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

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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 Executives Can Stay Calm Under Pressure

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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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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.

5 Tips from a Writing Coach that Fiction Writers and Entrepreneurs Can Use

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Tips for Authors and Entrepreneurs

COLCHESTER, VERMONT–Last year, The New York Times published an article titled “Why Kids Can’t Write.” The article points out that many would-be writers struggle with knowing where to start – and a problem that’s not limited to today’s youth.

There are millions of adults in the workforce who feel inadequate when it comes to sharing their thoughts in writing. Clearly, we are a country of citizens who are desperate for some insight into how we can improve our ability to express our thoughts and tell our stories in writing.

“We all have stories to tell,” explains Annalisa Parent, fiction writing coach, author, and entrepreneur. “The problem is, many would-be authors get stuck on how to tell the story, and tell it well enough so readers will read it and yearn for more. Many people get hung up on school leftovers such as commas and gerunds, and while grammar is important to a quality message, getting your message out should be the writer’s first concern. Many writers put the cart before the horse in this regard, and that’s where hang-ups and writers’ block come from.”

The best way to improve one’s writing skills is to write and to get meaningful feedback. Engaging in a lot of writing will help people hone their skills and become more comfortable sharing their thoughts. Here are five writing tips from Coach Parent that everyone can benefit from:

  1. The first draft doesn’t have to be the last draft. In Parent’s experience, it rarely is. It’s okay to write several drafts to discover your message. In fact, Parent encourages it. To get to that final draft where you message is crystal clear, sometimes it takes asking for meaningful feedback to help a writer through the discovery and thinking phase.
  2. High quality. First drafts can meander, but aim for final drafts that are high quality. High quality writing is clear, concise, and on point, rather than just filling the pages with anything and Annalisa Parenteverything. It’s better to have a little that is high quality than a lot that is just filling space and not saying a lot.
  3. Clarity. Go back and read what you wrote and make sure that your thoughts are clear. If they are not clear to you, then they won’t be to other readers. Aim for clarity so that it makes sense to the reader and they connect with it.
  4. Finding writing flow. Some of the best writing comes when you are in a groove and loving what you are doing. When you lose track of the time and could go on and on, you have found your writing flow. The convergence of neuroscience and creativity have opened the doors into finding creative flow easier and staying there longer.
  5. Get the feedback loop right. Many writers find themselves discouraged from seeking advice from the wrong source. As the saying goes, “free advice is worth what you pay for it,” and free advice from someone who’s not an expert only exacerbates the problem. Parent sees this as a stumbling block for a lot of writers who could otherwise be successful in sharing their message with the world.

“I could add many more strategies to this list in order to help people become better, more efficient writers and storytellers,” adds Parent. “It’s not just kids who need better ability to express themselves today. Many adults are struggling as well. Following these five tips can help people become more confident, comfortable, and their words will flow much easier. The more confident someone becomes with their writing skills, the more they will be able to reach their reader and get across their intended message.”

Parent has coached hundreds of writers and has taught over 100 writing courses around the world. She works with fiction authors, as well as entrepreneurs seeking to write their expert book. 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 featured speaker on writing-related topics across the globe, 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: datewiththemuse.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.

This is what it’s like to be one of the few Hispanic women leading a company in 2018

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Latinx leaders are still relatively scarce, but those we spoke to are blazing a trail for others to follow.

As we round out National Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from September 15 to October 15), celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, Fast Company spoke to Latinx leaders to acknowledge their contributions and recognize their opportunities and challenges.

The challenges are not insignificant with under-representation across the board. Although the Latinx workforce is one of the fastest growing–increasing from 10.7 million in 1990 to 26.8 million in 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 11 CEOs lead companies in the Fortune 500 and only 3.5% of Fortune 500 board seats were held by Latinx executives in 2016. The Alliance for Board Diversity says that represents just a .5% increase between 2010 and 2016. Hispanics have the highest rate of new entrepreneurs, but at 12% they have the lowest rate of business loans from financial institutions among all other firms. Hispanic women-owned businesses represent nearly half of all Hispanic firms. However, access to capital, a major facilitator of business growth, isn’t available to them as readily, according to a report from Stanford. And Hispanic women’s equal pay day–the additional number of days in the year they have to work to equal a white man’s pay–isn’t until November 2.

