Kathleen Virginia Photography

Learn About This CEO's WTF Moment

5 Min Read

Rise as you raise others. That is the message driving the success of entrepreneur, Terri Brax. It has become her life's mission as she has expanded her reach from revamping child care services to empowering women across the country to pursue careers in technology.

Why Terri Brax?

As a young mother with a newly obtained master's degree under her belt, jumping back into the workforce meant first securing an exceptional childcare service that would incorporate educational and nurturing activities for her child. Unimpressed with the lackluster daycare and nanny services available, Brax embarked on an entrepreneurial journey. She created TeacherCare, a lifelong educational service that provides families with highly-qualified private teachers and educational nannies who create activities tailored to each child's specific needs and interests.

Brax's business progressively gained more traction over the course of the next two decades as it expanded its reach into major cities like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. However, like many female entrepreneurs, Brax began noticing that the obstacles she encountered during her fundraising process were specific to female founders. During this time, Brax was invited to join a women-only think tank to better understand why there were so many obstacles in the paths of women trying to launch and scale their startups. It was at this event that Brax realized women in Chicago, as well as all around the world, were starting groundbreaking businesses and raising impressive amounts of money. Yet they still faced gender biases that held them back from taking their businesses to the next level.

According to Brax, "It was then I had my aha moment— what we like to call 'WTF Moment.' I realized there really was a community of women who were willing to help other female founders and entrepreneurs change the future with their businesses. And these women were willing to come together to share stories, shed light on industry barriers, and give advice about how to tackle them."

WTF Is Women Tech Founders

This realization inspired Brax to launch her second startup, Women Tech Founders, a nonprofit media organization that serves as a power network for women by hosting events, offering mentorship opportunities, and curating entrepreneurship and founder-focused programming. While her intention for the business was, and still remains, inspiring women to get involved in technology, she has had to first help women overcome the barrier of misinformation.

She discovered very early on that women could not see themselves in the WTF community or even as women tech founders due to preconceived notions about tech. Many women feel that tech is a field for people sitting behind computer screens all day long, plugging and playing numbers. In order to combat this belief, Brax brought women in tech to the forefront of her platform to unravel any possible misconceptions.

Courtesy of Terri Brax

"We realized we needed to build an army of role models so other women and girls could see the power they could hold, to realize their potential. They hadn't been exposed to what we saw— passionate women of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds, who were leveraging technology to reach their dreams and improving the lives of millions in the process."

WTF is helping women thrive despite being the minority within the tech industry.

In order for women to excel as entrepreneurs while navigating male-dominated careers, Brax knew that they had to band together and leverage their shared resources to equalize power across gender lines. It may seem like too great a feat for one woman, even one company, to accomplish, but WTF is certainly leading the way.

Supporting Women In Tech

According to research conducted by Harvard Business Review, "women outscored men on 17 of the 19 key leadership capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders." Women bring innovation and problem-solving abilities while contributing towards the overall growth of a company. And preparing women for leadership positions in the tech field, where they will become increasingly more welcomed, has been a major priority for Brax.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com

Brax's fundraising experiences enlightened her to the deep inequality between male and female founders, so she made the decision to bootstrap WTF from the very beginning as a completely grassroots organization. And it has remained so ever since. Brax believes that unconscious bias is one of the leading drivers of the funding gap, but it is not the only problem. She knows that the lack of diverse people, voices, and experiences at the funding table are also hindering women from receiving the funds they need. But Brax is providing a opportunity to challenge the status quo for how society views women leaders.

Brax has made it the mission of WTF to create an army of diverse role models and give female founders direct access to investors. Her organization has successfully accomplished this by hosting several events such as a Founder & Funder networking night, pitch training, and their Fundher Pitch competition. Even with events that give female founders access to female-focused VC funders, Brax knows that this is enough to close the funding gap.

I believe having more female funders in the venture capital space will certainly help close the funding gap. But that's not the only way to solve this problem. It's not an either-or situation.

Closing The Funding Gap

Several studies have already shown that female-led startups have a higher ROI than male-only led startups, yet a mere 2.7% of all VC funds go to women. Brax refers back to a PwC research report that suggest not only does this reality mean missed investments for investors but also for our economies. By overlooking half the population, one that offers a particular abundance of potential, there is a direct impact on the productivity and competitiveness of the economy. With studies such as these, coupled with her lived experience as a female founder, Brax equips women with the necessary tools to become leaders in the tech space. She is building women up as leaders and skilled entrepreneurs who understand how to utilize technology to their advantage and make themselves more investable.

Courtesy of Terri Brax

As Brax continues to succeed as an entrepreneur and ally to all women, she is far from finished expanding WTF's mission and outreach. Their membership has already grown through word of mouth and community partnerships. Furthermore, online platforms have allowed more women to find empowerment through the organization. Their community that once exclusively focused on female founders is now welcoming women with positions at major corporations as well as entry-level women who show interest in careers in technology

Brax shares that she is excited to launch Women Tech Founders 2.0 at their upcoming conference on April 24th at Google in Chicago. She invites all who are interested to join the event and be inspired by these rockstar, gamechanging women who are paving the way for other women to succeed.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.