18 Takeaways from International Women’s Day with General Assembly

General Assembly

On March 8th, we celebrated with our friends at General Assembly with a series of global events that featured amazing women from Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Melbourne, NYC, Seattle, Singapore and Sydney, all spearheading local innovation in tech, culture, social media, and politics.

They discussed how they’ve pioneered gender equality in their industries, the challenges they’ve faced, and provided key tips and strategies on taking action.

Excitedly, the turnout was great, and, more importantly, all of our attendees were able to walk away with action-items, food-for-thought and inspiration from the speakers and their fellow attendees.


“Why don’t we have more diversity at the top when there is diversity in the company?” – Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid

When asked about how a company can help women become leaders: “Shared parental leave is the answer.” – Sophie Guerin, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Dell

“When I am challenged, when I am given a deck of cards, I can accept what is given to me, or I can life-craft. Life-crafting is changing the game, not accepting the limitations that others ascribe to you. We are game-changing entrepreneurs.”Dima Elissa, CEO and Founder at VisMed3D and Tech & Innovation Lead at American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)

“The moment you stop learning new things, it becomes easier to exclude others….We need to start talking about what exclusion feels like and looks like and sounds like, so we can begin to create a more inclusive world” – Sheree Haggan, Staffing Services at Google

“We are women and we should be very proud of our process.” – Suzanne Tonks, Director at Oliver & York Public Affairs

“It’s only lonely at the top if you arrive there by yourself. So as women, we have a responsibility. How seriously do you take the responsibility that we have to lift as we climb? Because that pinnacle at the top can only be fully appreciated and enjoyed if it’s shared with others.”Star Cunningham, Founder & CEO of 4D Healthware

“If I was going to do this, I had to embrace who I was unapologetically, I had to understand success would happen not despite who I was, but because of who I was- who I am” – Jessica O Matthews, Founder & CEO of Uncharted Play

“I did not come to this world (politics) naturally, I came to it because of things in my gut and my life experiences that drove me to be fighter for people who I knew were sharing the same lived experiences and challenges that I once faced. We all have those stories in our guts that drive us, and that motivate us towards the things that we care about and that we want to work on and I hope that you’ll tap into that.” – Wendy Davis, Founder of Deeds Not Words and Former Texas State Senator

“I needed to give women a safe place to be, a place where they could talk about their kids and their families.” – Lee Rolontz, EVP – Production Entertainment Enterprises at iHeartMedia

On pitching to investors: “Unconscious bias exists…Know your numbers…Think analytically…Lead the conversation where you want it to go.”– Eveline Buchatskiy, Director of Techstars

“Millennials and woman are about to experience the greatest wealth transfer of our time”– Emily Winslow, VP of Operations at Peak Change

“Ask yourself: How can you help? Become a mentor…Say yes to coffee.”Amy Hirotaka, Public Policy and Community Engagement Manager at Facebook

“One of the most powerful tools we’ve got is calling out things as we see them.” – Nithya Gopu Solomon, Executive Lead of the Innovation Office at VicHealth

“I can be nice, but I can also be successful, I can be strong and I can be creative….Nice is not straightforward, especially for women.”– Sarah Iooss, Senior VP of Business Development at Viacom

“You shouldn’t apologize for sharing your opinion.”– Moe Kiss, Data Scientist at The Iconic

“Tell me what you were doing 12 months ago and what you’re doing now. Tell me what you’e worth” Alyce Tran, Founder of The Daily Edited

“Maintain militant eye contact when negotiating a salary” Camilla Gulli, Social Media & Content at Vodafone AU

“Keep asking questions about how you can be thoughtful, be bold and be inquisitive.”Caroline Ng, Investment Director at Vertex Ventures

This post originally appeared on Women 2.0.

Women 2.0 is building a future where gender is no longer a factor. Founded in April 2006, it’s now the leading media brand for women in tech. The for-profit, for-good company takes an action-oriented approach that directly addresses the pipeline from all sides: hiring, founding, investing, and leading.


3 Essentials to Turn Girls Onto STEM


The benefits of early exposure to foreign languages, music, travel, and sports on a child’s developing brain are well studied. The early years become the architecture of future learning. The same holds true of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM exposure at an early age becomes an integral part of the intellectual scaffolding upon which other disciplines and interests thrive.

But what if the girls in your life—your daughters, nieces, even neighbors—are past those early, formidable years? What if they wear headphones instead of footie pajamas and are more likely to crack a Geometry book than Dr. Seuss? Brain architecture in late-blooming STEM Gems is no less impressive. All women, regardless of age, are capable of erecting skyscrapers of the mind.

Early is good. Now is even better.


1: Talking STEM


STEM is all around us. STEM is in the car that takes your daughter to soccer practice, in the pink hair dye your niece uses to assert her independence, and in the street angles where your neighbor girl does trick skateboarding. Having adults around who point out the greater STEM picture in everyday life can leave a tremendous impact on a child’s STEM perspective. And you don’t have to be a STEM-oriented person to help your daughter or niece or neighbor recognize the STEM possibilities in the world around her.

Raising four children, my mom always looked for the best deal. She was a walking calculator. Mentally calculating percentage-off prices during holiday shopping and gratuity when dining out became a fun ritual she passed on to my siblings and me. When a delivery came inside a cardboard box, we made a game of the volume and dimensions, creating units out of everything from foam peanuts to stuffed animals. We figured out how many boxes we needed to construct the cities in our minds.

