Leana Greene is a mom of three, a former model turned entrepreneur, and the brains behind the biggest video library of expert advice for parents on the web. It’s called Kids in the House and its founder has a great deal to celebrate: not only is her site approaching its one year anniversary, but she just received a prestigious Edison Award (fellow honorees included Elon Musk) in recognition of her company’s socially conscious innovation.
It took Greene three years to assemble the dizzying array of top-notch experts (450 and counting), and shoot the 8,000 plus videos at her state of the art production facility in Los Angeles. The result is a vast and comprehensive collection of impeccably curated expert advice that aims to answer parents’ every question.
From advice on picky eaters, to guidance on managing parental stress, and information on maternity leave, Kids in the House has parents covered from the first steps of family planning all the way to getting the kids off to college.
“What we try and do is find the number one experts for each topic,” explains Greene who says none of the experts were paid to participate in the one to two minute videos. “It was a process for them to believe in me and want to do it. I started with a few experts and I did sort of a pilot, which showed that the videos were really well-produced and had a lot of integrity, and then I convinced more and more experts that it was the right thing to do.”
Here, Greene shares her mission to bring expert advice to parents and caregivers of all socioeconomic backgrounds and reveals the piece of parenting advice she found especially powerful.
What do you think it is about the Kids In The House formula that struck a chord with parents?
When I said I was going to do it, everybody said to me, “Are you sure that’s not already out there?” I think I found my niche because I realized there was a huge gap. There’s all these incredibly great experts out there but parents don’t have time to read their books and so they’re not getting that information.
And sometimes video can be more effective, because when you see somebody saying something it can be easier for you to connect with it and really understand it. You kind of know right away if you can trust that person, instinctively you know, “This sleep expert is for me,” or “This sleep expert is not for me.”
And what we do is left, right and center. We show natural birth but we also show hospital birth. We show experts who are for putting kids on medication and we show experts who are against it. I think parents really like that because we’re not telling them what to do. We’re presenting them with different experts as well as parents who have dealt with the issues themselves.
What inspired you to start the site?
I think it was just being a parent myself. I went to all these parenting lectures and I realized that a lot of people just don’t have access to the kind of people we have access to here in Los Angeles. So, I think that was my number one reason: I knew how incredibly helpful it was to hear these people talk and I knew that it was so much more helpful than reading the books.
I wanted to bring all these incredible experts to people who might not live here, so it kind of equalizes it a little bit. Because the truth is, if you’re part of a higher socioeconomic group, and your kid has ADHD, you can find the book from the number one guy from Harvard. I want to equalize it so that if you’re a working mom in East LA or Kansas, everyone has access.
We’ve never had more information at our fingertips but that can be overwhelming, especially for new parents – did you consider that as you planned your content?
Yes, I did, and I think that’s one of our goals: to be the trusted resource. We work very hard to keep our credibility and that’s why we’ve been able to partner with Children’s Hospital and some of these big institutions. That’s the ultimate goal: that parents can go to Kids in the House and know that it’s a credible source just like Consumer Digest. We work really hard to get the number one experts. And it’s not just one view. Because what works for one child might not work for another child.
The world you’ve built is also inclusive with expert advice for parents of LGBT kids and special needs kids. Can you talk about that?
That is a fundamental. You know, in the beginning, we weren’t going to have adoption, for example, but we realized that we had to include it because every one comes into the world, or comes into their families, in different ways. A lot of people told me not to include content about gay and transgender kids but I felt very, very strongly that that was the right thing to do. It’s hard to be a parent of a gay or transgender child because you are not necessarily gay or transgender, so those parents really, really need support.
And then I have a learning disability; I’m dyslexic, so I grew up being different and having issues, so I also felt very deeply about helping parents who have children with learning disabilities because I have one myself.
Of all the expert advice that you’ve gathered, has there been something that has struck you as especially powerful?
I think it’s how important it is to talk to our kids and to start talking to them early about sex and drugs. We communicate our values and our beliefs through talking to them. And when it really, really influences them, is when it’s really, really early, when you don’t think it’s even appropriate for you to talk to them. But, you know, the kids still know everything because of the way the media is. So, when you see a TV show, talk about it, talk about how you feel about it.
By doing that, you’re going to make sure that your child feels comfortable about having that conversation with you later in life. If you to talk to them about drugs and sex early, then you are the source of information, and they are going to feel comfortable circling back with you because they already started that dialogue with you when they were really young.
What have you learned overall from the project?
What I have learned, which has kind of re-inspired me as a human being, is how incredible it is that there are so many passionate people. These experts are people who have spent their whole lives researching these issues. One woman we just interviewed, her child committed suicide because of cyber-bullying. She’s spending her whole life now going around schools and talking about cyber-bullying. These are people who want to share their research, they want to change the world, they want to give to other people. The people I’ve met though doing this have been incredibly inspiring.
What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs who have aspirations to start a company?
Two things. Number one, I think that it’s great when you can find a business which matches your core values. Ultimately, I think we’re happy when we’re of service to the world. I feel extremely lucky because I really feel like this is my purpose in life and everything I did up until now was for this business. It’s my purpose as well as my business. And when you truly believe in what you are doing that opens doors. Number two, as moms and as entrepreneurs, we always have too many things on our To-Do list. So, just stop every day and ask yourself: what is going to take me forward? I’m not going to get everything done today, so what is important? Try and focus on those things. And that goes for your kids too: What is really going to help me connect with my child? For me, one-on-one time, even if it’s short, makes my kids feel like they get more.
For more information and inspiration visit MariaShriver.com