Never Forget


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September 11, 2017 · 8:33 am

I’m Coming Out, Thanks For Your Support

When a woman shares her experience after the over 10 years of a very successful career, it’s a big moment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support and due to important demand, I decided to share with the world:

As a thought leader to many co-founders in Silicon Valley and entrepreneurs all over, I decided to finally put on paper what every man and woman must know right now.

This is in response to the events happening currently relating to the bronze statue of the fearless young girl (photo above). The statue was installed earlier last month in an effort by State Street Global, a $2.5 trillion investor and unit within State Street Corp to promote inclusion on Wall Street.

I have 13 years of financial experience and am a leading voice in San Francisco but I’m relatively new to LinkedIn Publishing. My co-founder and I have been asked to speak at various incubators, companies, and nonprofits. We often hear by industry leaders that our insight is refreshing and highly relevant.

The year I was born my Mother, a Thunderbird MBA, could not take out a business loan. That same year, the law changed. She was finally able to take out a loan if she wanted without a male co-signer.

She was a new Mom, and eventually a vase company entrepreneur. I was her co-founder, so she said at the time. This positive reinforcement is probably why I’m so strong and always do the right thing no matter what.

I think about the girls and women in finance, tech, girls and women who are entrepreneurs; and girls and women of the world every single day. We really need more opportunities for our women.

Last month when I saw the statue of a young girl on Wall Street, staring the bull in the face, I felt inspired.

I’m now 28, after being by my Mom’s side as the vase company went through product design to manufacturing in China and mass distribution, at 15 I was ready for the Fortune 500 world. I started at State Farm then at 24 I was recruited by Northwestern Mutual San Francisco. By 26 I was a top 50 advisor of my class nationally; by 27 I was the leading advisor in the West of my class at a top wealth management firm. I had a private office in the Famous TransAmerica Pyramid. By 28 I was no longer with the big firm. I decided to go out on my own!

Women lose their ambition by 50% as they move up the ranks. (Any facts I give are cited at the end.)

You can’t argue that males overwhelmingly are the industry of finance, tech, and small to medium sized businesses; as well as CEOs of Fortune 500. The stat is widely known but often people forget then remember again there’s more men named John as CEOs than there are women at the 500 companies. The reason why is simple. Like any business seeking to succeed; for women to succeed anywhere there are barriers to entry, more of them.

For example, it shouldn’t be political. We all have something to do with this. Where I come from there were overwhelmingly few women of power, you’re talking seas of men were our annual conference. The industry has got to change. Back in the 70s affirmative action sought to address this in society by favoring members of a disadvantaged group who currently suffer or historically have suffered from discrimination within a culture.

The fearless young girl on Wall Street is now being challenged by a few prominent members of society. There’s a few reasons they cite for why it should be removed. The artist of the bull is quoted saying it takes away from his art. What this is basically saying is another piece of art can’t compete? Or is it what it represents? There’s a bigger issue here: the discrimination going on in Wall Street, tech, and the world today; and the inspirational stance to look it square in the face. Keeping things the same cannot happen. Women need to be reminded of their naivete as a child; and be fearless like the statue represents.

Women have been and are continued to be disadvantaged for historical reasons, such as oppression or slavery.

The statue looking the bull in the eyes will create a new status quo of opportunities for our women and girls. It was installed after much thought, energy, and hard work by State Street Global Advisors, a $2.5 trillion investor and unit within State Street Corp. Most people support the statue of the young girl on Wall Street. There’s still more supporters than challengers; proving women have more to hopeful about than not when it comes to our future.

It’s been a month since the statue went up and the challengers have come in: The statue of a young girl next to the bull represents not so much partnering as some have said; it’s simply taking us back to a time when we felt more equality as young girls. Staring the bull in the face is what she’s doing, and that’s clearly a girl lacking fear; look at her, she’s ready to compete. Should she be scared to compete? We all know competitive nature is what companies want when they hire. Should she be afraid of anything a man shouldn’t be afraid of?

We’ve made a lot of progress since 1988 when I was born. Women are 4% of venture capitalists and investors. This is not enough obviously. Young girls are more naïve than the women they become. As they age they become less ambitious by 50%. Let’s teach them it’s okay to be in the industry and compete. If they find themselves in one of the many environments not wanting them; therapists say have any idol thought out who you imagine in your head; yes escape mentally while the abuse is taking place and work on envisioning something that can’t hurt you instead.

The statue is an idol made of bronze. It’s stronger than belittling, being called crazy, sexually harassed. Also, if you remember being a young girl or boy on the playground do you remember watching someone get hurt? If so, did you help? If you’re defending companies guilty of unfair false light you’re basically saying let’s keep the status quo.

