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Why Mentorship Matters + Funding Tips for Women Entrepreneurs

Business

Quilt host Zeina Muna explains why it's important to seek out a mentor, and shares tips on how to get started. To join a Quilt chat with a leader like Zeina, click here.


There are several different ways to approach mentorship, whether you're an entrepreneur seeking advice, an experienced person looking to share, or an employee looking to deepen your relationship to your work and your professional community. Whatever way you approach it, however, there's no denying its importance. Among entrepreneurs and professionals, mentorship is consistently touted as a crucial piece to the success story.

Zeina Muna is the director of business development at iFundWomen, an organization that works to facilitate funding and investment for women-owned startups. In her role, she mentors women on how to obtain the dollars that primarily — and consistently — tend to favor white male-owned businesses. For Zeina, the relationship between obtaining funding to get a business off the ground and mentorship is inextricably linked.

Zeina says that a whopping 48 percent — almost half — of the women she works with say that a lack of available mentors and advisors hold them back. Companies like iFundWomen are one approach to the solution. Others are more individually-based.

"Co-working spaces, communities, and organizations specifically for women, like Quilt, all help to break down those barriers that leave female entrepreneurs feeling isolated and disconnected from their resources," she says.

Finding a Mentor

Zeina believes that most women are naturally social creatures — and it's likely that that percentage increases when considering success-driven or professional women specifically.

Seeking out a mentor isn't just about the benefits; she says—"it's absolutely critical that you don't attempt any growth journey alone."

A mentor doesn't have to be a completely formal arrangement. Zeina likens a mentor to a professional "bestie," who hones in on the professional aspects of your life. This ranges from conversations about your career or business path to advice on what to invest in.

"Really," says Zeina, "you are looking for peers, people who have done what you are about to do, as well as people who have not yet started the journey." That's right — Zeina recommends having both mentors who are more experienced AND less experienced than you. "You can absolutely learn from both," she says.

In no way is this limited to fellow women. "Rather than considering the gender of the mentor," says Zeina, "it's more important to have a mentor that's in your industry or knows very well the particular challenges you are currently facing."

Still, there's something to say about seeking out advice and professional community from and with other women. Most women, Zeina says, are good connectors. "There are lots of opportunities now to get advice from other women through a community — whether it's IRL or virtual," she says.

A Personal Mentorship Journey

Zeina has several people in her life that she considers to be mentors. "I have a couple of go-to people that I talk to about my trajectory on a periodical basis, and I have people that I look up to and follow without them even knowing it," she says. It's important to remember — especially when considering online interactions — that you can absolutely learn from others without them knowing your story.

Group conversations — like Quilt chats and gatherings — are a great way to find mentors, and to flex the muscle of being a mentor to someone else, says Zeina. She considers this to be a major secret in the mentorship process. "Sometimes listening is the best way to learn," she says. "If someone is asking for help, absolutely give it — but sometimes we can help each other in ways that are more subtle and invisible."

Mentorship Bonus: Tips for Women Seeking Funding from Zeina Muna

  1. Don't go looking for VC or angel investment until you have solid proof of concept, proof of demand, and a successful working MVP (minimum viable product).
  2. Crowdfunding can be a low-risk, highly-efficient path to getting your startup, small business, nonprofit, or side hustle off the ground without going into debt, and without giving up equity.
  3. Practice a confident and results-based pitch before having a conversation with an investor.
  4. Get advice from other women who have been through the process — utilize all the coaching and mentorship you can get from others!

iFundWomen is helping to close the funding gap to female entrepreneurs by guiding them through their fundraising journey. For more information, click here.

Quilt is a mobile app that offers a deeper sense of connection in the modern world by making it easier for women to come together for real conversations online and offline. Download the app and join us for a chat, gathering, or house party!

6 Min Read
Health

Five Exercises That Will Keep You Healthy At Home While Social Distancing

Gyms and workout studios are closing across the nation.


People are being asked to stay at home in order to slow the further spread of the highly infectious COVID-19 (coronavirus). And for good reason; the gym is a well-known and populated place where germs can be easily spread. A new study has shown that the coronavirus can live on surfaces — those popular free weights, cable machines, treadmills, and floor mats — for up to three days, so your sweat towel is not going to do the job.

And between all of the excessive hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial purchasing, fears of contracting the virus have many people on edge — the combination of breaking news and misinformation on social media is enough to put anyone in a state of panic, stress, or depression (or all of the above). Thankfully, many are taking the government's requests to practice social distancing very seriously, and while the unknown and a drastic change in lifestyle can be quite stressful, I have a proposal. While we continue to be vigilant to not spread this disease further, use this time at home for more self-care and to focus on (or adopt) a fitness routine.

