Jessica Eaves Mathews: Watch New Mexico Rise

Jessica Eaves Mathews

 

 

Of all the individuals, organizations and companies inspiring us to watch New Mexico rise, Jessica Eaves Mathews – who actually coined the phrase and hashtag #watchNMrise – is right up at the top.

I first met Jessica at the Santa Fe Business Incubator for the launch of New Mexico’s first Startup Weekend. It was a Friday night, and I’d driven up to Santa Fe with my husband, Lawrence, who is a cofounder and COO in our company, APPCityLife. While he planned to spend the entire weekend at the event as a technical coach, I’d come up just for Friday’s kick off since I would be serving as one of the judges of the final presentations at the end of the event. Jessica was a keynote speaker, and as we chatted for a few moments until it was time for her to share a few words of inspiration with the participants, I knew immediately that Jessica was a force to be reckoned with.

At the time, I had no idea just how much Jessica had already accomplished. A native New Mexican, she left the state after graduating from UNM to practice law in the then sleepy town of Seattle. She spent several years working for major law firms in the midst of the major economic boom in the city as Microsoft expanded into a powerful corporation, starting her family and launching her first private law firm while still in Washington. She served as lead counsel for Paul Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft.

Rock the World, 2013

Rock the World, 2013

But her love for her home state and a desire to raise her daughter nearer to family resulted in a move back to New Mexico a few years ago, bringing with her a valuable high level business acumen which she has used to launch several startups including Grace and Game, a golfing clothing line for women (she has designed all of the clothing herself – you can find a few of her creations locally at Runway Apparel) and Untoxicating Beauty, an online cosmetics company highlighting organic lines developed by women entrepreneurs. Jessica was named by Albuquerque Business First as the Top CEO of 2013 for her innovative and lucrative approach to building a virtual law firm, Leverage Legal Group. Despite running multiple companies and, until recently, homeschooling her daughter, Jessica still finds time to volunteer for several nonprofits as well as donating hundreds of hours of her own time providing legal advice, services, and mentoring for entrepreneurs in New Mexico. She is also the best-selling author of Wonder Women: How Western Women Will Save The World and a highly sought-after keynote speaker.

After our first meeting, I knew I wanted to know more about Jessica. We met for lunch and even before the entree arrived, she and I both knew that we wanted to work together to help other women entrepreneurs in our state. By the time the check arrived, we had a verbal agreement in place to launch a business together. Within 24 hours, we had a name (Hautepreneurs), our LLC in place and a trademark filed.  It has been, by far, one of the best decisions I’ve made. Our monthly design thinking sessions with several successful women entrepreneurs have inspired all of our members to think bigger, including myself as I continue to grow APPCityLife towards a global expansion. Hautepreneurs has flown in national experts to allow local entrepreneurs access to high level training not readily available within our state. And on December 11, 2014, we’ll host our first Haute Honors Awards Breakfast honoring women in New Mexico who are outstanding as entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators.

Cofounders Hautepreneurs, LLC, and HauteHopes: Lisa Abeyta, Jessica Eaves Mathews

Cofounders Hautepreneurs, LLC, and HauteHopes: Lisa Abeyta, Jessica Eaves Mathews

As is often the case with Jessica, her compassion – and passion – drives her and those around her to expand upon ideas to embrace higher causes to help others. Jessica came to me a few months ago proposing that we consider taking on a far bigger mission than when we launched Hautepreneurs. Long aware of the poverty and difficult living situations affecting many women in New Mexico – as well as the additional challenges women of any background face to launch successful business – she saw a way to empower the women who needed it the most. Because of her vision, HauteHopes was born, a scholarship fund focused on helping underprivileged women gain financial independence through a strategic blend of goal-based scholarship funding paired with mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and business owners within the state. She has completely immersed herself in the immense work needed to launch something this ambitious, including planning Haute Night Out, a black-tie gala fundraiser slated for February 21, 2015. She has even already gained support from companies like Tesla, who has committed to running a test-drive station featuring several of their high end electric vehicles during the gala.