Men who say you’re about inclusion: I’m not in your heads as to what you really think, want, and fear but actions speak the truth. Let’s start on a clean slate now that a female respected voice of finance, which there are overwhelmingly few of, has spoken. Do you understand the issue? Can you help us?

As we walk in the door Monday morning and get to work all over the world, please don’t hurt us then or ever. Ladies and girls: Please connect with me if you want to be reminded why you’re here or your worth, men please connect if you want to better understand the issue. Also, I was recently hired as a diversity counselor for a major company. I’m incredibly honored to be contacted by companies wanting to learn more about inclusion, because that’s an achievement to speak about and amplify. Please share the message.

This is what resulted in women doubling their representation in the White House, please like and share; and stay dedicated to what you want.

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Bloomberg Radio Network – Using Data to Dictate Business Moves



I hope you’re having a wonderful day!


Happy Friday!!! It is an honor to be able to announce that CityBldr is now a registered real estate brokerage in California! CityBldr helps uncover a home’s value. I’ve been working hard on this with the team.


22% in Seattle have 20% or more additional equity according to our machine learning company, CityBldr. Through CityBldr we found $35B in unrealized property value in Seattle.


CityBldr has 31 exclusive listings for $28M in real estate in Seattle and has helped neighbors pool together their homes into their own assemblage to realize values 28-89% over Zillow and Redfin’s estimated values. For our listings please visit


CityBldr uses machine learning and AI at CityBldr to bring transparency to real estate. CityBldr also helps empower the consumer by showing owners how much their property is worth to a developer.


You can view CityBldr in the press at the links below:


Using Data to Dictate Business Moves


Bloomberg Radio Network – Using Data to Dictate Business Moves


PWC, one of the most respected big four auditing companies in tax, consulting, and finance named CityBldr one of the most likely to change commercial real estate.


CityBldr is a licensed real estate brokerage in California and Washington!

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This was the hardest letter I ever had to write

I never really liked goodbyes but every experience happens to bring forward something better. Since I’ve lost people very close to me I’ve learned nothing is ever really gone; it stays apart of you forever, if you let it.

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The Culture Issue

We were going to title this magazine special edition the Diversity Edition. My team was more interested in calling it Culture because it’s not about the different people it’s about showcasing the beautiful cultures in and around our community. I will forever be blown away by the beauty of San Francisco and the journalists who have called it home. This is a big love letter to the team at {X}Press Magazine. Sometimes we call ourselves Xpress, sometimes we call ourselves Xpress Magazine, but we all have the same core beliefs: listening and being able to tell stories is an ethic. It’s in our training to do it right. Some journalists who I know don’t even vote because they take their ethics this strong; I am ethical but I still vote! I’m also not a practicing journalist I’m in finance but once a journalist always a journalist. That former chair challenged me and said “are you?” I will forever not judge anyone for their political or non political views. Cultural differences are beautiful and should never be abused; if you judge or abuse in any way, you lost the ethic that is so beautiful.editors-letter-diversity-issue.jpg

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The Green Issue Editor’s Letter

It has never been a more suitable time to go back to the green issue. We will upload the full copy of the magazine shortly. For now I just needed to refresh the link to the Editor’s Letter for some interviewing, and frankly, it’s fun showcasing but as you all know my life’s work is helping people. It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s about how can we move our generation forward and make sure future generations have it better than we had. In this brushstroke this is why the full magazine version will be available shortly. Stay tuned. For now, enjoy!


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Road to Freedom

In honor of Black History Month, 2017 I want to showcase Jean Fisher’s story. Jean Fisher is the first nonwhite voter in London in South Africa’s monumental elections that shattered the legacy of apartheid.

May we all fight for what we believe in and never give up. & may we all be more like the moon, in arguments, just shine, let the other person freak out – Phaedra Parks, Real Housewives of Atlanta.


writer: Lea Wiviott     photographer: Maria Evanglista


Inside the living room, the sun’s illumination mingles with the lavender aroma filtering through the air. Through her sliding glass double doors, past the rusty patio chair, and to the right of the matching off-white metal table, she sits, drinking her tea and looking onto a grassy field over the peaceful waves of Richardson Bay.

“It is a splendid view, isn’t it?” Her pearly teach expand into a smile, “I feel very lucky to be here.” Luck, however, is only part of the equation that brought her out of legalized segregation and poverty in a colored suburb of Durban, South Africa. Now, she resides in California and consults her Ayurveda patients in her home.