My dad was a firm believer that girls should work with tools and throw balls, not just play with dolls. My sisters and I were often outside with my brother, helping dad fix his car. We passed him tools and laid on the ground beside him, looking at the car’s undercarriage to understand what he was doing. After, we tossed baseballs and dribbled basketballs in the backyard. Without us knowing, my dad was teaching us the fundamentals of physics. After these experiences, learning about force and acceleration in high school was intuitive.

My parents didn’t simply sit us down one day to teach us about how to be an engineer. Through their actions and words, they intentionally demonstrated the fundamentals of STEM all around us. This foundation helped us to find our way into STEM careers.

Talking STEM means deconstructing life, one small moment, one small experience at a time. Every piece of technology, every tool, every food, every event, has a basis in STEM. Pick the moments and experiences that speak to your daughter, neighbor, or niece. Help her to realize that someone in a STEM field had a hand in making those ideas a reality.


2: Seeing Women in STEM


Not every girl is fortunate enough to build cardboard cityscapes and share a nightly dinner table with a STEM Gem. It’s important to remember, however, that STEM Gem role models are closer than you might think. STEM Gems are pediatricians, science and math teachers, and web designers for your small business. STEM Gems can also be found in books, magazines, online, and at local events.

Media can be an amazing source of STEM inspiration, but it can also send young women mixed messages. Overwhelmingly in television and movies, STEM roles are portrayed by men. The few women who fill STEM roles in the media are often eccentric, goth, socially awkward, or just stereotypically nerdy. While some girls can relate, the majority of girls cannot picture themselves cast in that type of role in their lives. The media has only just begun to embrace women of all shapes and sizes and colors in science, tech, engineering and math roles. Pay attention to these STEM messages and guide the young women in your life into meaningful conversations about the perception of STEM and how perceptions might influence her and her peers.

Seeing women in STEM roles is critical to combatting the inevitable disparaging remarks that girls who show an interest in STEM sometimes face. If girls have an established mindset from a trusted source that women can excel in STEM fields, they will be better equipped to respond to naysayers who tell them they’re not good enough or that girls can’t succeed in STEM fields.


3: Exposure to STEM


When I applied to MIT to pursue a chemical engineering degree, I never dreamed so many girls had the mentality that STEM was a boys-only endeavor. Beyond the tremendous role models I had in my childhood, I participated in countless programs that exposed me to STEM. By the time I reached college, my rightful place in STEM was so ingrained, no one could crush my determination.

Participating in STEM programs geared toward girls unleashes something powerful in young women. Being part of a room full of like-minded individuals, engaged in a unifying project or experience, energizes. Once girls are surrounded by peers who are excited about robotics or creating software or studying animal species so that we may better preserve them, our daughters and nieces and neighbor girls find their tribe—a group of individuals who share common passions.

Many universities, corporations and non-profit organizations are trying to remedy the lack of a solid STEM pipeline for girls and other underrepresented populations by offering programs and initiatives, both in summer and year-round, often fully or partially funded to the participant. I highly encourage participation in these local STEM opportunities. Not only does the content open up the STEM world to girls, but it also fosters discussion about STEM and models women in STEM roles.

Talking STEM, seeing STEM, and exposure to STEM are the most consistent themes in the back stories of the 44 STEM Gems highlighted in STEM Gems: How 44 Women Shine in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, And How You Can Too. These three factors are doorways to the enriching world of a STEM career. Above all, approaching science, technology, engineering and math with intentionality is the best way to ensure future generations of women are well-represented in STEM fields.



STEM Gems: How 44 Women Shine in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, And How You Can Too is designed to inspire possibilities in girls and young women of all ages. Profiles of forty-four successful women in each of the four STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and math—highlight vastly different paths, but three factors consistently made an impact on their willingness to consider a STEM career.



This post originally appeared on Women 2.0.



Women 2.0 is building a future where gender is no longer a factor. Founded in April 2006, it’s now the leading media brand for women in tech. The for-profit, for-good company takes an action-oriented approach that directly addresses the pipeline from all sides: hiring, founding, investing, and leading.

Shooting for the Stars – 10 Inspiring Women of NASA


Christmas 2016 gave us a very special cinematic gift: the film Hidden Figures, based on the real-life story of three black women who worked at NASA during a time when women – especially black women – were rarely hired for even menial positions. The achievements of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan, along with many of their colleagues, shattered racial and gender barriers and revolutionized career opportunities for women.


Katherine Johnson


During her time at NASA, Johnson conducted trajectory analysis for the first human spaceflight in U.S. history in 1961. The following year, shortly before famed astronaut John Glenn was set to board the Friendship 7 – the first orbital mission in which a human would be on board – the astronaut himself told engineers to “get the girl” to do the calculations for the mission by hand.

Engineers weren’t confident in machine calculations. Thanks to her efforts, Glenn’s mission turned out to be a success. Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Honor at age 97 for her 33 years of service at Langley.


Mary Jackson


NASA speculates that Mary Jackson may have been the only black female engineer in aeronautics during the 1950s. While at NASA, she worked on dozens of scientific literature projects, specifically regarding aerodynamics. She pursued management positions well into the 1970s before deciding to leave engineering altogether.

