Laila Ali is probably just as active out of the boxing ring as she was in it. And, that’s saying a lot.
After winning multiple boxing World titles, she went on to earn more types of titles: Best-selling Author, Lifestyle Expert, TV Host, “Dancing With The Stars” (DWTS) Alumna, and… Mom. Just as Laila had trained to roll with the punches in the ring, she needed to learn how to juggle a full career and family—a journey that was not without its fair share of challenges.
But Laila, daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, was able to develop a strong mindset that helped her overcome life’s obstacles. The payoff: pursuing a passion-filled career while still being a fully committed wife and mom.
I asked Laila her thoughts on motherhood, some advice for moms craving careers, and what’s next for her.
There’s a lot on your plate right now: CEO of a healthy lifestyle brand, home cooking show host, a spokesperson, a wife and mother. What makes you a “Modern Mom”?
Ali: I believe a lot of modern families today are mixed families. I have two children of my own—a daughter, age 7 and a son, age 10—as well as three step kids. I think the modern mom is all about trying to find that balance between family and pursuing things they’re personally passionate about. I’m a working mom and do every job like it’s my only one. With my children, I try to be very hands-on and present with them. I also try to be my husband’s girlfriend.
What would you tell a Mom who has young children like yourself and is wondering if it’s really possible to give 100% to both her family and career?
Ali: I think it comes down to what you think would be 100%. I want my family to feel loved unconditionally. Supported. Safe. They know they can come to me anytime. No matter what I’m doing for work, I stop and attend to them. It’s about having a connection with them and being able to discern how they’re feeling.
In terms of juggling mommyhood and ‘CEO-hood’, what’s been the most challenging and how did you overcome it?
Ali: Finding that balance. I feel overwhelmed sometimes. I wake up and look at my to-do list and realize I won’t be able to accomplish it. It’s why in business, I’m learning how to delegate better and not be in such control so that I can help others help me. It’s really about creating a support system.
What are 3 key tips you’d give a busy mom who is looking to carve a new career for herself?
- Find out what you’re truly passionate about. It can’t just be about what will make you a lot of money. A strong ‘why’ will help you through the roadblocks. Identify that one thing you’d do for free and then monetize it. Create a passion-born business. For me, my healthy lifestyle brand started with me writing out meal and workout plans.
- Map out a plan. Think both in the short term and the long term.
- Be consistent, but don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed, because things happen.
We hear you have a lot of things in the works. Tell us about what’s next for you.
When I retired from boxing I felt like I was in a box and knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Participating on “Dancing With The Stars” helped me leap to what’s next. I am honored I was chosen as the spokesperson for the “What’s Next Sweepstakes,” which offers people a chance to win a trip to attend a Fall 2019 live taping of “Dancing with the Stars” in Los Angeles if they enter by Nov. 25th.
Any message you want to communicate to our readers?
My message is more to women: You can be strong. You can be confident. You can be a go-getter in business, but at the same time you can also be loving, nurturing and a homemaker. Just hone in on what makes you comfortable—and ignore what others say. I might be talking boxing and wanting to knock people out, but at the same time, I can be loving and nurturing. I love cooking and cleaning. And no, I don’t want to fight my husband when I get mad. You really can be all things, because if I can do it…anybody can.
About the Author:
Cori Linder is a Modern Mom Contributor, content strategist, business writer and personal/executive brand coach.