From Intern To NYSE Head: Stacey Cunningham’s Barrier-Breaking Rise To The Top Of Wall Street

LinkedIn

By: Moira Forbes

When news broke that Stacey Cunningham had been named President of the New York Exchange, it was hard to find a headline that didn’t make mention of her gender. Cunningham’s rise to the top of one of Wall Street’s most high-profile, male-dominated arenas shattered a 226-year-old ceiling, but the depth of coverage around her history-making appointment caught the industry veteran off guard. “I knew that the fact that I was a woman taking this job would be part of the story. I didn’t realize how much of a story it was going to be,” recalled Cunningham.

Having launched her career as an intern on the trading floor as in 1994, Cunningham never viewed gender as something that either defined or limited her career, a perspective which fueled an initial hesitance to embrace the “first female” label her story now so often carries. “I took it for granted. It wasn’t something I saw as a barrier. There wasn’t a ceiling I was seeing that I was punching through,” she says.

The same determination in not making gender a factor in the opportunities she pursued ultimately contributed the barriers Cunningham was able to break in reaching Wall Street’s top ranks, and she now realizes why spotlight on her trajectory matters.“I do hope that one day gender won’t be as much a part of the conversation. But it’s so important to so many people, and knowing that I’m helping somebody else recognize more opportunities is really rewarding.

I recently sat down with Cunningham to discuss growing up on the floor of the world’s largest stock exchange, the double-edged sword of working in a male-dominated industry and how she’s harnessed the power of her differences, then and now. Edited highlights below.

On Succeeding In a Male-Dominated Arena

Since her internship days, Cunningham has learned a thing or two about how to “play her own game” in the unique work environment of the trading floor. While Cunningham is quick to admit that learning to thrive in an arena customized for men was not without its challenges, she ultimately turned the reality of being outnumbered into a career advantage. “Being a woman in a male-dominated industry cuts both ways. There are pros and cons. I certainly saw the benefit of having a higher profile on the trading floor. I would walk around people knew who I was, because there weren’t that many women down there. That helped my career in many ways.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

How the women in charge of programming at CNN are changing the news we see

LinkedIn

CNN Digital has more women in leadership and on staff than ever, and their perspective is changing video storytelling.

“The best ideas come from people who don’t think like everybody else,” says Wendy Brundige, vice president of global video for CNN Digital. “So, it’s been really important to me to build a team of people who represent different kinds of backgrounds, who’ve had different kinds of experiences.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by four other women in leadership at the network when they talked to Fast Company in the run-up to covering the midterm elections, which had an unprecedented number of female candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

Election coverage itself is just a flash in the news pan for these women who are collectively responsible for the creation and promotion of a massive amount of video reporting. CNN is just behind YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, and ESPN, yet still reaches over 2.2 billion people across the globe every month. The network asserts that they experience over 500 million starts a day, which they claim is more than any other news brand. Doing this work is a global staff of 660. Although they weren’t able to disclose actual specifics of the breakdown, CNN Digital currently has more women than men on staff.

This is significant. The news business has long suffered from a lack of female representation. Women make up just 32% of U.S. newsrooms (and women of color represent just 7.95% of U.S. print newsroom staff, 6.2% of local radio staff, and 12.6% of local TV news staff), while men get 62% of bylines and other credits in print, online, TV, and wire news, according to the most recent Status of Women in the U.S. Media study. The media industry has also faced criticism for a lack of racial diversity. Data from a 2016 survey by the American Society of News Editors found that underrepresented minorities represent less than 16.94% of newsroom personnel at traditional print and online news publications overall. CNN declined to disclose the racial and ethnic breakdown of its news staff.

In an industry that reaches people of all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and is supposed to prize objectivity, lack of diversity is a potentially huge stumbling block.

Cullen Daly, executive producer for CNN Digital Productions, says there are a lot of different factors that determine what gets covered. Some of it is based on the calendar, other times it’s news that’s bubbling at the moment, but deserves a more comprehensive look. “I’d say a lot of it has to do with innovation,” Daly says, “stories that we think could be told in new and different ways.” Chris James, who did the story on the trade war, told it through a different lens, she says. “He told it through what’s going to happen to people in the middle of the country.”

