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LaunchBox Ladies Discuss Entrepreneurship and “The Power of the Pivot”

By Kat Schneider on October 6, 2020

Dr. Cheryl Robinson, the founder of Ready2Roar and a Forbes Women contributor, spoke at the LaunchBox Ladies event.

Penn State Lehigh Valley’s LaunchBox Ladies speaker series has been helping female entrepreneurs realize success in their ventures throughout Lehigh Valley and beyond. On September 24th, the university celebrated its 20th event in the series.

Titled “The Power of the Pivot,” the event featured speaker Dr. Cheryl Robinson, the founder of Ready2Roar and a Forbes Women contributor, who discussed the core themes related to transition or pivoting. Sharon Tercha, Penn State Lehigh Valley’s Director of Strategic Communications moderated.

“We’ve all experienced transitions in our lives and our careers but 2020 has ushered in the most monumental pivot that’s impacted just about all of us,” said Penn State Lehigh Valley Chancellor Dr. Tina Richardson. “Through all of it, we’ve hosted virtual LaunchBox events that celebrate innovation and lift entrepreneurs and business owners who are navigating their own unique challenges at this time.”

Using information gleaned from 250 interviews with individuals whose locations spanned the globe, Dr. Robinson led attendees of the virtual event through discussions based on three concepts which included self-confidence, risk-taking, and networking.

These topics are integral to the core focus of the LaunchBox Ladies speaker series which gives attendees advice from the women who have ventured on their own and, although the journey was sometimes challenging, were successful.

LaunchBox was established as part of the Invent Penn State initiative, which aims to spur economic development, job creation, and student career success through academic programs, training, and incubation, funding for commercialization, and other university-community collaborations.

In recognition of the milestone, organizers offered a video to attendees outlining the program and its successes.

“Tapping Women entrepreneurs and inviting them to think out loud, give advice, answer questions and tell their personal stories is good for the audience that attends, especially students, but is also good for the larger community to recognize the contributions these women are making to the economic growth and vitality of the region,” Dr. Madlyn Hanes said in the video. Hanes serves as Senior Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses and Executive Chancellor at the University’s main campus at University Park.

“Women make up at least 50 percent of a community’s intellectual capital we need to invest in developing that capital,” Hanes said. “LaunchBox is filling a huge gap and is setting an example for others to follow.”

During the interactive event, Robinson discussed pivoting and what it means for those who have experienced five main types of pivots, or transitions, which include: Forced, New Company, New Industry, Higher Position, and Start own Company. During the pandemic, many may find themselves in the middle of a Forced pivot, Robinson said.

At the opening of the event, Robinson discussed the pivot that brought her to become a contributor for Forbes. As a former sports marketing professional, Robinson started two companies at the same time. Her monumental moment happened when she was running two conferences at once. “In the middle of it all, I said ‘I can’t keep going like this,’” she said. A chance meeting with an editor at Forbes Women and three interviews later, Robinson realized her area of expertise was what she calls “failing forward,” which led to her expertise at pivoting.

Robinson identified self-confidence as a core theme in transitions or pivots, those changes that put someone in a new position or starting a company. Those making a change often grapple with the loss of identity, self-awareness, and ego. The last of these themes, ego, often has a negative connotation, which is not always warranted said Robinson.

“Having an ego is positive when it comes to pivoting,” she said. “There is a fine line between being cocky and just showing to the world, marketing to the world what your capable of.”

Risk is an integral part of the pivot, Robinson said. Included within this core theme are the ideas of the risk of being ostracized, the risk of regret, and developing grit. The last of these, developing grit, relates to self-confidence. “You have to know what you bring,” Robinson said. She suggested taking small steps towards a bigger goal, in this way, self-confidence is more easily realized.

Lastly, Robinson identified networking as an important core theme in transition. Within networking, a positive reputation, social capital, and support system were key traits to develop for a successful transition.

“Networking is the number one key to success. Who you know gets you in the door, what you know keeps you there,” Robinson said, adding that quality, not quantity is important in developing a professional network.

October 2020 Issue of LVStartup Has Been Released

The October 2020 issue of LVstartup, a monthly e-newsletter about entrepreneurs and startups in the Lehigh Valley, has been released. Click here to see the new issue, a[...]

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