Our CEO Chick of the Month is none other than Lena Graham-Morris, This woman is no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship!!! In fact she will tell you it runs through her DNA, We took a few moment to ask about her journey and here is what she said..
*Why entrepreneurship? It’s in my DNA. I was raised by entrepreneurs; we have a primary family business third generation builders. I worked with my grandmother in an office setting since I was five. When other children were planning with dolls, we were learning to file and type. Today our family business dominates the Southeastern region of the United States with six offices and I have been instrumental in establishing critical strategic partnerships and securing over $30 Million dollars in contracts.
*Did entrepreneurship find you or did you find it? In addition to the family business, I started my first consulting venture when I was 18. The entrepreneurial spirit would not stop whispering to me. When I was laid off from PBS/NPR, I decided to venture into the world of beauty and even when I attempted to work for someone else ultimately opened my creative studio that I managed for over ten years.
*As a business leader, what’s some of your greatest challenges? Balance, work life balance is my number one challenge. Typically I work an average of seventy hours a week. Ten to fifteen hours days and working on the weekend are not uncommon to my schedule, so I have to make an effort to plan in time for myself and to walk away.
Some hacks that have helped me are to decide what three days of the week will be long days, and actually, commit to ending the remaining days at a reasonable time. Schedule my longer days with intention, limit my meetings.
*When you’re not in business mode, what do you do for down time? I’m always in business mode, lol! Because I always go so hard, it’s imperative me to schedule down time. For instance, if I am attending a conference or event that is not in town I pad in in extra days to relax while I have the opportunity to disengage from normal surroundings. Time with my husband, spa days, shopping, reading and letting myself veg out on NetFlix.
*As a CEO Chick, how are you dominating your industry? The definition of domination is the exercise of control or influence over someone or something, when you are the master of a home or thing, you dominate it.
I continue my quest for professional growth so that I can be knowledgeable and an expert in my field. I have an executive coach that I evaluate and reevaluate my goals with every 90 days.
I also make it a goal to extend my knowledge to others so that I can build my circle of influence.
*What your number one advice to a fellow CEO chick or aspiring business leader? Celebrate your failures and successes. So many times especially in this world of social media we are happy to share when we are winning but hide the fact if we feel we have made a mistake. The moment you can celebrate your failures and mistakes as much as you celebrate your successes you free your mind of limiting beliefs that can potentially hold you back from the best version of yourself.
“The absolute test of one’s character is the ability to lose as gracefully as you win” Lena Graham-Morris
*What are three things you would tell your younger self in business?
Take care of your business – When I say business, I mean paperwork, your taxes, protection your business your trademarks and copyright. Keep your credit intact because so many times in business it comes down to capital.
The dolphins and the sharks look the same until they are right up on you – Actually, my big cousin and mentor used to tell me that, but it’s not until recently that it sunk in. Bottom line you can’t do business with everyone – you need to understand your core and values and vet individuals around you to make sure you are compatible just like a relationship. You can’t jump at every opportunity; you have to weigh out if this opportunity will work for you. SO many times we are so excited as entrepreneurs we jump into venture after venture. Activity does not equal productivity, and passion does not equal profit.
Have the hard conversations - Being in business is not cute if you are afraid to be vocal and stand up for yourself – keep working for someone else. Even if it’s scary or you are uncomfortable put everything out on the table at the onset of the situation and work through the kinks. If not you will find yourself in a precarious position.
*What keeps you creative in business? I have a talent in that I can use both sides of my brain – I am analytical and creative. So hone in on my creative side I have to make sure my workspace flows. Sounds, smells, and aesthetics. Also, I meditate with intention once a week and I listen to my body.
*What can we expect next from you? Keep a look out for my book and time efficiency planner hack. The official launch of my business coaching and consulting business Entreprenista Enterprises LLC and series of informational yet inspiration seminars.