In February of 2006, Bernadette Hayes took an enormous risk. She started fresh, joined a brand-new start-up named N2 Publishing. And just a short while later, she started a family.
“I remember sitting in our 600-foot efficiency apartment in Fort Wayne, Indiana,” Hayes says, “and looking at my husband, saying, ‘This is going to be really good, or this is going to be really bad. It’s not going to be in between.’”
Ten years, two children, and three cities later, it’s clear: the decision to join N2 was a really, really good one.
Hayes’ journey with N2 is filled with bold changes, all of which attest to her courage and faith.
“I spent my first year in the company pregnant,” Hayes says, “and I started six magazines that year.” As if those dramatic changes weren’t enough, Hayes took on even more just a short while later.
Responding to a call from CEO Duane Hixon, Hayes recalls that she and her husband “packed up our 2-month-old, packed our U-Haul,” and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. She found enormous success there, too, starting up publications in multiple communities and becoming an integral part of N2’s growth.
A few years later, in 2010, Hayes and her family packed up again, this time to Cincinnati, Ohio. This move was perhaps the bravest, as Hayes listened closely to her heart and to her family’s needs.
“After I dedicated my life to Christ, I realized that I had my priorities out of whack,” she explains, “and we were incredibly homesick. That’s when we decided we wanted to move back to the Midwest to be closer to our families.”
And now? Their return to the Midwest has paid off; Hayes runs two successful publications, her family is debt-free, and they are getting ready to buy their first home. But for Hayes and her family, those professional successes and financial benefits are only half the story.
Hayes’ work with N2 has given her much more than a steady paycheck — it has given her time with family and encouraged her personal growth. These are the gifts Hayes treasures above all else.
For example, Hayes explains, she can be present for every single doctor’s appointment for her children. And she’s not just talking about annual check-ups. Her oldest son has Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac disease, and so they have many, many appointments throughout the year. “Diabetes is 100% part of our life on a daily basis,” Hayes says.
Working for N2 also allows Hayes to put time and energy into fighting for change. “It allows us to be involved in non-profits and charities for diabetes research, and we do walks to help raise money. It allows me to put my son’s health first,” she says, “and to know that we’re also moving towards a cure.”
But Hayes isn’t only present for the tough stuff. She’s present for whatever she wants to be, whenever she wants to be there. She is there, for example, watching her boys learn to swim. She coaches her youngest son’s baseball team. She can also, anytime, take a weekday off to do the fun stuff. “We live nine minutes from King’s Island, a huge amusement park,” she says, “and I love that we can go there on a Wednesday afternoon if we want and not have to wait in three-hour long lines.”
“I’m really grateful for the opportunities N2 offers for a work-life balance. I know not all moms have that option. It’s great that I can choose to be there for my family when they need me,” Hayes explains.
Beyond the flexibility N2 offers, her work also allows her family to build stronger relationships. She’s the sole breadwinner in the family, earning enough so her husband can stay home with their kids. “My kids have a strong relationship with their dad,” she says, “that I think we really owe to N2. If he were out working full-time, they wouldn’t have the relationship they do.”
It isn’t just her family that benefits from N2. Hayes recognizes a dramatic change in herself after working with a company that prides itself on being trustworthy, generous, and fair to its team members.
“In any circumstance — I can point to any circumstance in the last ten years — and wherever the fair line is, N2 always comes in above it, 100% of the time,” Hayes explains. “That’s a big reason why I’m still here, just knowing that our leadership has our best interests in mind.”
Hayes herself reflects that same generosity of spirit. She continually works to grow as a leader, to strengthen her faith, to build solid relationships in her business, and to make a positive contribution to the world around her.
“I don’t have it all figured out yet,” she says. “But I’m excited to continue on that track and get better, not just for myself, but because I have a passion to help others, and the more I work on myself, the more effective I can be at that.”
And she explains that N2 has been there to support her transformation, every step of the way.
“If I look at Bernadette ten years ago, and I look at myself today,” she says, “I am a completely different person. My skill set, my ability to lead, my public speaking experience, and my effectiveness to help others — that’s because of the personal growth piece of N2.”
In her next years with N2, Hayes will surely continue on that path of faith and self-discovery, while she also continues to be fully present for her family, to contribute to her community, and to help make N2 an even stronger company.
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