Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
Hi, my name is Jolene McLean, and I am the Treasurer of Ellevate Austin Chapter. My background is in Finance and Accounting, and I have an MBA from St. Edward's University of Austin, Texas. My current focus is my first entrepreneurial venture: Blind Date Bus. Blind Date Bus is a party bus for singles, debuting in Austin, Texas with the hope of expanding to other cities.
How would you define your professional mission?
I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur - my own boss. That absolutely and wholeheartedly defines my professional mission - I want nothing else than to be the owner of my own empire. I view Blind Date Bus as my first step toward success in this arena. I have other ideas that I would love to develop as well, and all of them are women-focused.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Preservation, patience, and self-will: all the things that combat the little voice that says you aren't good enough or you can't do it, or that it's a crazy idea that will never take off. Dig deep for self-belief and never let it go, or let anyone else tell you that you should let it go.
What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
My MBA Capstone presentation. Our final grade and graduation rested upon a team project. The professor designated the Team Captain title to one of the three males on my team (I was the only female on the team, and 1 of 4 females in the class). After the first meeting, it became obvious to me that none of these guys were really going to take the lead, so I took the reigns. I was a better presenter than the rest of them, so they asked me to do the introduction and conclusion of the presentation as well as my part of the consultation. This meant I had a total of 15 minutes of the final presentation while the 3 of them each only had 5. The night of the presentation, I knocked it out of the park. The dean of the MBA program said it was the best presentation he had seen in nine years. I was upset at the time when I got my final grade back (which was given to me by my male team members) that docked me points for "hijacking the project" and being too "bossy." But now, I look back and laugh at that. Those guys obviously couldn't handle having a female boss.
What are some career challenges on your radar?
Becoming better and braver at social media.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
What I call "My Bus Story." I needed a little bus to start a business. I found one that had low mileage, but needed a lot of TLC on the body. My boyfriend at the time wanted to help me with this project, so I bought it. Certain events came about that made me break up with said boyfriend, so the bus sat in my apartment parking lot for a few months while I sat confounded as to how to fix it up. Then one day my apartment complex had towed it and said I couldn’t bring it back. A couple of friends offered to let me park it in their neighborhood until I found another spot. And that is when the magic happened. Other people in this neighborhood started coming out to ask me about the bus. When they heard I needed help, they gave it to me - for either free or next to free. These kind and generous people became friends, and my bus got the makeover it needed. And I learned how to use power tools! Sometimes, the things we think of as unfortunate events are actually the forces pushing us down the path we need to go.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I've worked for a lot of start up companies, especially in the alternative energy sector. Watching these start ups grow and even fail has taught me that perseverance matters more than anything, failure isn't the end of the world, and passion is everything.
What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?
The legacy I want to create with Blind Date Bus is one of helping young women who don't have a lot of resources, like myself, to enter the entrepreneurial world. By overcoming my own obstacles and restrictions, I realized that maybe I could help other young women enter the entrepreneurial world by using Blind Date Bus to create a female dominated franchise. I want to use my own scaling of the Blind Date Bus brand and business model to provide other young women with a realistic and attainable pathway to owning their own business. My vision is to leave a legacy of creating more young women entrepreneurs in the world.
What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?
Really learn to overcome fear: I am a big worrier, so whenever I feel fearful (which is pretty much all the time) I have started asking myself "what are you so afraid of?" and analyzing it from that point of view. Usually the answer boils down to an obstacle that is actually smaller than it seems in my head.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
I'm a member of Ellevate because I want to learn from other women, and meet new connections who believe in lifting each other up. I also hope to connect my business to Ellevate through hosting charity events that benefit women.