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Being born with color is natural, not a taboo. Unfortunately, this is not in your hands. But breaking stereotypes and proving your metal is surely what you can do.
As an author, American political activist and philosopher, and academician Angela Davis said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
So, be the change you want to see. Being a woman of color, even today, society has not accepted you progressively. But, you too can have wings and fly to catch hold of your dreams. When jobs don’t work for you, don’t get disheartened. You can always start your own business.
“While fundraising at the 500 Startups, we learned a lot. We often used to get responses like ``You're too early.” But what we learned in the process was, even though we received a no, we could quickly turn that into a yes by asking them to refer us to someone who they thought would be a yes. Out of every meeting, we get a list of other VCs that we could talk to. So we never leave any session without something to follow up with, which was great.
Her story, from working at the local pizza store to becoming an investor, is very inspiring. During her journey, she learned from her experiences. Sharing one such teaching, she says, “Don’t go into 15 meetings if in the first meeting and in the 15th meeting you’re the same person. Instead, go and learn from every couple of meetings, and [allow those experiences] to chisel you into an evolved version of you.”
She has launched a seven product line. Millar has also raised around $4M as funding for her start-up. She opines that patience is the key element to getting your startup funded. “If it's your first raise, the reality more than likely will be that it takes you four to eight months to close around, and you’re raising while you’re running the business. And you might raise a little bit and then say, “All right. I need a break from raising.” Then you might go back out and raise a bit more and say, “Now I need another break from raising.”
Stephenie turned down many six-figure jobs to pursue her passion. Since childhood, her parents had induced in her the importance of STEM. Her love for cookies and STEM made her work the gap between students and STEM as a subject. She says I combed the Internet and STEM journals to identify women in their respective careers then contacted them one by one. They shared their stories, unedited, as learning from mistakes proves just as important as from accomplishments.”
Austin Channing Brown has penned her exquisite journey of a black woman in today’s America. “As a Black woman working in white spaces, my perception of racial dynamics has been questioned, minimized, or denied altogether. Over time, the experience of not being believed, especially by people I thought were my friends, wore away my sense of self. As I entered the professional world and sensed this happening to me, it became vital to remind myself daily of why I love being a Black girl.”
She left her corporate career to help women get finance for their careers. With her experiences, she says, “You’re in charge. Don’t feel like you have to decide to accept financing that isn’t in line with who you are or your goals. Let’s say you get a factoring option that’s 10% of your invoice… which’s pretty high. You can decide to turn it down. If you get an offer from an investor that may not be the greatest person to have next to you for several years, you can turn it down. Know what your goals are, know what you want to get out of every financing deal, and use your intuition as you plot out the finances for your business.”
Beyond capital, Jones supercharges the entrepreneurs and investors she works with by assessing and meeting their unique needs, including making valuable introductions to others. “It can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s more than just saying, ‘all right, here’s the money.’” She understands that different entrepreneurs need different things.
Plan your work, then work your plan. The more data and evidence you have surrounding your business case, the better. Keep going. The work you are doing is needed, and while it can be hard, it can also change a life.
I approach challenges and experiences from a very rational perspective and have aimed to optimize my effectiveness in every new role. Every success builds confidence, and I have built on more than a decade of challenges to develop the confidence for this role.
These are women who made the changes. You, too, can be the change.
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