Work-life balance doesn’t truly exist, and simply learn how to listen to your body to help you know when to take a break and rejuvanate.
Tash Jefferies is the founder of Diversa.work, which is a tech startup that specializes in helping women and people of color get hired in tech roles. Most recently, she has been an Entrepreneur-In-Residence with 500startups.com based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where she worked with founders across the MENA region.
Tash is also a digital and social media strategist, chemistry and biology degree holder, and advocate for helping underrepresented people to get a strong footing in the global tech community. Her work has been featured in TEDx, The Huffington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Originally from Halifax, Tash now splits her time between San Francisco, Saudi Arabia and Stewiacke Nova Scotia.
Where did the idea for Diversa.work come from?
Diversa.work literally came from appreciating diversity in the work place. Its the kind of name that I hope lets people know exactly what it is our organization is committed to – ensuring that under-represented people have a voice within the tech industry that we serve.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m now heading into my 8th year of being an entrepreneur; what makes this lifestyle special is that you can build-in (or remove!) routine according to what life throws at you.
The only routine parts of my day are
– Those that I spend with my husband – we have all three meals together, when either of us aren’t on the road.
– Daily exercise – I’m a weight training fan, so I work out with either free weights at home or at a gym while I’m travelling.
– Movie night – At least twice weekly, my husband and I will pick a movie and veg out with popcorn and wine.
I truly believe that mental and spiritual wellness are an integral part of any founders lifestyle, so these are things that we have learned not to push off the table. Having time to breathe and enjoy makes us more productive daily, as we can start each work segment of our life refreshed and in great spirits.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I play this daily game around the power of manifestation. First I ask myself “What is it that I REALLY want?”. Once I know, then I envision myself having it. Once I feel that feeling, I get into action around making it happen – small step by small step. Its how I built my business, and my whole life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The growing number of women – especially women of color – in the startup world! As women, we can have a completely different approach to leadership, technology and business than that of men, and I think the entire world benefits the more we shine our light and bring our perspectives to the table… And to every industry for that matter.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My ability to embrace a lack of “balance”. Sometimes in life, you need to go all-in, and see a job through until its done – even if it means a few all-nighters. On the other hand, there are times when you really just need to unplug, rejuvanate yourself and step away from ALL your work.
I think successful entrepreneurs know when to put the pedal to the metal, and also when to go off-the-grid for their own spiritual, mental, emotional and physical and financial well-being.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I were to go back in time and prevent any of my failures, heartbreaks and losses, I definitely wouldn’t be the same person here today. I also wouldn’t be as tough, compassionate, understanding and diplomatic as I’ve come to be. I love who I am and my life – it just keeps on getting better :).
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Work-Life balance doesn’t exist.
Most people I think think it exists, strive for it, then get supremely disappointed as they can never attain it – even those of us who are extremely committed to wellness.
IMHO, we are all better off when we learn to listen to our bodies, minds and spirit, and know when its time to push it, then when it’s time to lay-off and rest.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
PUT PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS FIRST!!!
All too often I meet founders who obsess over the numbers, the deck, the presentations, the business model, etc, clearly willing to ignore, or not pay attention to those individuals who come across their path who can help them with their business!
Success is people. Life is people. Businesses don’t grow without the right people. Spend more time getting to know people, building the RIGHT relationships with people who are committed to helping you succeed, and valuing and treasuring those relationships. Life itself is nothing without amazing people to share it with – in both personal and business life.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Sell first, build second.
One thing that I see new entrepreneurs do a lot is spend lots of money and time building a product, before they’re even sure someone is actually willing to buy it!
With all of my ventures, before I went out and built anything at all, I spent time understanding what clients needed, and built a simple solution that I knew could solve the problem to be solved, then tried to sell it. If I could sell it and make money before even having the solution, I knew that it was worth my time and effort to continue to pursue. In most cases, I was able to build a viable business before I had product, and the revenue funded the build.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Choosing a mis-matched co-founder.
The ultimate thing I learned from this is that it is extremely important before entering into a partnership agreement to do a full assessment – of each of your skills, what you want to do in the business, and also what you want to accomplish from the venture.
Honesty, transparency, and self-reflection are key in this assessment. I’ve learned to ask LOTS of questions – of both myself and the other person – so there’s clarity BEFORE heading into another partnership. It is the only way to make sure your values, missions and goals truly align.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Technology in the AI space that includes global and multiethnic communities.
Anyone consulting and/or creating technology in the space can make millions because the AI technologies that are being created are not inclusive and startups are losing billions because of this.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
An amazingly comfy sheet set – an awesome night’s sleep is super important.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Canva – It allows me to create everything from press kits to stunning ads to all my social media content. It saves me time, because I can visually create what I see in my mind’s eye, its saves money because I now only need a graphic designer for major projects, and it saves me time as I can create what I need in minutes instead of days when I used to outsource everything.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Ask and It Is Given (or anything by Abraham Hicks).
This book in particular shows us how to manifest things into our life without the huge amount of stress and unproductive energy. Instead it shows us how to move with grace and ease in life. Such an amazing contrast from most life and business books out there to help bring another perspective to the living of life.
What is your favorite quote?
Be the change that you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi.
- Holistic wellness (mental, emotional, spiritual and physical) is an integral part of life for successful startup founders.
- Put people first in your life.
- Work-life balance doesn’t truly exist, and simply learn how to listen to your body to help you know when to take a break and rejuvanate.
- The world is in need of more diversity, and anyone working in this space has the potential to create an extremely successful venture.
- When choosing a co-founder, ask yourself and the other person lots of honest, transparent and self-reflective questions so you can be sure your values, missions and goals align.