Business Insider: Entrepreneur and Socialite Wendy Diamond Shares How She Did It

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Wendy Diamond, the founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization and Animal Fair Media. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I was always an entrepreneur. In second grade, I was selling bubblegum and pencils.

I think what forced me into becoming an entrepreneur is I was really never good at school. When I graduated, no one told me I had to network. I sent out a hundred resumes, and no one offered me a job. That pushed me to become an entrepreneur. When you think about everything in life as a positive, you’re going to realize that an obstacle taught you something to take you where you’re supposed to be.

My dog Lucky was the inspiration for me to create Animal Fair when nobody was talking about adoption or rescue. I created the first media company to bring celebrities and pop culture to the animal rescue world. If everyone learned you could adopt versus buy, and you could adopt any breed, any size, any age, people would choose to adopt. We had all these celebrities on our covers, like Renée Zellweger and Beyoncé, each with their dogs, bringing awareness to the importance of adoption.

Now, if I don’t bring my dog somewhere when I’m at a serious event with very important people, someone will come up to me and say, “Where’s your dog?” It’s so funny. I always tell people I have the spirit of a 20-year-old and the mind of a 90-year-old. I credit all my dogs for just helping me through everything and keeping me sane, normal, and happy.

How a stalker changed everything for me

My whole life has been happenstance.

In 2011, I had a stalker who ruined my entire life in the animal rescue world. She created anonymous email addresses to defame me. She stalked me. That lasted for five years.

At the time, I was on a lot of network TV shows, and all they wanted to talk about was the drama. I didn’t want to be public anymore. I had millions of followers. I was on the Today Show and CBS as the pet person. I never got into it to be famous or to be in the media. I did it to support animal rescue and to bring awareness to the millions of animals euthanized. During that time, I was so busy. I was taking care of my father, and when he died, I made a commitment to go to two new countries every year. I went to Honduras on a journey that literally changed my entire life.

I stayed at a boutique hotel in the jungle, and I asked the hotel manager what there was to do in the area besides bird watching. He suggested I visit a local organization that provided micro-loans to impoverished women to start their own businesses. It was 2013, and nobody was talking about women entrepreneurs or women in business. I was supposed to spend a couple of hours there, but I spent days there and met with all the women entrepreneurs in the community.

One woman sticks out in my mind: a 72-year-old woman who had three little kids. Her daughter died, and the husband ran off, so she was responsible for three little grandchildren. She got a microloan, opened up her one-room window in her hut with the dirt floor, and sold Cokes and toothpaste from where she was living with her grandchildren. That enabled her to pay a dollar a month for those kids to go to school.

Helping others help others

When women earn money, 90% of it goes to educate their children and provide for their families, which uplifts the entire community. When women are empowered in business, they have self-confidence and dignity. They don’t allow human rights violations. At that time in 2013, only 1% of venture dollars went toward women founders, and I think less than 20% of boards at that time had women on them.

I’m very creative in that I realize everybody in the world wants to help. You just have to make it easy for them. When I brought pop culture into the animal rescue world with Animal Fair, we were able to show why it’s so great to adopt. I thought the same thing about the women’s movement. If I create a day, we’ll create the conversation.

That’s when I went to, at the time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, and we officially got Women’s Entrepreneurship Day proclaimed an official day on November 19. Then, we launched at the United Nations in 2014, and bigger companies like JP Morgan, Dell, and MasterCard came in. That’s where you start to see companies having women’s movements and summits by building that awareness of the importance of empowering women in business.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re a capitalist society. Giving a hand up — not a handout — is important. You also have to have perseverance because you’re going to go through rough encounters. It’s always about the purpose. When things got rough, and believe me, things get rough, all I could think about was that 72-year-old woman with those three little kids selling Cokes and toothpaste and living in a one-room hut with a dirt floor. I don’t have problems.

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