February 21, 2016
BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
With a team of 150-plus writers under contract attracting a collective audience of 1.3 million readers, Chrissy Jones has nothing but growth ahead in her new assignment, 30Second Mom.
The former marketing executive with NBC’s TODAY Show moved here in 2008 and recently joined 30 Second Mobile, a Chicago-based tech media start-up which wants 30 seconds of busy mothers’ time. It is currently being re-launched by Chrissy and her team at 1871, our city’s hub for entrepreneurial startups in the Merchandise Mart.
“Our troop of influential moms are experts on various topics which provide tips to help busy moms save time, money, and their sanity,” Chrissy said. “We publish our content where moms spend their time: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and similar sites. We have delivered more than two billion impressions to the #30SecondMom hashtag and our topical weekly Twitter parties often trend.”
One of the contributors, who calls her own blog “Multiple Mayhem Mama,” swears that 30Second Mom is an oasis of calm for today’s multi-tasking mother.
Herself a busy mom of two sons and a daughter (with husband Hugh), a former chair of the Latin School Auction, and a leader on The Women’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, is all too familiar with having many things on her plate.
“A former boss suggested that I start a blog basically to act as my portfolio of work to re-enter the work force. I started ‘Beyond the Park’ and it really succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I found the blogging community in Chicago to be unbelievably supportive,” she said. “Through my blogging network I met Elisa All, who started “iParenting,” the first online parenting magazine in the 1990s, and sold it to Disney. She then put her attention to creating a mobile media company for women and she recruited me.”
For Mothers Day 2016, Elisa and Chrissy are re-launching the 30Second Mom brand, with an updated look and feel, and an improved user experience.
“Our site has been entirely re-built. We will be emphasizing visual storytelling and have added a social gaming element,” she said. “Mobile phone statistics are just amazing. We check our phones 150 times a day, 68 percent of smartphone users say they check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning, and 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make.”
Chrissy was kind enough to share with us a little bit more about her childhood, getting her start in business, and how she keeps her busy life in balance:
Tell us a little about growing up – what is one of your favorite childhood memories?
“[My friends and I would play house, and] I would pretend to be a mom named Diane with three boys.”
We would love to hear how your own mother influenced you and how you started your career.
“My mom chose to work outside of the home and really was a great role model for me about how to raise kids and be a hands-on parent while managing a successful career.
“After getting my MBA from the University of Michigan, I worked at NBC for ten-plus years in New York City. I worked my way up through the marketing department and ended up being a vice president in their cross platform group. I spent many years working on the TODAY Show and creating signature marketing programs.”
How do your own children influence you?
“When I was actively writing my blog, they would always come with me and help me prepare for on-air segments. When my eldest son, who is now almost 15, started to no longer want to appear in pictures posted on social media and on my blog, that’s when I started to think about looking for other opportunities where I wasn’t the sole content provider.”
Tell us a little bit more about your involvement at the Latin School and with the Women’s Board.
“I love being involved at my children’s school. In addition to chairing the Latin Auction and serving on various committees, I am a third grade room mom. For The Women’s Board of Northwestern Hospital, I am redesigning the website with Jen McKinney. I was thrilled when our President Joan Moore asked us to take on the task.
How do you balance family, work, and volunteerism?
“There’s no such thing as balance. We take everything day by day. My husband travels 70 percent of the time. When he is around, he is very plugged in and helpful, but when he is gone, I am very lucky to have great babysitters, and they become my partners.
“I also try to figure out which activities mean the most to my kids and those are the ones that I focus on being there for. My six-year-old daughter loves skating and swimming, so I make sure I am there for those weekly lessons. My middle guy likes to have sleepovers and Friday play dates, so I try to be there for those. My teen son has a great group of friends, and they spend a lot of late nights at our house, so I hang out with them at those times. He and I also like to watch ‘Hawaii 5-0’ and other law enforcement shows late at night after homework is done. That’s when he will talk to me about what is going on in his life.”
What are some of you favorite parenting tips you have learned through the site?
“Every family needs to do what works for them, and there is so much information and advice out there. I always find that it’s the small nuggets of information and specific tips that are the pieces of advice that are the most easily digestible. Some of my favorite tips are:
- Use a hanging shoe bag as an organizational tool. We hang one in our mudroom for all after-school activity supplies such as swimming goggles, leotards, ballet slippers, shin guards, sun screen, lip balm, band aids, and the like. It is a wonderful visual and it helps the kids keep track of their items.
- I also recommend a homework caddy, such as a portable bucket that has all of the necessary homework supplies that can easily be moved into my child’s room, or onto the kitchen table when they are doing their homework. We keep things like colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, rule, stapler, and the like there.
- Another favorite is an easy self-help snack station. My kids love to have play dates at our house and it is not unusual to have five to six kids over at a time. I keep a ton of fun snacks, like huge bags of chips, candy, and cookies in a large plastic bowl that I can easily bring out in a moment’s notice. I also use a Lazy Susan on my table that I can fill with bowls of cut-up fruits, veggies, and dips for a healthy snack on play dates.
Whether you are a parent or grandparent, you can leave here feeling armed with so many good ideas to start 2016, and know even more is in store on Mother’s Day, when 30Second Mom re-launches.