Changing the face of Non-Profits: A look at Crossbow Miles Canada

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One of the greatest aspects of being a part of the YWiB team is meeting amazing women, thriving in their careers. However, it isn’t often that I have the opportunity to meet young girls, especially ones as driven and ambitious as Kiran Kumar. Kiran is a fifteen year old high school student, making waves for the future of women and non-profit organizations. While still in high school, Kiran has already become the founder and CEO of Crossbow Miles Canada, a non-profit organization focused on improving the health and well-being of women and girls in India through workshops on digital & financial literacy, health, hygiene and gender sensitization. She and her team have already thrown fundraising events, held an art wall and are now taking on their biggest project yet: Women’s One World Walk, on June 1st. I recently sat down with Kiran to discuss what she sees for the future of Crossbow Miles Canada, and the future of women in business.

How did you get involved in Crossbow Miles and volunteering for the organization?

It’s actually really interesting because I’m going begin by confessing that it all started with building a resume. It sounds harsh because nobody says it out loud, but it’s always there. I want to go to Harvard and I remember reading this article saying Harvard isn’t looking for well-rounded students and I was the definition of a well-rounded student.  They’re looking for someone who’s really good in one thing, and has mastered that one thing, because it shows that there is a chance that they will be successful in that field. I used to think ‘oh my goodness I’m so screwed’ because I was a jack of all trades, not a master of one. Later, I started to observe that a lot of students were doing this thing where they would work with a movement, go to a third world country, put some bricks on a wall and put it in their resume. So, it all started with ‘okay, why not’. I so happened to get in contact with Crossbow; I’m so happy they were the ones I reached out to. I started to fundraise by selling samosas in my high school foyer; they were 80 cents and we sold them for $2. We made quite a lot of money, but at the same time I started to attend events in Toronto on personal branding. It was a whole new world for me because this was the first time I was learning outside of the classroom. It was genuine, raw and what I like to call uncensored learning.

I had started to do that simultaneously, which was to develop my character, develop my personality and sort of develop a passion for this. While that was happening in the background, I started realizing what a great movement Crossbow really is. Not only because of the cause; I was always passionate about empowering women in that part of the world. I always had that on my mind, it just didn’t really hit me what was being held back from women until I started meeting empowering women myself at these networking events. I used to go up to a woman and say ‘I’m sorry, I just adore you so much’ because I was so empowered. You actually feel that inspiration and that ‘oh my goodness I love you so much’, that awe inspiring moment when you see a woman who has really done something with her life. It was just depressing for me to see the situation that a lot of women with this potential not getting the education they need.

That's when I started to really implement that knowledge I was getting from these events into the movement. I started to form a committee, I filed for incorporation single-handedly, I read all the fine print. I started to introduce myself by saying ‘Hi, my name is Kiran Kumar and I work with Crossbow Canada’, and eventually they made me the Canadian head. That’s when I started to recruit committee members in and other high school students like me. I started to individually go with them to Toronto and inspire them like I was inspired, and they really started to feel the energy that I felt myself.

We held a few fundraisers, had an art wall and eventually we held our first small event.  That’s really when it got kick-started, we had our social media pages up and now on June 1st  we’re holding our big event WOWW – Women’s One World Walk. It was supposed to be our big finish. But now, just a week ago we got a message saying ‘you’ve been incorporated, start forming your board of directors’. So now this end event has sort of become a launch. We are planning to expand and not run like a non-profit but run like a business with different departments. High school students have so many talents which we can provide as services. We have different departments, different categories to expand and hopefully in the end people won’t think of us as someone you give donations to, but they’ll get something back from it because we have a responsibility to women here too. So hopefully our service and our products will help women here and the funds will help women over there. That’s really our, my vision for the movement, I haven’t really told the committee just yet. It all starts at this event, that’s when everyone is going to be there, we’re going have our celebration, announce our incorporation and the women that are going to be speaking are just extraordinary. Their journey and their triumphs are just really moving. I’m looking forward to having that event and of course the celebration after is going to be fun.

