Yesterday I went to prison…
I spent the day at a women’s prison with Defy Ventures for their Business Coaching Day. Along with a powerful and warm-hearted group of women (and a few good men), I provided live coaching/feedback to underdog aspiring entrepreneurs in prison to help empower them to transform their lives.
Spending the day with 100 female prisoners (most were mothers, some had been in gangs, one had an MBA from my alma mater and another was a 74 year old who signed up for the program to work on her resume), re-enforced the following:
1) We are all more similar than different. Our hearts all beat from the same place.
2) We should not be defined by our past. We have all made mistakes.
3) We must forgive ourselves and others to heal and live in peace.
4) We must never ever give up hope.
5) We must learn to be as gentle and compassionate with ourselves as we are with those around us.
6) We must live in the present, as the only time we have is NOW.
7) We are never too old/it is never too late to change, grow, learn.
8) We must avoid making assumptions about others backgrounds, experiences, circumstances.
9) Empathy is the key to a more harmonious world.
10) Entrepreneurship is color and gender blind.
Many volunteers have written about their day in prison in eloquent detail. Google their stories — they are all worth reading and deeply moving. Just keep in mind, reading about others’ experiences can not quite prepare you for how emotionally impactful and rewarding the day will be for YOU. The only real way to understand this is to volunteer! There are several prisons that are part of the program in LA, and they also run in NY and SF. I plan to stay involved with my new sisters at the LA women’s prison and will likely be organizing a bus for the next visit. If you are interested, please LMK.
To learn more about Defy’s awesome work and meet some grads (who turn street hustle into legal startups), check out www.defyventures.com.