Contributed by Krystal Covington, MBA
Seeing the world can be a catalyst for change by bringing greater awareness of global communities and a connection to all of humanity. The empathy we earn through traveling and talking with diverse groups of individuals allows us to see past our own cultures and to be more compassionate.
For Matilda and Kelly, the millennial founders of Adventurist Backpack Co., their awakening came during an overseas backpacking trip where they witnessed first-hand the challenges of poverty and hunger. Driven by their desire to bring compassion and support to those struggling with food insecurity, they began a journey to develop a social enterprise company that has provided 65,000 meals to families across the country so far.
Launched in September 2017, the company has been in hyper-growth mode, quickly surpassing the coveted 6-figure mark with just a $7,000 starting investment. Adventurist Backpacks can now be found in over 40 retail locations across the country.
We caught up with Matilda Sandstroem to learn more about her journey as a co-founder of this inspiring Colorado company.
WOD Was there something special about the Colorado business community that helped you on your journey to starting a company like this? Were there local resources you utilized that helped you?
Colorado has been a great place to start a company. Coloradans love to support local businesses, and entrepreneurs that we've met in Denver and across the state are incredibly supportive and collaborative with one another.
After gaining a bit of press around the state and country, we had Visit Denver,the marketing agency for the City of Denver, reach out to us about becoming a vendor. Now Visit Denver orders hundreds of backpacks from us each year, helping our business (and many other companies) have a chance to grow. We've also found that all sorts of shops across the state have been excited to team up with us. [They’re] very supportive and happy to have a Colorado-based brand and product in their shop.
WOD You originated from Sweden and even traveled to many countries around the world. How has this global perspective impacted the way you lead your business and live your life?
Being born and raised in Sweden, I never imagined that I would come to the U.S. and stay to start a business. Since I moved away from home and my family at 19, it can definitely be tough at times, though it has forced me to be braver, bolder, and more independent.
Traveling has also impacted our business and life in numerous ways. Travel inspires through exposure to different cultures, types of fashion, design, language, food, and traditions. It can definitely broaden your views about the possibilities that are out there. Travel also teaches you to take risks, which I think is a big part of living life to the fullest, and growing in life and in business.
WOD How did you know how to design a backpack and source a supplier? And how did you fund your business in the beginning to purchase inventory?
Neither Kelly (my husband/co-founder) nor I had any experience at all in product design before starting the company. After coming up with the idea to design a backpack that was fashionable, high-quality, and affordable, we sat down at the kitchen table with a pad of graph paper and a small pencil and just started to sketch out the measurements, materials, etc. until we had a design that we were happy with.
We also knew that we would need to have samples made and contact a manufacturer, so we turned to Alibaba.com (a website that connects companies looking to create a product with manufacturers all over the world). After sending messages with our design to dozens of manufacturers and getting a handful of replies back, we had a lot of samples made (many that were extremely bad). We continued this process until we found a manufacturer that was able to create a high-quality backpack using the materials we wanted, while also having the certifications necessary so that we could rest assured that they treated and paid their employees fairly as well as offered above-average work conditions.
After we found the right manufacturer, we placed an order for about 1000 backpacks and contacted a freight forwarding agent in order to transport the backpacks from the factory to our 600 square foot apartment. Our initial funding was $7000, $3,000 which we had saved up ourselves and $4,000 that Kelly's parents invested in helping us start the company.
WOD What has been the impact of leading this company, and what advice can you share for others following your journey?
The business has definitely been a huge part of our lives since launching in September 2017. A big impact that the company has had is making us very passionate about being at the forefront of brands that give back as part of their business model. We truly believe that entrepreneurship and business is the best way for Americans to be able to solve problems, whether environmental, social, etc.
We want to spread the message that it is a company's responsibility to not only make a great product or service, but to start something that matters.
I think the best advice that I'm able to give is that there will never be a perfect time to start a business or travel or move halfway across the world, so you might as well give it a shot and do it now.