Who are the women that inspire you personally?

Huda Alvi, she is an entrepreneur and an influencer. I connected to her through LinkedIn She is just extraordinary, when I saw her Instagram, I discovered the meaning of empowerment. I don’t even know what it was specifically, because I’ve seen woman with confidence before. But when I saw her profile picture I got a rush of adrenaline, I couldn’t sit still. She actually responded to my email when I contacted her, and we started to connect! She will be my personal mentor in our event WOWW. I’ve never been happier to have met a woman in my life! She’s really transformed my way of thinking.

The second would be my mother, I was always teasing people saying ‘my mother” on television, but now I realize she’s just extraordinary in the sense that she’s so supportive. When my health went down the drain for 2-3 weeks in December I was just miserable. I was horrible to be around. She was always there, and being a business woman, that’s a difficult thing to do. I’m telling anyone that’s reading this: be nice to your mom. You must be nice to your mother and whenever you face success you’ll realize that the one person you’ll want to thank is your mom.

Where do you see Crossbow Canada in the future?

I see it as a business. I know business can be seen as a bad word especially in Canada because it’s all about profit. Whenever I say to someone I’m running a business when I’m running this non-profit they always say ‘well you’re not making any profit’ and I tell them I am making a profit, it’s just going somewhere else. I want it to be like an exchange. I like the idea of providing something to someone; it’s such a good feeling. I was actually inspired by Disney; let’s take a few steps back. They have Disney World, they have Disney stores, not to mention their monopoly in the film industry. They’re everywhere. That’s what I want for Crossbow. I want us to be everywhere, because they are experts in every category and if we can expand and get different services in different areas with different products, I think that would be a great way to get our name out there and see what works, see what doesn’t.

How do you see women in business changing in the future?

Oh, boys should watch out! When I see women, when I see the people in my classroom, when I see the women walking down the halls of my school there are so many women who I can definitely say are going to make it big. I know a lot of people go with: ‘if you have good grades then you’ll definitely be successful’ but when it comes to business, I think because the school system is so structured, look out for those people who maybe don’t try that hard in academics. Maybe they don’t join extracurriculars, but the people who are super social, because socializing is work! It’s fun for some, not fun for others. Academics is fun for some and not fun for others.  Those women aren’t thinking about their future right now, because the system isn’t for them, it wasn’t made for them. In a few years, if they start a business, they’ll be unstoppable; I think that's something to really look out for. Those women with an aptitude for business, they will definitely make it somewhere so you’ll see a large amount of women in business.

For more on the organization and to see ways you can help visit: Crossbow Miles

For information and tickets to Women’s One World Walk visit: http://wowwevent.eventbrite.ca/

Introducing: YWiB Toronto President, Sandra Riano

Sandra, our new Toronto Chapter President, has been with Young Women in Business since March of this year. An exceptional marketer and leader, she has extensive experience leading the successful development of marketing and business strategies for medium-sized organizations and Fortune 500 companies. A visionary and master collaborator, she specializes in Strategic Planning, Branding and Communications. Having recently completed her Master of Arts, Professional Communications program, at Royal Roads University, she brings to YWiB her fresh perspective, big picture thinking, and knowledge of the real-world truths faced by young women. Personally, she is dog-obsessed, but also an equal opportunity hugger of all species. On top of that, she loves food, comedy, travelling, dancing, meeting new people, and forgetting their names the second after she meets them (Yes, she’s working on that!).

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Describe what you're working on and why it's important to you?

I’m working on taking the right steps to advance my career. Two years ago I took a break from the workforce to work on my Masters of Professional Communication. I wanted to add a robust educational foundation to my already extensive experience in the marketing strategy field, and gained so much more. A challenging and invigorating experience, I expanded my theoretical and work-related skills, while gaining insights into the complexity of human communications and the nuances that impact organizations, society, and personal relationships.

