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Rising Stars: Meet Renee Bertalan

Hi Renee, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I moved from Orlando to Minneapolis, MN to study Youth Development at North Central University. I chose NCU because they had an excellent program for those who wanted to learn how to serve young people in a nonprofit setting. I was there for two years. Then during my senior year of college, I moved to New York City to intern at an anti-human trafficking organization. Following my internship, I moved back to Florida and got my first job in my field at a live-in treatment center for teens with alcohol and drug dependencies. I loved serving young people but I ended up transitioning into sales and management in the corporate world for financial reasons. Like many, once I entered adulthood I realized that the education system hadn’t prepared me for the financial realities I would face. I was also unprepared to navigate my career in a way that worked for me. Working in corporate allowed me to both increase my income and learn how to better strategize to build a strong career. But it was in corporate that I experienced the disadvantages women face when working in male-dominated environments. I experienced a number of difficulties that all tied back to the fact that corporate America is dominated and led by mostly men. None of my experiences were unique. So many women have stories like mine.

Nearly 2/3 of women in the US hold bachelor’s degrees, yet only 25 percent of executive and senior management positions in Fortune 500 companies are held by women. The brotherhood that exists at the top keeps women at bay, at a disadvantage and quiet. I did what I could to improve my situation, but realistically not too much would change. The only thing I could change was whether or not I was going to allow the women coming up behind me to experience what I experienced. My thought at the time was that I want women to have guidance as they transition into their career; I want women to have a mentor they can lean on when they experience difficult situations in their career; and these things are hard to find. In January of 2019, I launched a career mentor program called Kinetic-Her. My nonprofit provides career guidance and connections to up-and-coming women. Women across the country can go to, find a mentor in their field and request a virtual mentor appointment. What I think stands out about Kinetic-Her is the one-on-one connection and the transparency.

If you go online right now, you can find lots of seminars and panels which will allow you to listen to leaders speak from a microphone. It’s very difficult to find a leader or career professional who you can speak one-on-one with and ask your own questions. My goal was to give every woman in my program the opportunity for this type of connection. Additionally, our mentors are amazing! They are so transparent and are open to sharing their past struggles, failures and what they learned. One of my favorite testimonials Kinetic-Her received was “These women can exude so much fearlessness and strength, it can be intimidating, but they’re willing to step down and share their failures… They’re not ashamed of who they are…This community is so genuine and fun… no price can amount to its value.”

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
In building Kinetic-Her, my entire world transformed for two reasons: my mindset had shifted and my circle of people had changed. Regarding the amount of time I spent working to build my program and the pressure that goes into launching your own organization, building Kinetic-Her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was also terrifying. I had to work up the boldness to announce that I was launching a career mentor program. At the time that I launched, I only had about 13 mentors. I now have 57 mentors. But to get to this number, I had to recruit very impressive women, many of whom, their resumes far outshined mine. During my first year into Kinetic-Her, every single mentor I interviewed was older than me. This feels very intimidating when you’re only 29. The beauty that came from doing what scared me was that it strengthened my confidence to my core. At the same time that I was learning to believe more in my abilities, the incredible women that I was interviewing and onboarding, inspired me to raise my expectations.

Meeting confident, happy, healthy and loving people began to allow me to see what was unhealthy about some of the circles I was in at the time. I knew that if I wanted to become the woman I wanted to be and achieve the things I want to achieve, I had to become very selective about my circle. It was not easy. I went through a period of shock as I began to look honestly at the behaviors and motives I saw in my previous circles. Then, I went through a period of grieving. But after this period, I felt free. I learned this: people who live powerful lives create their opportunities, they choose their friends, they choose their family and they do not entertain fear. I feel like it is important to say that each one of us has every right to choose what we allow in front of our face everyday on social media. I’m always surprised when I hear people say they feel obligated to stay connected to certain people on social media, even when that certain person’s posts are not helpful to their own inner peace and joy. Words and energy direct our soul. We have every right to be the captains of our own ship.

So no, the journey was not wonderfully smooth, but no journey with high rewards is. I think it’s easier to push through the work stress than emotional distress that comes with chasing your dreams. But it’s always worth it to keep going.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am the Founder of a 501-c-3 nonprofit.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I keep getting incredible opportunities. I often feel lucky but I also believe these opportunities are tied to my mindset and are clues that I am on track for what my journey is meant to be.

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