Roisin McGettiga is an Irish runner who specializes in the 3000 metres steeplechase. She graduated from Providence College in 2003 and competed in the her first Olympic Games in 2008 in Beijing. In addition to her ongoing training/professional running career, she also is a business owner and a new mom.
Jaci Arnone recently interviewed Roisin for our Home Work series. We love getting to know parents and learning how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) along with juggling kids, home life, and childcare (or lack of it).
Roisin McGettigan, started the company Believe I Am in the Fall of 2011 along with USA Champion and Eugene, Oregon resident Lauren Fleshman. These two women create transformative tools to help women accomplish their goals in sport and in life. They print “visual cues” on apparel, a women’s training journal and other products. Their mission is to share the “secrets” they have learned from competing at World Championships and Olympic competitions that allowed them to perform their best. Their company is also socially responsible and environmentally friendly. They use certified “green” printers and recycled materials for the journal and apparel and 10% of their profits are donated to women’s non-profits.
Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Roisin McGettigan: Lauren and I were professional track runners who saw each other now and again on the international racing circuit. When Lauren came to my hometown in Wicklow, Ireland for my wedding in 2010 we got talking and we realized we both had been most successful when we figured out some tools to use to address the mental side of sport. I made it to the Olympic final in the steeplechase in 2008 and Lauren had won numerous national championships and been a finalist at the World Championships. We both had experience working with sports psychologists and we wanted to share the insights and lessons we learned on our journey as professional runners with the wider running community.
Kidoinfo: How did you start your business?
Roisin: My husband, Myles Dumas, and I started RI Threads, a T-shirt company with designs inspired by Rhode Island, in 2010. My friend Lauren Fleshman from Oregon (US 5000m Champ) saw our shirts and she wanted help with an idea she had for her successful blog, asklaurenfleshman.com She approached us and straight away our ideas were flowing and together we created Believe I Am, a collection of designs that have “mantra” or “power words” hidden in the designs. We wanted to be cryptic because it’s a message for you, not the world. We created so many designs that we realized we had enough material to create a training journal. A training journal is one of a few essential items in an athlete’s life (I would say it’s as important as sneakers and a watch). Each month of the journal has a different mantra and reason to keep a journal and it also contains lots of goal setting pages and spaces to reflect on your progress. I became pregnant when we started working on Believe I Am, so I was able to focus my energy on the journal and launching the business while I wasn’t racing or training much. It was the right time to start something new.
Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?
Roisin: Luckily I love what I’m doing. I love being a mom, it’s far more enjoyable than I ever imagined. Also my little lady has been really good, so when she’s sleeping I get to work from home. I train before my husband goes to work downtown at Nail Communications (he is the head graphic designer at that advertising agency). In the evening after the baby goes to bed, Myles and I make dinner and relax together. Then we get to work on Believe I Am! So in a way I get to mix work and family life together. Which obviously has its pros & cons!
Kidoinfo: Please describe a typical day.
7-7:30am Baby wakes up.
8:00am I go out running.
8:30am Husband puts baby back to bed.
9:15am I finish my run. My husband leaves right away.
9:30-10:30am Ship sales, answer emails etc.
1-2:30pm Blog, work, calls etc.
2:30-4:30pm Babytime (park, walk, errands).
4:30-5ishpm Nap (follow-up calls etc.).
5-7:00pm Babytime: Play, dinner, bed.
7-8:30pm Run again, and make dinner with Myles.
8:30-9pm Maybe watch a show (not typical these days).
9-10:00pm (or later) Work on projects.
Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Roisin: I recently read about the Pareto Principle in regards to time saving. Its based on the premise that the most important work (80%) really only takes 20% of your time. So you should rank your to-do list based on importance, and when you have time do devote to something important you can be efficient and productive in less time than you think you need. During the rest of your time (80% ) you can take care of the less important stuff (20 %) — emails, calls, follow ups, Facebook etc. I’ve been intuitively doing this, but now I have a name for it, and see how it works for me. My business partner told me to read the book, the 4-Hour Work Week, but I haven’t had the time! I guess it talks all about that principle.
Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Roisin: Don’t stop listening to your gut/intutition/ self. I did that once, and it was the worst decision I ever made. If something is a total drag or if you have lots motivation, don’t force things. Its just not the way or the right energy to be successful or productive. Find that reset button somehow!
Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Roisin: While out running, I have my Eureka moments. Otherwise I get inspired watching sports, music performances and other art productions. There is inspiration everywhere and in every person. I don’t find it difficult to get inspired. I’ve just have to be open to finding it. The natural world offers so much inspiration for design — I can be in total awe of a flower. Starting out with Believe I Am we went with the inspiration with found in flowers to create our first collection of designs. We also used the “Garden of the Mind” as our metaphor for positive thinking. Lauren even created a poem about it.
Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Roisin: My friend gave me the book, Baby Wise, and when I came home from the hospital with my little baby girl, I read that book to give me some pointers and guidelines on what our day could look like. It simplified the whole shebang and made life really easy for my baby and us. People keep telling me how lucky I am that I have an easy baby, but the book warned me that would happen, so I don’t know if it’s the book or the baby. Either way, we’ve had a lovely time so far.
Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Roisin: We listen to the Sesame Street channel on Pandora ALL DAY LONG. It’s the best mix EVER! We also have a lovely book we read going to bed every night called, Good Night, Little Bear about lots of little animals giving hugs before going to bed. It’s very cute.
Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Roisin: Whatever needs to be done! My babe is only 8 months old, so she’s still easy to entertain.
Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Roisin: Power of Now. I can open it anytime on any page and find something of value. Otherwise reading for leisure hasn’t really happened since having the baby and starting the business. Every now and again I just stop and say to my husband, lets find a movie to watch, this to-do list can wait.
Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Roisin: I’m a night-owl, so when I first had the baby and was forced to train earlier than normal (which is still late in most people’s world) I used to lure myself out of bed with Nutella before my run! (I’m over it now though.)
Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Roisin: Easy: Get back to sewing and creating new designs. Read the pile of magazines in our living room. Catch up on Glee and Grey’s Anatomy. Get really into Pinterest. Read a book. Oh wait, that’s easily 6 hours right there!
Kidoinfo: How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?
Roisin: I’m new to both the mothering role and the business-person role. I’m shooting from the hip most of the time, but its really about enjoying the little special moments with my daughter and the new world I’m opening up with Believe I Am. I’ve learned so much from friends around me when I loose my way. Community is SO important to me on both a personal and professional level. My sisterhood is so valuable to me as an athlete and now as a mother and also as an entrepreneur. I learned a lot from life as a professional athlete about goal setting, being prepared and working hard, so I guess I’m applying the same principles to my new endeavors.
Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?
Roisin: Ive realized that business could be about meeting lovely people and fostering real relationships. I never saw myself as a businessperson in the past, but if it can be this fun and friendly I’ll be keen to keep things rolling and manifest more of the ideas, designs, and products we would like to put out into the world. I have to keep focused in the present in order to not get overwhelmed. I’m more of a dreamer/intuitive personality so I don’t mind taking risks or going with the flow, and doing something for fun — which is the best reason to do anything if you are Irish. It’s a good that my husband is more of a realist and very practical. We balance each other out nicely.