In this series from Flatiron School, we’ll be talking to women in tech about their career journey, the essential lessons they’ve learned, and how more women can follow the path to join essential roles in computing.
This interview features Dasha (Daria) Nikitina, a UI Engineer at Auth0 and self proclaimed “Integrated Marketer turned Web Developer.”
How would you explain your role to a 5th grader?
I work with teams to create beautiful and easy to navigate websites that communicate my company’s products and services.
What inspired you to follow this particular career path?
I love being challenged and have opportunities to always learn new things. A career in web development gives me exactly that. I will never stop learning and every project has its own challenges.
If you could go back 5 years ago and talk to yourself at that time, what would you share with her about her future in this career?
Don’t be afraid to take risks or fail. Your future is not pre-determined or written anywhere. You pave your own path and it is full of possibility. Follow your curiosity, it will lead you to places you’ve never imagined. Also, praise yourself, be proud of your achievements. You are worthy.
What were the most important actions you took that helped you land the job role you have now?
I got out of my comfort zone and joined as many meetups as possible to network and learn about local Denver startups, and I asked for informational interviews before applying to jobs. I also participated in local hackathons, Go Code Colorado, Code for Denver, Techstars Week, conferences, etc.
Tell us about the most exciting (or inspiring, or creative) thing you've done so far in your career?
I led a project on a complete revamp of one of our developer tools. It was a collaborative effort that involved multiple teams. It was challenging and we had a lot of new features to discuss/deliver but the process was rewarding and we were able to meet rapid deadlines.
What was it like attending Flatiron School?
It was a great experience. I was able to travel around the world while learning how to code remotely. The curriculum was challenging but I had access to Flatiron’s support who was available in all of my timezones. I also enjoyed the school’s community through Slack and the projects I got to build.
For more stories like this, follow Women of Denver on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Meet Dasha and other Flatiron School Alumni at this upcoming event
How I Became a Web Developer: Alumni Panel | Flatiron School Denver
May 22, 2019 from 6-8 P.M.
WeWork LoHi 2420 17th Street Denver, CO 80202
Learn what impacted their decision to change their lives and careers, how they survived and thrived in an immersive program and how what their lives look like today as developers
When it comes to buying, women are the boss. According to the stats, women drive the world economy, which has led to considerable innovation as more brands begin to focus on our dollars, creating new products and offerings to serve our needs.
But while new products are being developed for women, putting women’s voices first in the innovation process is still a rarity. For Michelle Moore, changing this trend has become a personal quest, and the central mission of her new company, ElleRate.
ElleRate is a platform that allows women to rate businesses on measures that matter. Through the platform, women can discover, review, share and support products, services, and workplaces that reflect their values. This helps us put the collective power of our dollars behind companies that put our needs first.
And since much of the challenge businesses face with prioritizing women customers quite possibly lies in the lack of gender diversity and support for women inside the organization, workplace ratings can help shine a light on where a company can improve its efforts.
“I thought if I could help businesses understand, on a deeper level, how to engage with women to earn more of their favor, trust, advocacy and business, then everyone wins,” said ElleRate Founder, Michelle Moore. "Women will get more of what they want and need to make their lives work more smoothly, be taken more seriously, and to be incorporated into the innovation process.”
The platform is currently in development with a crowdfunding campaign set to launch on iFundWomen - A crowdfunding ecosystem designed specifically for female entrepreneurs, which provides access to the capital, coaching, creative services, and connections needed to launch and grow.
Only 1% of all companies, regardless of the gender of the founder, will ever raise venture capital, and that leaves the other 99% to either max out their credit cards or take out bank loans,” said Sarah Sommers, Co-Founder & Marketing Director at iFundWomen. “Crowdfunding is the best option for early-stage female entrepreneurs to raise capital for their businesses in order to prove demand for their product or service and avoid going into debt funding the earliest days of their startup.”
Michelle believes that through the amplification of her network more women will feel empowered to express their voices and choices, and gain confidence in flexing their significant economic muscle to “vote with their pocketbooks” for the companies that best serve them.
