Mentor Monday: Stephanie Breedlove
Stephanie Breedlove is the Co-Founder of Care.com HomePay℠ Provided by Breedlove. Within 2 minutes of my conversation with Stephanie, her passion for helping other women in their career journeys is infectious. She's full of positivity, ambition and transparency that's refreshing. I'm thrilled that I can share her experiences with you through this week's #mentormonday. Stephanie shared so much amazing career advice that we're going to make her interview a two-part series!
In addition to our interview, you can learn even more from Stephanie in her new book, All In: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Think Bigger, Build Sustainable Businesses, and Change the World. Pre-orders will be available December 2016 via Amazon, with an official launch February 7, 2017. In her book, she's encouraging women who are called to entrepreneurship to be all in, to go everywhere they are meant to go, and to leave their mark on the community and the economy and perhaps even the world.
Stephanie is also launching www.stephaniebreedlove.com, a new online community focused on sharing valuable articles and research with women entrepreneurs. Knowledge is power, and through her site she'll be offering how-to guides and webinars free of charge.
Congratulations on helping Care.com go through an IPO! What have you been up to since this big transition? I heard you took your experiences as an entrepreneur and wrote a book that’s coming out soon. Tell us more about it and why you decided to write a book.
I'm a dedicated entrepreneur and more importantly, I'm a woman in entrepreneurship. I recognized that that's what my passion is, that's where my skills are, and that’s where my wisdom is.
So, instead of jumping into typical philanthropy, I decided to write a book as a way for me to give back. One of the main reasons that a woman often does not choose to start a business or to grow an existing business is a lack of role models or mentors. Even at a broad scale we see the famous stories but there aren't very many of them and it's really hard to see what you can be.
So, I decided to write a book about life experiences. Its role model focused, not filled with success stories that make the entrepreneurship path look like it's paved with gold, but how life really went and how it really looks to be an entrepreneur and that's not bad.
What was your first job out of college and how did you land that position?
My first job was not entrepreneurial in any way, shape or form. I went to work into my first job out of graduate school. I went to work for Accenture which is a large management consulting firm. I actually got that job through the career center at the University, no connections, no network, which is often how the world goes around. I went to the career center and landed a job I was very, very interested in, so, I felt very fortunate. Accenture at the time was focused on large scale systems and technology development to help businesses solve major pain points.
In my first year, I spent about 5 months working from 3pm to 1am, designing and coding on the night shift. It wasn't something I wanted to do but I derive great value from it today. And I do have to give a caveat, I was not and I am not a tech guru. So this job was really, really hard for me. I'm not sure why I took it. Sometimes we do things we're not sure why we did them. But there is value in learning and mastering the areas where you're not naturally strong. And once I was able to move up the ladder a little bit and into project management, life got a lot easier because I like operations and workflow.
What are some valuable skills you learned from your first job that helped you in the development of your entrepreneur journey?
I was in the large corporate ranks for about 6 years before I decided to jump into entrepreneurship, to give you some context. I have 3 or 4 things that I even think about today over 25 years later that were incredibly valuable to me and I'm still using them. The first one, and the most important, is that the skills that you are growing, whether it be from your education, or it be from your first few jobs, even if you're not in management yet, are translatable. Everything you're learning and doing, if you step back and look broadly at what you've been doing and how you've been doing it, it’s translatable into entrepreneurship.
The business that I started had absolutely nothing to do with the 2 corporate jobs in the industry that I worked in. A lot of time people start businesses from industries that they've been in because they have a network, they have industry knowledge, and they have an expertise that they've developed. I started a business that was not in the industry that I came from and every day of what I did in my job, from just learning to be structured, prioritize, to manage time, to look forward to the next promotion, or the next skill or the next project that I wanted to take on, all of that translated into being a business owner. I think a lot of people are too literal and thinking that what they're doing today in their corporate career is not going to translate into entrepreneurship and it is. And I'm still drawing upon the things I learned in my college days as well as my corporate days as I move forward, in my career today, now in my fifties, as an entrepreneur and even now as an author.
A valuable take away from my early days that has really helped to define my whole career, is that success is primarily made up of true, smart, honest, hard work. Yes, sometimes it helps to know someone, yes sometimes it helps to have good timing, yes sometimes it helps to be in the right place at the right time, but 80% of the time your greatest success is just coming from knowing that you really are truly working smart, working honestly and working hard.
Want more inspiration? Check back with us next Monday for part two of our exclusive interview with Stephanie! We'll talk about her passion for mentoring, what it's like being a CEO, and how to have a little fun when life's getting crazy.
Our pilot mentor-matching program begins this September! If you want to connect with incredible mentors who will help you reach next-level success, sign up today. We're offering $100 scholarships this week for all full-price registrations.
If you've ever been interested in being a mentor, now is the time to take action. Join us today and begin inspiring the future of Washington, DC!