MOther, Ops Director, Hedge Fund, San Francisco

It's rare to meet someone who, by simply walking into a room, makes everyone a little happier. It's our lucky break to know such a positive spirit, incredible mother and co-parent to Stella and Anna. We all need such a WOW Woman in our lives.

Leslie knows how to get you to crack a smile. All you need to do is get on a mailing list for her home-made holiday cards. 

1. Name.

Leslie Donaldson.

2. Where is your hometown?

San Diego, California, USA.

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

I’m a professional mommy. I’m also the operations director at a hedge fund which is now a family office.

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (in life and career wise)? What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of? 

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I am a hard working person. I started babysitting at age 12 and built a babysitting empire in my hometown by the time I went to college. I learned at an early age I’m good at taking care of people.

5. What did you study in school? 

Psychology and English.

6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20? 

My life now is along the same lines as I predicted it would be in my 20s. I was pretty wild and took a lot of risks in my 20s, but I knew I’d settle down and have a family by this stage in my life.

7. What was your biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it? 

When I was 25 I got laid off, dumped and had to give up the place I was living in San Diego.  I moved to San Francisco and started my life over.

8. Advice for other women? 

Laugh at your mistakes and let go of things that don’t work out.

9. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it for "feminist values"? 

I think women have always been all that we can be. It’s only now that the world is realizing and coming to terms with it.

10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?

When someone gets my sense of humor and finds me funny.  

11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why? 

I’m really good rewriting and adapting Billy Joel songs with new lyrics for other people. We used to have to give ourselves annual self-reviews at my job and I wrote my self-review to the tune of Billy Joel’s Piano Man titled Operations Girl. As luck would have it, I didn’t get fired.

12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges? 

I would like to work on my writing and get back into that. I used to be more active in creative writing back in college. It’s slipped away since having kids.

13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome? 

Self-doubt.  I have an issue with not feeling like a very interesting person. 

14. Anything you'd do differently if you had another go at life? 

I like my life a lot and wouldn’t do anything differently. I feel very lucky to have had the career I’ve had and the family I’ve built.

15. What inspires you?

It’s so cliché but my kids. They are truly hilarious little humans.

16. What are you hopeful about?  

I’m hopeful that my kids will have happy lives that give them joy.

17. What are some ingredients to a good life?

I’m an optimist and I feel lucky to naturally have that outlook.  Avoid comparing yourself to others.  Make yourself laugh. Don’t take yourself so seriously. 

18. What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

Stop worrying about your body. You look fine, Leslie!

19. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)

I’m currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by (shocker) Lydia Davis. I love David Sedaris and recently read and thoroughly loved Death by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)

20. Who is a WOW Woman in your world who inspires you and why? Can you nominate three women you know who perfectly fit WOW WOMAN description? 

My best friend Nichola Jamotillo is one of the most generous people I know. She manages working full time, juggles a family and goes out of her way more than anyone else I know to take care of the people in her life.  She’s really a gift to me.

My mom is a very inspiring woman. She was one of the first female stockbrokers in San Diego in the 1970s. She’s nearing 80 and is an active member of the Metropolitan Advisory Board with the Salvation Army in San Diego.  

My Oma (German grandmother) who passed about when I was in college.  She was one of those adults that never grew up. A forever child who found joy in the smallest aspects of life. She had an amazing sense of humor and though life threw many hurdles her way, she handled everything with grace and humor.

21. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)? 

You can’t! I’m an enigma. Actually, I used to write a blog but that was a googlepex years ago.