I am an emerging leader in lean project management starting a firm this fall, I am a writer of inspirational women’s journals, and am the founder of a nonprofit that educates doctors and nurses, on strategies to provide compassionate care to vulnerable communities.
I am passionate about all my projects, and they all flow together nicely to create one package of well-structured and innovative learnings anyone can use to win at work and in their home life.
What is the most surprising thing about being a female entrepreneur?
The thing that has been most surprising to me as a female entrepreneur is the number of different options that opens up when you decide to believe in yourself and to move forward toward a goal. The key is in choosing the right one. So often we have to try many different routes before we land on the one that is a perfect fit and will get us to our financial goal. I am always looking into the future to see what’s coming next, anticipate the changes needed, and lean ways of expediting to make it happen.
How did your past experiences help you get to where you are today?
Growing up in the rural state of Indiana, I was not given much in the way of a quality education. When I moved to Philadelphia and realized all that I didn’t know, it was unbelievable to me. I had never been around people from foreign countries or even people in the LGBT community. When I came to Philly, I feel like my life began. I met all different kind of people, learned so many things and had so many new experiences I would never have had in Indiana. This new learning helped to fuel something that was lying dormant inside of me for years. I came here to the “new country” and woke up. I am now writing, starting businesses, in school for my Ph.D., and am a community leader. I am doing so many things I never dreamed of before. Location, location, location!
What are some ways of motivating yourself in times of doubt? Do you ever feel like giving up? Why do you keep going?
I feel like giving up about.. once a month. It is has been a long journey, but a rewarding one. When I begin feeling lost or become doubtful, I often talk with my team, and my team brings me back to myself. I try not to let them know how I am feeling, but I may just throw out a question to them, and they shift my thinking in an area which then gets me back on track. I also listen to a TEDTalk or TED Radio and seek out stories of successful business owners. The stories that inspire me are those who say right at the moment they were going to give up; fate turned the corner, and they landed a million-dollar contract. These amazing stories leave me thinking if she can do it, so can I.
Do you think you want to start other businesses in the future or do you want to keep growing this one as long as possible? What is the dream?
I started with Speranza Human Compassion Project in 2012, a nonprofit designed to educate and inspire a shift in health care for vulnerable and marginalized women and children facing domestic abuse. My next venture is a for-profit venture taking the wisdom I have acquired over my past 10-years of managing projects and create the most innovative lean project management firm. I am now in the process of writing the plan.
Is it important to dream big? What is the big dream for your business?
The danger of dreaming big is you could be disappointed, a lot. One thing I learned is to set small, realistic goals for myself leading to one big goal. For some this is easy, for others, this is hard. The skill is in knowing what the right step is to get to the right next step. It is a skill, we have to constantly fine-tune. Small wins every day add up to big wins. The wrong steps and consistent lose, can be incredibly discouraging. Clarity is everything.
Making ten cold calls in the morning, and ten cold calls in the afternoon, and ten email in the evening, and starting all over again the next day until someone says yes, can be tough. Although it’s challenging and tedious, it must be done. Dealing with rejection after rejection is not easy. It takes heart and a lot of strength. I’ve heard if you don’t give up, you will win. I am not certain if that is true. What is true is that you must have an excellent, clearly written guide to getting where you want to be, and one that you must follow. Without a map, you probably won’t end up in Canada as you hoped. Instead, you may end up in Ohio or North Carolina with no idea how to get back on course. Your plan is your guide, and your guide has to be 95% accurate. Would you continue following Google Maps or your GPS if only 50% of the time it correctly pointed you to your destination? No, because driving around aimlessly would lead to daily chaos, wasted time, and frustration. You would eventually find yourself exhausted and give up. On this journey I am learning, the map or the plan must be right. The map must be pointing you in the right direction for where you want to go. Proper planning is 50% of the challenge, after that it’s simply a matter of executing that plan.
Did you look for funding in the past?
Yes, primarily grants for the nonprofit and a small business loan.
Why do you think that female-owned businesses are a VERY small percentage (that has not been growing) of businesses that get funded by venture capital?
I know that I lack the courage and confidence to ask for money before I have earned it. Being accountable for someone else’s money and guaranteeing a return on this investment would be a significant burden to me. I feel as if that would take the joy out of the work. On the other hand, it may be a great motivator. Knowing you do have people who are looking to you to make them a profit, may be the thing women need to catapult them forward. Maybe we just need a shift in our thinking.
What can we do to change that?
Mentoring is everything. It inspires us, gives us a guide of how others made it, and it’s a way for us to make quality connections with impactful leaders. I have found that talking with successful women who have made it, is a great motivator. Also, they keep me on track when I begin to enter my dream world of possibilities. Often they have tried many different routes as well and can offer insight into my next idea, good or bad. One-on-one is the best. Often in a group setting, you don’t get to ask the fundamental questions that you would if it were just you and that person. This type of interaction can lead to the real business development and can nurture confidence.