Originally published on Forbes.com
This Trailblazers series takes a look at the pivotal milestones that make up the life trails of inspiring women from a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences. We all know what social media profiles display about the end results women have achieved. This series is intended to take a deeper, more authentic look at the journeys they have taken to get there.
Riana Singh is a social media influencer and the CEO and founder of Boss Women Collective, a platform and community focused on empowering women in the early stages of their careers. She is passionate about amplifying diverse voices and sharing her own journey in order to encourage others to find comfort and confidence in theirs. After learning more about the trail that Riana has blazed, I got the chance to ask her some questions.
Rebekah Bastian: What events in your life led you to forming Boss Women Collective?
Riana Singh: I started BWC right after graduating from UCLA and realizing that I was missing the sense of community that is easily fostered as an undergraduate student. After researching various communities focused on providing programming to young women, I realized that the narrative was often being controlled by those who had made it, rather than those beginning their professional journeys. I wanted to create a space that showcased the beauty of finding community and friendship while also finding your voice in the workplace.
“I wanted to create a space that showcased the beauty of finding community and friendship while also finding your voice in the workplace.”
Bastian: I appreciate that in much of the trail you shared, you took chances and tried new things without having full visibility into where they would lead. What would you tell people who think they need to know exactly where they’re going and how they are going to get there?
Singh: I’m a strong believer in having a growth mindset, and viewing change as a necessary step to progress, both personally and professionally. When I was starting my career, I thought I needed to have the first 10 years mapped out. I quickly learned that by trying to stick to a plan, I was missing out on the beauty that comes from diving into the unknown. Although it can feel scary in the moment, you have to trust that with great risks come great rewards. As a social media influencer, I’ve made it my goal to use my platform to foster authenticity and trust around my journey and what I’ve learned while trying new things and taking those risks, in a way that doesn’t glamorize the process by only highlighting the outcome. I’d encourage others to think not about where they’re going, but why. Let that be your north star as you take chances on yourself and create a plan to accomplish your goals.
” I quickly learned that by trying to stick to a plan, I was missing out on the beauty that comes from diving into the unknown.”
Bastian: You mentioned the many mentors that have supported you through your entrepreneurial journey, getting you through the emotional stresses of being a solo founder. What advice do you have for women who are looking for that kind of mentorship and guidance in their lives?
Singh: Mentors can look many different ways depending on what you’re hoping to gain from the relationship. Many of the mentor relationships I’ve developed over the past few years have been with women who have just a few more years of work experience than myself, and the resulting impact and friendship is so special. I encourage other women who are seeking mentorship to get creative in where they’re searching for it, and from who. I am a firm believer that the best mentor relationships are when you can genuinely show up as your true self, because only then will you be able to receive the genuine insight and advice that you may be looking for.
Bastian: You took a big leap last year, quitting your corporate job and going fulltime on Boss Women Collective. How did you approach making that leap?
Singh: Making the decision to leave my full-time job was not a rash decision. I gave it careful consideration, and realized that what was keeping me in the role was the sense of security that stems from being comfortable. I knew it was time to align my purpose with the impact I wanted to make through the venture I was already spending my nights and weekends working on. Without my experiences working in my previous roles in the tech industry, I wouldn’t have had the confidence or foundation to lead a team and follow my passions which led me to Boss Women Collective. My parents, who are my biggest supporters and the reason I strive to be and do my best, always encouraged my siblings and I to follow our passions, because only then will we produce our best work. That sentiment has guided me up to this point and will continue to do so as I experience the next leap, and more after that! Don’t get me wrong, I still have days where I doubt myself and my capabilities, but I keep going and pushing through, because I want others to look at me as an example and inspiration that if I, a young woman of color, took the leap and followed my passions, they can do so too.
“I want others to look at me as an example and inspiration that if I, a young woman of color, took the leap and followed my passions, they can do so too.”
Bastian: With the current pandemic changing the way we interact, you’ve quickly pivoted Boss Women Collective from in-person to virtual connections. How did you approach this shift, and what have you learned from it?
Singh: Boss Women Collective’s mission focuses on building community through intimate in-real-life (IRL) experiences, so having to pivot to all digital experiences during these tumultuous times was something I was very hesitant about. I didn’t know how this new offering would be received by our community, and how it would compare to the initial product we launched with. We shifted our programming to roll out in two stages to ensure that we were able to understand what was resonating most as we iterated through our new strategy. Since March we have rolled out 3 book clubs bringing together over 230 women, 11 career webinar chats with a total of 800+ registered attendees, and a ‘Leaders In Talent’ panel with over 260 tickets sold. While virtual events do have their setbacks, these online events have allowed us to significantly increase our reach and execute events in half the amount of time, while still focusing on business outcomes. Through this new shift I’ve learned the importance of moving quickly, being comfortable with owning pivots, and keeping our audience at the core of everything we do to ensure we are adding the most value possible.
“Through this shift, I’ve learned the importance of moving quickly, being comfortable with owning pivots, and keeping our audience at the core of everything we do to ensure we are adding the most value possible.”
Want to talk your why? Connect with Riana to start a conversation, ask her a question and/or appreciate her journey.