At first Jean Fisher, now fifty-two, has trouble recalling her previous life. Spirituality in the form of meditation and yoga uplifts her 5’2″ frame to continue reaching her potential. “You have to work to believe things will get better,” she explains. “Then, by manifesting those thoughts into realty, you will accomplish your dreams.”

From her radiant nature, one may not grasp the destitute of her life under apartheid, or legalized segregation.

After a while, Fisher’s memories under the institutionalized degrading practices come to her. “Growing up everything was segregated, from the beaches to the schools to our neighborhoods.”

If she wanted to walk home past 9pm even if from work, and no officer would issue a “Dompass,”(to limit nonwhite’s whereabouts and allow for what Fisher calls “a white man’s paradise”) then jail time was a common punishments.

Systemized in 1948, the hierarchy of apartness tarnished black, colored, and Indian families — who were ninety percent of South Africa’s population, through providing no ladder to earn higher statuses.

Despite having little money and being one of four children in a single mother colored household, with no access to proper education, the incurable optimist says she always felt unstoppable because of her twin brother, who was constantly at her side.

“It all started when we turned sixteen,” she says. “We were so excited because that is the age when you apply for your Book of Life (one’s own reference book that defines identities and therefore districts). So we went, identified ourselves as “Colored” because we are half Indian, half Zulu, born February 11, 1957 and all that stuff, and turned it in… waited… and waited.”

Her voice deepening, she recalls the day when the reply arrived from Pretoria, the capital, “We tore it open and could not believe what we saw: ‘Jean Iyannon: Colored’ and ‘Johnny Iyannon: Indian.”

Those three words legally forced her twin brother out of his childhood familiarities and into separate Indian schools that enforced different from their formerly shared (colored) lessons and cultural values.

“I wanted to fight it,” Fisher says. “But my mother wouldn’t let me; she was too afraid to lose us both to the Indian districts.”


Living under apartheid legally outlawed nonwhites from dating whites, but as a twenty-one-year-old jewelry salesperson of Durban’s Hyperama Mall, Fisher suddenly found herself in love.

“He was beautiful,” she says of the British butcher that passed her in the corridor on his way to the cantine. “and he would stop by the shop and ask a bit about the jewelry; that’s how we started to talk.”

As a high school graduate, Fisher understood that apartheid jeopardized her aspirations, but would not let it endanger romance. Instead, the pair was forced into secrecy.

“It was just too dangerous,” Fisher admits. When asked what would have happened if she was caught, her carefree tone hardens: “I really don’t even want to think about that. They would have put me in jail, thrown away the key, and let him go because he’s white. That was common practice, but I never let myself think that way.”

As others around them mysteriously vanished, the couple’s fears peaked. Fisher posed as a maid: in a cap, pinned hair, and cream smock, to keep others from suspecting her interracial relationship, but even that was risky. Escaping became survival.

One year passed before the lovers packed their belongings: clothes and passports. They then embarked on the six – hour drive, through two checkpoints, and across valleys plowed by black farmers until they reached their new home west of the Drakensburg Mountains in Masseru, Lesotho. Fisher worked with USAID there, and says that her life was great because institutionalized segregation did not exist and her relationship could have more autonomy, which led to marriage.


As the sun is setting, there is a pause. Exuding the air between her lips, Fisher slashes the rare tranquility. “There is another thing,” she says, before confessing of her month later travesty.

“I’d wanted to see my family, that’s it,” she says of her attempt at renewing her South African passport.  “But in South Africa the inaccurate generalization was that anyone living in Lesotho was part of the then oppositional party, African National Congress, since their headquarters were in Maseru too. So even though I wasn’t part of ANC, my residence, my skin color, and being South African around ANC activists and raids led the passport processors to hit me.”

Her cool and collective composure shakes as she recalls the moment the pots arrived from South Africa that proved her secret fears were correct. “Nonexistent. There is no record of you as South African. You are not permitted to enter this country.”

“But I am South African,” the newlywed remembers pleading in her appeal, even detailing her family, hometown and schools — unsuccessfully.

“Even though it was an awful and common thing, I never let myself think that stuff is going to happen,” she says, “and so it was a really big blow.”

Fisher turned to spirituality. “I became a  born-again Christian,” she says, recalling the missionaries’ life-changing knock at her door. “My thoughts are still shaped by them.”

Acquiring British citizenship through her British husband was her only option. She admits to having uneasiness about this — she was still attached to hime, and because she could not hold dual citizenships, acquiring British citizenship would mean forfeiting South African citizenship.