ElleRate is planned to launch in late summer 2019. Sign up for updates at ElleRate.net and learn more about the campaign at www.iFundWomen.com/projects/ElleRate.
**This announcement is sponsored by ElleRate
Contributed by: Sarah Parady, Colorado Women's Bar Association's President Elect and member of the Pay Equity Subcommittee
On April 17, 2019, the four women and six men of the House Business and Labor Affairs Committee listened to hours of testimony on Colorado’s own pay equity bill, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.
The representatives heard the dismal statistics: Despite passage of the federal Equal Pay Act in in 1963, women in Colorado lag behind men in pay by amounts that are staggering over the course of a lifetime. Compared to white men, white women in our state make 78 cents to the dollar, followed by Asian/Pacific Islander women at 70 cents, Black women at 63 cents, Indigenous women at 56 cents, and Latina women at only 54 cents. For an individual Latina, this amounts to an average lifetime wage gap of over $1 million dollars.
They heard the personal stories: One woman testified that she learned a male subordinate made far more than her when he complained about withholdings for child support and showed her his paycheck. Another testified that when she noticed she wasn’t receiving raises commensurate with her evaluations in her pharmaceutical company job, she had the courage to ask her male colleagues about their pay, and was staggered to learn she made less than two thirds of what they did—and that her company refused to correct the issue until it was purchased by a European competitor.
The bill before the Committee, which ultimately passed and will move on to the Appropriations committee for a vote that proponents hope will send it to the House floor, has been years in the making. From 2010 to 2015, a legislatively-created Pay Equity Commission studied the wage gap in Colorado and encouraged business to voluntarily take measure to equalize pay. The Commission was disbanded when the legislature refused to renew it in the 2015 session. In 2016 and 2017, a coalition of organizations concerned with the pay gap backed a series of bills designed to make incremental improvements to wage transparency and other related issues, with a mixed track record of passage.
Despite the value of these measures, the community and legislative partners behind them felt the time was ripe for a bolder step towards change. A high-profile case equal pay case involving female faculty members at Denver University’s Sturm College of Law drew national attention, and particularly the attention of the legal community in Colorado, many of whom were educated by the professor plaintiffs, when the EEOC found that the law school had underpaid them drastically compared to men (by an average of $15,000). The US Women’s National Soccer Team’s courageous self-advocacy raised the profile of the issue with the general public, and several other states including Massachusetts and New Jersey passed state-level measures designed to succeed where the federal EPA had failed.
The result was the bill that has now passed the Colorado Senate and its first House Committee. Under the CEPEWA, businesses would be responsible for taking a host of transparency measures to help make it easier for women to advocate for higher pay, such as sharing all promotional opportunities internally; posting a salary range in job announcements; and refraining from asking for applicants’ salary history. The bill also makes it possible for Colorado women to go to court to recover lost wages if they are paid less than male colleagues in equivalent roles, without a justification such as a difference in seniority, training, or job location. To address the reality that unequal pay is compounded by intersectional factors, women of color, older women, and women with disabilities can recover the entirety of the pay gap they experience even if other women in the workplace are paid more than they are.
Originally drafted by attorney members of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, the bill has drawn support from a wide range of partners including businesses and business groups, advocacy groups supporting women and women of color, workers’ rights groups, and legal organizations.
As Coloradans, we live in a state with a stronger economy than most, but female workers and especially women of color have not shared equally in the benefits of growth. Women are paid less across industries, across the state, and throughout their careers. We are past due for a change, and hope that 2019 will be the year our elected officials will take on the pay gap.
By Jana Axline, MBA, DTM, PMP, Axline Solutions
In my consulting experience, I have found that many companies struggle at managing change. They often move forward with an initiative without managing the change that needs to occur. Below are 8 of the common pitfalls that can cause a team to fail at leading a successful change initiative.
Fail to obtain leadership alignment. Change is hard. It’s exponentially harder if leaders are on separate pages. Take time to align your leadership team and coordinate messaging that will be shared throughout the organization.
