A few years ago, when Melissa Lehman looked around at her fellow working parents she was astounded — and maybe a little troubled — by what she saw.
Her parent friends were able to “pull off the impossible each week: working full time, getting their kids to school, soccer, gymnastics, making dinner, helping with homework, chairing the auction,” said the Seattle mother of two boys.
“Someone told me that we’re the first generation to make ‘parent’ a verb,” Lehman said. “Yet despite being insanely busy, there are very few options for getting help.”
That inspired Lehman to partner with John Glover, also a parent, and Kaveh Ghadianipour to create Pogo Rides.
The Seattle startup helps families connect with each other and coordinate carpools. It also offers a variation of Lyft or Uber for kids — with an essential twist. The Pogo Rides drivers are “highly screened nannies,” Lehman said, “so even if your carpool falls through, you are covered.”
Lehman is CEO of Pogo Rides, which began taking shape about three years ago.
“We’re a small team, so on a daily basis I do a range of things, from talking with our school partners, reading a member’s email, sketching out wireframes for a new feature, meeting with an advisor or crunching data to figure out what’s working for people,” she said. “Every day is different.”
We caught up with Lehman for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current Location: Seattle, Fremont neighborhood
Computer types: PC
Mobile devices: iPhone 6S Plus
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: For work, Microsoft 365 (Excel’s my favorite), Slack and Google Docs for collaboration; for personal use Waze, Venmo and Airbnb
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “We have a great office in Fremont, it’s bright and airy and close to some good lunch spots (Essential Bakery and Pablo y Pablo), Gasworks. My desk is generally ‘organized’ in piles. I still love sketching and thinking through ideas on paper so despite having a notebook, I also typically have a stack of papers. I was tempted to clean off my desk for the photo but opted for the real deal.”
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? ”Set priorities and sacred times. With a startup and two young kids, it’s important for me to be clear about the times in my days that are reserved for my kids. There are always exceptions, but the bar is high for me to miss getting them up in the morning and putting them to bed. This means that work creeps into all the other time. Evenings, weekends, vacation.
I prioritize my work by asking myself weekly, and at the start of every day, what is the thing on my checklist I must do to move the business forward and achieve our goals for the month. I start there because I’m most productive first thing in the morning.
I’m lucky in that I genuinely enjoy work and feel like it’s a privilege to get to work on a problem that I care about deeply.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “LinkedIn, great for finding mutual connections. Emerging user of Facebook and Twitter. I’m a part of the Seattle Female Founders Alliance on Facebook, which is a great source of inspiration and support.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “726. It’s a source of amazement to my methodical husband, but I scan a lot of emails without needing to respond. I also keep them in a single inbox for ease of searching when I need to access them. I strive to respond to all emails directed at me within 24 hours.”
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? Nine external meetings and a daily standing Slack check-in with my team.
How do you run meetings? Collaboratively based on an agenda.
Everyday work uniform? Casual if no external meetings: Jeans, black sweater, boots. Dress things up a bit if I’m meeting with partners.
How do you make time for family? “We wake up and have breakfast together every morning and eat dinner as a family 90 percent of the time. This means I work after my kids go to bed and most weekends during nap time, but it’s worth it for me to feel connected to them throughout the week. I also try not to give advice in this area because everyone’s parenting choices are hard and deeply personal.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Hot yoga or a good book and cup of tea. I typically also watch a mindless TV show once a week while my husband plays basketball on Tuesday nights.”
What are you listening to? Francis and the Lights, Valerie June, Hiss Golden Messenger, Ibeyi
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? TheSkimm, New York Times, First Round has great articles for startups across a range of topics.
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Nightstand is “Infinity Net” an autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese artist who exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum this summer. Desk is “Sprint” by Jake Knapp.
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? Early riser. In bed by 10:30 p.m., up by 6 a.m. most days.
Where do you get your best ideas? “After I’ve had a little perspective and let a problem simmer. Sometimes good ideas strike while I’m coloring with my kids or out for a walk. Unfortunately, they also strike in the middle of the night, so I keep a notebook next to my bed.”
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “I admire Amy Nelson of the Riveter for her authenticity on social media, and building great momentum and community around her startup. I would like to learn more about the four-hour work week, mostly because it sounds impossible.”