Zibby Owens – Podcast Host of Moms Don’t Have Time To Read Books and Author of Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology

Episode 138

Zibby Owens gets it! Moms don’t have time to do anything but share with Zibby. Host of the wonderful Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast has built an inspiring community of Moms or people looking to reach Moms. Her interviews with authors, writers, and talented moms have created stories that all want to listen to. She took stories from the past year, ones shared about challenges throughout the pandemic including her own, and turned those stories into a wonderful book by the same title. On our podcast together she shares even more! This is definitely an episode you don't want to miss! Check it out now on the #TheKaraGoldinShow

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Kara Goldin (00:02):

Perfect. Perfect. And why isn’t that? Perfect. Here we go. Great. Hi everyone. It’s Kara Goldin and we’re here at the Cara golden show and I’m super excited for my next guest Zibby Owens. I was on her podcast when I launched my book and I’m so excited that she agreed to come on mine as well. Her podcast, just a reminder to everybody. She is the host of moms. Don’t have time to read books and, but there’s a, there’s a few pointers in there along the way that she not necessarily always true because she actually talked quite a bit about my book. And there were a lot of people who actually did buy books, from her podcast, which was super, super fun. But Zibby is also an author and we’ll talk about the new book that she just came out with. And what else she recently wrote in the Washington Post, which she was so kind to include my book by the way, and not write up. And she is just this awesome, awesome, awesome guest that I’m really excited to have here. Zibby. Thank you so much for being here. It’s my pleasure. And thanks for having me, Kara, super excited. So let’s talk about first the podcast. How did you decide to start your own podcast?

Zibby Owens (01:30):

I didn’t even mean to start a podcast. I had been writing all these parenting essays and one night my husband said, you know, you should really turn all these essays into a book. And I said, Oh, moms don’t have time to read books. And then I was like, Oh, that’s so funny. I’ll just make that the title of my book. So I approached a few publishers or people in the industry who said, well, I don’t think people are going to find that so funny. So I had this name in the back of my head. And then at the same time, a girlfriend, who’s a best-selling middle-grade novel. We have kids at the same school and said, you know, you should really start a podcast. And I was like, what’s a podcast. I didn’t even know how to listen to podcasts. I couldn’t find the button on my phone.

Zibby Owens (02:06):

Yeah. And then I finally Googled like how to record a podcast, easiest app ever, or something like that. And I just recorded it in my room. I was like, you know what, I’ll just try to do it. I’m not going to like tell anybody and I’ll call it. Moms. Don’t have time to read books. And at first, I was going to read little excerpts from books or articles or things that I found interesting. But then I found out that it was illegal. So I said, well, I’ll try to just interview authors. And I only knew like two or three authors and I thought, well, I’ll just start with them. And maybe they’ll introduce me to people. And the rest is history. So now I’ve interviewed over 600 people in three years.

Kara Goldin (02:43):

Amazing. And not knowing what you were doing. I call myself an accidental entrepreneur and an accidental author as well. And it sounds like you were just like that too. You just went and tried and started. And I always say live undaunted and jumped out there and just went ahead and tried. I love it. I love, love, love it. So over the last year, you were busy, busy, busy with your new book that just came out called Moms. Don’t have time to, and it’s a quarantine anthology. Talk to me a little bit about that. How did you decide to write this book and, and tell me a little bit more about it?

Zibby Owens (03:28):

Well, this also goes to the accidental nature of everything I’ve been doing, but I wanted to start a website. So I wanted it to be like the goop of moms and I would have essays and all these different categories of things that moms didn’t have time to do. So I was going to design this whole big splashy website before the pandemic even happened. And to do that, I had reached out to several, well, basically all the authors who had been on my show in this like blanket email. And I was like, I’m going to start this thing. I need essays from anybody who wants to be involved. And a bunch of people wrote back and were like, anything you’re doing I’m in. And I was like, great. So then, the pandemic hit. And meanwhile, I had been working with two editors to help me, Claire Gibson and Alissa Altman, who had been on my podcast.

Zibby Owens (04:11):

So they were going to help me with the essays and then the pandemic hit and the site had not been built and we had a few of the essays ready. And I begged my girlfriend, who I had worked at my first job after college. And I was like, I know, you know, how to design stuff. Could you just like the design part of my own website so I can put these essays up? So she did it, even though her son was working at home, remote schooling, and everything. And we just started throwing the essays up once a week and I decided to call it, “We Found Time” because at the time we were all in quarantine, I felt like all of us just suddenly had all this time on our hands. So we called it, We Found Time, and every week I would release about five essays and I did that for about 10 weeks.