Make change unidirectional. Change can rarely occur top down or bottom up and reach maximum success. Change needs to flow from both directions. While it may be initiated from one direction, it needs to be driven at all levels.
Fail to assess current state/future state and the gap between them. This manifests itself a few ways. Sometimes it’s rolling something out and fitting it to an old way of doing things without assessing if those processes should change. Other times it’s implementing something new without doing a gap analysis between the future state and where the team is today. When that happens, we often underestimate the size of the change, failing to craft our communications and training accurately.
Focus only on why the company benefits. Decisions are often made through the lens of what’s right for the company, and hopefully, if it’s right for the company it’s right for the employees. Messaging should be centered around why the employee should care about the change (and increased revenue is not why). How does the change directly impact their daily lives?
Ignore the cons. Don’t put lipstick on the pig. Most changes have a positive and negative aspects; don’t ignore the negative. The employee knows. And by ignoring it, it sends the message that the company doesn’t care.
Lack of communication. Not communicating enough or assuming one size fits all for communication is a mistake. Don’t make the mistake of believing if you’ve communicated it once, then everyone’s got it and they’re ready to move on. Communication needs to happen in various forms. It can take 8 occurrences of communication for one message to sink in. Thorough and effective communication is key.
Don’t check in. Along with not communicating enough, leaders may neglect to follow up and see how people are doing with the change. Taking a pulse periodically allows you to adjust your methods according to the current adoption rate.
Don’t align measures of success to end state. Often change will result in a change of what success looks like, yet how employees are rewarded doesn’t change. This encourages employees to continue doing things the way they’ve always done them. Align rewards with what success looks like now.
Whether you are rolling out a new policy, new software, or heading up a merger, change needs to be managed. In order to have successful projects, it’s important to plan change activities. By doing so, your employees and team members will be much happier.
By Chris Castillo, Millennial Career Coach and Corporate Trainer
With a booming job market, it’s a great time to be a job-hunter. That said, as hiring managers, it can be more and more challenging to attract great talent. There are so many opportunities out there! How do you ensure that millennials will want to work for your company?
Since employees are a key asset of a business, here are a few tips for attracting millennial talent:
Have room for growth. A company with room for career development is a must-have for young employees. Especially as more millennials are considering the path of entrepreneurship, having a company that allows them to develop long-term skills is crucial. Sit down with your employees and ask them how they want to grow their careers. If they’re not as interested in their current path, try and find another way for them to do more fulfilling work internally. As a business, be sure to share these stories. By highlighting employees’ abilities to design their careers, you’ll draw attention from more job-seekers.
Emphasize a culture of transparency. Since many job-seekers have their choice of several opportunities, culture is becoming a larger factor in decisions. If you have internal processes to share feedback with the senior leadership team, or a flat organizational structure, be sure to mention these perks in interviews. A culture of candor is paramount, so if you have this, you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd.
Invest in your managers. An employee’s manager has a huge impact - as the old adage says, it’s often what keeps (or repels) them at a company. With that in mind, it’s important to know that your management team is up to the task. Unfortunately, often I hear from clients about managers who don’t really know how to manage; they’ve never been trained to do it and are simply in a managerial role because they kept getting promotions. This is not what we want. We want managers who have been trained on developing their employees and realize that this is a central part of their role . By investing in your management team, you’re more likely to attract and retain great talent.
There are so many complex factors when it comes to retention and company culture, but if you start by truly investing in your employees and their career satisfaction, I’m certain that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
by Krystal Covington, MBA
At Women of Denver, we regularly hear from startups and established tech firms looking for ways to increase their pipeline of women. They know the value of the diversity of thought that comes with having greater gender parity and are willing to do the work to seek out more women to jump in to write code, lead development teams, and bring new ideas for product development.
Denver is a massive talent pipeline for these companies, which is why so many great firms are choosing to move their headquarters to the Denver area, or launch here from the start.