From left: Cullen Daly, S. Mitra Kalita, Courtney Coupe, Ashley Codianni, Wendy Brundige

Brundige takes a somewhat controversial stance when she says she believes that for too long, people have thought about diversity as mostly about race. While experts like Scott Page, the author of The Diversity Bonus, argues in favor of cognitive diversity (which occurs naturally among people of different backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, or other factors), it wasn’t that long ago that Apple’s former vice president of diversity and inclusion Denise Young Smith came under fire for stating that a room of “12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men” could be diverse.

“We have a lot of racial diversity in particular in my team in New York,” Brundige asserts, “but it’s most important to me to have geographic diversity and not just have a bunch of people who grew up in the Northeast and went to Ivy League schools.” Still, she’s quick to add that there’s room for improvement.

Taking another tack, S. Mitra Kalita, the senior vice president for news, opinion, and programming for CNN Digital, observes that sometimes differences can illuminate common ground, too. She grew up in northeast India. “It’s a very rural region, but Wendy’s family and my family both had cows,” Kalita says. “We look nothing alike, and you would never put the girl from Kentucky next to the girl from Assam, and yet our families are actually very surprisingly similar.”

The mission of CNN Digital, according to Kalita, is to find some common factor with your audience. “So, I don’t think your background can be divorced from that process of storytelling,” she says. As the mother of two, Kalita recalls how she felt when Brundige brought a story idea about a woman in Chicago who was on a quest to find out how her son died because he was left with marks all over his body. It was called “Beneath the Skin,” says Kalita, and remembers Brundige talking about the period between the death and the funeral and what that’s like for a mother. “That just haunted me for days,” she confesses. “I would argue that she probably had a similar reaction,” says Kalita, noting that the creators of the piece were also women. “So on projects like that, it’s wonderful to be able to bring yourself to the work, and have it enhance the work,” she says.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How This Former MIT Professor And Google Engineer Used Holograms To Build A $28 Million Startup

LinkedIn

A red laser pointer shining through a raw chicken carcass may not seem like groundbreaking science, but for veteran technologist Mary Lou Jepsen, it’s worth $28 million in funding for her latest startup, Openwater.

Jepsen performed the chicken act as part of her August TED Talk to illustrate how her imaging-tech company is building cost-conscious body-scanning technology by using the same components one might find at a science fair. The laser pointer’s light made both skin and bone of the plucked fowl glow, revealing a tumor just under its flesh. This simple demonstration shows the science behind what Openwater is trying to achieve; wearable diagnostics made from consumer electronic parts that offer higher resolution than multimillion-dollar MRI machines but cost as much as a smartphone.

Just as the chicken’s tumor blocked the laser pointer light, which shone through the rest of the chicken’s flesh, Openwater’s wearables will capture images by recording light particles and the negative spaces where they fail to scatter. X-rays use radiation and MRI machines use a magnetic field and radio waves because they can go through the human body and produce an image. But so does “red light, infrared light,” Jepsen tells Forbes. “Guess which one is cheaper by a lot?”

It’s a method similar to how holograms are made, and it uses readily available camera and display chips you can find in a smartphone. It’s also an idea that took Jepsen’s skill set to consider, and perhaps her impressive CV to convince investors to buy in. The serial founder led the display divisions at Intel and the semi-secret research group Google X and helped develop Oculus after Facebook purchased the virtual reality headset company in 2014. But Openwater began with Princess Leia’s projected message to Obi Wan Kenobi, when Jepsen aimed her life at building holograms like the one she first saw in Star Wars.

Hooked by the lasers and optical illusions involved, Jepsen made her first hologram as an engineering undergrad at Brown. Later, she’d use her growing skill set to develop computer display screens and VR glasses at the top tech companies in the world.

At that time, however, holograms did not pay the bills. Because holography was viewed as a frivolous “technology looking for an application,” no one would fund it, Jepsen says. “I just had to figure out a way to support my habit. I basically lived all through my 20s on $12,000 a year just because I thought I’d die if I couldn’t make holograms,” Jepsen said.

Her pursuit of holograms bought her to Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a professor of computer science at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and helped put holograms on the country’s paper money. In Cologne, Germany, she built some of the world’s largest holographic displays, including one of historic buildings projected on an entire city block. Still, she didn’t feel her work was taken seriously, so Jepsen figured she’d need a Ph.D.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

6 women who turned their side hustle into a full-time gig

LinkedIn

Quitting your job and turning your side hustle into a full-time role can be scary. These six women who did just that share what they learned along the way.