“But I had no choice,” the pragmatist says. “I was stuck.”

Six months later, Fisher’s British passport arrived. “Then I could go in person to Bloomfonteine, the South African passport processing headquarters, and straighten out the mess,” she says, her voice gaining excitement. “And I did, and so it worked out for the best because I was able to hold two passports, which is extremely rare as a South African.”


London is not only the city of life, but a place that nonwhite South Africans under apartheid seldom were freed into; for the ambitious thirty-five-year-old, it became her next venture. “It ws a new beginning,” recalls Fisher, who had been divorced over the course of those years. “A friend even arranged my living arrangement in London in exchange for house sitting until I got on my feet.” This was where the opportunist says she gained formerly inaccessible academics and financial security. “Working on Fleet Street where you have all the business men and women in their three-piece suits and fancy hats and briefcases, you really feel like you are on top of the world. And I was part of that world,” she explains.

Only three years into her stay, from the newspapers, television, and her mother, Fisher heard the news that South Africa would hold free elections. Although abroad, she fantasized immensely about destroying apartheid and she always prayed for its demise.

Fisher’s visions came true hours after she awoke one snowy Wednesday morning. She applied a simple amount of makeup to her face, brusher her curly brown hair, and threw on her ‘really posh’ three-piece suit. Saying a little prayer, she grabbed her briefcase and embarked on the fifteen-minute speed walk to the Jubilee station. Although these rituals were characteristic of a typical morning, they were being exercised in the spirit of an epoch.

“That was the day I was representing my country, so I really wanted to look good,” Fisher elucidates. “Healing had finally come about for my people in South Africa. There area a lot of people who have prayed and worked for the struggle, people who never give up hope. And I just felt very proud to be voting for the first time.”

After a twenty-five minute tube ride, she passed the 149-year-old fountain in-between the stone steps of the Trafalgar Square South African Embassy, which up until the day before would have been filled with protesters against apartheid. Excitement filled the air. But as she stared at the backs of the two white men walking out from the polls, it all felt surreal. The flock or reporters rushed up t her and surrounded her. “That’s when I realized I was the first colored voter,” she confesses.

“I feel great and proud to be representing my country,” she recalls saying into the news cameras. “We must unite if the country is to reach its potentials.”

“Even months later, my mom’s phone would not stop ringing.” Fisher chuckles. “I guess they showed those clips of me over and over and people from my village just couldn’t believe it was all really happening.”

She continues: “I was a poor black woman leaving South Africa with only a suitcase in hand and I put myself through University, got a job at a top corporation – enough cash to purchase my own Westhampton apartment, and I was able to gain my country freedom in casting that first black vote. I always believed I could do it, and it has turned out a pretty remarkable story.”

One year later, the free spirit pierced barriers again by throwing herself into California’s uninhibited way of life.


Fister gained individual freedom before that April 27, 1994 legendary vote, but her situation remains rare. Even with improved freedom, black rights, electoral systems, and basics (like sanitation), South Africans are still wrestling oppression. Nearly six million South Africans suffer the world’s largest AIDS epidemic, and twenty million battle poverty. In a recovering economy that is increasingly hurting from the global recession, lack of access to aid, education, and medicine are impeding the progress necessary for South Africans to follow in Fisher’s footsteps.

Reversing the social order constructed around whites, for instance, has over-empowered blacks to the point of marginalizing colored and Indians, experts say, which need re-examining.

According to Fisher, the reason her Zulu mother earned ownership of her childhood home under the new constitution is because the Indian landlord, like many non-blacks, was forced into a rural area.

Even after serving twenty0seven years in prison for “sabatoge,” or organizing against apartheid, unifying and giving voice remains the goal of the “father of South Africa.” Nelson Mandela’s devotion to unifying the ravaged country is exhibited through acts like commending South Africa’s mainly white national rugby team, the Springboks.

Similarly, Fisher takes immense pride in inspiring everyone back home to nurture each other into achieving their dreams from still struggling Wentworth locals to the legendary Mandela family, whom she visited in Soweto, Johannesburg.

In addition to always responding positively to adversity, Fisher says: “The most powerful and important thing is to remember that united we stand and divided we fall; and for our country and world to remain strong, that is what we must do.”


contact:  Lea Wiviott studies magazines and political science. Outside class she loves designing interiors, talking with people, reading and writing features that better society, and watching documentaries after visiting beaches with her boyfriend.


Article originally published in April/May 2009 in [X]Press Magazine, what Society of Professional Journalists has called the best student-run magazine.


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February 19, 2017 · 7:17 am