Lifestyle 13 May 2017
Let’s face it. Most of us could take better care of ourselves, especially when it comes to our food choices. This is usually doubly true of those with hectic work schedules.
Often life gets in the way and finding the time to really look after ourselves is hard. In today’s fast paced society where not only are we striving for success at work but at home too.
In fact, we are also often striving for the success of others, like our kids. Spending time running them back and forward between numerous sporting events and acting classes in hopes they will become the next Cam Newton or Emma Stone.
But the fact is, maintaining your health should be the most important thing. Above work, above the day to day to-do list. Because guess what, if you’re not healthy, you cannot succeed at home or work.
Eating For Success
Let’s look at a typical scenario: It comes to lunch time, you’ve been working since the early hours and your stomach thinks someone has sewn your mouth closed!
Hunger pangs are raging and cravings kick in for greasy fast food. Of course, this seems more appealing at the time than a salad, but the absence of essential nutrients in that burger can mean your post-lunch productivity will take a hit.
Do you know there are foods which adjust your brain chemistry? Lifting your mood, increasing your focus and leaving you energized? For your busy corporate executive or entrepreneur, a diet packed with ‘brain foods’ is a must.
Which Foods Are The Best For Brain Boost?
Fish – Salmon is particularly good for a brain boost. Rich with omega 3 essential fatty acids and a good source of vitamin B12, both of which are vital for a healthy mind
Eggs – Eggs are rich with protein which contains the amino acid tryptophan which helps make serotonin – the hormone responsible for making you feel happy. Eggs also contain vitamin B12 which aids memory and concentration.
Blueberries – Beneficial to memory and learning, blueberries are labelled as one of nature’s superfoods. They don’t just taste great but can protect the brain from stress and damage.
Leafy greens – Your favorite leafy green vegetables are rich in folic acid which is said to fend off memory loss, making spinach an excellent addition to any salad.
Although certain foods (such as those mentioned above) are excellent choices for boosting brain power in order to achieve success, it is important to understand why.
When it comes to nutrition, most people know some foods are good and some are bad. Most people think of this in the most simple terms of how food affects our weight, but it goes much further than that.
Different nutrients have different functions within the human body. Ensuring your diet is packed with the right nutrients can guide you on an unlimited path to success.
Fatty Acids – fatty acids, most notably the omega 3 variety, promote brain health and improve memory.
Glucose – the brain converts the foods we eat into glucose, which it then uses as fuel in order to allow the brain to work at its best and stay alert.
Amino Acids – amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Certain amino acids build neurotransmitters in the brain which control mood, motivation, anxiety, learning and memory.
Antioxidants – Free radicals are created when glucose is processed into energy. This is a natural and important process, however, too high a number of free radicals can be harmful to cells and can cause numerous diseases including cancer. Antioxidants fight free radicals and are important to help your brain stay healthy.
Timing Is Crucial
Not only is good nutrition a factor in how successful you are, but the timing of when you eat could also play a major role. This is why it is important to not allow hunger to dictate your eating patterns.
Breakfast is known for being the most important meal of the day, but the harsh reality is that up to 30% of the population skip it. Research suggests that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and for children even school attendance.
Research suggests that the best time to have breakfast is between 7 and 7:30 a.m., lunch between 12:30 and 1 p.m., and dinner between 6 and 6:30 p.m.
Although this can be difficult what with sporadic meetings daily, but having rough guidelines of meal structure is certainly beneficial.
7 Min Read
Amid the mainstream conversation about inclusion and justice in the workplace, otherwise known as #MeToo, a Silicon Valley venture capital fund considered how they can be more inclusive of the women, minority, and LGBTQ entrepreneurial communities.
Their solution? Ask the CEOs they currently fund to promise to hire senior-level employees from diverse backgrounds.
Lightspeed Venture Partners, a venture capital fund that has investments with blockbuster startups such as The Honest Company, Affirm, and HQ Trivia, has asked its portfolio company CEOs to sign a “side letter" affirming their commitment to consider women and other underrepresented groups for senior jobs and new spots on their board of directors.
Can making pledges— or even hiring a C-Suite level employee to manage diversity efforts— really make an impact on the funding gap for multicultural women-led companies?
Many experts say it's going to take systemic change, not letters of intent.
It is well reported that the amount of investment going to multicultural women-led companies is incongruous to the entrepreneurial landscape and the performance of their businesses. Between 2007 and 2016, there was an increase of 2.8 million companies owned by women of color. Nearly eight out of every 10 new women-owned firms launched since 2007 has been started by a woman of color yet, these businesses receive an abysmal 0.2 percent of all funding. Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller, founders of Mented cosmetics, were just the 15th and 16th Black women in history to raise $1M in the fall of 2017.
The multicultural women who do defeat the odds to get funded receive significantly less than male founders. The average startup founded by a Black woman raises only $36,000 in venture funding, while the average failed startup founded by a White man raises $1.3M before going out of business.
The implicit and explicit bias not only impacts individual multicultural female founders, it could be stifling innovation. For example, companies with above-average diversity on their management teams reported innovation revenue as 45 percent of total revenue compared to just 26 percent of total revenue at companies with below-average management diversity. That means nearly half the revenue of companies with more diverse leadership comes from products and services launched in the past three years.
In our economy today, venture capital is responsible for funding the work of our most innovative companies. Venture capital-backed U.S. companies include some of the most innovative companies in the world. In 2013, VC-backed companies account for a 42 percent of the R&D spending by U.S. public companies.
With a wealth of multicultural women entrepreneurs and evidence to support the performance of diverse companies, why does this funding gap persist?
