Recently it was the second annual Women's Entrepreneur Day celebrated in over 144 countries! We owe a debt of thanks to people like Wendy Diamond, Oprah, Gayle King, Arianna Huffington and Many Others, who paved the way for equality by walking the path of their dreams, regardless of background or culture. The entrepreneurial bug can take a variety of forms and does not mean that you have to be launching a company from the ground up to consider yourself one. My journey to entrepreneurship was paved in part by DNA, luck, and creating new divisions within existing organizations. A journey for which I am grateful, I now share to help others learn from through my mentoring, public speaking, and brand-consulting work with Sider Road Media.
My first taste of entrepreneurship was at Wenner Media, when I was asked to create a Branded Television Division. I was being paid to be an entrepreneur within a corporate setting. While we are still a long way from true equality, we are moving in that direction inch-by-inch and entrepreneurship is helping women to become independent, powerful, and able to define our own versions of success.
In the early 90's, this task was not called "branded television" or "native advertising". It was called..."I have an idea and let's make it happen". I relied on gut, persistence, risk and research.
The TV shows were produced for Rolling Stone on E!, Men's Journal on ESPN and The Weather Channel (back when the weather channel was the MOST watched channel in America... My! How times and global warming have changed). At Hachette Filipacchi, I, as appointed the youngest female editorial director to oversee the vast magazines titles and to launch them on the web in a division called New Media. My most recent ventures, BriteBean Technologies (grocery tech) and Sider Road (brand consultancy) are a constant reminder of three important key principles to entrepreneurship:
1. Focus on the future - To boldly go where no [woman] has gone before. Entrepreneurship means you are going to try something new, and the best way to understand the next wave of the future is to build it! So focus on thinking ahead and exploring your curiosity.
2. Embrace uncertainty - Long before Colin Cowie was a household name in the lifestyle industry, he was an aspiring event designer asking me to build him his business plan. Did I know how to build a business plan let alone an actual business!? No way, sister. But I did know how to find people who could teach me those skillsets, and so I learned on the fly, and helped Colin become a world-renowned brand, which brought me to lesson number three...
3. Knowledge is power - Learn to learn what you do not know. When someone asks you about something, and you don't have a clue about the subject matter, don't shut her down with "that's not my area of expertise." Instead, go spend as much time as you need to research that topic. You may find that subject areas that you thought would never interest you or you assume you hated, you actually find interesting and enjoyable.
The brilliant thing about learning new skills is that no one can take that knowledge from you. While we're still a long way from true equality, we are moving in that direction inch-by-inch and entrepreneurship is helping women to become independent, powerful, and define our own versions of success. What we need now is more female entrepreneurs who understand the importance of embracing future uncertainty with some knowledge, chutzpah, and a solid pair of Tory Burch shoes to walk us across the equality threshold.