In the case of Valeisha Butterfield, the apple of excellence surely doesn’t fall far from the tree. The daughter of U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield and North Carolina State legislator Jean Farmer Butterfield, Valeisha has paved a lane of her own in activism, motivational and women’s leadership. Having served in the administration of President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011, she has built a platform for youth empowerment as well as an example that one’s career journey doesn’t have to be a straight path.
She’s also been executive director of Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network director of diversity and inclusiveness for the Alzheimer’s Association and field coordinator to Chief Justice Henry Frye of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
One of her biggest accomplishments has been co-founding Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN), a global organization of women and men that provide a platform to advocate for the balanced, positive portrayal of women in entertainment and society. The organization boasts more than 45,000 active members and provides educational programs for young women worldwide.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Butterfield, author of The Girlprint, a guide for girls on success, about how girls and young women can empower themselves via leadership and service.
BlackEnterprise.com: You’ve had a successful and diverse professional life. What should young women do to build successful lives and careers?
Butterfield: You’re never too young to network. First, start expanding your relationships, getting to know people in your industry and field, and don’t be afraid to intern—unpaid—at an early age, even as a high school student.
The second step: Strengthen your interpersonal skills. I think young women are so prone to use Instagram, texting and Facebook, that they forget how to speak and communicate to people one-on-one, in person. Pick up the phone and call people and go by their office and introduce yourself. That one-on-one contact and those interpersonal skills really make you stand out.
Have a career in service and learn to [monetize your passions]. Figure out what your passion is, what you really want to do in life, and what your goals are, and then turn that passion into profit. And so really learning how to leverage all those things that you want to do into real financial gain.