As the local tech scene explodes, educational institutions such as WeWork’s Flatiron School have come along to continue growing the pool of trained coders, data scientists, UX designers, and software engineers.
Flatiron opened this spring and has made a home in WeWork’s LoHi offices, until their state of the art campus at the Hub opens this summer. The company is providing free sessions to showcase their learning environment and specialized trainers.
As part of their Women Take Tech Initiative, they’ve partnered with Women of Denver to help drive more women to attend the course and explore a potential career path in coding. The school has enacted a plan of improving gender parity in the tech world by providing over $1 million in scholarships to women, hosting events for women in tech, and striving for gender parity in their own classrooms. Sponsoring Women of Denver is just one of the many actions they’re taking to be leaders in this mission.
Learn more about Flatiron School’s Women Take Tech Initiative on their website.
Maritza Dominguez Braswell, Partner at Fox Rothschild, LLP
A pivotal moment in my career came during our representation of the Lehman Brothers Estate in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. A group of plaintiffs claimed Lehman owed them a collective $12 billion related to allegedly toxic mortgages. After we argued successfully that a loan-by-loan review was the only way to accurately value claims across hundreds of residential mortgage-backed securities trusts, I worked with my colleague Michael Rollin, to oversee the creation and operation of a technology-enabled, detailed review of tens of thousands of individual mortgages. It was the first time a law firm had undertaken the type of large-scale loan review ordinarily left to underwriters, making the matter truly groundbreaking. Moreover, to lead a team of dozens of lawyers through the review, and then play a lead role in the next phase of the case—a 9-week trial in the Southern District of New York—was personally gratifying. I was the only lead lawyer of color, and the only lead female at counsel table during trial. We secured a victory for our client, and I achieved a personal victory navigating a male-dominated environment in a multi-billion-dollar Wall Street case.
Gretchen Rosenberg, President and CEO of Kentwood Real Estate
In 1996 I became a single mom to an 18-month-old son. I had been working with my ex-husband’s family in advertising, and obviously needed to move on. I asked myself, “What can I do that combines my business background and my interest in architecture and design, with flexibility, so I can spend time with my son on my terms (like being a parent volunteer) and also have the ability to make a good living?” Real Estate seemed the natural fit. I started in sales and 10 years later became a selling manager of one of our three Kentwood brokerage offices. Then, 11 years after that, I stepped up into the CEO role.
Diane Eichler, President and Founder of Decibel Blue & Decibel Green Creative Marketing & PR
I spent the first half of my career as a senior account executive and director of client services for several branding, marketing, and design agencies. My clients during that time included Toyota Motor Sales, The Black Eyed Peas, Herman Miller and Apple. In 2005, my husband and I started Decibel Blue in Phoenix, and we managed to survive those crazy economic years ahead of us. A turning point for me came in 2013. That’s when we opened our office in Denver and moved here, full-time, shortly after. While reaching into the Denver market was certainly strategic, our real motivation was our desire to spend the next portion of our journey in this amazing city. So often in life you end up living someplace because of a job, family or some obligation out of your control, but we seized the opportunity to live exactly where we wanted. Since then, our agency has grown in both markets, and we couldn’t be happier exploring the mountains and living life to the fullest in beautiful Colorado.”
Julie Winslow, Vice President – Branch Manager for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
In 2009, I made a career change from a sales manager in logistics, talking about moving ocean containers around the world, to a financial consultant. I was looking for a career where I could make a direct and significant impact for my clients. I focused on helping women understand the world of finance and empowering them to make positive changes to improve their lives. At a Metropolitan State University of Denver alumni event in 2010, I was sharing my passion for empowering women and was offered an opportunity to design and teach my own class through the Institute of Women’s Studies and Services. This was one of the best experiences of my life. There is a huge gap in education and partnering with MSU Denver gave me the ability to reach hundreds of women and give them the tools, knowledge and resources to make profound positive changes to assist them on the road to financial freedom. This experience also led to me looking for a company to match my passion, which I found in Charles Schwab. It has been incredible to work for organizations that share my passion for financial education and providing resources for investors of all levels.
by Phylecia Jones
What exactly is financial freedom?