Some millennial professionals refuse to conform to a black-and-white definition of success and instead embrace the gray, confident in their ability to create a new palette. Many arrive at a certain kind of entrepreneurship–whether freelancing on the side or an Etsy shop that takes off–and many manage to  turn it into full-time employment.

Considering women are leading the charge of small business owners, it’s no surprise that so many women are turning away from traditional roles to develop their own companies. I should know, considering I’m one of them.

After being gainfully employed and taking on writing assignments for extra income, my 1099 hustle outgrew my corporate paycheck. This prompted me to branch out on my own, and I eventually hired a part-time assistant to help with research and invoicing. Like these women below, I learned a thing or two during the transition from “employee” to “boss.” If you have a goal of becoming your own boss, here’s how  to make it a reality.

FIND YOUR TRIBE

As a full-time graduate student at the University of Oregon, Jessica Hilbert was working double time to earn two degrees: one in law and another in business. Though she was already over-scheduled, she came up with the idea for Red Duck Foods, mainly because she was frustrated with condiment offerings that lacked healthy ingredients with robust flavors. Along with other students for a class project, she tackled her idea. After presenting french fries with ketchup that was wildly received, it was evident Hilbert was on to something. Then everything started moving: traveling to business plan competitions, raising $25,000 via Kickstarter. “All of those early proof points contributed to why the side hustle didn’t just evaporate. It wasn’t necessarily that I picked up the side hustle, it was almost like the side hustle picked me up, as it was a class project that just snowballed,” she explains.

She continued to grow Red Duck from January 2013 to September 2014, all while finishing business school. And once she graduated, she started studying to take the Oregon bar exam, when in mid-July, fate stepped in. Right before she was due to take the exam, she received a large purchase order that needed to be filled. “Because of the timelines, it meant that we would need to hand-label hundreds of jars of product. I spent hours, two days before the bar exam, hand labeling jars of ketchup,” she says. During this time, she knew, regardless of the outcome of her test, her whole heart was in Red Duck.

For Hilbert, her tribe was the reason for her success. “Seek out and find a group of people who you can associate with, and that you want to share the good and the bad times with. They don’t have to be within your organization, or even in the same industry. They just have to be people who you want to share a laugh or a ranting session with,” she says.

HAVE A VISION

For many years, Diana Wright co-owned a fashion production company in New York that created presentations for top designers, from Cynthia Rowley and Pamella Roland to Bill Blass, Halston, and more. Since she was in the fashion industry, she was used to jumping in to complete hair and makeup in a bind to ensure the show continued to go smoothly. During New York Fashion Week, she created a sliding ponytail holder to pull up a model’s hair backstage by cutting an elastic band in half and stringing it through a toggle. At the time, she says it was a crude quick fix, but it worked so well that models asked to keep them. It wasn’t until a client asked if she could create jeweled versions for the runway that she realized the true opportunity.

It took a year from ideation until her product, Pulleez, to hit the runway. Soon after, Henri Bendel approached Wright to carry them at their Fifth Avenue flagship, and a year later, Pulleez appeared on QVC. Thanks to a key partnership with pros in manufacturing and design engineering, she was able to meet these orders and grow a sustainable business. What prompted her to go for it was recognizing the need and staying true to her vision. For any entrepreneur in the product space, she says this is crucial. “My business knowledge has evolved exponentially since I started Pulleez, but the brand message has never changed: We want to offer every woman and girl with long hair an easy-to-use, functional hair accessory that can make a simple ponytail look glamorous enough for her to meet her friends or walk down the runway,” she says.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How This Interior Designer Turned Paint Into Profit

LinkedIn

Suburban Detroit may not be the epicenter of interior design, but that’s exactly where Nicole Gibbons, the CEO and founder of Clare, a direct-to-consumer paint line, got her start.

When she was growing up, Gibbons’ mother was a decorator and although Gibbons’ first job out of college was Director of Public Relations for a mass market retailer, she launched a design blog as her creative outlet. “It was truly just a place for me to talk about all the things I loved,” said Gibbons.

For a decade, her nights and weekends were spent pursuing her side hustle: designing for clients. But in 2008 the recession hit, and it wasn’t a good time to leave her day job to take a risk on starting her own full-time business. By 2013, the economy was looking up, though, and inspired by the Martha Stewart model of bringing design to the masses, Gibbons decided to take the leap.

