Starter Series: Tiffany Shlain

Tiffany Shlain reviews & interviews

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The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to share some of the amazing people we get to meet with our readers. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we will share with you another story of starting. So community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.

Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.

In my 20s I founded The Webby Awards and ran it for almost 10 years. I worked 100-hour weeks back then. When I decided to have children, I knew I couldn’t keep up the same schedule and be a mom so I decided to return to my original passion of filmmaking. I sold The Webby Awards and started a film studio called The Moxie Institute. The concept behind the studio is to make films to trigger important discussions for the 21st century. 

What do your kids think about your job?

They think it’s pretty cool. One of my daughters is in the 5th grade and each year I teach an aspect of filmmaking to her and her classmates. I think she’s always very proud of me, which is great. My four-year-old doesn't really understand what I do, but she knows that I have fun doing it. So if that’s all that she takes away, then that’s a good thing.

Tell us about a total mom + biz fail?

Right after my first daughter was born, I took a trip to show a film and speak at a conference in the south. Before I left, I triple checked my packing list, making sure I had everything that would allow me to be a responsible mother while propelling my life as a filmmaker and speaker: cell phone, laptop, and my beloved breast pump. On my way to the airport, I found myself feeling very much in control of my reality. Then, in that little cramped space of an airplane bathroom, my breast pump broke!

I arrived at my hotel in incredible pain, checked into my room, and contacted local La Leche League. The expert’s advice—put cabbage leaves in your bra. Apparently the cabbage relieves moisture. I was desperate so I t gave it a try. Sure enough a hot bath and some carefully placed cabbage leaves did provide some relief…but nothing would truly help except my baby. Or a breast pump. I suffered through that night’s screening and gave my talk—let’s just say it wasn’t a highlight moment.

Share with us a total win (brag away!)

Doing my AOL series, The Future Starts Here is my latest win and I’m really proud of the success we’ve had. The series has received more than 20 million views in just the first three months since we launched. I’m especially happy about being able to add my thoughts, through the Motherhood Remixed episode,  to the whole motherhood conversation that’s been going on this last year about whether working moms can have it all. We may not be able to have it all but we can definitely make things work a little better for ourselves, and technology helps make this possible.

I am continually questioning why we working moms compare our success to a very male form of success, which usually involves a hectic schedule, high corporate and board positions, and other activities that require long hours away from our families. I would really love to see women—some of us do, but I’d love to see more of us—redefine what success means to us. For me, being successful means having the time I need to be present with my children, owning my own schedule and making films.

Be sure to watch this episode of  Motherhood Remixed…

About the Author

Tiffany Shlain

Tiffany Shlain is a filmmaker, artist, founder of the Webby Awards, and co-founder of The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. A celebrated thinker and catalyst, her films and work have received 60 awards and distinctions. Four of her films have premiered at Sundance, and her latest film will be released in 2014 for #CharacterDay. Find out more about her work at .

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