Finding Alignment and a Seat at the Table

The name for my podcast, “Unlocking the Club” came to mind when I took up golf. 

I had always heard about golf as a key component of business decisions and relationships and knew the clubhouse was a place to make deals. 

But it wasn’t until I started playing myself—after resisting for many years—did I realize how influential this game is in business. I’ve been enjoying both playing golf and taking advantage of the social capital benefits of being part of this club. 

So when we talk about clubs, golf is one of them. But there are other clubs we all want to be in, strive to be in, or don’t even know to exist. 

In our conversation on episode 4 of Unlocking the Club podcast, Shawntera Hardy shares her experience finding her club, getting a seat at the table, and the keys to unlocking the club you want to be in—alignment and purpose. 

Navigating Your Club

A group of professional black women sitting around a conference room table

Shawntera has created a number of opportunities for herself, including being a Commissioner of the Minnesota of Employment and Economic Development to founding a tech start-up company. 

In her pivot from the government to entrepreneurship, there was a common theme—learning to navigate a club and space that was not necessarily designed for her to be in. 

Each club has its own rules, both written and unwritten, formal and informal. And you need to know these rules to be part of it. 

But how? 

Here are a few ways Shawntera worked to navigate club rules in order to take her seat at the table and make an impact: 

  • Create a culture of curiosity and approach everything with a desire to learn more. 
  • Commit to pushing through imposter syndrome and moving forward. You’ll always have doubts about whether you belong somewhere—accept them and move forward. 
  • Understand there’s a specific language to this club and learn it for yourself. 
  • Align yourself with the work and your colleagues; if there’s no alignment, it’s not the right place. 

Clarity and Alignment

A lot of people may look at Shawntera and the clubs she’s in and think that she’s arrived—it’s all good. 

But getting into a club and staying there are two different things. 

To be at the table and create a real and lasting impact, Shawntera needs to know her compass and have clarity on her north star: building brighter communities. 

This north star provides clarity for every single decision you need to make. It’s her compass. 

And, with it, there may be discomfort. But that discomfort doesn’t matter when you’re aligned with your calling and have clarity on your purpose. 

To stay in this clarity, Shawntera encourages a few approaches: 

  • Be honest with where you are and how you’re feeling. You may feel imposter syndrome on the surface, but what’s underneath it? It may be a lack of confidence in your knowledge or abilities, and by identifying those things, you can move forward. 
  • Sit in the discomfort and sit with your feelings. It’s your responsibility to process and move through them in order to move forward and achieve your purpose. 
  • Connect to soul. Power and position are not permanent, because there will always be someone different in the room. Instead, go back to your soul and purpose and operate in your unique gifts. 

So, no matter where you are in your career or journey, are you clear about your purpose? 

Clarity on your north star helps you make the right decisions and find alignment in new opportunities. 

Pivoting in Your Career

One reason alignment and clarity on your purpose are so important is because it allows you to make necessary or desired career pivots. 

Shawtera moved from the public policy and government space to becoming a tech entrepreneur. 

But both were totally aligned with her north star: a commitment to building brighter communities. And both tie back to public policy, which is the main thing that drives change. 

When you are looking to pivot to something new, it’s easy to get caught up in perfectionism. Black women in particular often feel like we always have something to prove and need to be perfect in everything we do. 

Shawntera reminds us that perfectionism is expensive. 

It doesn’t allow for growth. 

The first iteration of her company, Civic Eagle, was built on a B2C model. They launched an app and got it out into the marketplace. After receiving real-life feedback and reviews, they pivoted to create a B2B model to better cater to their customers. 

And now they’ve Series A funding from investors to bring their idea into reality. 

But if not for the first imperfect iteration, Shawntera and her team would not have been able to pivot and change. They would have been stuck on the old road and not be where they are today. 

The most important thing is to have an idea—aligned with your north star—and then start something. 

The feedback you receive while operating in a growth mindset will be key to growing, improving, and reaching your goals. 

Knowing the Language

One thing we discussed together was the importance of knowing the language of the club you are trying to unlock. 

Shawntera shared how the language of investing and raising capital is something unique and different in the business world. And if you don’t grow up hearing it or learning it at school, you simply don’t know that it exists. 

One key part of raising funds for her entrepreneurial ventures was understanding ownership. When you raise money and bring in investors, you give away some of your ownership.

And for the black community, this is significant. So much ownership has been taken from us over the years, so voluntarily giving up more can be challenging. 

That’s why it’s important to educate yourself and know the language, ideas, and concepts before jumping in. Have a conversation about ownership with your partners, investors, and friends so you know what the right option is for you. 

This is really just the tip of the iceberg of our rich conversation with Shawntera. Check out episode 4 of Unlocking the Club podcast or keep up with her on LinkedIn or through her company Civic Eagle and Fearless Commerce