People are often surprised to learn that I'm an introvert. Though I spend a lot of time with other people, I'm most energized when I'm alone. As I've gotten older I've found myself embracing this part of my identity and one of the results is that I no longer feel pressure to accept event invites where I know I'll be forced to make small talk all night with people I don't know. This week I received an invite that inspired me to take the risk. And I'll be forever grateful that I did.
The invite was for a Salon Series at Hurston House, the name being a nod to the prolific writer Zora Neale Hurston. It's a forthcoming social club and dedicated co-working space where "we center the brilliance of Black women." Hurston House is founded by community maven Rhonesha Byng and interior designer Danielle Arps. Their inaugural event featured a conversation between two of the handful of black women who have raised millions in VC-backed dollars for their ventures. Jessica Matthews, founder and CEO of Uncharted Power, raised $12M —the largest Series A round ever raised by a Black woman founder. Camille Hearst, co-founder and CEO of Kit, raised $2.5M for her company which was acquired this year by Patreon. As an entrepreneur in the early stages of raising money for my own startup, The Cru, I thought these two women could provide me some incredible insight—they did not disappoint.
My two biggest takeaways were how to prioritize my time as a CEO and how to show up. I should primarily be spending my time communicating my vision to stakeholders, making sure the company doesn't run out of money, and hiring the best talent. And that life is too short to be anything other than who you are, so I should show up as me. I also learned that vulnerability can sometimes be the best policy. I shared my nervousness about showing up to the event not knowing anyone with more than one attendee during the cocktail reception. Each time the person responded, "Me too!" and we practically gave each other a hug.
Hurston House promised to be "a space where women are free to unapologetically be themselves." I'm thankful that I showed up and that they delivered.