Her first step was to build up her interior design clientele in and around New York City. Simultaneously, Gibbons started positioning herself as a design influencer. She appeared on Rachael Ray, HGTV, and spent three seasons on Home Made Simple on the Oprah Network. “All the while I was thinking about what kind of business I could build,” she added.

By then the first wave of direct-to-consumer brands had launched, with companies like Warby Parker in 2010 and Casper in 2014. “That’s when I had a light bulb moment around paint,” she said. “It’s something that’s really painful to shop for.” So painful in fact that it took one of Gibbons’ friends two months to pick a paint color that she ended up hating in the end.

Gibbons started out by networking in the paint industry to learn as much as she could about the marketing and manufacturing of paint. In the process she learned that the paint industry hasn’t changed the way it operates or sells its products in over a century. One woman she spoke with, who worked in the paint research and development space, even admitted that she hated shopping for paint. “That was a huge vote of confidence that I was onto something,” Gibbons explained. “People kept telling me that they wished someone would figure this out.”

And that’s exactly what Gibbons set out to do when she launched Clare.

Her first goal was to create a shopping experience for paint that was a lot more inspiring than the aisles of your local hardware or big box store, where a single paint brand has more than 3,000 colors to choose from.

The typical journey for someone who wants to paint their house is this: Narrow down from thousands of colors to a handful you want to try on your wall. Buy an eight-ounce jar of paint. Go home. Paint your wall. Wait for paint to dry. All the colors look almost exactly the same. Go back to the store and test more colors until you find the right one. Wait in line to get the paint mixed. If you have a job, which many of us do, you’re probably at the store on the weekend when it’s the busiest. Next you head over to the tool aisle, which is just as confusing as the paint aisle.

Instead, Clare has only 55 of the best colors in the best finishes, Gibbons explained. No more going back and forth to the store each time you want to try a new color. The company offers peel and stick color built with a high-tech color matching system that takes into account how much natural light your space gets, your existing furniture, and the colors you already have in the room. It also eliminates the need for testing multiple paint swatches on your wall.“We’ve created a suite of high quality tools so that even an unskilled painter can achieve high quality results. We bundle together everything from paint to tools. And we also have tons of online content that offer tips and inspiration,” said Gibbons.

In 2017 Gibbons built out the business, focusing on supply chain logistics and market research. “My goal was to get the business to the place where I could raise capital,” she said.

Her first step was to talk to people who had raised capital before. “I didn’t have a physical product or any traction so I had a bigger challenge than most,” Gibbons said. “When you’re raising pre-product you have to sell a vision. You can’t just have a compelling story. You have to give investors the confidence that you can execute on your vision.”

When Gibbons first pitched Clare to investors, she already knew who her suppliers would be and she had all the relationships in place in order to execute. “I spent all year working on it. I ate, breathed and slept paint. When the time came to talk to investors, I had a really clear path forward and a clear plan.”

Gibbons took her first investor meetings in September 2017 and by the end of October she had an oversubscribed round, raising $2 million, exceeding her initial target of $1.6 million.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

How Executives Can Stay Calm Under Pressure

LinkedIn

As an executive, you might find it difficult to stay calm during stressful times. “One of the toughest things a CEO or executive can do today is stay focused and steady when the business is under stress,” says Stephen Miles of TMG, which advises Fortune 500 C-suites on leadership. “Something like a stock price dip can send the company into overreaction mode—trying to fix things that aren’t even broken.”

Uncertainty can cause even the strongest executives to react in negative ways. “2018 has brought enormous uncertainty around everything from trade policy to interest rates to energy prices,” says TMG’s Courtney Hamilton. “This causes wild fluctuations not only in markets, but in companies themselves, as they try to jump ahead of changes and second-guess strategy, usually with bad results.” Leading in a “wartime” full of uncertainty is very different from leading during a time of growth, says Hamilton. “As one CEO that we worked with said, ‘My very best peace-time advisor was my worst team member in a crisis.'”

During these times of stress and uncertainty, three common toxic behaviors among executives can derail a company. These emotional impulses not only are ineffective but also magnify problems and affect all members of the management team.

