This piece is part of our #EmpoweringInnovation series for International Day of the Girl. Join us for the inaugural event at Google D.C. on Oct. 11th https://memunatuempoweringinnovation.splashthat.com/
Lauren Maillian, Entrepreneur, TV Personality (Quit Your Day Job), and Best-Selling Author
MM: Describe yourself
Maillian: I am a fearlessly unapologetic and dedicated leader–I think I have inspired and empowered so many young women to not to just believe in themselves and not just believe in their dreams and hopes for the future but also, in technology and venture capital, […] break the cycle of what is perceived to be the status quo in so many different industries. Who I am at heart is a confident woman, a dedicated single mom. My children are my everything. I am an entrepreneur, best selling author of the book called “The Path Redefined: Getting to the Top on Your Own Terms” the subtitle of which if I can do it you can do it too. I am a media personality. More recently, I have my own show on Oxygen called “Quit Your Day Job”. That is Lauren in a nutshell. At my core, I am an advocate and an influencer and someone who uses my voice to lift others.
MM: Who in your life inspired you to be on this path redefined?
Maillian: My two children, Jayden (9) and Chloe (7) inspired me. They both have inspired me more than anything to live the path redefined to be unapologetic about my drive and my ambition to become even more successful […] When you are a single parent you realize that it is more about your future and the future that you provide for your children than it is for yourself. When you have the pressure from these two little people looking to you and depending on you every single day it is hard to forget to put that on the back burner. So having them in my life has been the biggest reminder and motivation and inspiration and catalyst to everything that I do.
MM: Are there any challenges that you have had to overcome?
Maillian: I think we all have challenges to overcome that are not unique to me because I am a woman. I don’t think they are unique to me because I am black. There are so many challenges that you will innately have with being young even in a scenario or industry where people are perhaps much older than you. It’s happened to me my entire career. There will always be someone standing in your way from becoming successful. There will always be someone trying to stand in your way and if you allow them to stand in your way, or not, that is your choice [….] I have gone into four different industries now, five if you include me as an author, so being in five different career paths in a 12 years career and some have happened concurrently[…] you become so conditioned to people not expecting you to know what you are capable of doing. [You] don’t allow that to become a deterrent and you actually have to flip it on its head and allow it to become a motivational tool because you are so eager to show everyone “yes you can”.
MM: How do you try to innovate?
Maillian: I derive a lot of my inspiration to innovate in many different ways from my work in startups and with other entrepreneurs who are trying to solve problems that bigger companies are not trying to solve, or trying to disrupt industries in ways that are unconventional and can’t be done in a more corporate structure. So I think I rely very largely, even though I work a lot with corporations and entrepreneurs, with entrepreneurs, to show me and keep me abreast with what is relevant not just in the start up and tech world but in other industries and sectors. So I think for me my continuing education courses comes from the entrepreneurs that I advise and invested in and tangential[ly] in groups and in some circles and networks that we are all in this together.
MM: What advice would you give to girls who are starting or “pre-starting” to be entrepreneurs in their community?
Maillian: So I think women who want to be entrepreneurs in their community it can start as simple as what I did when I was eleven by having a lemonade stand. It can start with a bake sale or bringing ideas to the table. You can be the idea creator and have your own little business for creating ideas for people. I think they can start as small ideas and I think a lot of what I did in my young age [was] seeing how things are done and not liking it and wanting to make it better. And acting upon it.
I think a lot of young people’s minds are moving a mile a minute. And yes I am still young but they are observing so much and absorb so much that they are seeing problems and issues that we don’t even think exist. It can be something as simple as my daughter complain[ing] about the Starbucks drive-thru and what could make it faster. You can start taking orders sooner or taking your order on your app. And these are small ideas but taking three of them and putting them together on how to make the business better[….]That is a form of entrepreneurship: creating something, creating ideas, creating solutions, creating businesses, providing products and providing services. And so even with my kids, they love having lemonade stands a couple a times a summer. It teaches them a level of responsibility. As an adult I didn’t realize how important my lemonade stand was for my journey of being an entrepreneur until writing my book. It taught that I wanted to own my own destiny, showed me that I wanted to own my own destiny and taught me that it can be done and how to do it. And I think whenever young people who have the opportunity and it can be as simple as in school that when your friend is struggling writing his resume for a job and you create a center for editing and improve writing because you are a strong writer is a form entrepreneurship. You are creating a solution to the problem and creating revenue for yourself [….]
There is no better time to explore entrepreneurship than when you are young. As young as possible because when you are young a) you have so much energy and b) you have nothing to lose.