Business 01 May 2017
There’s a big shift that happens when you finally pony up the courage to leave your comfortable, full-time, often lucrative position in the pursuit of following your gut and your dreams. Creating your own company is one of the largest (and most impactful) leaps of faith you’ll ever take in your life, and stepping off that ledge into the vast unknown probably shook your spirit. But when you look back on those pivotal first days of creating your business plan, finding your first set of investors and buying that dot com, you likely have stars in your eyes, thinking of how much you’ve loved your company since the get-go.
To both your friends and your employees (and maybe your board), you lovingly refer to your business as your ‘baby’ - and that’s probably because it feels how you’d imagine being a parent feels. Even in the darkest hours (and with the late night phone calls and the carpal tunnel), you would do most anything to make your company successful. Why? It’s a calling and an innate passion inside of you. And nope, we’re not just talking in idioms here - it’s actually scientifically backed.
According to a recent study conducted at Aalto University in Finland, researchers discovered that entrepreneurs love their companies just like parents love their children. Published in the March 2017 edition of The Journal of Human Brain Mapping, scientists studied MRIs to compare the brain as it responds to seeing images of companies, versus children. (Though they tested men and fathers in this particular study, we’re sure the same is true for women - and if we had to guess, women might even love harder.)
While looking at sweet shots of their babes and then ones of their company, researchers were able to conclude that both entrepreneurial love and parental love impact the same region of the brain. This section is associated with high emotional processing and consideration, skills you'd need to have both to raise a business and to nurture a child.
Erin Motz, the co-founder of the yoga and lifestyle brand, Bad Yogi, relates, saying, “I don’t have children yet but I always swear by the fact that I do love my business like a child. It doesn’t matter what it does to me; it can make me lose sleep, wake up early, stay up late, eat too little because it makes me busy or eat too much because it makes me stressed. I don’t care if it throws up all over me, there’s nothing else I’d rather spend my time with.”
Erin Motz, Bad Yogi. Photo: Erin Motz
An interesting takeaway is just how much being motivated and inspired by love can put up blinders for you. When you’re engaging the part of your brain that encourages unconditional love, you also suppress the other area of your cognition that is critical and negative. In other words? You always think highly of your children… and ahem, that your business is the best. Even if, sometimes, that’s not always the most accurate portrayal of either.
As Melissa Fensterstock, founder of Aromaflage says, “As an entrepreneur, you must be aware that your creation may have faults and may need to pivot. Sometimes it takes an outsider with a fresh perspective to bring clarity to an emotionally charged situation."
Melissa Fensterstock. Photo: HBS
"While entrepreneurs must be optimistic almost to a fault," Fensterstock continues, "they must also take care to evaluate risk and execute decisions with a clear and unbiased mind.”
A tall order for both an entrepreneur and a parent. If you find yourself faced with tough choices, try to get an outsider's perspective - one who isn’t cradling your precious one day-in and day-out. Since you carefully took care of your baby when it was a heavily diapered and unpredictable newborn, having someone else to weigh in can offer the objective reality check you need. Remember to keep in mind that those maternal skills are still beneficial and well, part of the job description of the CEO.
“To say that I'm maternal and protective about Feastive would be an understatement. I don't actually have a baby so I can't really compare it to the real thing, but startups are all nurtured from an idea – the ‘embryo’ if you will – into an infancy that is both perilous and highly rewarding. Every day brings something new to the table, and there's a never-ending sense of worry paired with discovery that I imagine is just like having an actual child,” says Debbie Soo, founder of Feastive.com.
6 Min Read
I live the pain and stress of being black in America every day: I am a black woman, the mother of a black son, sister to black men, and aunt to my black nephews. I remember what it was like as a young girl to be afraid to go to Howard Beach for fear of being chased out. I know what it's like to walk on Liberty Avenue and be called "nigger" and being so young that I didn't understand what the word meant, I had to ask my mother. I know too well that feeling in the pit of your stomach when a police car pulls up behind you and even though you know you haven't done anything wrong you fear that your life may be in danger from what should be a simple encounter. Like all African Americans, I am tired of this burden.
