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Why A Smile Is NOT Worth One Thousand Words

Joy Pecoraro

Joy PecoraroA few days ago, I had somewhat of an emotional breakdown, which required me to “cancel my day.” As I’ve discussed many times before on the podcast, depression has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so experiencing various emotions is nothing new. However, this particular day was “heavier” than most and was accompanied with endless hours of tears.

I feel lucky because in the past two years, I’ve acquired more self-awareness than I thought possible, which has led me to acquiring tools and resources that influence my mental health. So now when I experience anything that identifies as “negative,” I instantly go to my toolbox of tricks, which according to last week, clearly doesn’t always work.

I decided to talk about what happened to me last week because many people are under the impression that once you implement one strategy that makes a difference, you are now on your road to recovery. While that may be true for some, it’s certainly untrue for many, like myself. I’ve learned the hard way that when certain thoughts or emotions show up, I have to address them. Last week, I underwent a plethora of emotions that impacted my level of stress, but I kept moving forward because in my mind, “I didn’t have time to stop and reassess.” Well, I now know that whatever I suppress, I’ll eventually have to address.

The build-up of the personal negative circumstances I was a part of and the rollercoaster of emotions that later followed eventually manifested in many different ways. One morning, I woke up and I could no longer hold it together, but I was afraid of showing that face to the world, so I remained silent. Looking back on why I avoided facing myself, I think much of it is due to what we don’t see on social media. How many of us are actually posting pictures of us crying in our bed with Netflix in one hand and pizza in the other? Exactly.

The standard that social media has set is dangerous and impacts many people on a daily basis. Many individuals seek permission to be imperfect and like me, need to be reassured that these feelings are normal and it’s okay to not always go 1,000 miles per hour. Luckily, I have people that I can call to remind me that as ambitious and driven as I may be, this doesn’t exempt me from exhibiting human-like characteristics such as feeling emotions of sadness. While I smiled most of the day today, that’s not always the case and although we’re flooded with the highlight reel that social media can be, I want to remind everyone that you never know what’s behind that smile. Pictures don’t tell the full story and because of this, we’re often afraid to share our own experiences.

I encourage all of you to be more honest about your life because you never know who you’re inspiring. If it weren’t for my friend sharing her occasional “canceled days” even though she’s a successful entrepreneur, I’m unsure of how much longer I would have continued trying to hide my personal struggles. Vulnerability is courageous, so lets embrace it together.

Five {5} Things You Should Know Before Becoming An Entrepreneur

5 Things You Should Know Before Becoming An Entrepreneur

5 Things You Should Know Before Becoming An EntrepreneurWe’ve all heard how hard entrepreneurship can be. Before I became an entrepreneur and started WOWW Campaign, I read books, inspirational quotes, and asked mentors an assortment of questions. My goal was to absorb as much information as I could because as a recovering perfectionist, I wanted to make sure I predicted hardship before it actually happened. As unrealistic as this may sound, I thought I could control the probability of surprises and negative outcomes, which is not what happened at all and one of the reasons I chose to write this article. I’ve only been an entrepreneur for a few years, but there are five things I wish I would have known before I started my journey as an entrepreneur:

1. Your mental strength is more important than any of your accomplishments.
2. Your friends and family won’t be your biggest cheerleaders.
3. “The end” is reached when you quit, not when you fall. 
4. If you’re afraid to sell, things will be much more difficult.
5. Be extra frugal.

1. Your mental strength is more important than any of your accomplishments.

Shortly after I started WOWW Campaign, I experienced a lot of unexpected growth. The Austin, TX community embraced my mission and began to look forward to new interviews being published. The events I later organized and hosted were always sold-out and well-received, which gave me a boost of confidence and subconsciously, energized me to keep going. I checked off those accomplishments as if achieving them was the most important thing I had done. When I later encountered hardship the day after my most successful event with Apple, I became paralyzed because I was under the assumption that the state of excitement I was previously exposed to over the course of a few months would be more permanent than temporary. I certainly was not equipped mentally or emotionally for the turbulence that lied ahead.

I can now say with certainty that the immediate positive experiences I was privy to after launching WOWW Campaign is not the norm among entrepreneurs, but I’m glad it happened because I was forced to examine internal factors that would dictate external conditions. Shortly after the peak of my success in my first year as an entrepreneur, I catapulted into the lowest moment of my life when my grandmother suddenly passed away. When I found myself unable to move past the negative mindset, I knew the problem was much bigger than I was capable of embracing at the time.

It’s easy to ride the wave when things are going well. Waking up in a good mood comes with ease when things are falling into place, but what happens when things around you are falling apart? Who are you in those times when nothing seems to be going right? This is where your mental strength plays a huge role in your future, and ultimately, your success. As Najwa Zebian, one of the guests on the podcast said: “strong doesn’t mean you cover up your weaknesses.” Strength comes from recognition and acceptance. I had to recognize and accept that I needed time to grieve and process my sadness because I was far from okay. Reaching recognition was the hardest part because my initial reaction was to pretend I didn’t feel numb inside. My business couldn’t move forward in any way until I defined what ‘moving forward’ would look like for me.

Life is bound to get in the way of our entrepreneurial endeavors, so be prepared for the unexpected to take over. As entrepreneurs, it’s essential that we feed our perspective so that when things get tough, we look for the lessons and embrace the reality instead of running away from our pain.

2. Your friends and family won’t be your biggest cheerleaders.

Becoming an entrepreneur is an exciting endeavor and our excitement towards our product, service or cause is one of the most important survival traits we can possess. However, that excitement doesn’t translate to our friends and family and if you’re under the assumption that they will be there to provide unsolicited encouragement, you will be greatly disappointed.

By far, some of my greatest supporters have been strangers and people that I’ve only gotten to know through social media. At first, this was difficult to assimilate because I assumed that those that were aware of my journey would be the first to congratulate me every time I reached a new milestone. Wrong. The truth is, becoming an entrepreneur requires a type of courage that many people don’t have. And many times, our bravery and enthusiasm serves as a mirror to those that wish they could take on something challenging, but can’t. The quicker you realize this, the less likely you are to be disappointed. It’s never personal and in the end, no one will care about your business as much as you do.

3. ‘The end’ is reached when you quit, not when you fall.

Earlier this year, I had to come face-to-face with my greatest lover: perfectionismOnce I realized how attached I was to this idea and how much it dictated my path, I decided to write a letter and break up with perfection. If you’re like me and struggle starting or finishing tasks, ask yourself “why?” What I discovered was that if everything wasn’t “just right” or “perfect,” I wanted nothing to do with it. I researched things extensively and used that as an excuse when in reality, I was too afraid to fall. Realizing that perfection doesn’t exist was ultimately what broke me free of myself. Taking action and moving forward became easier when I no longer saw falling as something that would destroy me.

Entrepreneurs are not psychics. You can be the smartest individual with the most impressive resume and you will still make mistakes at some point. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that you’re only defeated when you decide to quit. Become inquisitive towards yourself when you notice behavioral patterns because the answers are already there, we just have to dig and be humble enough to accept the dark truths that stand in our way.

4. If you’re afraid to sell, things will be much more difficult.

Whether you’re in a for-profit business or not, all entrepreneurs have to sell their vision. You have to sell to gain new customers, grow your audience, and hire new people. This is not something I had to overcome, rather something I’ve used to move me forward. When I interview well-known women, I get asked the infamous question: “how did you contact them?!” The answer is simple and has varied slightly: I Googled their name and found a contact form on their website. It is really that simple. I have never been afraid to pick up the phone and make a cold-call because if I don’t ask, there’s a 100% chance I won’t have the opportunity to interview them on the podcast. But, asking decreases my chance of rejection by 50%! As a lover of all things data and numbers, I like the odds of cold-calling.

I see many creatives become enamored with their craft while forgetting they still need to make a profit if they plan on keeping their doors open. No one will know you exist if you’re afraid to talk about the service you offer or the product you sell. Talking about the mission requires selling the idea to other people that may not know anything about the cause. Self-awareness will allow you to be honest with yourself about whether or not this is a trait you possess or are capable of acquiring. Recognizing this part of entrepreneurship will also allow you to make hiring decisions to replace your weaknesses with someone else’s strength.

