Inspiring Women: On Teamwork & Wellness - EleVen by Venus Williams

Inspiring Women: On Teamwork & Wellness

Central to EleVen’s values is a core tenant:

“The best is just a moment. Better is eternal.” To celebrate the spirit of “better” in honor of Women’s History Month, we’re profiling inspiring women in the EleVen community about personal motivation, challenges, and everything in between. Each of these women reflect EleVen’s core values: Excellence, Teamwork, Entrepreneurship, Generosity, Integrity, and Wellness. From artists to scientists, nurses to corporate execs, these women embody growth and renewal amidst the honest realities of living life in 2021. 

1. EleVen Core Value: Teamwork  

Behnaz Babazadeh 

Occupation: Director of UX at Oracle, Founder of Code93, Artist 

Age: 34

Current locale: Washington, D.C.

Via: Herat, Afghanistan 

Follow her: / LinkedIn 

Q: What are you most proud of?

“The hackathons I host in Kabul, Afghanistan have been the most rewarding in my career. Sharing my knowledge and supporting others on their journeys, keeps me humble and happy. And of course, the TedXMidAtlantic talk I gave in 2015. That was such a wild experience.” 

Q: What motivates you?

Seeing others experience growth and success because of my efforts. 

Q: Have you made any career pivots?

“My first job out of college – I was a graphic designer for an athletic company. That job exposed me to so many other aspects of building brands and communities. One job in particular inspired me to pursue web design. I really felt that I needed to have additional education in order to work in that field. In retrospect, I should have just self-taught. Like many other women, I had doubt about my skills and experience so I went off to graduate school. We live in a time where access to that knowledge is so freely available online that making a pivot is more accessible than ever.”

Q: How do you find your eleventh gear? 

“I love this quote from the infamous persian poet, Rumi: ‘In each moment the fire rages, it will burn away a hundred veils. And carry you a thousand steps toward your goal.’”

2. EleVen Core Value: Wellness  

 Dilianna Bustillos Vivas

Occupation: Customer Success Executive and Political Activist 

Age: 32

Current locale: Denver, Colorado 

Via: Alexandria, Virginia and Acarigua, Venezuela 

Follow her: Twitter 

Q: What are you most proud of?

“I’m most proud of the work I've done as an activist to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis going on in Venezuela, where my family is from. Misinformation has caused many in the international community to lose sight of the real causes of the crisis and I work hard to set the record straight so that people who want to help do so effectively and responsibly. In the current political climate of the U.S., I use my experience living in Venezuela to bring awareness to the downside of extreme polarization and electing authoritarian personalities who defy democracy and weaken our institutions.”

 Q: What motivates you?

“I'm competitive by nature, so there is an element of always ‘winning’ that keeps me going. Taking care of my extended family and seeing them thrive is also a huge motivator. Basically if my grandma is happy, I'm happy!”

 Q: What’s a personal challenge you’ve endured?

“Leaving behind Venezuela knowing that I may never be able to go back has always been tough. The feeling that you may never go back ‘home’ never really goes away and seeing such a beautiful country and our people go through devastation and pain has been extremely challenging these past fifteen years. I've had to come to terms with the feelings of guilt associated with being here in the United States and being ‘safe.’ I've also had to come to terms with the fact that there is only so much I can do to help.

I've been trying to focus on the fact that ‘home’ is where your heart is, not necessarily a physical location. When I hear my grandmother tell me stories of her childhood in Venezuela, that is home. When I see my niece eat a traditional Arepa with a big grin on her face even though she has never set foot in Venezuela, that is also home. When my husband tells me I'm his ‘little’ piece of Venezuela I’m 4’1” that is home.” 

Q: What have you learned from your successes? 

“That no matter how bad it gets we all have unique talents and strengths that will get us through the rough patches - the moments I've experienced ‘success’ tend to remind me of the moments I've thought I'd never be ‘OK’ again. Everything passes, enjoy the moment for what it is.”

 Q: What have you learned from your mistakes? 

“That they are just that: mistakes. Everyone has them; it's part of the human experience. Some folks waste too much time dwelling on them, others refuse to learn from them and keep repeating the same cycle over and over again. I'm trying to be the person that recognizes that mistakes will always happen and that sometimes you just need to learn the lesson and move on. Easier said than done!”

Q: Who or what inspires you?

“The strong, beautiful women in my life: my sisters, my grandmother, my aunts, my godmother, etc. Their stories are of surviving cancer, their stories are of succeeding in a new country as immigrants, their stories are of raising wonderful children while also pursuing their passions. Some of them have had to face the world head-on as individuals after widowing far too soon and losing the love of their lives. They are my inspiration. We are strong and we can do anything and overcome everything. We stick together and we raise each other up.”

Q: How do you find your eleventh gear? 

“When I want something, I tend to go all in. Lately, my goals have had more to do with striking a balance. Instead of trying to get everything done at once, I've started setting smaller milestones for myself so that I have some energy and wherewithal leftover to enjoy the simple things in life and take care of my health and family.”


written by Tynisha Parks
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