Wendy Diamond is the founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day; a holiday celebrated in 144 countries around the world recognizing women entrepreneurs everywhere for their strength and diligence. The entrepreneur-maven is also an author, pet lifestyle expert, television personality, and humanitarian.
Wendy has been recognized for her many acts of charity, receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. With the help of Peter Jennings, Wendy launched two cookbooks featuring recipes from notables like Michael Jordan, Madonna, and Steven Tyler, through which she was able to donate $200,000 to the homeless with the proceeds. While volunteering for the Coalition for the Homeless, Wendy was inspired to shift her focus to helping homeless animals, leading to the launch of Animal Fair, her pet lifestyle media company.
An entrepreneur in her own right, Wendy spoke with Her Agenda about her start with Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, balancing work and building a dream, the true meaning of success, and more.
Her Agenda: What inspired the idea of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day?
Wendy Diamond: I ended up on vacation in Honduras, not realizing when I booked the trip that it was the murder capital of the world. I decided to continue with the trip because, like anything, there’s always a few bad eggs. When I got there, I ended up in a little boutique hotel and the manager told me about an organization that gives micro loans to women living in poverty. I had always heard about what they were doing around the world to empower women in business with micro loans but I didn’t truly understand until I went into this community and saw firsthand.
One woman in her 70s whose daughter was really sick and couldn’t work was able to get a loan and provide for the family and the kids education. Another, who ran a used clothing store in her one-room hut would go into the city and purchase items with her $100 micro loan. I began learning the statistics of women in business and how they’re paying back these loans at a 98% rate. I learned that when men earn money the first thing they do is spend it on themselves, versus women who spend it on educating their children and providing for their families. Coming back to New York, I furthered my research and found that whether it’s a c-suite executive or women on boards, their companies are 30% more profitable and 7% of venture capitalist are geared towards women in business.
Considering of all these statistics, we had to create a simplified movement in the world to bring recognition. By creating Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, there’s now a day around the world that’s celebrated in 144 countries to bring awareness to the importance of women in business.
Our big initiative is Choose Women, which we’ve declared as the Wednesday after Thanksgiving as the day to choose women and to support women owned businesses.
Her Agenda: Organizations like the National Association for Women Business Owners and Women’s Entrepreneurship Day shine light on the major contribution women add to society. What do you have to say to the naysayers or people who downplay the footprint of women?
Wendy Diamond: That’s the idea behind WED is to give these organizations a day to promote themselves and bring awareness to the great work that they’re doing. With anything there’s going to be naysayers. It’s important to find people that support you and are willing to work with you on your journey to success.
Her Agenda: In January we had the Women’s March on Washington and most recently the Day Without Women, how important are these demonstrations for the community?
Wendy Diamond: All awareness is great. I think we should look at not making it political, but more so supporting and empowering women; for people from all over the world to recognize the importance of this in a non-partisan way is the most important.
Her Agenda: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to get Women’s Entrepreneurship Day off the ground and what strategies did you use to overcome it?
Wendy Diamond: In the beginning our movement was appropriated so we’ve definitely had some challenges. However, we’ve rallied some of the most amazing people around the world to get behind our initiative. It’s very important to cross your T’s and dot your I’s and make sure you have the right team around you that share your same passion and vision.
Her Agenda: Kelly Cutrone said, “It’s not hard to have it all; you just can’t have it all in the same proportion or at the same time.” What’s your advice on having a healthy work/life balance?
Wendy Diamond: You have to really love what you’re doing. If you have a day job, but also have your passion project, balance is everything; incorporate meditation, yoga, or whatever helps you unwind. I really think it’s possible to have it all, because, having it all is one’s own preference. How much do you need in life to think you’re successful? That’s the question. Your happiness depends on one’s self and what you perceive as having it all.
Her Agenda: What would you say is a common misconception of success?
Wendy Diamond: To start, fame and money should never determine success. How you contribute to the world and your purpose in life should be the measure of your success. Take for instance a stay-at-home Mom with two kids; she raised those kids in an amazing environment and they’re doing great in school is just as successful as someone who just became a doctor. You have to look at your life and say, ‘this is the life I live’. We only have one life, we have to appreciate every second of it.
Her Agenda: Where would you like to see Women’s Entrepreneurship Day five and ten years from now?
Wendy Diamond: The goal is to have everyone around the world celebrating this day; to have everyone celebrate and recognize the importance of empowering women in business. We would like to take choose women and make it one of the biggest movements to empower women in business; similar to small business Saturday.
We’re not a movement, we’re not just a day. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day should be everyday. In this new society, everyone needs to be an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur; no one’s really working in factories anymore. You have to be open and proactive in your career.
Her Agenda: Do you have a daily mantra that helps you get your day started or give you an extra push to keep going?
Wendy Diamond: You need to have a dream to have hope, and you need to have hope to have a dream. If you think about life, we can never stop dreaming or having hope, in anything.
Her Agenda: What advice do you have for young entrepreneur hopefuls?
Wendy Diamond: To be an entrepreneur is one of the hardest things in the world. When being an entrepreneur, one has to have passion, persistence, perseverance, purpose, and most importantly, happiness.