Dear Marissa Mayer:
First off - congrats on a double dose of incredible life-changing news!
I know you're incredibly busy adjusting to life after Google, cranking up your new CEO gig at Yahoo!, and finalizing your go-bag for the birth of your son in October. But please consider a few thoughts from a well-intended geek mom and journalist.
By all means, grant yourself more maternity leave.
You've told Fortune magazine that you plan to take just a few weeks off. Not only that, you plan to work throughout your leave. Like other working moms, I kind of wish you didn't say that... but I can see why you did. You want to prove yourself. You want to hit the ground running and keep up the sprint even through the so-called fourth trimester. But maternity leave is not a vacation or a cop-out from your new post. It's the first precious weeks to invest in a being who is completely dependent on you. The constant feeding, burping, soothing and changing will be tedious. Yes, we all know you'll have the help and support to assist with the demands of early childcare, but you can't completely outsource motherhood. Think about your colostrum over the company for more than just a few weeks. Please.
Don't be afraid to talk about work-life balance.
I know it will be annoying. As the new working-mom-to-be CEO of Yahoo! you will address questions about the performance of Yahoo! as well as how you manage to "do it all." But women and girls the world over are looking to you to inspire, set trends in the workplace, and establish what it means to be a young working mom helming a Fortune 500 company. Only one request: please be honest. Don't be afraid to mention or honor the individuals who cook and clean and nanny for you. This is not a sign of weakness. It's a valuable lesson for all young women - if you want to "have it all," make sure you have the support infrastructure of family, friends or staff to make it work.
This may sound odd, but a new-found empathy in early motherhood will be empowering.
After I gave birth, I was overwhelmed by a flood of emotions - boundless love for my infant daughter and (something that really struck me quite by surprise) and deep empathy for others. It was as if a third eye had opened. I started considering the circumstances of literally everyone around me. I began asking more questions about the feelings of others. I started tearing up at Hayao Miyazaki movies (don't get me started on "Ponyo"). Don't be afraid of a sudden widening of your emotional range. Embrace it to be more in tune with your colleagues, your staff, and especially your users. Yahoo! may have 700 million monthly users and one of the largest audiences on the Web, but you can attract more if you tap into a new-found ability to deliver what they really want.
Here's wishing you the very best as you take on the double whammy of rearing a child and reviving a neglected tech icon. Oh - and don't forget to pack a cotton yukata robe in your pregnancy "go bag." You can buy one in Japantown in San Francisco. They are far better than the maternity-ward wear issued after birth - the most momentous event of your life.
Kristie Lu Stout