From Teacher to CEO: Define Yourself
This post originally appeared on blog.up.co
I majored in International Studies and Spanish. I was a teacher with Teach for America. I did oppositional research for political candidates. I’m Latina, young, and have zero background in engineering.
However: I am also a tech entrepreneur, a CEO and a founder. If you come from an untraditional background, you can be one too.
Here’s the wonderful thing about life: you get to redefine yourself if you want to. Some people do this based upon the crowd they’re spending time with or what their family may try to dictate. Throughout my life, I’ve chosen to constantly redefine myself based on my aspirations.
I remember in an interview, the reporter asked me if I always knew I was going to be a CEO. Without thinking twice, I answered yes. She seemed surprised by my answer. I explained: I planned Revolar; I named myself CEO and worked my butt off to grow into that title. Was it all rainbows and sunshine? Heck no! It took tremendous amounts of research and mentorship from members of my community to get to this point. It took endless meals of ramen and potatoes before we were first funded.
I’ll never forget the day my very supportive then boyfriend asked me why, when at a party, I answered that I was a teacher but I didn’t mention Revolar and that I was a CEO. It was early on and I explained to him that I wasn’t comfortable telling people yet because they usually didn’t believe me, or thought I was crazy.
He stopped me and said, “You have to get used to describing yourself as what you want to be.” He said this because it’s true. Your thoughts are powerful and you have to believe them and live them in order for them to come true. From that day forward, I intentionally brought it up to everyone and anyone who would listen. It was awkward at first, but necessary.
When people ask me about how they can make the transition to being a funded entrepreneur, I tell them the same thing. First: define yourself accordingly. No one is going to give you anything; you have to claim and earn it. The next step is to do all the research necessary. Go to local meetup groups for entrepreneurs, actively seek mentorship, and continuously educate yourself on your field.
There is no one tried-and-true way to become the person or professional you want to be. People may not see it at first. It took my close friends and family some time to completely come around to my newly defined self. It’s ok, be respectful along the process and never lose sight of why you started.