Monday Motivation from Cecilia Foxworthy, Co-Founder and CEO at Torus Teens

Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.

We sat down with Cecilia Foxworthy, Co-Founder and CEO at Torus Teens, a platform that connects teenagers in the US with life-changing afterschool and summer programs that give teens the power to explore their interests and build their networks outside of the classroom. Cecilia discusses her work in economic and educational justice, the inflexibility in formal education, and her focus on cultivating lifelong learning experiences during the teen years of our youth.

What inspired you to start your business?
I have been working in the social impact sector for over a decade at this point and have always focused on issues of economic and education justice. My past work has been in an international context so when I started my own company, I wanted to look at domestic issues. I first created a workforce development initiative called Small Fry that trained and directly employed lower income youth to do online marketing for local small businesses. After a little over two years of that work, I realized we could not make the scale of impact I was seeking. That’s when we went back to the drawing board to conduct interviews and listen to teenagers’ pain points. Torus was created as an answer to that work. At the end of the day, we do what we do because we believe that everyone deserves equality of opportunity and the chance to explore and learn. Teenagers are the perfect group to start with because they are the immediate next generation of social, civic and economic players and leaders.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Getting past the first growth hurdle.

What’s been the greatest reward?
Building something that has the potential to transform an institution (education).

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
I’d like to see more thinking about what learning really means and what its value is versus the relatively more narrow and inflexible definition of formal education.

We are directly working to address this challenge with our online platform and soon to come sister mobile app. We aim to prove that the concept of lifelong learning must be cultivated during the teen years and that an educational experience based on exploration of interests, exposure to different environments, and expansion of peer and adult networks is the system we need in the increasingly flexible social and economic reality.

Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
The entrepreneurs and individuals who are pushing forward in circumstances much more challenging than mine.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
Listen, a lot. Test a lot. If you are in the social impact space, write down your assumptions and try to prove yourself wrong.

What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
Every Sunday I plan my calendar for the coming week to make sure I am dedicating enough blocks of time to thinking and to doing based on the focus items I’ve defined for that month.

For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Gina Pak, Co-founder at Lawgood, an on-location beauty booking app designed for women of color in New York City & Philadelphia. Gina discusses the daunting process of finding a lawyer, her goal to change the narrative about lawyers, and the opportunity she sees to shift the focus of the industry to the consumer and their needs.