Financial freedom is a buzz term, or rather a buzz achievement, that many Americans refer to as a milestone in their financial life. With a simple search of the internet, you can instantly find over 250 articles all with varying definitions of financial freedom.
Some see it as quitting a job to travel the world or reaching early retirement to spend more time with family, while others see it as generating passive income through entrepreneurship or having a lot of money to buy whatever they want.
As you can see, it can be a bit difficult to define this coveted goal, but there’s a simple way to look at it. At its core, financial freedom is reaching a point in your finances where you have “enough” in order to have the option to live more and work less.
According to The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, most people believe they need $1 million in order to retire comfortably but with the average fortysomething only having $63,000 saved, that goal can feel unachievable.
So what will it take for you to reach financial freedom?
The principles of reaching financial freedom are quite simple. It relies on your ability to prioritize your spending and save a lot of money. In order to reach this milestone, you will have to make it an absolute goal and do the following:
Define what financial freedom would like for you
Since financial freedom looks different for everyone, it’s up to you to determine what your life would look life if money was not an obstacle. Travel? Spending time with family? Starting a business? Launch a passion project? This is the time for you to dream about the life you want to live.
Determine what is enough
Based on the life you want to live, do some research to find out how much money it would take to get there. Connect with people living your dream and find a well trusted CFP (Certified Financial Planner) to help you run the numbers.
Get, and stay, out of debt
Debt and financial freedom don’t mix. The path to financial freedom requires getting rid of debt and never getting into it again. Create a debt repayment plan where you can track and pay off debt as quickly as possible.
Master the art of managing a budget
This is one of the best ways to stay on top of your finances to see what is coming in and what is going out. Budgeting may seem like a chore, but once you put it on your calendar and stick to it, this will give you permission to live the life you want.
Cut your expenses
If you read any article on reaching financial freedom, it will always come back to cutting expenses. This is
the moment where you will have to decide what stays and what goes. It’s a hard task, but revisit the first
step. If you want the life of your dreams, you will have to be willing to make sacrifices and prioritize your
spending along the way.
Save more money
Unfortunately, there’s no way to put this lightly. You will need to save a lot of money in order to achieve financial freedom. Start maxing out your 401k, open an IRA, investigate other pre-tax saving options to get you on the right track.
Learn how to invest and grow your money
The key to having money to support your lifestyle during financial freedom is investing. Search for local investment clubs, classes, or workshops so that you can understand the many options available to building your wealth.
While the average American household has a median savings balance of $4,830, according to The Motley Fool, financial freedom can seem like a pipe dream for most, but it is absolutely achievable with a bit of work and focus. It doesn’t matter how much money you have; it really matters how much you value the money you have. Following the steps to reach a point where you have more options to live more and work less will require a dramatic shift in your mindset, your lifestyle, and how you view money. In short, achieving financial freedom will require you to be consistently vigilant to reach a milestone that many can only dream about.
As a young woman I have often imagined sitting next to a living legend, someone whose accomplishments left me in awe, to ask them how they achieved each milestone of their life. I knew it would never come to pass, but it was a way for me to imagine a coach outside myself who could instruct me on how to navigate the complex choices of career and adulthood.
Little did I know in 2018 the opportunity would actually present itself.
I still remember sitting down for the meeting. I’d received a message from the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, an organization I’d been supporting since moving to Denver, to discuss a potential partnership. No information was given, but to me it didn’t matter what the job was, I was ready to serve in whatever capacity the organization needed.
CEO Lauren Casteel sat at the head of the table and asked “Krystal, do you know why you’re here?” I said, “No, but I’m happy to discuss how I can support.”
I was then informed that I had been selected to interview tennis legend and women’s equality icon, Billie Jean King, at their largest luncheon to date, expecting over 3,000 guests. I remember my mind going blank, not realizing this was something I could even be considered for, but knowing I was ready to take the responsibility and have the opportunity to fulfill the dream of my youth.
