Felena Hanson is smashing the gender barrier in the male-dominated world of coworking. The seasoned entrepreneur is the CEO and founder of San Diego-based Hera Hub, an all-female-founded-and-run coworking startup, accelerator and investment fund.
“We cater to women, mainly those who are solopreneurs or small teams,” she told Entrepreneur at the recent Circular Board female entrepreneurship summit in Houston.
The veteran marketer and author of Flight Club: Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business drew inspiration for Hera Hub’s name from the Greek goddess Hera. “She was known to be watchful and protected women through every stage of their life," she says. "We’re there to guide, guard and inspire and create this safe space and launching platform for women to grow their businesses.”
After building three successful locations in San Diego County and Washington D.C., Hanson's next mission is to support more than 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020.
We asked Hanson a batch of questions, ranging from serious to a little out there, in an effort to provide greater insight into the creative, driven mind of a fearless female founder. What follows is an edited version of the interview:
1. What’s the best advice you ever took?
“It’s from my grandfather. It’s sort of a version of the Serenity Prayer. Don’t worry about the things that you don’t control. I think for women, we often get tangled up in what people think of us, what’s going on and we worry about things that are outside of our control. I can’t say I take that advice always, but I do as much as possible. It helps me hone in on what’s in my sphere and if it’s outside of my sphere, I’m not going to worry about it. That has kept me very grounded and calm.”
2. What is work-life balance?
“Work-life balance isn’t real. I don’t subscribe to work-life balance. I prefer work-life integration. For me, my business is so fulfilling that I love every single second of it, unless I’m doing accounting or reviewing a contract, that is. It took me 38 years to figure out how to blend what I really love doing with my business. A lot of my friends are Hera Hub members, so it’s one big circle, so to speak, of how I live my life. It all ties together. Work is life and life is work. I bring everything into the same realm so I don’t feel conflicted. ”
3. How do you start your day?
“I run. I have two very rambunctious dogs and I get up and run with them every single morning. I usually cover about three miles with them.”
4. How do you end your day?
“With a glass of wine. Red and dark. Cab, zin and as heavy and dark as possible. I also allow myself to zone out on social media a little bit at the end of the night. I usually use that time to catch up on what’s happening.”
5. What’s a book that changed your mind?
“It’s Michael Masterson’s Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat. It’s an older book. When I read it I was early into my entrepreneurial career and it really talks about how to build a scalable business and how to leverage the idea of a lean methodology. Masterson was ahead of the concept of just getting out there and firing later, and that really changed my mindset on how to build a business.”
6. What’s your best strategy for staying focused?
“I listen a lot. I’m good at resetting quickly. I’ll walk outside, I’ll close my eyes and I’ll just listen. I’ll listen to the birds. I don’t meditate. I wish I did, but that’s as close as I get. Stepping outside, taking a breath of fresh air, listening for 30 seconds, it works for me.”
7. What’s a song that motivates you?
“I have to go with Madonna. I’m in my early 40s, so ‘ Express Yourself,” resonates. It’s a fun, uplifting song with a positive message.”
8. If you can work with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
“Someone I admire -- I don’t know about working with -- but I’d have to say Oprah Winfrey. She created something from nothing, and being a woman of color and breaking through so many barriers, I’d love to shadow her for a day.”
9. Who has influenced you the most when it comes to your approach to work?
“It’s my mentor. Her name is Linda Lattimore and she started an organization called Women’s Global Network. She’s quite an entrepreneur herself and I actually took over the WGN group in San Diego that she used to run when she moved back to Texas. That was my first taste of leadership. I was leading an organization of 80 women and I had no idea what I was doing, but kept modeling what she had done. She’s been a tremendous mentor to me.”
10. What’s your top productivity tip?
“My tips are tech tools. There are two I use constantly. One is Trello, a work project collaboration platform, and the other is Schedule Once, a phone call scheduling app. I use them both religiously. Schedule Once saves me a fourth of an assistant in just scheduling calls.”