5. An entrepreneur should be extra frugal.

One of the earliest mistakes I made was believing that you needed money to make money. Not true. In fact, I’ve learned the hard way that many times, the less you have, the more creative you become. Your passion towards the work you do should be your greatest asset, not the number of commas in your checking account. When you take in loans or investors, it’s not earned income and therefore, it’s treated differently. On the other hand, when everything you earn has required hard work, it is valued much more. An entrepreneur should take inventory of how they see money when it’s in their possession. Do you make your dollars stretch or do you take the cash for granted?

The relationship an entrepreneur has with money is often full of insightful lessons that have nothing to do with your college education or business experience. For me, my beliefs stemmed from childhood environments that relayed the following message: I wasn’t worthy unless I was making significant income. When you start a business, it’s likely you’ll go extended periods of time before generating a profit. So if your worth is tied to this, it’s no surprise the dark times will feel heavier than they should, making it difficult to focus on long-term goals instead of temporary circumstances. Get used to having less and doing more when it comes to money because the rewards are worth it.

 

Ten {10} Lessons Grief Left Behind

Lessons From Grief

Lessons From Grief
On this day, two years ago, my life changed drastically. At first, I thought my life had taken a turn for the worse. I was headed down a path full of depression, defeat, and incredible sadness. As I was preparing to write this post today, it occurred to me that two years ago, writing a piece of this nature would not have been a possibility, not even a thought. Before I write about the lessons that the grieving process has brought me, I want to describe the relationship I had with my grandmother, so the impact her death had on my mental health is better understood.

Growing up in my parents house was not fun for me. At all. When they were married, they fought almost daily, many times to the point that cops were called to diffuse the argument. This became somewhat of a routine – pretty soon their faces looked familiar and I knew that upon their arrival, my job was to take my sister into our bedroom and wait for one of them to come in, ask if we were okay, and leave us with a sticker that was supposed to distract us from our reality. It didn’t work because I never kept a single sticker. Instead, I waited the entire school year to take the red-eye to Guatemala on the last day {literally} and return the night before school began. I did this every summer, never thinking twice whether or not I’d spend my time off with my grandparents. Our ‘goodbyes’ were always full of tears followed by weeks of sadness until I became accustomed to my new reality. My entire childhood, this was my routine. In Guatemala I felt peace, unconditional love, and more happiness than I knew what to do with. Being around my grandparents was addicting because when two people love you the way they did, you’d be crazy to want anything else.

This example I just mentioned of what my life was like for 30 years is only a glimpse of the polarity I navigated. In one country, I lived with a single mother who was upset daily that she had been left with the sole responsibility of providing for her two daughters. I was reminded of this on a daily basis, which never felt right. The words spoken in her home and actions taken towards me reminded me that I was a heavy burden. Therefore, my job was to tolerate anything and everything as a token of my “appreciation.”

My grandparents, however, were the complete opposite of everything in California. They always made me feel like they were grateful and privileged to be in my life. I made many mistakes, but their unconditional love never wavered. They provided, both emotionally and financially, without ever making a remark that would remind me of their generosity. I could speak my mind and not fear retaliation because they always showed me that who I was, was more than enough. They were the epitome of unconditional love, and I knew it. When my grandfather passed away, I couldn’t bring myself to go to their house for a couple years because I was too scared of the sadness the “new normal” would represent. My grandmother and I would speak about his absence, but never without shedding a plethora of tears. We provided each other with comfort and compassion in times of sorrow, and in times of joy. I used to avoid thinking what my life would be like without her because my imagination would take me to a dark place that was too much to handle, despite it being false. When my nightmare became a reality, and she suddenly passed away, I fell fast.

Grief crippled me before it made me strong. I spent months in a state of sadness that paralyzed me from head to toe. I barely ate, lost my will to live, numbed myself with endless hours of TV, and barely functioned enough to get through the day. I literally suppressed any and all pain until it felt like I could no longer breathe. Uncovering the lessons that grief brought to my life and recognizing what’s been underneath the pain hasn’t been easy, but it was necessary. It’s been a painful process, but it essentially resuscitated me back to life.

Here are the ten {10} lessons I’ve learned from grieving the death of my grandmother:

  1. Pain is more purposeful than pleasure ever will be.
  2. Genuine & profound human connections have a lifelong impact on our soul.
  3. There’s a mysterious correlation between life lessons & timing.
  4. Every single human being {good or bad} is here to teach us, show us, or enlighten us.
  5. Surviving extreme pain, grief & sadness made me fearless.
  6. Experiencing debilitating sorrow showed me people’s true essence.
  7. Many people are not comfortable with vulnerability because they’re not ready to uncover aspects about themselves; it has nothing to do with you.
  8. Finding meaning and purpose behind difficult circumstances is an art and skillset that many have no interest in acquiring.
  9. Unconditional love feels like oxygen and therefore, it’s the greatest gift we can give.
  10. The impact an individual can have on your life is a serious matter, so choose wisely.

LINKS:
Listen to The WOWW Campaign Podcast
Shop “FEMALE is my greatest asset” Collection
Follow WOWW Campaign on Instagram
Follow WOWW Campaign on Facebook
Join *secret* WOWW Group on Facebook

WOWW Campaign Wants to Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Help for Hurricane Harvey Victims

Help for Hurricane Harvey VictimsAs many of you know because of my topic discussions on The WOWW Campaign Podcast, the state of Texas changed my overall perspective in many positive ways. Texans exposed me to the meaning of “community,” unconditional support, patriotism, friendliness, and entrepreneurship. I’m no longer surprised when I see a person proudly showing off their Texas state tattoo because I get where this symbol comes from and what it means to those of us that have been fortunate enough to reside there. Therefore, watching Hurricane Harvey unfold has been difficult to process and even harder to assimilate. If I know one thing for sure, it is that Texas will come together stronger than ever before and show the rest of the country what it’s like to be an American. Race, politics, socioeconomic status, or education won’t keep people from helping their neighbor and opening doors to their homes. If you don’t believe me, you can see a fraction of these examples across all social media channels. Complete strangers are posting their address and phone number for anyone that needs a place to stay and following through with pleas for help to ensure that their fellow Texans are free from harm. While Hurricane Harvey has caused a tremendous amount of devastation and loss, it has also served to show what America is truly made of and what makes our country great.

Although I’m certain the people of Texas will eventually recover and this landmark event will never be forgotten, I think it’s important to help those that are unable to help themselves. Logistically, I can’t help but wonder how today’s rain will impact tomorrow’s harvest. People may not be able to return to work for a while which will impact their income and the economics of the community. With the holidays around the corner, I wonder how parents will explain to their children that Christmas will have to be different due to the unexpected expenses that Harvey caused their family.

As Americans, I think it’s important that we all ask ourselves how we can help people that are in unfortunate circumstances such as what we’re seeing unfold in Houston, TX. We may not be in a position to write a large check to a non-profit organization, but I think that every business and individual can do their part when our country needs us most.

Female is my greatest assetI’ve decided that I’m going to donate 50% of all “FEMALE is my greatest asset”  & “Unstoppable” collection product sales from now until December 31, 2017 to a family {or families} that will suffer from financial loss due to Hurricane Harvey. I suspect that many people will not be able to afford their deductibles and other ongoing expenses after the storm passes, so I want to help. After speaking with a few insurance companies, I am going to identify an organization or initiative that helps with the efforts I just mentioned. I may not be able to contribute a lot, but I do think something is better than nothing. THANK YOU to everyone that I know will stand behind this or any other initiative! Compassionate hearts will never {ever} go out of style and trust me, they can always be felt worldwide.

It is truly an honor to help a community of people that gave me so much and in many ways, contributed to the woman I am today.

Link to shop “FEMALE is my greatest asset” Collection:
https://wowwcampaign.threadless.com/collections/female-is-my-greatest-asset-collection/

Link to shop “Unstoppable” Collection:
https://wowwcampaign.threadless.com/collections/unstoppable-collection/

My Birthday Wishes

My Birthday Wishes Blog Post

My Birthday Wishes Blog PostY’all…it’s my birthday!!! Most importantly, I’ve been graced to live another year…and what a year these past 12 months have been. By far the fastest year of my life! It feels like I blinked and suddenly turned 32.

