There is no one formula to the successful pursuit of entrepreneurship. But as much as triumphing in the world of business comes down to an unpredictable, alchemical mix of ambition, timing, innovation and an understanding of human nature, there is one element that can truly make all the difference: access.
It’s not just about gaining access to capital, the right mentors or the best advice. It's about access to opportunity.
Name an industry and it won't take long to find the gaps in terms of compensation, representation, perception and even with the best of intentions, in who is given consideration when it comes down to deciding what a strong leader looks like.
So how do you recognize a good idea and then find the confidence in yourself and the support system to make it happen? How do you weather mistakes and setbacks and come out the other side better for them? Once you do find that success, what can you do to create opportunity for others?
To do our best to answer these questions, today we are launching a new column called Open Every Door.
The name comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson, one that she first shared with her mentor, writer and activist Thomas Higginson. Theirs was a 25-year-long friendship which began when Dickinson wrote Higginson a cold letter (and attached four of her poems) after reading his advice for aspiring authors in The Atlantic.
This was in 1862, but Dickinson’s conviction in her ability is something that never goes out of style. And we would all do well to take a page out of her playbook, because without that letter, we wouldn’t know her as a genius today. It was Higginson who edited the posthumous volume of work that ultimately made her a household name.
This column is about identifying opportunity, understanding what you have to offer and navigating the pitfalls and obstacles that will block your path, with advice from the people who have been there.
So what kind of stories can you expect from Open Every Door?
Ellevest founder and CEO Sallie Krawcheck talked with us about harnessing your power at the negotiating table. Thirdlove co-founder Heidi Zak gave us her best tips for networking on your own terms. Flywheel CEO Sarah Robb O’Hagan spoke about how she learned not to be afraid of taking risks. And director and first-time founder Alexandra Dean shared the incredible story of inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr and the biggest lesson she learned from Hedy’s life: “being yourself and doing what little you can to try and help the world is sometimes the way we make our biggest mark.”
Check back next Friday for an interview with Cindy Whitehead, the former CEO of Sprout Pharmaceuticals and founder of the Pink Ceiling, where she discusses how to find mentors and partners who will go the distance.
We want to hear from you. Share with us who inspires you in their ability to be ready for opportunity when it arrives. Maybe you’ll see them profiled in the next installment of Open Every Door.