Afterwards, I decided to continue to look deeper, and started by enrolling in a career advancement program run by working with an amazing leadership coach. I was able to uncover what fulfills me career-wise, and the values that underscore how I want to lead my personal and professional life. I discovered that I thrive most when leading teams, and helping organizations and their staff realize their potential. Most of all, I learned that female empowerment, inclusion and diversity are core to my identity, and instrumental to the organizations I want to work with moving forward.

How does your role empower you?

My role is driven by long term impact and short term results, so being able to immerse myself into a project, program, or organization to set its strategic direction is very empowering. Leading teams to be the best they can be and helping achieve career and personal heights they thought unreachable, fills me with joy and motivates me everyday. Understanding the marketplace, societal forces, trends, stakeholders and their motivations, the internal workings of each department, relationships, etc., to craft the right approach and being able to adjust and tweak as conditions change -- and they always do! -- is vital to my success. In fact, I see myself as a master Lego builder. While most people build what’s shown on the box and then move on to the next set, I see beyond. I take what could be generic, and turn it into masterpieces that are robust, awe-inspiring, and withstand the test of time. Isn’t that better?

What advice do you have for other young women looking to get involved in your field of work?

Take some time upfront in discovering what you’re passionate about. Forget about fads, what’s cool to your peers, or trying to emulate someone else’s path. Cultivate a curious mindset and take a ‘try it all’ approach to find your own path.

Knowledge is everything so take classes about the topics and skills you’re interested about - if they bore you to tears, move one! You can do this inexpensively: scour the web for webinars, use your Library card to access free courses in Lynda.com, enroll in open education classes at Coursera.org, or volunteer with organizations such as YWiB (join us!) which let you sharpen your skills and gain new ones.

If you want to explore the marketing field, take classes at the Canadian Marketing Association (www.the-cma.org) or the American Marketing Association (www.ama.org). If you’re looking for knowledge about a specific industry, search online for their trade magazines which are often free to access. There you’ll find information to help you understand the industry lingo, and more importantly, keep up to date on industry trends. Also, get as many coffee chats with marketing people in different industries. Doing so will help you gain a realistic perspective of their workdays, corporate culture and small nuances in each industry. The bonus? Doing so will help you build your network!

Who is your biggest role model, why?

This is always a hard question for me because I believe everyone has something worth learning from. For example: my mom and my sisters who have taught me to be strong, resilient, and not to take myself too seriously. My husband, from whom I’ve learned the value of meaningful connections and stillness. My female friends have taught me the value of thoughtful conversations and shared experiences. My male friends from whom I’ve learned to appreciate easy laughs and how to unwind. Their combined teachings and continued support propels me to continue to work to become a better human being. The process is never over -- don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise! -- and I’m immensely happy to have them in my life.

What book do you recommend every young professional should read?

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury. It covers something that most people struggle with: win-win negotiations. The books covers the negative connotations associated with negotiation, its roots, how to turn them into tools for understanding rather than domination. It explains the concept of ‘principled negotiation,’ aka how to navigate conflict at work, home, etc., without getting lost in the minutiae or losing sight of who we are as people. It’s practical, insightful and uncomplicated. The latest editions have even more insights so I’d recommend to read those. The book has helped me deal with tough situations, fine tune my negotiation style, has broadened my understanding of the topic as a whole, all this while opening my eyes to how we all need to get better at it - go read it!

If you could go back to your 16 year old self, what would you say?

You are a work in progress and always will be, because the self-discovery journey never ends and that is okay! Life would lose its luster otherwise.

Why do you think groups like YWiB are important?

Organizations like YWiB are important because they give access to women to the tools and strategies to help them realize their potential, in a supportive and caring community of like-minded peers. What I particularly enjoy about YWiB is how it recognizes that we are complex and multilayered beings, and works to provide content that covers all facets, in meaningful and thoughtful ways.

What can our readers do to help you?