1 Focusing on “process” vs. opportunism. One of the most common stress responses is to get bogged down in the small details, slowing things down so that they move at a bureaucratic pace. “Getting bogged down in these less mission-critical process items just deflates the team and misses the opportunity to think creatively about solutions,” says TMG’s Matt Bedwell. “The executive may think that stomping on or calling out someone on, say, breaking the travel policy is being helpful and additive to the quest for a good outcome—when it’s just demoralizing to everyone.”
2 Being egocentric and deflecting blame. Executives displaying this behavior during stressful times maneuver to ensure that one of their peers gets all of the scrutiny—effectively taking the heat off from themselves. They can become highly emotional and personalize every discussion, making the team totally ineffective in its pursuit of developing plans that will lead it out of the mess. “For CEOs, you must re-assess all members of your team to understand their capabilities in this new reality,” says Bedwell. “Unfortunately, you need to be ready for some of your highest performers to disappoint you.”
3 Going into panic mode and wanting to change everything. When a high-performing business starts to underperform, the natural reaction is to panic and begin to examine and change everything. “People generally have good intent and want to be part of the solution, but in their quest to solve problems, they often start to change things that are perfectly good and do not need to be changed,” says Bedwell. “You cannot panic or get caught up in the flurry to ‘activate’ and start doing something.”

To combat these derailers, CEOs need to take on these leadership behaviors.

“Go slow to go fast.” The “go slow” component means to step back and diagnose before activating on those things that require intervention – and not everything requires intervention. Ruthless focus and prioritization is equally important in a stress event; you cannot be overcome by your organization’s quest to “do things.”

Be the absorber. Underperformance requires the CEO as a leader to be calm, cool, and collected, and “absorb” the stress and panic on the team. The CEO must then be the focuser, redirecting the energy to help everyone focus on the problem, the facts, the supporting data, and the proposed solutions. The moment a CEO panics, there is a 100X amplification into the company, and then people start to worry about the implications for them and are not focused on leading through the issues.

Remain fact-based and data-driven. CEOs must ensure that someone is collecting the data and validating or refuting “gut instinct” and anecdotal information. CEOs should be careful not to be overly influenced by the best communicator or presenter on the team – or by the person he or she last spoke with. Being fact-based and data-driven will require CEOs to be consistently Socratic and seeking to understand with context.

“Moving from good times into much more difficult times challenges every executive, making it critically important for CEOs to adopt a different leadership style,” says Miles. “And as difficult becomes the norm, there will be greater need to adjust to how your talent is behaving in real time, and prioritize what’s needed to dig in rather than overreact.”

Source: The Miles Group

Tesla Taps Robyn Denholm To Replace Elon Musk As Board Chair

LinkedIn

Tesla said company director Robyn Denholm will replace Elon Musk as its board chair, fulfilling a key requirement of a Securities and Exchange Commission settlement that arose from the billionaire entrepreneur’s ill-advised tweets about taking the company private.

The selection of Denholm, who joined Tesla’s board in 2014, indicates a preference for an independent executive who’s also an insider highly familiar with the company’s expanding auto and energy businesses. In accepting the job, she’ll leave her position as CFO and head of strategy for Australia’s Telstra Corp. to focus full time on Tesla, the electric-car company said in a statement.

“I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value,” Denholm said in a blog post.

The move comes ahead of a deadline—apparently next week—for Musk to relinquish the chairman role he’s held since 2004. While he’s allowed to retain a board seat, the Palo Alto, California, company must also add two new independent board members by about year-end to reduce what appears to have been a high degree of compliance with the charismatic executive’s wishes.

The SEC filed suit against Musk in September claimed that his August 7 comments on Twitter of having “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share constituted securities fraud, since that statement was untrue and he knew it, or should have.

Musk agreed on September 30 to settlement terms, which also require him and Tesla to each pay a $20 million fine. It was the only option for him to avoid being forced out entirely if he’d fought the SEC suit in court and lost.

“Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company,” Musk said in the statement. “I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”

Prior to joining Telstra, Denholm had been executive vice president and CFO of networking equipment maker Juniper Networks. She’s also worked for Sun Microsystems, Toyota’s Australian unit and at Arthur Andersen & Co.

Musk will serve as a resource for Denholm during her transition out of Telstra. She’ll also temporarily give up her role as Tesla’s Audit Committee chair until she relocates full time to Silicon Valley. She will continue to act as a resource for Telstra and receive an annual retainer of $300,000 per year from the telecommunications company and stock allotments, according to Tesla.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Entrepreneur Thrives on Elevating Businesses

LinkedIn
Yalika Yap

Successful entrepreneurs usually have their hands full running one business, but Kalika Yap isn’t like other business owners. The self-described “serial entrepreneur” owns four profitable, distinct businesses with plans to launch a fifth in the near future.

