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Female Founders: Sara Connors of H2O Media On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

That success is not rainbows and butterflies but it looks more like sweat, blood and sleepless nights. It takes years and experience to finally appreciate and see the rewards of it and still then it may not be what you thought it was.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Connors.

Sara Connors is the CEO of H2O Media Inc. Established in 2009, H2O is a fast growing advertising agency that has been listed on the Inc5000 twice for the fasted growing companies in America. H2O Media Inc has agency created pages listed in all the top national magazines and websites.

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?

It was a winding path for sure! I completed my college degree in Health Science and moved onto my first job selling post operative medical equipment. During this time in my career I realized I loved sales but wasn’t enjoying what I was selling. A friend of mine had a start up ad agency and needed some help selling advertising space. She asked me if I would work part time while still working my full time medical sales job. Within a month I fell in love with advertising and never looked back.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I started my advertising agency at 27 years old. My favorite part of my job is negotiating rates with publishers and I can get a little rough sometimes. One of my publishers finally met me in person and was completely shocked when I walked in the room. He said he imagined someone in their 60s who had a rough life and probably looked worn and in their 80s. We laughed a lot about that!

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?

The silliest mistake I made was thinking I knew everything when I started my business. The years and hardships have humbled me and I’m more open than ever on taking advice from others and making changes year by year.

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?

My local women’s entrepreneur group has been a wonderful support system for me. Their advice and help in solving problems has been so valuable to my career and balance of my personal life.

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?

I think what is holding women back is work/life balance. Starting a new business takes more hours then we have in a day and balancing that with a family life can be difficult. I’ve been lucky that I have a partner that supports and helps me a lot!

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?

More support for working Moms, affordable childcare and more programs that mentor young female entrepreneurs.

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?

Women founders understand products and services that will benefit Women which is needed in many markets.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

That being a founder is about starting a business and then sitting back while everyone does the work for you. The best founders are very involved and still working side by side with their team to lead their companies to success.

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?

No, not everyone is meant to be a founder. I’m always working, problem solving and creating even when sitting on a beach on vacation. If you want to only be doing this 9–5pm then you need to seek a “regular job”

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

That success is not rainbows and butterflies but it looks more like sweat, blood and sleepless nights. It takes years and experience to finally appreciate and see the rewards of it and still then it may not be what you thought it was.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I’ve used my skills to help volunteer locally with for our sports associations for marketing and advertising. I co-founded a non-profit called the Give Back Kids and our H2O team did a 25 mile hike in 1 day that gave thousands to children’s cancer. In all of my volunteer opportunities I use my advertising and marketing skills.

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.

Most people struggle finding the right job and many employers struggle to hire good, hard working employees. I’d love to help close that gap by getting both the right connections. I’ve always wanted to help the less fortunate land better jobs.

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.

I have lot on my list that I admire but if I had to choose probably Brene Brown.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



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