Practice, practice, and practice again, and you can master anything.
Almost 30 percent of all children in New York City live in poverty; there are 1.7 million children living in the city, and more than 500,000 of them live below the poverty line. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Sheena Favors was one of these children, and has decided to dedicate her life to giving back to her community, creating programs and services that would have benefitted her growing up. She has a mission to work and collaborate with various charitable organizations that help to bring funding and structure to kids in the areas that need it most. She believes that providing children with the support and inspiration that they need in their youth provides them with a better chance at being healthy, independent, thriving adults. Through her work, Sheena Favors wants to emphasize the importance of giving back and donating. Currently living in Brooklyn, New York at a youth centre in her local community, Sheena Favors believes that giving back not only strengthens local communities but contributes to our health as individuals.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
It was born from my experiences growing up. Living without has only strengthened my will to ensure that others never have to do the same. Your experiences in early childhood contribute to the formation of your world views, your passion, and your confidence as a young person, and I want to ensure that every child who goes through our programs leaves with a solid foundation to build on as they move through life.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts early, as I like to take some time for myself to re-energize. Because I allow myself this time in the morning to be selfish, it allows me to be fully focused and show up for others throughout my day. I then prepare my day in my calendar, notebook and journal. Mentally running through my daily list of tasks not only puts them to the top of my mind but gives my day a focus. Once I head into the youth centre, my day can include anything from meetings to running programs and counselling children one-on-one. Every day is different, and that is part of why I love my job.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It all starts with a brainstorm. Whenever we think about building a new program for youth, or innovative ways to fundraise our initiatives, we always start with a brainstorm. To visualize the feasibility of any project, we consider everything from who, what, when, where and, mostly importantly, why.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am excited by the growing number of socially conscious businesses. From environmentally sound productive practices to building charitable giving right into the business model, more and more businesses are seeing their role in the broader community.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One of the best habits that I have that makes me productive as an entrepreneur is a morning routine. My typical day starts out at 5AM, where I take my time to read, exercise and catch up on journaling. Being able to take this time in the morning to centre myself is probably the most productive part of my day. Despite the belief that you need to work every waking moment to be successful, I find that my down time provides me with the greatest productivity power.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to steer myself towards fear and the uncomfortable. Too often in life we move away from what feels uncomfortable, and what frightens us, but often, this is exactly what we need to be moving towards, as it is where we have the greatest room to grow.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You need to give back to your community to find fulfillment in your life. I have friends who are web developers, accountants, and lawyers, and almost none of them would agree with this statement. However, I have found that the more connected you are to you community, the more fulfilled you are going to feel. Whether it is through your livelihood or as a part-time commitment, giving back is integral to living our lives to the fullest. This comes from our natural inclination as a social species to connect with one another.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Plan, plan, and plan again. We live in a busy world, and too often we have a million ideas roaming around in our heads with nowhere to go, and it can cause us deep anxiety. If you don’t have a project management software, get one. It can help you plan your projects, keep ideas somewhere accessible, and makes life overall easier.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It is standard corporate practice that major business decisions are made by a select few. However, everyone in our centre, employees and leaders alike, have valuable opinions. Being open to those ideas is fundamental to scaling or growing a business. Everyone comes from a different background with a different set of experiences, and might be able to see what you do not see—
It helps you keep an eye on those blind spots!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The greatest failure I have had as an entrepreneur is not planning a program far enough in advance. Us entrepreneurs often have dozens of ideas in a day and have little patience when it comes to acting on them, a tricky combination when you are in it for the long game. I overcame this failing but forcing myself to be more patient and generate longer lead times than before.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would like to develop an app available to local communities that shared all the free resources they could need in one easily accessible place. From drop-in art classes to charity BBQ’s, this app could bring communities closer to one another.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent was on the project management system Asana. Helping us with everything from brainstorming, to project deadlines and creative ideas, Asana has been crucial to our development as a youth centre.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Aside from Asana, the best web service that helps us with our productivity is Hootsuite. Engaging with new audiences through social media is crucial for program and service success and being able to see all of our posts in one place and be able to analyze their effectiveness has been very powerful for team productivity.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning”. This book will fundamentally change the way you look at the concept of ‘perspective’. As a survivor of the holocaust and three labor camps during the second World War, Victor Frankl shares his first-hand account of his hardship, sharing an unexpected survival tip: hope. Individuals who had something, someone, to hold on hope for, lived longer, fought harder, and refused to be defeated. This book will change your life.
What is your favorite quote?
“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi
• Give back whenever you can
• Practice, practice, and practice again, and you can master anything
• The habits you form early in your life are fundamental to be a well-balanced adult
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.