Women’s History Month Feature – Ellen Yin

For Women’s History Month I will be sharing the stories that define and provide examples of women empowerment, uplifting stories of personal triumph and businesses that are inspiring and are making a difference for women. Women’s History Month is a declared month each year that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

I want to introduce you to Ellen Yin, Founder & Podcast Host of Cubicle to CEO.

Ellen Yin is the founder of Cubicle to CEO, an online membership helping entrepreneurs who sell services make their first $10K month, without a large audience or posting every day. She has been featured on the TODAY show with Hoda & Jenna and in publications like Authority Magazine, Databird Business Journal, Thrive Global, HerMoney, and BlogHer. Through her results-driven online courses + agency services, Ellen has worked with over 7,000 entrepreneurs and brands ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Ellen is also the host of the award-winning Cubicle to CEO Podcast, which peaked in multiple countries’ Top 50 business podcast charts and has been downloaded in over 100 countries worldwide.

Here is HERstory:

Although my entire professional career has been in marketing, I actually graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. My first job post-grad was a self-created marketing & PR role at a fitness company I had connected with through Instagram. They weren’t hiring when we first met, but I pitched myself for an unpaid internship my junior year of college and that turned into a full-time paid offer upon graduation. That first job launched me into the world of marketing, and I eventually ended up on the marketing team of a large healthcare company. That was my first and last corporate job – I only lasted 10 months in a cubicle before I quit my job without a backup plan at the end of 2017. I am a self-professed “accidental entrepreneur” who always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but never had the intention of starting my own business until I landed my first freelance client about a month after I had quit my job. I decided right then to stop applying for new jobs and to go acquire new clients instead.

Her business is Ellen Yin Media, LLC. Digital Marketing.

What does women empowerment mean to you?

Women empowerment to me means; creating opportunities, sharing resources, and connections with other women in the spirit of collaboration. Elevating each other rather than viewing other women as competition. I think it’s not only women supporting women but it’s everyone coming together to support female leaders and giving that space whether it is in various industries or life at large.

What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share with someone?

Investing in your own network, mindset, and skillset, in that order. Network: People are your greatest asset! You become interesting by first being interested, so lead with generous action when you network by consuming other people’s content, taking the time to share the work of people you admire, leaving positive reviews, etc. One of my favorite ways to add value to someone’s life is referring my mutual friends to one another for collaboration or services. When you connect others, you actually strengthen your own relationship with the people you introduce to each other because you are now top of mind for next time they have someone they can connect YOU with. Mindset: Journaling, seeking mentorship and community, and reading a TON have helped me immensely with my mindset. Skillset: Always be learning and improving your skill sets! Free information is everywhere and you can make a lot of progress on your own just being scrappy and doing your research online, BUT there is huge value in joining paid programs too. What you receive from paid programs is PERSPECTIVE and a filter for organizing all the information out there so you can skip a lot of trial & error.

What do you want your legacy to be?

To provide female entrepreneurs of all walks of life, in all locations, and from all socioeconomic backgrounds, more equitable ACCESS to live mentorship, community, and education outside of traditional school systems through a networking + media platform.

What inspires you?

I am very inspired by other people. I love getting to know other people through their stories, which is why I started my podcast. I wanted to create a platform to highlight female voices and create a space where they can share their stories because females are so under-represented in business media. Getting to interview female entrepreneurs and hearing their journey, how they built their success, challenges they overcame, and the impact they are making on others; is what really inspires me. I think storytelling is so powerful and that’s why I chose podcasting as my primary media channel and why I love getting to know people through that.

What kind of impact do you want to have on those around you?

I want to help people see the potential in themselves and realize their dreams

What does self care mean to you?

Self care means: 1) Stop letting your schedule be run by other people’s urgencies. Get really clear on what it is you want to accomplish, and filter every task or meeting that comes your way by asking yourself: Is this thing only important and urgent right now, or does it have long-term significance in my business? If I do this thing today, will it create more time in my business tomorrow, or will it continue to suck up my time? Significance has become the key priority I make my decisions from these days. 2) Build short breaks into the day. Schedule yourself an actual lunch and eat away from your computer. Block out 10 minutes for a walk up and down the street and stick to it like you would any other meeting. Some of our best thinking happens in the pause, and self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant or complicated. If you can’t take two weeks off yet like I did, take two minutes off multiple times a day. The important thing is that there is intentional rest and pause in your routine. 3) Understand that “balance” is a myth, so don’t beat yourself up for not having achieved a perfect balance in your life. What’s more practical is choosing priorities and getting clear on what you want and what you’re willing to do to get what you want in THIS season of life. Your priorities will change in different seasons, so honor that. The best way to instill a sense of balance in your life is actually saying “no” more often to the things that don’t support the priorities in your current season of life 🙂

What obstacles have you overcome or hurdles did you personally face and how did you overcome them?

