5 Truths 2017 Taught This Startup Founder About Herself.
This is the part where I tell you all about the wins that 2050 and I have experienced over the past year. This is the part where I detail all of our stats and how we growth hacked the shit out of this startup biz. But the truth is, that’s way too performative for my taste. And while I do believe that companies are well within their rights to highlight and celebrate their 2017 wins, the last year with 2050 has been everything from weird, exhausting, unlike anything I would’ve hoped for, and somehow still everything I needed. So rather than exclusively sharing all of our wins, I’ve written about all the other learnings that need just as much spotlighting.
In 2017 I realized:
I shouldn’t define my or 2050’s success using someone else’s metrics.
First, let me say — 1. I’ve really grown to appreciate metrics. They’re an absolute necessity for testing hypothesis’, measuring progress, and general learnings. 2. Based on some other startups’ metrics, we didn’t grow that much at all this year. But my own standards, we grew more than we could’ve ever imagined. Starting a company has taught me patience, leadership, perseverance and all the adjectives that lie in between. Growth is subjective. Success is personal.
I don’t like to podcast, but I’ve gotten more comfortable with listening to my voice.
I mean that literally and figuratively. After having recorded and listened to countless hours of myself speaking, I’m okay with the sound of my voice. I may even like it. Our first podcast, though I ultimately decided to quit, did marginally better than I thought it would and it made me realize that other people like my voice, too. Not just my speaking voice, however. My writing has been published in multiple publications like here and here with combined readerships floating around 30.3 million.
I’ve gotten comfortable leading internal meetings where before I didn’t think my non-technical, lady voice was worth listening to (I see how ridiculous that is now). And I have become something of a mentor this year, too. My voice is both valid and likable and I’m committed using it more than ever before.
I love talking about diversity but I refuse to talk about it with everyone.
Just because my startup’s focus is diversity, doesn’t mean I have to engage with everyone about it. Most people don’t care about diversity beyond the PR ‘I’m doing something to ease my guilt’ charity kind of caring. If they did, we’d have a lot more mobility in the effort to enforce it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat through meetings with companies and individuals who’ve dog-whistled, used well-meaning — yet totally offensive — terminology for Black and Brown employees (ex. “We really need ‘high-quality’ candidates of color” or “we want to maintain quality, y’know”). So I’ve stopped trying to change ill-informed minds about the importance of racial and ethnic diversity and started focusing on those who truly believe in change and progression. This has been a key learning for me this year.
I’ve challenged myself.
There are some things that go along with starting a company that I never thought I’d be able to do. Do you understand how hard it is to consistently send out a weekly newsletter? I didn’t either (hence the many months of inconsistency) — until I challenged myself to not have a choice in the matter. I’ve put out newsletter every week since.
Public speaking was a big challenge, too but I’m noticeably calmer when I think of the prospect of speaking in front of a large group. I’ve also learned that I’m a great saleswoman and pitching is a breeze because people on the other end of it aren’t much smarter than me if at all. They’re usually just richer. And I would know none of this if I hadn’t challenged myself.
If you believe nothing else, know this* — The law of attraction is real.
I wholeheartedly believe in it. This time last year, I wanted to stop working my 9–5 to become a full-time social entrepreneur. I wanted to rid myself of personal debt in order to finance the business. I wanted to write more. I wanted to mentor other Black Women. And the list goes on. I can proudly say that I’ve accomplished all of these and next year will be no different. 2050.work and I are moving with intentionality and by the end of next year we’ll be profitable, have an office space, and will make our first hire. I’m not sure how — because I don’t have all of the answers, Sway — but I’m holding myself to it.
All in all — 2017 was net positive and if this year was a small indicator of what’s to come, I’m excited! See you in the new year!
Call To Action
2050.work is dedicated to making diversity a reality. We’re launching a job search tool that connects candidates of color to innovative companies. Be the first to know when it launches here . Or drop us a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) to join the conversation.