October 14, 2017

A Mother’s Journey: The risk-taker’s lament

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Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

A recent meeting of a group of entrepreneurs highlighted a strange stigma most of them have noticed.

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Some of the top jobs in the United States in 2017, according to Glassdoor — based on job openings, salary and overall job satisfaction rating — include mechanical engineer (ranked No. 20), data scientist (No. 1) and a wide range of professions in between. For me, a listing like this gives readers a slightly slanted outlook on prospective careers.

In a ranking of 50 positions on the jobs and recruiting website, there was something missing — one job that matters greatly to a growing economy, but is treated like the stepchild of the workforce.

To no one’s surprise, the term “entrepreneur” doesn’t fit Glassdoor’s list. But for me, it truly is a job title, and one I think deserves more respect. The thing is, entrepreneurs are busy creating, launching and developing many of the jobs so in demand on Glassdoor.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: Entrepreneurs make the world turn, and without them, well, we wouldn’t be publishing this article in the Worcester Sun – a business created from scratch by two entrepreneurs.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The gentrification exasperation, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Entrepreneurship comes with a strange stigma. We are thought of as risk-takers, aggressive leaders, adopters of “unusual points of view” — to quote a recent comment made to me at a networking event – and often we’re deemed simply unfit for the corporate culture.

But that’s all OK.

You can’t tame a lion because the lion serves a bigger purpose in its ecosystem. The same could be said about an entrepreneur. Of course we are risk-takers and we tend to have unusual viewpoints – it’s what separates us from the pack and allows us to concentrate on our mission and our purpose while breathing innovation.

Philipp Koellinger, an associate professor of economics at Netherlands-based Erasmus University Rotterdam, states: “My hunch is that many entrepreneurs would actually not fit very well into established organizations, although they may be very productive and able managers themselves – as long as they don’t have a boss.”

Koellinger’s statement isn’t 100 percent false. Entrepreneurs do tend to thrive on the very fact that they do not have to bow to a boss or take on an immense amount of work to fatten someone else’s wallet. I mean, who does?

Most employees working a traditional 9-to-5 position – 80 percent, according to a Deloitte’s Shift Index Survey – are dissatisfied with their jobs. Does that make them more fit for the corporate culture than an entrepreneur?

I call B.S.

Recently, I held another Social Media Insiders event through IgWorcesterMA. The sold-out event created a new stream of connections for more than 30 entrepreneurs in the city. We opened the doors to all types of creators, entrepreneurs, small-business owners and influencers.

The results were amazing.

You see, in my opinion, the city suffers from a complex, like most of the country. It stands in its own way while a large community of “woopreneurs” searches the depths of the city to find a network of people who can support their beliefs, their dreams and their businesses.

More recent entries from Giselle:

Many tend to shy away from calling themselves entrepreneurs – even those who fit the criteria at the event – and that isn’t because they lack pride in who they are or because they are confused about their careers.

Instead, it is that stigma. It’s because of the perception that we’re blindly ambitious, selfish, disruptive money-grabbers. When entrepreneurs are pushed aside like that, or worse, ignored, we tend to lock ourselves away from the business world and turn off the idea bulb.

At our event, we spoke primarily about social media management, then I connected with more than half the attendees afterward through phone calls, emails and Linkedin messages to discuss entrepreneurship.

The one thing they had in common was a sense of finally belonging. Like so many other things in our society, entrepreneurship is sometimes just another label that excludes people from feeling welcomed.

But that’s OK.

The success of entrepreneurs is mainly judged in financial terms, and that notion hinders our community. We need to keep our fellow entrepreneurs inspired and intrigued by cultivating an empowering space for ideas and support.

We may not fit the mold of the “50 Best Jobs in America,” but there’s no denying the value we bring to the workforce.

Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning:

Part 1 — The Brooklyn trip

Part 2 — The playbook

Part 3 — The space race

Part 4 — The unsettling score

Part 5 — The point of no return

Part 6 — The poetry of motion

Part 7 — The keys to success

Part 8 — The stumbling block

Part 9 — The Learning Hubby

Part 10 — The next breath

Part 11 — The imperfect storm

Part 12 — The defining moment

Part 13 — The balancing act

Part 14 — The right turn on Pleasant?

Part 15 — The exploration within

Part 16 — The long way home

Part 17 — The road to empowerment

Part 18 — The new direction

Part 19 — The social club

Part 20 — The way forward

Part 21 — The momentum conundrum

Part 22 — The Pleasant Street exit

Part 23 — The stemming of the tide

Part 24 — The starting line, finally

Part 25 — The full head of steam

Part 26 — The kernels of wisdom

Part 27 — The Book of Hub

Part 28 — The great debate

Part 29 The girls are all right

Part 30 — The movement keeps moving

Part 31 — The picture of serenity?

Part 32 — The network effect

Part 33 — The original Woopreneur

Part 34 — The gift of reflection

Part 35 — The resolution revolution

Part 36 — The model students

Part 37 — The growing pains

Part 38 — The time trials

Part 39 — The parent trap

Part 40 — The stress test

Part 41 — The place to start?

Part 42 — The accidental perspective

Part 43 — The road less traveled

Part 44 — The one dedicated to mom

Part 45 — The collaboration realization

Part 46 — The business of growing up

Part 47 — The new home frame of mind

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