Sue Cooke is the Co-CEO of Circle + Bloom, a company that produces mind + body audio CDs and Mp3s for women’s health, including infertility, pregnancy and general health. Prior to starting that company with her sister, she served as CFO of a Boston-based professional services company Sapient. Sue began working with BUILD in Boston in the Spring of 2011. She is a mentor at Charlestown High and is also helping to get the word out about BUILD through social networks. (She would love to have you all follow BUILD on Twitter and Like their page on Facebook!)
Here is Sue’s Story
I feel everyone has a life purpose, and for me, as a strong Christian believer, this purpose is God’s plan for you. For as long as I can remember, I have had this certainty inside that the plan for me is to help children that have the odds stacked against them. Why do I have this certainty? Although I feel compassion for any sad news story, I literally tear up, or in many cases end up sobbing when I hear stories about children that society or family have failed. The stories of child abuse, children who go hungry, children that are told they are not good enough, and worst of all a child that has lost hope…..
Throughout my adult life I have found small ways to help “at risk youth”, most of my charity donations went to organizations that focused on kids, but I have to admit I was a bit more focused on my personal career and family then really trying to figure out a way to live out my purpose. Just about a year ago, God took out the sledge hammer and sent a strong message that enough was enough, I needed to get off my butt and find a way to make a difference beyond just giving some money here and there. And I began my search, first reflecting on what could I really bring to the table to help kids. My experiences and skills were all around business; the challenges these kids were facing were so outside of my comfort zone. And then it hit me…….my other passion besides helping youth, was around entrepreneurship and helping companies build something special and helping their people to achieve impossible goals. Could entrepreneurship be a way to get at-risk youth excited? To bring back their hope?
The research began – was there an organization out there that was doing this already or was I going to have to start my own non-profit? It did not take long for me to find BUILD, and after one meeting with Ayele Shakur, the Director of BUILD in Boston, I was hooked!
My experience with BUILD has been amazing. The organization itself is the most impressive non-profit organization that I have been involved with. Because they are using entrepreneurship to help youth, they need to lead by example and run BUILD like a business. They know how to build passion, community and execute on their strategy. The work that I do to help the organization on the “administrative side” has been great, but mentoring a Student team at Charlestown High is what I LOVE most. The students are great kids – you show a little interest in their lives and they light up, you encourage them a bit and they amaze you, you listen to them and they inspire you.
Let me share just one example of how my team has inspired me. My team’s business is Townie Pride. They create inspirational t-shirts. They want to make a difference and reduce the crime in their neighborhoods. They hope that if people are wearing t-shirts with inspirational phrases on them then maybe one person that is about to commit a crime will see the t-shirt and stop to think before they act. Early on in the development of the concept the team was using well-known inspirational phrases. We (me and my mentor partner) challenged them to come up with their own quotes instead of reusing what others have said. I did not expect much, but wanted to at least challenge them a bit. My bad for having low expectations! Here are just a few that they came up with:
“Your dreams are in your hands, so take control”
“Inspire like no other”
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.”
“Your dreams are in your hands, so don’t let them go”
“Play life like you play basketball”
“Stop playing, get serious”
“When in doubt, work it out”
Finally let me leave you with something to reflect on. Ayele usually ends her e-mails with the phrase “Shine On”. It always makes me stop to reflect on my interactions for the rest of the day. Is that what I am doing, Shining On – because I know if I am Shining On then everyone around me will too!
On May 19th, we hosted BUILDing Resilience: a conversation with Abadesi Osunsade. Aba, our moderators Christina Luconi & Cendy Moliere, and BUILD students gave an inspiring look at entrepreneurship, resilience, and growth mindset. In case you missed it, check out our virtual venue and get the replay
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