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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Interview With the Amazing Kristi Jackson, Founder and Owner of the "Women CEO Project"

We recently got the exciting opportunity to interview Kristi Jackson from the Women CEO Project. We found Kristi to be absolutely full of valuable information for every woman business owner. She was incredible to talk to, not only because of her tremendous knowledge, but also because of her fun and engaging personality.

We started out by asking Kristi a little about her early years. Kristi told us an intriguing story of how she refused to accept the dismal fate that awaited most of the young women of her community.

Kristi explained that there were no real role models for young women, particularly for young black women, in her hometown community of Alexandria, Louisiana. Her parents told her that her goal should be to get a traditional job. She should be a teacher, a bank employee, or have any job where she sat at a desk, pushed papers and retired after 30 years. It is hard to imagine now, but through part of her life, she thought the very most she could expect to make was $35,000 a year.

After she volunteered in a hospital for 4 years, Kristi’s parents sent her off to nursing school. The problem was that she did not like the field. Even worse, she could not stand the sight of blood. It was a nightmare for her. She finally dropped out of school for a short time.

Kristi’s sister would not let her give up. She took Kristi to the best neighborhood in Houston; to the most expensive malls and shops to show her what she would be missing if she did not finish her college education. Kristi was convinced. She started back to college as soon as possible, but she changed her major to computer science and business.

Kristi told us that her next hurdle was finding a job in the midst of the uncertainty surrounding September 11, 2001. She did retail for awhile, but then she found her passion. Real estate would fascinate her and occupy her from then on, in one way or another.

Wanting to learn everything she could, Kristi studied, went to seminars and workshops. Most of all, she read. In fact, she read over 200 books in a very short time. With her newfound knowledge and her experience in real estate, she quickly became an expert in the field.

We asked Kristi about her biggest hurdle, setback or failure. She was very positive in everything she said, but dis share with us some important business 101 insight she learned in a more problematic way.  “Dot all your ‘I’s’ and cross all your ‘T’s, check, double check, then go back and check again.”
Kristi said that she took a little longer than she would have liked to learn to dot all her i’s and cross all her t’s in real estate and accept the fact that not all people were totally honest.  She learned from those mistakes which has made her the thorough business woman she is today.
We knew a little about the Women CEO Project but asked Kristi to expand upon it.
Ms. Jackson told us that she was inspired to start the group by other businesswomen. After just one month, the feedback she was receiving was overwhelming and empowering. After doing more diligent research on the business aspect she found it made smart business sense in both a lucrative venture and a fulfilling occupation.  It enabled her to do something she loves more than anything, educate women towards success.
We wanted to know what Kristi’s biggest inspiration was with the Women CEO Project.

She explained that seeing women start with business ideas, create, and implement their own business is the greatest reward.  She saw the potential of the group to inspire and assist women in acting on their dreams and pursuing their goals.

Maybe most inspiring to Kristi was a workshop held by the Project called “Don’t Die with a Book Inside.” One woman showed up with a notebook containing the foundation for a book. Within a week of the seminar she had formatted the book, and in about 3 months, she was having a book signing. In a very short time, she was already working on her 3rd book. Having a part in that success was thrilling, just as all the successes are.
We thought Kristi was a wonderful person to advise young women starting out in business, and we asked her what she would tell them.

Kristi said that the most important thing for young women to remember is to just start. Never let yourself get into analysis paralysis. Keep in mind that you will never figure out everything beforehand. As someone said, “Jump, and build your wings on the way down.” Start quickly and be open to improvements. Correct your mistakes along the way. Kristi called this a lean startup.

You should start quickly, according to Kristi, but you have to do your due diligence. Give yourself a couple months of solid study time regarding your business venture, its potential, and possible pitfalls and the proper steps you need to take to make it all happen then do it!
One thing Kristi wanted us to understand was that women should not undervalue themselves. She explained that most women will study and gain experience for 20 years before they will call themselves an expert. In reality, several years of experience and a lot of in depth reading on the subject will make you an expert in a much shorter time. You just have to have confidence, be vocal, and speak a little louder.

When asked what her 2012 goals are for the Women CEOProject, Kristi said for one that she will expand to 5 more states.  Groups will be set up in Baton Rouge, DC, Dallas, Miami and Atlanta. In addition, she intends on getting her business to be more automated, and make the mentoring a step by step program. She wants to change the attitudes of women about how much they should make and about getting investors.

Kristi explained that most women think of lifestyle businesses rather than wealth-producing businesses. A man would say, “How can I make a million dollars?” A woman might say, “How can I make the $1500 I need for this month’s budget?”

As far as investment, women tend to invest the money they already have. Men go out and find investors to back them up. A man would get one million dollars from investors to make ten times as much in a year. A woman would likely use her own money and take many more years to get as far, if she could make it at all. It is these attitudes that Kristi hopes to change through the Women CEO Project.

Kristi also plans to get more sponsors for the program. Wells Fargo, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Apple Computers and others are already sponsors, but more will come on board this year. Many events are planned for the year, four of them in the next month. If you are a business woman, and you want to learn more about starting or growing your business, the Women CEO Project is a fantastic resource. Kristi welcomes business women and women entrepreneurs everywhere to get involved in learning more and networking through the Project.

Here are the upcoming classes you will want to take:
  • Doing Business with the Government www.wosbprogram.eventbrite.com Jan 24th
  • Virtual Business Chat - Focusing on marketing again- chat is being visited by 4 marketing experts

Watch for the Women CEO Project magazine coming out soon featuring some of the top marketing experts around! This online magazine will be filled with marketing tips, tips for start up business owners; in depth interviews with business women who have made helped paved the path in the business world, resources, and so much more!  Upcoming first addition will be featuring high profile business women such as Ann Handley, Rieva Lesonsky, Starr Hall, Tina Wells, and Dawn Abraham just to give you a sneak peek.
If our chat with Kristi Jackson taught us anything it is that success is achievable if you take the right steps. Kristi’s personal style is warm and friendly, and her ideas are sound. We hope to get a chance to speak to her again as the Women CEO Project progresses. In the meantime, we wish her well, even though we know she is already doing just fantastic!

Wanna to connect with this expert?  Go say hello to Kristi Jackson on Women CEO Project Facebook and Women CEO Project Twitter.  Tell her ArticleWriteUp.com sent you her way!  :-)  

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