I love meeting new people from all walks of life so drop me a line and we’ll chat. I’m currently seeking my next opportunity. If you, your company or the company you work for is seeking to hire a masterful marketer and strategist, connect with me at sandra.riano@ywib.ca or smriano@gmail.com

You can follow me at my Instagram at @sandraandmaple. Fair warning though, it’s mostly pictures of dogs and food, heh.

 

Being a Unicorn: How YWiB Helped Me Launch My Career

Walking into any YWiB event, a few things are clear: There are TONS of young women in Toronto looking to grow their network and start their career, and there is (unfortunately) no formula that can be shared for launching a career. Since launching YWiB, I’ve met women looking for their first job, trying to leave a job they’re unhappy in, women considering entrepreneurship, or sometimes, a unicorn: a woman happy with her job and career trajectory! We all want to be that last woman, and it’s entirely possible – YWiB just happened to help me get there.

In 2015 a friend of mine told me about an interesting organization based out of Vancouver. She wanted to launch a chapter in Toronto. Nearly a year later, we launched YWiB Toronto with a conference uniting 80 women and men interested in our mission.

I became the Events Director for the organization and our team produced vastly unique monthly events, each one bringing in new women to meet, with many of them becoming members and volunteers. Each month we secured a new venue, tried a different caterer, and facilitated a different activity or panel topic. My favourite was a yoga class that ended with free pressed green juice. The events weren’t perfect, but we learned a lot – working with different vendors and partners can give you a pretty comprehensive understanding of the events landscape. More importantly, it ignited my desire to pursue events full time.

A year after launching YWiB Toronto, I began my career search. At the time, I was a community manager for a shared office space and was enjoying the relaxed and social nature of my job. Unfortunately, growth was stagnant and I needed a new challenge. My first challenge, however, was to figure out how to make the move to launch my career.

I looked at all we’d built with YWiB – an active community of women interested in attending our events – and realized this could be a full-time job. YWiB took over the top spot in my resume, I highlighted some of the community events I had organized at my job, and took to my career search.

My search took 6 months but eventually I found success – I entered an industry I had never worked in before into a role where I’m responsible for organizing conferences of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of attendees! The company is small and appreciates the fact that I had a hand in many sides of the YWiB events, and since none of my colleagues have experience with meetup style networking events, I bring something new to the team. Everything I learned from a year with YWiB is being put to use. I’ve reached Unicorn status - finally, I'm happy with my career trajectory!

YWiB has the potential to help you become a unicorn too. It’s simply what we do – whether you meet someone hiring for a job you want, get inspired by the entrepreneurs on a panel, or even something as small as asking for help on the Facebook Group. Keep in mind that unicorns don’t last forever. After a few months into the new gig you’ll undoubtedly begin wanting something more, some job growth, or a whole new career change… and the cycle continues. Become a unicorn, and I encourage you to use YWiB to help you get there. While you’re there, try helping someone else become a unicorn. Thrive, learn, and grow – then start the journey to become a unicorn all over again.

Written by: Olivia Kitevski, Founding Member & Emailing Marketing Coordinator @ YWiB

League of Extraordinary Young Women: Caitlin Bryant

Caitlin is an ambitious young woman making a name for herself in the heart of Toronto. With a degree in International Development, experience in the financial sector and a network that spans industries, Caitlin is showing no signs of slowing down. During her spare time, you will find her running along the lakeshore, co-chairing this year’s Boobyball event in support of Rethink Breast Cancer or attending whatever hockey, basketball or baseball game is on the docket. Describe who you're working for and why it's important to you.

I current work in product management within the retail industry. I work in an environment where things move fast. It's important to me because no day is the same - there is always a new issue to address or a different way to launch a campaign so I am constantly learning.

How does your role empower you?

My role is driven by results so having ownership of a project from beginning to end is empowering. Building relationships, monitoring sales and data analysis all attribute to my success, so I get out of it what I put into it. It’s empowering to see the importance of my role within the bigger picture and to know my contribution is valuable.

What advice do you have to other young women looking to get involved in your field of work?

