Reflections and Directions

It has been almost a year to the day since I’ve written for the StemBox blog, but I think it is time for some reflection and updating of goals. Since starting the company I’ve encountered countless opportunities and often times can feel frozen with the decisions in front of me or guilt-ridden over something I’ve chosen that doesn’t pan out. Such is the angst of founding and running a company,. Keep in mind this has been a constant mental state for over 2 years when I started exposing the world to my boxes at our first StemBox Workshop in 2015, never having an equal or co-founder within the company to share some of this.

But don’t let this make you think that I haven’t enjoyed the trials and joys of StemBox, I have never been so excited, scared, and proud of something in my short life. I truly believe I have found my calling and passion; something that I get to work on everyday, and I realize what a fortune that is in this world. There is always a new challenge, a story from a parent, or a steminist herself that I meet that continues to fuel my passion and energy for StemBox.

Maybe deservedly, maybe undeservedly I took a break last week for the first time in 2 years. A break in the way of purposefully distancing myself from emails, support tickets, and logistics of the company. I needed some time to distance myself from the internal workings and minutia of what I’ve created to re-examine if what I’m doing continues to fulfill the mission of creating a world in which girls thrive, lead, and dominate science in all of its forms.

A little aside here, but someone asked me the other day, “What does equality look like on the supreme court?”. I started doing math in my head, ‘Okay, 9 divided by 2, round up…’ when I remembered the answer that required no math… “Nine supreme court justices who are women. That is equality.” Some will regard this as sexism or exclusivity. I ask you then, why would 9 men on the supreme court be any different? This is how I’ve learned to approach women in science. I don’t believe women are better than men and that men somehow deserve to serve in subordinate positions. I simply believe that women deserve the equal opportunities men have received, and that may result in a field dominated by women. The opportunity for women to dominate a field in the same way men have for centuries is equality. This idea also extends to fields where woman have historically dominated, that men should also have equal opportunity to work as well.

Now, back to my point. I was pondering what it was my company needs to do to accomplish these goals. But what were these goals? So I started with a list of primary objectives, followed by secondary, and non-objectives. This is a fully transparent list, I could be foolhardy in sharing, but documenting what it is the company is built to do is something that I believe will hold StemBox and myself accountable and hopefully guide other young women and girls to develop their own ideas on success.

FullSizeRender 7

What the workspace looks like in reflection mode. Notice the different colored pens, a staple.

Now, for your digestion, the entirety of this list:

Primary Objectives

  1. Design AWESOME science experiments for girls
  2. Create COOL content for parents and girls interested in STEM
  3. Foster a COMMUNITY of Steminists
  4. Execute CONSISTENT fulfillment and delivery of products
  5. Deliver EXCEPTIONAL customer support

Secondary Objectives

  1. Make enough money to sustain and grow StemBox’s mission
  2. Legal responsibilities
  3. Partnering with other businesses that share our mission

Non-Objectives

  1. “Meta” Startup Success
  2. Sexy press and PR
  3. Competitor Squashing

The logic behind distinguishing primary objectives from what are secondary objectives is that by performing the primaries and keeping those at the forefront of what we do, will naturally draw some of our secondary objectives. For example, by creating awesome experiments that girls love every month and doing so with consistent quality and punctuality will lead to greater customer retention and word of mouth that increases our revenue stream to support our growth. With that growth we will attract likeminded business partners and the need for legal infrastructure (which we have, it just needs maintaining and updating as we grow).

The non-objectives are what I see as distractions that I believe have negatively impacted my ability to make this company the best it can be. In Seattle, the startup scene is shiny and self involved. From what my experience has been in two years here, it feels like an exclusive club that promotes elitism based on what you’ve fundraised and how many deals you’ve done, not on the quality of a product or company itself. To be honest, it is an alluring field that fuels one’s ego and conflates your self esteem with awards and invites. My self worth and the worth of my company need only be concerned with the satisfaction of my customers and the inspiration we deliver to them. Though, it is still fun to be nominated for awards and receive exclusive invitations, this does little if not nothing for the value of my product. Accolades are only byproducts of doing something to the best of your ability, not a goal.

The same can be said of sexy press. I will not make it a goal to go after the “hot” topic and pitch new angles for our company. If we’re doing something correctly and honestly, we’ll be growing organically and making a splash with our niche demographics who are most important to our mission. Organic press is different from pursued press.

Competitor squashing is also something that occurs when you pay attention to startups, who’s being written about, and what you aren’t getting. It takes you out of your lane to bump into someone else’s path and knock them off the road. If your product is of quality and integrity, you shouldn’t need to do this.  I’ll admit, I’m human, and I feel anger towards the people I feel have wronged the company or have received something I felt StemBox had earned. That’s human.  I do my best to acknowledge these feelings and move on, but I don’t linger as its said and done and I can only adjust my course and speed.

I’m starting to realize what a serious post this has turned out to be, but I suppose this is just the mood I’ve found myself in. I’m working to share more of the story and behind the scenes moments when it comes to StemBox. We’re still a small business, operating at a pace slower than I’d anticipated, but that doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near failing. It just means we’re slow and steady, which I’ll take over a wildly successful and suddenly dead company.

I’ve worked out a chart that I find interesting which I’ll be sharing in a following post…next year. Just kidding, but at this rate who knows! I’m glad to be too busy to write all my feels and ideas, but I think at this point its okay to share these things, I think they’ll be helpful to the next person!

I’ll leave everyone with an uplifting gif that I’ve used before, I’m sure, yes, actually I definitely have. But it’s an aspirational goal. To be reincarnated as a chihuahua being rained down on by Nabisco snacks. Science might be able to help me with that one day!

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