Entrepreneurship

Jenny & Me: Behind every business is a person.

Paralyzed.

That is the best way to describe how I felt the moment I started my business.

I had just recently returned home from the hospital with my premature son. I had quit my high-paying job in tech and was doing everything I could not to sink into a deep hole of postpartum depression.

It's not that I didn't know how to overcome challenges. It's that I didn't have the energy. After overcoming so many hurdles—moving across the country for college, surviving a rape, spending ten years working my way up the corporate ladder, navigating through a career in tech as an African American woman, leading tech teams, overseeing global initiatives, showcasing new technologies, building strategies for Fortune 500 companies, making and saving the organizations I worked with millions, and delivering a premature baby—I was spent.

When Jenny Poon met me, I had already started and closed a business, lost some close friends and felt completely debilitated. It took everything out of me to get out of my yoga pants that day, put a smile on my face and drive 30 minutes to her office at CO+HOOTS. EVERYTHING. But I did it.

During our meeting, I presented two ideas to Jenny as my final push to dig myself out of this hole. The first idea was the creation of a product management team. This would be a collaboration of freelancers who would come together to support bigger projects and provide better services. The second idea was the creation of a program that would help people with families. Women, like me, who were navigating through the challenges of taking care of families while working.

After almost losing my son, entrepreneurship for me became a necessity, not a choice, and that made everything more challenging. I felt like I had more at stake, more to lose, and less to give, and if only there was someone or something that I could turn to for help, with no strings attached, I'd be ok. I'd be able to pick myself up and keep going, like I had done so many times before.

Entrepreneurship is the way out for many people. It is their way to freedom and balance. However, getting there takes work. It takes support. Being successful takes a village. You need people who genuinely believe in your success, who are willing to support you through your high and low times, and people who get you out of those yoga pants, send you encouraging text messages at 3 a.m., tell you that they believe in you, and, after being asked to sit on a panel with John McCain, the president of GE and the governor of Arizona, still finds time to swing your two-year-old in their arms and hug him after a tantrum.

Jenny Poon is my unicorn, my guardian angel, and one of my best friends. Because of her support, I am now the owner of Kayson, a strategy company that brings together freelancers to support small businesses, and MORE, a movement focused on helping working parents. Her husband and daughter, and my husband and my son, make up my family, and I am grateful for each and every one of them.

To new beginnings

Happy new year!

For most people, the 1st of January marks the start of new beginnings. They make plans, set resolutions, close last year's books and get ready to start fresh. For many years, I was that person.

Every year I'd have some new goal that I wanted to accomplish. For example, run a 1/2 marathon, graduate from college, play on a D1 softball team, start a business, lose some weight, spend more time with my husband, work less, laugh more, track the moon changes for one full month, take a vacation. Have a healthy baby. Live life happier. 

Some years, I accomplished my goals. Some years, I didn't. Some things that I wanted in hindsight were clearly nice to haves - I could live without that trip to Fiji. Other things that I wished for I wanted more than anything in the world, like having a healthy baby, and when it didn't happen the way I envisioned, it nearly broke me. 

For the last two years, I haven't had the time to plan what my life looks like. That could be because I have a healthy and active two-year-old or because I'm too busy living it. I'm not sure, but what I can say is that today, March 1st, 2016, three months past the "traditional date" I'm in a place where I've never been before. 

I've done a lot of amazing things in my life but nothing as true, raw and real as the two things I'm announcing today. After I had Kayson, I quit my job so I could be at home with son. When I did it, some people called me brave, and some called me crazy (behind my back of course). To be honest, I hate both labels. Letting go of my "professional" career was the hardest thing I have ever done. I was on the up and up - offered partnership in an engineering firm, leading initiatives for presidents and executives and reaching every goal, I'd ever made and worked my ass off for. I wasn't brave. I was desperate, and I wasn't crazy, I was a mother. 

And for a while, I didn't know how to respond. Most of the time I just smiled and said thank you. But in reality, every day felt like a moment in Walking Dead. A fight for survival which only my husband could understand.  He was there the moment my son was born. He knows what it's like to almost lose someone you love more than anything in the world. And he, more than anyone, can relate to what it feels like to be present. 

After I had Kayson, I said I wanted to focus on me. And that's what I'm doing. There were two goals I set for myself this year. Learn more about Amber and go on a vacation. I'm happy to report both are in full force. As a small business owner, it's hard to get away, so I built a vacation around the two biggest things in my life, my business and my family. 

Welcome to Amber Anderson.me and MORE: the retreat.

Amber Anderson.me will be the space I'll use to find my voice, document my journey and learn more about Amber. MORE: the retreat is the place I'll go to prove that I'm not crazy, but that work and life can mingle together.