Despite these significant challenges, Latinx leaders continue to blaze a trail for others to follow. Here’s what they told us about the opportunities they’re leveraging to make a difference.

“MY CULTURE RELEASED ME FROM THE FALSE PRESUMPTION THAT THERE WAS ONE RIGHT PATH.”

The biggest challenge is the invisibility of our community in all of the narratives of leadership. We are rarely present. The Latinx folks who have traveled the path are so few, far, in between, and hidden. You rarely get the benefit of learning from the pathbreakers.

For chunks of my upbringing, I resented having one foot in the world of my cultural heritage and one foot in the American experiment but my career helped me deeply appreciate it. Straddling both worlds gave me such a unique lens on what it means to carry different perspectives as a result of different life experiences. It helped me see and grow people for what they could be instead of molding them into a bootleg version of myself. My culture released me from the false presumption that there was one right path.

–Karla Monterroso, CEO, Code2040

“I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO INFLUENCE A NATIONAL CONVERSATION.”

As a Latina business executive at a high-growth tech company with a strong consumer brand, I have the opportunity to influence a national conversation. Our country is grappling with so many issues that affect the Latino community: immigration reform, refugee rights, political representation, and voting engagement, and the reality is that those making, executing, and influencing policy are likely to listen to strong members of the business community. Every time I have an opportunity to speak or write something that will be publicly shared, I ensure I am speaking to these issues in some capacity.

It’s no surprise that there is not equal representation of Latinx leaders in the tech industry. This means we are working extra hard to show up everywhere our community needs us. I wear a lot of hats at Lyft–from a VP on the Lyft Business team, to the executive sponsor of our Latinx ERG group, to the company’s representative at events or meetings where the insights from a Latinx executive might be helpful. I also advise a VC fund that is focused on supporting Latinx entrepreneurs–it’s the only VC fund I know of that is focused specifically on this–and while my participation is extremely rewarding, it requires a lot of time and dedication. I feel responsibility for this work, because every voice matters.

–Veronica Juarez, Area VP of Social Enterprise at Lyft

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How a Book Can Grow Your Business

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writing coach Annalisa Parent

There are millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners today who would like to take their business to the next level.  A writing coach can help both of these groups achieve their goals.

“The right book–a book that starts a conversation– can do a lot to scale your business,” explains Annalisa Parent, chief executive officer of Laurel Elite Books. “I’ve worked with hundreds of writers, giving them the individualized attention they need in order to achieve more and reach their goals and dreams, and increase sales and client volume. More importantly, they’re getting their message out there, and helping more people.”

Most entrepreneurs, small business owners, and CEOs know that a quality business book can boost their future. They just don’t know how to get it done, especially in the context of their busy lives. Business growth is one of the many benefits that people get when they work with a right writing program, in addition to these 5 things:

  1. How to turn an idea into a publishable piece. Millions of people have a great idea and want to become the authority who wrote the book on it, but they have no idea how to make it happen. Just like a soccer coach helps create better players, so too can a writing coach lead people to becoming more successful authors–or authorities–and reach their ideal audience.
  2. An understanding of the publishing process. The publishing process can be daunting to figure out on your own, but with the right program you’ll have a personalized concierge to walk your way toward success.
  3. How to reach readers and sell your books. Many people finally get their book in their hands, only to find they don’t know how to reach their ideal readers. This often leads to a garage full of books, and a world full of frustration. The right writing program can help you with effective strategies for growing your audience and reaching those people who will want to buy your book and tell their friends about it, too.
  4. Inspiration and confidence. One of the most important things that aspiring authors need is a dose of inspiration and confidence. Becoming a published author is always risky, because people fear rejection after they put themselves out there. The right writing program will help you to overcome that hurdle in effective ways that will make you feel confident and ready to step out as the industry expert you are. .
  5. How to leverage your book as a scaling tool. A client-engaging book not only starts the right conversation, but showcases you as the authority and expert, landing you top spotlight in the media to reach and help even more people.

“Some of the best stories and books have yet to be written, because they are still within the author’s mind. People are looking for, yearning for, the solutions to their problems. When entrepreneurs write the right book, they demonstrate that they are that unique solution,” adds Parent. “I work entrepreneurs to help them go from idea to sold. Entrepreneurs want a better business and a book can help them achieve that.”

