This post was supposed to be about celebrating life as a female entrepreneur. But life for me since October 7th has changed the lens through which I see the world. So stick with me, because this all came full-circle this weekend.
How I knew the entrepreneurship life was for me…
In the fall of 2001, I was a newlywed, living in Manhattan and taking the bus across town from our Upper East Side apartment to my office at 49th and 6th, right by Rockefeller Center. I used to walk through the Plaza on my way to work every morning – I loved peeking in the windows at the Today Show or stopping on a Friday for the outdoor concerts. When we returned from our honeymoon, I found that I could not get to work on time because the daily post-9/11 funerals would prevent my bus from getting down Fifth on time. It didn’t really matter that much because this company was so overstaffed and there just wasn’t enough for me to do. Everything I was given Monday morning was finished by lunch. So by the end of the week, I was twiddling my thumbs and taking long lunches to work out. Day after day I’d explain to my boss, Judy, why I was late… again. But there was one day that really showed me I needed to stop working “for” someone and become my own boss.
It was a warm, breezy, sunny Friday morning. As I walked across Rockefeller Plaza, I was nearly on time to work. BUT. There was a Today Show Friday concert series and Sting was playing. I stopped for a few minutes. At that time, post-9/11, in New York City, we knew to soak in the happiness where we could get it and take advantage of good moments as they came. So I sang along (in my head) as Sting sang “Fields of Gold” and then headed up to my office where Judy was waiting for me. I told her I couldn’t help being late, Sting was playing on the Plaza. Her response was “I don’t understand why that would make you late” to which my retort was “I don’t understand what you don’t understand. Sting. Was playing. Ten feet. From me.”
Less than a year later we moved to Louisville, my hometown, and I knew getting a “job” wasn’t going to be for me.
And so it began…
I went through several iterations of being my own boss until 2008 when 520 East Brands stuck. I loved being online and playing on social media (at the time it seemed harmless to share your thoughts and comment on a post). One thing led to another and here we are, still in business developing personas and voices for the brands we represent.
Over time, I’d see others who were brave enough to put themselves out front as a “thought leader” whether in writing or on video. I gave it a try once with my 2020 Live Stream “Let’s Get Real” but even with that, I preferred to have guests who could feature their expertise and allow my purpose on the show to be the question-asker.
What I love about what we do at 520 East Brands is developing the persona and brand voice for the companies and brands we we work. There’s something about “pretending” behind the keyboard that I find fun. It’s sort of like being in the crew of a play rather on stage. I kind of like it back here.
How October 7th affected me personally and how it all ties in…
On the morning of October 7th I awoke to the news of the most horrific terror attack to have ever happened in Israel. I was supposed to leave for the third trip of my lifetime to Israel two weeks later. I immediately texted a friend in Israel to check on her and then started scrolling social. Some of the accounts I have followed for a long time immediately started sharing content and news: Noa Tishby, Lizzy Savetzky, Stand With Us, Jewish Breaking News. Immediately, they began educating me on how this story was going to change within 48 hours and that Israel would become the villain in this. Israel, whose people were attacked that morning, would become the villain.
Then I saw Lindsay Pinchuk pop up in my feed. I’d followed Lindsay a while back because of her marketing content (and she’s a friend of my cousin’s) and picked up a few more great resources with great content to share. Within the first day I was introduced to the newsfeed of Aliza Licht, a branding expert – and you know I don’t use that word lightly – a Jewish woman who immediately pivoted her content to being all about Israel.
Watching Lizzy, Lindsay and Aliza share their videos I started asking myself if I should start putting my own content out there too. But that’s not where my comfort zone is.
This past weekend, I listened to the podcast, “Your New Life Blend”, hosted by Shoshanna Hecht. Aliza was her guest and they talked about how Aliza’s Instagram content and brand voice changed almost immediately on October 7th. In it, she mentioned how many of us have reached out to thank her for her content because we can’t find the words to eloquently articulate in a firm manner what is happening minute-by-minute. I also say there’s a level of bravery she (and the others) has to put her opinion out there, with her voice. I can write all day long and that’s where my skill is. But video? Of my FACE? That’s scary.
I’ve written from the heart and from a place of knowledge and I find my personal take on what is happening actually does get people to read (you might have to click the image to read it):
When I am out in my local community, people thank me for the content I share. I am grateful I have this library of resources available to me that I can help amplify. I feel my skill of being behind the keyboard for brands has bled into my personal life – in a big way.
Not only are we following the news of a war on the other side of the world, we all have friends and family in harm’s way there. As the mom of a college student, I worry about what is happening on campuses and how stupid – literally stupid – some of these kids are. As the mom of an 11th grader, I’m up against a school administrator who is literally as of this moment questioning my integrity as a Jewish member of the community. So… there’s a lot.
But the fact is that for right now in this moment I can stay behind the keyboard and share content with my community that is useful, smart and factually appropriate. Please keep reading, learning and re-sharing. Our very existence could depend on it.
Where I am in this moment
First, I’m still in my pajamas and I have a zoom call in 12 minutes. But that’s part of why I like working the way I do. Sometimes my husband has meetings from his home office and feels he needs to wear a jacket. “You are in your own house!” I say. It kind of baffles me, but that’s the culture of the world he’s in. For me, being able to do a load of laundry while on a call or being able to play with the dogs between moments of editing content or taking time out of my day to stay current on the news in Israel and around the US is pertinent to my self-preservation.
I have found my place as a person with resources people can contact for more information. I am churning out content I find that helps to educate people and keep the hostages top of mind. In my local community, I might be finding my place as a quiet activist. Still working on that. The connections I’ve made, even in my hometown, these past few weeks, have changed me.
So here’s to entrepreneurship and here’s to female entrepreneurs everywhere who know their skills, get a lot done and can use their work skills in their personal life each day.
To the women putting their own faces and voices out there everyday, I thank you for providing valuable content for those of us who stay behind the keyboard to share.
I’ll end this piece as I end every night before I go to bed, by saying out loud or to myself: May they all come home safely, soon.by