Husband and wife cofounders Rob and Renee Israel have their hands full.
Between growing Doc Popcorn — their 11-year-old Boulder, Colorado-based business — and raising their three young kids, every day presents a new challenge.
Rob came up with the idea for Doc Popcorn in 2003 when he came across some kettle corn at a farmers market in Boulder. It got him thinking about creating a better-tasting, healthier flavored popcorn.
He returned home to New York City and began coming up with formulations. It was right around this time that he and Renee met, and the business started in a small Manhattan kitchen.
The couple opened the first store in Boulder, and soon moved to Colorado permanently to focus on the business.
Since it began franchising in 2009, Doc Popcorn has grown exponentially to nearly 100 locations in the US, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan. Last year, Dippin’ Dots acquired the company, and it opened its first co-branded location in the Battlefield Mall in Springfield, Missouri. A second co-branded location is opening in Las Vegas in September.
In addition to managing the brand and overseeing marketing, Renee spends a lot of her time raising the kids — ages 5, 7, and 9 — and trying to spend quality time with the family.
She shared her best tricks for staying productive at work and at home:
1. Involve kids in conference calls.
With three kids, it’s inevitable that important calls sometimes come up when Renee’s with them, so she has found a way to involve the kids in the call to keep them occupied. She turns the calls into a game by having the kids count how many times they hear a specific word, like “popcorn” or “growth,” she says.
“It was one of those ‘mama-preneur,’ in-the-moment brainstorms when my nanny was sick and I had to drive the kids to school during a morning conference call,” Renee says. “It’s a call I generally listen in on, rather than do most of the talking, so while the phone is on mute, it’s really important that I can hear what everyone is saying.”
2. Be fully present and focused in each moment.
In the digital age, multitasking is common and distractions are everywhere. As a cofounder of a business and a mother of three, Renee has found that long blocks of time with her kids are seemingly impossible to find.
It’s easy to feel guilty about this, Renee says, but her solution is simple. Put the phone down and give your family undivided attention, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
“Being completely present, even for less time, is better because you’re fully concentrated,” she says. “It creates a better connection.”
3. Spend Sundays planning the week with your significant other.
For Rob and Renee, certain meetings throughout the week are interchangeable and either of them can attend. Other meetings, however, like those that deal with marketing, are more suited to Renee’s skills.
Every Sunday night, the couple sits down to talk about their plans for the week. It helps give them a sense of what they will be doing and allows them an opportunity to create a balanced plan for the business and their family. The goal is to make sure one of them is always available for the kids.
4. Know that you can’t do everything.
Even with their weekly Sunday meetings and a detailed plan for the week, things come up and plans can fall apart. Renee suggests setting boundaries, rather than saying yes to everything. It’s often easier to agree to something on the spot, but Renee has found that “every yes now is a no to something later.”
5. Have people nearby you can trust.
The move to Boulder from New York City wasn’t just for the business. Renee’s mother and sister-in-law live there, so it allowed her to be close to people she could trust. If Renee or Rob aren’t available, she’s always able to make sure someone is there for the kids.
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