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Fab Moms: Arizona

Olenka Cullinan

Olenka Cullinan is the CEO of iStartFirst. “A multi-business owner, global corporate consultant and mom, I have transformed thousands of female clients and companies since I began coaching and speaking in 2010. Focusing on what makes life balanced and joyful, I love helping women build life on their own terms.”

Mom to: Sofya, 11

Hometown: Tula, Russia

Favorite ways to spend family time in AZ: Hike, take our dog for a walk, paddle board.

Your most rewarding motherhood moment: When my daughter was 5, a boy in kindergarten told her that she could not be Batman on Halloween. She turned around and said, “My mom told me that I can be anyone I decide to be!”

Biggest challenge as a mom: Work-life balance! It took me a few years of running my own business and mother’s guilt to realize that the very reason I owned my business was the fact that I wanted to build my schedule around my daughter. I had to learn that prioritizing my schedule and being non-negotiable with my time was how I would get my time back. Now, I get to teach other leaders the same: time is your most precious asset. You’ll never get the moments with your kids back.

A mother who inspires you and why: All mothers inspire me. Motherhood is a deeply personal and a very difficult yet fulfilling journey. There’s no right or wrong way of doing it. All we can do is support other moms and cheer them on more! 

Best piece of advice for a new mom: Forget “obligations” and “adulting” and be present with your kids. These moments are never coming back. They don’t ever remember the dirty dishes in the sink.

Your biggest hope for your children: I hope that Sofya grows up to be better than me: smarter, more personally developed, more present and more sure of herself. I want her to continue to inspire me like she does now.

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day? Having “whatever-we-want-to-do” day with my daughter. No plans and total flow.

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