Zibby Owens (04:53):

And then I thought, well, maybe we don’t have that much time. It was the summer. People were starting to get out and about a little more. I thought maybe this was the end. I wish it had been, but it wasn’t. And I decided to stop that. I was also doing all these other things that I had started during the pandemic. Like I started a virtual book club and I was doing a live Instagram live show every day. And I just had, and my podcast and my kids were home. So it was just, it was time for that to stop. I stopped that. And then in September, I was like, you know what? I did so many of those essays. I wonder how many we ended up releasing. So I went back and counted and then I was like, wait a minute. And I took them all and like copied and pasted it, put it in one big word document.

Zibby Owens (05:34):

And I was like, Oh, this is a muck. Like, it could be a buck it’s long enough. So I spoke to one traditional publisher who said, well, it’ll take over a year. By the time it comes out, blah, blah, blah. And I said, forget it. I have the perfect publisher in mind. And there’s a publisher named Sky Horse. And they’re known for turning things around like immediately. So I called them, I handed them the essays. I was like, I have contracts with all the authors it’s ready to go, but I want it out within three months. And I want to have control over every single thing. And they said, okay, let’s do it. So that’s what happened, that’s something. And then it came out in February.

Kara Goldin (06:09):

That is so great. So these were all essays that were, that were essentially done during the pandemic. Yeah.

Zibby Owens (06:19):

Yes. A few of them predated the pandemic, but many were written during the pandemic and they weren’t about that. But like any personal essay written at a certain time, it reflects the time and what was going on. So yes,

Kara Goldin (06:31):

I think was kind of the key thing going on in people’s heads during this time. I mean, did you notice a huge difference between March and September? I mean, for example, I mean, were people were where people’s heads when, you know, just in these essays overall

Zibby Owens (06:52):

Some people chose not to address what was going on and instead just took the time to sort of reflecting on life in general. I think at the beginning, everybody was in shock. Right. So I don’t think they processed all of it necessarily as much as the essays that came later, like, Oh, wow, we’ve been here for three months, and what are the effects of this? Versus like, I’m in a state of panic. And also I had the essays divided into five categories. So they were all writing about certain things and it was moms don’t have time to read, workout, eat, breathe, and have sex. So their essays, for example, like how to have sex with the germaphobe, which written by Kirkus, and which was like, how do I deal with the fact that my husband used to be worried? And now we’re in a pandemic and there’s basically Lysol like in the bedsheets. So this, and then it also, you know, how do you keep going out on these date days? People who went out for date nights or date day, but they were home now. What, so there were some reflections on, okay, well what does this actually mean? And then others said.

Zibby Owens (08:01):

Just talked about what things had been triggered in them, people who had eating disorders or eating issues before, were they coming back up, people who love to run. Were they running more or less? So I think it just was like a time where everybody took stock.

Kara Goldin (08:14):

Yeah. I totally agree. I think it changed significantly. I feel like health in particular. I mean, obviously, it’s been a focus of mine for many, many years with my brand hint, but I feel like even at the beginning of the pandemic, it was like, okay, where are the Cheetos? People, many people were not, you know, wearing pants. I guess more men I think we’re wearing pants on the podcast. Maybe that’s not really health-related, but there were significant changes. People were almost joking about it. And then suddenly, you know, a month into it, people were taking it a lot more seriously and figuring out also the technology and because they didn’t want the frustration anymore around, you know, trying to connect or if their kids were homeschooling, did they have to get, you know, additional you know, wireless connection in some, in some way as well. Did, did you feel like there was a big difference between people who were trying to work and other people who caused your book is a combination of both?

Zibby Owens (09:21):

Well, they were all written by authors. So writing is something you can, you can never totally be off duty. You’re either doing it right then, or you’re not, or you’re thinking about it. You know, back to your, your thing about health, by the way, I joined the bazillion people eating terribly and like sort of mainlining pasta as if I would never see it again. And after doing that for so long, I ended up starting in September and they called it “Moms Don’t Have Time To Lose Weight. So now I have another podcast about that and a little Instagram community because I had gained weight and I was like, Oh my gosh, other people must’ve been in the same boat. So yeah, I’m all about trying to leverage a group of people to do things that will actually help me like lose weight and read books. I have to like, think about what I need to do next, and then I can start a podcast about it.

