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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Four Reasons Every Entrepreneur Needs a Mastermind

It was while interviewing Dale Carnegie for a small newspaper that Napoleon Hill landed a writing gig in 1908 that changed not only his own future but created the concept of the mastermind which became a tool for success for generations to come. The reporter was asked by Carnegie to survey over 500 men – and a few women – many of whom were millionaires and were considered among the most successful individuals in the world. The task took Hill twenty years and culminated in a report that filled several volumes of work and outlined the commonalities of experience and process among those he’d surveyed in hopes of creating a path of success for future entrepreneurs to follow.

While Hill is credited with penning the first published concept of the mastermind, the practice of engaging with a tight circle of trusted advisors dates far before his definition to as early as the legendary Knights of the Round Table who advised King Arthur. And, in fact, many of the innovative ideas put into practice as part of the New Deal which many historians believe were responsible for stopping the downward spiral of the U.S. economy in the 1930’s were the result of the mastermind group which advised then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

123Over a century has passed since Hill described the role and value of the mastermind, and still today it is a very powerful tool for entrepreneurs. As part of our goal to empower women entrepreneurs and inspire them to think bigger, bolder and better, my cofounder of Hautepreneurs, Jessica Eaves Mathews and I established a mastermind for our group. We meet with a small number of fellow women entrepreneurs once a month, and I have learned first-hand the value of accessing trusted collective knowledge, experience and creative thinking.

Here is why every entrepreneur needs to be a part of a mastermind:

No Complacency Allowed

As the founder of a company, every day is filled with demands and needs coming fast and furious from a multitude of directions, including customers, employees, vendors, investors and beyond. It is easy to allow your time to be consumed with addressing issues as they arise and to not to push ourselves into new areas of growth – the very thing that must happen if we are to stay relevant and capture more of the market. Meeting with a group of peers who all live with the same level of demands means that you will likely get very little pity or license to go easy on yourself. Whether you are afraid to embrace the risk of growth, face the upheaval of firing an entrenched problem employee, or of forcing yourself to slow down to gain proper perspective, a mastermind group will push you beyond complacency and auto-pilot, challenging you to address problems, step up your game and lead with more authority and courage.

Safe to be Vulnerable

There is this scene in the movie You’ve Got Mail where a famous author comes rushing into the book store worried about the possible loss in business due to a new big-box book seller opening nearby that could mean the little store might be closed before her upcoming book signing. The accountant puts on a brave face and declares, “No difference!” despite it being patently untrue. As an entrepreneur, we quickly learn that it is imperative to put on a brave face, wear our courage with a smile, and push forward into the future with all confidence despite living dangerously close to the edge of failure. We often feel isolated and alone, because we can’t let our guard down and talk about the moments when we are terrified that perhaps all we’ve done is build an intricate house of cards that will come tumbling down at any moment. These are the moments of fear and self-doubt that only another entrepreneur can understand. When members of a mastermind are bound by a legal NDA (non-disclosure agreement), there is an incredible freedom that comes with that level of trust. We can talk about the fear, about how close we’re pushing to the edge, about the level of risk we’re living with. And what we discover is that we are far from alone – that every entrepreneur out there is living with more risk, more fear, more worry and less runway than anyone else might be willing for. And sometimes, in the shared experience of learning we are not alone in our fears or in our willingness to take calculated risks, we can begin to accept that our reality and our choices are not so crazy or stupid as they sometimes seem at three in the morning when we haven’t yet figured out how we’re going to meet the lofty goals we’ve set for ourselves and our company.

Access to Variety of Expertise

The best masterminds are organized with a similar level of success and drive but from varied backgrounds and industries. When you seek the advice of others within your industry, you can begin with a higher level shared knowledge that makes it easier for your peers to understand the nuances of your current challenge, but what it won’t get you is the fresh perspective that comes with entrepreneurs who work within a very different industry and approach your challenge from a unique history and experience. When you can tap into the varied experiences, expertise and talents of successful entrepreneurs in different industries, you’d be surprised at the creative approaches that are suggested that often solve your problem in a way you would have never thought of on your own.

Steel Sharpens Steel

For a mastermind group to deliver the most value for all of the members, it is vital that the group be of similar levels of success with similar goals for growth. If the group includes a mix of powerhouse, highly driven leaders and more casual business owners, the friction of values will eventually lead to all of the members feeling that the group is not delivering enough value for the time expended. The leaders will feel frustrated and those who are happy with less pressure will feel disrespected. When the group is created with careful consideration of pairing the level of goals and intensity of drive among the individuals within the group, and when it is kept small enough for each in attendance to have enough time to feel heard and supported, the members will leave with a clarity of focus that only comes from steel sharpening steel.

Being a part of a mastermind where I can bring the unique challenges I have encountered as our team grows APPCityLife into a global platform – and where I can draw from my own experience to shed new light on the challenges of my fellow members are facing – it has helped me understand the real value of making ourselves accountable, vulnerable and available to our peers. With the right kind of mastermind, entrepreneurs gain a level of support and safety that is rare within the startup world.

Can An All-Male Panel of Speakers Really Help Women Make A Difference?

IMG_2583Ok, so let me just preface this following post with the caveat that I know absolutely nothing about the group whose event came to my attention recently. And I am acknowledging up front that there might be a completely plausible explanation for why the organizers chose the speakers they did for their upcoming event. I haven’t spoken with them, so I really don’t know. But what I do know is that it just didn’t sit right with me that a group would create an event focused on women and then invite only men to speak at the event.