“Being an entrepreneur, you learn something new every day,” says Yap, who was a journalist with Bloomberg and CNBC before she caught the entrepreneurial bug. “I meet so many people—it’s exciting. It can be crazy and nerve-wracking, but if you hang in there, it’s a huge learning opportunity.”

In 1999, Yap started her first business, Citrus Studios, Inc., a branding and digital agency that provides a wide array of services, from logo design, website development and content marketing to social media management. The Santa Monica-based firm and its 21 employees serve blue-chip clients including Hulu, Annenberg Foundation, Sephora, Dollar Shave Club, Sony, USC, UCLA, Stanford University and The Getty Center.

In 2005, she invented Luxe Link, a fashion accessory that keeps handbags off the floor and is sold online and in thousands of stores around the world. Yap, who holds patents in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada, has licensing deals with Cole Haan, Michael Kors and others.

Four years later, she launched The Waxing Company, the first high-end waxing salon in Honolulu. Last year, Yap founded Orange & Bergamot, which provides similar services as Citrus, but aimed at women-owned firms with smaller budgets. She plans to launch a brother company, Bergamot Brands, targeted at men business owners.

“I want to create companies that elevate business owners and help them succeed,” says Yap, who learned how to code in the 1990s before the technology boom. She honed her digital technology skills while working at the Getty, and after she left her job to start Citrus, the Getty became her first client.

“I did several projects for them, and as people left for other jobs at Norton Simon, USC and Huntington Library, they’d recommend me for other work. When you do good work, word gets around,” she adds.

Lessons Learned and Certification

With the Getty as a first client and others coming by word-of-mouth, Citrus didn’t face many struggles in the early years, although “back then, you had to convince people to get online,” Yap says. “Now, everyone knows they need to have a great online presence—your business won’t succeed without it. That’s how people remember you.”

Like most business owners starting out, she wasn’t selective about Citrus’ clients—taking any project that came her way. Then, she realized the importance of making sure her clients’ values aligned with hers.

Yap created the company’s core values, which include: Communicate kindly, Have heart, be All in, be Remarkable and Make lemonade out of lemons, or CHARM. “When I work with a potential client or employee, I share my values and make sure we’re aligned,” she adds.

Citrus, which has been SCMSDC-certified for several years, has benefited from its minority business enterprise (MBE) certification, according to Yap. “We do a lot of work with L.A. County as a subcontractor and all the primes want you to be certified, so certification really helps.”

In addition to attending council events, including Minority Business Opportunity Day and the Leadership Excellence Awards gala, Yap was a featured speaker at CEO Academy, SCMSDC’s leadership program for MBEs, where she helped participants reveal their brand’s core essence and convey their brand to better connect with audiences.

Yap has received many awards, including the National Association of Women Business Owner’s Rising Star award, Deborah Awards by the ADL and Asian Business Association’s Technology Firm of the Year. She is also the first woman and minority to serve as president of the Entrepreneurs Organization Los Angeles, a global, peer-to-peer network of influential business owners with 173 chapters.

Tips for Success

Her advice to minority entrepreneurs?

  • “Don’t give up. A lot of times, business owners are almost there and throw in the towel too soon. Don’t let fear take over. I told myself that failing wasn’t an option.”
  • “Have habits that will make you productive. I meditate twice a day and work out every day. I design my life the way I want it. My habits help me start off my day in a great mental state.”
  • “Leverage technology. I use technology to streamline my work.”
  • “Define what success means to you. Someone’s idea of success may be to sell a company, have a great family life or flexible schedule … define what it is and go for it.”

Source: scmsdc.org

Shelly Bell, Founder Of Black Girl Ventures, Helps Women Of Color Gain Access To Capital

LinkedIn

Shelly Bell has lived many lives. She’s a computer scientist, a former high school teacher, a performance poet, a community organizer, a founder, and a CEO. She has two successful apparel printing businesses: MsPrint USA—through which she creates swag for clients like Amazon and Google with a team of women designers and printers—and Made By A Black Woman, which celebrates products made by Black women.

Every project Bell undertakes is designed to empower women, especially women of color, which is why two years ago, she began her latest enterprise, Black Girl Ventures, which helps women identifying entrepreneurs of color gain access to capital.