In fact, she was demoted in 1979 and took on the role of Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager. During her six years as the Women’s Program Manager, she worked tirelessly to ensure women secured careers as mathematicians, scientists, and engineers at NASA.


Dorothy Vaughan


Though she was the head of NASA’s West Area Computing Unit for nearly ten years, her department consisting entirely of black women was segregated from the other computing units at NASA’s Langley laboratory. Vaughan became the first black female supervisor ever employed at NASA, and she was often personally consulted by engineers to handle particularly difficult projects. In 1958, when segregation officially ended, Vaughan joined her caucasian coworkers and became an expert programmer.


Kathryn Peddrew


Peddrew worked as part of Vaughan’s team, where she was hired after graduating from Storer College’s Chemistry program in 1943. She spent almost half a century working at NASA, first for the West Area Computing Unit, and then as a researcher on balance, aeronautics, and aerospace.


Sue Wilder


Wilder worked as a data analyst during her 35 years at NASA. She was one of NASA’s “human computers.” When she died in 2009, her family encouraged mourners to make donations to her church, where she served her community, or to the American Cancer Society instead of sending flowers.


Huy Tran


Tran is currently an employee at NASA as an engineer and tester of space shuttle heat shields, but she grew up in Vietnam during the war and was later a refugee in Indonesia. As a child, before she fled the country to come to Indonesia and eventually the U.S., Tran was able to watch TV for a few hours during the weekends at a neighbor’s house. It was during one of these viewings that Tran first watched the moon landing, which inspired her to pursue a career at NASA. You can read more about her incredible story on her official NASA page.


Sally Ride


Almost everyone knows Sally Ride was America’s first woman to be sent into space. The astronaut boarded the space shuttle not just once, but twice before deciding to teach at the University of California, San Diego.

She was also the first female to serve on investigation committees following two shuttle crashes. Ride went on to establish Sally Ride Science, an organization dedicated to motivating girls to pursue career opportunities in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.


Jennifer Heldmann


When Heldmann was in third grade, she visited a science museum. Little did she know this field trip would change the course of her life forever and inspire her to earn her doctorate in Planetary Science. She works at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where she spends her time researching water on Mars, as well as analyzing spacecraft data and fieldwork.

Her research has played a big role in new space missions. Through public outreach programs, she hopes to get the next generation as excited as she was about space in the third grade.


Sharmila Bhattacharya


Bhattacharya grew up close to her father, a dedicated pilot. At a young age, Bhattacharya voiced concern that mostly men were pilots, and asked her father if she would be allowed to become a pilot since she was a girl. Her father responded by telling her she could become anything she wanted to be – so she became a life scientist at NASA Ames.

Her work mostly focuses on changes in the human body, particularly the immune system, during spaceflight as well as the biological effects of radiation and zero gravity. She’s watched her own experiments fly into space, which she considers one of her life’s greatest accomplishments.


Tarrie Hood


Hood says her path to the stars was not easy. She lost her mother and closest friend at the age of 14 and became a single mother herself at the age of 16. She says, aside from her career as an information technology specialist at NASA, her greatest achievement was graduating high school while caring for her daughter.

When she was 19, Hood participated in NASA’s Cooperative Education program at the Marshall Space Flight Center as an administrative assistant. Two years later, she was hired after receiving an Associate’s degree in Business Administration. Her promotion influenced her to pursue her Bachelor’s.


Hidden Figures


Hidden Figures, based on a book with the same title by Margot Lee Shetterly, reveals the astounding and little-known legacy of some of these intelligent and groundbreaking women. Their perseverance and dedication paved the way for women like Huy Tran and Sharmila Bhattacharya, who are working hard within their own niches to reveal the secrets of our universe.

NASA is not just for astronauts. There are some truly incredible ladies working hard behind the scenes to ensure missions are successful. Whether they’re studying water on Mars, researching biological changes spaceflight brings, or just making sure astronauts get paid for their hard work, these ladies’ contributions are incredibly important for exploring our solar system and the universe.

This post originally appeared on Women 2.0.

Jennifer Grant is an American History Scholar. Studying our Country’s past makes her feel more connected to its rich history and bright future. Blogging for Americanflags.com allows Jen to create inspiring and inclusive content that she’s proud of. Jen is obsessed with coffee, aromatherapy candles, and reading historical fiction.

Women 2.0 is building a future where gender is no longer a factor. Founded in April 2006, it’s now the leading media brand for women in tech. The for-profit, for-good company takes an action-oriented approach that directly addresses the pipeline from all sides: hiring, founding, investing, and leading.


4 Ways to Grow Your Profits in 2017


While most of the focus in late 2016 was on the chaotic U.S. Presidential election, there was a tremendous amount of activity on the economic front as well. Job growth surged as the year came to a close, and the markets roared back to life as well.  This, along with the presence of an incoming presidential administration that, by most counts, seems like it will be quite business friendly, bodes well for your company’s bottom line in 2017. So as you prepare for the New Year, here are four things to do to make 2017 as profitable as ever for your business.


Find New Markets


Over 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located overseas. Despite this fact, less than one percent of the United States’ 30 million businesses export anything overseas. Companies that take the time and effort to find and serve overseas markets are poised to substantially boost their profits, and develop considerable advantages over their competitors. Lack of expertise is one of the main reasons that companies, particularly small businesses, often don’t pursue exports. Fortunately, there are relatively low- cost ways to garner the support you need to become an exporter. The International Trade Administration’s Strategic Partnership Program, for example, can help companies break into new markets, even if they have very little experience with exports.


