Empowered Vulnerability

Education is the one thing no one can ever take away from you.
— Mom

I’ve lived by those words ever since my mother drilled them into my mind from the time I was a child.

And so I studied hard. I worked hard. I tried hard to always be the best. I was never the smartest girl in class. I never knew all the answers or how to “get ahead” at my job. But I worked hard. And in doing so, I outworked everyone around me until I had the courage to pursue my entrepreneurial dream of being a boss ass bitch.

That was when the education really happened. Up until that point, I lived by the textbook. I lived by the rules. I followed the rules. When the market crashed in 2008, I learned that the “rules” don’t actually exist. It was an illusion that I had trapped myself into believing so that I could be comfortable in a job I didn’t believe in - so that I could be complicit in letting the better parts of me go unnoticed.

The truth is your whole life is an education on yourself. And it is your duty; it is your purpose to figure out what life is trying to teach you. Education comes in so many forms. You just have to be open to receive it.

These past few months I’ve had the opportunity of completing a business education program through Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and the Tory Burch Foundation. The program was transformational. The tactical tools and resources I received were priceless. However, it was the support and friendship I gained from the other 30 women in the cohort that changed me.

Our task was simple - figure out a growth opportunity that would allow us to grow our business by 10x. So for 6 months we tackled every facet of our business; questioned every assumption we made; and looked to each other on how we could problem solve.

The process was bitter sweet. The work we had to do in researching our own companies, was really a reflection into who we are as leaders.

As my eyes opened to my own decision making processes and character traits - I noticed the women around me going through the same process. We were each learning about ourselves and how our identities affected our business decisions.

Suddenly the veil was lifted. It was almost like a cruel magic trick that made me laugh. I understood how my own shortcomings was affecting my bottom line and productivity. I learned which of my strengths was driving my revenue.

This learning process was an education in myself and how I run a business. But the most beautiful thing was seeing the other women around me wide-eyed and marvel at their own creations. This bonded us. The process allowed us to be honest with ourselves. The process allowed us to be vulnerable with each other. By the end of the process, I was stronger than I’ve ever been. I was more confident in my business acumen. And most importantly, I had gained 30 new friendships.

I can say with all honesty and pride; that I can call any woman in my cohort and she will be there to listen to me - whether it’s business related, work / life balance, or how to put on fake eyelashes - she will FaceTime with me and talk me through it.

And it’s not just me. It’s all of us. So shout out to Tory Burch Foundation Cohort 6! I love, respect, and admire every one of you.

I will end this by saying:

There is power in being vulnerable.

Have the courage to follow your dreams.

Have the courage to live your truth.

You are not alone.

Fortune favors the bold.

rechelle balanzatComment