March's Person of Inspiration -- Sharon Beason, "Stay in Your Lane, Remain True to Yourself

I’m a serial entrepreneur, educator and startup strategist. Being an avid supporter of and passionate about women’s empowerment, I was very excited to launch my fourth business, Womeneur - a platform to empower emerging and early-stage female entrepreneurs to empower themselves. I firmly believe in giving back and placing people in a position to win. Womeneur launched late April 2015 – with a wonderful launch party in Dumbo, Brooklyn. It was so beautiful to witness community, sisterhood and everyone networking and making genuine connections.

I created Womeneur because I wanted small business owners to have a platform offering affordable resources, no-nonsense advice, motivation, events and a non-judgmental, supportive community while blossoming into kick-ass lady bosses. I also wanted them to avoid the mistakes I made during my entrepreneur journey – especially the ones made in my earlier entrepreneur years.

When Womeneur launched, Instagram was the next big thing on social media, so I went into beast mode fostering relations, building, engaging and growing a loyal community. A few months in, I began receiving direct messages and emails about how much of a difference I was making in people’s lives. Things like, ‘I keep them motivated or they feel like giving up until they see my messages and reading my messages makes them realize they’re not alone.’ Their messages were so powerful and impactful and shook me to my core. To think that my words and actions were influencing people to make better decisions and live a better life was simply amazing. It gave me more of a sense of responsibility and I began to think of ways I could become more responsible. I was sharing messages about the downside of entrepreneurship – making people aware that the journey was not pretty.

During this time, I also began fostering online relationships with ‘influencers’ and people who ‘appeared’ successful in my industry, and the thought of eventually meeting these ‘wonderful’ online personalities in the flesh was exciting. I also began noticing that many of these same people looked, sounded and dressed alike – very cookie-cutter. The things they showcased on their social media timelines were very materialistic – luxury bags next to their laptop, ensuring the ‘red bottom’ of their shoe is seen in a picture and just very cookie-cutter appearances and personalities. I observed the ‘cliques’ and how they were all following each other, hanging out with each other and inviting each other to each other’s events – in my opinion they were all ‘swapping each other’s spit’. I didn’t want to fit in a box. I also felt it was extremely important to strengthen my message to my Womeneur tribe to let them know that just because they don’t walk into a room with ‘red bottoms’ or that an influencer or major media magazine didn’t feature them, that they are still successful in their own right. It was important to empower my Womeneur tribe to empower themselves to believe that they don’t need a clique or certain clothes and bags to be successful – that they were successful in their own right.

Fast forward to early 2016. I began receiving invites to speak at events and 2016 became the year I was being ‘snatched up’ by everyone. You know the saying, no one ‘wants’ you until other people do. It was like a ripple effect – I began receiving one invite after the next – and before you know it, I was traveling cross-country and locally to speak at endless events. It was also during this time that I began meeting in person a few of these online personalities. To my complete dismay, many of them were just horrible in person. It wasn’t directed towards me, but I just noticed they were overall not nice - sense of entitlement, lack of confidence, rude, inconsiderate, self-serving agendas, lack of respect and the need to display their ‘power’. Where were these strong advocates of women’s empowerment? I was mortified and extremely disappointed at these personalities being admired by SO many people, but yet their online persona was a complete falsehood. I thought to myself, how could this be happening? I felt that truly powerful and empowered women don’t behave like this at all! Were they intimidated by my silent strength? Did they feel the need to behave a certain way because I was Womeneur? Or maybe it had nothing to do with me at all, but instead their own insecurities.

