Who is Neena R. Speer?
I was given immense opportunities by the various program directors in my after-school program. I worked at the front desk as a volunteer greeting the members, and prepared lessons and schedules for the camp counselors, I tutored in the after-school care and served as a childcare worker in the nursery. Finally, I was able to have my own group as a summer camp counselor. Those various jobs at the YMCA uniquely positioned me to run my companies, develop dynamic teams, and handle immense amounts of program participants with ease. I started my own non-profit Step 1–2–3 Mentor in 2016 as a bridge to connect local children with mentorship from people who look like them. I have always been a firm believer that in order to raise a child, it takes a village. YMCA taught us this principle each day we came to camp and realized that we were the village for the parents. I use that lesson all the time in businesses.
I started my law firm to protect people’s rights and assist business owners in protecting their brand and their businesses. I have a special place in my heart for minority-run businesses, because I am currently an entrepreneur trying to achieve my personal goals and build generational wealth. With the firm, I am devoted to focusing on criminal defense and family law for the individual and their needs along with my entrepreneurship law practice including business formation copyrights, trademarks, and contracts.
I will never forget. I was filling in for a law firm on a court appearance. I am known for always having my Starbucks cup of water with me everywhere I go. I walked into the federal bankruptcy court for the first time to appear before the judge and had taken the time to cross all my t’s and dot all my I’s. I was heading up to my docket call when the Judge stopped me and told me to approach the bench. She ripped me a new one about how I shouldn’t treat her courtroom with less decorum by bringing my Trenta water cup into her courtroom. She told me to never do that again. Now, I was a new lawyer and very sensitive, but I never violated that rule for her again. I believe she grew to like me after that incident. I was able to develop a sense of humor with myself and not let her criticism cause me to walk in fear around her each time I came back. I learned that you must take criticism with a sense of humor. Sometimes, all the “things you get away with” will not fly for certain bosses. Thus, I had to learn how to be adaptable to my leadership when it was something simple that would solve the immediate problem.
Being passed up for promotion opportunities. This is primarily due to the misogynistic culture that insists that they stay home, watch the kids, cook dinner, and do laundry. This is by far the most disparaging and frustrating issue within the executive suite. Once in the C-Suite, female counterparts are not given equal respect as their male colleagues. Women who speak their mind, disagree, or hold you accountable are considered “difficult,” but men who follow the same model are seen as “bosses.”
My dad. He was such an amazing man. He was the guy who stayed up all night long helping me work on my diorama for science class to make sure I didn’t give up. I would get so frustrated when I did not understand something right away, and he would show me I could do anything if I would just discipline myself. As I developed my law practice, my dad reminded me often the importance of self-discipline in my business. I am so glad he gave us so many years fighting through his many illnesses. He taught me that he fought that long for us to chase our dreams with ferocity. He is the reason I am such a resilient leader even now.
My mom always says, “watch the play of life, but don’t get in it.” It took me twenty-seven years to realize that means to be unbothered by the drama and negative obstacles that occur in business. There are people who will steal, kill, and destroy in this business arena if you let them; even if they steal something from you, cut off your access, or deny you inclusion. You are an active actor in your own separate play. You do not have time to sit and concern yourself with how their play will turn out. You have your leadership role to play in your own play, and people are excited about what you show them. They have been waiting for you to start. No other person, place, or thing can take your destiny from you. Stop letting the “BS” of the world get to you. YOU ARE BIGGER than that.