CEO Corner with BlackFem's Chloe McKenzie: The Clearer Your Vision, the Faster It Can Become Reality

CHLOE MCKENZIE

CEO & Co-Founder, BlackFem & On A Wealth Kick

Amherst College ‘14 | Women’s Soccer

Greatest Piece of Advice She’s Been Given: “Slow the fu** down.” I’ve actually had 3 different mentors tell me this, and I’ll be honest I didn’t listen for about a year or even longer. Similar to a fitness test, we are so desperate to pass (and we have likely prepared for the agony) that we take off at the start. This burns you out. The burn out is REAL!

I’ve also realized that the clearer your vision is the faster/better it can become a reality. If you’re moving too fast, you have no time to make sense of what’s going on in your head.

Failure She Learned The Most From: I won’t say when (because it was somewhat recent), but I fired every single employee I had. This is an immense failure because hiring is single-handedly the leader’s role. It was also the absolute BEST thing for my business, but it was one of my greatest failures because it was proof that I was doing things without a sound strategy and spending more time trying to be liked than being a leader.

Biggest Lesson From Your Sports Career That Informs The Way She Leads: There is not a single person on this planet who would call me a “pretty” or “elegant” soccer player. I mean in high school the basketball girls used to call me “tank.” I was scrappy, aggressive, boisterous, but effective as hell. What I learned from my sports career is that it doesn’t always have to look pretty (your marketing docs do though!). What I really mean is you don’t have to have all the answers to be effective and successful. You have to just be you. And in fact, because I was such a different type of player, I was harder to defend. Because my businesses reflect the type of person and player I was, it’s been hard for others to compete.

Advice to Athletes About to Transition: Don’t stop training! Getting back into shape sucks. Being an athlete was so addicting for me because it’s when I experienced my greatest (and longest) periods of bliss. It’s a story every time you play. My athleticism and leadership/business-mind are symbiotic. I read a book every morning when I go for a walk or get on the stair climber to activate my mind.

Starting a business and running a startup is like preseason: training sucks! But, it’s worth it to pass those awful preseason fitness tests. If you’re a woman or minority, these proverbial “tests” will feel like you spent all summer messing around instead of training. It’s not your fault, but you need that heads up.

Training your mind will require the same dedication as your workout plan. If you lose your creative energy (which I did when I got too wrapped up in the administrative part of my job), it will take some serious work to get it back. It’s like coming back from an injury.