By Samantha Lande, BCB Editorial Director
Welcome to Wonder Woman Wednesday, a weekly feature that will attempt to tackle the question we are frequently asked— “how do moms really do it all?” Each week we will feature an amazing mom with extraordinary abilities. From founders of some of the most successful companies to philanthropists who are changing the world, these women are true heroines. To thank them for lifting the cape on some of their super powers, we will make a donation to the charity of their choice.
NAME: Rana DiOrio
KIDS : Ryan Francesca (11), Alexandra Catherina (10), Beckett Nazareno (7)
OCCUPATION: Founder & Chief Executive Pickle of Little Pickle Press
LIVE: San Francisco, CA
Corporate securities lawyer turned technology investment banker turned children’s media maven isn’t a typical path, but it’s the one that Rana DiOrio fell into. As she took some time off to be with her kids post-recession, she wrote two children’s books. When she wanted to publish them in a eco-friendly way she found that book publishers weren’t obliging. This desire, along with her experience in software, led Rana to start her own publishing company Little Pickle Press. Today she has published five books of her own, all with an important lesson on “what does it mean to be…” (safe, present, green, global and kind) in addition to publishing a variety of other authors with the same mission. She tells us about giving birth in the back of a Subaru (yes, you read that right), and why she greatly admires Angelina Jolie.
What is your backstory?
While I was pregnant with my third child, my son, The Great Recession roared in like a freight train, and it became an increasingly difficult time to be in finance. My husband at the time encouraged me to take some time away from the workforce, so I did. During that time, I wrote two of my children’s picture book manuscripts—What Does It Mean To Be Global? and What Does It Mean To Be Green?.
Initially, I read them to my daughters. Then, I vetted them with industry professionals and received universally positive feedback. I did extensive research on how best to get them published. What I discovered was that the publishing industry was in the midst of a 21st Century upgrade. I wanted to print in the Americas on recycled paper with soy inks and without dust jackets (that children just rip off). How could I publish a book about being green utilizing an age-old process that was not environmentally friendly? I discovered that there were no publishing companies that would do this. My research also revealed that the publishing industry was just waking up to the digital age. Since my focus as a lawyer and an investment banker was software, I recognized an opportunity. I decided to build a company that was on the vanguard of this exciting change and one that was congruent with my values. I founded Little Pickle Press in early 2009, initially to publish my titles and soon thereafter to publish the titles of other authors, including New York Times bestselling ones such as Shawn Achor.
Tell us about a “save the day moment” …
My biggest accomplishment is giving birth to my daughter, Alex, in the back of a Subaru. My midwife cautioned me that at age 39 I was an “advanced age mother”, so the hospital staff might be interventionist at the first sign of trouble. So, I decided to manage my labor in the privacy of my home, and it seems I miscalculated. By the time a friend arrived to take me to the hospital, I was in active labor. I told her that I knew I couldn’t make the 2-mile drive, so she encouraged me to push. Within minutes, my beloved Alex was cooing on my chest. I can remember vividly the euphoria and relief of those moments. We called ahead to the hospital and drove there happily and calmly, with Alex still attached to me. We were greeted in the emergency bay by no less than 25 medical professionals, all eager to lay eyes on the baby girl who was just born in the back of a car parked in her mother’s driveway. Clearly, none of them had ever read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.
Tell us about your typical weekday :
I wake up before the rest of my family to get a bit of work done and organize my day. I make a breakfast, get my girls off to school (either with their grandfather or via Shuddle), then drive my son across the Golden Gate Bridge to his to school in Tiburon. We enjoy chatting with one another on drive, and I catch on business calls during the drive home. Once there, the Cowboy (ed. note: her significant other) and I either workout or walk, which gives me the energy to then focus on the day’s tasks. Dinnertime is almost always spent with my kids, and includes sharing the “roses” and “thorns” of our respective days. I do my “homework” while the children do theirs and bathe. Then, I read bedtime stories and tuck them in before watching a little TV while holding the Cowboy’s hand.
Who is your Wonder Woman?
Angelina Jolie. She’s a brilliant, authentic, kind, and global entrepreneur and humanitarian who is doing everything she can to make the world a better place. She’s also an exemplary mother, who is lovely from the inside out.
What is your super power?
I am fortunate to have two of them. The first is uncanny time and project management skills—I could be an air traffic controller . . . without a RADAR. The second is boundless energy to get it all done . . . and then some . . . at least until 10:00 pm, when I become a zombie!
Which Superhero do you most identify with and why?
Batman. In real life, I’m a mommy, entrepreneur, and mere mortal, not a superhero. Like Batman, I can’t fly, I bleed if cut, and I feel the emotional and physical exhaustion that comes with the life I’ve chosen. Like Batman, my “powers” stem from education, devotion to a cause, persistent execution, and regular physical training. Like Batman, I can lose but chose to move forward in spite of the fear associated with what losing might cost me. I’m working hard to develop Batman’s brand of kindness in myself, my children, and the children of others.
If you could have a secret identity what would it be and what would you use it for?
I would be a clean tech engineer developing fusion energy to provide the world with safe, eco-friendly power, and in so doing, helping to eliminate extreme poverty and unite our global community.
How do you protect (and give back to) your community?
This is my favorite question you’ve asked, as a superhero’s powers, team, power pack, etc. mean little if not used to protect her community. In my case, community is global, and I do my part to protect and enhance it through Little Pickle Press. The Company is dedicated to creating content that fosters kindness in young people—and doing so in a manner congruent with that mission. We feel kindness means treating others as we’d like to be treated. We see kindness as the foundation upon which civilization was built and the key to its future. So, I’m convinced that helping parents, teachers and other caring adults to instill kindness in the next generation is the very best way I can use my “non-super powers” to not just protect my community, but also help it thrive.