Ep.032 Our Students (Kids) Are Our Teachers

lessons from Women entrepreneur5 Success Tips for Busy Mompreneurs and Women Entrepreneurs


A few years ago Vyky Rafai needed to figure out who she was and make some big changes in her life. When the women around her reached out and lifted her up, she decided to replicate that powerful experience for other women. Vyky birthed I Am Brave, an organization with an annual conference that brings together top women leaders and entrepreneurs in Orlando with informative talks about a range of topics, from family to business and community. Her main goal is to help women develop supportive relationships that can propel them through anything.

As a creative, with a background in fashion design, accounting, and investing, Vyky also founded and runs a digital agency, One Alliance Group, which builds online presence for businesses.

1. Balance Comes from Planning

Something that amazes me about Vyky and garners her lots of questions is how she runs two businesses while co-raising three young children. She told me she laughs at the word “balance” and says it’s more about planning which tasks you will do—business or children—and when. First you have to define balance for yourself, by choosing what is important and what you can let go of (like not cooking dinner). Then break up your day to allocate to each task.

We all seem to be chasing time, something we can’t get back. Visiting Europe regularly, I’m aware of the difference in time cultures. In France or Latin America, there isn’t the scarcity of time we feel in the US, Australia or other English-speaking countries. This concept was difficult for me to grasp at first, but now I’m running after time too.

2. Know Yourself and Push through the Unknown

At her transition point, Vyky realized she had to take the huge step of ending a marriage that wasn’t nurturing who she was or helping her grow. She had to figure out who she was, her true self, what she loved to do and how to make herself happy. As women, she says, we are selfless beings. That’s where you have to ask yourself how to say yes to you. She watched what she enjoyed and built businesses doing that.

After that hurdle, the hardest thing for her was the fear of the unknown, which cripples so many of us. She was afraid of uncertainty, of taking leaps of faith like ending a relationship, becoming a single mother, and maybe becoming a statistic. It feels hard to go into the unknown, but on the other side, she reminds us, it’s glorious. That’s where the most growth and self-learning happens.

3. Support Keeps You on the Road to Success

Vyky enjoyed a great family support system but lacked mentors, which is what she believes I Am Brave can provide. She could have gone much faster if she’d had those mentors around her, so she’s on a mission to cultivate supportive relationships among women. You need people in your life who are not just taking from you but giving to you, she says. (When you are extremely honest with yourself, you can identify the harmful relationships in your life too.) Vyky knew her cup was empty because she kept pouring water into everyone else’s.

We agreed that many people who see women doing incredible things assume it just happened or they were born into it. But it never works like that. Those women work very hard and endure a lot. Success is not an overnight process. It takes strength, work, dedication, and tenacity.

Saying yes to yourself will inspire others. This is walking the talk and living by example. She wants to see leaders communicating this to up-and-comers. We are not superwomen, she says. We have to plan, and we mess up and grow. “Failure isn’t supposed to cripple you,” Vyky says. “it’s supposed to propel you.”

4. Be Natural, Be True to Yourself

I love Vyky’s story about integrity and her hair. She has a huge, beautiful afro, and women are often amazed that she’s owning that. It started with wanting to cultivate her son’s confidence in himself. One day he came home from school and said all the kids thought he curled his hair. But she said it’s like that naturally; that’s who you are and what makes you unique. He asked her, “who do I look like?” and she said “me.” And then he said, “but you straighten your hair, can I straighten mine?”

He was absolutely right. At the time, as so many women do, she was conditioned to living in society and straightening her hair as a matter of course. “How was I going to tell him to stand out with his curly hair,” she asked, “if I was straightening mine to blend in?” So that next day she cut her hair and has never straightened it since. Integrity has always been important to Vyky. “You yourself need to practice what you want to ask of anybody else,” she says.

It’s not just about hair. You can get too used to saying no to yourself. You can fear the unknown. Vyky didn’t know how to be someone who is so out there, but she figured it out. Today she sees even her ADHD as a feature of a creative mind, not a bug. Being true to yourself attracts others and success follows.

5. Book Recommendation: Crushing It!

Vyky calls herself a “consumer of education,” always expanding on her knowledge so she can grow herself and help others. She loves how easy self-education is in the digital age. She follows Gary Vaynerchuk and his podcast, and recently enjoyed Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too. This phenomenal read helped inspire her to better use her social platforms to communicate to others what they don’t know about success, to give back by sharing the steps she’s taken.

Vyky reminds us that there’s nothing wrong with connecting in a small community. Even if you help one person, that’s impactful. You’ve made a difference. You don’t need 1000 users or a huge list.  

I wholeheartedly agree. The more you can own who you are, the rewards are amazing. Every morning I am blessed to wake up so happy about what I’m doing, knowing I’ve made a difference for others. Now when I go back to France they think I smile too much, because I’ve acclimated to the US and our culture of being happy.

Bonus Recommendation: Productivity and Planning Tool

As a Virgo and natural planner, Vyky is a list queen and loves the app WunderList, where she creates and categorizes her lists. Right now she has a VA who helps her stay on task and on schedule. For her family, she puts lists up on the walls with schedules. She uses alarms on her phone. You can look up a YouTube video on how to use any tool you need, she reminds us.

At one point, Vyky realized she was losing a lot of sleep thinking about what she had to accomplish the next day. She discovered that it helped to write it all down and plan out the following day before she went to sleep.

In her home, Vyky’s favorite saying is “teamwork makes the dream work.” It may be corny but it’s a great reminder that you have to show up and do your share and help others. It does take a village.


Contact Vyky Rifai by name on Instagram, facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

Send her a direct message on a platform and she will check it.

Also look her up at: IAmBraveOnline.com and OneAllianceGroup.com

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