Women, It’s Now or Never: Create Your Own Economic Reality

February 6th, 2013   •   2 comments   

Recent studies and news reports have surfaced about the lack of women in leadership positions worldwide (example here and here) and the reasons behind it. Simply said, women need to work to create their own economic realities. I’m not saying here that we can’t. What I think is intriguing is that we haven’t.

Men dominate the boardrooms, C-suites and world affairs. We pay so much attention to race but so little to gender. I happen to be writing a book with the great @AnneDGallaher about some of these issues and we hope to get it published in the next few months (#exciting). So why are there so few women in leadership roles? I’d LOVE to hear from you women out there—and hey, chime in, because maybe Fox News in New York will find this and focus on this issue. We love @FoxNews and they have picked up this blog before, so you never know. That’s why I love blogging—you just never know who will stumble across your work. This is advice I give my clients all the time.

Here are my tips for women to CREATE THEIR OWN ECONOMIC REALITY (in today’s male world):

1. Think like a female. We women are strong by design. Study some women of history. What did they do? Think non-mainstream and think beyond what is “normal.” Dream big, think big and know you can do it differently. Want to start a business? Be who you are. We ARE the primary consumers and family decision makers. We KNOW what sells.

2. Own what you do. If you can work for someone else, you probably can work for yourself. Are your skills worth purchasing? What do you think your skills are worth in the workforce? If your boss had to outsource you by the hour, what would that cost? In my PR firm, we often base fees on what we bill per hour combined with the value we bring. Are you worth it? Can you put a price tag on what you can accomplish?

3. Do the research. Read, read, read and research. Never cease your quest for information. It is powerful and it is mandatory for creating your own economic reality.

4. Know thyself. Ask yourself these questions: Do I have to be in control all the time? Do I have to be right all the time? Does everything have to be perfectly organized for me to succeed? Do I need all the answers first? If you said “yes” to these, you may need to think harder about your role in business. We don’t have control, we can’t be always in charge and we aren’t going to be right all the time (although we think we are). Human nature says we are imperfect, which makes us pretty good at leading because as women we are more likely to learn from our mistakes, admit others’ strengths and yield to those better equipped to do whatever the task at hand commands. As women we know what we don’t know—a definite advantage in business.

5. Woman up. We hear “man up” bantered about all the time, which has me thinking: What would “woman up” mean? Here are my thoughts…

  • Get your lipstick on—you know, the glossy kind that says, “stare at my lips as I speak.”
  • Get your girlfriends on the case—you know, we women stick together (find female role models).
  • Get your confidence a bit bolder—wear your high heels or in my case, cowboy boots.
  • Always, always, wear your pearls—classy women wear them, right @AnneDGallaher? Pearls say classy, elegant and powerful.

My point? Women in business have the advantage. We can present ourselves in the soft skills that men cannot and we are expected to do so. We can change our hair color and men really can’t. We can wear a pink suit with a pearl necklace. If a man wore a pink suit…well, save that for a Super Bowl commercial or something.

6. Get some back up. I don’t mean guns, police or anything crazy here. I mean that if you are a woman owned business, you need some good help: a great banker (Dana Burkett), a great lawyer (Glen Gilmore and Charlie Hill), a great CPA (Matt Patrick and Chip Marston) and some darn good co-strategists (other businessmen and women who will help promote you). In many and most cases—unfortunately—mine have been men. Don’t get me wrong, I love men and most of my clients are MEN. Women could not get ahead without men and so cheers and thanks to all the men out there who help women succeed. We need more men like that.

7. Create your business plan. Do it right, do it well and be sure to have some professional eyeballs review it. There is nothing like capturing your goals on paper and having to hold yourself accountable. It’s important.

8. Expect to work harder than you have ever worked—ever. Owning a business creates your own economic reality for sure, but it also demands full-time, constant effort. The old saying, “you get out of it what you put into it”, has never been more true.

9. Do well, live well. If you are lucky, your business will flourish and you will leverage this. You’ll have the ability to share the wealth by employing people, teaching others, passing down the talent that you have. That has been and is one of my greatest joys of owning a business—teaching other women how to do it and how to create opportunity for others.

10. Enjoy the ride! After 18 years of ownership here are a few ways I am enjoying my life created by my own business: more personal time and family time, more beach trips (and I take my staff to the beach for a week each year), more time on the Tennessee River with my BFFs, more fun trips like my cooking trip to Italy a few years ago (another one overdue), my time with my friends I’ve made through social media, time to write a book with Anne Gallaher, time I’ve spent in New York and New Jersey with Glen Gilmore and friends and time I’ve had to do public speaking! This year I am honored to be asked to be the emcee for #SoSlam (www.socialslam.com) in April, the best and biggest social media for business conferences in our state. This list could go on and on…

In short, we women need to step out there and take advantage of the many opportunities that exist. If you have or think you can create your own economic reality, I’d love to hear your story —please chime in and tell me all about your experiences. If you are a man who supports women doing this, please also chime in!

2 comments

  1. Amy, every so often we hear about a woman who’s “Made It”. She’s trotted out as if she’s the poster child for all women and the equality we’re assumed to have since “she” is successful.

    The interesting thing, though, is that, as you mention, we’re bombarded with images of men in power and achieving success. We’re led to believe that there aren’t capable women, despite knowing that some of the most successful entrepreneurs are women.

    The stereotypes for women continue to exist, creating a new generation that doesn’t value the contribution of women as much as it should. The 80s saw women rise, only to hit a glass ceiling imposed by the limitations placed upon us by male counterparts who felt threatened and had more tenure. The 90s saw more women start their own business, only to face the challenge of continuing to erase the stereotype of a “working mom”. A new century brought so much home, only to see women locked out of key industries because, as girls, they weren’t seen as equally capable with math and science and technology.

    We’re three years in to a new decade, still fighting for true equality. However, when women are still seen as sex objects, caretakers, unreliable it’s difficult not to feel like we’ll be battling the stereotypes for another generation.

    The “Year of the Woman” came and went without much fanfare. This time, we need to do something different – The Million Woman March, something that can go viral and show the world how connected and influential and capable we are, our daughters are.

    We’re (Anne, You, Me) all part of a generation that has been fighting for us. Now, we’re not just doing it for us. We’re doing it for our daughters and nieces and granddaughters. Now means TODAY!

  2. Amy Howell says:

    Sara: Excellent points and I so agree. What our book will outline is how we both (down different paths) shifted into gear to succeed against the odds stacked against us. The odds still exist unfortunately, but despite them, women can break that glass ceiling if they do the work it takes, get some help along the way and aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves. If I have inspired one person or served as a role model, I have had an impact in helping to change the tides. Thanks for the great comment! Yes, TODAY (as it’s all we have).

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