Kara Goldin (10:10):

But you’re creating. I mean, that just speaks to you, you’re creating these spaces to bring people together for these different topics that are coming up. I absolutely love that, especially right now. How have you noticed these virtual meetings just changing people’s mindsets and positively impacting their overall well-being?

Zibby Owens (10:29):

Yeah, I think making people feel less alone has never been more important because we actually have been alone so many people completely, but even all of us, obviously just isolated from each other. And I think that whereas people could have fooled themselves into believing that they were getting their needs met from the community that they were actually in physically. It turns out some of those relationships weren’t necessarily as fulfilling. And this time has been a way to connect with people who might not live where you live, but they’re your people. And all of a sudden you can find them, even if they’re in Nigeria. I mean, I’ve really, I’ve made connections with these amazing women in Nigeria who knew I never would have been able to connect because our paths in life wouldn’t have crossed. So I do think there’s really something to creating communities and connecting people, Oh, you know, out of the space and time continuum, if you will, that has a huge lasting impact and gives people this huge boost of productivity and goodwill and good feeling and energy when being alone kind of depletes you of all those things.

Kara Goldin (11:36):

Yeah. I totally agree. And I, I’ve just been really, really surprised. That’s the plus side of this pandemic too. I feel like there’s, there are people that I’ve met just through resume align the way that I hope I get to meet in person at some point, because it’s really, really opened just the connections right overall. And some of those people I’ve ever met through just my podcast and people reaching out to me and it’s real, it’s been really, really eye-opening to me too. You start a virtual book club in 2020 as well. So what, since people can’t meet up in person, obviously they’re looking for things to do and make different connections. What was kind of the, what were some of the interesting things about starting that, that you found?

Zibby Owens (12:24):

Well, before the pandemic, I used to host an author salon in my apartment and here in New York City, and every two to three weeks, I would have one or two authors and I would lead a conversation with them and we would have coffee and make some treats or whatever. And I would just invite everybody I knew to come over and usually I’d get about 40 people. And for an hour, hour, and a half on a Tuesday morning or a Thursday lunchtime or something, we could all just take a little pause from our lives and listen to the authors and get that little jolt of rejuvenation. So obviously those had to stop and I was trying to figure out how to keep that going. And in fact, it was somebody who used to come to one of those who said, you should do an online book club.

Zibby Owens (13:03):

Cause then maybe we could meet online, turned out that the people who joined my book club, many of them, I had never met and now have become good friends of mine because we’ve gone through so much unexpectedly together. In the pandemic, it was every Tuesday and now it’s every other week. And I have my regulars that every time there are people who pop in and we talk about the book for 30 minutes and then the author joins us for 30 minutes live and we get to do a Q and a session. So it’s really neat. We’ve met amazing, amazing authors. And it’s been an unexpected full of connection. I had COVID as we were talking about last week until, I mean, it’s just ending. And some of the people like this woman, Megan, from my book group, she like sent me all this soup and I mean, they’ve become real friends. So some of them, the quality of like my actual real longtime friends. So it’s really nice.

Kara Goldin (13:55):

I absolutely love it. So, which story from the book is one of your favorites that’s like asking who your favorite kid is though, right? I mean, I would never, I have four children as well. I mean, you and I are in the four children club. People are always like, Oh, who’s your favorite? And it’s always like, are you serious? Or like, what’s your favorite hint flavor? And I’m like, wow. You know, it’s crazy. But what is one of your favorite stories from the book?

Zibby Owens (14:24):

There’s an essay in the beginning by Chris Magellan. He wrote the flight attendant, which is a show on Netflix right now, or maybe ABC, I dunno. And he wrote midwives, which I read like forever ago and loved. And he wrote about how his parents had saved all these things that he had written as a child and how he had read and written so much. And when he was growing up and how the things that your family saves about, you speak so much and spoke what he was like as a young book lover and the power of books in his life. And I know he’s just such a good writer. I mean, he can write about like, you know, your coffee mug is on your bookshelf and it would be like the most entertaining essay. So that was, I don’t know, that was one of my favorites. And I liked that it was written by a man because they don’t just have women. And the stories are not really just for moms. It’s really just about life, but I’m a mom of four. And so that’s sort of the lens through which I was seeing the world and he had really great stuff to say. So that was one of my favorites.

Kara Goldin (15:22):

I love it. So getting back to your book so you made, what, what made you decide to donate the proceeds to charity? You’re donating all the proceeds to Mount Sinai for COVID vaccine research. So that’s amazing. And how did you decide to do that?

