Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Posted by Sheila Darcey Apr 17, 2014 10:47:00 AM

Sheila Darcey reflects on her transition from employee to entrepreneur and leader at a rapidly growing company.  

You’ve been with BeyondCurious for a year now. Reflecting back on the last year, what has it been like to work at a growing company?

It has been a transformative, enthralling, and joyous experience. If you had asked me five years ago whether I would pursue a life as an entrepreneur, I probably would have said, “no!” Becoming an entrepreneur would have been a complete stretch of my imagination. At the time, my go-to values were certainty, dependability, and security. The idea of joining a start-up seemed counter to my very being. But I’ve recently figured out that I’m really well suited to entrepreneurship. A big part of that is grounded in the lessons I learned in childhood and from my life as a mom.  

Take my childhood, for example. Growing up in a strong-knit Filipino community, every neighbor and friend instantly became a member of our family. It didn’t matter how long we’d known each other; our shared values instantly connected us. And my Manila-Brisbane-Memphis-Los Angeles upbringing taught me the importance of adaptability and cultural awareness. A globally minded perspective is part of how I was raised. 

In the past five years, I have grappled with the emotional highs and lows of being a first time parent. Every decision you make feels even greater when it’s tied to the growth of another being. It makes you realize the importance of mindfulness and the impact it has on those around you. It also gives you the strength to face any challenge and the endurance to continue on when it seems impossible to do so. This past year has been about embracing my personal power and understanding how the virtues of my past shape the landscape of my future.  

Looking back at your "First 30 days inside a startup” blog, how has your perspective changed since that first month?

 First of all, we’re not a startup anymore! In the first 30 days at BeyondCurious, my focus was on creating meaningful impact, driving efficiencies, and wearing the hat of a business owner. While all these remain true, the most significant shift is the parallel I’ve been able to draw between being a mom and being an entrepreneur. Some of the key lessons I have learned are:

  • Daily struggles and challenges are an integral part of the role.
  • Each milestone is incredibly fulfilling, but you quickly move on to the next.
  • The adage “the days are long and the years are short” holds true.
  • No matter how much advice people give, instincts never fail.
  • It takes a village, and each person in it has a purpose.
  • Sometimes, all you need is good laugh (or cry) to remind you of what’s important.     

What skills have you had to use here that you didn’t think you would need?

In a growing business, learning how to scale is a necessity. If you want the business to grow, you have to grow with it. Even if you can’t predict the rate of growth, you must prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally for whatever comes your way. 

 I’ve also learned that scaling isn’t about managing to size, but your ability to manage and influence people. The skill of coaching and mentoring is critical. Taking the time to listen, share advice, and provide guidance has both a short and long tail effect on an individual and company’s growth. 

You have been an invaluable member of the team. Can you describe for others what skills or qualities you think make you such a successful and valuable member of the BeyondCurious team?

For my 1-year anniversary, I walked in our office to see a huge poster that read, “Way to add value, Sheila.” It’s a funny quip I introduced to add levity to our meetings. But, it also describes my philosophy on value-driven success. 

In my role as VP of Client Services, I take tremendous pride in the innovative work that we do for our Fortune 500 clients. I think that one of the things that has helped me succeed in my role is that I understand the importance of building long-term relationships and the impact those relationships have on our overall growth. Not unlike personal relationships, business relationships are built upon trust, openness, and transparency. My genuine love of people fuels the connections that create success. I am able to draw parallels to people’s interests with a greater sense of purpose. Whether it is facilitating a workshop, building a product roadmap or marketing plan, providing one-on-one coaching, or delivering on a promise, personal connections help drive success.  In order to understand what matters, you must listen. 

I am constantly in awe of my fellow teammates, who pour their heart and soul into everything they do. They inspire me each day, adding tremendous value. I think it’s essential to recognize people on a daily basis for their contributions. I help people develop the value they bring to BeyondCurious in two ways: through mentorship and through recognition. Recognizing my teammates for the value they bring, and helping them tap into and harness their strengths through coaching is a cultural contribution I am very proud of. 

Finally, if there is one tool that guarantees you success in relationship management, it is time. Investing time is not a selfless act. Quite the opposite. If we valued our time more, and held each minute or hour as sacred, we would be more mindful of how and with whom we spend it.  Helping people understand the value of their time and modeling that behavior for my team and partners helps people understand and value their own time better. 

Now that you have been here for a year, what are your top lessons learned?

Context is everything. In any client or team relationship, remember the context in which they sit. Even if you don’t understand their world, knowing their environment, situation or mindset will provide you with the insights necessary to be a better partner. 

Understand the WHY.  Even if you think you know the answer, gather more details, ask more questions, and drive to the WHY behind every problem. Clarity brings about the most successful outcomes. It also fosters trust and shared responsibility for solving it. 

Own your personal power. Don’t limit yourself with the notions of what you can or cannot do. Jump into everything with confidence and fearlessness. Even if you fail, fail with optimism. Each lesson builds upon itself, and after awhile, you realize it’s not so painful after all. 

A lesson is a lesson. To build a great company is to give it life. Whether it’s in the daily interactions, the systems and processes we build, or the values we instill, all of it is created with the intention to nurture and grow. By taking the time to draw these types of connections, each lesson learned can be a lesson not just for business, but also for life. 

Learn more about BeyondCurious here.

Topics: entrepreneurship, startups, innovation, tech

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