Pay Attention to New Tax Rules and Regs


There are almost always new tax rules and regulations to account for, but with a new administration and a supportive congress, the tax environment could change substantially in the next year or so. During the recent U.S. Presidential Campaign, for instance, President-Elect Trump suggested cutting the business tax rate from its current 35 percent rate down to 15 percent; he also suggested making substantial changes to the deductions, as well as the rate at which LLCs, partnerships, and S corporations are taxed as well. All of these changes, if enacted, could substantially boost your company’s profits next year, so make sure you pay attention to them and plan accordingly. IRS.gov normally does an excellent job of providing clear and concise updates to the U.S. tax code, so bookmark it and pay attention.


Customers as Sales Staff


If you have worked hard and have been successful at keeping your current customers happy, think of ways to leverage them and grow your business – and by extension your profits – even more. Turn them into a de facto sales force for you by incentivizing them to generate future leads. Give them discounted service for every lead they generate, and some kind of larger incentive if the lead generates a sale. Get long term customers to work with your sales staff to help them as they generate leads and work towards achieving more sales. Use customers’ testimonials as a key, authentic component of your marketing strategy, by having them appear in ads or in your online social media presence. Finally encourage your best customers to share as much about your company as possible via word of mouth or through social media.


Leverage Technology


If your business, especially your small business, is not taking advantage of 21st-century technology, then more likely than not you are generating unnecessary expenses and failing to take advantage of opportunities to make more sales. Paperwork, for example, can be costly to generate, store and get rid of. Reduce costs over the next year by going paperless. Invest in computers and mobile devices to reduce the paper trail, and eliminate it further by developing online e-forms and receipt systems. The same mobile devices that reduce paperwork can make it easier for your sales force to communicate, and aid in finding more leads; this could lead to more sales and greater profits. Finally, if your business does not have an online presence for marketing or sales, make 2017 the year your company gets on the Internet, reaches a broader audience, and increases its opportunities to earn more profits.

This article was written by  and originally appeared on DUE.com.



William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, “I’ll just Google it.”

Due is a payments, eCash, online invoicing, time tracking, global payments, and digital wallet solution for freelancers, small business owners, and companies of all sizes.

5 Pick Me Ups for the Stressed Out Business Owner


Have you ever seen that meme about a day in the life of an entrepreneur? You know the one. It’s a line that moves up and down throughout the day and the emotions vacillate between “It’s working!” to “Oh sh-t. What have I done?!?”

Such is the life of a business owner. It’s one heck of an emotional ride filled with really high highs and really low lows. I was recently experiencing one of these lows myself and immediately went to my arsenal of pick me ups to take me from stressed out business owner to blissed out entrepreneur.

Here are some of the best pick me ups if you ever find yourself feeling like a stressed out business owner. At least in my opinion.


Inspiring Podcasts


I often joke that my business and finance education has been from bingeing on podcasts. It just so happens that podcasts have also helped me get out of more than a few funks.

For example, I was recently freaking out because I took a financial risk in my business and as the universe would have it, I was having issues with cash flow that month (because that’s how it always goes down). I went from feeling confident to being a stressed out business owner in about two seconds flat.

I’ve come to realize that the best thing I can do for myself in this situation is to find stories and examples of inspiring people who are making it in business. I’ve also found that I really dig audio because I can listen to it while I’m cooking, cleaning, getting ready to go to the office, etc.

By putting two and two together (inspiration plus audio), I realized I needed to get back into an old habit of listening to podcasts produced by people I admire. So that’s what I did.

By listening to inspiring podcasts, I get positive reinforcement in terms of believing I can overcome obstacles as a stressed out business owner. I also discover new solutions to problems that I may not have come up with on my own.


Inspiring Videos


Depending on my mood and how much time I’ve got, I may trade in a podcast for a video interview. In fact, some of my favorite podcasts also have the interview on video which I can find on YouTube.

I have a unique superpower where I can accidentally stumble upon an interview where someone will say exactly what I need to hear in that moment, even if the title of the interview looks like something entirely different.

All of this to say, feel free to explore different inspirational videos on YouTube. I sometimes get inspired in the weirdest ways when I’m open to exploring.




My schedule has been hectic the last few weeks because of frequent travel, so naturally, my regular yoga schedule has gone out the window. I’ve been doing yoga long enough to know what my mind and body feel like when I don’t keep up with my practice, and it’s not cute.

With that being said, I’ll find some ways to sneak in exercise. If I can only hit up the yoga studio on Monday then so be it, but I’ll be there. Or, I’ll make sure to get a lot of walking in when I’m traveling. Maybe I’ll do some stretches in the morning because that’s all I can fit in.

The point is, moving my body helps me tremendously when I’m feeling like a stressed out business owner. In fact, the more stressed out I feel, the more I need to carve out some time to move my body.

As an aside, I try not to beat myself up too much if I’m not exercising as much as I’d like or in the way I’d like to do it. I’ve come to realize that we go through seasons and I just happen to be in a really busy one. This means I need to take a chill pill and improvise.




I started meditating back in 2011, and I credit my meditation practice for much of my success.

As I recently mentioned on a podcast interview, meditation helps keep you out of your own head. It also gives you a little buffer so you’re not so reactionary when stressful situations inevitably come up.