Zibby Owens (15:43):

Over the summer, this is after I stopped, we found time just to take you back in the chronology. And before I pitched the book, my husband’s mother, my mother-in-law, my husband’s mother, and grandmother both passed away from COVID and Susan. His mom was only 63 in perfect health, newly divorced, new boyfriend, ready to take on the world, gorgeous woman. And she should not have died. And instead, we had to manage her care from far, far away. And she went through six weeks of truly horrific stuff that I will not seem to forget even what we saw on FaceTime and, Oh, it was just awful. And then Kyle, thank you. My husband and his sister, Stephanie sort of became like, it was just me and the two of them for a while because we had all gone down to Duke.

Zibby Owens (16:36):

At the last minute, they let them say goodbye and I had to get them back to New York. And we, then we had to quarantine because we’d been out of state. So I couldn’t see my kids, they couldn’t see their family and we were all grieving together. And so I became the person doing all the stuff that needs to get done when somebody passes away in addition to trying to get them to like, you know, eat and everything. Anyway, I decided I had to do something to try to help other people not have to experience this level of trauma and grief that is in our house every day. I mean, Kyle and his sister their mother’s presence is felt all absence rather is felt all the time, especially because we inherited her dog. So every time, you know, we’re taking care of Naya.

Zibby Owens (17:17):

So we took one of her dogs and his sister took the other dog. And anyway, I wanted to see what I could do to make a difference. So I started this foundation at Mount Sinai named after her, Susan Felice Owen’s program for COVID-19 vaccine research. And they’re doing really well. I am donating the proceeds of the book and I have a website, which you can get to through Zibby owens.com, where it links to the actual charity. And they have moved onto human trials. Now with this one dose vaccine that’s really low cost and their targetings are third world nations is the place that needs this. Most of it’s administered through the nose and it can be stored at much higher, much higher temperatures. So they’re doing really well. So I’m just like holding my breath, then the little that I’m doing to help this effort will push them over the line.

Kara Goldin (18:07):

That’s amazing. Well, thank you for doing that because I think the more you know, we learn about this disease too. I think that the vaccine research, I mean, just because we’ve got some vaccines out there and I just saw a press release on Bloomberg this weekend that talked about a trial on I believe it was the Pfizer drug on, in Israel and that it’s 90% effective and which is pretty darn good. Right. It’s great. It’s promising. So hopefully, you know, we can continue to come out with different vaccines just to get it made faster and just lots of different companies. So I really appreciate you focusing on that too and supporting that. So it’s amazing. So the, so the new book where can people find it.

Zibby Owens (19:03):

Anywhere books are sold, bookshop.org, Amazon, your local independent bookstore go just anywhere, anywhere. Moms Don’t Have Time To Quarantine Anthology.

Kara Goldin (19:16):

Absolutely love it. And the podcast as well.

Zibby Owens (19:20):

Yes. The podcast Moms Don’t Have Time To Read Books and also Moms Don’t Have Time To Lose Weight, which is only once a week. And Moms Don’t Have Time To Read Books is five days a week and you can find them wherever you find podcasts.

Kara Goldin (19:31):

How are you finding time to do all of these podcasts? I mean, are you just constantly

Zibby Owens (19:38):

I got so behind now because I’ve been sick. And I also started a magazine as an online magazine for medium called Moms. Don’t have time to write where I have people who aren’t just authors because I only have published authors on my podcast, but I wanted a way for moms who were great writers or SAS who aren’t authors to have a place. So yeah. I’m editor-in-chief of that as well. Yes. I don’t know. I don’t know how I do it. But for the last like two weeks and I’ve been sick, I haven’t been able to do anything and I was starting to wonder how I did it myself. It’s like I don’t know how it was doing that before, but I can barely remember how to get to my mail icon on this computer right now. How am I going to pick this back up? So I’m slowly, slowly getting back into it, but yeah,

Kara Goldin (20:23):

Take your time and make sure that you’re you know, really taking care of yourself too. Cause she just doesn’t want to bounce back and, and just get sicker, right? I mean, you look that we’re not doing a video today on this, but I get to see Zibby’s pretty face and she looks terrific and she looks like she was on the man too, which is amazing. So super great. And I know you do stuff for The Washington Post. Where else are you published? And cause I know you do a few different roundups?

