The Women In Golf Foundation is a non-profit organization, founded by LaJean Gould, which provides opportunities for young women to learn the game of golf. The program teaches them discipline and strategy and among other things, soft skills for life. The training equips them to become proficient enough to earn scholarships for college or even be able to start a career in golf. Read about LaJean’s venture from communications into golfing!
What did you eat for breakfast?
Turkey bacon, boiled egg and decaffeinated coffee.
What’s your workout?
I take a brisk walk for 45 minutes at least 3 times a week in addition to at least a round of golf each week.
What picture is on your phone’s home screen? Share it with us.
My granddaughter (Jaden) feeling beautiful!
Tell us about your work. What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?
I spent 23 years in the communications industry. In an effort to advance my career, I decided to learn to play golf. My career became “before golf…… and after golf”! In my quest to learn the game, I stumbled upon some young college girls that played golf and were in need of support. The boys had an event that had the attention of the coaches and the community, but the girls were being neglected. I pulled together a team to support these collegiate women. I needed a non-profit organization to do the fundraising to support the work, so I created the Women In Golf Foundation, Inc. It began with a small tournament and clinic that has evolved into a National Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship – a 3-day event supporting the development of young women through golf. The foundation has grown to include three additional areas of support: a youth program, an executive women’s program, and we are developing a program to support young women playing professionally as they begin their professional careers.
What do you see for your future?
The current plan is to recruit more schools to participate in the National Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship. We set a goal of 15 schools. We want to expand the youth program to include advanced participants from across the country and be able to house them for a two week program. The goal is to provide an experience that will help prepare them to play at a level to be able to qualify for golf scholarships from more schools. And lastly, to support young women in their aspirations to play golf professionally.
How large is your business? How many employees do you have?
The Women In Golf Foundation is a small 501c3. We do not have full time employees. I manage the business with contractors and volunteers. The organization is funded via grants, contributions, and fees for services. Some grants enable the organization to subsidize some of the registration fees.
Tell us a success story about funding your business.
Our participants created and filmed a video on the organization, its goals and mission, to enter into a Women’s Sports Foundation funding contest and won the grand prize- $10,000. View the video at “GoGirlsGo”!
What do you see as challenges for you and your business? What are some opportunities?
The largest challenge for a small 501c3 is funding. Finding grants that are available to fund this work and contributors that are willing to contribute that believe in the work is difficult. Of course the goal is always to become self-sustaining, but given the need to subsidize many in the community that remains to be a challenge. There are some opportunities that I am exploring to help fund activities with speaking engagements and executive women’s training.
Tell us a story about a success in your business or a mistake you overcame?
I began this work 23 years ago believing that our work would help an African American woman play the game professionally. Currently there are two young women playing professionally that we supported as junior golfers: Mariah Stackhouse and Amira Alexander.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
Interestingly, I just recently began to see myself as an entrepreneur. I was so focused on just working hard to help youth and women understand the benefits of learning to play the game of golf that I did not think about it much. My passion for what the game has to offer overshadowed and dominated my thinking. With the changes in the economy and the reduction in grant opportunities, my thinking has had to change. So, I have begun to figure out how to love the entrepreneurial spirit! Creative ways to think through fundraising is beginning to be exciting, yet a bit frightening at times.
What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
When I was in the corporate world, I learned the hard way of the importance of networking and the power of golf in enabling you to do that. Golf played such an important role in my career that I have made a commitment to share my story and help as many women as possible learn the game. Women should learn early in their careers the benefits of playing the game of golf. I believe that women have to make every effort possible to level the playing field to benefit their careers. Golf can and will make a difference.
What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
Believing that my service is in demand and being passionate about what I do.
Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?
This is a new thought for me. Having spent some time on this one, I have decided that it’s genetic for me. My great-grandfather and grandfather were entrepreneurs. My great-grandfather, who was born in 1865, was a farmer, carpenter, blacksmith and syrup mill owner. My grandfather, born in 1889 was also a farmer, carpenter and brick mason. They both were land owners when that was unheard of for African Americans. So they both have inspired me to me the best that I can be and to be a risk taker. I believe that the willingness to take risk is critical for success, especially as an entrepreneur.
What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
I think the best thing about being an entrepreneur is the feeling of accomplishment you have when your business has a success, knowing what it took to accomplish it. The worst thing is the fear associated with not being able to pay someone for their service to you. I’m not sure that gender has anything to do with it.
Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs, and if so, how? If not, why not?
Yes. Interestingly enough, I think it is in their attitude. Male entrepreneurs carry with them what seems to be a sense of entitlement. It may just be confidence. Women in general have to struggle to gain confidence and be able to convey it. How you use your confidence is important. Some see women’s confidence as aggressive or “cocky” or overly assertive. I believe that you have to know who you are and what you can make happen and learn how to communicate that well and “walk in it”! Confidence leads to success.
What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?
One of my early managers: You can lose the war fighting battles. Pick your battles and be strategic so that you can win the war.