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Francesca ReDavid, founder of Girl Meets World (GMW), created a non-profit organization that works with and within middle schools to teach girls life skills that develop their confidence. GMW introduces middle school girls to professional women from all different professions; it’s a chance for girls to be exposed to different career paths.
“I was always into charitable giving, giving back, and I knew that was going to be a part of my life,” ReDavid comments. “I also knew that I was very career oriented and that I wanted to move up in my career. I knew I didn’t want to go full-time into the nonprofit world. I always said to myself ‘when I become rich I’ll give back.’ My whole plan was to work for 10-to-20 years, make it to the top of my field and take those learnings and go into the nonprofit world.” Out of college, she started her career in marketing and advertising. While in graduate school at Columbia University, she was inspired to start thinking of ways to pay-it-forward and what that model looked like. At that time her career had taken her to IAC Applications where she worked as a social media and mobile marketing manager for new acquisitions.
“When I was 24-years old,” she explains, “I was feeling like I wanted to give back…I was with my friend and we thought about all of the things that had made us successful. We were both academically inclined. We did very well at school and were on the trajectory to do very well in our careers. One of the biggest differences in my life was being fortunate enough to be in the right area with the right people and having them teach me…I don’t think I would’ve had the same life or the same trajectory if I hadn’t had those early influencers. I wanted to give back to girls in a similar manner.” ReDavid and her friend brainstormed on how they could take a group of girls who might not have positive opportunities and bring them people in all different career fields to inspire them and to make them believe that they can do it.
What felt like overnight, ReDavid formed the non-profit. “I gave myself 30 days,” she smiles. “I didn’t want to get to a point where I was talking about it and not doing it. I knew that I was passionate about it. I knew if I had given myself that timeline that I was either going to sink or swim. In 30 days we found a school, which we’re still in today. We partnered with the principal of the school to work on the curriculums. Within three months we hosted the first session.”
Now, GMW hosts between eight-to-ten sessions annually in three different schools in New York City and Texas. The organization has seen upwards of 200 speakers and counting. In addition to expanding her organization, she works as a senior director of marketing under the Ask Applications division at IAC Applications where she manages all of the in-house products.
“Working in tech marries three things,” ReDavid states. “I love numbers, design and psychology, which is the foundation of marketing. I knew that digital marketing was a growing field and that tech was going to get bigger. It seemed like the right place.”
The moment ReDavid decided to move forward with GMW, she had to transition her mindset from marketing to entrepreneur; to a founder creating positive, inspirational experiences for younger generations. “When I first started out in my career,” she states matter-of-factly, “I was a much more dominating person. I thought to be successful you had to be strong and powerful. That meant being the most energetic person in the room. Now I am more comfortable. I prefer very much to see other people grow and to promote other people, to market other people and to watch my team go into positions where they are fulfilling their potential. That is something I do with Girl Meets World.”
Over the years she has faced many challenges while she professionally matured both within the marketing realm and operating her non-profit. One of the more impactful growth lessons was when she and her original partner dissolved their working relationship. ReDavid quickly had to regroup and find someone who complimented her work ethic and vision. “It’s difficult managing everything and to grow an organization that you love,” she says. “And, also grow your career, especially when you’re in the growing phase of both…Sometimes people grow out of situations or want to take a different path. I was very grateful for the time we spent together. I was upset at first, but after thinking about it I thought it was very brave of her to say ‘this wasn’t for me anymore.’ it took a lot of empathy to understand that my path might not have been her path.”
ReDavid shares her three essential steps to helping make transitions successful:
- Write down what you want. Think through what you want to do so that you have an idea and a plan.
- Give yourself a timeline. It’s about executing and being held accountable, not just dreaming.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Just go for it. You only have one life. You never want to look back and say ‘I should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.’
“Your connection with other human beings,” ReDavid concludes, “and your relationships with them, along with your ability to positively influence their life is the biggest thing that you can do.”
April 11, 2019 at 11:21AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs