Really, how does she do it?

Penelope, you write that if we want to know how someone is running their life, count the hours. So I count your hours, and I don’t see how you are homeschooling your kids and earning all the money you say you earn. Can you break down your hours for us?

5 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    The short answer is no. I cannot break down my hours for you. Because as a single homeschooling parent and the sole source of income, I’m like a chicken with my head cut off. Sometimes. Other times I drink to cope with the stress and then I fall asleep. Which, actually, is similar to a chicken with it’s head cut off, just after a little more time has past.

    My point is, how would I count those hours?

    Also, before you get upset about me saying that I drink to cope, drinking alcohol is the coping mechanism of choice for rich suburban moms and also for high-powered women. And not that I’m really either of those, I’m almost both of them, so that equals a predilection to deal with stress by drinking.

    And also, I’m aware that PETA is asking us please do not use idioms that are abusive to animals. So I am telling you that I know I’m doing it, because the first step is noticing there’s a problem.

    Anyway, I am really good at adapting my money earning to whatever time I have in between kid stuff. So, for example, when we were driving back and forth to cello lessons and spending 20 hours a week in the car, I changed how I earned money to be less about going into TV studios and more about being on the phone. I could be on the phone in the car.

    When I ended up having to be on the phone 100% of the time in order to make enough money, I hired a driver. (Only after I totaled two cars in one year.)

    When we moved from the farm and we didn’t travel for cello lessons I changed how I made money again. For example, I had people come to my house for a few days at a time and I focused on getting them to a goal they were having trouble reaching. (And I cooked for them. Because my kids had to eat.)

    Right now I’m in hiring mode. The boys have tutors and they manage a lot of their own schedule, so homeschooling now is me being around because they need something every 30 minutes. And if I’m there, I can troubleshoot and keep them on track. Otherwise, they could spend an hour or two being lost.

    So I hired two people and I am working with a team, because managing a team requires checking in quickly throughout the day, so it fits in nicely in between the kids.

    In each instance, I looked for tools to make things easier. So I automated my calendar with Calendly when I was coaching two or three people a day. And I started using web design software when I was helping people launch a company. Right now I’m looking at Cloudphone, because I have tons of people working contact and part-time and I hate having to be the phone operator for everyone calling my company.

    One of the things I worry about is that I’ll commit to the wrong business solutions for the wrong time in my life. Doing something like Cloudphone means I’m getting ready to grow a bigger company. And I can’t tell if you do the software first and then the guts, or guts first then software.

    I think I did not answer your question. But this is another way I get so much work done. I just do what I do and if it’s wrong I shrug and keep going. No time for begging forgiveness.


    • Poppy
      Poppy says:

      Oh, I love that this comment is like the first draft of your last entry, so I can compare both and get a sneak peek into your editing process.

      I’m glad you included the chicken part in the last version. It’s hilarious.

  2. Anne
    Anne says:

    Ha love you Penelope for your openness and honesty!! Also in business school you learn that sometimes you just have to make a decision and move in a well thought out direction, and if further down the road it turns out to be a mistake, you can regroup and keep moving- I work with a lot of engineers and we can have “analysis paralysis” with gathering data, looking at possible outcomes etc FOREVER!! Which keeps any decision from ever being made!! So this philosophy has helped us a great deal

    Also has helped me in my personal life to stop over analyzing things, and be comfortable acting on well informed decisions- knowing that the pressure is off from making the “ perfect “ choice!! Sometimes “ the perfect is the enemy of the good”

    Thank you for sharing your life with us- the good and bad!!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      You’re right. It is a first draft. I like that you see it that way. I started writing and I realized I had so much to say. I should post not on mailbag. And then I realized I posted here anyway. I like that you see it as insight to how I write. That’s a good way to look at it.


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