I happily accepted and got to work spending months in preparation to research and understand as much about Ms. King as humanly possible. Between the research, phone conversations with BJK (our abbreviation for her), and the culminating interview I’ve learned 3 key lessons from the life of this living legend.
You can’t predict what your “moment” might be, but you must be prepared for it.
As a kid I remember being told that successful people have a goal and they strive for it. I always believed that meant knowing you’d be a CEO and going after that, or making it a goal to win a specific championship, but sometimes there are moments in life that we can’t predict will come our way.
Billie Jean King’s first big claim to fame was a 1973 tennis match called the Battle of the Sexes, which was viewed live by about 90 million people worldwide. Her moment came when self-titled Chauvinist Pig Bobby Riggs made the claim that he could beat any woman in a tennis match because men are by nature stronger and more equipped for sports. BJK was his second challenger and she welcomed the chance to stand up for women in a televised game.
In the end, Billie Jean King reigned victorious.
Moments like this cannot be predicted, but when they come, it’s important to seize them and win! King was successful because she made it her life’s mission to be the best tennis player she could be and to be ready for any opponent. She was also prepared to manage pressure, so she could take on challenges without allowing her natural fears and stressors to take over when the big moment came her way.
Similarly, we may not know when unpredictable moments will come along, but if we prepare ourselves, master our craft, and focus on the challenge ahead, we can succeed each and every time.
Know what you stand for and you’ll never look back with regret.
Even before the Battle of the Sexes, Billie Jean King was an advocate -- dare I say warrior -- for women’s equality in sports. Joining together with 8 other women, they created the Women’s Tennis Association to provide a voice to stand up for inequalities in prize money between men’s and women’s tennis. They believed that women were just as entertaining as men and should therefore be compensated equally.
Today, WTA is the principal organizing body for women’s tennis representing over 2,500 players.
When discussing matters of women’s rights in any interview, Billie Jean King has the resolve and composure of a woman who believes in what she’s fighting for. In viewing her clips and interviews over 40 years of career, I’ve watched her carry the exact same passion without ever backtracking on her beliefs.
Watching her resolve over the years reminded me of the importance of knowing what we really stand for. Each and every person has non-negotiables, things we aren’t willing to bend on, but we aren’t always willing to stand up for them. I can think of moments when I didn’t stand strong in stating my beliefs and allowed my principles to be compromised, so I could make others comfortable. Those are moments of regret that will always disappoint me.
When we stand up for what matters to us, and never allow ourselves to negotiate our beliefs to avoid conflict we can reduce those moments of regret and live a life we can always be proud of.
Never stop growing, expanding and making an impact.
If you believed that after that mega-match seen ‘round the world that Billie Jean King was done achieving you’d be very incorrect. During my research, I was astonished to read about all of the things she’s been doing just in the past few years such as becoming an owner of the Dodgers and launching an exhibit with the New York Historical Society.
And when speaking with her, I learned about unpublished achievements that continue to bring awareness to the causes that matter. Being able to refer to her unique life experiences to advocate for these initiatives enriches the conversation and encourages more people to join in.
It’s limiting to believe that once we do something great it’s time to hang up our hats or that age is a factor in when we should sit back and let the “kids” take the front seat. A life well lived is full of personal growth where we take every opportunity possible to make an impact in the world around us.
There’s no time limit on making a difference.
Having the opportunity to sit down with Billie Jean King to ask the burning questions I’d been wanting to discuss was a privilege and a moment I'll always remember, but the biggest lessons came from immersing myself in a review of her life journey.
While my approach of imagining these titans as my personal mentors seemed fantastical, there’s so much we can learn from their lives and often an abundance of resources to help us with the task. If there is a person in the world whose path inspires you and reaching them is not easily achievable I encourage you to make a project of researching them to learn as much as you can. You may find that watching their interviews, hearing their podcasts and reading their articles is an amazing way to capture some of the biggest lessons they have to share.