After working with some of Hollywood’s top heavyhitters like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon and Samuel L Jackson as a studio executive, Dee Poku was ready to empower other women to live their dreams. She created the WIE Network to connect women and host symposiums featuring some of the most powerful ladies in the world. She shares how she transition to being her own boss and her tips for being a master networker.
Name: Dee Poku
Title and company: Founder and CEO, WIE
Location: New York
The gig: I run an organization that empowers emerging women leaders by connecting them to established trailblazers. We do this via our conferences, salons and soon-to-be launched online video channel. My inbox is filled with friends and colleagues introducing me to other powerful women. I also love the fact that I’m able to make a tangible difference in women’s lives by furnishing them with the tools and inspiration to succeed.
The journey: While trying to navigate corporate culture while building my career, I encountered many obstacles. I didn’t have any mentors to guide me. The first WIE event we hosted was meant as a one-off but the caliber of speakers and the audience’s reaction made us realize this was bigger.
Networking 101: Women need to feel they have a connection and can trust someone for a relationship to flourish. Make an effort to say hello to women you don’t know at events and follow up quickly with a nice email. Find ways you can support her needs before you make any asks of your own.
Becoming her own boss: I worked in film for a long time before starting my own marketing company. I launched with one client and a desk to work from in his building. That cushion was everything! It’s important to have as much in place as possible before you make the leap from a full-time job to a start-up.
Confessions of an entrepreneur: I learned the most from expanding too quickly. Once you see early success, the temptation is to go bigger quite quickly in order to capitalize. But if you don’t have the infrastructure to meet that workload, it becomes incredibly challenging and can derail your business entirely. So you have to pull back, recalibrate and start again.
Her career highlight: Signing up some of the most powerful women in the world like Melinda Gates, Mellody Hobson, Sheila Johnson, Arianna Huffington and Donna Karan for our first and completely unknown conference was pretty special.
Her secret superpower: I love meeting strangers. Most people go to an event and hope to find people they know. I prefer to go to places where there are lots of people I don’t know. It’s so much more interesting and helped me build an incredible network.
Her downtime: Meditation in the morning is great for focusing the mind.
Her tech fix: I live on Google Drive. It’s downloaded to my laptop and I have the app. We’re always creating visual content so I love photo apps like Phonto, Pictstitch and Photoshop Express.
Her beauty must-haves: Mac Ruby Woo red lipstick and lots of water.
Her power style accessory: My black Prada pointy stiletto heels. They give every outfit a little edge and make me feel quite invincible!
Her work/life hustle tip: Allow yourself more time than you think you need for everything, especially when it involves your children. And really plan out your day so you can allot time for everything important.
Her theme song: “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyoncé.