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From Model to CEO: 5 Lessons in Business From Simona Fusco

Business

Ever since I can remember, everyone told me I should be a model and actress and I will never forget how happy I was landing a job as a lead model at the young age of 8 for Lacoste, which was one of the major international advertising campaigns at that time. From that point everything happened so fast and I was catapulted into the entertainment business and began working as a full time model and actress. It was an endless roller coaster of job opportunities that I didn't have time to think!


It wasn't until the birth of my daughter, that I had an opportunity to slow down and think about my life. I remember clear as day that during that time of reflection, something inside me made me make the decision to slowly transgress from being an entertainer to working on something that I've always had a passion for, something that fulfilled me more than working as an actor and allowed me to help others.

Once I realized that, I never looked back. I looked at what my talents, passions, and interests were. I asked myself what could I see myself doing? Plans were laid and I began what would become the start of my company, 'Perfect 12', a high-end executive match-matching firm in Beverly Hills, California.

Here I am today, a successful business woman and owner of a company for over 10 years. I've learned so many invaluable lessons in that time. Some of which, I hope help you on the path to breaking through the business world glass ceiling.

Follow your instinct.

Women can be extremely critical of themselves and therefore hesitant to trust their gut instinct when it comes to many situations including business. I realized that in the past I was making a lot of my career decisions based upon what I thought was rationale and was told by others that it was the right thing to do. I learned over the years that following my internal instincts was less stressful, quicker and easier to make and nine out of ten times ended up being the “right" choice.

Don't be Afraid to Fail.

I cannot emphasize how important this lesson is. A lot of times women get intimidated being that it is still a predominantly male business world. You might think that successful people are just lucky or have the right connections but you forget that you are looking at the result of years of struggling, failure and hard work. I see every “failure" as another stepping stone to reaching my ultimate success. It is the ultimate teacher.

Find yourself a mentor

Rome wasn't created in one day and neither was any business. After all we aren't just business women. Women nowadays juggle motherhood while being a provider all at once! Start doing your research and find yourself a female role model who can share her experiences. They may be more difficult to find than their male counterpart but trust me, women nowadays are making powerful moves they just are not as publicized. Don't be afraid to ask your friends, family and colleagues for advice. Knowledge and wisdom are power and we can never have enough of either.

Don't take No for an Answer

Women are by nature generous and compassionate and therefore prone to settle even if it is not in their best interest. Never ever ever ever settle and don't be a follower. Challenge the status quo and be a leader and take smart and calculated risks in order to solve the problem before you.

Walk into every Meeting and Own it

Every heard the motto: Dress for success? I know that every woman has that one outfit in their repertoire that they feel confident in. Think of Jackie O, Grace Kelly or Oprah. Strong, intelligent, classy women that made an impact in the world all the while being dressed to impress. Whether it's that little black dress for that first date or that power suit for a business meeting. I certainly dress for the occasion and it gives me that extra boost of confidence. You are in charge and the more confident you are, the more people who are listening to what you have to say will feel your energy and that will give you even more confidence and success.

Rome wasn't created in one day and neither was any business. After all we aren't just business women. Women nowadays juggle motherhood while being a provider all at once!

The Quick 10

1. What app do you most use?
The app I most frequently use would be Facebook. It's a great way to promote my businesses and my press articles. It's also a great way to stay in touch with family and friends overseas.
2. Briefly describe your morning routine.
My morning routine starts out by making sure my daughter is off to school and my dog is fed. I'll have breakfast, check my messages, check in with my assistant and attack my schedule of the day. An average day typically consists of taking meetings with clients and doing interviews such as this.
3. Name a business mogul you admire.
There are so many moguls that I admire! One of them would be Oprah. I love her confidence, her style and her generosity. While she's incredibly successful she always remembers to give back. She's an innovator and a leader.
4. What product do you wish you had invented?
Apple of course!
5. What is your spirit animal?
My spirit animal would be a lion. It reminds me of my late mother who passed away from cancer. Her astrological sign was a Leo and she had the personality of a lioness. Fierce and a warrior.
6. What is your life motto?
Never never never EVER settle.
7. Name your favorite work day snack.
I typically don't snack and on the rare occasions that I do, it's typically with healthy, natural foods such as fruits, nuts and yogurt.
8. Every entrepreneur must be what to be successful?
Passionate and driven about what it is they're doing to be successful.
9. What's the most inspiring place you've traveled to?
Many places leave me with different inspirations. Europe makes me melancholic as it reminds me of my childhood. Hawaii makes me feel romantic. NYC inspires me and reminds me that the sky's the limit. It just depends where I am.
10. Desert Island. Three things, go.
Obviously my phone, my family and my dog lol not necessarily in that order!
Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.