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Christina Geist on career breaks, entrepreneurship, new children's book

Geist says her 4-year career break to raise her kids was not a setback but a source of inspiration.
Christina Geist, a brand strategist, entrepreneur and children's book author.
Christina Geist, a brand strategist, entrepreneur and children's book author.

Some 43 percent of women with children leave their jobs, but in some cases, taking a career break to raise children could pay dividends for professional growth and success down the road.

Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski recently sat down Christina Geist, a brand strategist, entrepreneur and children’s book author, to talk about how taking four years off to raise her children turned out to be one of the best decisions of her life.

“It just so happens that these three things, books and two businesses, all happened right around the time I turned 40,” said Geist, whose new children’s book “Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can't Go to School!” came out this week. “I don’t think any of them would have happened had I not taken that four years off.”

“It’s a gift in life to be able to take a moment and assess,” added Geist, parent to George, 9, and Lucie, 11, with husband and “Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist.

She noted when it comes to career and personal life, there comes a time when you really asses what your strengths are. “The people I’m connected to are always going to be the biggest indicator for me of my value,” Geist said. “For me, it took until I was 40 to really truly understand what they are.”

After taking time off to raise her children, Geist started a boutique brand strategy and design firm called True Geist, which helps companies name themselves and design their identity.

She also started Boombox, an online boutique for personalized memory boxes, filled with custom-printed photos and written messages from friends and family. The concept stemmed from Geist’s decision to gift such boxes to friends and family for milestone birthdays.

Geist’s inspiration to write two children’s books, “Buddy’s Bedtime Battery” and “Sorry Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go To School!” stemmed from being home for four years studying childhood and preschool.

So what’s the hardest part of entrepreneurship? “Ideas are easy,” Geist said. “We go through the day, and we have ideas all the time. What’s difficult is the execution and the tenacity that’s required to really stick with an idea and bring it to life.”

Geist encouraged others thinking about starting their own business to start small. She suggested keeping your day job and identifying the minimum amount you need to commit to testing your idea. “You don’t have to quit everything and bet the farm,” Geist said. “You need to test the idea first and start small.”

When integrating her life at home with running two companies and writing books, Geist said that for her it’s about space and compartmentalization. For her balancing act, she finds it helpful to pay for workspace that is separate from her home. “I need to cross a threshold and enter a different space in order to get in the headspace I need to get in to separate myself from work and life.”

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