For example, when I was freaking out over cash flow problems, I immediately found some sort of guided meditation that helped me focus on abundance and gratitude. This helps keep me grounded and out of my emotions that I can actually come up with solutions.




I’ve been re-reading “Overcoming Underearning” and “Secrets of Six-Figure Women” by Barbara Stanny. In those books, she mentions the power of positive affirmations when you’re trying to change the way your brain thinks about money.

Sometimes the reason we may feel like a stressed out business owner is because of a subconscious block. With repetition, the affirmations cut through that and you start re-wiring your brain.

Affirmations are actually something I relied on back in 2015 when I was going through a rebrand and breaking even in my business. I made a list of about 30 positive affirmations based on the blocks I knew I was experiencing at the time and taped them to a white board at my workstation.

I saw these affirmations and repeated them every single day, and by the end of 2015, I accomplished everything I’d set out to do. Since I’ve already had success using this technique, I decided to try it again – except this time I’m making a list on my phone as well.


Final Thoughts


Running a business can be extremely stressful and emotional. That’s why it’s important that business owners create a toolbox of practices and techniques that can help keep them grounded when they start feeling stressed out.

In creating this toolbox, we’ll have what we need to cut through emotions that may be clouding our judgment. We’ll also be more receptive to finding solutions for our perceived problems.

Give some of these a try and let us know how it goes.

This article was written by  and originally appeared on DUE.com.



Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She’s also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

Due is a payments, eCash, online invoicing, time tracking, global payments, and digital wallet solution for freelancers, small business owners, and companies of all sizes.

6 Ways The Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit Changed My Life

WomenWomen [Keisha Stephen-Gittens (far left) along with the women from the Ad Club of New York i’mPART Fellowship Program]


It’s Sunday evening, 8 pm EST, and I type this as I sit on a crowded Southwest flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to New Jersey. I’m tired and my eyes burn from the lack of sleep over the last week. Not only was it hectic at the office, but over the last four days, I was lucky enough to attend the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit in Phoenix. Though my body feels the effects of all the activities I’ve participated in, my mind, heart, and spirit feel ready.

In May 2016, I was one of 10 mid-management to senior management women honored to win a diversity fellowship by the Ad Club of New York—the first of its kind. This program was designed to give women of diverse backgrounds access to industry leaders and conferences, and other career building opportunities offered by partners like PricewaterhouseCoopers. For the past year, we’ve had a seat at the table at several conferences, but the Women of Power Summit has truly made a difference in my life.

It is evident that women of color are underrepresented in tech, marketing, and advertising fields. This note is not to discuss that which has already been a topic for the past five+ years. This conference was a place for me to be surrounded by approximately 900 black businesswomen in various fields including entrepreneurship, research, marketing, insurance, tech, B2B, and CPG. In this space, we were not minorities. And oh, there was nothing “minor” about these glorious women! It was like looking into a mirror, looking at myself and looking deeply into what my future could be…to aspire to what some of these women had overcome and achieved. I left feeling truly inspired and motivated after hearing from leaders like Ursula Burns, Bozoma Saint John, Ann Fudge, Gale V. King, Cheryl Grace, Elaine Welteroth, and others.

Here are six reasons why the word “ready” comes to mind after this powerful event:


Ready to innovate and be a pioneer


This conference is focused around successful women of color who have become indispensable at many Fortune 500 companies. They are vital assets to the growth and success of their companies. They stood out, they worked hard, they innovated and they led change. Hearing these women’s stories motivated me to think more strategically about how to approach my work and how I can help my team achieve our goals.


Ready to face challenges head on


Everyone faces challenges in their careers and push backs. I am determined not to take no for an answer. If no is the answer, I will adjust, bounce back, and find a way.


Ready to build my personal board of directors


I think mentors are extremely important to everyone at every level of their careers, thus for the past three years, I have made sure to enroll in formal mentorship programs through industry organizations and most recently, at my office. However, I have yet to build my personal Board of Directors. Many of the C-suite and executive-level women featured during the conference mentioned their personal board of directors and how vital that group had been to helping them think through tough business decisions and to making strategic career and business changing introductions. Former VP and Chief Marketing Officer at eBay, Richelle Parham, talked about having 10 people on her board. I was intrigued.


Ready to leverage the power of sisterhood


As mentioned, this fellowship allowed me to become “sisters” with nine other women with diverse careers from creative to product marketing, research to agency account executives. I will continue to build my relationship with these women as we grow in our careers and I will also forge bonds with others who come along the way, to learn and surround myself with smart people. After all, if we can’t be part of the boy’s club, we can give each other a seat at the table.


Ready to adopt a healthier or active lifestyle


As women, some of us often strive to be perfect, putting work demands and other stresses first. A good leader understands when it’s time to rest and recharge. After an invigorating workout at the summit with celebrity fitness coach AJ Johnson, I was motivated to make time for myself in the forms of exercise, meditation, and relaxation. After the workout, AJ encouraged us to think about one thing that we could change or do with regards to our lifestyles that would help to make us more powerful, strong women. I now understand why a healthier mind and body can improve overall performance and influence happiness, which is the ultimate goal.


Ready to commit to leading a way for others


To mentor younger women just starting out in their careers and to be aware of potential opportunities for others, especially immigrant women who face the idiosyncrasies and demands of corporate America.


This article was written by Keisha Stephen-Gittens.

