Happy Tuesday! I am trying to get back in the swing of things. I got back from Morocco Saturday morning. It was a 23 hour trip home and a five hour time difference. My body has been so confused! I got back home and immediately went back in mommy mode…no time for sleep! Basketball games and events were still scheduled for the weekend. I rested a little yesterday and I am up and ready today!
My trip was life changing; it opened my eyes to so many things! I am so fortunate to have been selected to be only one of four African Americans (the only female) to speak in the Innovation Zone at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. It is still pretty surreal!
I will answer the number one question I received: “Why as an attorney & business consultant, were you selected to speak on climate change?”
LOL…Yes, when I got the emailed invitation from the organizer I was pretty confused too! Later, I learned that the organizer wanted me to speak about how climate change has had an impact on female entrepreneurs. I used this platform to speak about my own experiences as an entrepreneur after Hurricane Katrina. I spoke about how this natural disaster, as well as others, caused people to have to do whatever it takes to survive. I discussed how so many men that acted as the head of the household before the disaster were displaced and emotionally distraught and unable to cope. Many women had to step up and begin taking the leader position in the household- often using their own skills and expertise to earn money. Like myself they “accidentally” became entrepreneurs. I don’t want to spoil it all, so I will save some for you to watch on video once it become available.
I learned more about climate change and it’s impacts on entrepreneurs, small and large businesses and families. The conference was so informative! I learned some other things totally unrelated to climate change.
Here are a few of the other things I learned:
1. The World is Big. That sounds pretty obvious, right? I’m sureyou knew that! It became even more clear the more I interacted with people from all over the world. I made major connections with people from Paris, Camaroon, Morocco, Ethiopia and more. So often as entrepreneurs we hear others encourage us to see things outside of our city. It is then encouraged for us to think outside of our state; to think nationwide. This experience in Morocco encouraged me to see things BIGGER! It encouraged me to think GLOBAL.
Maybe the United States (or whatever country you reside) is just not big enough for you.
This trip allowed me to talk with others about how they do business. I learned so much; my mindset will never be the same.
2. Entrepreneurship Builds Communities. While in Marrakesh, Morocco I did not stay in a typical hotel. I stayed in a riad, a traditional Moroccanhome. Living in the TRUE Moroccan environment I saw Marrakesh, Morocco in a different way than the average tourist. The people of Marrakesh live behind a huge circular wall in the middle of the city. Inside this wall are terra-cotta buildings built closely together that you would never imagine anyone residing.
Pictures of Marrakesh from the early 1900’s depict exactly what Marrakesh looks like today in 2016! Inside these old buildings are amazing living spaces. I stayed in the home with the other three African-Americans that I presented with at the conference. We had a house manager and a cook- they treated us like family. The house manager took me out to see the marketplace. The marketplace was also inside the “wall”. To the residents, the marketplace to them is much like a grocery store or a Target for us. They all mostly work/own one of these shops. The residents sell meat, spices, clothing. leather goods, fruit, provide carpentry…and so much more. The residents do not have to leave the “wall” for much.
The money circulates inside that wall! It all stays in their community!
In preparation for dinner, they walk to a meat/poultry stand and purchase something that was recently slaughtered. When someone sews a new dress they walk to the market and purchase natural products to dye it…or they just sell it! They are all supporting each other’s families! There is no competition, no business courses to teach them…they just do it! They are ALL natural entrepreneurs. It was so encouraging to see.
3. You Must Have A Mission– One of the other presenters at the conference really impressed me. He had an agenda. He had a list of the type of people he needed to fulfill his goals. He knew with whom he wanted to connect and why. When people spoke with him he was clear about what he wanted from them or what he could do for them. I had an idea of who I wanted to connect with; he was CLEAR. He set out to meet these people that he needed to accomplish his goals and he did just that! While I would meet people and then think about what we could do together; my colleague already KNEW. This allowed him to meet more people, make intentional connections and waste very little time. I loved learning from him and was sure to make the adjustment in day two of my adventure.
4. Don’t make it ALL About Business– this was my very first international speaking gig. I am grateful that it will not be my last. Typically when I speak out of town I will make quick in and out trips. Since this engagement was so far away and the travel was so long, I decided to stay an extra two days. I am so glad that I did. I got out and saw the city a bit more and even rode a camel! The best part is that one of the MAJOR connections I made was on the streets of Marrakesh outside of the conference with someone that wasn’t even attending the conference. I was dressed in pixie pants and chuck’s. I can’t wait to tell you more about it! Learn to let your hair down a little; the major breakthrough may come when you are not looking for it!
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