Tara Sharp - Courageous and Compassionate

Image by Michelle Pattee,  https://www.michellepattee.com/

Image by Michelle Pattee, https://www.michellepattee.com/

What are your “and” words and why? Courageous and Compassionate. I have started several businesses and taken many professional and personal risks. Each time it took a huge amount of courage to start something new. When I was younger I thought that I needed to lead the way that my role models had lead. The only problem was that all of my role models were older, very well-established (ie successful and wealthy) men. They were extraordinary people and helped me tremendously, but I found that their leadership style just wasn’t authentic to me. It took me a while, but I finally developed my own personal leadership style, which I referred to as leading with compassion. Since I developed that leadership style I have been much more successful as a manager and leader, and therefore the business ventures that I’ve participated in have been much more successful as well.

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 paternal grandfather was one of my greatest role models. He always coached my siblings and me to “treat the cleaning crew the same way you treat the CEO.” As you might expect, people appreciate and respond well to being treated kindly. Interestingly though, I have found that the CEOs and other senior level successful people appreciate that I have real, honest conversations with them, and that I don’t kiss up to them. What I’ve learned is that regardless of professional status, financial status, race or sex, everyone appreciates being treated with respect and kindness. 

Which other Ladybadasses inspire you and why? Most of all, my mom, an immigrant who moved to this country in her early 20s, built a successful small business, earned a bachelors and masters degree, raised 3 children as a young widow, and gives, gives, gives to her community. Barbara Banke, Hayley Nelson, Julia Jackson, Katie Jackson, Marina Lowe, Claire Stull, Pam Lane, Stephanie Honig, Erina McCoy, Karrin Genovese, Susan Silver, Eliot Donahue, Elizabeth Gore, Jillian Manus, Ali Gelles, Jessica Kilcullen, Regina Benjamin, Kamala Harris, all female first responders and many others. They inspire me to think different, dig deep and push hard.

When did you first realize that you had some Ladybadassery in you? This is a great question!  I’ve spent my entire life looking for ways to make people‘s lives better. My mom would tell you that I was a Ladybadass in training when I was four years old!! I started my first business, picking blackberries in the backyard and selling them to John Ash restaurant in Sonoma County, when I was only six or seven years old. It’s just in my nature to start businesses, challenge the status quo, and I have always, always been attracted to figuring out how to get a seat at a table that’s historically been reserved for men.

What keeps you motivated on days when you aren't quite feeling like a Ladybadass? Not every day is a stellar day. And, as I’ve gotten older and feel stretched by the pressures of professional life and having two young children at home, I realize that some downtime is critical. I used to beat myself up for any downtime, but over the years I’ve gotten better at creating space for myself. When I’m ready for some real motivation I spend time with other Ladybadasses. There is absolutely nothing more inspiring to me than to hear about a friend’s new business idea, successful fundraising, new public board position etc.

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

-Create a personal board of advisors. A small group of people whom you respect professionally and you know have your best interests at heart. Call upon them and ask for their advice when making decisions. I have been extremely fortunate in this category, and my board of advisors members have been, at one time or another, my grandfather, Jess Jackson (founder of Kendall Jackson Winery and many others), Ridgely Evers (founder of Quickbooks), John Kilcullen (founder of the “Dummies” book series), Elizabeth Gore (founder of Hello Alice), Barbara Banke (Chairwoman of Jackson Family Wines), Dane Jasper (co-founder of Sonic), my brother, Krishna Hendrickson (asset manager at Capra Vineyards) and others.

-Be courageous and take chances. You will fail, and sometimes you will fail spectacularly, so learn how to dust yourself off and try again. 

-Work with people who are kind and ethical. 

-Ask yourself every single day what it is that you are doing is making the world a better place. If the answer is no, it isn’t making the world a better place, then stop doing it! And find a new business venture that is going to help change the world.

Tara is an Entrepreneur, Board Member and interim Chief Marketing Officer for start ups.