Keisha Stephen-Gittens‘ flair for marketing and diversity stems from her vibrant upbringing in Trinidad and Tobago.  She enjoys helping brands tell their stories and her passion for content strategy is seen every day through her work as a Content Marketing Manager at a people-based marketing tech company in New York City.  



I’m A Black Professor At A Mostly White School And That Matters


This article originally appeared on The WellJopwell’s digital magazine.

Earlier this fall, I ran into one of my most promising students near the quad on campus.

“Matt*, how’s life? How are classes?” I asked.

Like many of my students do, he replied “good” without much thought. I always like to probe a bit deeper, so I asked, “What the hell does that mean?” Matt smiled and told me he just came from the tutoring center to get help with my introduction to business course because he isn’t “smart like the other kids.”

“Timeout. Are you saying you aren’t smart?” I replied.

He quickly attempted to rephrase his statement, but I interrupted him. “Is it that they are smarter than you, or do they put in more effort than you?”

We proceeded to have a 10-minute conversation about life, working hard, and having a positive attitude. Then we shook hands and went our separate ways.

That was the last time I saw Matt. He died in a car crash three days later.

Our conversation resonates with me even more now, after his untimely death. Matt’s perspective on his place within a college campus is not unique. In fact, I find considering oneself an outsider to be very common among students of color at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). They see few peers (and often even fewer faculty members) who look like them, take courses in which most subject matters do not mention their experiences, and regularly fall victim to the ignorant assumptions of those around them. Since I, a Black man, started teaching in 2013, my students of color have shared with me some of their innermost thoughts, questions, and fears, many of which are closely intertwined with their identities and experiences as people of color. A few examples:

“This isn’t the place for me. I don’t feel like I belong.”

“I’m just here to play ball.”

“I don’t want to go back to the hood, but I might not have a choice.”

“My dad is a hustler and is in and out of jail.”

“My mother is addicted to drugs and is in and out of homeless shelters.”

“I can’t go home – I don’t have a home.”

“My cousin just got life in prison.”

“My girl just got an abortion.”

“I might die violently. Who knows?”

Being a professor of color at a PWI provides me a rare perspective on these students’ experiences and a crushing reality check about my dual responsibility. Yes, my job description states that I am to teach, advise, build curricula, and join committees. But I also often have less official roles as a mentor, psychologist, social worker, advocate, life coach, cheerleader, drill sergeant, and big brother. Is it fair or right for me to carry this extra responsibility? That’s not that relevant. I am reminded of Freeman Montague, Jr.’s poem, entitled “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” My favorite line reads, “When asked, ‘why weigh yourself down with load of another?’ I simply smile at them say, ‘He ain’t heavy … He’s my Brother!’”

I am a 36-year-old professor of business largely because countless people have poured their support into me and seen in me what I could not see in myself. I know what many of my students of color are experiencing. At their age, I too was intimidated by the college experience and questioned whether I belonged on campus. I felt like none of my teachers understood my background or upbringing. One linguistics professor led a class discussion on African-American dialect and, much to my and my five Black classmates’ dismay, focused solely on stereotypical phrases like “yo, yo, yo, whaddup” and “where da party at?” Others on campus communicated in microaggressions. I recall being told with bewilderment, “You’re so articulate” and asked with surprise, “You really like to read?”

So now that I’ve “made it,” I must be my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. I must go from meetings about curriculum revisions with deans and vice presidents to convincing a young man that the dividends of a college degree are much greater than selling drugs on the street.

I share my students’ stories (always maintaining their anonymity) with my colleagues so that those who might be sincerely ignorant of their students’ realities do not dismiss them as being lazy, unmotivated, or unintelligent. This information is often met with astonishment, both that a student would divulge something so personal to me and at the realities and choices students of color face. Their reactions remind me that there is an experience gap in higher education and it has nothing to do with seniority. To bridge it, PWIs need more faculty and staff of color.

As one of the few, my greatest hope is that I can serve as a role model and flood my students’ minds and spirits with the encouragement they need to go forward. My greatest fear is that too many voices will discourage and make excuses for them and that they will never recognize their true potential. We can’t let that happen.

*Name has been changed.



The Well is the digital magazine of Jopwell, the career advancement platform for Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American students and professionals to unlock opportunity. Subscribe to receive weekly stories and advice in your inbox.

Coffee With: Nielsen Senior Vice President Andrew McCaskill

Andrew McCaskill

This article originally appeared on The WellJopwell’s digital magazine.

Andrew McCaskill
Location: New York, NY
Job: Senior Vice President, Global Communications & Multicultural Marketing, Nielsen
Education: B.A. in English, Morehouse College; M.B.A. in Marketing, Emory University
Twitter: @drewmccaskill


Tell us about your path into the news world.


I was fascinated by the news as a kid, but I didn’t want to just be just any newsman – I wanted to be Bryant Gumbel. I loved how he shifted from asking seemingly hard news questions to doing really fun segments. I still watch Inside Real Sports on HBO with a modicum of awe. My high school didn’t have a real newspaper, so I took a Trapper Keeper of five essays I’d written to the editor of my hometown newspaper and asked her if could join the staff. She liked my initiative and thought I had a nice voice, so she sent me to the local radio station to do an on-air test. I wrote monthly features for the paper – a profile on an 80-year-old gravedigger, for example – and anchored a four-hour country music radio news show.


