Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in leadership development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jenny Vazquez-Newsum, CEO of Untapped Leaders, LLC, located in Santa Monica, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Untapped Leaders is:
- A private leadership development community for leaders of color.
- A framework that amplifies marginalized and overlooked leadership strategies for fresh approaches to complex challenges
- An organizational consulting practice supporting companies to uncover the untapped leadership that exists in their teams.
The Untapped Leaders Community brings together Black, Indigenous, Latinx/a/o, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, MENA, and otherwise marginalized leaders from across industries to learn from each other through weekly facilitated leadership discussions, small-group peer support sessions, and a diverse network of members committed to each others' success.
Tell us about yourself
I am a leadership consultant, speaker, and author of Untapped Leadership: Harnessing the Power of Underrepresented Leaders (Out June 2023). I've had a long-time interest in leadership stemming all the way back to being a 5th-grade elementary school elected official. As a biracial Black/Latinx woman, the leadership journey has been bumpy, invigorating, challenging, and a life's work.
Across my career, I have worked with 500+ leaders ranging from established executives at large corporations to high school students beginning their leadership journeys -- witnessing the untapped capacities that exist across all stages in career paths. Through my prior work as Vice President of Leadership Training and Programs at Coro Southern California, I designed and facilitated cohort-based programs for leaders across all sectors and industries.
Interested in digging deeper into the limitations of current leadership rhetoric and bringing in the voices of the often-unrecognized leadership contributions of BIPOC and marginalized leaders, I launched Untapped Leaders in July 2022 to create a space for those contributions to be named, validated, and amplified. Having studied and facilitated leadership frameworks for the past two decades, I realized most all frameworks are not developed by nor for leaders of color. As a result, I designed the Untapped Leadership framework.
I'm motivated each day to shift leadership narratives beyond the dominant perspectives that only represent a select few.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am most proud of the quality and thoughtfulness of the Untapped Leaders Community leadership sessions. We have excellent BIPOC facilitators who lead a committed group of members who are digging into career and leadership development tools while centering our most marginalized perspectives. We have created a space to have REAL conversations about work that are often impossible in other environments. I consider it a significant accomplishment to have facilitated the creation of such a space for our community members.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest, yet not unexpected, things about being a business owner is consistently being in iteration mode. Being on the ground floor of building a business means my first idea is not always the best idea, nor is my 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. Building comfort with constantly tweaking offers and messaging-- and being wrong-- can be challenging. But, in that process is the makings of a really powerful and meaningful business.
Another challenge is being relentless about not letting business ownership take over my life. When thinking about how I work best and the many roles I have (as a business owner, mom of young kids, etc.), maintaining a 4-day workweek has been an essential part of my design. It can be challenging to maintain that commitment when building something from the ground can feel like it requires 24/7 attention. Yet, those moments of stepping away give me more clarity on what to prioritize, which also helps me build a stronger, more sustainable business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get clear on your "why" and be flexible on your "how."
- Nothing is ever accomplished alone. Find your people!
- Maintain an identity outside of your business.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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