“I am a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am also the proud owner of Sweat N Swag Fitness." That's what Kay Brown of Hampton, VA told Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski in her submission video to enter Washington, DC's Grow Your Value bonus contest – part of the Know Your Value event series to empower women in the workplace. The four simple sentences revealed more than Brown's ambition. They also hinted at a complicated balancing act – a struggle that many working mothers face daily.
But Brown isn't one to back down. After returning to civilian life, she started her own business to encourage hip-hop as a platform for health and wellness. Brown wants Sweat N Swag to be about more than dance moves. She has her sights set on a larger mission: to engage the local community with hip-hop culture and use dance as a medium for youth empowerment in urban areas. In May, she was selected as a Grow Your Value finalist and, after explaining to an audience of nearly 700 how she would use a $10,000 bonus to grow her fitness business, she was announced the winner. Here she shares how the Know Your Value movement impacted her, and why other women should enter the Grow Your Value bonus competition.
1. Exposure: You’ll never know unless you try. This is the hard fact that I had to think about when actually submitting my video for the world to see online. I kept thinking, even if you aren't a finalist, someone will see your video and what you’re promoting. Then, I actually got selected as a finalist.
2. Networking: I’ve met so many great women with amazing ideas and insight. Connecting with a group of people that are just as driven as you are will take you far. Over a month after the contest, I am still networking and building relationships. It just keeps getting better.
3. Learning: After entering Grow Your Value, I felt like every moment was a learning experience. I followed the posts on the Know Your Value site and watched the videos posted each day. I learned a little more about myself and how my dreams weren't just dreams – they were quickly becoming a part of my reality as I made the transition from being active duty military to a civilian. Just from entering, I’ve learned that there’s always room for improvement.
4. Challenging your thoughts about self: I deserve more. I am better. I know that I can make a difference. This contest helped me clarify all of that. It’s not a matter of being arrogant or overly confident – it’s about how you see yourself. Perspective is key. It’s knowing your true value and accepting that you are all of those things and more. I am now more confident in my ability to go above and beyond and put my goals into action.
5. The takeaways are life-changing: I learned to stop selling myself short when it comes to my vision and goals. I have always had the confidence and mindset to do great things, but now I take action and without action, my vision would be just another dream. Grow Your Value isn’t just a competition – it’s a platform to help women become better versions of themselves. Often, we are worth so much more than how we see ourselves. Everyone can learn something from this process. I know that after taking the step to submit a video, becoming a finalist and ultimately winning DC’s Grow Your Value competition, my life has changed for the better and I am not looking back. It is onward and up from here.
You can watch Brown and her fellow Grow Your value finalists compete for a $10,000 bonus during Washington, DC's Know Your Value event here.