In keeping up with Women’s History Month, this week’s feature spotlights a young lady that definitely exemplifies what it means to be fearless. Although she has faced a number of challenges in her life, she has never let that stop her from pursuing her dreams. The strength and courage that she exudes embodies her lioness spirit–one that is fierce and resilient, yet careful not to make noise while she is on the prowl.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ghislaine Leon.
Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Ghislaine (pronounced Jizz-lane) is a proud 2010 graduate of Syracuse University. While there, she studied Retail Management and Marketing in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, but exclaims that her extra curricular involvement in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications is what really helped lay the foundation of her career in media marketing. “At the time I didn’t understand why or how I could connect it to my career because everyone in the organization was studying journalism,” she said. “Post-grad it proved to be one of the best things that I ever did during my time at SU.”
Ghislaine’s firm belief in being fearless has allowed for her to overcome major obstacles and learn from them significantly. Established in 2011, her personal website, Fearless Leon is a very insightful collection of her dreams, aspirations and what inspires her daily. It also highlights her successes as a businesswoman that seeks to lift others up as she climbs.
On igniting the spark that is ‘Fearless Leon’:
After graduation I came to a place where I hit rock bottom, I didn’t find work in my field and I was diagnosed with a medical condition that became a challenge in my life. I didn’t have my parents support in my job hunt as they are blue collar working immigrants, and I didn’t have their support emotional support with my condition because they simply didn’t understand it enough to be able to aid me. I was depressed, I didn’t want to admit it, and I wasn’t sure on how to deal with it. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to settle that I wasn’t going to give up. One of my family members even suggested I get on disability? Hearing that was very hurtful. But sadly so many people in our communities are used to living off of our governments benefits. The easy way out. I thought to myself, “so am I just going to let my degree go to waste?” I was not built to quit. During this weird post grad depressive state I got involved in the West African dance community of West Harlem. Dance started to feel like I was at church, I couldn’t breathe by the time class was over, but I left with this blazing and empowering feeling. I left feeling like I had invisible crown over my head. This dances style was passed on from our fearless ancestors. That was the spark of FearlessLeon.com.
Fearless Leon isn’t the first time Ghislaine has been bit by the entrepreneur bug. In 2011, she auditioned for the inaugural Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) Academy, a six-week crash course to prepare the next generation of entertainment moguls. Out of the thousands of college-aged young women, Ghislaine was one of 35 women chosen to participate. As she continues to move forward in her career, Ghislaine wants to make sure that she serves as a role model for those young women of color that are aspiring to live their dreams as well.
On maintaining the balance of her career and her brand:
Its something that I struggle with on a daily. I think a lot and analyze every experience that I go through and even those of the people around me. Whenever I come to a conclusion it reminds me that I have to share my thoughts with the web. Finding that balance is knowing that I want to be more than just a woman in media. That reminder continuously pushes me to keep Fearless Leon growing. My next steps in developing my brand is to expand my content streams, guest blog more often for SEO purposes, establish quarterly physical events such as seminars and workshops, as well as develop a line of inspirational bookmarks. I also look forward in partnering with similar sites to develop short e books or downloadable guides for my readers.
To Ghislaine, to be a “Millennial on a Mission” means to teach others behind her the power that they have within themselves. “It’s making sure that I can help others believe in themselves, and if they already do to remind them that to be good receivers and accomplish all that we want we must become good givers.” She believes that learning how to become more fearless is accepting that being fearless is NOT living without fear, but in fact it’s having the courage to face those fears. One piece of advice she would offer to young entrepreneurs like herself would be to study the best entrepreneurial stories that are out there. “Study our changing environment, from our gentrified neighborhoods to our modern day 5th avenues. If you want to be an elite entrepreneur, then your brand should have a sneeze effect that spreads to the masses.”