By Emily Merrell
Oftentimes a good idea comes from uncertainty in one’s own life. That’s precisely what happened to Sarah O’Brien Hammond, founder of The Network of Women (The NoW). This NYC organization focuses on creating a space for women to connect and begin the self-discovery journey with support from others. Learn how this working mom balances her family, business and corporate job right NOW!
SDS: As a community builder I love meeting fantastic founders of women led communities. What is the mission behind The NoW NYC and what inspired you to start it?
SARAH O’BRIEN HAMMOND: The NoW’s mission is to bring together growth-minded women and provide them with the support, experiences and tools they need to explore themselves, their passions and their interests – all in a safe and judgment-free environment. It was through my own life’s journey that The Network of Women (The NoW) was born. I had been so busy running through life, checking off society’s checklist of what supposedly leads to ultimate happiness (husband, kids, successful career, travel, etc.) that when I picked my head up, I realized I had NO idea what direction I was heading or what I truly wanted from life. I don’t think I ever reflected in 42 years to even ask myself what I wanted. I was leading a life that had a lot of ‘things’ but lacked purpose and true fulfillment. It was a big awakening for me. I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one experiencing this and so many other women felt they were lacking something too and wanted more! I immediately saw a void and knew I needed to create a space for women to connect and be supported as they continued on or began their self-discovery journey.
SDS: Since inception, what have been some successes and challenges that surprised you in the creation of the group?
SOH: I think the challenge that has surprised me the most has been the ramp-up time. I am not a patient person and expected a quicker ramp-up – but have quickly realized that scaling a business the right way takes time.
SDS: In your first year of creation you hosted a summit while also working full-time in the corporate world. What moved you to create a summit and what takeaways did you have?
SOH: The Summit was one of our biggest successes! Women, especially in NYC, are so curious. They are growth-minded and are hungry to learn more and surround themselves with experts to help them along their personal and professional journeys. We saw an opportunity to create a special and safe space for women to connect, gather, learn and walk away feeling inspired and motivated to take action in their own lives (both personally and professionally.) It was a huge success and we are excited to do it again on March 7th, 2020!!! One takeaway, which we will be implementing this year, is providing workshops for the women in addition to our keynotes and panelists. Our attendees were ready to get to work and the workshops will be a great place for them to start that work!
SDS: As someone that balances (very gracefully) a full time job, an organization and a family do you have any tips on how to give time and energy to all?
SOH: Wow, thank you for saying I do it gracefully but the truth is it is pretty challenging. I try to be very organized so that everyone that depends on me knows what to expect. We keep a family calendar that I use religiously (even my 9 and 11 year olds use the calendar). That way everyone knows when to expect me. Even if I am working in the house, I will put it on the calendar so that the kids don’t get frustrated if I am not available. The same applies for the team I manage in my corporate recruiting job. I also take time for myself, I just came back from a 24-hour solo getaway to the Hamptons. It was enough time to crank out a bunch of work (guilt-free) and get a massage and workout in. All essential things for me!
SDS: What’s your biggest learning from starting The NoW that you wish you’d known before starting.
SOH: I think having your mission, vision and values crystal clear before starting a business is key. I had a rough idea of what those were but didn’t have them written in stone. Without that, your message can be confusing, which is the last thing you want!
SDS: How can we learn more about The NOW and upcoming programming?
SOH: We are adding new exciting things to our programming every day! Check out our programming at www.thenownyc.com/events where you can also find additional info on The Network of Women!