I’ve had something on my mind for the past few months.
To be honest, I’ve hesitated to write this for fear of alienating the very same people I promised myself I would help: entrepreneurs.
But I’m tired of watching other business owners and so-called “gurus” stay silent.
When a government threatens the very world we all hold dear, the world that allows you to jet set to work at beachside cafés, type up jealousy-inducing Facebook statuses about your next travel destination, and preach the gospel of online entrepreneurship endlessly, hashtag #workfromwherever…
…and you still think it’s OK to carry on with “business as usual”?
Closing our eyes, ears and hearts to what’s going on beyond our laptop screens isn’t who we are.
We’re warriors, waging a campaign against any type of system that holds us back from our true potential, and making the impact we were born to make.
So shouldn’t we be fighting harder in the face of global injustice when it affects all of us?
Listen, I’m not saying you’re not doing enough when you’re juggling a business, your family, and your day-to-day.
Everyone’s got their own struggles. Everyone is genuinely trying to manage what’s in front of them as best as they can.
But I think we can use our platforms to speak out, stand up, and demand better.
Here are a few ways you and I can do just that.
1 – Use Your Influence to Inspire Change
There are two parts to your personal brand: (1) your brand and (2) who you are as a person.
Fellow entrepreneurs and I speak often on, “where do I draw the line between sharing authentically and over-sharing?”
“How do I stay true to myself and my beliefs without losing the very audience I’m trying to build a connection with?”
Honestly, I still don’t have the answer to this question.
Which is why I look to others for inspiration in what they’re saying and sharing with their tribe. I follow my fair share of “gurus” and bossladies who I aspire to learn from.
But ever since our president was elected in November — there’s been an eerie silence.
The so-called marketing gurus I followed said nothing. The brands and influencers I followed on Instagram said nothing. What’s worse, everyone’s kept on as if it’s business as normal.
To give you an example, when self-proclaimed feminist and #SquadGoals queen, Taylor Swift, tweeted:
…there was understandable uproar. Where was her voice for her 83 million Twitter followers in the months leading up to the election? If she really stood for feminism, why was she silent on issues related to all womankind, not just the ladies in her “squad”?
As one fan put it,
Now, back to you, fellow entrepreneur.
I’m not asking you to talk politics to your followers if it’s not something you’re comfortable with. Or if it means alienating the fan base you’ve spent years building (which I would imagine is the case for Ms. Swift).
What I am asking is for you to stand for something — boldly and unapologetically.
Whether you have 100 followers or 1 million, you have been given a platform. A voice to inspire others to take meaningful action on things that matter.
To say that your mission is to empower women to follow their dreams when their very livelihoods, safety and health is at stake with our new president… that denies your audience’s reality.
And, frankly, you look like an out-of-touch d*uche.
So before you post your next perfectly crafted photo for the ‘gram, stop and think,
“Is this something that adds value to the existing conversation? Is this aligned with who I am and what I believe in? Can I potentially use this content to spread awareness or affect positive change?”
2 – Create Community that Fosters Genuine Connection
As a solopreneur, I naturally sought out a tribe to connect with (my cat, Gordo, is my only coworker at home and doesn’t really provide stimulating conversation).
So I took online courses, signed up for membership websites, attended conferences and networking events. I met clients, colleagues and lifelong friends who were on this crazy path like I was. I signed up for entrepreneur Facebook groups and membership websites in English and Spanish.
These online communities are teeming with eager collaboration, raw moments of “crap, I’m stuck… can you guys help me?”. And it’s inspiring to see everyone rally to help each other out.
Here was my tribe of insanely positive go-getters who believed that with hard work and hustle, anything was possible. It felt like an oasis of understanding in a sea of naysayers and 9-to-5ers.
So I actively curated my newsfeed to only see these fellow entrepreneurs’ posts.
Inspirational quotes, manicured desks and shelves, carefully angled stacks of notebooks with peonies. Reclaimed wood tables for your cold brew coffee, avocado toast, and laptops at a café in your country du jour.
Without realizing it, I’d created a bubble that allowed me to live in La La Land, blissfully ignorant of what was going on around me.
Pre-election, I’d go to my online hubs daily for a feeling of connection and solidarity.
Post-election, there’s been this weird, unwritten, universally-acknowledged rule that you just don’t talk about politics in these forums. In fact, there’s no mention of it at all.
I was, understandably, heartbroken that the country I call home suddenly felt foreign to me. That the values I thought my country stood for seemed to vanish overnight. That my Spanish husband and I have to think twice about traveling together to visit my family back home.
I was genuinely grieving… and the very same people I had looked to in my day-to-day entrepreneur struggles just casually brushed any mention of anything resembling politics under the rug.
Just a few days ago, someone in my accountability group wrote, “Ahh… just de-Trumped my newsfeed. That feels better.”
The fact that you have the privilege to think that the big, wide world can’t affect you with the simple click of a “Mute” or “Hide” button is cute…
But that’s perpetuating the lack of empathy that got us all into this mess in the first place.
So rather than doing the digital equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing at the top of your lungs…
…why not find a way to actively engage with those who are genuinely worried and hurting?
Why not offer support that goes beyond just helping each other with what WordPress plugin to use or reviewing website copy?
Because as we entrepreneurs know, business isn’t just business for us — it’s deeply personal.
And I think it’s high time we fostered human connection beyond mere cheerleading when the emotional stakes are higher than ever.
3 – Embrace Our Differences and Learn from Diversity
I’m an American from California, a daughter of Filipino immigrants (now naturalized citizens), now married to a Spaniard and living in Madrid.
My parents raised me with values I’d like to think most of us grew up with.
Work hard for what you want. Be kind to others. Stand up for what you believe in. Find work you love. Give back when you can.
And because of who my parents are and where they came from, I learned another important lesson early on.
That as an immigrant (read: not white-looking), you’re going to have to work doubly, if not, quadruply hard for you to be successful.
That you have to overcome more obstacles in the path to succeeding than others.
That you will be judged against criteria that’s far tougher than your peers because of where you come from and how you look like.
That while success can be achieved through hard work, each of our starting points are different (read: privilege).
And the best you can do is to silently acknowledge it (you don’t wanna be seen as a victim, after all) and hope that your work speaks for itself.
Listen, I’m not writing this to make you feel sorry for me. It’s a reality I’ve come to terms with and am trying my best to navigate.
But I am asking you to acknowledge that you have privilege (without guilt), and reflect on how you can use that for the greater good.
It means you can and should use your platform to help those whose starting points are behind yours.
You can and should shed light on stories that don’t conform to one neatly-bow-tied narrative or one spectrum of the Pantone color chart.
Your voice matters because you think outside of the box, you focus on solutions rather than problems, and you genuinely care about others.
You Have a Voice, Now Stand For Something
I’ll leave you with this final thought:
Please use that voice, fellow entrepreneur. We need it now more than ever.