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- LaKeshia Grant, the CEO of Virtual Enterprise Architects. We're an IT consulting company based in the Washington D.C. area. Well, I always thought I was different. I felt it was always an innate feeling that something was different about me. And to me, in order for you to truly be different, you have to really call upon those instincts and just act on it. You have to take the step forward, but it has to be an educated step. You have to make sure that you're armed with all the tools and everything that you're gonna need in order to make that step possible. Inform yourself and educate yourself first, but most importantly, act. Don't just think about it. Don't just write it down on your vision board and never attempt it. If you never attempt it, you're gonna always view that as a failure no matter what you do. People are very attracted to numbers. When they see the growth of small businesses like myself, they really feel inspired to look at their own goals and become entrepreneurs. We have nine core values. Our very first one is volunteerism. My internal staff, all nine of us and myself, we volunteer every third Thursday and Friday at a local food bank. I don't think it's every going to leave our company culture because to me family starts in your own homes and then in your communities, and then it grows from there. That's pretty much how we stay true to who we are throughout this growth. My parents are middle class folks. They were rooted in South Carolina, and they love everything South Carolina. That's pretty much how I was raised. When I first started the company and said that I was gonna jump out and become an entrepreneur, they thought I was absolutely insane and crazy. My mother did not understand it at all. So I made it a habit of not mentioning my business at all to her. I acted as if I was still working for someone else and never really let them into what I was doing day to day. Last year we were honored by the city in which the mayor held a press conference for us. And I told my mom, I said, hey, Mom, the mayor's gonna be honoring us in about two weeks, and I'd like for you to come and attend. And so she said, "Well, what is he gonna honor you for?" And I was like, for my business. And she said, "Oh, well, what kind of business is this? "Again, what do you do?" I'm like, it's computers. So we had the press conference, and my mom proceeded to hand the camera to the mayor to take pictures of herself and me and my father and the rest of the family. She was turning to people saying, "That's my daughter that they're talking about." She hugged me, and she said, "I'm so proud of you. "I still don't understand what you do "and why we're having this, (laughs) "but I'm so proud of you." I have a wonderful family that has done, I think, a wonderful job in instilling a spirit of entrepreneurship, as well as a strong work ethic. I've noticed in most of my engagements that not everyone has that same feeling or sentiment of we're in this together, we're a family. It's just not a sentiment that's consistently practiced. I truly believe that entrepreneurship is attainable for anyone. If this country girl can sort of do well in the big city, others can do the same thing.