In 1978, not many women started businesses, especially African American women. That’s what makes the story of Janice Bryant Howroyd so inspirational.
Howroyd found a way to over come the adversity of growing up in segregated North Carolina and being a minority in a (presumably) man’s world.
According Jenna Bush Hager who interviewed her on the Today Show, Howroyd found a way by figuring out what was missing and making it work.
Howroyd started her staffing company, ACT•1 Group, in 1978 to help employees find work, and her success continues today, almost 40 years later. The company has 75 locations and works with clients from many Fortune 500 companies.
She said there is room for improvement for women in entrepreneurship, even though things have changed.
“Let’s be clear, the climate has changed, but it’s not sunny weather,” she said. “Women still have a lot of need for change in how the world works.”
Howroyd credited her loving and nurturing parents who helped her rise above the adversity she once faced, at one point during the interview saying “and not mother or father, but mother and father.”
Howroyd shared her four tenets with Hager, ones we can all live by:
1. Make sure you’re prepared.
2. Understand what the goal is.
3. Understand that all of those around, particularly family, are part of
4. Always find a moment of gratitude and be grateful along the journey.
Howroyd explained, that, while her parents were nurturing and gave her and her siblings the skills to succeed and the support to believe in themselves, the reality of her childhood was still prevalent.
“I’d love to sit here and sound pretty about it, and I’m not pulling out the violin strings for folks to cry about how I grew up,” she said. “The reality of it though, is that it was harsh, it was ugly, and it should never have been that way. My mother used to always tell us, ‘In order to be outstanding, sometimes you’re just gonna have to stand out,’ so I grew from that root of really working forward, not being held back.”
You can learn more about the Howroyd and the company at this website or watch a video of her interview below.