Trewstar Corporate Board Services

What’s love got to do with it?

July 17, 2023

Dear Friends of Trewstar:
Most of you know that I’ve been on “grandmaternity” leave recently (okay, more than once over the last two years). I was a little annoyed to find a June 27, 2023 WSJ article that said some firms are offering “grandternity” leave with no attribution to Trewstar. We are among the trendsetters here, maybe even the originators of this neat idea. I was definitely talking about it long before the arrival of my first grandchild.

At Trewstar, Antonia Bullard and I are the grandmothers, with a combined nine grandchildren (one double counted… I will know from the email responses who can figure that one out). We have another grandmother on the way, with a first grandchild due in August.

For me, there is value to grandmaternity leave beyond the immediate physical and emotional connections to one's family.

The world keeps changing and through grandmaternity leave, I have a ringside seat to observe those changes.

For instance, there are so many new or just improved products that I did not know existed: lotions, soaps, strollers, cribs, food, and high-tech devices. As I write, I am watching a Nanit screen on my phone so I will know when my granddaughter wakes up. The technology around breast pumps has advanced far beyond the big metal cart I recall from 30 years ago. I have a playlist in my Spotify account dedicated to my grandchildren’s songs. It is interesting that many of the songs are the old favorites you know and love, but now are very easy to access and play at a moment’s notice. The fathers (my sons) are truly involved, and through paternity leave, are involved much earlier with their children.  

And, yet it remains true that the mothers are the ones with their hands on the tillers of daily life. Watching the young mothers navigate work/life/career issues and listening to how they think about everything from the products they buy, to the way they buy them, to their career advancement hopes and dreams keeps me aware of issues that are relevant to our clients’ businesses. My expanded knowledge informs many discussions we have with corporate leaders. Surely the ability of a C-suite executive to make strategic decisions, or of a director to approve them, is enhanced by this direct understanding of how upcoming executives, male and female, think. Being a grandparent isn’t the only way to gain insight. I watch great aunts, uncles and godparents have their own aha moments. The love we feel for these new young families inspires us to be with them which, in turn, expands our view of today's world.

Switching gears from headquarters directly to the battlefield, Antonia shared some amusing connections between being a grandparent and our work supporting corporate boards who need new directors.

Question: Why is a board search like a rainy afternoon with a toddler?

Answer: Because somewhere among all the available resources there is the perfect match for what is needed. But finding it takes a solid inventory, careful listening, persistence, creative thinking, and the willingness to start all over from scratch.

Sometimes, the perfect match is in plain sight (large orange truck). 

Sometimes you know exactly where to look (green Duplo boxes) but must sort systematically through scores of possibilities.

Sometimes you cast the net much wider (messy toy basket in the corner) and run the risk of wasting time following avenues that come up empty.

Sometimes the answer is what Trewstar calls “creative and compelling” (colorful Lego giraffe)—an idea that does not meet the spec but combines so many relevant and valuable skills and experiences that it turns out to be the perfect match.

And sometimes the only answer is to turn your back on all the resources in your database, network, and ecosystem and do original research (blank sheet of paper and paints).

We hope all of you—young, old and in between—are having a wonderful summer,

Best Regards,