Kristen Carbone
4 min readFeb 5, 2024

They say ambition is an unattractive trait in a woman. Maybe. Do you know what’s really an attractive? Waiting around for something to happen, staring out a window thinking the life you should be living it out there somewhere but not being willing to open the door and go get it. Even if someone tells you you can’t. Being a coward is only cute in the Wizard of Oz.” -The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

For most of the last eight years, other than a break during the pandemic when I was truly at a loss for words, I’ve written a daily list. They were first on Facebook, and are now on Instagram stories (simply because I use that platform more often). On the days that I do login to Facebook, it shows me my “Memories” from that same date for the previous 15 or so years that I’ve been on the platform.

All too often, I’m met with the uncanny. Why is it that every year on June 23 I some how end up talking about praying mantis and chocolate milkshakes?! It’s comforting and painfully nostalgic to see old photos and old lists and remember what was happening. I am shameless in my desire to remember everything.

Today I was struck by a list from 2015 about things I was afraid of, which included number 4: “I am sitting at my desk in the double parlor here on Armington Street, clicking away at my keyboard wasting my life trying to realize someone else’s vision.”

In addition to wanting to remember everything, I also really want to not waste time. Time, I believe, is exceptionally precious and the weight of wanting to maximize each moment is a backpack full of lead that I wear each day.

When I started Brilliantly, I felt like I finally was going to do something big. Something that was going to truly make an impact. I was, at long last, going to do something that was mine, for me, and that could serve a cause I believed in deeply.

I had no idea how long it was going to take, how much of my energy and attention it would need to grow and how many people wouldn’t believe my vision was possible. Thank goodness there have been many people who believe that it is.

Techstars Demo Day, December 2023

When I’m writing professionally and asked what motivates me, I respond that the women I seek to serve are my north star- the conversations with them, the emails they send thanking me- they keep me going on the hardest days. But, if I’m being honest (and I do love being honest) there’s something else, too. I want to show everyone who said I wasn’t going to be able to do it that I can.

Perhaps that’s childish. But I am a child at heart.

On my 2024 vision board in big yellow and black letters cut from a magazine, I pasted “Watch Me.” (A quick aside, I highly recommend finding a friend who also decorated their locker with collage back in the 90’s and a teenage girl and making vision boards. Super fun.) I want this year to be the one where I make something big happen.

Because, childishly…

There is a man here in Rhode Island, seemingly the gatekeeper of all the local funding, who recently said that Brilliantly was a “charity.” I’d like him to feel magnificently wrong. A few years ago, I had a meeting with a man who told me I’d be a shitty CEO and then asked if I’d sleep with him. Hopefully someday he’ll hear that I’m lecturing on leadership skills from his jail cell (he was recently arrested for serving underage girls alcohol in his condo). And, I want the guy who tried to roofie me while monologuing about how women were far too emotional to run businesses (don’t worry, I tricked him into drinking it himself, my friends) to see my name on the front page of Forbes.

When I’m feeling less childish, I hope that my ambition isn’t blinding any of my decision making. I strive to hover above my ego with clarity and inspiration.

Today I feel egoless and not at all like a child. I have a business plan I believe in, incredible people supporting me and the astrological signs apparently are on my side for the first time in 18 years.

My ambition and inertia have kept me going, but now it’s time for more. I am standing atop a hill in my mind where I can see my vision out there on the mountain tops ahead.

It is my time to get to those mountains and realize Brilliantly, fully.



Kristen Carbone

Just trying to understand the tiny space I occupy in the cosmos without becoming too distracted by the laundry.