I love life lessons and if you’ve been listening to The WOWW Campaign Podcast or reading any of my posts on Medium.com, you know that writing about this topic is my jam. I can’t help it; my brain automatically wants to see the positive and seek understanding so I can move forward. The process then includes me thinking, writing, discussing, and thinking one more time, until I’m comfortable turning the page and focusing on the next task at-hand. Don’t worry, the next task usually involves me analyzing as well. I blame the Virgo in me for being consistently critical {at least I’m consistent, right?}.

Today, I want to go a different route. The lessons are already there and knowing me, I’ll pull them out of my brain’s filing cabinet sooner than later. This year, I want to start by looking at where I was and where I want to go, kind of like the “then & now” of my physical appearance as an adolescent vs. today. {You’re welcome for the photograph – yes, it’s me!}

I want to incorporate the lessons into my vision of the life I wish to live moving forward. Yes, it’s important to live in the present moment because that’s all we have, but what better day than your birthday to set your future intentions, so here we go…

May I continue to be proud of my voice.

One year ago, I was too ashamed to talk about any of the events I experienced in my life, especially my depression. On the surface, I appeared to be one person, but on the inside I was someone else. Never in a million years did I think I’d feel comfortable talking about my childhood, health issues, or perspectives. I remember recording the first episode of the podcast and losing it {literally} as soon as I was done. Finding the courage to speak about where I was at that point felt impossible, until I did it. Since that episode, I haven’t looked back and don’t plan to because even when my voice shakes, I pray that I stay true to who I am despite the circumstances or emotions I’m experiencing. The shame no longer guides me and instead, I’ve made room for courage to take over.
F I N A L L Y!

May I continue to be fearless.

An interesting thing happens when your worst nightmare becomes a reality: you become fearless. I recently found a Facebook message I wrote to a friend 3 years ago when her grandmother passed away and the first words read: “I’m so sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine what you’re going through because your reality right now is my worst nightmare, so I’m really sorry…”

My grandmother was like my oxygen. Literally. Nothing felt more peaceful than hearing her voice or being in her presence. She was the closest person to me so naturally, her death took a toll on my mental health. But when I began to notice that the pain hadn’t killed me {although it felt like it could at times} and I was still breathing, light bulbs went off left and right. When I realized I survived the most unbearable thing to-date, nothing stayed the same because the lens from which I used to see suddenly changed. The armor I wore to protect myself from “failure” suddenly came off because things “not working out” seemed insignificant compared to the loss I had experienced. Today, I can say that the pain is still there, but I’ve learned to live with it. The lessons that my grandmother left behind will forever be embedded in my heart and now, they’re helping me live a much more fulfilling life because being fearless became my only option.

May I continue being passionate.

I’m a spicy Latina, I get it. I’m quick to roll my eyes sometimes and quicker to correct someone I feel is talking just to take up space. But all of these traits have their perks even if the qualities are classified as “negative” by some people. I’m equally as passionate about changing the world as I am anything else. My passion can be felt across all spectrums and I like it that way. I hope that this coming year brings me even more spice because standing up for something feels much more alive than falling for anything. I pray I’m able to use that passion for good: I want to be a voice for those that can’t find theirs. Standing tall is no longer enough – I want to always stand firmly behind everything I believe in because conviction is better than complacency.

May I continue to be hungry for more.

Whether it’s directions, knowledge, psychology, or self-awareness, I’m always searching and not afraid to ask more questions. Even though I’m another year older, I hope that the wisdom that accompanies the time period thus far keeps me humble. The more I learn, the more I realize the little I know. My hope and prayer for this next year is that regardless of the size of my platform, regardless of whatever I’m compensated monetarily, I want to remain curious not just towards others, but mostly when I’m looking inward.

May my vision pave the way for the next 12 months. Cheers to 32 dynamic and interesting years!

 

A Letter To My Dark Ex-Boyfriend/Great Teacher

Ex Boyfriend Blog Post

***Original post by Joy Pecoraro on Medium.com***

Ex Boyfriend Blog Post
You almost had me fooled.

I remember our first date like it was yesterday because there was a moment when I didn’t know whether we had too much to drink or you were just “that way.” You sat in silence as I talked to two strangers about my passion for WOWW Campaign and helping women. Most people engage in conversations that have to do with social service of any sort, but you didn’t. You knew nothing about me which made this the perfect opportunity to ask questions. In fact, you never did and that should have been my first clue that we were far too different to ever make it work because to be of service to others and connect with people is at the very top of my priority list.

Our life revolved around you: what you wanted to eat, when you wanted to eat, how long you wanted to be there, where you wanted to go, who you wanted to be around, what conversations you wanted to be a part of, and the list goes on. For someone that encourages women to speak up and find their voice, putting up with you was very hypocritical of me to do. Now I know that my level of tolerance said more about me than it did about you. Misery needs company, and boy did you feel comfortable. I felt numb inside which explains why I didn’t require a lot to feel alive.

We met when I was at my most vulnerable state. I was still secretly hiding my severe depression and grieving the death of my sweet grandmother, all while trying to find ways to be excited about life again. This explains why our physical chemistry was so intense; it was the only thing we consistently shared and seemed to hang onto.

You’re rigid and structured {to a fault}, but that’s what I needed at the time. My life craved stability because when we were dating, nothing inside of me was strong enough to stand on its own. I learned that in life, we often get what we need, not what we want.

My whole life, I’ve been fighting any sense of ego, yet there you always stood with a tight grip around your favorite weapon: pride. ‘Vulnerability’ should be my middle name because nothing feels more liberating than being honest. I’ve learned that honesty sometimes comes with tears, other times that honesty is accompanied with a plethora of affection. But I dated you: a man who’s pride and ego dictates every last word, leaving zero room for vulnerability. You couldn’t describe the impact your mother’s death had on you more than 20 years ago, so why did I expect you to have any level of introspection now? Your past was always something that you avoided discussing as if venom would arise if you did. You showed me from the beginning that superficial conversations were the only things you were capable of managing. I always waited for a miracle and secretly wished you’d crave self-awareness, even after we broke up. I thought that surely, your darkness was my fault but no, this is who you are.

While I lean into pain, you run from it. I celebrate difficult conversations while you seek suppression of any “negative” emotions. By the way, pain isn’t negative, it’s powerful and often times, makes you stronger when you’re willing to feel it.

I find peace in giving and receiving forgiveness, yet being a victim is your favorite role to play. You referred to all of your exes as terrible people and never once gave an example of how you contributed to any situation, which should’ve been my first clue that you’d be spiteful towards me, too. At our core we’re polar opposites, but when we dated, we were incredibly alike.

We are so different so why was I okay with being surrounded by someone who went against my core principles? I’ve learned that although it’s painful as fuck, life puts us in circumstances to teach us things about ourselves so we can heal and move forward. Our personal relationships serve as a mirror, but only when we’re ready to soak in what’s reflecting back at us. Yes, you’re a dark human being, but what did I expect to attract? When we dated, I was mad at life, my circumstances, and the woman I had turned into due to the things going on around me that reminded me I wasn’t in control of anything.

The price tag you put on stability and love was far too high and my soul could no longer afford it. When I began to find myself, you felt less familiar, and so I resisted. You taught me that love is not supposed to be conditional; my opinion can differ from someone elses and that same person can still love me and be interested in what I have to say. Your lack of grace taught me that I can make mistakes, seek redemption, and not be defined by my past. I learned by watching you hold grudges against me and everyone else that had ever “wronged you.”

My worth and expectations began to increase as I found my own inner light. Ironically, that’s when we became less compatible and I started to tolerate less of your darkness.

The last and final lesson you taught me was that I need to accept people as they are. While personal development is something I embrace wholeheartedly, that’s not the path that everyone chooses, and that’s okay. Your reactive manner and lack of empathy and compassion for people outside of your immediate circle foreshadowed the pain you’d one day cause me. I should’ve known better, but it was easier to ignore the signs because then I’d have to question why a woman like me was okay with being accompanied by a man like you.

When you decided to destroy all of the sentimental items I collected for 31 years of my life I was shocked that any human could harbor that much resentment and anger towards another individual. I’ve been there too, but I didn’t stay there and luckily, strive to constantly do better. You’re clearly just as miserable as the day we broke up, but that’s your path, not mine.