According to Kristin Hull, founder of Oakland-based Nia Impact Capital and Nia Community, many traditional investors consider women or minority-led businesses as a category in their portfolio, like gaming tech or consumer packaged good. Hull, who focuses on building portfolios where financial returns and social impact work hand-in-hand, argues gender and ethnicity are not a business category and investors who dedicate a specific percent of their portfolio to diverse companies are the ones missing out.
“We are doing this backwards," says Hull. “Adding diverse, women-run companies actually de-risks an investment portfolio."
Hull points to research that has found women are more likely to seek outside help when a company is headed for trouble and operate businesses with less debt on average. What's more, a study conducted by First Round Capital concluded that founding teams including a woman outperform their all-male peers by 63 percent.
Ximena Hardstock, a 43-year-old immigrant from Chile experienced this bias first hand before she raised $5.1M for her tech startup. “How do you get an investor to notice you and take you seriously?" says Hardstock. “White men from Harvard have a track record and investors are all looking for entrepreneurs that fit the Zuckerberg mold. But a woman from Chile with an accent who started a technology company? There is no track record for that and this is a problem so many women of color face."
Hardstock came to the U.S. from the suburbs of Santiago when she was just 20-years-old. Alone with no family or connections in the U.S., Hardstock worked as a cleaning lady, a bartender, and a nanny before she began teaching and working in education. “I had a lot of ideas and Chile is still a very conservative country," she says. “Most women become housewives but I wanted to do something different. So, I moved to the U.S."
Hardstock went on to earn a Ph.D. in policy studies, served as vice president of Advocacy for National StudentsFirst and worked as a member of Washington DC mayor Adrian Fenty's cabinet. Her experience working in both education and government exposed her to a need to simplify the process of connecting lawmakers with their constituents. As a result, Hardstock founded Phone2Action, a digital advocacy company that enables organizations and individual citizens to connect with policymakers via email, Twitter, Alexa and Facebook using their mobile phones.
Because venture capital and private equity are not necessarily meritocracies, Hardstock initially struggled to get in an audience with the right investors despite her company's growth potential, her experience, and her education. In fact, it wasn't until she won a competition at SXSW in 2015 that she could get an audience with a serious venture capitalist.
While it may seem like symptoms of a bygone era, both Hardstock and Hull say the path to investor relationships is forged in places where many women of diverse backgrounds are not – ivy league organizations, golf courses and late night post-board meeting cocktails attended mostly by White men of means.
The history of venture capital has never been very balanced, according to Aubrey Blanche, global head of diversity at Atlassian software development company and co-founder of Sycamore, an organization aiming to fix the VC funding gap for underrepresented founders. “White and Asian men have built the venture system and for generations have been seeking out people like themselves to invest in."
Personal and professional networks are critical for founders to connect with investors, but many multicultural women don't have access to the networks their White peers have. According to a study conducted by PRRI, the average White person has one friend who is Black, Latino, Asian, mixed race, and other races. This common situation makes getting that all important warm introduction to established VCs very challenging for multicultural women founders.
“Is the ecosystem of your network equivalent to your net worth? Absolutely," says Hardstock. “For us, we have to build our own ecosystem and recreate what happens on the golf courses and at the Harvard reunions."
To Hardstock's point, most multicultural women with entrepreneurial aspirations lack that Ivy League network. According to reporting published in The New York Times, Black students make up just nine percent of the freshmen at Ivy League schools but 15 percent of college-age Americans. This gap has been largely unchanged since 1980.
While notable female investors such as Arlan Hamilton, Joanne Wilson, and Kathryn Finney are actively working to close the funding gap for women of color, only seven percent of current senior investing partners at the top 100 venture firms are women. Less than three percent of VC funds have Black and Latinx investment partners. Without an influential network, Hardstock and entrepreneurs like her are left screaming for a seat at the table.
When Black, Latina, and Asian women founders do get in the room with the right investors, they have to work harder to get the investors to relate to their products and services. “Entrepreneurs solve problems they understand," says Blanche. “When multicultural women entrepreneurs present their businesses to a homogenous group of male investors who may not be equipped to understand the idea, they may pass on an amazing business."
Take, for example, the founders of Haute Hijab or LOLA. Founders of both successful startups would have to explain the market for their services to a table occupied mostly by men who may never have considered that Muslim women want more convenient access to fashion and have never considered women might prefer to purchase organic tampons.
This lack of familiarity typically means reduced funding for women and a host of other consequences.
As one recent study pointed out, even the way investors frame questions to women can impact funding. According to the Harvard Business Review, female founders are often asked “prevention-oriented" questions focused on safety, responsibility, security, and vigilance. Male founders, on the other hand, are often asked questions focused on hopes, achievement, advancement, and ideals.
When all of these factors are considered, a side letter may not be enough to begin to close the funding gap.
Both Blanche and Hull say real change can be made by democratizing information and education on impact investing. Both women say educating investors and MBA candidates about impact investing is the best way to overcome current bias.
Blanche's organization, Sycamore, produces a newsletter for new angel investors who want to help close the funding gap while making money in the process. Hull's firm has an internship program for multicultural girls from Oakland to expose them to the worlds of investing, entrepreneurship, business leadership, and financial literacy.
“I'm excited about the changes I see," says Blanche. “I see more firm employing the Rooney Law on an institutional level, an increase in smaller firms looking at underserved communities, and the democratization of institutional funding."
Hull adds that as long as multi-cultural women-led firms continue to show returns and outperform or perform on par with companies founded by White men, the investor community will rethink their portfolio strategies.
This piece was originally published in 2018.