Female entrepreneurs and the women who taught them how it’s done
Growing up with two older brothers in a single parent household, like so many of us, my mother was our rock. Our father far removed from the situation, mom carried the load like a trooper. The four of us lived in suburban Queens Village, although my mother spent a bulk of her time in transit. She was a department head at a Manhattan financial institution, which meant her commute was a beast.
She would drive to the train station, take the subway into the city and then walk the several blocks to her office. For years, this was her routine and in winters, when she would come home exhausted, I remember her plopping down into the sofa and my brother Derrick and I commencing our routine. He’d grab her right boot, I‘d grab the left and we’d pull her tired feet to freedom.
Mom was and continues to be a dedicated businesswoman. When I was in high school she worked her corporate job, but also started her first business. She was an art consultant and she loved it. It was like Tupperware parties, only she was selling art. Her gift of gab and passion for the pieces she was selling skyrocketed her to the top of her field, even earning us a free trip to Italy. As her assistant, I watched her first hand get the job done. I learned that when you do the work to reach your ultimate goal the feeling of accomplishment is priceless. Perhaps the most important business lesson I learned from my entrepreneur mom was not to chase money, but to instead chase what makes you happy. She loved selling art and the adorned walls of her North Carolina home are proof.
When speaking to Dr. Lanalee Araba Sam, founder of South Florida’s Elite OB/GYN she revealed that her mother had a similar philosophy. Sam’s mom was a director of community centers throughout Canada and worked with people from all walks of life including mentally challenged children and senior citizens. Like my mother, Sam’s mom instilled in her from a young age the importance of being passionate about your career. However, in our society it often seems as though passion and healthcare do not coexist.
Early in Sam’s medical career she learned that doctors are encouraged to increase revenue by booking more patients than they can handle. Sadly, bedside manner was becoming a thing of the past and this was something Sam refused to stomach. Determined to take charge of her destiny, Sam founded Elite OB/GYN a concierge-private practice concept, dedicated to providing uncompromised healthcare to women. Resolute on providing VIP service, Sam purposely limits the amount of patients accepted each month so that she is able to more efficiently focus on the particular needs of each woman. When asked how Sam’s mother is reflected in her daily practice she boasts of her zero turn over rate. Her staffers are lifers and she credits this to the caring and nurturing work environment that she insists upon and her mother believed in.
Like Sam’s mother, Da-Venya Armstrong, CEO of Armstrong Creative Consulting (ACC) had a mother with a huge heart. As a nurse, her job was hectic, but taking care of people left her fulfilled, so much so that she began her own private nursing practice. The late Mrs. Armstrong dedicated her life to being of service. She volunteered often, mentored single mothers and even administered free healthcare. Mrs. Armstrong continuously gave back to her community, which is a trait her daughter Da-Venya Armstrong also holds true.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Armstrong is devoted to community outreach. She is passionate about youth mentorship as well as increasing minority health awareness and combating homelessness. Armstrong’s community service work, paired with running ACC and raising a teenage scholar has helped the marketing consultant master the art of multi-tasking. When asked what business strategies she learned from her mom, Armstrong stresses her mother’s belief in following through on your commitments. The late Mrs. Armstrong believed that no matter how busy or tired you got, if you gave your word, you were obligated to stick to it.
In addition to being a woman of her word, the nurse was everyone’s cheerleader. She always had something encouraging to say, even if it meant giving her self a mental pep talk. No matter the task, Mrs. Armstrong believed that she could do it and envisioned her success. Armstrong believes that this practice of seeing one’s success undoubtedly contributed to the accomplishments of ACC and is grateful to have learned this technique from her mother.
As the story goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We inherit all types of traits from our parents – the good, the bad and she gets it from her momma.