Behind every great man, there is a great woman. So this archaic saying goes. Today is International Women’s Day, and we have plenty of women to celebrate who take center stage and don’t have to be behind or come after a man.
Last May, I attended a Google talk by Zim Ugochukwu, the creator of Travel Noire, a travel company, blog, and community for Black millenials. She is one of the most inspiring entrepreneur I’ve met and I can say that, had I not attended that talk, Broography might not have been born a month later.
How did she start her company while having no income? It was very hard! The first time she went to live abroad, for 18 months without a job, she only had $15,000 (from her severance package). She had started Travel Noire while she was still employed at a startup in SF, and was working nights to make her dream come true. I estimated her company’s revenue to be around $1 million, and it was recently acquired. So, if you have a travel blog, know that all your after-work labor of passion might give you the financial freedom a few years down the road to do whatever the heck you want.
The goal of the trips her company organizes is “people to meet, not things to see”. This resonates strongly with Jarelle and me, so let us tell you about a few women we have met on our travels:
In Croatia, at the entrance of Krka National Park, we met May, standing there by herself, looking for the way to the waterfalls. She became our travel companion for the morning. May is a high-rolling tax auditor from London, and one of the nicest person we’ve met. When she arrived in Croatia, she realized her friends had other plans than her’s, so instead of sheepishly following them, she went her own way, and that is how we ended up meeting her in Krka! She put up with filming us doing our workout acrobatics, like a mother smiling in approval at her son’s claim that his Lego construction is a real NASA-grade spaceship. She was our first even BROography fan, 4 months before we even launched this site! We have already planned a “Heavenly Caribbean Tax Havens” BroographyTV series with her.
Then, in Split, we met Sara, from Monterrey Mexico. Sara is a Communications graduate who was studying abroad in Germany. For visa reasons, she decided to make a short hop by herself to Split! After all, WHY THE HELL NOT? You already know how valuable studying abroad is 😉
Actually, what really happened is that we didn’t meet her, she came to meet us. From the square of the Diocletian’s Palace, she looked up and saw some feet dangling from the top of the Cathedral Tower. Inquisitive, she climbed up the tower. As Jarelle and I were sitting on a platform at the edge of the tower, we realized after a good 6-8 minutes that she was standing behind us. We invited her over, and she sat with us. We talked about life and travel for half an hour. That day, Sara vanquished her fear of heights to benefit from one of the best views of Split
In Split, we went by the beach for a bar workout. But we found out a little girl was already OWNING the shit out of it. Little girl, I don’t know your name, but I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Olympics in 10 years:
On the island of Hvar, after a hectic cycling ride up the hills under the sun, we arrived in a small village, close to dehydration. Like a mirage, we found “Mama Smoothie”. This mother recently opened up her own smoothie shop and she gave us the best beverage of our lives!
In Napoli (Italy), once I told our AirBnB hostess Piera that I had been learning Italian for 3 months, she started speaking to me only in Italian, and it was a long conversation! Her boyfriend actually had to tell her to slow down so I could understand. It was delightful to be treated like a local, not like a tourist.
Last December, travelling in Nicaragua, we met not one, but 4 travel nurses! The first one, Betty, is retired, but she still beat Jarelle at arm’s wrestling:
The other 3 nurses, we met while hiking down Volcano Maderas, on Ometepe Island… And they were obviously better prepared than us, Rambo-style:
In Playa del Carmen (Mexico), we met a boisterous girl from England, who was preaching cultural understanding at 3am:
Turns out this woman is a major UK Grime artist, who hustled her way to success, starting out just rapping in her neighborhood:
Then, there are the women that are close to us:
Your sisters, that you grew up with:
You might have wrestled and fought with them as a kid, but you love them dearly.
Léa, the youngest, went to Thailand for a year while she was studying, to apprentice at a luxury hotel, and she’s way braver than I am (I mean, have you seen that freaking huge snake?):
I also have a telepathic connection with her, as evidenced by us showing up at a birthday party in France WEARING THE EXACT SAME CLOTHES !
While she’s finishing her studies, she has still found the time to create her own food & travel blog: check it out right here.
My other sister Maïlys is an extraordinary example of hard work: as a kid, she was easily distracted. I mean look at her ?:
As a result, she always had a bit of trouble in school. But around 14 years old, she started working extra hard to catch up and became an exemplary student. She went on to graduate with a Master’s from the same business school as me, and upon graduation started a bidding war between Accenture and the French telco Orange. BALLER !!! She is also the only person who came at my graduation in France:
Then there is your mother.
She worries about you EVERY DAY:
My mother Hélène was the one who instilled in me a passion for reading before I even realized it:
Your mother is the one who fed you:
Who taught you how to walk:
So today, GIVE HER A KISS to thank her:
Unfortunately, I can’t kiss my mom because she’s over in Singapore taking funny photos:
Then there are your grandmothers. They also took care of you since you were a kid. Maybe even contributed to your love of nature and hiking:
I went to see both of them last month, and they smothered me in love and my favorite cakes:
Then there is your significant other.
My girlfriend Raquel is the most driven and ambitious person I know and has overcome terrible odds to become an exceptional and successful woman. The only female Navy pilot on board her ship:
She’s also a green belt in Judo, and when I don’t hug her enough, she pins me down in an inescapable hold on my own bed. ?
Now she’s applying for an Engineering Masters at Cal State University in Silicon Valley (If you know anyone who’s involved with admission or scholarships, let me know ?). She has been there by my side the whole time I was applying for Google jobs in Silicon Valley, and after I got one, the whole 3-month ordeal of getting a visa. So if you have a girlfriend, take her to somewhere SHE likes for Valentine’s Day:
Feed her things SHE likes (cheese! meat!):
Make her dance:
My ask for you
So gentlemen: let’s all do a better job at recognizing the incredible women around us. Those we know and those we don’t know. They don’t have to be hiding in a Nicaraguan jungle or on top of a Croatian tower. They are most likely right besides you.
Inquire about the women you meet and you will be surprised by their awesomeness. If they need you, help them. If you need help, ask for them to help you. Learn from them, or teach them, like Jarelle is doing with his little sister:
Let’s make the world a better place so that this little Mexican girl can grow up with the same opportunities as her brother:
Please share this article with 3 women you know.
Happy International Woman’s Day!