About a year into starting my business, my largest retainer client ended our contract when they replaced my role with an internal employee position. They gave me the option to take that employee role, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to working for someone else, so I had to walk away. Overnight, my revenue dwindled to almost nothing, so I had to start the new year from ground zero. Turns out it was the best thing that could have happened because by losing everything, I never put myself in a position for all my revenue to depend on one client again. The client acquisition system I created and now teach from what I learned during that period of rebuilding actually led me to pivot my business to primarily digital products + media now.

When did you realize entrepreneurship was right for you?

I really believe that YOU have to make yourself available for opportunities to present themselves by putting yourself in the right place at the right time – “jump and the net will appear”, as they say. When I quit my corporate job and found myself with lots of white space in my schedule, ironically it was a co-worker at the company I had just left who reached out after hearing through the grapevine that I was experienced in Instagram marketing. He and his wife owned two local coffee stands and needed help rebranding and growing their Instagram account, so I took them on as my first client for $300/month. My “Aha moment” was realizing that I could monetize my existing skills and knowledge and turn them into a service that I could sell. I knew if I could land this one client, then I could repeat the process and land another, bigger account. That’s exactly what I did and within my first 12 months in business, we had scaled to a 6 figure social media marketing agency. We’ve continued to double in revenue every year since.

Why did you choose entrepreneurship?

I am a self-professed “accidental entrepreneur” who always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but never had the intention of starting my own business until I landed my first freelance client about a month after I had quit my job. I decided right then to stop applying for new jobs and to go acquire new clients instead. I realized if I can do this for this client then I can use my marketing skills to impact more entrepreneurs and business owners. It was more of a gradual journey rather than me one day saying I am going to start a business and quit my job!

What would you say is your most driving motivation to keep doing what you to do?

To provide female entrepreneurs of all walks of life, in all locations, and from all socioeconomic backgrounds, more equitable ACCESS to live mentorship, community, and education outside of traditional school systems through a networking + media platform.

What are you most excited or passionate about? (In both business and life or both)

I am most excited and passionate about helping other people see the potential in themselves and realizing their dreams. I have always been a big dreamer and have always believed that anything is possible. I realized that not everyone feels that way about themselves. What really excites me is when I see people light up and realize that they are capable of doing so much more than they had expected of themselves. Getting to connect with different people all over the world through my business/podcast and hearing the stories from emails/DMs. People reaching out and telling me because of this episode of the podcast I quit my job and finally started my business I was looking to do or because of your program I was able to get out of debt, fund that vacation, or whatever it may be. The life changing things that happen because people take the action and finally go after what they really want.

What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your business and personally?

The goals for my business and for me personally are to keep growing this platform that elevates female entrepreneurs and help people see the potential that they have. That people’s dreams are actually way easier to reach than what most believe.

Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Tell me about them.

Absolutely, I have had so many mentors in my life. I believe that mentorship is one of the most important elements to creating success. I think it’s important to seek wisdom from people who have walked the path before you and who have that guidance and perspective that you simply do not have until you have experienced it. In business some of my favorite mentors who have turned to amazing friendships are Rachel Pedersen and Haley Burkhead to name a couple. In reference to mentors in my life when growing up, I would say my Young Life leader Alison was such a huge influence and my piano teacher, who I looked up to and was like a grandma to me. I have really had so many different mentors for different seasons in my life. Undeniably mentorships are key and I believe that people should always seek a mentor in every season for their life.

Did you have any life-changing experiences that put you on the path that led you to be doing what you’re doing today? Tell me about them.

Not really, I think that’s actually something that created imposter syndrome in me (in the past) . I would think, Who am I, to share my story or tell people about things when I have never had anything traumatic happen or earth shadowing that brought me to rock bottom. So many people tell their stories from this place of overcoming a huge terrible thing that has happened to them. But I do think that there are so many people who exist somewhere in the middle. Whereas we don’t have these huge catalysts of change in our life. We have to become our own catalyst for change and we have to decide if we are good enough or if it is enough, and we are responsible for going after the things that we want out of life. Obviously, my experiences have shaped me, how i grew up, a first generation american, being an immigrant, and I have had to make big decisions in my life. But I don’t think there is one big life experience that has drastically altered the course of my path.

What’s next for you in your business/brand? What can readers look forward to from you?

What’s next, is that we are on a mission to help 500 women in 2021 to make their first $10K month! That is what we are doing through our online programs. For the long-term we are creating a digital media platform that creates accessible mentorships, resources, education, and networking to female entrepreneurs no matter the background and location. This is what we are working towards!

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Women’s History Month Feature – Reenah Golden

For Women’s History Month I will be sharing the stories that define and provide examples of women empowerment, uplifting stories of personal triumph and businesses that are inspiring and are making a difference for women. Women’s History Month is a declared month each year that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

I want to introduce you to Reenah Golden, Founder & CEO/Artistic Director of Avenue Blackbox Theatre.

