00:00:00 be in international hospitality, but Heather Cox shared her previous experiences in Acro gymnastics, tightrope walking, and juggling. She stated that she never dreamt of running her own business, and her goal was to be in International Hospitality. However, after losing her job during 9/11 and not finding her true purpose, she went to Israel where she found her husband. She started interviewing women entrepreneurs and found their energy and feistiness inspiring. Heather started doing research on diversity certification and realized that the certification process varied in different states. This led her to offer the service of getting diversity certification to businesses, which she had no idea how to do at first.
00:05:00 In this section, the speaker talks about how her passion for travel stemmed from her mother’s job as a travel agent and her own desire to see the world. She also discusses how her experience as a performer in the circus helped her become comfortable with being on stage and talking to people. The conversation then moves to the aftermath of 9/11, during which she was living in California and experiencing a decline in travel due to fear and uncertainty. She emphasizes the value of learning from others’ experiences and gaining valuable insights from those who have gone through similar transitions, whether it be career or personal life changes.
00:10:00 In this section, Heather Cox talks about her flexibility as a business owner and how it has helped her balance work and family life. Although schools are not always great at giving advance notice, Heather does have the ability to plan ahead and set boundaries for herself. She also reflects on her trip to Israel, where she found a more grounded sense of what she wanted for her life moving forward. After returning and going through some tough times, she started asking people about their work experiences and how they balanced it with family life, which led her to start her own company. Heather acknowledges that interviewing and hiring is an evolving process, and she tries to be mindful of her own biases towards big personalities.
00:15:00 In this section of the transcript, Heather Cox discusses her approach to networking and how she asks people about their ethnicities and sexual orientations. She believes that people are comfortable engaging in conversations with her and she takes everything with a grain of salt. Cox finds that people are receptive to these conversations, and by asking questions, she learns more about individuals and their experiences. By initially asking these “crazy” questions, Cox believes it opens the door for deeper conversations about diversity. This approach also allowed her to gain a broader clientele who are interested in her services.
00:20:00 In this section, Heather Cox discusses her journey of becoming an entrepreneur with the help of a mentor. She emphasized the importance of being resourceful and seeking guidance from experienced individuals. Heather goes on to explain what certification is, specifically diversity certification that allows companies owned by women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ members, veterans, service-disabled individuals, or people with disabilities to prove their status. The certification allows companies to have business development opportunities, whether it’s for new business, expanding existing business, or developing leadership and networking.
00:25:00 In this section, Heather Cox discusses the benefits of mentorship programs and offers examples of how they can be useful to diverse business owners. She shares her experience in the Toyota mentorship program, where she was mentored by the CIO of Toyota North America, who helped her create a video and a system for tracking costs in her business. Cox emphasizes that mentorship provides invaluable access to decision-makers and can help entrepreneurs level the playing field. Additionally, she highlights the value of pitch competitions and certification in obtaining side-door access to larger organizations and getting a better chance of winning projects.
00:30:00 In this section, Heather Cox discusses the importance of building trust with people and organizations when seeking opportunities through diversity. She emphasizes the need to sell oneself and to make the most of positive relationships with established businesses or individuals in order to open up doors. Cox also explains the importance of getting certified as a diverse business, outlining how the benefits and opportunities will vary depending on the individual’s specific goals and ambitions. She advises that business owners should initiate the certification process early, as it can take up to 120 days, or even three years in some states, to complete.
00:35:00 In this section, Heather Cox discusses the importance of being certified as a diverse vendor, and how it can provide businesses with a partner relationship, rather than just a transactional one. Cox also notes that certification can create better opportunities for businesses, as it can provide access to government and corporate contracts that require specific certifications. Additionally, having certification can help businesses maintain relationships with clients beyond the person who initially advocated for them, as the list of certified vendors is shared within the company. Lastly, Cox mentions how certification can lead to shorter payment terms for businesses.
00:40:00 In this section, Heather Cox, the founder of Certify My Company, explains the benefits of being a certified diverse business. Cox explains how some companies prioritize payment for certified diverse businesses versus non-diverse ones. Cox also emphasizes the importance of outsourcing tasks to experts, stating that entrepreneurs should ensure they are utilizing their time wisely and that the cost of hiring an expert will pay for itself in time saved. Additionally, Cox shares some tips on balancing personal life with her business and how her early morning gym sessions help her clear her head and provide her a therapeutic outlet.
00:45:00 In this section, Heather Cox talks about the importance of prioritizing oneself and setting boundaries to be a successful business owner. She shares her experience of starting her business in 2009 amidst the economic downturn while working a full-time job and taking care of her baby. She emphasizes the need to compartmentalize and say no when needed to preserve one’s health and energy. Saying no is a skillset that is harder to master, but she stresses that it is essential to prioritize one’s mental and physical well-being.
00:50:00 In this section, Heather Cox emphasizes the importance of knowing when to say no and having a way of still helping the person. She believes in being a go-giver and offering resources to help people even if it doesn’t directly benefit her. She also suggests connecting people with someone who can help if the request falls outside of her expertise. Heather considers the biggest success in her business to be the transition from working exclusively with entrepreneurs to having 70% of their business come from corporations. She also regards hiring six people and being able to focus on the parts of the business that she loves as a significant achievement. Interested parties can find Heather through certifymycompany.com or on social media at @certifymyco.