Cara Turano

Cara Turano, a President and an Executive Director, is a lover of adventure and supporter of entrepreneurs, innovators, dreamers and disruptors. She lives in Portland, Oregon with an amazing family and a really cute long haired chihuahua. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, reading, running, skiing and camping.

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative. 

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and was a stellar student and a pretty good athlete. I loved to compete in swimming and running. I had a wonderful college experience at the University of Georgia and worked in athletics before I really started my career. My parents were incredibly supportive of striving for big goals.

Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.

The last tech start-up I worked at was really toxic. At that point, I realized I did not want to be in the technology industry anymore. I took an approach that allowed me to leverage those connections and that knowledge while supporting technologists and entrepreneurs in a different way. Approaching the industry from non-profit leadership enabled me to focus on supporting more women and avoid the situation that became my career changer.

Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”

I work for a non-profit that supporters entrepreneurs for this exact reason. I want to be the person cheerleading on the sidelines and saying “YES, go for it!” because this whole community is invested in your success and here to support you.

Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?

Running a non-profit is very similar to running a startup business – there is never enough time or resources and you always have to figure out how to get the next investment. I time box my days and when I am finished, I am truly finished. I cook dinner, walk my dog, spend time with my family and read before going to bed. I put myself first which allows me to show up much better for my organization.

While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?

The pandemic led me into deep professional burnout. I had to show up too much for too many people with a lot of energy every day for the community. So I took a 6 month sabbatical – it was so restorative and I highly recommend it. I went to therapy, I learned how to drive myself in the snow and ski alone, I read every book about burnout in the library and I spent a ton of time with people I love. I think I needed the pandemic to show me my limits and now that they have been reached, I won’t do that again and will take much better care of myself and my mental health.

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?

I was always really proud of being recognized as both a University of Georgia and an Atlanta Business Journal 40 under 40 when I was in my early 30s. Now I am proud that I have a reputation for getting things done in a thoughtful and equitable way.

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?

I would like to see women get as much financial investment as men – or instead of 98% of venture capital going to men, 50% goes to men and 50% to women. I want to see more women at the cap tables directing investment and I want to see investing in a path for women to achieve wealth. More equitable access to money would result in a much better world in my opinion.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?

The only person you answer to at the end of the day is you so you better make yourself proud and deliver yourself in a way that aligns with your values. I believe that in my personal and professional life. My motto is definitely ‘every day is an adventure.’

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?

Keep pushing but don’t lose yourself in the process. Women’s leadership will and should look different than men’s and if that means you reschedule a board meeting to make it to a kindergarten graduation, that should be celebrated and imitated.

With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

Self care and rest are the most revolutionary things you can do because when you are at your best, you can do so much more to change the world. Put yourself first more than occasionally. The world will keep spinning and you will be so much better served for those moments of rest…and so will your business, community and family.