According to a Medium post Bell wrote in May, Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, yet they receive less than 1% of venture capital. In 2017, women on the whole, she wrote, only received 2% of venture capital.

Black Girl Ventures (BGV), based in Washington DC, holds pitch competitions, social events, boot camps, and other forms of entrepreneurial training for women of color. Since its inception in 2016, BGV has funded 13 founders and has engaged hundreds of women.

The unique BGV Pitch Competition, of which there are 10 per year, is described on the website as “a crowdfunding meets pitch competition.” Attendees pay admission at the door, selected founders pitch for three minutes, and the audience votes. Winners receive the money raised from admission fees, in addition to other perks like a free consultation with both a lawyer and an accountant and a meeting with an investor.

While anyone can attend the pitch competitions, only women of color can do the pitching. Bell is proud, she says, of “the women we serve and their reaction to the space created for them.” She is also proud of the success many of the entrepreneurs have found after working with BGV. Founders who have participated in pitch competitions have gone on to be accepted into accelerators, receive fellowships, and raise more capital from other resources.

As BGV continues to grow, Bell hopes to do a better job serving Latinx women. “Because Black is in the name, it is definitely easy for Black women to gravitate,” she says, “but we want to make sure we are serving Black and Brown women.”

She is also currently focusing on finding more access to capital, creating more revenue streams, getting more sponsorship, and creating more partnerships. Some of her most recent successes are corporate partnerships with both Bumble and Google Cloud for Startups, who are currently sponsoring the BGV Big 4 Tour through Atlanta, Chicago, DC, and NYC.

When first starting BGV, Bell struggled with trying to do too many things at once. “I’m a creative,” she says. “I have literally at least 10 ideas per day.” Initially, Bell focused on doing both trainings and pitch competitions, but her advisors suggested she focus on getting really good at just one of those things.

So, she invested all her energy in the competitions, which she says has now positioned her well to expand BGV’s training opportunities. Through analytics and data gathered from those involved in the competitions, Bell now feels confident she knows what the women she serves are looking for.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

How Kendra Scott Built A Billion Dollar Business By Owning The Conversation

LinkedIn

What happens when women help each other take the next step towards the future? We can redefine power, particularly in business. October is National Women’s Small Business Month, and women continue to show record rates of becoming their own bosses and creating wealth with others. According to the Small Business Administration, women-owned businesses employ over 8.4 million people in the United States. That represents $264 billion in payroll and $2.5 trillion in sales. Yet like any other venture, small businesses have to find ways to survive, too. In fact, 66% of small businesses exist after two years, and about 50% continue to operate after five. How do we find ways to beat the odds of failure?

Kendra Scott believes that past failures can be a gift from the future, if you can learn and grow from those experiences. Her billion dollar jewelry and home decor business has long since graduated from being small, but she didn’t start out that way. Her company was built on learning from past mistakes while also lifting up other women. I got a chance to talk with her and Jaclyn Johnson, the founder of Create + Cultivate, on the final stop of Johnson’s Work Party tour in Austin, Texas. Work Party is title of Johnson’s recently published book, featuring advice for Millennial women on how to own and define their career narrative. It also chronicles the wisdom and insight of business leaders like Scott, whom she interviewed on her podcast.

Tanya Tarr: When you first went into business for yourself, how did you stay motivated when you hit set backs, particularly in those early stages?

Kendra Scott: The first business I had was for five years. I thought I was going to have a national chain of hat stores across the country. I was going to create a movement and cure cancer at the same time. I was 19 years old, an idealist and I wanted to save the world. None of those things happened – hats didn’t make a comeback as I thought they would – but what did happen was I got a masters degree in the school of hard knocks and retail. This set me up well for building Kendra Scott.

Initially, I wasn’t even going to go back into retail. I wanted to just manufacture jewelry for wholesale, thinking it would be an easier and safer bet. I realized after trying to do just one facet of the business that fear was holding me back. I had to let go of fear. The minute I let go of fear was when amazing things started to happen.

Tarr: What helped you do that?

Scott: This great thing called the recession happened, and that forced me run my business differently. All of my eggs were in this wholesale basket and I wasn’t selling direct to consumer at all. I was really dependent on others for the failure or success of my business, and I didn’t want someone else to have the power to do that. I wanted to control my interaction with the consumer and talk to her directly.

Tarr:  It seems like owning that conversation – that direct negotiation with your customer – paved the way for growth. Can you say more about that?