I recently came across an announcement for an upcoming event in my city that promised to highlight why Women Make A Difference. As a cofounder of Hautepreneurs, a networking group created to elevate the game of women entrepreneurs in our state, and as the founder of APPCityLife, a mobile development company focusing on the civic space, I was intrigued. I love seeing women support other women, so I thought at first that this might be a group I should connect with and support. It was then that I saw the lineup for their all-day event:

Key Note Speaker: Wayne Story
Presenters: Rob Winestein, David Crum, Mike LeMoine, Ron Patel

Is it just me, or does it seem incongruous that every single presenter and the keynote speaker is male when this is an event organized by women with a theme of Women Make A Difference? I’m not questioning any of the qualifications of the speakers. I am sure they have a lot to share that would be of value to any business owner.

But what doesn’t make sense to me is why the organizers couldn’t find a few woman to address the group as well? I know of several highly qualified women – including both of my Hautepreneurs cofounders – as well as journalists like Megan Kamerick, whose TEDxABQ talk on women went viral, women entrepreneurs like Nerissa Whittington of bigbyte.cc or Kyle Zimmerman of Kyle Zimmerman Photography, women civic leaders like Ann Lerner of the Albuquerque Film Office or Agnes Noonan of WESST – all of whom would have made riveting speakers with plenty to share.

I firmly believe that the only way opportunities, pay, and advancement for women will grow is if the conversation includes men and women. We cannot change perception or build support in a vacuum, and while I have enjoyed many a gripe session with my fellow women entrepreneurs and appreciated the commiseration – and while I certainly don’t think women’s groups need men to participate on panels to validate any of the issues or concepts discussed, I do know that when men are a part of the conversation and sit on panels for women-centric issues, it changes men’s perspectives and often builds consensus and support for changing the opportunities and playing field for women. That is why we worked so hard this past year to make sure the Women In Tech luncheon during ABQ Tech Fiesta Week included several male panelists to balance out perspective and generate a deeper, richer conversation about the challenges and opportunities in front of us.

But here is where the rub lies, at least for me. To host an event by women for women and put together an all male panel? I truly do not understand that. I wish I did. For far too long, women have been kept from the table and not been given a voice in their own destiny. We have made amazing strides in the past few years about changing that conversation and the opportunities for women to not only be heard but hired. This just feels like a step back, and I’m not sure why we’d want to do that. I want to reiterate that I know nothing about the organizers, their group or their backgrounds. I can hardly imagine that their goals are anything less than making a positive footprint in our community. But I feel compelled to express my dismay that in today’s climate, that an event could be organized without balancing the representation of speakers across both genders. I am truly baffled.

I was recently talking with one of my cofounders at APPCityLife about what a good blend it has been to have men and women filling leadership and employee roles within our company. There is a variety of viewpoints and experiences that have not only made our workplace richer but better for the balance. It has been an amazing opportunity to work with strong men and women, and I am constantly amazed at the gender-blindness that there has been within our team. When there is mutual respect for the opinions, talents and unique leadership of men and women – that is when there can be real growth and synergy.

The organizers are right about one thing. Women really can make a difference. But leaving their voice completely out of the room during an event to highlight this mantra – that is hard to understand.

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

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 4.18.55 PM

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.

Why I am cofounding a Network for Women Entrepreneurs

reposted from Hautepreneurs

Speaking about Women Entrepreneurs and Venture Capital with Katie Szczepaniak Rice on Larry Ahren’s Morning Brew TV Show

One of the questions I get asked the most frequently is what inspired me to launch a brand new business in the middle of growing another one. It’s a fair question – growing a business is a lot like having a newborn, and it can consume every waking moment as well as eat into your personal life. And I wasn’t the only one fully engaged in a business – my two cofounders are successful businesswomen running their own companies and raising their own families. So taking on another challenge might seem a bit counterintuitive for all of us on the face of it.

But launching Hautepreneurs was actually borne out of a need we all three knew was lacking in our own professional experience. Just weeks before I met my cofounder, Jessica Eaves Mathews, I’d flown to New York City to attend the Women Entrepreneurs Festival because I knew I needed to connect with other women who not only understood the unique challenges of launching a business but would also help me “up my own game” in my business. I needed to find women who could mentor me, push me, educate me so that I could grow something bigger in my own state. Jessica shared this same sentiment, and when we met for the first time with our cofounder Hillary Somers, we discovered we all had the same unmet professional needs that needed to be addressed locally.

Hautepreneurs is about creating the “haute couture” experience for women professionals, thought leaders and entrepreneurs in New Mexico – about defining one’s own priorities, goals, dreams, and passions and then finding the right tools and support to build a meaningful life and successful business around those values. We want women to think bigger, dream bigger, believe bigger and better is possible right here in New Mexico. Not only will this change the economy of our own state, it will significantly changes the lives of the Hautepreneurs who are empowered to live the successful life they want to lead.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out our still-under-wraps website that will be complete with an online forum where women can access advice, information and camaraderie among their peers. We will be launching an entire calendar of events from intimate coffee Q&A’s with successful women and Saturday expert sessions to Gala celebrations to one on one mentoring with peers to help you grow your business to the next level.

In fact, our very first event is with this goal in mind – we are flying in one of the nation’s most respected branding experts to provide one-on-one mentoring as well as a group session to help women entrepreneurs learn how to brand themselves and their businesses for higher growth and revenue.  For more information on Michelle, click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/event/9136440339

We are passionate about creating the lives we want here in the state we love – and we are just as passionate about making it possible for other women who want to create or grow their business or change the possibilities for women in New Mexico.