We’re not all alike and clearly, we have different priorities. For a stubborn woman like myself, this lesson hasn’t been easy because I’m convinced that through my work, I will make the world a better place. I can only do so much though, and so this last lesson came at the perfect time because I don’t want to feel defeated one day when I realize that the impact I’ve made is minimal or less than I anticipated. Today, I’ll be happy if I changed one life and made one woman feel more empowered through the stories I share. Thank you for teaching me that we can only do our best and that’s more than enough. Just because we give love doesn’t mean we’ll receive it. The same applies for empathy, forgiveness, and grace. People can only meet you where they are in life, and so that’s where you last showed me you are: in the dark.

I pray you see the light because I can tell you from personal experience, there’s so much more joy on this side.

Much Love,

Joy P.

Discovering The Things That Make Me Stand Tall

WOWW Campaign Blog

***Original blog post written by Joy Pecoraro on Medium.com***

WOWW Campaign BlogIt is with the heaviest of hearts that I write this, but I felt it was necessary because of what happened to Chester Bennington today. He was the frontman singer for Linkin Park and on July 20, 2017, he decided to end his life.

I’ve struggled with severe clinical depression for as long as I can remember, but only recently spoke openly about these personal experiences. The shame associated with a mental health illness kept me suffering in silence for far too long. It didn’t help that my immediate family thought I was choosing to live this way and once friends discovered my struggles, they refrained from asking follow-up questions. No one knows what to say or what to do, so they do nothing.

In my darkest moments, I was convinced I was the only one going through this, so lack of support from those that surrounded me only added to my isolation. In the end, it was me that craved to crawl out of that hole and find answers to the mysterious feelings of deep sadness that have been my permanent roommate. Everything I do today with WOWW Campaign is so that other people feel less lonely. I’m convinced miracles happen when we know we’re not alone.

For me, discovering “what makes me tick” made a tremendous difference. There was a time when I thought material wealth and professional success would eliminate my depression. I had luxurious items yet I continously woke up wishing I could sleep forever. Incorporating meditation and prayer into my routine would sometimes do the trick {but never 100%}, yet when I stopped practicing, I became lost again. I’d ask myself “why?” after reading a plethora of self-help books because surely, absorbing that much advice had to have some impact! Wrong.

I finally went back to the basics. I found myself cringing to get in my car because the comfort of the luxurious vehicle prevented me from walking outside. I realized how much I enjoy observing nature; it brings me much more happiness than red leather interior. And how about all of those self-help books I love reading? I realized that reading them occassionally brought me happiness, sometimes. Therefore, I needed to make personal development an ongoing thing — something that’s like brushing my teeth. Psychology has always captured my interest, but this didn’t mean I was “dark” or “jaded.” I finally accepted that my curiosity was part of who I am, which explains why I enjoy verbally communicating with other individuals.

The amount of enthusiasm I feel throughout my entire body when I interview a woman for The WOWW Campaign Podcast is something I explored even further. At first, I wanted to figure out whether it was growing WOWW Campaign that I was after or truly getting to know these women in order to relay the wisdom that could best serve my audience. Inexplicable joy permeates my entire being when I’m conducting an interview and I have an AHA-moment after they share something personal. I’m not happy because they’re sharing their struggles, I beam because simply imagining someone’s tearful reaction is enough to make me do jumping jacks in my living room. People. I loooo-ve people!

Life is not perfect: a conclusion I never envisioned accepting. Discovering not only what makes me stand tall, but also what brings flavor to my life has slowly started to replace those feelings of sadness with feelings of tremendous joy and I hope that through sharing this, my testimony can help you or someone you know.

Believing In Something Greater Than Myself Saved Me

believe in something greater

***Original post by Joy Pecoraro on Medium.com***

believe in something greaterWhen you’re going through a difficult time, regardless of the events, the weight of the world feels like it falls on your shoulders. That “heavy” sensation can be enough to knock you down, and keep you down. Suddenly, not only are you overwhelmed with guilt and shame for lacking the strength to recover, you also feel like it’s solely your responsibility to turn everything around. Part of that is true: our actions today dictate a large part of our future tomorrow.

So what do you tell the spouse that suddenly lost their partner in a tragic accident? What words do you use to comfort the individual that loved their job, but was suddenly laid off? Every day, millions of people show unconditional love towards one another and also towards things they care about, yet they end up feeling defeated and lost.

This is where faith can save you and bring unfathomable peace.

Last year, my life suddenly felt like my worst nightmare. My grandmother, the person I loved most, passed away a few hours after I was notified they had found a tumor that was 11cm long. Within the year, I had a TIA (fancy word for mini stroke), lost my job, and ended what I thought would be a life-long loving relationship. Choosing to believe in something greater than myself allowed the grieving process of these circumstances to include rays of light and positivity.

When I felt that I was drowning, I made a choice to believe that if my faith was as strong as I said it was, I’d have to continue putting my best foot forward while trusting that things would work out in my favor as long as I kept showing up. So I did.

Faith that good things come to those that don’t give up and continuously choose light saved me from staying down. When our faith leads the way, things like our attitude in the morning is filled with energy and productivity throughout the day is constant. Positive thinking feels different altogether and in turn, allows us to remain optimistic about the future even if the present is filled with heartache and struggle.

I depended on my grandmother for unconditional love and other things which in a way, prevented me from performing at the highest level because she provided an invisible safety net. Her death forced me to look at the dynamics within our relationship so I could better understand myself as a whole. I’m convinced it was her time to go, and my time to fly as well. She had taught me everything she possibly could and it was time I did everything with those invaluable lessons.

Losing my job propelled me to return to WOWW Campaign, something I would have delayed had I stayed in that corporate job. I’ve known interviewing women is something I’m passionate about, but I was too afraid to face the world with my depression, so I hid behind a 9–5 corporate job so I could blend in.

It’s easy to have faith and stay positive when things are going well, but I recommend that everyone focus on their faith when they’re filled with darkness. Doing this saved me because giving up no longer became an option. And so here I am today.

The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Past Romantic Relationships

Female is my greatest asset

***Original post by Joy Pecoraro on Medium.com***

WOWW Campaign Blog
After all the pain and heartbreak, I would have assumed the overall lesson would have been to only trust my dog, Frankie. Yes, Frankie is more loyal and emotionally aware than any male I’ve ever encountered, but the lessons my past relationships left taught me more about who I am than who I am not.

Before this article starts a revolution and causes unsoliticed emails from ex boyfriends believing this is the beginning of a “Tell-All” memoir, let me clarify my intention:

To highlight the positive aspects from situations that were once only filled with darkness and regret.

1. Never compete with another woman. Ever.

In my 20s, I fell madly in love with a man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. That is, until he broke up with me the day after my birthday without any reason whatsoever. Six months later he admitted he had cheated and that the guilt was too much to deal with, so he came clean via text message. What a day that was.

During that six month period of not knowing what happened, I became aware of other women he was courting and which woman would hold the title of ‘Rebound’ (thank you, MySpace). I compared every single thing about me to her; from her hair to her mannerisms, I wanted to know why she had been “chosen” next. I assumed that naturally, he had to upgrade because it made logical sense that you’d go from something great to something better. So by default, she had to be better than me. No one is better than anyone, we are all unique and different. As I often say: different strokes for different folks.

I overanalyzed her to death at the expense of my self-esteem and self-worth. I learned that being in love with a man did not justify having to expose my best sales and marketing abilities. When a man chooses to be with another woman that is not you, that in itself is enough of a motivator to let go. Let go as fast as you can because there’s someone else in the world waiting for a woman just like you. And if you’re holding on for some reason while they’re galavanting with another woman, I suggest you explore which part of you needs healing because no one should be okay with that scenario.

Ladies, don’t sell yourself to anyone! The only time you should is when you’re trying to close a business deal. I learned that when two people choose to spend their time together it is because they both find value in the other individual. It’s that simple. If he/she wants to live without you, let them. If you don’t value yourself enough to expect the bare minimum, what makes you think someone else will treat you like the queen that you are?

2. You have to be whole by yourself if you want to be in a great relationship.

In the words of Julia Michaels: we all have issues. If your issues are related to self-esteem, work on them before becoming someone’s partner. The person that you’re with should be an added bonus, not a requirement. You should want to be with him/her, not need them. Otherwise, you subconsciously base your worth on what that other individual says to you or how they treat you. You think things like: “He forgot to give me a gift for our anniversary. He must not love me.”

