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Elizabeth MacBride

Business Journalist and Founder
Times of Entrepreneurship
Uncommon Voices 2020

Elizabeth MacBride

Globe-trotting business journalist Elizabeth MacBride did a soft launch of her venture, the online publication Times of Entrepreneurship, right as the United States, and much of the world, was locking down last spring. Instead of hopping on planes to cover stories, she spent a lot of time making phone and Zoom calls, before selectively making a few trips later in the year.  

If anything, the urgency of her calling – to highlight the small business owners and entrepreneurs often overlooked by mainstream business publications – was only catalyzed by the devastation of the economic downturn. The disadvantages faced by entrepreneurs of color, as well as women and rural entrepreneurs, were only exacerbated in 2020, a constant theme in Times of E stories. 

Yet, as with many people who grappled with the difficult issues raised by 2020, MacBride also has developed a new appreciation for some of life’s smaller aspects and moments. 

Q: In the stories you’ve done for Times of Ewhat have you learned about entrepreneurs as the year has progressed? 

I knew going into this that entrepreneurs are smart, tough, and optimistic. All those have proved to be true as I’ve seen entrepreneurs adapt, from moving online fast to taking brave decisions to close and wait for the next opportunity. I’ve met women entrepreneurs, especially, who are working the equivalent of two or three jobs. 

One surprising thing I’ve learned is that entrepreneurs occupy a stabilizing middle ground in our divided country – I write about this in an upcoming book with Seth Levine. 

Q: What has inspired you the most, and discouraged you the most? 

I’m always moved when people stand up for the underdog. Right now, the middle ground, reasonable discourse, pluralism itself – these things are the “underdogs” of our time. 

I was discouraged when I saw big business leaders who had advance knowledge of the pandemic fail to make the knowledge public even while they benefitted from it. I was also discouraged by encountering myself, as a woman entrepreneur, some of the closed doors so many women entrepreneurs have described to me over the years. I’ve been discouraged by the lack of support that has come to light for Black entrepreneurs, but also inspired by their fortitude.  

Q: What has 2020 meant to your own journey as an entrepreneur? 

The crisis meant that our voice was more important than I anticipated. I wish that we could have done more and deeper reporting on how to the keep the dynamic and innovative part of the economy – the entrepreneurial part – going. The inequities are so glaring. Mostly, my intent deepened, even as it was a very difficult year. 

Q: What “new normals” – good or bad – do you see or anticipate coming out of this year?  

New normal predictions are almost always wrong. I think the pandemic has been so sad, and so hard, that people will be anxious to let it go. I think we’ll have something like a roaring ‘20s, and that the generation of young people formed by this event will have a clearer head, earlier, about what really matters in life. 

Q: Has anything in the past year changed your mind on your view of the world? 

Well, this might sound like an odd one, but I’ve become much more in tune with my environment, the yard around my house, the streets of my neighborhood, and on the limited trips I’ve taken, landscapes, elsewhere. I’ve become more measured about my place in the world as a human in my relationships to the other animals that are inhabiting it with me. I’m not sure my small family (me and my two daughters) would have gotten by without our dog. I hung around with bald eagles twice, once on the Potomac near my house and once on the Flathead in Montana. A hummingbird was visiting my butterfly bush for a while. 

Q: As we look for hope in the New Year, where do you see opportunities to rebuild society’s systems better? 

I hope that we come out of this with a new commitment to get entrepreneurs the capital they need. 

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