also been so fortunate about being exposed to and working with some amazing women like Samantha Ettus, the author of The Pie Life and Anne Marie Slaughter, the CEO of New America who, in my eyes, have successfully juggled both their careers and motherhood.  

Parenting philosophy.  My husband and I try to have weekly Wagner family meetings.  On Saturdays or Sundays, especially, we try to touch base and audit where we are spending our time and energy and check in with each other about our parenting philosophy.  We also try to have date nights to spend time with each other without Jackson. During the week, we are like any modern couple with two ambitious type As (lol). We play different roles like Chief Food Officer, Chief Finance office, Chief Shopping officer, and we divide and conquer what needs to be done.   We have a system but that system is constantly evolving. We had to learn to do this and we are constantly learning and refining our system.

9. Can you share with us stories about your pregnancy, breastfeeding and postpartum experiences? How has transitioning into motherhood been? How was your transition back to your ‘former’ self?

I had a miscarriage before I was able to be pregnant with Jackson.  Miscarriage happened on the first day of the SHE Summit 2014 and it was really hard.  I started bleeding and on the second day of the conference, I checked into the hospital. While you go through it, it is so stressful and really hard to take but I still feel so blessed that I was able to have the experience that I had and was eventually able to get pregnant and give birth to my son.  Motrin is one of the sponsors for this year’s SHE Summit and their motto is - ‘turning pain into progress’.  I think we should see struggles as opportunities and I have been able to do that with my own experiences.  Of course I wanted to have a natural birth but after 20 hours of epidural free labor, I ended up having a C-section. Of course I wanted to breastfeed longer but I did not know enough about breastmilk and I could only breastfeed for 3 months.  My milk literally dried up right after SHE Summit 2015.  One of my girlfriends said later ‘OMG, SHE Summit stole your breastmilk!”.  I thought that was hysterical.  Of course, I wanted all that I imagined would be this perfect way. I wanted a natural childbirth and to breastfeed longer.  But I decided not to feel bad about what went wrong and instead to celebrate it.  You can only try to do your best.

Claudia with her son Jackson in  Mitera : Photo by  Della Bass

Claudia with her son Jackson in Mitera: Photo by Della Bass

12. Why work with Mitera in raising awareness towards women’s empowerment?  

Of course for me, as a mother, a business owner and a women’s empowerment leader, the meaning behind Mitera to celebrate and support the woman inside every mother is close to my heart and very special.  I can relate deeply and personally to Mitera’s mission to create long lasting quality products for the unique, bold, beautiful and strong women who hold tiny hands and have big dreams. I am one. The first 15 months of your life as a mother from conceiving to carrying to birthing to feeding to raising a baby is probably the most profound and powerful life transformative period of women’s life. I believe the ultimately luxury is something that transcends trends, has longevity and builds confidence in the people who wear the products and I believe Mitera products do that successfully.  But beyond clothing, I believe Yoko can make a meaningful impact on the lives of women going through this crazy journey called motherhood by creating meaningful, thought provoking and inspiring conversations around what it means to be a woman and a mother in today’s society and what we can do to improve our collective and individual experiences.  Mitera is a mission-driven brand that honors and celebrates the process of creating and bringing life into and nurturing it in this world.  It is a brand with a mission to help women who are transitioning into and going through motherhood to rise to their potential and uplifts others around them as well as the next generation. Because every single person on this earth is birthed by a mother, because the female gender has this incredibly gift of being able to bring life into this world, what Yoko is trying to do with Mitera by empowering women and moms will have ripple effect in a very meaningful way.

13. What’s next for you personally and professionally?

Since my dad passed away in early September, I have had some deep conversations with myself about my purpose in life and what the contribution that I want to make on this earth.  He was a man of such character and integrity, and losing him has been incredibly difficult.  I think apart from my transition into motherhood, losing a parent, losing a life is the second most profound experience in life. Though it has been hard, my experience has helped me clarify some important things for me. I am thinking about what I want my life to represent when I am gone from the earth.  What is my true character?  Leadership is what you will do that outlives your earthly accomplishment.  I am digging deep and really thinking about how I truly want to live, what kind of relationships I want to be building, what kind of impact I want to have on this earth.  I want to live with intention and be driven by the right thing. I want to take time to really nurture myself, my son, all my loved ones, and my team. And I realize that I want to take care of myself along the way and not feel guilty about self-care. 

I am thrilled to share a 20% promo codemiteracollection for you to attend the 5th annual S.H.E Summit, a global women’s empowerment conference on October 28-29 at 92nd Street Y in NYC. Over 250 speakers from Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, to UN Ambassador Samantha Power have convened on our stage to share their women’s empowerment advice/message. Our 2016 line up of 50 speakers incl. faces below like Kelly Clarkson, Reshma Saujani to Sallie Krawcheck.

Sessions that #MiteraMamas will LOVE: 
Investing Your Time in What Matters Over Having It All with 3 Grammy Award Winner Kelly Clarkson

Couple’s Therapy with NY Times Best Selling Author Esther Pearl: How Marriages and Relationships Thrive as Women Rise

How to Advance Your Career through Parenting & Parenthood with Founder Allison Downey


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