#WhenIWas15 I loved to read and according to several journals from high school that I recently found, I particularly loved autobiographies, despite apparently not being very keen on the literature assigned to me by my English teacher. I still love autobiographies to this day, but until I found the journal, I had forgotten what an impact Estée Lauder’s story had on me. I now remember reading her eponymous book about her journey to become a successful business woman, at the helm of an international beauty empire. Interestingly I have moved several times since I first read her book at the time of its publishing (more than a couple of decades ago) and have since gone through many purges…yet I have kept Estée’s book (although I could probably have done a better job with preserving its cover).
For those of you unable to read my 15-year-old handwriting in the image above, below is what I wrote:
” The most enjoyable and thought provoking book which I have read this year is an autobiography by Estée Lauder (Estée, A Success Story). Her story is that of a self-made make-up mogul in a male dominated industry. In reading her story she became my idol and a symbol of what hard work, perseverance, and innovative ideas can achieve. This story was so significant because it was directed towards a reader such as myself who is interested in becoming an entrepreneur. Mrs. Lauder describes every step she [took] to reach her success. I was able to identify with her [pursuit] of perfection which is indeed a quality that one must possess to reach premium achievements.”
Incidentally, it was around that time that I began my first venture– a babysitting service with about six or so families, which included a steady client whose son I babysat several days (cash flow management) after school and various clients who booked me on Friday or Saturday nights at a premium (demand-based pricing).
I have since been involved in a few ventures including selling Mary Kay Cosmetics on the weekends to help me gain sales experience and supplement my first job out of undergrad, as a tech marketer. After working in Corporate America for about a decade, I founded a consulting firm which I ran for 12 years and as a social entrepreneur, most recently led the re-boot of the North American representative of a South African NGO. Beyond that I’ve also had the privilege of guiding and teaching budding entrepreneurs as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at my alma mater, Cornell University, where I had the honor of mentoring Karim Abouelnaga–– the founder of Practice Makes Perfect (“an evidence-based, full-service summer school operator for K-8 schools”)– who even as a university junior demonstrated a tremendous amount of potential as an innovative social entrepreneur.
My entrepreneurial journey continues as I embark upon its next leg inspired by Estée and other great entrepreneurs, more experienced, wiser, and with a continued commitment to innovation, impact perseverance and hard work!