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The best advice I ever received: “OWN IT”

Many years ago I had a life-changing experience (though I didn’t know it at the time) when I went on vacation in Arizona with a college friend, Celeste.

Celeste is one of those amazing people that exudes personality. She never makes excuses or apologizes for who she is – all the good, the not so good, and the downright quirky, she owns with pride.

One night we went out and I managed to get something all over my shirt (I don’t remember what, but knowing me, it was probably ice cream). I was embarrassed and uncomfortable and fidgeting a lot with the stained shirt. I had stopped enjoying myself - as all I could think about was this horrible stain.

Finally, fed up with me, Celeste stopped walking, pointed her finger in my face and said:

“Girl, own it! Stop letting something so stupid ruin our evening. Who cares what others may think? Put your hands down, walk with pride and JUST OWN IT!

This moment of tough love had a profound and lasting effect. This simple mantra goes well beyond a stain on some clothes (though, now that I have two young, stain inducing children, that mantra has become surprisingly relevant), it is about everything – all the good, the not so good, and the downright quirky.

I now always try to live by that advice: Being confident and taking pride in what I am, what I believe in, and what I do, even when uncomfortable or going against the grain… or covered in ice cream stains.

Career.Place dual identity – OWN IT!

At the Austin Start-Up week event held earlier this month, I heard Celeste’s voice yelling “OWN IT” once again echoing in my memory.

On the second day, I attended a panel discussing for-profit companies with social missions. Career.Place has this dual-identity and it has been challenging because:

  1. In the non-profit world, there is the stigma of our for-profit business model. For some, the goal of making money detracts from any social goal. We are not altruistic, we are in it for the money.

  2. In the corporate for-profit world, there is a skepticism around our mission. With so many that use ‘mission’ or emotional plea as a marketing ploy, the initial assumption is that we are just another one of ‘them’.

As I listened to the panel discussion and I had that ‘aha’ moment, Unfortunately, the ‘aha’ was a realization that there was no silver bullet for successfully straddling both worlds. Luckily, it was in this moment this is when I heard Celeste’s voice – “JUST OWN IT.”

The truth is, we are a proud for-profit company – revenue allows us to hire people, expand our offerings, and have a greater reach. And we are a proud mission-based company – obsessively driven to remove those hiring biases that negatively impacts both the business’ bottom line and block many great people from rising to their full and fantastic potential.

We will, at times, be judged for driving revenue, and we will, at times, be questioned on our real modifications… but, as long as we are proud of what we are, who cares what others may think?

And so, it is time to OWN IT.

We are a proud for-profit, mission-based company pushing hard every day for the sale and social impact, and we are going to change the world one hire at a time.

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