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Didem Altop, Endeavor Turkey‘s Managing Director, spoke as part of a series of TurkishWIN (Turkish Women’s International Network), a global networking platform for women with family, cultural or professional ties to Turkey. In her 24-minute presentation, she discusses the art, science and mindfulness aspects of the entrepreneurship journey — particularly for women entrepreneurs. Watch the full video HERE.
With an audience of entrepreneurial, international women, Didem speaks first about “third culture kids.” Drawing on her experience as a Turkish-American growing up in the United States, she notes that her dual cultural identity — e.g., attending Fourth-of-July barbecue picnics that included traditional Turkish foods and dance, and now living in Turkey celebrating Thanksgiving with Turkey — helped foster a sense of adaptability and flexibility.
She articulates that “third-culture kids” are particularly well-suited to entrepreneurialism as they have the “amazing perspective of comparison” and a “huge advantage in identifying opportunity” — and because they are adept at “seeking like-minded people,” as Didem herself did at Johns Hopkins University and at Carnegie Mellon. The “third culture kid” feeling, she says, leads to a sense of being simultaneously comfortable everywhere and nowhere, and produces the drive to create something and be proactive, which are essential entrepreneurial traits.
She compares building a company, starting a venture, to building a community and family, which is something that “third-culture kids” and women, do naturally. Elaborating on why women are natural entrepreneurs, she says that they are inherently:
– self-improvers; and
She explains why these qualities translate to good businesswomen and also acknowledges the flip side of these attributes. The most successful businesses must be at once personally significant and also have a clear audience. As part of the art of entrepreneurship (as opposed to the science of it), women must be mindful, “listen, ask, internalize and repeat,” and learn to accept the realities of their situation before they can adapt, come up with alternatives and a subsequent action plan and move on.
Didem expresses that women must also embrace the realities of business — needing to be a capable leader, and understanding basic financing and cash flow management. She talks about the need to plan a business from the bottom up, finding the first customer and then the second. Lastly, she emphasizes the importance of “digesting risk” and recommends having the confidence to hire the smartest, most talented people available. The presentation also explains the relevance of the Endeavor network and the opportunities opened up by becoming part of what Didem calls the Endeavor “tribe.”
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