People 04 December 2018
When Monique Idlett-Mosley was twenty-two years old, she talked herself into a sales job at USA Today that she was in no way qualified for. The woman interviewing her decided to play the long shot and give her a chance. That gamble paid off and now Idlett-Mosley works to help other woman in the same way she was helped – by giving them a break in a way the majority of others will not – by funding their business ideas.
Idlett-Mosley makes the magic happen via Reign Venture Capital, which she founded with business partner Erica Duignan Minnihan. It was in business school that Idlett-Mosley met Minnihan. Idlett-Moslet was smart to partner with her as Minnihan was already active in angel investing and involved with 1000 Angels.
“Together we are able to provide our portfolio with unique guidance on both capital and business strategy needed to accelerate growth, build a successful company, and get them to exit,"
Minnihan has spent her entire career in finance, working with public companies in investment banking at both Citigroup and Credit Suisse for the first eight years of her career. For the last twelve years, she's been investing in early-stage private companies, with transactional experience on hundreds of investments spanning over a decade. “Together we are able to provide our portfolio with unique guidance on both capital and business strategy needed to accelerate growth, build a successful company, and get them to exit," Idlett-Mosley says.
It was meeting and talking to Minnihan that led Idlett-Mosley down the investment trail and to found Reign Ventures, a $25 million fund. Reign is “an early stage investment firm that focuses on women and minority led startups.
The fund invests at the Seed and Series A Stage in promising technology and tech-enabled startups with high-potential founders" and has worked with companies that include LISN and Appy Couple. Since 2009, black women have received only .0006 percent of all tech venture funding. In an effort to change that, Reign ventures also serves as a mentorship network.
Idlett-Mosley's career has included working in sales, marketing, and public relations for clients that included Kanye West, Verizon, Burrell Communications, T.I., and Timbaland. Then, in 2008, Idlett-Mosley married Tim “Timbaland" Mosley and then served as CEO of Mosley Brands and Mosley Music Group, whose roster includes Timbaland, One Republic, Nelly Furtado, and Chris Cornell.
She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Always Believing Foundation, which seeks to find innovative and empowering solutions to combat childhood obesity and to promote healthy lifestyles and expression through education and communication. Since 2014, she served as a National Trustee for The Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition to the previously mentioned roles, Islett-Mosley is also on the Board of Directors for The Miami Bridge, a south Florida based nonprofit organization that provides emergency shelter, food, and counseling for at-risk youth and has previously served on the board of the Ryan Cameron Foundation.
Idlett-Mosley offers a unique approach to leveling the playing field for women and minorities when it comes to raising capital. Women and minorities receive less than 1% of total venture capital dollars annually. Why? Because of the homogeneity of investment managers, she says. “Take a look at the top Venture Capital funds, and you'll find the investment team is 99% white males."
It doesn't make sense considering that women and minorities contribute billions in investment dollars to the institutions (such as pension funds and insurance companies) allocating capital for investment, she explains. “It is critical they be active as investment managers and as founders receiving that funding. A big roadblock for black and women founders is 'unconscious bias' on the part of investors. As black women, we don't suffer that handicap when evaluating a deal."
Idlett-Mosley has truly taken a page from her background in entertainment (and managing artists) to build a machine that allows startup founders to find real success. “In the music industry, we find the 'it' factor and in-house we nurture the artist, from a development perspective and we provide all support through a machine." Within that “machine" they have PR, marketing, digital, legal, and any additional else that might be needed to build a successful brand and artists. “There are many correlations between the two. I have not experienced any successful person get there alone."
One of the most important things women need to do, Idlett-Mosley says, is to support one another and be more willing to invest in one another. “We will see women who don't blink an eye at contributing hundreds of thousands to charity, but are absolutely paralyzed by the idea of making a $25,000 investment into a woman-led startup. Men, on the other hand, often get their funding from the guys they went to college or business school with. She says that as women, we have to be more comfortable talking with each other about investing, and supporting each other as business leaders. “It's not a favor. It's not charity. It's an investment. That's the way men look at it when they invest in their friends and colleagues."
"In order to achieve greater success, women need to start thinking bigger," Idlett-Mosley says. “We tend to aim much lower than we could, because we have fewer role models to look to when it comes to building a billion dollar business." From her point of view, many founders make the mistake of not realizing they need an addressable market of at least a billion dollars to be investable. “Instead of pitching investors their outsized goals, they present a “conservative" scenario that doesn't get any interest." She and her partner are making great strides to change that, one company at a time. “It takes an ecosystem of founders, investors, mentors, and employees; but that work is being done and we are on our way there."
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."