Why do you do what you do?

As I look around a conference room filled with the partners of a highly regarded real estate private equity firm, I’m excited.

Only four of the 35 people in the room are women.

Similarly, only four of the 35 are not Caucasian.

I’m one of the four in each case. Last year that room contained only one other person wearing a bra, and no other beautiful brown complexions similar to my own. A lot has changed in relatively little time. I’m excited because I’m standing on shards of glass ceiling.

I do what I do because I’m good at it.

I do what I do because even though I occasionally want to karate-chop someone on the other side of the negotiating table, I’m challenged and I’m fulfilled and I’m growing.

Luckily I’m doing what I do at a moment in history where my career advancement hasn’t been limited by the fact that I’m a woman, that I’m black, that I came to this country as an immigrant from a third world nation, or that I have absolutely no desire to play golf.

I do what I do because I can do "me" authentically every time I walk into that conference room and step on another piece of glass ceiling.

My advice? Do you.

— Onay Payne

Photography by Michael Crook