How Dee Poku Runs WIE Network
Project Entrepreneur’s founding partner, Rent the Runway, has a special place for women entrepreneurs. Not just in its heart but also in an actual community called “The Real Runway.” Here is an excerpt from the collection of voices to motivate and inspire your own runway, whatever that may be. Read on for Dee Poku’s story.
It all started with… a dinner.
Dee Poku is the CEO and co-founder of Women Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE): a global women’s network focused on empowering and connecting female leaders. The WIE conference has attracted a range of impressive speakers, such as Melinda Gates, Tyra Banks, Arianna Huffington and Donna Karan. Dee is also the founder of marketing consultancy Right Angle (former clients included Bobbi Brown and Lionsgate) and as of three years ago, she is a mother. These are Dee’s insights on how she left a 10-year career as a Hollywood studio executive to create a career that’s based on her own script.
How do you work towards a vision that’s bigger than you are?
Without sounding too airy-fairy, it’s important to listen to the universe. By that I mean there are situations and friendships that are guiding you towards the ultimate goal. I hit a point in my career where I knew it wasn’t working, but didn’t know which direction to move forward in. It was a matter of being open, using my skills and seizing that opportunity when it came along. You have to be able to see those opportunities and capitalize on them. WIE evolved from that first event. Some people have a clear-cut idea and work towards it, and some people’s ideas grow into themselves. And mine was the latter.
It’s incredibly important to have a sense of where you’d like to be, even if you don’t know what specific form that’s going to take. A goal, even if it’s broad, will give you something to work towards as opposed to drifting and losing valuable time. You can’t just wait for something to show up. That said, I also believe in being open to better or different ways to what you had in mind. It’s a balance of both.
What’s some key advice for female entrepreneurs?
I recently did a talk with Norma Kamali, who said to never be afraid of the word “No.” As women, we often shy away from difficult situations or something we want because we’re afraid of the answer. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Another piece of advice that helped me was from Shelly Lazarus, Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather and mother of four. When asked how she does it, she basically said, don’t sweat the small stuff. We spend so much time dealing with minutia — like email or a messy house. Set your priorities and know what’s important to you. As women, we’re such doers. We’re so thorough. It’s something we need to be conscious of, and ensure we keep the big picture in mind.
We talk a lot about mentors, but I think it’s even more important to have a champion or sponsor. People aren’t always aware of the difference. A mentor will give you guidance, but it’s that champion or sponsor who will help you get to where you want to be. You need that person who sees your potential and will pick up the phone and say, you should give this person that opportunity. Those are the people you should be looking for in your life.
Connect with Dee Poku
Read the full article on Rent the Runway’s The Real Runway.