Lindsey Mask: A day in the life of a woman helping other women

Lindsey Mask has a day job running communications for a division of the Department of Health and Human Services and a rest of the time job as head of a nonprofit, Ladies International Foundation. This is a day in the life of a woman helping other women.

What keeps you busy? I run communications for a division within the Department of Health and Human Services. We provide health and wellness services for federal employees.

Then I have the nonprofit which started as a ladies dinner club. On my long drive from Texas where I’m from to DC I wanted to figure out how to work with women, otherwise it’s a slippery slope. I wanted to create a group where I would have five women who would always stand up for me. At the end of the first dinner I asked them if they wanted to do it again.

LDC – Ladies Dinner Club (which became known as Ladies DC) was born. Now we have seven active chapters across the country. I have learned so much not only about women growing an organization but about myself. I never sat down and thought, "let’s start a dinner group." I started it based on my own needs and then I saw the impact that came out of this unified group of women. I turned around and there were 700 people and I saw that we had the potential to change the world together.

I often work as an aggregator of women’s initiatives. I share that with others - "Let’s become a clearinghouse to get you access to what you need." I wear a bracelet that says women helping women.

Today I woke up at 5:15 am.

The first thing I did was I told my two kitties good morning.

My morning ritual includes... I make half of the bed – because my boyfriend sleeps later than I do – all the decorative pillows and everything. I listen to Christian music in the morning. When the alarm came on I just started dancing around the room with my cat who was purring. I love the mornings. I love all the time. I’m a morning person and a night owl. I love to be awake. Some people mistake little sleep as being anxious and I’m not, it’s all really positive.

Then I shift over and listen to NPR. Then I go to the gym and to work. I also do calls for the nonprofit in the mornings, evenings, and weekends. I don’t have children so this is my baby. I work on it mornings, evenings, and on the weekends, and I think about it sometimes during the day just like parents do with their kids.

I started working at 8:55 am.

My biggest challenge was I did not have one.

I celebrated… I also keep a prayer journal on the seat of my office chair so that I write down a minimum of three things I’m grateful for or praying for. I am always celebrating life. I think the whole journey is fun – the good times and the hard times.

What I love most about my work is I love the ability to be creative. Even though we’re in government we compete against the private sector so it forces me to be more creative within the limitations of government. I also started an internship program here and it’s become one of the favorite parts of my job – watching my interns grow in 15 weeks – grow in professional maturity and accomplish so much while they are here. It has caught the attention of senior leadership.

On the nonprofit side there is a daily reward of watching it grow. It is stunning to see everyone work together and beautiful to see the outcomes of that.

My favorite part of the day was when I was dancing around and giggling. Second, I have a room for a new hire and I brought in a candidate to meet with my team and it went really well.

Least favorite… One of my team members had a doctor’s meeting I didn't know about so I had to reschedule a meeting. I let her know about the importance of sharing conflicts in advance. Part of being a supervisor and manager is to provide honest feedback and set standards. It’s not always easy but I get better and better at it all the time. It really comes from a place of love and for raising peoples standards.

I am so glad that I got to work out this morning. I didn’t have much time last week and then yesterday I was taking care of my friend’s dog so I skipped my workout. It helps me clear my mind and gives me a chance to listen to music.

I wish I had found the headphones that don’t fall out of my ears. And I wish I had left a little bit earlier but I was spending time with my boyfriend and it’s okay because we were giggling.

Something that surprised me was someone showed up late for a meeting we had at 9 am. Based on their facial expression I get the sense that person forgot.

Did you have a plan for your day? Did it go as planned? Just a few years back I was feeling so overwhelmed by having calls every morning and every night and pulled in every direction. I was working with a coach and learned to be present. I had a breakthrough moment when I met with someone and was completely present instead of worrying about where I needed to go next. After really hearing this person I looked down at my watch and it had been three minutes. Time just slowed down and the person got what she wanted from the conversation. That is when I realized that rushing was taking away from my ability to get things done.

I want to recognize Monique Smaby who helped develop our outreach program for the women’s organization. She just stepped down as she is starting her own business.

How do you commute? I drive and I wear this ridiculous little headset.

For lunch I run downstairs to the convenient store and grab a peanut butter sandwich and try not to eat it at my desk.

A personal activity I do just for myself is everything. There’s nothing I do that I don’t want to do. Maintaining my journal, exercise, listening to music, working late when it’s quiet. Everything I do, I do for me.

I most enjoyed spending time with friends and family obviously but also my interns, the women in the organization – learning from them, and complete strangers – I can be completely tired and then put me around new people and I get a burst of energy.

For dinner I don’t cook. I most often go out or order pizza or make microwave meals. I’m a vegetarian.

My favorite technology that I used today is I’m a huge advocate for a variety of apps on my phone that help manage my schedule and my email. One is Priority Matrix. It s away of scheduling your life using the Eisenhower matrix.

