Marketing consultant, caregiver
Mandy Minor and her then-husband opened J Allan Studios (jallanstudios.com) in St. Petersburg in 2005. The marketing business made a great fit for the couple, who were getting ready to become parents and wanted a flexible business that allowed them to put their children first. Several years (and two children) later, the two divorced and Minor bought out the business.
“I’ve always been interested in marketing and advertising. I used to read labels for fun, soaking in the marketing-ese,” says Minor, 40, whose company helps business owners with branding, marketing and sales. Minor also offers services to job seekers, including resume preparation and free resume reviews, through tampabayresumes.com.
Minor also organized and now leads LocalShops1’s Morning Mastermind, a peer-to-peer program that provides actionable business help for entrepreneurs.
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But though Minor’s professional passion is marketing, her primary job is as a caretaker to her daughters Kiley and Clara, and her mom, Carole Minor.
Minor is an expert in finding answers in that often-teetering balance between work and life. While flexible work hours at first was simply a preferred choice, it became the only viable solution when Clara was born with DiGeorge Syndrome, a rare genetic condition. Clara’s health needs are extensive and sometimes unpredictable, so a “normal” work schedule isn’t feasible. Minor also cares for her 74-year-old mother, who lives independently but depends on Minor for help and transportation to shopping trips and doctor’s appointments at least twice a week.
Minor recently shared her family’s health care and financial situation in a piece for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s exploration and reporting of Florida’s Medicaid programs. She thought her involvement was important to help other people understand the circumstances of affected families with children, like her daughter, who need expensive, ongoing medical treatments.
The family schedule includes weekly medical appointments, specialist visits, physical therapy, feeding, and speech therapy. Of course, Minor’s to-do list also involves the more routine parenting tasks of driving the children to school, checking homework, fixing dinner, and making sure Kiley, 10, and Clara, 4, thrive. The family’s packed-to-the-brim-week might sound stressful and nearly impossible to schedule. But Minor has some secrets to a work-life balance.
“I’m lucky because I’m super organized,” she says.
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Minor uses Gmail Calendar to set up a schedule and record activities, appointments and events. The program also allows her create and share multiple calendars. She also uses digital tools including WorkFlowy to organize notes, brainstorm and create to-do lists. She works her business in the “cracks in time between doing things for the people who need me.” She takes advantages of those slices of time, like after the girls’ bedtime, car circle waits, or medical waiting rooms, to fill out paperwork, email clients or read a book. Minor also credits work-life balance to her live-in boyfriend, Alastair St. Hill, who helps shoulder family activities like driving the kids and cooking. Couple time for her and Alastair usually involves low-key and low-cost activities, like watching Netflix shows or going to a local market.
A self-proclaimed procrastinator, Minor stays motivated and productive by using a tip she read in an article. Instead of continually delaying tasks, promise to do it for only five minutes. Most times, that five minutes is enough time to immerse yourself and keep going.
“It’s harder to start from a complete stop,” she explains. “If you can get past the inertia, you’ll be in motion. You can get up to speed so much quicker.”
She also uses promises of rewards to stay motivated. Simple rewards, like time to read a book or play a game of Candy Crush, can inspire her to get work finished.
For days when life seems too much to handle, Minor applies mindset advice she gained from spiritual leaders like Eckhart Tolle. Often, stress springs from “feeling you have to control everything.” To reduce stress, she prioritizes life differently, takes time to nurture herself, reads voraciously, and understands she’s not in control of every puzzle piece. The key, she says, is switching her outlook to one of “gratitude, which leads to inspiration.”
Minor carves alone time in weekly visits to a Pinellas Park barn, where she volunteers to groom, feed and ride. While the outing helps the horses, it also helps her by giving her time to unwind and recharge.
“I’m outside and in the environment, I feel connected,” said Minor. “It’s meditative because you’re focused on what you’re doing.”