Parent also helps entrepreneurs who want to write a book to help grow their business. She explains that entrepreneurs can benefit by working with a writing coach in numerous ways, including:

  • Visibility. A writing coach can help you get the visibility you need in order to advance your career and grow your business.
  • Expertise. A writing coach is an expert at getting books traditionally published and can make it easier for you to understand the process and navigate it.
  • Go-to source. Having a writing coach means you have a go-to source that will be there to answer your individual questions.
  • Featured nationally and internationally. With a writing coach you can expand your reach and tap into larger audiences.
  • Starts a client conversation. A writing coach can help you get the conversations started that will lead to your next book and growing your business.

Parent has coached hundreds of writers and has taught over 100 writing courses around the world. She works with fiction authors, as well as entrepreneurs. 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 speaker giving talks on writing-related topics, and she has been a guest on a variety of television, radio, and podcast shoes, sharing her secrets for how to write, publish, and sell your book. A Teacher of the Year nominee for her use of neuroscientific principles, she applies the same principles to her work with writes to help create confidence, writing flow, and success. She writes for many local, national, and international publications, and is a graduate professor of English at Norwich University.

For more information about Annalisa Parent, her book, and her business scaling services, visit her site at: laurelelite.com. While there, you can sign up for a free business scaling conversation to get your future moving now.

About Annalisa Parent

Annalisa Parent helps entrepreneurs to finish, publish and sell their expert books. She is the CEO of Laurel Elite Books, a two time teacher of the year nominee, and a recipient of the French congressional Medal of Honor.  Annalisa writes for many local, national, and international publications, has written and produced sketches for a Telly-Award winning television show. She has been featured on Huffington Post Live, CBS, Associated Press and Korean Broadcast Systems, as well as many podcasts and radio programs. Her book “Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Outline and Revise your Novel without an Outline” is a recipient of a 2018 CIPA EVVY Silver award for Best Business Book, a finalist in the humor category.

How One Of Sports Most Powerful Executive’s Is Changing Sports Media And Culture

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When Jaymee Messler was growing up, the first thing she saw when she woke up in the mornings was the perfectly lined up roster of Yankees baseball cards that she taped on her wall at the start of the season. As a young athlete and devoted New York sports fan, she could have never predicted that she would go on to pitch their former captain Derek Jeter to found a media company with her, The Players’ Tribune, that she now leads as President.

Messler has spent the last two decades as one of the most influential executives in sports. As CMO of Excel Sports Management, she was a pioneer helping athletes like Jeter and NBA players Kevin Love and Paul Pierce craft their personal brands and establish a digital presence. Her foresight on the emergence of social media not only helped lay the foundation for a new era of brand partnerships and marketing. More importantly, it enabled athletes to communicate with their fans directly for the first time. Today, she’s amplifying that connection with the thousands of first-person stories athletes author on The Players’ Tribune.

Messler’s success has been predicated by the deep relationships she cultivates with athletes, which always begin by acknowledging and respecting them as people. “Athletes are multidimensional. You are not an athlete and then a person. You are a person who is an athlete,” she says. “The Players’ Tribune exists to showcase athletes’ humanity.”

She sat down with us to share her initial conviction for the business and how empowering athletes to help lead the conversation about important topics like gender equality and mental health is catalyzing change across the sports industry.

Becoming indispensable

Messler started her career in DC as an assistant to the prominent chef Jean-Louis Palladin, where she spent her days doing everything from ordering truffle mushrooms to shaping his brand and PR strategy. Though the experience revealed her passion for helping people craft their brands, she ultimately decided to move to New York City to pursue a career outside of the food industry. Shortly after she met Jeff Schwartz, tennis player Pete Sampras’ then agent, who exposed her to the world of sports management. “Finding out that you could marry the management of people and sports was a dream come true for me,” she shares. “I couldn’t believe this was a job.”

Similar to her athletes’ strict training regiments, Messler worked tirelessly to refine the skills she needed to become an indispensable part of their team. Whereas entertainers generally have large management teams, athletes have a small group of individuals supporting them, making every role an around the clock job. “We wanted to help our athletes be as successful as possible. A big part of that was helping them navigate life off the court,” she reflects. “It was always about figuring out how to be a few steps ahead so I could anticipate what they needed – whether it was negotiating a deal or finding a new school for their kids when they got traded – get it done in the background and then anticipate the next thing.”