No matter what field of work you are in or are interested in, the best thing you can do is to put yourself out there. Start by networking, registering for courses and joining a professional association. Through this process, you will learn what you like to do, the type of environment you want to work in and what you’re passionate about. There is always something to learn and someone to meet who will teach you something new. It’s funny how you can fall into a role if you’re open to anything.

If you are looking to get into Marketing specifically, I suggest taking courses through Canadian Marketing Association, keep abreast of industry trends, and always ensure your resume is current.

Who is your biggest role model, why?

I wouldn’t say I have a specific role model but I do draw from a few strong women. Michelle Obama, Victoria Beckham, and Sheryl Sandburg all display qualities and characteristics that I admire and strive to embody. Although these three woman are very different, they have created a positive impact, built an empire and achieved success on their own terms. Achieving success without compromise isn’t easy but these women have done it with grace and tact.

What book do you recommend every young professional should read?

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Although it’s not your typical “professional” read, it has lessons that can make you an overall better person and therefore a better professional. The book explores how important it is to let the opinions of others go, lean into a given situation and accept that it is okay to be vulnerable. We all have a fear of failure and inadequacy and this book discusses different ways to acknowledge those fears as normal and how you can work through those feelings in order to achieve success.

After reading this book, I created a short list of people whose opinion matters to me and treat everything else as background noise. Daring Greatly is a great tool to get through tough situations you may encounter.

If you could go back to your 16 year old self, what would you say?

Nothing is going to go according to plan but that’s okay! As long as you have a goal, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

Why do you think groups like YWiB are important?

Groups like YWIB are important because it is a network of likeminded individuals who are providing a positive source for growth. Any time you can connect with people that have ideas and stories to share, you should capitalize on that. The moment you think there’s nothing left to learn or no way to grow, you’re doing yourself a disservice. 

What can our readers do to help you?

You can all purchase tickets to this year’s Boobyball event in support of Rethink Breast Cancer. Tickets go on sale this summer and the event will be in October. As co-chair of the event, I would love to see you all there!

League of Extraordinary Young Women: Gisela Cardenas

We're back with the first League of Extraordinary Women of 2017! Learn more about Gisela Cardenas, owner of mandala company, Yantra Supply Co. These mandalas are 100% cotton and are hand painted in India. Gisela, the owner behind Yantra Supply Co. has created the logo, presentation and all the packaging herself in Vancouver, B.C.

Describe what/who you're working on/for and why it's important to you

When I first stumbled across the idea of starting my own business, my focus and main goal was to introduce mandalas to the local market and the people of Vancouver.  I am now working on promoting and introducing my brand across Canada and hopefully International.

As a young mother of one, and being active in fitness and yoga, I knew that the local environment is very health conscious, so I took this opportunity to explain what the significance of the mandala is and the many uses.

How does your role empower you?

For most of my life, I’ve always worked for somebody else or for another company; this is the first time in my life that I can say I am the boss. This has empower me, allowing me to think for myself, bring my ideas to the table and make my own decisions. It educates me and makes me feel that it’s never too late to do the things in life you love, and to never give up.

What advice do you have to other young women looking to get involved in your field of work?

My advice would be to work hard for the things you want and love in life; go for it and never give up.

Who is your biggest role model, why

My biggest role model was my grandma, even though she wasn't in my life for a long time. I can vividly remember her and looking up to her in so many ways, she thought me how to be strong and to never give up; to follow my dreams. She was extremely creative and intuitive.

 What book do you recommend every young professional should read?

For me, The Four Agreements is a life-changing book, whose ideas come from the ancient Toltec wisdom of the native people of Southern Mexico. It talks about never making assumptions and to be impeccable with your word, to Always do your best. It explains how your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

If you could go back to your 16 year old self, what would you say?

I would say to always stay in school, focus on education and family, do your best and always be yourself.

How has YWiB supported you? Why are they important for young women?

I first discovered YWiB while I was visiting the city of Toronto. I was looking to collaborate with other local businesses and make new contacts. Victoria Stacey from YWiB reached out instantly and offered to help me to promote my brand in TO.  I believe groups like this are extremely important for young women who are starting to launch a new business or product line, because with the proper support and collaboration, young entrepreneurs can achieve their goals and dreams much easier.