What do you spend the majority of your work day doing?


I am a corporate storyteller. My job is to help our more than 40,000 employees tell the Nielsen story to the best of their ability to as many of our internal and external stakeholders as possible. My days are split between two work streams: Responding to the news of the day, and working to proactively leverage media, social channels and our web presence to build and enhance Nielsen’s brand awareness and affinity all over the world. Nielsen is the world’s foremost authority on what consumers watch, buy and listen to.

What advice do you wish you could have given yourself on day one of your career?


Be authentic. I’m a young, Black, assertive, gay man in corporate America, and all those adjectives help make me a better leader and strategist at work. I wish I could have told my younger self to be more open to the possibility that all the things that made me so different from everyone else in the room could help me be an even stronger contributor. I wasted a lot of energy in my first decade of working focused on blending in and trying to be like everyone else, despite invariably being the only Black or gay person in the room.


Do you have any specific strategies you use to stay productive?


There are enough surprises working for a company with operations in 104 countries. I fiercely police and protect my calendar so I can anticipate and prepare for as much of my day as possible, because once an issue arises, it takes precedence. I am most productive when I have a prioritized list, so I try to be as disciplined as possible about not shutting down on Friday without a list for Monday. Meetings can suck the life out of a workday. I don’t lead or call meetings without an agenda. That makes for fewer tangents.


What’s something about you that people might be surprised to learn?


I am a country boy from a small farm community in Mississippi. Last year, I was on the ground doing work for Nielsen in Dubai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing and three months in Shanghai. My parents hated every minute of it and constantly called to see if I was okay. When I’m preparing for a big meeting or presentation, I listen to Jay-Z’s Blueprint album. That album hypes me up. It makes me feel like a cross between Barack Obama, Reginald F. Lewis and Stokely Carmichael.


Describe the most memorable moment of your career to date.


Twenty years ago, my mentor Jason Williams showed me his photo on the cover of PR Week magazine and said, “If you work really hard at this job, you’re smart enough to get on this list one day. You won’t do it as young as I did, but you could make the list.” In 2015, I was selected as one of PR Week’s Top 40 Under 40 communications executives. Mentoring and being mentored have been the greatest gifts in my professional life. Jason introduced me to a communications career and sparked my interest in PR. While he passed away years before I made the list, I got to share the day that I won with my own mentees – and in my mind, therefore with him, too.


How have certain candidates stood out to you during the hiring process?


Hiring is one of the most important things leaders can do, so I take the process very seriously. As a communicator, I look for people who believe in the product they came to sell that day – themselves. That said, I look for confidence not conceit. The most memorable candidates are the great storytellers. Tell me who you are and how what you’ve done has led you to wanting this role at my company and who you will be a contributor.


What have you read recently that you’d recommend?


Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction rocked me to the core. It’s about the five mass extinctions that have taken place in the history of the planet and what scientists are predicting to be the greatest one of them all. This sixth extinction is the one currently being caused by humans. I’m a science geek, but the book is amazing for anyone. It truly makes you think about what it means to be human and the intellectual caretakers of this planet. It’s a great book, but by no means a lighthearted vacation read.

Nielsen is a Jopwell partner company.



The Well is the digital magazine of Jopwell, the career advancement platform for Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American students and professionals to unlock opportunity. Subscribe to receive weekly stories and advice in your inbox.

Day In The Life: Meet Etsy Software Engineer La Vesha Parker

La Vesha Parker

This article originally appeared on The WellJopwell’s digital magazine.

La Vesha Parker
Software Engineer, Etsy
Brooklyn, NY
Twitter: @feministcoder

8:30am: I wake up to the sound of my digital alarm clock. Resisting the urge to check my iPhone for any unread messages, I enjoy a few minutes of doing nothing before my day begins. I’m much happier and efficient in the mornings when I don’t immediately reach for my phone.

9:00: I put on a pot of Earl Grey tea and scroll through some of my favorite Twitter handles – @Lin_Manuel (I’m still not over Hamilton) and @dog_rates (because cute pics of dogs always take the edge off of news on all the injustices in the world). I’m a member of Code Corps, a group that creates software projects for social good, so I check the Slack channel the group uses to communicate and catch up on a few announcements. Then I get dressed. Etsy has a very casual dress code, so people tend wear whatever makes them feel comfortable. Today, I opt for a skirt and blouse.

9:30am: Off to work. My commute is an easy 30 minutes from downtown Manhattan to Etsy’s new headquarters in Brooklyn. Going through emails on my phone on the way helps me get into the right mental space for work. As a software engineer at Etsy – a global online marketplace where people buy and sell goods, from handmade jewelry to furniture – I spend the majority of my day working on code that will fix any bugs in the Etsy user experience, as well as adding new features to enhance it. I love solving problems that make it easier for entrepreneurs to run their businesses, and it’s an amazing feeling to know that what I do supports what I consider a more sustainable form of capitalism.

LaVesha at work (Image by Jopwell/Janae Jones)


10:00am: I greet the building security team and head up to my floor. We have a kitchenette with snacks on each floor, so I pick up my morning fix of cheese and tea on the way to my desk. I absolutely love our open space office – it allows for spontaneous conversations with colleagues and room to breathe. There are plants everywhere and beautiful mosaics, as well as super comfortable egg chairs to lounge. The roof and outdoor terraces in the warmer months don’t hurt either.