Having a high self-esteem means knowing yourself enough to define your non-negotiables and having the strength to walk away when you know you’ve given the relationship your best effort. When I was younger, I was okay with giving up spending time with my friends in order to spend more time with my significant other because my self-esteem dictated that come in any place, but first.

Recently, I caught myself in a similar situation when coincidentally, my depression was at its worse. Sacrificing what was important to me for the sake of someone’s approval only led to resentment and anger. In both of those situations, I wasn’t whole and therefore, expected my partner to fill the gaps within me that were solely my responsibility to address. Your partner is not responsible for your happiness, you are. Find joy on your own, know who the hell you are when no one is watching, focus on the things that make time feel invisible, and watch how the people you begin to attract complement the wonderful individual you were before they walked into your life.

3. Your pain will be purposeful if you’re ready to receive the lessons.

At times it has felt like I’ve dated the same people with different physical traits. Similar men showed up in my life to teach me the same exact lessons. It wasn’t until I was ready to face the pain head-on that I absorbed what the universe was trying to tell me for the past 30 years of my life.

My heart has felt like it’s breaking even when I’ve initiated the separation. Pain is scary because it’s accompanied with uncertainty. At one point, your partner was the only person you could envision yourself with and now, trusting your own judgment is a foreign concept. For a long time, it was easier for me to pretend the pain didn’t exist by occupying my time with anyone and anything that served as a distraction.

But when you’re ready to learn from life, you sit with the painful emotions as if they were your roommate. You learn why you have certain reactions and what the true cause of your attachment stems from. Whether you’re attached to the idea of what the relationship once was, anger, resentment… all of it serves no purpose and actually drains us of energy that could be allocated elsewhere.

For me, discovering unresolved childhood wounds was the catalyst that led to a positive personal transformation. These wounds were the root cause of my severe depression and lack of creative initiative with The WOWW Campaign Podcast. The pain I accepted into my life took me on a complicated journey, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Knowing where things went wrong with the intention of making it right allowed me to move forward in every aspect of my life with a sense of ambition and determination that I didn’t even know existed.

The Story Behind “Female is my greatest asset” T-Shirt

Female is my greatest asset

***Original post by Joy Pecoraro on Medium.com***

Female is my greatest asset

When my grandmother “Mamatita” passed away and I entered a dark state of grief, as part of my recovery, I eventually had to ask myself tough questions in order to understand why I was so impacted by her death. We were always very close and I viewed her as a mother-figure, so naturally, I knew the day she was no longer alive would be a painful time in my life. However, the grief seemed to intensify as time passed and the depression that surfaced was crippling, both emotionally and physically. It was sad to constantly live in this state-of-mind so I turned to anything I could grasp hoping it’d eliminate my depression: therapy, reading, meditation, prescription drugs…if it was recommended, I tried it.


The greatest gift I received as a result of loss was the ability to find myself and in that, infinite love and strength.

The medicine that finally worked required intense introspection over a long period of time. Sadness and grief are dark, but they come bearing many gifts. The greatest gift I received as a result of loss was the ability to find myself and in that, infinite love and strength along with a plethora of lessons my grandmother left behind that I could use for as long as I live. I now know that the universe is precise when it comes to timing and everything is happening for us, at all times. My grandmother’s wisdom remind me that I can fly and trust myself because all of the things I’m searching for already exist and are at my disposal. Her death was difficult to accept because I thought that access to my lifeline had suddenly been taken from me — I wasn’t sure how to survive without her guidance.


Communal division around me is a reminder that genders and race are at war with one another so it’s pivotal that more than ever before, we stand united and choose to promote strength instead of weakness. My grandmother was my biggest supporter and always made me feel that I could achieve anyting I envisioned. Honestly, she was this way towards every woman she came across. Regardless of the subject matter, she constantly reminded female friends and family that they already posessed the traits needed to persevere through their circumstances. She was a woman that didn’t allow others to dictate her path and celebrated being a woman in her professional and personal life.

“Female is my greatest asset” t-shirt was created in honor of my grandmother because if she were alive today, she’d view what is going on in the world as one more reason to promote all of the skills, aptitude and assets that women innately posess.

4 Reasons Why It’s Important to Highlight Millennial Women

WXGY Event Photo

Millennials are people that were born between the years 1980 and 2000. At the WOWW event in August [#ATXWomenWin], one thing was very obvious: millennials were everywhere. Although occasional articles are posted specifically about this demographic, it’s hard not to pay attention when 90% of the people in a room fall in this category – which is what was noted on August 19th. Generation Y (AKA millennials) are the fastest growing population and now, the most diverse, too. Millennials are shaped by technology and innovation, but are often referred to as “entitled” and “self-absorbed.” While there are many positive aspects about this age group, there are also people that are using negative descriptive language to define us. By hosting an event to highlight and honor millennial women, we hope to tell a different story that results in motivation and positive outcomes within the local Austin community. But first, lets outline some of the reasons why this event is important and why it also shouldn’t be the last one aimed at targeting millennial women.

1. Everyone wins

Helping millennials make strides benefits everyone else around them. In one survey, 50% of millennials said they wanted to start a business. Therefore, helping these individuals succeed through financial and educational resources is vital. Successful millennials means more jobs being created which is mutually beneficial for everyone involved in the economy.

2. Millennials have more college degrees than any other generation

Millennials are obtaining college degrees at a faster rate than any of the previous generations. Because of this, there is more competition in the job market. Creativity and innovation is now a requirement if a millennial is to compete in today’s job pool. By featuring women in this generation, others will be exposed to multiple strategies and paths that were taken in various careers; making the road multidimensional by adding to an individual’s perspective in addition to what is learned in college.

3. Most of the population in Austin, TX are millennials

Our city is growing. Fast. And yes, almost every news source is talking about it. What few discuss is the number of millennials that now live in Austin, TX. Currently, it’s reported that the average age of an individual in Austin is four years younger than the national average. The median age of a person in Austin is 33 years old. And out of the entire 1.9 million population, 34% are between the ages of 25-44.

4. Women start businesses at twice the rate of men

It’s no secret that women are fans of entrepreneurship. So much that they start businesses at twice the rate of men. However, the average age of a female business owner is between 40-60 years old. Highlighting female millennials is pivotal because it allows other women to interact and see this group that is often underrepresented and often not the main subject of conversation.



The WOWW’d by Gen Y event on October 29th was created to make millennials more accessible to one another. The WOWW Campaign believes that by sharing personal experiences with others that can resonate with like-minded individuals, it is more likely that someone will find the support they’re seeking. Because of this, and other facts, we created an opportunity to bring a group of panelists together that are willing to answer questions related to their professional experiences. To RSVP to the upcoming event, please click this link or visit eventbrite.com.

A Very Personal Announcement

mamatita blog postSince I was 11 months old, I have spent all of my summers in Guatemala City with my grandparents. When my younger sister was born, I actually spent a couple of years with them in Guatemala because my grandma insisted that they could take care of me so my mom wouldn’t have to put me in daycare while she worked here in the United States. 3-4 months of every year were spent alongside this amazing woman who taught me most of what I know today. My grandma [AKA Mamatita] was not only my best friend, but she was my life-guide as well and truly the closest person to me. There aren’t enough words to express the amount of love I have for her.

She was born in Guatemala in 1930 when most women barely had a voice. Mamatita was an entrepreneur and managed multiple businesses, a home, and six kids with constant class and grace. She handled it all with a positive attitude and thought there was a solution to everything. Circumstances and people didn’t change who she was; although her heart was so sensitive that emotional pain often made her physically sick. Most of her employees were men and never did I hear her use her gender as an excuse for not obtaining the respect she deserved. Mamatita did not use curse words or extreme volume when expressing herself, yet when she spoke, the entire room listened. Her presence in any room demanded an unspoken respect. She was firm yet soft and empathetic when speaking to others. She taught me that my opinions and feelings were valid and therefore, I had every right to express myself. That’s what she always did: she applauded and praised whenever necessary and scolded if she witnessed an injustice. If we traveled somewhere and there was a chance that kids would be in her presence, she would always make sure she had extra candy and dollar bills in her purse so she had something to give the young ones she’d come across. She taught me to never go anywhere empty-handed and always display generosity. When visiting others in their home, Mamatita would make sure to remind me that if I were offered food, to always say “yes, thank you” and not turn anything away. In her opinion, it was rude to be a picky eater and not be grateful at all times. That explains why today, my palate is broad and expansive.