10614109_10205039478689389_4448981142250507093_nAnd, just in case you might think she is all work and no play, Jessica is also an avid golfer, accomplished horsewoman and dressage competitor. She owns several of her own horses on her farm in Corrales. This past summer, when she heard of a horse hundreds of miles away that was being sold after surviving a series of bad situations, she hooked up her horse trailer and drove almost twenty-four hours straight to rescue the horse. She brought the horse home and worked patiently with the horse for months before the newest addition to her family was ready for her to take to its first show. It is this kind of compassion, this kind of belief in the goodness and gifts in others – and her willingness to expend her own efforts and time to bring that promise to reality that makes Jessica such a vital part of what will allow the world to watch New Mexico rise.

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I Win When You Lose – and other lies we tell ourselves

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From Mama Says by Lisa Abeyta

If you’ve ever had the privilege of listening to Jessica Eaves Mathews talk about her book, Wonder Women: How Western Women Will Save the World, you’ll know that one of the resonating themes – and one of her driving passions – is how we, as women, treat other women. In fact, the belief that we need to support each other and our fellow women entrepreneurs was the common ground that drew the three founders of Hautepreneurs together from very different walks of life. For all three of us – Jessica, myself and Hillary Randolph – the desire to create a women’s network to support the growth and success of women entrepreneurs, thought leaders and innovators in New Mexico has remained the litmus test for every choice we make – what events to host, what speakers to invite to our state, what topics to discuss at our Masterminding Working Wednesdays. With everything for the purpose of building stronger support, better tools, and wider reach for business owners, Hautepreneurs is truly a labor of love for all three of us.

The realization that not everyone operates under this same set of values came home to us recently when we discovered some fairly underhanded comments being made to a few of our members by a fellow business woman as a tactic for sowing seeds of dissension and negativity. For years, this kind of negativity and competitive mindset has ruled the old business model. It is where we used to say, “It’s not personal. It’s just business.” (Can I just interject here how much I love Meg Ryan’s response to this mantra in You’ve Got Mail?)

As Jessica often says, “Our new economy is based on collaboration, not competition, and as women, we are wired to build connections, relationships and bring everyone along with us. It is the old way of thinking and the old way of doing business that believes there isn’t enough space for more than one of us to succeed. It is the “I win by you losing” mentality that got us into the Great Recession.”

But what we believe deeply is that there is plenty of room for all of us to be successful – and plenty of groups to join that will be a good fit for each of us.

If someone out there is seeding negativity to gain business (or members) for themselves, that speaks volumes about that business and that business owner. The next time you’re asked to buy a product, join a group and sign up for some service when the request has been largely based on slandering another product, group or business, ask yourself this: why would anyone want to join a group or buy a product that tries to gain membership or revenue by knocking down other people and other groups? When someone succeeds by bad-mouthing another person or company, there is no integrity – and when we choose to do business with those who have no integrity, we are endorsing that kind of behavior whether we think we are or not.

by Thomas Abeyta (around age 5)

by Thomas Abeyta (around age 5)

As we discussed how to address the information that someone was sowing dishonest seeds of negativity about us, we thought about being very direct in our response, since the comments being made were not only untrue but potentially destructive. But after giving it some time and thought, we are choosing to follow our own mantra and take the high road. We firmly believe that we can help support women entrepreneurs without stooping to the negativity and ugliness that is far too often very personal and not just about business.

I was reminded today why it is so important to keep our perspective on the hopefulness and possibilities that await us when we work to help others succeed. On a day when I was wondering if we could really change the way we did business – not in dragging down the competition but in supporting others as we succeed – I received an inspiring comment on one of my previous posts. “… it has been a wonderful reminder of what’s important, of my own strengths and how much I have been ignoring them in favor of my fears and worries. So truly, thank you so much for posting this. It made a difference.”

When we can make a difference without tearing others down, why in the world would we opt out for anything less? It doesn’t have to be “I win when you lose” if we choose to not operate that way.