10:05am: I catch up with my coworkers about their weekends before logging into our Slack channel to review everyone’s updates for the day. My colleagues voted awhile back to forgo in-person standups (tech speak for quick team check-ins); instead, we do digital ones, and our stand-up bot is programmed to alert our team of five engineers of our work progress. I go ahead and type up a few lines about what I did the previous day, what I’m doing today, and whether anything is blocking my work from progressing. I read a couple pull requests (a code review on GitHub where engineers send our code that we would like our coworkers to provide feedback on) I didn’t get to yesterday. Next, I check Jira, our task management system, to see what top-priority items I will work on for the rest of the day.

12:30pm: Time for one of my favorite biweekly lunch services at the office: Eatsy! I’m a big fan of stepping away from my desk for lunch whenever possible. I head down to our servery – a large room that resembles a well-designed cafeteria with great natural light and a view of lower Manhattan – to meet some colleagues to eat. On today’s menu? Shepherd’s pie and a salad. I finish off lunch with a cookie (or two).

1:30pm: I return to my desk to continue coding. I’m constantly chatting with other engineers on my team via Slack or in-person to discuss how our code should work together. Etsy practices continuous deployment, meaning we push code out many times a day and have a bunch of mechanisms in place to make sure that what we push doesn’t have negative impact on buyers and sellers.

3:00pm: Time for a coffee break and some fresh air. My coworker Sasha and I step out to grab Brooklyn Roasters. We practice our Spanish (a weekly ritual to brush up our skills) and catch up on work projects and our personal lives. We return to the office refreshed and ready to do more work.

(Image by Jopwell/Janae Jones)


6:00pm: I leave the office and head to my CSA (community supported agriculture program) to pick up this week’s vegetables for dinner. Back home, I make pumpkin white bean chili (a favorite).

9:00pm: I wrap up the night with a visit to my local pottery studio. I’ve been practicing pottery for about a year now and love that my mind can take a break while I’m at the wheel. The longer I stick with it, the more I learn how far I can go creatively while remaining safely in the realm of what the clay will and won’t let me do.

10:00: Back at home, I watch an episode of Black Mirror before drifting off to sleep.

Etsy is a Jopwell partner company.


The Well is the digital magazine of Jopwell, the career advancement platform for Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American students and professionals to unlock opportunity. Subscribe to receive weekly stories and advice in your inbox.

You’ll Kick Yourself For Not Reading These 5 Books

Finance Books

When it comes to improving your knowledge of personal finance, a good book collection is essential. But if you walk through your local bookstore, chances are it will have a whole aisle devoted to personal finance books. The selection is daunting, and you could never possibly read them all. Luckily, you don’t have to. Here are five great personal finance books that all belong on your bookshelf, and can help give you a better understanding of money, debt, saving, and investing.


Personal Finance for Dummies


Already in its 8th edition, Eric Tyson’s Personal Finance for Dummies is a great primer on everything to do with living your life in a financially shrewd manner. The book covers everything about personal finance, from budgeting and debt management to planning for big purchases and saving for retirement. Personal Finance is truly the go-to beginner’s guide for anyone who wants to understand all aspects of managing their money and start improving their financial well-being as soon as possible.


The Millionaire Next Door


While not strictly a personal finance book per se, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko’s Millionaire is nonetheless an essential read for anyone who wants to improve his or her personal finances. The authors rely on over twenty years of their own research to discern the habits, attitudes, and overall characteristics of self-made millionaires – people who have worked hard and become successful because of it. The profiles that Stanley and Danko develop through studying these amazing people shed light into positive attitudes and activities that can be applied to your own personal finances as well, making this book an essential addition to your collection.


The Total Money Makeover


Popular radio host and financial expert Dave Ramsey wrote The Total Money Makeover in 2003, and it has been updated multiple times since then. This is a great, easy to read book to help you improve your financial literacy, and get control of all the money issues in your life. Ramsey’s light writing style helps makes it easy to understand the importance of budgeting, limiting your exposure to excess debt, and even how newlyweds can keep money from becoming a major source of conflict in their relationships. Ramsey also wrote a companion to Total called The Total Money Makeover Workbook, which can even further help you visualize what you have to do to get your personal finances in order.


I Will Teach You To Be Rich


While the title sounds like a gimmicky get-rich-quick scheme, Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich is anything but. The approachable book lays out a six-week program for people to take stock of their financial situations, and design an action plan to improve them for the long haul. Along the way, Sethi takes the time to educate readers about important financial subjects, such as loans, credit, index funds and retirement planning. This book is great for anyone, but it is especially geared towards younger people who are just starting out in their adult lives and want to get on the right track financially.


Your Money or Your Life


Your Money or Your Life is as much a philosophy book as it is a personal finance guide. The book examines how, despite changing times, we are nonetheless trapped in debt-ridden, materialistic lifestyles, where free time and happiness remain elusive. Your Money lays out a different path, one where we live more frugally with less debt and more satisfaction. Along the way, it covers weighty financial topics, such as the importance of budgeting, avoiding debt, and saving for retirement. It is hard to read Your Money or Your Life and think of money in the same way ever again.

This article was written by  and originally appeared on DUE.com.

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, “I’ll just Google it.”

Due is a payments, eCash, online invoicing, time tracking, global payments, and digital wallet solution for freelancers, small business owners, and companies of all sizes.