C4W Member Profile: Leslie Haywood

What is your profession? Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, inventor of Grill Charms™ , the “must have” grilling gadget that is revolutionizing the American Cookout.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career?  Tennis, vacationing, entertaining friends, and EATING!

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? Joined in November 2007

What inspired you to become a member?  When I first joined in 2007, most of us were living pretty high on the hog, so my reason for joining was simply because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.   Since then “things” have changed and I truly believe that women owned businesses and women entrepreneurs are the answer to our country’s economic problems.  Now if we just had the right women in the white house, we’d be all set!

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you?  Every time I attend an event it reminds me just how powerful we women are and that our potential is limited only by our dreams.  I am constantly inspired by the people around me… and who couldn’t use a little shot of inspiration every once and while?

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? Can I get on my soap box for a minute?  This question brings up a topic that ONLY US WOMEN (specifically us mothers) deal with and it effects me greatly.  “MOMMY GUILT”!  I left my career of 9 years to become a stay at home mom (like my husband and I always planned I would do).  Three years into living my dream of being that ideal stay at home mom, I had an idea for a business. It was something I felt almost compelled to do!  (Much like the “need” to have children, I felt this was something I NEEDED to do!)  I followed that new entrepreneurial dream and completely derailed both mine and my husband’s expectations of the “perfect family”.  It is HERE that I feel my mommy guilt radiates from.  Growing up, my mother was a stay at home mom and my two younger sisters and I agree to this day that our childhood was just about PERFECT.  Our home was loving and caring and unbelievably happy.  Because of this, I wanted to do things exactly like the most perfect mom in the world… MINE.  (Which meant being a stay at home mom)  I never planned on having any kind of light bulb moment where I would find this urge… (Compulsion really) to start my own company, but I did.  Now I wrestle daily with what I can’t help but feel are my “selfish” desires to be a successful entrepreneur.  I hate that I feel this way and on an intellectual level, I know that these thoughts and feeling are RIDICULOUS, but I can’t help but feel “mommy guilt” none the less.  I have realized that my guilt stems from my preconceived notions and life experience which tell me that the most perfect childhood comes from having a mom that devoted herself completely to her children. Well…. as happy and wonderful as my childhood was, I am learning through new life experiences that a “perfect childhood” can come in many different shapes and sizes.  I do feel like our home is full of happiness, TONS OF LOVE, encouragement and all the things that make for happy, healthy, well balanced adults in training and the best part is, I’m showing them that it can be done “differently”.  My daughters were 1 and 3 at the time of my “deviation” so they have always grown up thinking all moms were also “entrepreneurs” or inventors. With this, I am hopefully breaking the chain of mommy guilt with them and showing them that happy childhoods don’t necessarily come from one perfect formula.  It’s too late for me, but maybe I am leading by example so that the next generation of mommies won’t suffer from the mommy guilt syndrome quite as much.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? I am the poster child for, “if you have a dream, you CAN Do it.”  Whether it’s inventing a product, starting own business or creative positive change in a business you already in, I guarantee that unless you are a rocket scientist… (and some of you MIGHT be!) what you want to do is NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.  It is simply a process that can be broken down into a series of smaller steps that will lead you to your goal. I am proof that with enough drive and determination ANYTHING is possible.  Simply start SOMEWHERE.  Put one foot in front of the other and the path will appear.  But be ready and be excited!!… because the path that appears isn’t always the one you intended to take!

How can people connect with you? People can connect with me at www.grillcharms.com  Twitter @grillcharmer  FB http://www.facebook.com/#!/GrillCharms

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