I Got My Start By Giving Myself A Start

Madam C. J. Walker

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Cover photo credit: Harvard Business Review
Laidlaw Leadership Quote of the Week - Madam C. J. Walker: "I got my start by giving myself a start."
Madam C.J. Walker: "I got my start by giving myself a start."

On the third week of Black History Month, we are celebrating all the ambitious and extraordinary Black entrepreneurs who made history by achieving more than anyone thought was possible. 

Madam C. J. Walker (1867-1919) was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist who became the first self-made woman millionaire in the U.S. Despite living at a time of severe racial discrimination and sexism, Walker built a remarkably successful beauty empire. She manufactured cosmetics and beauty products designed specifically for Black hair, having suffered from hair loss herself.

With her business acumen and ingenuity, Walker quickly gained a loyal following and became one of the wealthiest African American women of her time. As her influence grew, she began to use her position to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans and dedicated herself to philanthropy. She contributed to the Indianapolis YMCA, covered tuition for six African American students, and became active in the anti-lynching movement, donating $5,000 to the NAACP’s efforts. Learn more...

More Leadership Quotes for Black History Month: 

🚀 Dr Mae Jeminson: "Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination."

💡 Shirley Chisholm: "You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas."

🖋️ Alice Walker: "Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming."

⚡️Andrea Jenkins: "If you can conceive it, and believe it, you can achieve it. But there must be a plan. We have to set goals. Review them constantly. Shift directions when necessary. But, always stay focused."

Nikol Chen (she/her)

Digital Content Manager, Laidlaw Foundation

Hello! My name is Nikol and I look after the Laidlaw Scholars Network.

I am originally from Kazakhstan and I studied Human Sciences at UCL. My final research explored the potential effects of design on patient wellbeing in hospitals, and I also took modules such as Ethnographic Documentary Filmmaking, Anthropology of the Built Environment, Art in the Public Sphere, and other less interesting-sounding things :)

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