#FierceFriday: How Ashley Started Living for the Long-Term
When Ashley joined us at Bootcamp, she had already been pursuing her passions on the side for quite a while. On top of her award-winning work in multimedia journalism, Ashley launched and led RIZZARR, an inspirational social blog network for millennials.
It was mainly something she was pursuing for fun – a side hustle that allowed her to pursue her passion while working by day for mainstream media outlets.
However that balancing act wasn’t working for her and Ashley realized the role that she was in was not the right fit. She found herself at a crossroads: could she – should she – really try to pursue her passion full-time?
RIZZARR, like all tech startups, has gone through its ups and downs. Faced with a few roadblocks, it was easy to see how Ashley could have just called it a day and given up on trying to make her dream become her reality. But she didn’t.
“When dealing with setbacks, it’s easy to feel like you’re heading in the wrong direction and that you have no idea where you are going. But I believe even our obstacles help push us in the right direction,” Ashley told me. “And when I have moments of being unsure, I always think about what one of my professors told me in college: ‘you don’t have to know exactly where you are going to be headed in the right direction.’”
“It boiled down to realizing that I needed to feel confident enough about my gut instincts and take charge of my own destiny, to decide who I want to be, what I want my legacy on the earth to be, and have faith in the dreams placed within.” She decided she finally had to give it a real shot.
Her decision was also impacted by a life-changing opportunity that presented itself earlier in the year. In March, she and her team were invited to pitch at a Lean Start-Up Competition held at Harvard University. The university’s African American Student Union presented the competition during its annual conference.
After making it through multiple written qualifying rounds, they traveled up to Boston and pitched in front of 5 judges and students at the Harvard Business School. When RIZZARR came in second place, Ashley said her ideas on the possibilities of what RIZZARR could become changed dramatically. It was time to make her dreams a reality.
In talks with investors, Ashley and her team have big plans for the coming months, including developing the site’s infrastructure. With awesome partners like Management Leadership for Tomorrow, DoSomething.org, the National Association of Black Journalists, and 15-20 team members on board, RIZZARR is growing its reach every day.
“For me,” says Ashley, “Bootcamp forced me to think about the long-term goals I have and to really pursue those. It helped me NOT feel bad or be fearful about what I want to do.”
It’s so hard to put fear aside and to put the day-to-day grind in perspective at times. And those are exactly the kind of things that could have stood in Ashley’s way. But instead, she got clear on what she wanted for the long-term and took immediate steps to put those plans in motion.
Scary? Daring? Absolutely. And not without hurdles and setbacks. But that’s what living for the long-term looks like. I am SO excited to continue to watch RIZZARR rise and congratulate Ashley for stepping up to the challenge – you go, boss!