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Small Business Heroes

Use This Mindset to Help Everyone in Your Network Succeed

Animus Women's Innovation Summit founder Lucienne Gigante says providing economic opportunities for women is what will set our global communities on a path to prosperity.
Use This Mindset to Help Everyone in Your Network Succeed
Image credit: Courtesy of Lucienne Gigante
Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.
5 min read

In this series, Open Every Door, Entrepreneur staff writer Nina Zipkin shares her conversations with leaders about understanding what you have to offer, navigating the obstacles that will block your path, identifying opportunity and creating it for yourself and for others.

A month and a half after Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, leaving devastation in its wake, Lucienne Gigante says she knew exactly what she had to do.

Gigante has not one job, but four. She is works as a managing director at Golden Seeds, a venture capital and private equity firm that focuses on investing in women-led startups. She also runs strategy positioning firm LuGi, which helps companies align their community outreach programs with their business goals. Gigante also co-founded AccessLatina, a nonprofit that provides women entrepreneurs with access to capital.

Finally, in 2015, she co-founded the Animus Women’s Innovation Summit, an organization designed to help women grow and succeed professionally. After the storm, Gigante felt a responsibility to do her part to help as much as she could, the best way she knew how.

“In Puerto Rico, 60 percent of women heads of households in the labor force live below poverty level. And Puerto Rico has been going through a very long recession,” Gigante explains. “How can we provide the opportunities for the other 50 percent of the population to reach their economic potential?”

Related: The First Black Woman to Own and Run a Billion-Dollar Company Says That Trusting Yourself Is Key to Success

There was no question: the show -- Animus’s third annual conference in San Juan -- had to go on, even if it was a few weeks later than Gigante had originally planned. The event was sold out. On Dec. 1, 2017, more than 800 women networked and heard from established business owners, new startup founders and big names such as EGOT winner Rita Moreno. The fourth summit will be held on Nov. 30.

“There was an incredible challenge. We were then and [in many cases are] still fighting for survival for basic needs. So that became even more of an important mission to leverage driving women's economic development as a solution to move forward,” Gigante tells Entrepreneur. “Opening doors to women's economic development [is] a solution for a country, a town, a community to transform itself.”

Gigante shared her insights about how to build the infrastructure to help you, and everyone around you, accomplish goals.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What personal traits or strategies do you rely on to create and pursue opportunity?

Listening is one of the key traits that anybody can have to be able to achieve a specific goal or to move on to the next step. I don't think we listen enough to our customers, to our mentors, to our peers, and that doesn't mean we need to do what they say, but we need to understand the variety of people that we're actually going to be catering to and listen to where they coming from and use to little bit of empathy in order to make any decision.

When you experience a setback, what do you do to keep going? 

Failure and mistakes are fast track growth tools if we use them correctly. We need to to understand what happened. We need to think about it and ask what could we have done differently and then move on and pivot. We have to understand that it's not personal because it's a marathon, not a sprint, and failure is an important as of any success we will ever have.

Related: This Single Mom Turned Tech Entrepreneur Shares How She Rose Above Self-Doubt

How can you be your own best advocate?

Speaking up is key to you achieving any progress. I've read that women make CVs for specific jobs when we are a 100 percent sure that we comply with all the [requirements] and opportunities while men [do the same with] 30 percent or so. So thinking about just taking a risk, when you're scared and raising your hand and speaking up, those actions are key to reaching to the next step. We need to take more educated risks. It needs to have to be well thought out. It needs to be a needs to make sense. But do it anyway. Just ask.

What is your best advice for creating opportunity for yourself or someone else?

Every time you help someone or you introduce someone to a mentor or say, "you should talk to this person," [you make a difference]. It doesn't have to be the [biggest networks]. It's [with] all those connections that you're actually helping someone get to something [they want]. It works in a way where everybody moves up. Write that email. Take that coffee. Say yes to that event. That extra mile of helping others and helping yourself plan and showing up. You add on and it makes a difference in your career, in somebody else's career, for your community for your family and for a higher purpose.

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