What can our readers do to help you? 

Readers can help me by sharing their thoughts, by following and sharing Yantra’s Supply Co Facebook page and Instagram, and by giving feedback and commenting on posts.

New year, new books to enjoy

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It's February, which means we're 1/12 of the way through the year! It feels like a lot longer with so much negative news being so negative lately, so why not take this opportunity to unplug and catch up on your reading? There are plenty of perspectives to hear, so curl up with some recommendations from our YWiB community. Here are some books to inspire and motivate:

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

"In an age where even in art there seems to be a focus on the final product or end result, Kleon's manifesto on creativity is refreshing. At a slim 100-something pages, it is a fast engaging read, filled with doodles and quotes and functioning the way zines your internet friend would send you." -anaïs

Body of Work: Finding the Thread that Ties Your Story Together by Pamela Slim

"I had to keep putting this book down, not because it was tiresome, but because my mind would start processing all the great ideas that came from it. This is one of those books that gets you thinking about the legacy you wish to leave and the body of work that will define you." -Andy Beal

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

"In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell explores and illustrates the phenomenon of epidemic—the dissemination of ideas, products, messages, and behaviour—in today’s society. Demonstrating Gladwell’s penchant for story-telling to brilliant effect, it presents a fresh, compelling look at human societal behaviour and our own role to play within such contexts. Disarming yet altogether convincing, The Tipping Point is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of being a real change agent—especially through the little things in life." -Jessie Ho

Outliers: the Story of Success also by Malcolm Gladwell

"As the subtitle states, this is a book of success stories, and true to his usual style, Gladwell draws on a diverse and interesting set of examples and presents a unique thesis on the ingredients it takes to make a person a success. The first half of the equation is much like Carol Dweck’s thesis in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success . Hard work matters much more than raw talent." -Kressel Housman

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

" I straight-up disagree with her on at least two major points. But the thing is, her arguments for those two points were not ones I'd heard before. They made me think about issues in genuinely new ways. And I spend a LOT of time thinking about these things. She's a fresh and incisive intellect. But in general, this book had a great balance of anecdote and analysis, alternating milk-out-your-nose-funny stories of booze and underpants with cogent analyses of the current Western State of Affairs." -Carolyn

20-Something, 20 Everything: A Quarter-life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction by Christine Hassler

"At first I thought it would be another book to motivate and inspire but then as I got more into it, towards the middle and end, it was just more assuring that life is about acceptance and if you really want change to come about - you are the only one who will make that happen. I think the author hit the 20's decade head on - she was able to tell me exactly what I am going through and what I feel, and it's really made me feel better about my situation. I mean I was pretty happy with my life but not I feel like I can accept it more and not feel so antsy to keep trying to get to the top fast." -Hoan

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Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

"Who knew this was what I needed to hear? Shonda Rimes did. A gifted writer who has created some of America's beloved television characters, Rimes tells it like it is and reveals her flaws, insecurities, and weaknesses all while sharing the story of the greatest challenge she made for herself. YEAR OF YES gives hardcore helpful advice on how you can't do it all, it's okay to admit you need help, and saying YES to yourself comes in many forms. Highly recommend to all women!" -Rachel Watkins

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

"This book was Badass!!!! If you have any mental barriers that are holding you back from achieving your goals then this book is for you! You have to be comfortable with some colorful language, and the idea of the Law of Attraction, but if you're open minded you will get a lot from this book. I've read a lot of books on this subject, but this one was so much more in your face (in a good way) and more easy to put into practice." -Emmy

The Accidental Entrepreneur: 50 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me about Starting Business by Susan Urquhart-Brown

"An excellent, easy to read resource for anyone starting a business or struggling with new business growing pains. Workbook style 'homework' pages are helpful." -Gayle

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If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone

"Cutrone is a bully. That's what really made me like this book, because - despite that - I like her. She's an unapologetic, vicious, caring, pushy, understanding, condescending, supportive contradiction. She's also aware of that and embraces it as part of her essential philosophy, which makes her among the most endearing autobiographers I've ever read." -Sarah Draheim

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

"Wow, this book was simply amazing. Every piece of information found here is something I wish I'd known in junior high school, high school, or even college. And I wish my parents had known more about when I was even younger than all that. I finished the book with mixed reactions though. On the one hand, I feel completely validated, in a way I've never been able to grasp before, and I feel like there are definitely some simple things I can change about my life now that will help me become even better adjusted to daily existence." -Natalie

Catherine is a blogger, writer, and adorer of warm socks. By day, she works as a Communications Specialist and by night she blogs about her first love – books – at Hot Pepper Latte. You can follow her @cat_vendryes.

League of Extraordinary Young Women: Pauleanna Reid

Describe what you're working on and why it's important to you I’m a multi-business owner. But my proudest accomplishment to date is New Girl on the Block, a mentorship program for millennial women in transition. As a self-taught renaissance woman who has mastered the art of getting stuff done by attacking my goals with heart, hard work and by building healthy relationships, I started the mentorship program two years ago in collaboration with my business partner, Safia Bartholomew. Together, we’ve helped over 100 mentees in 6 countries take their distant dreams and turn them into noteworthy achievements.

When I’m not mentoring, I’m motivational speaking on a stage somewhere in the world, working on the film adaptation to my novel, Everything I Couldn’t Tell My Mother or ghostwriting for Fortune 500 CEOs, Professional Athletes or celebrity clients.

My work is important to me because I believe that you are never out of options. My story exemplifies what it means to gain control of one’s life through self-determination and blind faith. With the discouragement of the naysayers, I’ve learned to silence the noise of those around me so that I could hear my own voice louder. That voice always tells me to take risk and follow my dreams. This self-reliance is the motivation to focus on making sure that other people, especially young women, pursue the things that they love. I hope to teach them to believe in themselves despite their perceived flaws or negative situations.

How does your role empower you?

Regrettably, I made the decision to end my life during my second year of college. With the belief that it was impossible to bounce back from my misery or shut off the tiny voice inside my head, I often struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts and then one day chose to honor them.

People may see my highlight reel on social media, but what makes me feel empowered is the journey to how I got here. I’m a woman who has fought for her dreams and won. After a full recovery, I made a promise to myself that I would set out on a mission to discover my purpose and wouldn’t give up until I tapped into exactly what it was.

There was a time when I didn’t know if I would ever make it through my struggles. People told me that I would never be successful. But I’ve been fortunate enough to have several amazing women show me that my past doesn’t have to define my future and my failures aren’t a measure of my potential.

What advice do you have to other young women looking to get involved in your field of work?

No matter the product or service you offer, you need to master the art of selling. Strive to turn your conversations into leads. One key success strategy is understanding people; their pain points, what inspires them and how you can create a unique experience from the moment they connect with you.

Who is your biggest role model, why?

I have amazing mentors in my circle who have all contributed to my success in some aspect or another. But as of right now, I have been spending enormous amounts of time watching talks conducted by Jeff Weiner, CEO at LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been such an incredible networking tool for me over the years and most recently I’ve been curious to study the leadership team. Jeff has taught me the importance of compassion as well as the significance of problem solving skills and getting shit done.

What book do you recommend every young professional should read?

I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know by Kate White

If you could go back to your 16 year old self, what would you say? Chase dreams instead of chasing men.

Why do you think groups like YWiB are important?

I discovered your organization via LinkedIn. I think it’s extremely important to have groups such as this one so women know that they are not alone. Passion can take you anywhere all you have to do is focus on the next positive step. It’s much easier to take this step if you feel supported.

What can our readers do to help you? 

I enjoy using my platform to change lives. If you're interested in working with me, please feel free to reach out for a conversation at pauleanna@pauleannareid.com

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