I am inspired by a variety of people like the Maya Angelou’s of the world; I am obsessed with Martin Luther King, Jr. and listen to his speeches a lot; and Gandhi who inspired people and made change in a non-violent way. I am pretty sure Mother Teresa never sat down and wrote out her business plan. I have a huge vision that I know will come to pass.

Did you meditate? Did you exercise? Yes, a mix of both.

One strategy I use to make my time more effective is... definitely scheduling emails to come back to them and getting down to a zero inbox. It is the most amazing feeling because it frees you up so you can plan for something else.

I am passionate about fighting for basic human rights, in particular human trafficking. I’ve been doing it for 10 years (sometimes at the expense of my relationship, my finances, my time, my health) and I can see how it’s all going to play a huge role. People who live on this planet have basic human rights to live free of slavery.

Something I wanted to get done but didn’t get to do was… I have four books that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. I know someday the time will come and I will focus on writing.

A dream I am currently focused on fulfilling is to scale the mentorship program for our women’s organization. We have a scalable model of our program in DC and it looks like Northern Virginia is going to launch right after the summer. It is also important to me that we launch internationally this year and get our foot into some other country now that we have a great foundation. We are working to support women in Nepal through the local bamboo industry.

I can’t live without my pets.

Today I felt exuberant.

I went to sleep at (looking at my Fitbit) 11:38 pm and woke up at 5:09 am.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to… at work we have a creative meeting for our next campaign. After work I am hoping to surprise our Northern Virginia chapter by stopping by their event. They have new leadership and it's going really well.

By day, Lindsey Mask is the Director, Center for Health Communications, Federal Occupational Health (FOH), Program Support Center, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.

Connect with Lindsey on Facebook and Twitter.

Lindsey Mask is the Founder and Executive Director of Ladies America, a national network of professional women connecting to advance one another personally and professionally, following the motto “Women Helping Women”.  The group focuses on connections, an annual “Women Leading the Future” conference, national mentorship program and education in technology, advocacy & business.  The original group formed in 2006 in Washington, D.C. and has expanded to a network of around 3,000 top-tier professional women in D.C., NYC, North Carolina, Texas, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Virginia Beach, and San Francisco.  The work of Ladies America is leading to international outreach through Ladies International Foundation, an effort set to launch in 2013. In 2011, the group collaborated with the United Nations Foundation to host its inaugural “Women Leading the Future” women’s conference, drawing in hundreds of attendees and speakers from across the country. Then in 2012, Ladies America partnered with the Center for Women in Business of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Microsoft hosted the event.

Lindsey was most recently the CEO of Mask Media Co., a public relations, marketing, branding & social media consultancy business for individuals, non-profits, businesses & women’s initiatives with services available in DC, NYC & Los Angeles.

In 2013, she was featured on the cover of Washington Life Magazine for being selected as a top thought leader under 40 and was highlighted in Worn Magazine as an aspiring woman in Washington, D.C.  In 2012, she was honored as a finalist by Women in Technology as top female entrepreneur and was nominated for the Lady Godiva Program, celebrating inspirational women around the world. She serves on the founding Board of the 2012 G8 Young Leaders; is a co-founder of DC Entrepreneurship Week; an Ambassador for Availor Investments, a social impact investment fund in NYC and is on the Board of the Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC), aimed at helping women under 40 secure seats in federal office.  She lectures regularly on media, public relations, branding, networking & communications for the Leadership Institute, Women in Public Policy’s WeLEAD program at American University, the Public Leadership Education Network and the Women’s Congressional Staff Association.  Believing in global business, innovation, the positive impact of women, and social change, Lindsey has spent a great deal of time overseas, most recently in 2011 on a mission trip to Haiti.

Lindsey has been featured by National Journal, Power Women Magazine, ABC7′s “Let’s Talk Live” & Washington Business Journal Sunday program on Women CEOs, local ABC Ch. 8′s “Capital Insider”, The Hill Newspaper’s The Washington Scene, Broadminded (Sirius-XM radio), ION’s Metro Magazine (a national television network), WUSA9, NBC Nightside, The Broad Perspective (radio), Capitol File Magazine, Networking News and HerExchange online magazine.  She was a select speaker in 2012 for the inaugural Heels & Helmets Career Training Day at USA Today and helped run “women’s media” at the national political convention in Tampa, Florida.  Ladies America has partnered with such organizations as Womensphere’s Global Summit in NYC, Global Woman Summit of DC, the United Nation’s Foundation, Fair Fund against human trafficking, Becky’s Fund combating domestic abuse, Newsbabes for Cure, DC Entrepreneurship Week, Do It in Person, StreetWise Partners, Women’s Congressional Staff Association, Luke’s Wings, and Bisnow’s programs for Women in Business, Technology and Journalism.