African Americans have a long history of having to fight for our humanity in America. We have had to fight for freedom, we have had to fight for equality, and we have had to fight for our lives. The fight continues to go on. I have often quoted that line from the character Sophia in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "All my life I had to fight." When I say this to my white counterparts it can sometimes be uncomfortable because it's clear that they just don't get it. They view it as melodramatic. But it's not. It's part of the black experience, and it is the part of the black experience that black people don't want.
I have often quoted that line from the character Sophia in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "All my life I had to fight."
While I was out yesterday, passing out PPE and talking to people, a woman asked me, "What is it going to take for this to change?" I told her that I think peaceful protesting is a good start. But it's just the start. We can't elect the same people for the past 20-30 years, some in the same positions, and then talk about how nothing has changed in the past 30 years.
This injustice, inequality, and inequity will not spontaneously disappear. It will take bold, outspoken, and fearless leadership to eradicate the systemic racism in our country. We must address the violence at the hands of a police force paid to serve and protect us. We must address the recurring experience of black people being passed over for a promotion and then being asked to train the white person who was hired. We must address the inequities in contract opportunities available to black businesses who are repeatedly deemed to lack the capacity. We must address the disparity in the quality of education provided to black students. We must address the right to a living wage, health care, and sick pay.
While we like to regard the system as broken, I've come to believe the system is working exactly as it was meant to for the people who are benefiting from it. We need a new system. One that works for all of us. I am running to become the mayor of New York City because I can't assume there's another person who has the courage to do the work that needs to be done to create a fair and just city.
We can't elect the same people for the past 20-30 years, some in the same positions, and then talk about how nothing has changed in the past 30 years.
There are some things we may not be able to change in people, but at this moment I think that whether you are black, white, purple, or yellow we all should be looking internally to see what is one thing that you can do to change this dynamic. Here's where we can start:
If we want change, we need a total reform of police departments throughout this country. That is going to require taking a hard look at our requirements to become a police officer, our disciplinary procedures when civilian complaints are filed, and a review of what and how we police. No one deserves to lose their life based upon the accusation of carrying counterfeit cash. We also need to hold police officers accountable for their actions. While it is their duty to protect and serve they should not be above the law. Even at this very moment, police officers are overstepping their boundaries.
If we want change, we have to build a sense of camaraderie between the police and community. A sense of working together and creating positive experiences. We have to be honest about the fact that we haven't allowed that to happen because we have utilized our police department as a revenue-generating entity. We are more concerned with cops writing tickets than protecting and serving. Even during these moments of protest we are witness to the differences made when the police supported the protesters and stood hand in hand with them or took a knee. It resulted in less violence and more peaceful protest. People felt heard; people felt respected; people felt like they mattered.
While we like to regard the system as broken, I've come to believe the system is working exactly as it was meant to for the people who are benefiting from it. We need a new system.
If we want change, we have to be willing to clean house. And that means that some of you are going to have to step up to the plate and take roles of leadership. In my city alone, there are 35 city council seats that are term-limited in 2021. There are some that aren't termed but maybe their term should be up. Step up to the plate and run. If nothing else it will let our elected officials see that they need to stop being comfortable and do more. We don't need you out in the street taking selfies or reporting the problems to us. We need solutions. We need you in a room implementing policies that will ensure that these things don't continue to happen.
If we want change, we need to support grassroots candidates that are not in corporate pockets, who are not taking PAC money, and who really want to make a difference to their community. We need candidates that know first-hand and can relate to the experiences that many of us are going through.
We are at a pivotal moment. It is inspiring to see people from all races and backgrounds in the streets protesting, standing up for justice, and wanting to see change. We must seize this moment, but we must also be mindful that change requires more.
People often ask me why I decided to run for office? I am running for me. I am running for the little girl that was called nigger on Liberty Avenue. For the woman who has been pulled over for no reason. For my nephew who was consistently stopped during the era of stop and frisk. I am running for your son, your brother, and your nephew. I am running so that the next generation will never have to say, "All my life I had to fight." Because although we won't stop until we see justice and changes that address inequality and inequity effectively, this fight is exhausting.