I was looking for answers. Why was this happening. Why did I feel like I wanted to distance myself completely from these people who weren’t who they portrayed to be. Were they allowing major media to dictate their worth and to confirm their ideology of what success looked, sounded and felt like? Did they then project this false ideology onto others? Keep in mind I have social proof and a long-standing entrepreneur journey and the same level of intellect – if not more – but I also felt these things weren’t important to ‘them’. I began thinking, why was I being judged and feeling isolated when I’m the one who kept it very real and raw. The one who was truly about women’s empowerment. The one who remained humbled and polite and kind and compassionate. I thought to myself, so what if I’m not rocking ‘red bottoms’. Shit, I have several mortgages to pay, not to mention I want to travel on a whim. That’s what success meant to me – financial freedom and having my money work for me, not the materialistic stuff being perpetrated.

I am genuinely and truly happy for another woman’s success. I’m not envious, but I felt like I was surrounded by people with a grandiose sense of success because of their follower count and material possessions. I felt like they believed they should be the only ones shining. I thought wow, is this what success means to them. Being able to look really stylish on social media? Is this what people are doing to receive validation from society?

This really bothered me for a while. I didn’t lose sleep over it, but I did feel more of a sense to stand my ground and build and create my own shit… to engage and love upon the tribe that gets me. I also realized that the way people are, had absolutely nothing to do with me, but their own insecurities, ideologies and conditioning. I decided I was going to strengthen the Womeneur tone and personality, so I began expressing my authentic, true-self and began cursing more while keeping it very real and raw. I decided to publish more posts about self-confidence, getting your mind right, keeping your standards, not chasing cliques, creating your own sh*t when people don’t want to let you ‘in’ and that success was not defined by what you see in major media, on blogs or on influencer social media timelines..

While I like to think I am very confident, have a strong sense of self, I still wanted to overcome this reality I was dealing with. I am extremely grateful to my therapist, my self-help books, my experiences, my colleagues who were available to me via phone and text and my partner.

Additionally, someone messaged me on Instagram and told me that she felt she didn’t need to wear ‘red bottoms’ if she networked at any of my events. This message was SO powerful. It made me realize that people were most likely being judged and not feeling welcomed for who they were when outside networking. This also enlightened me that my message had to become even more powerful and that I have the responsibility to continue being my true, authentic self.

At the end of the day, I have a strong sense of self and am grateful the universe has connected me to and will continue to connect me to my ‘tribe’. As long as I know that I am my true to myself and continue empowering others to empower themselves I on the right track.

MEET SHARON:

Sharon Beason is a serial entrepreneur, national speaker, educator and holistic business strategist. She’s been referred to as ‘a beast’ for her work flow, a ‘phenomenal leader’ for her community building and ‘super knowledgeable’ for her business consulting which propels business women forward. Sharon is known for ‘telling the hard stuff that you don’t want to hear, but that you need to hear’ and she fuses her no-nonsense, in-your-face and personable style to connect with her audience.

Dubbed ‘Brooklyn’s favorite entrepreneur’ by L Magazine, invited by Girls’s Inc of NYC to curate a Women’s History entrepreneur workshop, and being named one of Instagram’s 10 Top Accounts to Help Grow Your Career by She Leads Africa and known to ‘Help Female Entrepreneurs Thrive In Business’ by Black Enterprise, Sharon knows what it takes to grow a global, engaging audience and has helped 100s of female entrepreneurs define, create, launch and grow their brand strategically and successfully.

Sharon has been featured in major publications including The Huffington Post, The Daily News, The New York Times and Black Enterprise and continues to oversee operations at her concierge company — All About Brooklyn Concierge — in addition to managing all things Womeneur™. Sharon spends her days facilitating business strategy sessions, producing events, growing Womeneur and guest speaking about entrepreneurship, building solid networks and empowerment. Sharon recently released her first book, "The Entrepreneur Startup Gameplan."

Website: www.womeneur.com

WomeneurCollective Membership: www.wc.womeneur.com

WomeneurCon 2108 – www.womeneur.com/womeneurcon

Sharon's Book, The Entrepreneur Startup Gameplan – www.bit.ly/SBeason-EGP

Instagram: @womeneur

Facebook: Womeneur

Twitter: @WOMENEUR

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