Career Series No. 13- Entrepreneur
Hi guys! Today I’m really excited to share Georgene’s career experience with you. She’s kicking butt as one of the founders of a new company review site for women, by women, and it’s super interesting to read about.
I know that so many of you are entrepreneurs at heart, so hopefully this post will inspire you to take your business idea (or blog) to the next level!
Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
What did you want to be when you were growing up and why?
I went through a lot of different phases, the way I imagine a lot of kids do. At 5 I remember telling my dad I wanted to become President and then feeling devastated because he told me I wasn’t born in the U.S. But the most lasting career ambition I had growing up was to become a classical musician. I loved music, and I have been playing the piano since I was young. At 17, my first college experience was actually at a music conservatory. The fact that I’m not a musician today and that I’ve had so many different jobs in various industries just shows that you can really “start over.”
What is your current job?
I’m one of the founders of Fairygodboss.com — an anonymous company review site for women, by women.
How did you land that position? (What made you want to pursue that?)
My story is really simple. I was pregnant and looking for a new job. I was using my personal network to find out which places were good for working moms, and trying to figure out the maternity leave policies of different companies because it’s not professionally nor socially acceptable to ask those things during interviews. I had a really hard time finding this really important information except through word-of-mouth. And I didn’t think this made much sense in a day and age when so much information is online. Fairygodboss helps women who are interested in getting the inside scoop on organizational culture from the female perspective. You can read our anonymous reviews, see crowd-sourced info, and send anonymous messages to other women who’ve left reviews based on their title, salary or opinions.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
One great thing about being my own boss is that you can focus on whatever is most urgent, and also do things based on your own energy levels. For example, I am much better at focusing in the morning, so I try to spend the early part of the day doing stuff that requires uninterrupted thinking like business strategy or product development. I try to save my afternoons and evenings for calls, emails, meetings and dealing with any admin issues.
What do you love most about it?
I love that I really believe in what I’m doing. I’ve been a corporate attorney, a private equity and hedge fund analyst, and also a corporate executive. In each of my prior jobs, I worked really hard and really believed in the value of what my company was trying to do. But when it’s something personal that you choose to work on, its a different story. My company is trying to make the workplace better for women. The reason that I focus on women is that I know that women don’t have a very easy time in the workplace. There are too few role models, it can be lonely because its not professionally acceptable to talk about how hard it can be, and there are a lot of personal and social conflicts that men just don’t necessarily face. It’s very motivating to know that what we’re doing helps real women out there.
What do you hate most about it?
When you work at an established company, you have a lot of help with small, tedious tasks like paying the bills, proof-reading contracts, and checking to see whether a product release has any bugs. With your own company, you have employees and some help, but you need to do a lot more of these things yourself.
What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to you at work?
The best thing is hearing support and enthusiasm from users we’ve spoken to about what we’re trying to do. Women reach out to us to tell us their personal and career stories. These stories are incredibly moving and inspirational. Some of these women have gone through terrible things at work and have never had any support or way to really address those issues because the “official” channels either intimidated them or they felt like they really couldn’t raise their voices without jeopardizing their careers. Other women really just want to support fellow women and tell them about how great their bosses or jobs or departments are and how there’s real gender equality at their company. The fact that there are such huge differences between companies makes this kind of transparency really important for any woman to know when she’s thinking about taking a new job or changing jobs.
What strengths do you think are necessary for someone to be successful at this job?
Extreme persistence, self-motivation and the ability to wear lots of different hats. You have to touch every piece of the business as an early-stage company founder (product development, design, marketing, sales, legal, finance) and while that’s a lot of fun, it also can be very daunting. You have to keep trying and you have to be willing to do things you’ve never done — even and especially — when they don’t go well at first.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone who’s looking to pursue this as a career?
I actually don’t really believe entrepreneurs need much advice about when or how to become an entrepreneur because if you’re this kind of person you will just “do it” when the time is right. It is infinitely easier if you have support networks, e.g. a professional or social network that has been entrepreneurial and can give you advice about starting companies. If you don’t have much of one, that doesn’t mean you can’t develop one while you’re starting out, but it’s just one more thing you will have to do while you’re juggling everything else. It might be something you want to spend some time cultivating before you start your own company.
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