Zibby Owens (20:58):

I do. I do. I do write for The Washington Post every couple of months, I write the book list every month for Good Morning America online, which is really fun. And from time to time I write for parents, I was doing some book stuff for real simple. Where else do I write? What’s Up, Moms. I love it all over and now I write a weekly column at Moms Don’t Have Time To Write, which you should write for if you’re interested. That would be awesome. I know, I know

Kara Goldin (21:29):

You and I have to connect on all of these because I think that would be, that would be a lot of fun. So I, here, here, I am not really clear exactly how I have time to do much these days. So, but you always find time to do things that you love and that you’re passionate about. And I think that just listening to you Zibby, maybe I feel like there’s, it is very, very clear that even six months ago, you didn’t know that you were going to do all the things that you’ve done, but you’re also just open right. To kind of seeing what is the next step and what is the next step. And that’s what I tell people that if you actually think that you have to know the plan and that will prevent you from starting, then you’re not going to be able to get started most of the time.

Kara Goldin (22:18):

Because when you talk to people like you, right, that you had no idea and the world changes and you have to just keep your eyes open and network and do all the things that I know you’re really aware of. And I think that those are so important for people to recognize and people are always like, Oh gosh, I have no idea how to write a book. I have no idea how to start a podcast. I’m like if you can actually go on Google or YouTube, I mean, you can figure out a lot of stuff on how to get started. Right. And yes.

Zibby Owens (22:50):

Yes. I built my whole business on Google and YouTube Answers. It’s basically I did not have a plan at all. I’m embarrassed. I did actually go to business school and everything I could have perhaps sat down and made a financial model and tried to plan it. But I didn’t. And I just keep trying things. And a lot of them, a lot of these things are low cost. I mean, starting a podcast is not a big deal. It’s not like I’m buying a factory and starting to manufacture cars, you know, there’s almost no cost associated with it. So, and I’ve tried things that haven’t worked out. I mean, I tried to do a kid’s podcast, and then after about four episodes, I was like, I don’t want to do a new kids podcast. I should just do the one podcast. And I tried to do a book subscription service, and I was like, Nope, this is not working either.

Zibby Owens (23:32):

So somebody else could do it. So then I ended up partnering with a book subscription service whenever I want to do a book box. Anyway, I’ll just say, it’s not like everything I do is perfect, but I just like to keep trying. And then I quickly test and if it’s not working, I pull the plug. So that’s sort of how I’m doing it by the seat of my pants. But I just keep identifying opportunities where, where I can help people like, oh, I can do this and I can do that. And I recently was about to launch this whole other major thing. And then I was like, wait a minute. That alone is a full-time job. I can’t squeeze any more in. So I’m going to just take some time to do the things I’m doing better before adding another thing. That’s my health, but you never know, but you never know. Right.

Kara Goldin (24:18):

I tell people all the time. I mean, sometimes when I ended up delaying things a bit it’s because I don’t actually have it totally thought out. Right. And, and again, it’s not that I’m looking to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s, but I just am still trying to figure out how do I get one or two points to actually get it started. Right. I have to think about, okay, if I went and did this and this, then I would figure out whether or not it was viable to move forward. And sometimes I think that those delays are kind of intentional because I think about it very differently than I did maybe three weeks ago. So it, I don’t know the more people I talk to about this, I’m convinced. And I always share with people that its people don’t really, most of the time have it all figured out, right. And there, they’re going along the way and figuring out what they’re really most interested in working on every single day and hearing your story. That’s what I hear as well. And I love it. It’s very inspiring.

Zibby Owens (25:21):

I also think being such a tiny operation, I mean, it’s me and occasionally like plus or minus, I don’t know, three to five people at any given time. I have the ability to be completely nimble. Like I can change course, and I think this might drive some people crazy, but I let everyone know like I change my mind all the time cause I keep seeing a new direction and then I want to go, not like to say I don’t commit to things, but if I could do it better, then I’m going to go do it better. That way then stay on the same course and continue doing it that way. Which might lead to some whiplash. But I dunno, that’s just the way I’ve been running things for better or worse.

Kara Goldin (26:02):

Absolutely love it. So it’s so great. Well thank you so much Zibby Owens and everybody goes buy her book and go listen to her amazing podcast. And thank you so much for giving us your time this morning. I hope you continue to be on the mend and get lots and lots of rest and chicken soup or whatever the soup is of choice. And thank you so much, Zibby.

Zibby Owens (26:26):

Thank you so much for having me. That was awesome. So great. Yeah. Thanks. Great.