I was six or seven-years-old when I started Irish dancing. My sister actually started first. I was so bored just sitting there watching her (she was only three at the time) that I said, "Mom, just put me in it." I ended up dancing all the way through to my sophomore year of high school. Between school, cross country, swim team, and field hockey, my life got really intense. In fact, dance got to the point where it was three hours a night and six hours each on Saturday and Sunday. Not only that, but you had to keep your arms straight. They had this sharp stick with thorns on it that they'd hit your arm with if you moved them too much. Looking back now, I realize the problem with this tactic.
Although it got crazy, dance taught me discipline. I learned that if you want to get good at something, you have to put in the time, you have to put in the effort. Nothing comes without work. Nothing is just going to be handed to you. I would stand in front of the mirror and do one little snippet—five seconds of the dance—over and over and over again until I perfected it.
I was very shy. I wouldn't speak to strangers. I wouldn't speak to new people. We drove all the way to San Jose for my first competition. When we got there, I wouldn't go on stage. I was so afraid. We ended up turning around and going home. Neither my parents, nor dance teacher would give up on me. They pushed me and pushed me.
“Believe in yourself, have faith, get on stage, try it, just once,” my teacher would say. And my dad would tell me, “Charlotte, fortune favors the bold.” It worked! At the next competition, I got on stage and won. I ended up getting to Open Champions, and eventually reached the World Championships.
During my Sophomore year in High School, after coming home from World Championships, I told my mom, "I can't go anywhere else. I've done it. I want to focus on field hockey now!” The transition was tough, but I knew if I took that next leap, field hockey could potentially be an avenue to college. I was right. I put all my focus and time into field hockey and did the same thing I did when I was dancing—practiced, practiced, practiced. I apply this work ethic in every aspect of my life.
My sports career ended very ugly. During my junior year of college in a game against Stanford, I got tackled and broke my back. They medically retired me, which was a bummer, because I was on track for the national team which was going to the Olympics in 2012 in London. Both my parents are from London, and all my family. I definitely had a moment—learning how to overcome change and adversity—my aims on one trajectory and then I completely had to let go. "Okay, I can't play sports anymore. What do I do now?"
Dancing and playing sports helped me in everything I do today, from how to function with the dynamics of work and life, to dealing with people. The punishment runs, how the coaches speak to you, and everything in between gives you a thick skin.
I have a really good partner. My fiancé is just as motivated as I am. I came home one day after a financial seminar realizing we need multiple streams of income. “We're doing it. We're signing the papers." That’s when we started a new company. He quit his job to dedicate his time to this. It’s stressful, but again, fortune favors the bold.