Reenah Golden is an award-winning writer, performance artist, social activist and educator. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Avenue Blackbox Theatre in Rochester, NY, where she is working with the community to transform an art-deserted quadrant with collaborative, multidisciplinary, socially-conscious arts programming. For nearly 20 years Reenah has been using the stage to educate, affect social change and create new ways of thinking. As a professional actor, Reenah toured in the one-woman show, No Child…By Nilaja Sun about arts-in-education at Geva Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Indiana University NW Theatre on Grand and various universities from 2009 – 2016. In 2014, she presented a collaborative work entitled, To Mothers of Sons for TedX Flour City that can be found on YouTube.

Here is HERstory:

I am a Gen X Rochesterian, born at Rochester General Hospital but was blessed to experience all of the types of Rochester living. I’ve lived on the Westside and Eastside, and currently live in the 19th ward but have a business on the Eastside. I’ve lived in the suburbs Churchville-Chili and Irondequoit. And, I’m also a country girl; I grew up spending much of my school breaks and holidays at my grandparents in Wayne county. I was a tomboy and they owned a beautiful ranch home where my brother, cousins and I explored nature and ran wild. Though I started high school enrolled at Wilson High I ultimately went to Churchville-Chili for two years and Franklin High for the last two where I was class VP and graduated 3rd in my class. After high school I went to the US Army Reserves and ended up serving active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm. I guess this is where I both found out how disciplined I can be and discovered that I really am a free-spirit who loves to create my own boundaries. “Discipline is freedom” is a quote from one of my performing arts entrepreneurial heroes (Garth Fagan) and I truly live by that philosophy.

Her business is The Avenue Blackbox Theatre is an inclusive, fully accessible, safe, bold and Queer space where social justice and art disciplines converge to create dynamic stage productions, installations and live art-making events.

What does women empowerment mean to you?

To me, woman empowerment is about recognizing and honoring all types of womanhood as a testament the brilliance and resilience of women! Though “womb” is embedded in the word and is a source of much of some women’s strength, some women don’t have a womb and that does not make them any less powerful. I often use the alternative spelling “womxn” to remind us of that. I’m here for woman empowerment that is inclusive, sensitive, understanding and bold!

What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share with someone?

Let your passion be your path! We all have something that we are passionate about and we are most inspired and inspiring when living in our truth!

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want my legacy to be that I lived authentically, boldly in my truth but with care and compassion for my community’s most vulnerable members, and that inspired others to do the same!

What inspires you?

I am inspired by creativity and truth. I believe both are always accessible and will get you out of almost any funk or moment of doubt or despair.

What kind of impact do you want to have on those around you?

I hope that my impact on others and my community includes safety, wellness, creativity and also inspiring people to stand powerfully in their truth. I want people to feel like they can do anything when they step into The Avenue or spaces that I create.

Have you authored any books?

Yes. Revelations from the Single Mama Tribe & All Me both books of poetry. I have also contributed poems and chapters to on my work in arts education to some academic texts. I have authored and adapted plays including; Black Coffee; The Poets’ Cafe, Mother to Sun, and Office Politics.

What does self care mean to you?

Self-care is about listening to your body and spirit and honoring it’s needs over your ego. Your ego wants to always concern you with how others see you vs what you truly want or need. Self-care means turning off the ego voice and listening to the truest voice inside that says, “you matter”.

What obstacles have you overcome or hurdles did you personally face and how did you overcome them?

I guess I would say that I have overcome many of the sadly traditional hurtles of being a Black womxn in America. I’ve only barely escaped a life of poverty, domestic violence, the pain of losing your child to the streets or police brutality though all of those things have touched me at different times in my personal life. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and someone who has struggled with anxiety, courage and trust issues as a result. Yoga, meditation and therapy has helped me address many of my issues but is my commitment to both self-work and healing with others that has helped tremendously. It’s not a one and done thing. I have big dreams so I still struggle with overcoming obstacles every day. Expressing gratitude for life and what I have been able to accomplish on my own and with the loving support of family and chosen family keeps me going. We press on!

Why did you choose entrepreneurship?

I chose entrepreneurship to support my desire to be more involved with creating change in my community starting with the school system my child was in. Stepping into the classroom when we entered the public school system, I remember thinking “this place needs a lot of help if its going to be right for my child and it’s going to take time and dedication.” I knew that an employer of a white-led company filled with privileged suburbanites wouldn’t understand what that meant. I didn’t want to try to fit what was important to me, my household and my community into the crevices while I worked my butt off for someone else. I also didn’t feel like the corporate world deserved me, to be honest. Corporate American doesn’t seem like it will ever be truly interested in equity and righting the wrongs of racism, sexism and all the other isms and oppressive practices it’s built on. So I’d rather spend my time, energy and talent impacting change that I can see and feel.

What’s next for you in your business/brand? What can readers look forward to from you?

We just launched a social justice message brand, BLACK. This is a line of apparel and accessories with a simple but powerful message that celebrates our Blackness in all the packages it comes in whether that be militant, unapologetic, Queer, gender-nonconforming, soft, fragile, bold, spiritual, disabled — whatever! We are BLACK.

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