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The trust-building power of your super hero origin story

I was listening to Work Life with Adam Grant (of course, since I’m a tad obsessed with this podcast), and the topic of trust-building within teams came up. Apparently, one of the best questions you can ask somebody to start building “real” trust (as opposed to surface-level trust) is: “Why do you do what you do?” What a simple question, but not one that we often think of to ask.

So, I thought it fitting that this first blog post reflect my own origin story so that you could get to know me on a deeper level. Why am I starting a business and what sent me down this path? It brings to mind every superhero movie, after all. Who would Batman be without Bruce Wayne? Who would Wonder Woman be without Princess Diana and Paradise Island?

So why do I do what I do? I think the best place to start is childhood. I was born and raised in Houston, TX, and specifically, in a suburb called, Alief, TX. But this was not just any suburb. My high school was huge; I had a graduating class of almost 1,000. And on top of that, it was extremely diverse. Diverse in all forms: race, religion, socioeconomic status, gender identity, etc. I’m still extremely close with my group of friends from Alief, and I think since then, our group has tried to replicate the acceptance and joy we felt from growing up in such a diverse environment. Some people think of this as extraordinary. I like to think of the experience as just, normal. I think this showed me that normalizing differences goes a long way in creating a worldview that includes acceptance and tolerance.

So this seed of appreciating diversity was planted early, and then I went off to college. I was a voice major for a year at the University of North Texas, and I found that studying music took the enjoyment out of creating music. So what else inspired me? I looked through the list of majors and chose Social Work because it stated: “social workers encourage change by striving to end discrimination, oppression, poverty and other forms of social injustice.” Yes. This is what I’d been trying to replicate in life, and it just made sense for me to pursue it.

Fast forward to a few jobs in the Social Work field, traveling to Africa for the Peace Corps, and attending graduate school at the University of Denver. At graduate school, I was able to hone my skills in macro-level change, and I also met my amazing, socially conscious husband. We both moved to Dallas , riding on the heels of the recession, and we worked hard, learning from each other along the way. And we worked even harder because we had careers in the nonprofit space during tough times. I learned resourcefulness and resiliency. I saw systems that worked well, and I saw highly stressed systems. I broke-in my management skills, helping to develop wonderful staff and challenging staff. I learned the most from the ones who challenged me. I kept learning, and I moved into senior-level roles working all the harder because of it.

Then, a year and a half ago I had a child, and named her Fiona. My husband and I went back and forth on names, and in the end, she’s named after the character in the book, The Giver. A book set in a dystopian world where society was stripped of the opportunity to feel a full range of emotions, and to experience the diversity of life. The character, Fiona, helps set that world on fire. This pretty much sums up the affect that my daughter, Fiona, had on my current state of life, and how I think of approaching some of the challenges in society we see today. She set it on fire, and with that she fueled my hopes for myself, and in turn, helped tip the scale (that had been close to tipping point already) toward creating positive change through starting a business of my own.

So, why do you do what you do? I’d love to know the inspiration and origin story of what made you the superhero you are today.

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