Just 27 years young, CEO and entrepreneur Kristen Hadeed travels to various colleges, teaching students the key aspects that produce great leaders. She was featured on TED Talks discussing the formation of her company as a college junior. Her life journey has gained nearly two million views on YouTube and has inspired many students to avoid distractions and pursue their passions. I was fortunate enough to speak with Kristen in person after her presentation at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She provided me with very insightful advice and currently serves as a true inspiration and mentor to many aspiring entrepreneurs, like myself.
Kristen was never the average child and had always looked for ways to earn a buck whenever possible. By the time she settled in at the University of Florida, she ran into the problem that the majority of college students share. She needed more money in order to satisfy her fashion needs. With an entrepreneurial mindset, whether she realized it or not, Kristen decided to find a way to earn quick cash. She did so by posting an ad online to look for homes in need of cleaning. She successfully booked and completed a job that paid her enough to satisfy her shopping needs. Little did Kristen know, she would be called back and referred to others for her skills in cleaning! Long story short, this led to an influx of opportunities and cleaning gigs that would require Kristen to employ many of her college peers. To this day her company, Student Maid, employs over 500 students!
Imagine that you are a college freshman who has a true passion for football. Despite your hard work ethic, you don’t make the team. So naturally, you are going to attempt to transfer to your second college of choice to have another shot. You trained twice as hard this time and are actually turned down even harder. This would definitely be a heart wrenching experience! Would you stop there or try again? If you were willing to try other colleges, how many more would you go through in order to reach your desired results? Would you be willing to try out for 20 more teams? Although this scenario seems fairly extreme and would be a very expensive journey, it really shows how well someone can persevere. Kristen Hadeed persevered, while in college, by visiting over 20 banks in search of a loan for her startup. She was turned down many times because she was too young and lacked a proper business plan, but she refused to let this stop her. Kristen made it known that she would not let others tell her that she couldn’t achieve her goals. As a result, she was finally rewarded the funds needed in order to supply her business needs. That is true determination and you will rarely hear about someone persevering to such an extent after being turned down as much as she had been.
Leadership Skill Development
One of the key points that Kristen made sure to stress, was the importance of treating your employees well. Leadership comes in many forms but should not be seen as an overwhelming power in one’s hands. There exists both a good and bad leader. Although a bad leader may get by with creating a general foundation for their business, lacking proper leadership skills will leave cracks that will slowly grow bigger to harm the business in the long run. Kristen suggests that a business owner focus on setting good values that define the company. Values will give your business a strong backbone and provide your team with standards to fall back on when needed. If you make these values clear, there will be little room for error, allowing you to weed out the company’s weakest links and employees.
After establishing company values, make sure to hold your employees accountable. If you make sure to keep your team on their toes, your business will benefit in many aspects. Most importantly, you will begin to make employees feel important. When an employee feels like they truly matter, they will be motivated to keep the quality of their work high. When you build a team of people who are willing to give 100% everyday, your company will not only benefit with a great reputation, but each person will grow internally. Firing someone who does not live up to your company’s values is not always a bad thing and may even provide them with a learning experience to make them a better person all together.
The guidance above is only a small glimpse into the true wisdom that Kristen Hadeed has to offer. I can’t stress how big of an inspiration she is to me and I am truly grateful to have met her. I highly suggest that you go check out the full story on her official site (Click Here) and follow her on Twitter to stay updated and inspired!
Kristen(Right) & I(Left) after her presentation at UTC