I’ve been a fan of Michelle Collins for quite some time now. Initially we bonded over Twitter, discovering that we are both Valley residents & mothers of young daughters. Michelle is the founder of a youth organization called The Persona Program. Recently Michelle spoke at the Surefire Girls Conference that took place on October 11th in Santa Monica.
Please meet the founder of The Persona Program, Michelle Collins!
How/why did you begin your business?
Michelle: I have always been an advocate for youth and had a special affinity towards girls. After I had my first daughter (I now have two daughters and a son), I was thrilled and in awe as I watched her grow and develop. By the time she became a toddler, I wanted to teach her etiquette because like most moms, I knew that she would do great things in life. Etiquette was a foundation that I believed she would utilize even into adulthood. Once I began to try and perfect her social skills, it dawned on me that other children could benefit from this type of coaching as well. So I created an 8 week and 12 week Etiquette & Social Skills Program. Over the years, we transitioned from basic manners to self-esteem and body image because I noticed that as my daughter and her friends continued to develop, their natural beauty and skills were being challenged by a society that presented them with the message that beauty was external for success. Again, over the last year we have evolved to now incorporate entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. I want to let girls know that there is no limit to what they can achieve in life, in their future and their community at large. I encourage them to look beyond their sometimes socioeconomic limitations, lack of confidence and become agents of change on a global level if need be. It’s a message of responsibility with a dose of motivation.
As a working mother, what is one tip or piece of advice that you would give to other female entrepreneurs?
Michelle: Nothing happens unless it’s written down. Your memory will serve as a reminder for only so long before it gets distracted or pulled in another direction, especially as a working and productive mom of three. So my first piece of advice to female entrepreneurs would be to write it down! I have a calendar to write down appointments, meetings and your daily, monthly to-do lists as well as a journal to write your vision and dream for your business. I use my journal for the big picture, a notebook for the specifics of how I plan to accomplish the vision and my calendar is to keep me on track so I don’t miss deadlines.
What do you like best about having a business in the San Fernando Valley?
Michelle: I love the San Fernando Valley for its appeal to the family and I am consistently inspired by the quality education, extracurricular activities and resources that exist. In business, the Valley is proof that you can attain success personally while still holding it down in other areas of your life.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you began your business, what would that be?
Michelle: If there was one thing I wished that I knew before I began, it would be don’t stop. Go at your own pace. Always seek to learn then share. There were times that I felt I had to lay aside this passion of mine because of life’s challenges and transitions. I now know that challenges will always exist and change will take place. It’s in those seasons that you can give yourself permission to go at your own pace. In addition, you don’t have to have all the answers now. If you’re hungry to become an expert, then invest your time in learning and being taught. Now, it’s a matter of lifestyle. I have my daughters as an immense resource into the mind of a tween and the way I have to navigate all of it forces me to seek solutions that I can share. Additionally, quitting is not an option because now I have others that are depending on and need what I bring to their life on a whole.
Just like Michelle, I use a calendar system, as well as daily & weekly “To Do” lists. It’s a must-have for me! I wholeheartedly agree with her belief in “going at your own pace.” It’s like when I participate in 5k races, there are those who sprint out of the gate & others who are slow, but steady. You have to be satisfied with your journey in getting to that destination. I think sometimes we feel that we need to have all the information yesterday & be able to execute things ASAP. I like Michelle’s statement about how you don’t have to have all the answers now. Isn’t that a refreshing way to look at things?!
Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. The image shown in this post is used with permission. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.