Messler quickly became an essential thread in the fabric of her players’ lives, giving her a front row seat to the reality of life as a professional athlete. “People question the most granular details of an athlete’s performance but they have no idea what goes on in their personal lives, whether that’s facing a mental health condition or having an ill family member. They don’t walk on the court and just leave all of that behind,” she shares. “Traditional sports reporting has been about rushing to an athlete after a game and asking: ‘What was going through your head when you missed the game-winning shot?’ It’s an impossible question for them to answer and unfair to ask. We saw a need to give athletes an opportunity to open up about their experiences and the issues they’re facing so people can understand them. When you can grasp what’s happening in a person’s life you start seeing them on a human level.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Rizos Curls’ Julissa Prado Shares How Her Latino Upbringing Taught Her Essential Entrepreneurial Skills

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With her enviable mane of bouncy, pink-hued curls, Julissa Prado serves as a walking advertisement for the effectiveness of her products.Roughly one year ago, she officially launched Rizos Curls, an all-natural product line for curly-textured hair. In that short span of time, Prado has amassed 52k+ followers on Instagram, received up to a thousand orders per month, and quit her job to pursue her business full time. But though it might look like overnight success from the outside, her growing business is the result of many years of hard work and hard-earned lessons.

As Prado tells it, she couldn’t have reached this point without the help and support of her family and her larger Latino community, who served as the inspiration for her brand. “I always thought when I made Rizos Curls that I’d make something that would work perfectly for textures as diverse as those of my family’s. In the Latino community we have so many kinds of hair textures – wavy, curly ringlets, coily textures. I have tías that fall under all of those categories. I wanted to make something that allowed us to fall in love with our natural hair,” she explains.

For Prado, Rizos Curls has been a family affair – from consulting with her brother on her business plan, to running her fledgling company out of her parents’ and uncle’s houses, to learning key lessons about how to budget & save from watching her own father run his restaurant business.

Below, she explains how her upbringing helped her develop her entrepreneurial spirit and the skills to build a DIY business.

Your company is directly inspired by the Latino community – can you talk about how the idea came about?

I grew up in very predominantly Latino communities and neighborhoods [in Los Angeles]. I have a huge family, and when we were very young we all lived in one apartment building. Almost every unit was a different family member, so that can give you an idea of the culture and the environment that I grew up in. Growing up, I always saw how so much of my community had textured hair – they had wavy, curly, coily hair, a variety of textures. But they went to great lengths to straighten it, and not embrace it. There was a lot of self-hate around their hair. There was always this notion of ‘your hair is not done until it’s not curly.’

I remember the exact moment where I realized “Oh no, I can’t do this my whole life.” I was going to a quinceañera and my older cousins straightened my hair. Back then, in the hood, we didn’t have flat irons yet, so what they did was put my head over an ironing board and use a clothes iron. My hair was burning! I remember being over that ironing board and thinking “We’ve got to do better than this, we’ve got to figure out a way to feel good about our natural hair.”

So that’s where the idea first started. Even at a young age, I was aware that so many of my insecurities were connected to my inability to embrace my natural hair and myself in my natural state. Once I learned to love my hair it allowed me to love myself, and I wanted to create that feeling in my community. Rizos Curls is not just about the products. We’re a trifecta of the Three Cs: curls, community & culture.

What pushed you to make the leap and turn this interest into a career?

I’m very close to my [older] brother, and he’s the one who helps me a lot with Rizos. We’re very opposite. I’ve always led with my heart and emotion, and he’s ruled by logic. So when I decided I really wanted to go forward with this Rizos idea, I went to my brother with my business plan. I was still pretty young, around 15, and I presented the whole plan to him. He did all this market research – which years later, in business school, I learned is very important when you’re starting something new. Understanding your market, understanding the size of the demographic you’re targeting. He did that research on his own and was blown away. He couldn’t believe a product like Rizos Curls didn’t exist already.

Time passed, I went to college and grad school, and everything I learned, all the business acumen I acquired, all reaffirmed that I had to take this leap. Everything pointed me to, “You’re lucky no one’s jumped on this opportunity yet.” But it took me four years to figure out my product formulas, and I beat myself up a lot for taking so long. I was juggling it with getting a masters, working a full-time job, and maybe I just needed to trust the process. There were many times in that four year process of testing formulas that I didn’t get the results I wanted, and felt like giving up.

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.