You definitely need to network, network, network. Join a community of persons not just within your field of work, but who constantly inspire, encourage and motivate. Don’t join for only what you can get. Find a way to give of your talents for the betterment of others. Thanks to my Linkedin community, I am able to thrive in my business.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tessa Drayton.
Tessa Drayton is a Communication Consultant who comes with a decade of experience in her field from having worked both in the Public and Private sector. Ms. Drayton specializes in customer service management, promotional management, sponsorship management, media relations and crisis management. Her passion, to be of service to people in need in any part of the world is what led her to start her own business TND Communications, a PR Agency committed to delivering change and service excellence to persons everywhere.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve enjoyed serving others. Whether its serving food to a guest at my home or helping out at the orphanage, I served. In fact, I credit my parents for instilling that value in my siblings and I; that service unto others is service unto God. As I got older, the service continued as I worked in the field of communications. I enjoy crafting messages and finding different ways and mediums to help persons understand messages and communicate effectively.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting story that happened to me is being interviewed on an international tv station about Crisis Management/Crisis Response. I had no interest in speaking on that topic because of fear that I may not know enough. Also, because I was practicing it for only a year at the time of the interview. I felt intimidated and that I would not be good enough to the veterans in the field of Risk Management. I initially wanted to speak about Public Relations. Any topic actually as I was versed in it. However, my Mentor kept encouraging me to ‘stick’ with crisis management, that ‘I got this’. Indeed, I did. Turned out to be the best decision ever. The episode I did got the most views and I was asked to be interviewed for a part 2, this October 2021, to go in-dept about the subject.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, its actually a seriously funny mistake. I was being interviewed on a tv program when suddenly, my mind went blank and I stared at the interviewer for at least 5 seconds while he waited for me to respond to the question he asked. Lololol! It was like I was hypnotize because he had to call me several times before I snapped out of it. Lolol! When I realized what had happen, I quickly apologized with a smile and informed the interviewer what had happen (as if he did not know. Lol). I took a deep breath, asked him to repeat the question and proceeded as if nothing happened before. I learn’t that no matter how prepared you are for an interview, lapses happen, people can forget what they rehearsed or even ‘space out’. The most important thing to know is that mistakes don’t define who you are as a person.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, several people actually, but you asked for one so I’ll talk about her only. Lol! Carla Williams Johnson, Media Marketing Consultant, continues to be instrumental and the driving force behind my success. In fact, she is my biggest cheerleader. Every time I doubt my abilities to do something relating to my field, Carla reminds me that I can do it and pushes me to accomplish it. Its interesting how we met. One day I said to myself, “I need a mentor in my field if I’m going to be successful business woman”. I then scrolled through Linkedin and researched persons who are stalwarts and veterans in the field of Communications. Carla was one such person, I sent her a message, as well as my CV and we had a virtual meeting the next day. The rest is history. Carla is not just my mentor or colleague but the definition of a friend.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I believe some women and persons in general still hold on to the stereotype or the belief that a woman’s function and responsibilities lay solely in the household and that males are the breadwinners and make better leaders. The women who do set out to break barriers and come against the status quos are often overlooked because of race and for funding for their business.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
As individuals and a society, we can support the government and the United Nations Sustainable Development 2030 goals, with specific emphasis on goal #5, which speaks about Gender Equality and empowering all women and girls to help economic development.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
More women should become founders to not just gain professional experience, but contribute to economic development and help achieve greater gender equality, especially as it relates to gender biases in the workplace.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
- Women aren’t meant to be entrepreneurs. This goes back to belief systems that a woman’s role is strictly for the household and includes caring for the children. I can and I am doing both; caring for my family and building a career.
- Women are too emotional and as such, won’t be able to successfully run a business. I once worked in an environment where my male counterparts believe that a woman should not lead because her emotions can cloud her judgement, resulting in mistakes. I am of the opinion that getting my emotions involved as part of the decision-making process is not a bad thing when used correctly.
- Women are not confident to lead. A lack of support from male leaders for resources and career development can cause women to have low confidence to pursue their goals. I have encountered this obstacle; however, I have learn’t to ask for help and I have surrounded myself with like-minded individuals who encourage, support & invest in my career.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a founder. That is because, some persons are just not willing to make the sacrifice, commitment and dedication that is needed when you start a business. These traits, sacrifice and commitment especially, increases the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder. If you’re not willing to put in the long hours to grow your business, you should definitely stick to the routine of an 8–4 “regular job” employee.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- You definitely need to network, network, network. Join a community of persons not just within your field of work, but who constantly inspire, encourage and motivate. Don’t join for only what you can get. Find a way to give of your talents for the betterment of others. Thanks to my Linkedin community, I am able to thrive in my business.
- Resources- Yes, you need money to sustain your business, but human resources are also important. For example, I got myself a mentor and advisor to motivate and guide me through the process of starting a business.
- Education- It is best if you are qualified and knowledgeable about the product and services you are offering. You must be willing to improve your skillset and knowledge of your product (s) by studying and participating in courses and events that facilitates growth.
- Experience- You can’t start a business without having some level of experience in your field/brand. Every job I have ever worked in was centered around some aspect of communication. Example: Sponsorship, promotions, customer service, marketing etc. I started my business as an experienced communicator.
- Clients/Customers- Build a client base in the background while you work on starting your business. A good way of acquiring customers is through freelance work. The ways in which you serve will determine if these said people will become lifelong customers to your business.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I have used my success to make the world a better place by engaging in unpaid work and volunteering my skills and talents within networks I am affiliated with. I also volunteer with the Environment Management Authority (EMA) in my country, educating persons about the need to preserve the environment.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, it would be to get persons actively involve in promoting climate change to protect our planet. We must first do our part to mitigate the effects of it by minimizing the use of fossil fuels and deforestation.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would most definitely enjoy having a private breakfast or lunch with American Talk Show Host, Media Executive, Actress and Philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey, . She is a perfect example of defying the odds and the status quo of what a woman should be, where a woman should work, the position she should hold in an organization until she retires and how much money she should make. Oprah has ‘set the bar’ for all women and girls and consistently leads by examples. She knows her worth and understands her value. This I believe is what made her an accomplished female founder/entrepreneur.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.