PEP 044: Mary Lou Kayser on Connecting Parenting, Business and Storytelling for Conversions with Purpose


Mary Lou KayserMary Lou Kayser joins the conversation today to chat about her story, and her parent entrepreneurship.

Once Upon a Time as Mary Lou Kayser




I live in the beautiful state of Oregon, but was born and raised on the East Coast.  Started my journey as a High School English Teacher, but when I got pregnant with my second child, I wanted to stay home to take care of him.

When he was 18 months old, family situations changed, and I needed to go back to work.  I became a college professor for 5 years, but in 2005, I took the leap into entrepreneurship, and have not looked back since!

I am a HUGE Oregon Ducks fan.  I have two children, one in college, and one in high school.

Mary: How old were your kids when you took that leap into entrepreneurship?

My daughter was 9 and my son was 6 years old.

The biggest shift was that I cut the golden handcuffs, and going out on my own was definitely that leap of faith.

From a parenting standpoint, I could take my kids to school, and wait for them at the bus stop when they came home, and when I was working, I didn’t have that option.

Mary: Now that I’m in the teen years, I think being home with my boys is just as important, not for development, per se, but to help guide them through all the options hitting them in the face every day as teens.

You just said something so accurate!  During the teenage years, our kids need us even more.  When they are very young, having your kids in different environments helps them adapt.

I was a latch-key kid, and when I was young my mom got an Executive job.  My father took over more of the parenting role, and that shift was not discussed very well, so I had a hard time adapting myself.

Mary: Adapting to the upcoming stage with our kids is the most important skill we can have!

Our businesses mirror our parenting –

  • Newborn is like Start-up
  • Toddler is like Growth-Spurts
  • Teenagers are like CEO Guiding Time
Through my research on this topic, the teenage years are when most parents, and most entrepreneurs have the most trouble, because we don’t know how to adapt to this new, more hands-off, role.

Yes!  The adolescence of our children is very similar to the adolescence of our business.

Many parents make the mistake of trying to hold on to a stage in the past.  What parent hasn’t looked at the little ones in their cute Halloween costumes, and remembered, nostalgically, when their teenager was like that.

The other mistake many parents make is trying to be friends with their teenagers, rather than be the CEO, and make the tough calls.

Setting boundaries in both parenting and business is crucial, and we need to be the tough guy, and let go of some things in order to move forward.

One of the best parenting books I ever read is not even a parenting book.

Good Dogs, Great Owners, and it’s a book on raising puppies.  That book is also a great book on starting a business.

Establishing boundaries, who’s the boss, setting up structures and procedures, etc.

Entrepreneurs and parents alike struggle with shiny object syndrome, and emotional stages.

Mary: Yes, everything is a phase.  
So, when your kids were 6 and 9, how did you balance, or compartmentalize your time and energy?

I agree – I don’t believe in balance, either.

2005 is when I handed in my resignation letter, and I remember that she said to me, “Wow, we are really going to miss you around here.”

When she asked me why I was quitting, I told her that I needed to try and start my own business.

Then she said something very profound…

Boy was she right!

I can’t say I had it all figured out, but I knew that my kids would only be that age for a short time, so I always put my kids first.  I was at every game, every music recital, every event.

When they were at school, I worked completely, and focused.

I allowed the school schedule to become my work schedule, and I would sometimes take a little bit of time to work more if I needed.  I also made sure to connect with their dad and take some time for myself in the evening.

Mary: What do you think is the most important skill that has helped you find success?

Anything to do with communication is of utmost importance.

These amazing smart phones allow us to communicate directly, and I’m a huge texter to communicate with my children.

To parallel it to business, there will be times when you will need to let go of certain parts, and if you can’t communicate effectively when that happens, people won’t be able to help you.

We are modeling for our children two main things as Parent Entrepreneurs:

  • Following our Passion
  • Living our Purpose

That is so important, because many children see their parents miserable at their jobs, and don’t know there is anything different.

The other very important thing is to lift each other up!  Not that our kids need to parent us, but when we allow our kids to be part of the equation of our lives, we help them become worlds apart from others who don’t learn to be intuitive.

Mary: The future has much more opportunity to be entrepreneurial.

My daughter has visions of becoming a physician someday, and is not entrepreneurial.  My son, however is entrepreneurial, and is strong in both right and left brain.

We need both entrepreneurial and traditional roles filled by our young people.

Mary: So tell me more about what your entrepreneurial story is now.

I love technology, and I teach people some of the basics of how to navigate this new technological world.

I also help entrepreneurs identify, and develop their signature story.

Storytelling is essential to everything we do. It is the foundational piece of your business, and helps you communicate who you are and what you do to the rest of the world.

Listen to Mary Lou’s Powerful core story at 32:21

Mary: What is your parting piece of guidance to a parent thinking about entrepreneurship?

Life is really short, and it’s a fantastic journey.  My mantra is…

I guarantee you, no matter how it turns out, you will grow, you will have learned something valuable, and I need to say, Why Not?!

You can connect with Mary Lou here:

Her Website



Here is the Story Prompt, or Worksheet I promised at the end of this conversation with Mary Lou, and I sincerely hope it helps you develop your own powerful story!

Let’s Get Started!


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