Stop Asking Permission: Morgan DeBaun, CEO and Founder Blavity Inc.

As the CEO of Blavity Inc, which she launched in 2014 and has grown to be one of the leading media companies for millennials—raising more than 11 million in funding from venture firms like GV and Comcast—you’d think Morgan DeBaun might be be too busy running the five companies under the Blavity umbrella and the beauty brand she also founded and investing in other businesses to find time to help others follow their own entrepreneurship journey. But through summits, conferences, many many podcast appearances (including her own) and the WorkSmart Advising Program, she is in constant motion, sharing insight and advice, especially championing those underrepresented in board rooms.

We were lucky to get Morgan to talk a bit about that advice.

What’s the best advice you ever were given?

Morgan: Stop asking for permission and just do it.

What’s something you wish you had learned earlier?

Morgan: I wish I would have learned to trust my gut earlier in my journey.

What makes you take notice of a company? What are some of the key factors that would make you want to be involved in a business’s development?

Morgan: When I’m looking at potentially being involved in a business’s development I look for a resilient founder who is working on their business full time, a company with proven metrics, and exit potential.

It’s important to me that the founder has a big vision for their business and they are passionate about solving problems for their target audience.

How does creating a diverse and inclusive work environment help the bottom line?

Morgan: Innovation is reliant on diverse perspectives and that is paramount to the success of a company’s bottom line.

A lot of companies made commitments this past year to change their culture.

What are three crucial things that still need to happen to create pathways for new opportunities for POC and particularly women of color in the workplace?

Hire people of color and hire women of color, especially in leadership positions and hold businesses accountable. A lot of companies made commitments this past year to change their culture around leadership and hiring and it’s important to see what has actually progressed since.

What are some books you recommend everyone read to foster more understanding and empathy in the workplace?

Morgan: This is How We Rise by Claudia Chan. I Feel You by Cris Beam