My biggest fear in life was losing her, and recently on September 8, 2015, that fear became a reality.

On August 19th 2015, the day before the last WOWW event, I received news that would ultimately end up shattering my heart. My grandma’s health had taken a drastic turn for the worse and the woman I spoke to that day was no longer the strong, charismatic person I was familiar with. Her voice was fragile and her words were filled with departure. I remember not being able to say much because I was crying uncontrollably and my fear was that she would notice my sadness. The end was near and the last thing I wanted was for her to worry about my emotional stability.

It’s impossible for me to share all of the things Mamatita taught me because that may take an eternity. The lessons I learned from her will live with me forever and I know the world would be a better place if everyone had a Mamatita in their life, too. If I can one day be at least 10% of the woman she was, I will be one very happy girl. In the meantime, I’ll try to share her stories and insight while living a life she would be proud of. I always thanked her on a consistent basis for being in my life and teaching me the meaning of unconditional love. Without my Mamatita, I know I wouldn’t do or say many of the things I represent today.

The WOWW Campaign has been my passion since I began interviewing women in June of 2014. But since my grandma’s passing on September 8th, I’ve found it very difficult to do even the smallest of tasks. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to find my passion for life in general. I keep hearing this is all part of the mourning process and I’m waiting for the day that tears are no longer part of my daily routine. I ask for compassion and patience while I try to navigate these circumstances and return to my regular schedule of publishing posts and interviews. I know I’ll get there, it just may take more time than I’m willing to admit. Thank you to everyone that has reached out and showed me an abundance of love during this difficult time – it’s greatly appreciated and incredibly helpful!

-XO
Joy Pecoraro

What Exactly Happened with the Controversy Regarding the MENtoring Event

On June 11, 2015, I was scheduled to have an event titled MENtoring: The Man’s Perspective. I had to cancel the event on June 9, 2015 because of the consequences the controversy caused my sponsors and me. Although some people got an idea of what exactly happened that Tuesday afternoon, many people still inquire and are confused about the series of events. Therefore, I’ve decided to outline exactly what happened to avoid any confusion or misrepresentation that may exist out in the internet world as it can sometimes take on a mind of its own.

The Tweet That Started It All

Little did I know that more than 700 “retweets” means that something going viral is now your reality. On June 9, 2015, a feminist in Austin, TX voiced her negative opinions to her 15,000 followers about my MENtoring Event via Twitter and attached the flyer associated with the event. To put it in perspective, Oprah Winfrey’s tweets get an average of 100-200 retweets (sometimes). So yes, almost 800 retweets regarding the MENtoring Event was a lot.

As they say, the rest is history…

MENtoring Event Controversy Tweet

The notifications on my phone lit up like a Christmas tree and I suddenly went from planning last-minute details regarding the event to a PR damage control expert. “Putting out fires” became my middle name for the next 72 hours.

Addressing the Women that Spearheaded the Twitter Controversy

It didn’t take long for me to realize the magnitude of the situation. I was getting phone calls from not only my event sponsors but, the panelists as well. Unfortunately, people on social media did not only attack me; they went after those involved with the event, too. This did not only include attacking the panelists. They also made sure to mention their respective businesses.

I decided to address as many people as I could personally once this began to unravel. However, some were willing to talk to me on the phone while others were not. By explaining who I was and what my intentions were, I was able to diffuse the situation and even connect on a positive level with many of the women that were spearheading the Twitter controversy.

What I learned was that I had a huge messaging problem. If you have to constantly explain who you are and what the context of the event is, you’re not doing a good job at conveying that information through the associated collateral. Addressing many of those that were upset also helped me understand the pain that many gender-related circumstances has caused women of all ages. In the end, being transparent and willing to talk to strangers about an uncomfortable situation turned out to be the best decision I made that day.

Realizing the Controversy was also about Women Hating Men

When the situation on Twitter got out of hand, I initially went into a state of shock and panic. Primarily because I knew my intention was to have a panel of men that were willing to answer any questions from our guests (mostly women). It was apparent that most of the people I was up against hadn’t bothered to do a simple Google search about the WOWW Campaign. Those that were affiliated with the controversy can be categorized in one of two groups:

1. People that misinterpreted the purpose of the event because of context/messaging mistakes
2. People that thought an all-male panel is unacceptable under any circumstance

While I understand and empathize (a lot) with many of the women that expressed their concerns, I simply cannot dislike an entire group of people. In my opinion, to dislike all men because I’ve been disrespected by a few would not be fair. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me as you can see by these screen shots displayed below.


Why I Decided to Cancel the MENtoring Event

Once my sponsors and I began to receive threats and individuals’ livelihoods were at stake, I made the decision to cancel the event on June 10, 2015 and submit ticket refunds for anyone that had RSVP’d. Men and women threatened to show up and disrupt the peace, which in my opinion, would have been unfair to those attending. At one point, I was in a meeting and the individual across from me told me there were large organizations encouraging these activists to continue the controversy. And it’d be in my best interest to align myself with them in order to eliminate the chaos.

After that meeting, I became more aware that I was up against something much larger than the Twitter noise. I had to build my credibility and address my audience as if I were speaking on a national platform in order to decrease the chances of any future controversies.

Next Steps

Because of the confusion the WOWW Campaign caused, I was forced to take a closer look at our messaging and branding. Now, we’re happy to announce that we’re improving who we are and how we represent ourselves as a result of what happened. The WOWW Campaign is in the process of redesigning its logo and all marketing collateral associated with the brand. In the future, I want to eliminate confusion regarding who we are and what we wish to accomplish in the community.

The next time someone asks “what is the WOWW Campaign?” We want people everywhere to respond immediately with: “the WOWW Campaign is an online publication that is dedicated to sharing the stories of women in an effort to inspire and encourage others to overcome their personal and professional challenges.”

4 Reasons Why I Dislike the Word ‘Feminism’

Lately I’ve been hearing the word ‘feminism’ more often than usual. Maybe because of the industry I’m in and who my primary audience is?? Nevertheless, I find it extremely important to write about this topic since I consider myself a huge advocate for female empowerment and this word tends to be associated with this subject. Before this post, I have never used the word ‘feminism’ in any of my blog posts and tend to leave it out of my daily vocabulary. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the word for many reasons I plan to discuss. When I look up the definition of feminism, this is the first result on Google’s search engine:

“the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

To say that I’m not an advocate for women would be ludicrous. It takes a lot of determination, focus, and passion to start any business – especially one with a social mission – which is exactly what I’ve done. My online publication is dedicated to promoting vulnerability, courage, and compassion so women feel more connected to one another. Bringing women together during times of difficulty is something that brings me an incredible amount of satisfaction. There’s nothing like feeling someone understands you and can relate to the experiences you’re going through. Because of this, words that create division and hostility aren’t exactly what I’m crazy about. There are 4 primary reasons why I dislike the word ‘feminism’ and yet consider myself one of the biggest advocates I know for women’s rights.

1) Standing up for what is right shouldn’t be a category
If I had a word for every time I did something about an injustice, I’d be full of “isms”. So why is it that standing up for what is right as it pertains to women has to be separated and categorized as feminism? More specifically, why is it that advocating for women’s equal rights isn’t something that we all feel a moral responsibility towards?! Right is right and wrong is wrong. If men were getting paid less than women, I’d expect for any (sane) human to stand up and say something because that would be an injustice, too. Advocating for the disabled, children and poor does not have their own label or category, yet we have seen many cases where these groups have been underrepresented and wrongly served.  And still there isn’t a word to describe these advocates. So why use a word only for women that seems to separate us even more from the rest of society?

