This post is in partnership with bloom.
I have always been weary of the "30 Under 30" lists, perhaps because I was a late bloomer and felt that people are only beginning to know themselves, their interests or capabilities in their twenties. But if this past year has taught me anything, it is a swift and illuminating reminder of the power of youth, their ability to influence our world for the better and the infectious nature of unabashed optimism.
Last month I met Raven Hamilton for dinner. I had been recently introduced to her work through a mutual friend and was aware that she was young, the Head of Product for a growing technology and design company at twenty-three. My initial thoughts were that was this would be illuminating as a mother, perhaps I could glean some tips for how to raise brave, bright and motivated children. Over the course of the next few hours Raven's poise, experience and perspective disproved this theory and every assumption I had about a twenty-three year old founder, or any twenty-three year old for that matter. Yes, Raven is an inspiration to any parent, but more importantly, she became nothing short of a revelation to me. It was I who was gained the knowledge and gleaned the tips on running a business, managing people (self governing and self actualization!) and letting go of expectations.
After our meeting I sent Raven a list of questions to ponder; her responses are below and the insights provided are relevant to all ages.
Can you please describe Bloom and your role with the company?
Bloom is a creative company specializing in design, development and marketing. We work with other companies to deliver unique digital solutions to help brands better connect with their audiences. As Head of Product, I work partly as a liaison between our clients and our team at Bloom. I work with both parties to strategize direction and see the products through idea to implementation. I am responsible for leading the direction of the content we produce.
How would you describe your leadership style?
At Bloom, we champion personal autonomy and collaboration. My leadership style is about giving others the tools to form innovative solutions and self-govern. We have instituted a multidisciplinary approach that allows teams to collaborate with other departments to gather a greater set of interpretations to create solutions that can connect and resonate with a larger population of people. I believe that people are incredibly powerful when you provide adequate resources and allow them to work through problems on their own. I want our team members to take the critical skills they acquire here at Bloom and apply it to their dreams.
What do you think is missing from conventional business organizations and how is Bloom's business model different?
From Bloom’s inception, we have been a remote working company and that is a characteristic that we strive to maintain in the future. We believe that the essence of what a person is far extends what they do for work and we empower our team members to live their lives with the highest level of self-actualization. By giving others the freedom to actively take part in the things that matter to them, it fosters a unique company culture. Our team members report lower levels of work-related stress, higher levels of work-life balance, and report themselves as feeling more enthused to show up for work. Not only are people given more autonomy in their lives, but we are able to hire a more diverse set of individuals from virtually anywhere in the world.
How do people react when they find out that you are co-running this company at the age of 23?
First with surprise, then with a lot of questions. Growing up, I didn’t really see entrepreneurship as a viable career choice and as an adult, I sort of stumbled into it. Bloom started as a simple idea that we worked on for a considerable amount of time. I entered the workforce at 16, and really struggled with the idea of what to do with the rest of my life. What I did know was that I wanted a career that would challenge me daily and require me to solve complex problems with creative and unconventional solutions.
Which leaders in your industry do you find most inspiring?
I am so inspired by outrageous, creative women; women living their lives authentically and unapologetically, women telling their truths and demanding the space they know they are entitled too. There’s too many to name but, amongst many, I am constantly inspired by Roxane Gay, Fran Leibowitz, Elaine Welteroth, Bozoma Saint John, Serena Williams, Sheryl Sandberg. There’s just too many to name.
What can you teach women who are your elders (not superiors) in the workforce?
I can’t explain how powerful the internet is as a tool. Find ways to optimize your digital landscape. Technology is constantly changing how work is done and who can do it. Through the technological advancements and social channels created, women have new platforms that don’t require them to ask for permission from others. Technology can award you a certain a degree of anonymity where biases can be lessened.
Where do you see yourself in the future? And how would you like to see creative industries evolve for women?
I try to seize opportunities as they arise, rather than having stringent expectations for the future. I know in the future I want to continue being fearless and challenging norms. Women are driving the economy in the United States; making up a majority of the consumer market. Women having more seats at the table will produce products and services that more accurately reflect the needs and desires of the consumer market.