What led you to become a DO GOOD X mentor and why is mentorship important to you?
One of my fellow entrepreneurs, Shantel Kriss, often promotes DO GOOD X in her Imagine Media weekly eblasts and I was intrigued by the message. Additionally, I’m always looking for ways to pay it forward.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have an incredible support system throughout my life – my parents allowed me to move back home to save on rent when Rhyme & Reason was in its infancy. Not only did my family encourage my entrepreneurship, but I was able to find friends, peers, and mentors along the way who cheered me on, helped me up, and offered invaluable advice when I needed it the most. To be honest, if it wasn’t for these kind souls, I don’t know if I’d be where I am today. Which is exactly why mentorship is important to me.
Entrepreneurship is as much about the business as it is about the community you cultivate. And at the beginning of the journey, it is so important to surround yourself with people who can build you up as opposed to bringing you down. It is my hope that I can offer the ear to listen, the brain to storm, and the confetti to celebrate the next generation of entrepreneurs.
As a mentor, what do you hope to gain from being a part of the DO GOOD X community?
Oh, good question! I hope to grow more socially aware and further develop my leadership skills from an emotional and collaborative standpoint.
Members of the DO GOOD X community are creating incredible businesses for the greater good – I not only want to understand the goals of each one but see how they are applying technology and offerings of today to help drive change in meaningful ways tomorrow.
Additionally, as a leader in my own business, I’m always looking for ways to be a better leader. I consume all sorts of content from books and articles to podcasts and social stories, but over the years, I’ve found that individuals are the best teachers. So although I will have the title of mentor, these entrepreneurs will also be teaching me how to lead, how to follow, and how to see the world through a different lens.
In 2008, you co-founded your marketing agency Rhyme & Reason Design. What inspired you to make the transition into entrepreneurship? And what’s one lesson you learned during that time that still resonates with you today?
I have a torn piece of notebook paper tucked away in a drawer from college. On it, is a list of life goals, one being to own an agency. At the time I wrote that list, I thought I’d be far older when that particular goal came to fruition. However, I am one of those people who says, “yes” – “yes” to the mundane and “yes” to the wonderful. So, when at 25 the art director I sort of knew from work asked me to travel to China with her and then become her business partner, I said, you guessed it – “yes”.
To be honest, I said “yes” because I was ridiculously unhappy in the job, in the place, in the experience I was living. So, I took a leap. Not to mention, I believed in (and still do) my business partner. We both knew what we didn’t want and knew we could disrupt the churn-and-burn agency lifestyle.
Essentially, a quarter-life crisis, a toxic work environment, and a taste for wanderlust inspired our story.
What I learned from those choices could fill a book, but if I had to choose just one lesson that’s helped get me through, it would be not to burn bridges and instead foster relationships. One of our first clients was our old boss, my college roommate has done business with us and even those who we’ve pitched and lost, have still championed our work. How you show up for people day in and day out matters as much professionally as it does personally.
In your role, what do you find most rewarding about the work you do?
The people – from clients to team members – the people I get to collaborate with make my days brighter. Especially now in the midst of COVID-19 and racial injustice, I’m truly inspired by the humans around me. There are some who are wrangling schoolwork, while simultaneously crafting public health initiatives and others who are reckoning with their own privilege while putting in the effort to educate on the platforms they manage.
As someone who started a business during challenging times, what’s one piece of advice you can give to someone considering entrepreneurship now?
I’ve actually found that I’ve returned to my start-up roots during this period of time, more than I have in the past. I think that’s because when you are starting there’s this need to always be on, to always be thinking of new ways to engage and the fear of failure is ever-present. When you get to the building phase, it’s less about changing quickly and more about maintaining and the following process. However, when the world goes topsy-turvy, being nimble comes in really handy. Therefore, if you are starting now, this is the best learning experience you will ever have – seriously, consider this your PhD in entrepreneurship.
My other small piece of advice from a personal level, not simply what you are doing to keep your business afloat, is this – your good days have to outweigh your bad days. Starting during the Great Recession was hard, building a business is hard, entrepreneurship is hard – but if you don’t love what you are doing on the hard days, it will never feel easy, it will never fill your bucket. I know that’s a bit of a downer to end on, but life is too short to be unhappy, and when you put your blood, sweat, and tears into something you should be darn right, passionately in love with it.