"If you have a dream and invite others to join you in accomplishing that goal, there's nothing you can't do!"
In the lead up to Labor Day, we have put together a Q&A series we're calling "Q&Aid" with some of the top entrepreneurs and city/business leaders to get our volunteers' creative juices flowing.
For the latest installment of our series, we sit down with Xan Black, Executive Director of the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance.
Editor's Note: Parts of this interview have also been edited and condensed for clarity.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Midland, Texas, studied Petroleum Engineering at Texas Tech University and worked as an engineer for 8 years at Sun Oil Co. in Tulsa and in Oklahoma City. I got my Masters degree in Education in 2007 and taught math, physics and pre-engineering for 11 years. I am now the Executive Director of Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance. My husband Jeff and I live in Broken Arrow and have 5 children.
Please tell us about your favorite lemonade stand experience.
I love buying lemonade from kids who are enthusiastic salespeople and have a great idea of what they want to do with the money they earn.
When did you know you wanted to do what you do now?
I decided to become an engineer when I was a junior in high school.
Who is your biggest role model or mentor and why?
Dennis Queen is my biggest role model because he has a great heart for students and understands how to lead and care for people.
This Lemon-Aid stand is my first entrepreneurial venture… any advice or suggestions?
Look customers in the eye and be enthusiastic about sales. Ask how many cups of lemonade they would like to buy!
What did you wish you knew when you were a kid that you know now?
That "failing" is actually just learning and a part of the process - it's not the end.
What has been your greatest failure and what did it teach you?
One of my greatest failures is not asking for what I need. If you don't tell people what you need - you can't expect them to read your mind. You have to not be afraid and say that you need help.
What drives you to keep going when things get difficult?
I am so excited about making our city better for the next generation that it carries me through tough times.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
I think I make a difference in the world by making opportunities for students and teachers.
Anything else you'd like to share?
If you have a dream and invite others to join you in accomplishing that goal, there's nothing you can't do!