Be aware but don’t compare. — Let go of the fear of comparison. I wish I could have shared this wisdom with my younger self. But, no one is you, boo! It doesn’t matter if they “copy your words, your ideas, or parts of your brand. They can not do what you do. Period. I like to say, stay in your lane. Stay focused on your goals. Block with respect and let it all go.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Ettinger.
Jennifer Ettinger is social media correspondent and globally connected powerhouse. Jennifer is CEO of Pink Dreams Inc., a social media agency that provides Social PR strategies, access to her global team, public speaking, and more.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Thank you, Candice!
I want to share that my career has been a serendipitous journey:
One Facebook Post with my hashtag #PinkDreams
(P-Passion, I-Integrity, N-NewsWorthy, K-Kindness/Karma
D-Determination, R-Reputation, E-Excellence, A-Athletic Mindset, M-Mantras, S-Success) changed my life.
One Tweet changed my career. Through the power of social media, I was given opportunities for a lifetime.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting story has been leading annual campaigns for a media outlet at the Oscars. My role for several years included:
- Red carpet pre-interviews ( taken on my smartphone).
- Curating and working with a global team of outstanding social media correspondents.
- I was hosting an annual Oscars live-tweeting party. The overall goal of trending the outlet globally, which I am proud to say, was accomplished every year.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Of course! One of my funniest memories was when I was invited to the Television show THE INSIDER as an expert. My start time was 5 am. We had prepared a segment, and I felt confident with my content and delivery. However, as I was having my makeup done, a producer for the show came into the room and introduced herself. She advised me my original segment was canceled. Instead, I was to watch five videos and was to provide my commentary using specific adjectives. So I got onto the set and into the chair. We started to roll, and I was so overwhelmed with the changes I could not say the word “Tragedy.” No matter how I tried, I was struggling. Finally, the producer stopped rolling and shared, “Jennifer let’s move on as you are having a difficult time with the word, tragedy.” I realized it was now or never; I responded by laughing and saying clearly, “ I am a tragedy.” Everyone laughed, and we got the take on the next try.
My lessons learned: Be yourself, and humor has power. It shifted my fears so I could get grounded again to deliver my work professionally.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I LOVE this question! I have so MANY incredible mentors that changed my life. To continue the story from the last question, A man named Bryan changed my life. He saw the Facebook #pinkdreams post that I tag him in. I was planning a trip to LA and asked for the chance to meet him.
He was the man who invited me to the TV show and gave me my first national TV opportunity. I am forever grateful to Bryan and his kindness and generosity.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
What holds women back from founding their own companies is the fear of failing and juggling the many roles of women today, including motherhood. Society “expects” and encourages that “women can do it all,” yet the lack of resources and support are not at a level to promote female leadership growth. In addition, it is the lack of support from their “inner circle” encouraging them to take the leap of faith.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
As a society and as individuals, I believe we have a role in offering the next-gen of women the service of mentorship. My female mentors shaped me into the woman I am today. If “we” can start making ourselves available as part of a global mission, we can educate, inspire and empower the next generation of female founding leaders.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
One of my friends, a #NYFW designer, called 2020 the year of the woman.
Let’s take Covid, for example; women jumped on the power of the pivot. From starting online businesses to shifting their current business model, female entrepreneurs have dominated! Their passion, enthusiasm for the work they do is contagious!
Women have the innate ability to be creative, resourceful, and resilient. However, we also offer a different perspective. For example, you mention “intuitive” Well, I believe women are wired to listen to their guts which I think is a gift.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
My companies ( I have two Incs.) are run by me and me alone. Although I am married, my husband is very encouraging and supportive; he is not “here” to bail me out. I am proud to share my first Inc, Fit Your Style, Inc, is 18 years old, and Pink Dreams Inc is five years old.
No, they are not hobbies!
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
I do not believe everyone is cut out to be a founder of a business. People see the “frontstage” work: The interviews, the articles, and accolades; they aren’t privy to the “backstage” work demands. The to-do list never ends, you can build the most fantastic team, but you are responsible for putting out the fires at the end of the day. So, again, I say, you never take the foot off the “gas” pedal. So often, we call out “Plot Twist” and need to shift our work directly at a moment’s notice.
To be a founder takes resiliency, adaptability, and confidence that you have what it take to evoke change. It also means putting in the time needed regardless of the time or day of the week.
I feel a person who needs a steady paycheck, and stable work-life balance will do best working a regular “job.” But, hey, the world needs all of us! Being a founder is not for someone with a faint of heart!
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
I feel this word is overused yet underachieved. However, when we can feel confident in our skin, speak and lead with our truth, amazing things happen!
Within my vast career, there have been downfalls and losses. But, I realized there are times those closest to you will hurt you the most.
During this time, I had to stand firm in my beliefs and learn to speak my truth. When you are “real” and “true,” you will get through any obstacle standing in your way. Forgive and Let go.
2. Be Compassionate.
Compassion goes beyond feeling empathy. It fuels one to be a part of the change, to take action.
It is truly an honor to be a part of a moment or campaign changing people’s lives. Get messy! Get involved! Get into action!
3. Think PINK!
Pink Outside the Box. See what I did there ;) Do not be afraid of having a unique or crazy idea! I call it brandstorming. The world needs your “secret sauce.”
4. Tribe Alive!
Create a community of thought leaders within your tribe.
Be open to taking on the role of being a student or hearing opposite views; that is how we learn and grow as leaders. Diversity, inclusion are core values to cultivating a community.
5. Be aware but don’t compare.
Let go of the fear of comparison.
I wish I could have shared this wisdom with my younger self. But, no one is you, boo! It doesn’t matter if they “copy your words, your ideas, or parts of your brand. They can not do what you do. Period. I like to say, stay in your lane. Stay focused on your goals. Block with respect and let it all go.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I am in the season of my career where I have the excellent fortune of choosing my clients. I prefer to work alongside socially conscious companies that leave their legacy on the world or clients, creating radical “acceptance” towards a new way of thinking.
I also take on clients under the guise of #SocialGood (pro bono work) to serve as a light being in this world.
My favorite quote is: “The more you give, the more you receive. The more your receive, the more you give.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Honestly, I needed to pause and reflect on your question. So I am going to keep this simple and attainable to every person who reads our interview.
Be Kind. Show Compassion. It is in the little things, the gestures, a kind word, or a compliment that have the potential to turn a life around.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
What a powerful question, yet again! I would love to connect with Reese Witherspoon. Her #HelloSunshine initiatives are on a mission to change the narrative for women, all voices. From her book club to her media company, she has a clear directive to “create work that centers women and offers hope.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.