It all started with a dollar a day.
I am the youngest of eight children and when I was in the second grade, my mother began working full-time. There were four of us still living at home and someone needed to get dinner on the table. I worked out an arrangement with my mom to make sure dinner was on the table for a small fee of one dollar per day. Of course she helped me all the time, but nonetheless, I learned how to work for my money. Later, I picked up my brother’s paper routes.
This was just the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. At 25, I moved to Kenya to turn a hotel around that had more staff than guests, a 10% occupancy rate, and twelve wine glasses. I was the only woman, young, overly confident and attempting to manage a staff twice my age with hundreds of years of tribal history between them. I cried myself to sleep every night for six months. But that’s all part of the unpredictable journey of an entrepreneur.
Steve Dorfman, of Driven to Excel, recognizes that most entrepreneurs have been on unique journeys as their careers develop and morph. He interviewed me about my personal journey as an entrepreneur for his TV show, We Mean Business.
My Journey as an Entrepreneur
You can watch my interview with Steve in the following video. Some of the topics we discuss are:
- How my higher education path took a detour (I was an Ivy League drop out)
- The challenges and rewards of turning a Kenyan hotel around and starting an eco-safari company
- What happened when I sought out leadership training in Nairobi, but instead of leadership skills, learned about the surprising faces of racism
- The difference between managing and leading
- My belief that when you sell your company, you lose your identity and must take time to grieve
- How I decided to become a business development coach (and the difference between coaching, counseling and consulting)
- What my catalyst was for writing books, and the methodical path I went down to make it happen
- The four workforce trends headed our way, why organizations aren’t preparing for them, and why they should
It’s always fascinating to look back on our experiences and see how each step of the way has given us skills that apply to what we do today. Leadership lessons can happen in very unusual places. I would love to hear about your career journeys—entrepreneurial or otherwise. Please tell me in a comment below, send me an email, or find me on Twitter.