2) Labels tend to cause division
The word ‘feminism’ has caused more division than unification. Yes, those belonging to feminist groups are unified….but only with each other. In order to see any progress, we have to connect with those we have conflict with, too. While I’m all about standing up for what is right and voicing my opinions (because God knows I have a lot of them), I don’t want to live in a world full of hate and division as a result of my stance. The WOWW Campaign was created so that women can get on a platform and speak their truth without fear of being ridiculed and judged because of their personal or professional experiences. Many feminist groups today have alienated themselves from anyone outside of their circle and used their platform to accuse, blame, and shout their thoughts without the intention of having a conversation with the opposing party. I experienced this firsthand after the controversy that came from the MENtoring Event I was scheduled to have on June 11, 2015. I offered many of the women spearheading the controversial discussions on social media an opportunity to work together in order to help me better understand how I could improve. Instead they chose to fight and keep the door closed for any possibility of a conversation to a woman who’s only intention is to make this world a better place.

 

 

 

I’ll start using the word ‘feminism’ when feelings of love and community are the first to arise. Until then I’ll continue to avoid such labels.

3) Alienating men doesn’t empower women
Whether we like it or not, men make up half of the population and I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon. The more women climb up the corporate latter, the more we’re going to have to learn how to work with men. This includes openly discussing issues that make us uncomfortable and finding solutions to unresolved topics. As woman-related topics become more popular, including both genders in these discussions is more important than ever before. Because of this, I don’t support alienating men on the basis of feminism. In fact, I continue to promote open dialogue and transparent conversations. If you can’t ask them the tough questions and keep them at the table, what’s the point? Aren’t multi-dimensional perspectives better for all parties involved? And if we alienate them then wouldn’t that be somewhat hypocritical? Golden Rule still exists last time I checked.

4) Feminism makes me feel less feminine
Until recently, I thought showing certain characteristics was a sign of weakness. I was under the impression that being a strong woman meant showing less emotion and empathy towards men along with giving them minimal attention. That mentality quickly shifted when I realized that men are sensitive and emotional people, too. Probably more than woman (yes guys, I said it).  Feminists typically cringe at the idea of a woman cleaning a home while their partner watches TV and doing anything else that wouldn’t be seen as “equal.” You’re not applauded for a nice gesture but ridiculed and accused of contributing to a sexist society. Well, I disagree. As a strong woman, if I didn’t want to do something and thought it was unfair, I would simply not do it and have a conversation about it. When I was interviewing candidates for the WOWW Campaign, I was amazed at how women were able to have a work-life balance. They exhibited leadership qualities in their office and weren’t afraid to display domestic gestures in their personal life – when they felt like it. Not once did I hear them identify as a feminist.

Announcement Regarding the WOWW Campaign MENtoring Event this Thursday 06/11

It is with a heavy heart that I’m canceling the WOWW MENtoring event this Thursday, June 11, 2015.

Unfortunately, there has been widespread misunderstanding about the intent of this event, and I am truly sorry that I have caused offense. This has escalated to the point that I’m concerned about the safety of the panelists and attendees and have decided to cancel Thursday’s event. My panelists and attendees should not suffer the consequences of my mistakes.

The WOWW Campaign was founded as a platform to inspire women to do great things.  This inspiration comes from leaders regardless of their gender, race or background. As a first-generation Latina college graduate, it was difficult for me to find inspiration at times…let alone, become an entrepreneur. Due to the lack of support and guidance I sometimes felt at different stages in life, I wanted to create something I wish I had during challenging times. Because of my personal experiences, I decided to start the WOWW Campaign and begin interviewing women in Austin, TX so their stories would help others as much as they helped me.

My goal when I launched the WOWW Campaign was to create an online publication that would share the stories of women in leadership roles that have the courage to speak about their personal and professional experiences. In two and a half months, I interviewed 47 women in Austin and was referred to 153 more for future interviews. I knew there was a need for this to take place, but it wasn’t until the first interview was released that I accepted how large this assignment really was. Planning and hosting events were not part of the original business plan. Events were created as a result of demand when emails came flooding in thanking me that I had started the WOWW Campaign but, that I needed to do more.

My perspective about what I could accomplish shifted drastically when people around me began to show their unconditional support. More importantly, when individuals shared their stories and embraced vulnerability, I also got the courage to do the same. This is when I began to truly appreciate the value of mentorship.

The lessons I’ve learned in less than one week from the MENtoring Event are things I will keep for the rest of my life. I’m beyond grateful to have heard from so many people regarding the messaging of the marketing collateral associated with this event. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry to have caused pain, grief, resentment and anger – that was not and will never be my intention. Ironically, some of my biggest weaknesses are things that were highlighted on Twitter; beginning with thinking too small. Never did I think people outside of my email newsletter and small Facebook following would view the invitation. Therefore, all of the messaging was crafted in a way that I assumed people knew who I was, what my mission is, and what I’ve accomplished thus far. Big mistake. Nowhere on the invite does it mention that guests would be submitting their questions to men or that this was intended to be an open dialogue, not a lecture as many people mentioned. But because I never thought it’d be viewed by the world, it didn’t cross my mind to include it on the flyer and elaborate on this very important fact.

Messaging mistake #1: Don’t assume the person reading something knows everything about you.

You know what they say about assuming…

The overall purpose of this event was to learn from one another. I wanted men to address the concerns of women but, also share their stories about things they’ve overcome and what was learned from those experiences. It’s easy to talk about things we’ve done right and when and where we’ve been praised but, it’s so much harder to openly discuss the challenging moments that have made the largest impact in our life and perspective. My audience knew this and so did the panelists but again, nowhere on the invite is that portrayed. I paid little attention to the wording because I knew my audience was aware of what my intentions were. I can’t say this enough: never did I think people outside of that group would view this. Quite frankly, it’s hard for me to think on that large of a scale. Probably something I should start addressing and improving if I really want to change the world.

Although this has been a difficult week, I am sincerely grateful for all of the insight I gathered. I’ll forever encourage people, and especially women, to speak their mind because that takes a lot of courage. Thanks to your opinions, I’m going to improve and move forward in a way that makes more women proud to affect change.

From the beginning, I’ve planned the MENtoring event to be a conversation between men and women in an effort to learn from each other and share advice. It was never intended to be condescending to women. In February, I hosted an all-female panel, and this time I wanted to give the guys a turn to be on a panel especially because it was requested from guests that attended that they wanted to hear from men, too. My sincerest apologies if this wasn’t conveyed from the beginning. I’ve jokingly always said that I’m good with numbers but, not-so-great with words. I think this experience has finally proven this point.

Finally, I want to address why I didn’t mention I was giving a portion of the proceeds to a local non-profit organization…

I listened to bad advice from someone I should have tuned out years ago. I was told that telling people who you’re giving to is “bragging” and so I didn’t do that. My plan was to write a check, invite a representative from the organization so they could meet potential donors at the event, and thank them for their good work in the community; all silently because I thought the recognition would be arrogant. Even after talking to the non-profit on the phone I mentioned I didn’t want to use their logo because I’d feel like I was misguiding people. Well, lesson learned. Doing a good deed and bragging is not the same thing and I will never make that mistake again. While reading the comments about charging people to attend was difficult, I also learned so much about being more transparent and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.  The WOWW Campaign would not be what it is today without all of the passionate supporters behind us.

I will be issuing refunds in the coming week for those who have already purchased a ticket. Please share this announcement through your social media outlets using the hashtag #WOWWATX

Sincerely,

Joy Pecoraro

New Year, More #WOWW

On February 19, 2015, the #WOWW Campaign had its first event with Apple Inc. Guests had the opportunity to ask a panel of five women questions related to their personal and professional lives using devices provided by Apple Inc.

The panelists included (from L to R): Margaret Jabour (Co-Owner of Twin Liquors), Dana DeBeauvoir (Travis County Clerk), Rhoda Mae Kerr (Chief of Austin Fire Department), Rashanna Moss (Owner of Pure Barre Austin), and Beth Lasita (Owner of Pinnacle Construction of Austin Inc. & Co-Owner of the Grove Wine Bar).
Panel
Some guests asked questions related to starting a business while others wondered how they handled criticism and speculation. The sold-out event was not only well attended but, a huge success due to a number of different factors. The panel displayed characteristics that were felt well before questions began. Panelists interacted and engaged with all of those attending before and after the discussion took place. All five panelists were transparent, vulnerable, inspiring and full of humor. The #WOWW Campaign will be forever grateful to these women that took time out of their busy schedules to share their wisdom and knowledge with others. The purpose of this event was to create an intimate setting where women come together to encourage one another through experiences and pivotal moments. Our purpose and more was achieved thanks to the energy that was brought forth by all parties involved.

