We can all learn a thing or two from Chrishan Wright about overcoming adversity in both our personal and professional lives.
Wright, who has worked in government relations and marketing since 1996, was able to turn her first unemployment experience into media content on downsizing for MSNBC and a blog featured on CNN.
Four years and a divorce later, Wright’s company was again downsized — but instead of clawing her way back into the workforce, Wright continued her education by completing a mini-MBA (a certificate program focused on the fundamentals of business) in digital marketing at Rutgers University’s Center for Management Development in 2013.
Wright knew the mini-MBA would help her put her best self forward as a mother and an entrepreneur while launching her new startup Propel Media Group, a full-service boutique digital marketing and public relations firm, in March.
What she didn’t know is how she’d also connect with fellow graduate Jessica Federman, owner of Mindshuffle Marketing, via Twitter.
Together, Wright and Federman came up with the idea to create an interactive podcast community for women entrepreneurs attempting to juggle businesses and families.
Wright submitted their concept, Women Entrepreneur Biz (WE Biz), into the third annual “Start Something Challenge,” a statewide pitch competition and business-strengthening session organized by the nonprofit Rising Tide Capital.
Tonight, WE Biz will compete alongside 10 other entrepreneurs and small business owners in the final round, pitching their business ideas in front of a panel of judges at New Jersey City University.
The winner will receive a $10,000 business grant; second place will receive $7,500; and third place will receive $5,000.
RELATED: Getting started WE Biz co-creator hoping to land funding for her latest startup project
Please enjoy this Q&A with Maplewood resident Chrishan Wright as NJBIZ wishes her luck in the competition this evening!
MF: What is your current job position, and what do you love most about it?
CW: As principal and owner of Propel Media Group, I help businesses and individuals harness the power of social media and other digital marketing tools to help their brands stand out. I’m a creative strategist at heart, so I love the fact that I’m able to put all of my skills to work in service to others.
MF: Where did you work previously?
CW: Prior to starting Propel Media Group, I worked in government relations and marketing at Solix, Inc. in Parsippany for nearly 5 years. The company underwent reorganization in 2013 and my position was eliminated.
MF: Where did you receive your education, and what was your focus?
CW: I have a Masters in Social Work, an undergraduate degree in English and a minor in Political Science from SUNY Albany. I also hold a Mini-MBA in Digital Marketing from Rutgers University Center for Management Development.
MF: What was the most important thing you learned during your education?
CW: Regardless of what happens in your life, your education is something that can never be taken away from you.
MF: What were the attitudes toward women in your industry when you first started?
CW: As a woman of color, I’ve had several unpleasant experiences in the workplace due to stereotypes associated with my ethnicity. Fortunately, my mother primed me for the possibility that it might occur and placed a strong emphasis on being the best. I think there’s where my tenacity comes from.
MF: How have attitudes changed since?
CW: I feel that as a society we are beginning to embrace our differences. I love some of the campaigns today, such as Pantene’s “Not Sorry” campaign, which are helping to break the societal conditioning of women.
MF: What’s one of your worst experiences as a woman at work?
CW: I was passed over for a job promotion because I was of child-bearing age and the woman I would’ve replaced was going on maternity leave. Ultimately, the job went to the male I had personally trained—I found out about his promotion when the rest of the company did, via e-mail.
MF: How about one of your best experiences?
CW: In 2013, I was recognized by The Network Journal Magazine as one of the ’40 Under Forty’ achievers. I was so honored and humbled to receive national recognition for my professional and personal accomplishments.
MF: What mistakes do you think women often make at the workplace?
CW: We can sometimes be catty or cliquey—but at the end of the day, each of us brings something unique to the table and everyone just wants the opportunity to contribute and be validated.
MF: What would you say are the top five things that successful women always do well?
1. Women are expert project managers—so many of us have to juggle multiple roles in and out of the workplace.
2. We form communities. Just look at the ‘mommy bloggers’—many of these women are stay-at-home moms that have built an industry and an income to support their family while supporting other women.
3. We communicate. Men make deals on the golf course; women make deals in the ladies’ room. What else are you supposed to do when you’re standing in line?
4. We create our own opportunities. If one door closes and another one doesn’t open, we figure out how to build one.
5. We pay it forward.
MF: What is the best advice you can give regarding work/life balance?
CW: My children are the core of my being. That’s why it was important for me to structure my business in a way that allowed me the ability to be available to them and also serve my clients. I work while they are away at school or asleep. I don’t ever want to be in the position again where I have to choose between family and work, because my children always win.
MF: What’s one item you can’t live without?
CW: I run a location-independent business so not having my light-weight phone would be a hard pill to swallow.
MF: Do aspects of your job carry into your personal interests and hobbies?
CW: I usually have music playing while I’m working. If a good song comes on, I’ve been known to dance it out.
MF: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
CW: I like having solitude to replenish myself.
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