Ingrid, born in Bethesda, Maryland in 1970, was one of four children. Her father worked in technology, having earned a PhD in Electrical Engineering – her mother had a Master’s in business. It came as a surprise to her parents when the principal of Ingrid’s school phoned to inform them that she had a learning disability and was failing third grade – he actually described her as retarded.
Her parents refused to accept that assessment, believing that their daughter merely needed more focus and attention. After researching things, they sent Ingrid to a different school a good distance away from their home – one which would provide a more productive environment for her to learn. They had also discovered that the school district was obliged to provide bus transportation for Ingrid, even though she was the only student attending the new school. As a result, Ingrid had a full-sized bus dedicated just to her.
Other kids would tease her, but rather than get down, she focused on the positives in her life. She had parents who believed in her and were encouraging, her own bus and a great deal of one-on-one time with teachers at the school – her take away was simply “Boy, am I special!” Eventually, it was discovered that her learning challenges were the result of poor hearing, having nothing to do with any sort of learning disability. Once that was addressed, she went back to her original school where her scholastic performance was impressive.
She went on to earn two Masters’ degrees, the second one was an MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. That was in 1996. Having been entrepreneurial from a very young age – selling candy and lemonade – Ingrid embarked on developing her business idea. One thing she knew was that to be successful, one had to be open to asking for help – and that’s what she did. She sought guidance from George Kozmetsky, the co-founder of Teledyne, the onetime dean of the McCombs School and the man who had mentored Michael Dell.
Ingrid had a vision for a data-mining and data-analytics built on a truly unique concept. It took nine months of hard work, learning, trial and error, direction from Kozmetsky and her practice of meditation, but eventually, things came together. Presenting the concept to an investor resulted in an offer of $2,000,000 to buy the company outright. She turned it down. Eventually, she did sell that company…but would go on to build and sell several more.
In 2011 she attended the second annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network event in Rio de Janeiro. She was struck by several thoughts beginning with how Dell supported entrepreneurs. Added to that was her belief that entrepreneurs would be the force which would turn around the global economy. For that to happen she knew that a new perspective was needed – it would be essential to leverage the eyes and talents of women. Flying back to the U.S., she relied on her practice of meditation to settle the thoughts racing through her mind. It was on that flight that she discovered her life’s purpose.
She would empower one billion women entrepreneurs by the year 2020. For many, the idea of such a massive undertaking would be dismissed – but not by this fearless brand. Everything she had accomplished in her life was because Ingrid Vanderveldt is a fearless brand.
Fearless Brands are driven by purpose and hard work
Ingrid Vanderveldt had already accomplished more than most entrepreneurs – male or female. In spite of that, she knew at her core that her life’s work would be dedicated to making her vision a reality. Once back, she contacted Michael Dell with her ideas. Together with Dell’s President, Steve Felice, Ingrid created and assumed a new position at Dell – Entrepreneur in Residence. In that position, she oversaw entrepreneurial initiatives worldwide helping to build a $250 million business segment and founded the $125 million Dell Innovators Credit Fund.
What best defines Ingrid Vanderveldt is that she is the founder and chairman of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 (EBW2020). She is leveraging every bit of her life-long learning – beginning with her childhood businesses and scholastic challenges continuing through her role with Dell and her many companies. She is committed to providing women in business around the globe with the tools, technology and resources that all successful leaders and entrepreneurs require.
The same characteristics that make her a fearless brand, the same traits that will lead to Vanderveldt to accomplish her goal are concepts which you can – and should – embrace as you build your fearless brand.
The Power of Belief – Ingrid was wrapped in the power of belief beginning at a very young age. Her parents believed in her. Her experiences instilled in her the power of belief. It’s that power which has helped fuel her success throughout her entire life. It’s the power of belief that will drive her to make her vision a reality. The question is this – Do you embrace and possess the power of belief? It’s essential to believe in yourself, your talents, your potential and your purpose. Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Lean on them when your own belief falters – and it will.
The Power of Planning – Perhaps it’s Ingrid’s first major business initiative that will best demonstrate the power of planning. She started with an idea – she lacked the knowledge and expertise needed to make it a reality. Ingrid opened herself to receiving help. She used that help as she planned – and learned – and ultimately found success. Planning has led to Ingrid’s success as it will for you. Be humble enough to seek the expertise you lack.
Get really comfortable with being uncomfortable – To some, being uncomfortable is not natural and they strive to stay firmly in their comfort zone. Yet being uncomfortable is as natural as breathing. Take a look at lobsters. As they grow, their shells become confining – uncomfortable. When the shell gets too restrictive, they shed it and grow a new one – bigger, more comfortable. That process repeats time and again. The same idea holds true for entrepreneurs and in branding. Discomfort is necessary for growth and success. The choice is to become comfortable with the process or give up on growth.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Ingrid Vanderveldt will achieve the objective of EBW2020. Why? She is a fearless brand – she’s embraced her purpose, she has the skills needed and the openness to seek help in those areas that she lacks. Importantly, her efforts are wrapped in relevance – to her, to women, to the world. You too can be a fearless brand. Find your purpose. Dream big. Use your talent and seek help as needed. Be relevant. You too can have a big impact in your world.