Pivoting & Parenting: Inspiring Career Changes with She Pivots Podcast Host Emily Tisch Sussman

Pivoting & Parenting: Inspiring Career Changes with She Pivots Podcast Host Emily Tisch Sussman
Photo Credit: Ana Gambuto

Pivoting & Parenting: Inspiring Career Changes with She Pivots Podcast Host Emily Tisch Sussman

How many of us grew up with a parent who was unhappy with their job but claimed it was “too late” to do anything about it, frequently reminding us to choose a career path early so as not to make the same mistakes – a cautionary tale of “do as I say, not as I do.”

Long Islander Emily Tisch Sussman’s children will never know that feeling. Although the former democratic political strategist and mother of three credits her kids with ruining her career, she’s not mad about it.

When the overwhelming task of balancing motherhood with a demanding job in politics became too much, she chose to change direction entirely, a bold move that has made it possible for her to successfully raise a family while also maintaining a fulfilling career. 

Now, four years after that life-altering decision, Sussman has teamed up with Marie Claire to start a weekly, interview-style podcast about other women who have made the same major mid-life move. She Pivots will feature empowering and diverse women who have successfully shifted their careers without looking back. 

We sat down with the busy mom and podcaster to discuss pivoting, parenting and life on Long Island.

Psst… Check out The Benefits of Preschool

When was the exact moment you decided it was time to step away from your previous career? Was there a defining moment or catalyst that led you to make the big move?

I remember being in the studio for an early morning TV hit at 4:30am, trying to pump and then having to go to work afterwards, all while dealing with the 24 hour news cycle that was coming out of Washington and I just thought, I can’t sustain this anymore.

I have always been so career driven it was hard to reconcile, but I was burnt out, my health was on the backburner, and I wasn’t as present with my family as I wanted to be. So I stepped away.

Leaving behind my successful career in DC politics wasn’t easy, and in fact I kept one foot in for a number of years as a political consultant and with my political podcast Your Political Playlist. But I’m at a point in my life where I am ready to make a change and focus on cultural change.

Photo Credit: Ana Gambuto

Tell us more about your podcast. What can listeners expect to learn from your guests? What topics will you be discussing? Are you planning to have a lot of mothers on as guests?

She Pivots is an incredible collection of conversations with dynamic women who have pivoted in their career for personal reasons. Our first episode launched with Sophia Bush and her business partner Nia Batts.

And many people don’t realize that beyond her acting career, Sophia is a really prolific investor and after she and Nia were forced to close their small business, a salon called Detroit Blows, they pivoted, using their dollars to invest in women-owned and founded companies.

Our second guest is Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code and the Marshall Plan for Moms. While she is well-known, most people don’t know that while she was building successful organizations, she was also going through a brutal ten-year struggle with fertility. 

She Pivots presents stories of women who are successful, and sometimes famous, but pulls the curtain open behind the personal struggles and sacrifices that put them on the path to success.  

We interview many mothers on the show, and some not-yet mothers. Every guests’ pivot point is unique, some are based around the challenges associated with becoming a parent, but many are not. I wanted everyone to be able to see themselves in this show, whether they are a parent or not.

You switched careers primarily to focus on your children. Have you been successful? How are you managing the work/home balance these days?

I think success is a spectrum, it’s something I talk a lot about in the show, that we need to redefine our traditional idea of success. But I think ultimately, yes I do think I’ve been successful. I get to see my kids everyday and spend the quality time with them I was missing with my previous career. 

It’s not perfect and there are times when I have naked kids running behind me in Zoom calls, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s been hard letting go of my past idea of success, but now I feel more successful than ever.

How do you like raising a family on Long Island? What are some of your family’s favorite spots and things to do there? 

I love it. Long Island really is a special place that allows my kids to grow up around a close knit community. There is a sense here that if I need a cup of sugar I could ask anyone and they would lend a hand. 

My kids love The Green School, an outdoor working farm, and I absolutely love having them play and learn in nature, something I don’t think I would find anywhere else. 

We are excited that beach season is back. The great thing about Long Island is that we can access the bay-side beaches, which makes me feel safer with three little kids, but we can also access the ocean-side beach, for when we are feeling more adventurous. 

She Pivots is available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Learn more about Emily Tisch Sussman at MarieClaire.com.