Karina Cabrera - Purpose and Resilience

Karina Cabrera.jpg

What are your “and” words and why? Purpose and Resilience. I deeply believe that we are here for a purpose. That is why I live my life knowing that everything isn’t about me. It’s about meaningfully contributing to the world. In a large or small way. I always ask myself “what can I do today to help someone?”

As a kid of immigrant parents growing up in New York City, I’ve seen firsthand want it means to work hard and struggle. There have been many setbacks and stumbles but there was never a thought of not picking yourself up. Lucky for me, I have this same grit and resilience in my DNA. I know that there will be times that I fall - because everyone does - but I know that I can withstand the pain and get back up.

What you are known for saying/a quote from you. What does this quote mean to you, (or if it’s from someone else, why does it inspire you)? My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Dr. Maya Angelou pretty much summed up how I want to live. (She is a next level ladybadass!) I apply this to my business which is to build up the pipeline of women in leadership. I don't want women to survive I want them to thrive and I help companies accomplish this mission.

Which other Ladybadasses inspire you and why? I am obsessed with Oprah. How can you not love her?! Her strength, resilience and smarts are remarkable. She has built a career in an industry that isn’t know for diverse voices and leadership.  She has paved a way for folks like me to dream bigger.

When did you first realize that you had some Ladybadassery in you? Once I left the Obama White House, I decided I would move to Silicon Valley and start a business. Many thought it was a mistake. They encouraged me to become a lobbyist or work for a big tech company. I didn’t listen and decided to follow my heart and work on things that mattered to me. So I started OpenAccess, a boutique talent strategy firm helping companies discover, develop and promote women leaders. I am excited by the work my cofounder and I are doing to create pathways for women to succeed.

What keeps you motivated on days when you aren't quite feeling like a Ladybadass? Staying grateful for my life, my healthy daughters and my supportive husband. Also knowing that my work isn’t about me. It is about helping women, moms and women of color find opportunity. I know when I help these talented women find jobs, it also means I am helping their extended families. That not only motivates me but keeps me grounded and focused everyday.

What is your advice to other women who are trying to tap into their Ladybadassery? 

  • A few things. You will make mistakes. We all do. But remember to be kind to yourself. It’s important not to beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Look at each mistake as a lesson to learn from. And do better next time.

  • It's fine to seek advice from others but ultimately you should make decisions that are best for you. Each decision should sit right with you.

  • You know that idea that scares you? We all have them. But sadly most of us don’t act on them. I am here to encourage you to do it. What is the worst thing that could happen? If it doesn’t work out, so what. At least you had fun on the journey.

Karina is a founding partner of OpenAccess, a boutique talent strategy firm helping companies discover, develop and promote women leaders. She is also the founder and CEO of Reach Mama Network, a burgeoning community that inspires and supports professional moms of color who want to advance their careers.