Ascend-0304_previewI’ve been called a visionary, a dreamer, an explosively creative person who is always asking, “What if….?” Although my career in the health sector has been successful, I’d still be characterized as a foreign body in highly regulated and structured organizations. I’ve stayed in these organizations because they are safe, which means the ideas constantly swirling in my head have been trapped, stagnant and suffocating.

In spring 2017, I was running out of air. Then I met Melissa Bradley. Melissa is the founder and director of Project 500 and Ascend2020. These programs are both designed to support development and success of minority-owned businesses. Had I not met Melissa, the ideas would have stayed in my head. Thankfully, the Ascend 2020 program helped me get “unstuck”, specifically in three ways:

First, starting a company is scary. Although I am not a risk-averse person, I love the comfort and financial security associated with a steady paycheck. But I craved the freedom to create. My head and heart would battle it out and my head always won—because I was afraid to take the leap. The program gave me the confidence I needed to recognize my potential to become a successful, profitable business owner. I am still afraid but the fear will not impede my progress and forward motion.

Second, the absence of technical resources and infrastructure is intimidating. I didn’t know what I didn’t know about being a business owner. This lack of insight kept me standing still, stuck in a rut. Starting a business requires at the very least, attention to financial health and planning, administrative infrastructure and legal advice. The program provided all three and more. Identifying trustworthy, credible expertise is daunting and thankfully these barriers were removed because this talent and support was identified and provided for me.

Third, leadership is often lonely and feeling alone can be thwart creativity. Throughout my career as a leader, I have struggled with these emotions. Ascend 2020 helped me find a tribe. Having a likeminded tribe provides critical emotional support I need to keep me moving forward. In addition, the tribe is a source of honest, unfiltered, constructive feedback that makes me better and keeps me encouraged and committed to reaching my goals.

Ascend 2020 has changed my life and my perspective. Consequently, I know 2018 will be the year PPH, Inc bears fruit. Of course, I don’t know what’s in store but with this foundation, I’ll give it all I’ve got and reach for the stars. And to Melissa Bradley, my champion who saw potential in me the first time we met and took a chance on me, I will make you proud or die trying.