Scott: In a business-to-business situation, you write a purchase order and you rely on someone else to sell your product. I wasn’t getting any engagement with our customers, and that was hard for me. I didn’t know what she loved, what she didn’t like or what she wanted more of in terms of product.

When we opened our first store in Austin, it was designed to be a laboratory. Our offices sat above the store on purpose, and we had to talk and engage with our customer on our way to the office. We wanted to learn from her — that was the goal. We wanted to give her a great experience, something unlike anything else out there. We wanted to engage with her in a personal, authentic way and learn from her. That store as a laboratory was a successful retail model. It still informs our choices and it’s still my favorite place to be.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

The Ultimate Gift for the Writer in Your Life: The ability to share their story with the world

LinkedIn
Storytelling Book

Going one-on-one with a writing coach can spark a career. Everyone knows someone who would like to write a book someday. Some people may want to write a novel, while entrepreneurs may want to write a book on their area of expertise.

Still, others may be ready to take their writing career to the next level. Many people have one or more ideas floating around in their head and dream of getting them down on paper and into print, yet they may not know the first thing about where to start or how to make it happen. Those looking for the ultimate gift for the writer in their life should consider the gift of taking their book idea to the next level. They can do just that by giving them the gift of working with a writing coach who can help advance their career.

“I’ve worked with countless people who have wonderful book ideas, but just need a nudge in the right direction to help bring them about,” explains Annalisa Parent, writing coach, author, and entrepreneur. “When people give the writer in their life the gift of a writing coach they are often giving them a life-changing opportunity.”

Working with a writing coach is more than someone just telling you how to get the words from your head onto the paper. There are a variety of ways that a writing coach works with the writer in order to help him or her in the most needed areas. Some of the strategies that Parent provides to people with her coaching include:

  • How to take an idea and turn it into a book. Many people have a great idea for a book, but they have no clue where to start and how to get the ideas onto paper. Parent works with writers to flesh out the idea and turn the entire idea into manageable parts that they can chip away at. Whether they want to write a novel or they want to write a book on something they can teach the world, they can make it happen.
  • How to revise a draft to publishable. Most people who do sit down and take the time to write a novel will not realize that when they reach the end, it is still not ready to be published. There’s often a lot of editing, revising, and rewriting that needs to take place. Only once those areas are identified and reworked will the book be ready to be published.
  • How to optimize the author’s platform so that they can reach more readers and sell more books. Writing the book is half the battle, but after that the writer needs to know how to get the book into print and how to get it into the hands of people who will want to buy it and read it.
  • Helping writers to achieve the dream they have of being a published author. Rather than the book they want to write sitting on their bucket list, a writing coach can help writers get to the point where their finished novel is sitting on their bookshelf.
  • The inspiration and confidence that people need in order to turn their idea into a reality and put themselves out there. Oftentimes confidence is what people are lacking and when they get that boost–based on their actual skills and abilities, they tend to make the book a reality.

“My mission is to help as many people as possible find their story and not only tell it, but tell it well, so they can reach their ideal readers and thrive,” adds Parent. “I show them how to get started, what to do once they get started, and what to do once they finish the first draft. You can have the best story inside of you, but if you don’t know how to find your process that it takes to bring it into a reality, it will never be heard.”

Parent has coached hundreds of writers and has taught over 100 writing courses around the world. She works exclusively with fiction writers looking to publish traditionally and entrepreneurs looking to highlight their expertise and sell books well.. Her book Storytelling for Pantsers: How To Write and Revise Your Novel Without An Outline won the CIPA EVVY Silver Award in Best Business Books, and earned a merit award in the Humor category. She has been a worldwide speaker on writing-related topics, and she has been a guest on a variety of television, radio, and podcast shows, sharing her secrets for how to write, publish, and sell your book.

For more information about Annalisa Parent, her book, and her coaching services, visit her site at: laurelelite.com. For more information on how to become a published author, download her free ebook The Six Secrets To Go From Struggling Writer To Published Author here: datewiththemuse.com/6secrets.

About Annalisa Parent

Having taught over 100 writing courses, Annalisa Parent has reached countless writers around the world. She offers coaching writing services that have been instrumental in helping writers to go from idea to publishable piece and have the confidence to take their work to the market. She is also the chief executive officer of Laurel Elite Books. For more information on her services, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com and laurelelite.com. To learn more about her book, visit the website at: storytellingforpantsers.com.