Benefits of Exercise

The body's natural release of endorphins is enhanced during bouts of physical activity, and this surge in "happy" hormones can boost your mood, your confidence, and help reduce your levels of stress and anxiety.

Along with what we eat, where we live, how much we sleep, and even who we live with — exercise also causes chemical reactions that can alter our health status. Regular exercise has been linked to improved heart health, improved bone density, improved joint mobility, improved cognition, improved mood, enhanced metabolic function, an increase in muscular mass, tone, and strength. The list goes on, but during stressful times, one of the greatest benefits of performing regular exercise is its ability to make the activities of everyday life feel easier.

It's About Balance

"Exercise stress," when managed well, is a healthy stress that over time pushes your body to adapt and become stronger and more efficient. Some studies suggest exercising on a regular basis is beneficial for immunological health, as it can have a positive effect on your body's ability to remain well and fight off common illness. Other studies have found that during flu season, the temporary rise in body temperature during physical activity can discourage certain bacterial growth and the stress relief benefits of exercise helps to keep you feeling at your best.

If you do choose to work out when you're sick, you need your immune system to be firing on all cylinders, so you must carefully manage the duration, intensity level and overall volume of your exercise routines. Managing your exercise routine, consuming a healthy diet, and getting enough rest are just a few great ways you can strive toward getting the best physical and emotional results, and avoid overexertion while sick.

Working Out At Home

The good news — being stuck at home doesn't mean you should stop working out — in fact, working out will likely help you maintain a feeling of normalcy and protect your psyche while you're cooped up in your house. Exercise can help you maintain a centered and more rational mindset. You can work out anywhere no matter how much space you have. All you need is your own body weight and exercises where minimal equipment is required.

You can do a quick full-body exercise routine at any time to stretch and strengthen your body.

Here are five exercises to do at home.

If you're interested in finding some more routines to do in the comfort of your home, you can access this free fitness portal.

Reps: Perform 10-12 of each exercise. Repeat the exercises 4 times for a complete routine.

Time to Complete: About 20 minutes.

Triceps dip with reach

This exercise targets the backs of the arms and shoulders.

  • Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent.
  • Place your hands behind you with your fingers facing your body.
  • Lift your butt up off the floor so that you are supported by your arms and feet.
  • Bend your arms at the elbow until your butt touches the floor then push back up to the starting position.
  • If you want an extra challenge as you push up lift your left leg and reach forward with your right arm.

Push ups

This is a total-body exercise as it requires the use of lots of muscle groups.

  • Lay face down on the floor and position your hands palms-down on the floor, approximately shoulder-width apart and near your shoulders.
  • The balls of your feet should touch the ground and feet just slightly apart.
  • Raise yourself using your arms.
  • Make a straight line from your head to your heels and contract your abdominals to keep your hips from sagging. This position is the beginning and the end position of a single push-up. Lower your chest toward the floor by bending your elbows hold for a second then return to the start.

Hands and knees balance with crunch

This exercise challenges your balance and works your abdominal muscles.

  • Get onto the floor on all fours. Hands directly under the shoulders, knees under your hips. Keep your back flat. Raise your right arm forward and your left leg back behind you. Bring your knee toward your chest at the same time as bringing your elbow to meet your knee.
  • Do these 10 times then switch legs.

Squat

This is a functional exercise that works the largest muscle group in the body — your butt and legs.

  • Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles. Extend arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down. Start by getting into a position as If you are going to sit in a chair. While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight. Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.
  • The best squats are the deepest ones your mobility allows. Optimal squat depth would be your hips sinking below the knees.
  • Engage core and, with bodyweight in the heels, push back up to standing, driving through heels.

Reverse Lunge with knee lift

This exercise targets the front and back of your legs.

  • With your chest lifted, chin up and abs contracted, take a big step backward with your left foot. Sink straight down so that your back knee points down toward the floor. You are on your back, left toe. Your front foot is firm on the floor, as you push back to the starting position lift your knee up in front of you hold for a second then repeat and switch legs.

In short, use this downtime to practice self-care and make time to take care of your body. Don't let yourself miss out on all of the wonderful health benefits associated with exercise. But remember, if you are sick and choose to work out, listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard with your exercise routine, or you can risk a temporary decline in immunological function.