It’s 5 a.m. on December 9, 2020, and Amy Nelson is on Zoom in a green camo hoodie, ready for battle.
Courtesy of Amy Nelson
A week earlier, she’d sent an intriguing email: “Between us,” she wrote, “by February I’ll have a story of pulling off the world’s most amazing pivot…or my company will be at the end of its journey. What a hell of a six months. Dumpster fire is appropriate.”
Amy founded The Riveter, which runs coworking spaces for women across the country. At least, that’s what it used to do, before the pandemic emptied offices everywhere. In the yesteryear of girlbosseratti, she was the lawyer-turned-founder — the mom with a warm, Midwestern ferocity — hefting law books and diapers, racing through airports in heels to speak on yet another panel. There, she’d expertly julienne gristly issues into precise, debate-worthy points. (“The school system runs on the agrarian calendar, our work system does not,” she told a Wall Street Journal video interviewer regarding corporate America’s treatment of mothers.) Now, like many founders, she was trying to skid her company into a U-turn as Covid smashed into her carefully laid plans.
Amy wasn’t looking for a reporter to cover her pivot — not in its messy early stages, anyway. We’d connected on something else. But when I got her email, it occurred to me that people usually hear about a pivot only after the fact. What would it look like to chronicle one as it goes? How could others gain from seeing this play out in raw, real time? I proposed that we touch base every week so I could ride shotgun. Maybe there’d be a story. Maybe not.
She responded: “When should we talk?”
Now that we’re on Zoom, she fills me in a bit more. “I have four little girls — one, three, four, and six. So it’s been kind of crazy.” Along with her husband, Carl Nelson, they’ve all been stuffed into a 1,100-square-foot condo in Hawaii — a long way from Seattle, where they’d been living in a comfortable home almost three times the size. As for why they moved? “I haven’t talked about this on social media and I won’t for a long time,” she says ominously.
Related: 5 Effective Ways Entrepreneurs Can Pivot Better When Things Go Kaboom
In that first meeting, there was a lot she found too difficult to talk about. But as our conversations went on — for two weeks, twelve weeks, twelve months, a year and a half — Amy would reveal that she was actually in the midst of twin crises.
Eight months earlier, in April 2020, the FBI had …….