A few hours before the event began, Dana DeBeauvoir signed the first gay marriage license in the state of Texas. When someone tweeted “what has been your proudest moment in your career?” she responded: “today!” The crowd could not help but cheer and rejoice after she responded. Many people personally gave their testimonials after the questions were answered due to the amount of transparency that was encouraged by all of the panelists.

Guests enjoyed appetizers and beverages at Haymaker thanks to our proud partner, Apple Inc. Thank you Apple Inc. for allowing us all to experience a memorable event. Pictures from the event can be seen on our #WOWW Campaign Facebook page.

We encourage those that attended to leave your feedback and comments on our Facebook page so that in the future, we can continue to do what you enjoyed and change what you did not. Stay tuned for an announcement about our upcoming event in April. Tickets will first be available to our newsletter subscribers so make sure you sign up!

XO
~Joy Pecoraro

Felicia Rodriguez, Joy Pecoraro, Sarah Henkel, Dani Borowy

Panelists at eventAudience at eventNew Year, More #WOWW

What Is STEM?

Girls_Heart_STEMNo, we’re not talking about stem cell research. STEM is the acronym that has been floating around that people don’t seem to know about. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. You may have heard companies like Dell and Samsung mention it or people that represent legislation. Many initiatives are currently taking place to get these conversations going not just among people that are in this space but, with the public in general. It always fascinates me that people in the tech industry talk about it like everyone knows what it is. I’ve always said STEM has a marketing problem – a major one. If you ask someone to describe the roles and responsibilities of an electrical engineer, they couldn’t tell you. Young girls have no idea what engineers actually do. Most young girls want to be teachers or moms because that’s what they see on a daily basis. Until software companies, organizations, and other institutions figure out their messaging has to drastically change, women will continue to miss out on STEM professions. Non-profit organizations, school districts, technology companies, and universities are spending a lot of resources to encourage girls to go into any of the STEM professions. Why? Because that’s where the future is headed. In fact, its safe to say we’re already there. If our population doesn’t start preparing young girls, future supply won’t meet workforce demands. Right now, men show much more interest in STEM-related fields than women do. CFO’s, engineers, computer Scientists are mostly men. Women make up half of the US economy but less than 25% of STEM jobs. Last time I checked, I believe it was closer to 18%.

Everyone is trying to figure out what and how to change these figures because no one wants to work in a place without female presence. It all comes down to business – think about it. If you own a big software company, would you want to report 75% of your staff is male? Probably not. Diversity = dollar bills. Subconsciously, the public doesn’t view institutions the same when there’s a lack of diversity. Even worse, it makes for an unproductive environment. Regardless of where you work, it should directly represent the population. Because of this, tech companies and everyone else is trying to figure out how to get the publics attention so they encourage young girls to go into STEM. I recently met Debbie Sterling, founder of GoldieBlox at the Texas Conference for Women and I won’t forget what she said. She said that by going around and speaking to different audiences, she hopes to change peoples perception of what a mechanical engineer looks like. You can’t be what you can’t see, right? Aside from now being an entrepreneur, Debbie noticed there were few women in all of her classes throughout college. This paved the way for what is now GoldieBlox; a toy company to encourage young girls to get into STEM that also shows girls what engineers do: build.

Look at two of the most well-known social platforms that we use on a daily basis: Twitter and Facebook. It takes engineers, programmers, and computer scientists to run and operate them at all times. Do we want to outsource those employment opportunities in the future? Or, do we want to provide jobs to those that live here? Last I heard, a person that majors in computer science (“T” in STEM) makes an average yearly salary above those in other professions. Aside from the obvious financial opportunities, about 80% of future jobs will require a STEM education. Therefore, preparing young girls now is absolutely essential. Enroll them in after-school programs, Girl Scouts, and any other activities that are created for STEM. Many programs are already in place and extremely affordable. The problem is marketing: they’re out there but, a lot of people don’t know about them. Now that Christmas is around the corner, buy them a GoldieBlox toy to start planting the seed. The worst thing that can happen is they won’t like building a zipline. And to be honest, I highly doubt that’ll happen.

For parents reading this post, I’ve outlined some resources in Austin,TX that you can look into. I highly encourage you give them a call because what they have to offer is extremely valuable and I’m sure your daughters will thank you one day.

In order to change the data, we have to engage girls way before they enter high school. Young girls start showing signs of interest in STEM fields during their early development so it’s our responsibility to look for the signs and provide resources that’ll stimulate this interest. This means paying attention to the apps they’re downloading on mobile devices and as Debbie Sterling would say, “disrupting the pink aisle.” Parents: buy your kids toys that encourage building and problem-solving. Believe it or not, this can actually motivate your kids and shape them into being the next engineer. Getting girls to go into STEM fields is not about making them be something they’re not. It’s about bringing out interests they already have but often times, no one pays attention to.

tufted headboardTake me for example. When I was 8, I was fixing my moms cabinets and putting on productions for the neighborhood. I’d assemble it all – if it needed planning and analytical skills, I was all over it. Unfortunately, no one saw the signs and I’m certain I was one of the young girls on the way to a STEM-related career. Want proof? 20 something years later, I’m still building. Only this time I made a tufted headboard from scratch (that I’m VERY proud of) all from seeing a picture on Pinterest. If you’re already volunteering or participating in some way at the organizations we mentioned, THANK YOU. We’d also like to know your thoughts on this subject. Leave your comments with any questions you may have so we can help. The #WOWW Campaign is committed to seeing more girls get into STEM-related careers!

The Ice Cream Man Made Me Good At Math

When I was a kid, an ice cream truck would come by every single day. I remember it was the same man and I knew the jingle the truck played kind of like I know all of Beyonce’s jingles today. Before he’d icecreamtruckshow up, I’d scavenger around for extra quarters or dollar bills. This typically involved doing a chore that led to compensation or convincing my sister to give me her money (the latter was always much easier and effective). Ironically, it wasn’t the candy I wanted to purchase, I was paying for recognition. I noticed early on that he would praise my math skills because I was able to add totals rather quickly and tell him if he owed me any change….way before he even brought out his calculator. After giving me my change, he’d always say something along the lines of “you’re so smart, keep studying!” or “wow! that was a tricky one and you figured it out before me.” I can’t tell you what I did with the candy afterwards but for some reason, I have a vivid memory of what it felt like to have someone encourage me to do better. To say I loved being challenged and working for that affirmation would be an understatement! I could do math problems that kids twice my age weren’t even beginning to figure out and someone took notice. That’s all it took for me to start my love affair with math that continued long after my scholastic chapter ended. It took me over 20 years to finally realize what a tremendous impact this had on me and why I strived to do complicated math problems in my head at a young age. Without knowing it, the ice cream man made me good at math and I thank him for it. Every transaction got more complicated as I chose different products so he knew I wasn’t cheating. He never stopped being impressed by my math skills and I never stopped wanting that recognition. Today, I know how important these skills are because I use them on a daily basis and the same skills allowed me to obtain my economics degree. Throughout my college career, I was one of few women in my math classes. Whether it was algebra, statistics or upper division calculus, the amount of female representation decreased drastically as the courses became more challenging. When I was in the classroom, it wasn’t a big deal. Now that I’m out of the classroom, I think how beneficial an ice cream man would’ve been to girls around the world. I’ve become a huge advocate for women in mathematics because I realize how much it impacts other skills. The ability to problem solve and think analytically is what allowed me to start my business and succeed at consulting. I used to think anyone could consult and solve problems for others but now, I know your brain just has to work that way and I’m thankful mine does. I wish I could say this came naturally however, I give all credit to mathematics because it has allowed me to think clearly and logistically. Numbers are the same worldwide and if you can apply those skills here, you can apply them anywhere. When you look at the most well-known CEO’s, they all demonstrate strong mathematic traits. So what’s the correlation? If math allows you to think critically and that leads to problem solving, then you become an asset to a corporation. Everyone is replaceable but, those that solve complicated marketing logistics and yield solutions leading to business growth are not. If parents would realize how important this is, I believe they’d start looking for the signs or at least be more encouraging and motivating towards their children. Women are already doing amazing things in this world and possess unique characteristics so, why not make them good at mathematics, too? Imagine the possibilities and business opportunities. I have a feeling our future economy would thank us greatly.