Nicole Feld on motherhood, the circus and joining the family business

Mar 14, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Nicole Feld grew up in the live family entertainment business. She's part of the family behind Feld Entertainment, a family owned and operated business founded by her grandfather, Irvin Feld.

Nicole Feld

The company produces well-known shows including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and Disney On Ice, both of which Feld oversees.

Nicole Feld didn't set out to be executive vice president of her family's successful entertainment business.

Despite growing up around the business, Feld says that she hadn't really thought about joining the family business. "I think I felt like I wanted to do something different and be on my own and discover what the world had to offer," says Feld. "It wasn’t until I had some space and distance from the business that I realized how much I missed it."

So she finally joined the business, learning as much as she could about creating the spectacular shows that Feld Entertainment puts on. Her latest creation is Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Built To Amaze, which is the 143rd edition of the Greatest Show on Earth. It's on tour now.

She handles all aspects of the shows from creation to hiring, rehearsals and administration tasks.

Working with family

Nicole Feld and sister Alana with Cory Booker

Feld's sisters Alana and Juliette also work in the family business, which she says is a valuable thing for their company. "In our case, it’s really great and I can’t imagine doing what I do without working with our family," says Feld. "I never feel alone in the situation. I feel like I can get such great advice."

Plus, particularly when new shows are in rehearsal, having the family near makes the time away from home a little less lonely, says Feld.

Being mom and exec

Nicole Feld and daughter Piper

Feld is also mom to daughter Piper, who is about 18 months old. Feld says that although she thought she'd quickly learn the secrets of balancing motherhood and career, she's learned that it's not really possible.

Still, she tries her best, giving Piper her full attention when she's with her. "When I am with her, I am with her. The computer shuts down," says Feld. "I have so much more attention and focus for her because I know the time is valuable."

Being a mother has also helped Feld better mold the shows so that they are interesting to both kids and parents. "It’s made me a better producer at these shows. I used to think of moms in terms of my mom — well my mom is 60 years old, she’s not in the sweet spot," admits Feld, who now views the shows through the lens of what's interesting to moms of younger kids. "When I think about sitting through something with my child, I think about what’s fun for me," says Feld.

Feld has discovered that delegation and prioritizing is essential to her success. "Delegating isn’t a resolvement of responsibility. Find people around you who you trust," says Feld.

Advice for moms

You know those great ideas in the middle of the night? Keep something nearby to record them! "I keep a notebook in my night table for those 3 a.m. kind of wake ups that you don’t remember in the morning unless you write something down. That’s always a big challenge. I always need to know that I can rely on myself for the next idea," says Feld.

It also helps, she says, to surround yourself with smart people.

Image credit: Nicole Feld

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