By Jennifer Maher
For as long as I can remember, I grew up wanting to be an attorney. Unlike other kids, I never waffled between being an astronaut one year and being a firefighter the next. I had blinders on to achieve a single mission. To that end, I graduated from college in three years to go straight to law school. Upon graduation from law school in 2007, I landed my dream job at a prestigious law firm founded in 1890. I finally made it – or so I thought. I was a lawyer!
The financial crisis in 2008 shifted the world dramatically. I was fortunate to still have my full-time job as a commercial litigator with an amazing firm, but many of my friends, attorneys and otherwise, were not so lucky. Many of my friends and former colleagues were forced into starting their own companies, which in hindsight many believe to now be a blessing in disguise. Over the next few years, my eyes began to open as I was slowly brought into the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem of Philadelphia.
I attended my first Philly Startup Leaders (PSL) happy hour in 2010 and met an amazing group of young and seasoned entrepreneurs. We opened our doors to Benjamin’s Desk (now 1776) in late 2012 and I witnessed first hand the beginning of Philadelphia to put itself on the map as a place for growth entrepreneurs. As my company grew, we were able to serve more and more entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia area and I slowly shifted away from being a practicing attorney, finally leaving my law firm in 2016.
Like many entrepreneurs, I often reflect and ponder the age-old thought of wishing I knew then what I know now. I personally believe everything happens for a reason and don’t believe in regrets, but this does not mean I can’t have reflection on past events.
Being singularly focused on becoming an attorney and not considering other options set me back. I never took a business or finance class so everything has been self-taught. To this day, I still devour blogs, podcasts, and books on business or entrepreneurship. Partially because I am a self-proclaimed super nerd, but also because I needed to close my self perceived gap in relation to my peers.
As the new PSL President, I am humbled, privileged, and honored to continue to serve the entrepreneurs of Philadelphia. To me, this means current and future entrepreneurs. I want to provide a level of exposure to future entrepreneurs that I never had. PSL achieved this in part by introducing Founders 101 and hosting a fantastic Diversity Dinner (did you know half the event attendees at Diversity Dinner had never attended a PSL event before?), but PSL has even bigger plans for 2019 and beyond. I truly believe that it will only be through this exposure that will allow us to inevitably achieve greater success and diversity in entrepreneurship.
So now that you know my story, I would love to hear more about yours and how PSL can support your goals. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can set up a time to chat!