by Vielka

When I was in the sixth grade, I remember a friend telling me she was having trouble in her math class. I went home, pulled out an old notebook, and created a study plan for her. Then I went back to her house…and talked to her mom about tutoring her.

I get discouraged a lot as a teacher. Some days the kids are beyond unruly. Other times the adults around me make me wonder what we are doing. A lot of times I feel like I’m being asked to take care of other people’s children more than my own. It’s an exhausting cycle especially when being good at it means a lot of self-reflection and people-reading, skills that I borrow from my former aspiration of stand-up comedian.

I have about two months left of being a teacher in a classroom, as I transition to being a full-time CEO and Founder. It is daunting, anxiety-producing, and exciting. And as my dad recently reminded me, it’s something that I’ve always done. Not the teaching necessarily, the entrepreneurship. I think back to that experience in the sixth grade: I didn’t lean on my stellar math skills when I created that plan; I thought about my ability to help someone else find their own ability. That is what my business is: finding ways for other people to find their own potential. While that is teaching, it’s also business…and really ironic for me since Economics is the class I hate teaching the most. (Note: Any time I have taught Economics, I did give a head’s up to the kiddos that this would 10% state-imposed curriculum, 90% Socialism for Capitalists 101.)

I try to stay plugged into other businesses and startups, especially for inspiration and some guidance. I like to look at companies that are about something other than making money. Chobani comes to mind there. I also like to look at companies that make something that we do all the time, easier. Warby Parker comes to mind there. There are also the companies that do something that taps into a different, oft-ignored market, like Birchbox. And then there are the companies that we don’t think of as companies but they are certainly moving public discourses with incentives (especially if we consider human emotion as a driver); Black Lives Matter comes to mind here. There’s a shoe company in New Zealand that just caught my eye, as well as a perfumery in Europe, and a private bank founded in San Francisco. The most recent cover of Essence magazine nearly blew my mind; that’s the embodiment of entrepreneurship in a few well-crafted pages.

At some point though, I do bring it back to the students. In my own self-reflection, I know that I want to be able to support young people in finding their path in life…and I know in order to do that, I need to be paving the way myself. I can’t tell students to be bold and courageous when they prepare their applications, if I am not doing so myself. I think, like a lot of my students, there is the thought that I don’t belong in that room, or among that group of people, or with that title. And I realize, like I tell my students, if that’s the case, then someone has succeeded in ensuring I don’t reach my potential.

So that’s where I am. Stay tuned for big things and even bigger things happening soon.

Listening to:

Beyonce: Formation
India.Arie: Strength, Courage, and Wisdom
Pearl Jam: Elderly Woman Behind the Counter

(Trying something new ^ since music is so important to me, can express so much, and people sometimes ask.)

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