7 Life-Changing Lessons on What It Means to Be a #Badass Woman in Entrepreneurship
SoGal LA’s High Tea & Extraordinary “Un-Networking” Event
This weekend I attended SoGal LA’s High Tea event which featured a panel of inspirational women entrepreneurs. While getting ready, I was expecting just another networking event in my line of countless soirees scheduled on my calendar to mingle with business people, a duty of every professional in this day and age. While rehearsing the typical steps, what I found was something different, something so unique and extraordinary — I can’t help but find myself decidedly sharing this with all of you.
No one was a far off speaker on a platform, no square rows of audience members. Instead the panel faced circular tables spread across the room seated by young women, relaxed and eager to hear what this panel could offer in wisdom. It was just a fireside-like chat: comfortable, cozy, and secure — just the way we women like it.
Kimberli Hudson // President & CEO of Nexi
Emily Webb // CEO of MyLücke
Thaís Carolina Guimaraes // Founder of The Amplify Collective
Delilah Panio // Los Angeles Lead at SHEEO™
Bri Seeley // Founder of The Amplify Collective
Chenchen Dora Sun // Director of SoGal LA, Host
Here are 7 life-changing lessons for being a badass woman in entrepreneurship!
#1 Know You’re Worth It
Ladies, let’s be honest. We all doubt ourselves sometimes. Even the most confident, self-assured seeming women are often riddled with nerves, anxiousness, and doubt in ourselves and our abilities. It’s not that we are inherently this way. It’s just that we’ve been taught we can only go as far as we are approved to do so. We feel we need permission. We ask — we do not take.
Thaís Guimaraes said it best when she said, “So many of us women suffer from the disease of “enough-ness”. We don’t feel we are ever enough. We feel we aren’t entitled to something great. She has news for us. She says, “I get to do what I love. I get to make the kind of money I want to make. I get to make the contribution I want to make in this world.” This #BadassLady commands authority when she speaks, points her finger at the audience, and tells us at point blank:
YOU ARE WORTHY.
This struck a chord with me. I remembered the last car I bought, while not in the least a luxury car, it was a sexy and stylish yellow convertible. I remembered the first time going with my boyfriend at the time to check it out to see if I’d buy it. When I saw it, my jaw dropped. I thought it was so freaking beautiful. When we went to lunch to discuss if I would be buying it, I told him that I didn’t think I should get it. I mean, sure, it was in my price range, sure it had all the qualities for it to be my dream car, but it was too nice for me. In fact, I argued on the matter. He stared at me, blinked, and said, “You don’t think you deserve this car. You don’t think that you’re worth it.” I paused and realized he was absolutely right. I didn’t. That car was for some badass lady — and me, well, I was just me. He took me by the hand and said, “Charity, you are worth it. You deserve it. If you want it, you can have it. No one is telling you that you can’t but yourself.”
I bought the car. What I realized, though, is that I shouldn’t have needed that reassurance. I should have been able to make that decision for myself. Too often, we feel we need permission to do what we want to do and to have what we want to have. The truth is we are every bit entitled to live a life on our own terms.
“The Dali Lama said, ‘The world will be saved by the western woman.’ I say that the world will be saved by the woman who feels worthy of it.” — Thaís Carolina Guimaraes
Bri Seeley tells of us of her many, many clients that she coaches, who, envious of her lifestyle, tell her, “I wish I could live like you do. I wish I could have a job like yours, could work the hours you do, could travel and work on things I’m passionate about like you,” as if in a state of imprisonment.
She says she has a secret for us and whispers, “You can.”
#2 Stop Giving Yourself a Limited Definition of Self
We’ve all done it — memorized those elevator pitches, practiced down to the tee how we can impress someone in 30 seconds or less with how amazing we are. I know I have. In this competitive world, this is how we stand out, right? How else are we supposed to get the gig we wanted or that business contact to follow up with us after the networking event?
Bri Seeley and Thaís Guimaraes think differently. In their radical business, The Amplify Collective, they have unleashed to the world a new philosophy and way of doing business — the “Un-Networking” event. In these events, they have one rule: No one is allowed to introduce themselves by what they do.
The idea is simple. Authentic connections foster better business partners. By not following conventional formats, people can connect organically by talking about things they are interested in and passionate about. When you’re talking from the heart, people can intuitively experience a deeper connection with you, one not scripted. That means the right people enter your life for the right reasons.
Seeley introduces herself to people as “an inspirational woman” and says she gets double-takes whenever she does. She stands out.
The truth is no one is ever 100 percent only what the title on their business card is. We are multi-dimensional, multi-passionate, multi-talented people. We are never one thing. By reducing ourselves to just our job title, people miss out on the full picture. Even more so, by internalizing our job as what we are, we are creating a false definition of “self”. By not adhering to this, we, in our own way, give ourselves permission to be all that we are, explore everything we want to explore, and be all that we are capable of being.
You don’t have to underrepresent the amazing woman that you are.
#3 Follow Your Bliss — The Universe is Conspiring to Give You What You Want
So many of us feel trapped in our corporate jobs, wanting to experience the freedom of being our own boss but not willing to risk our paychecks and security.
When Seeley talked about her previous job as a “successful” fashion designer in the world’s eyes, I completely related. She divulged how she started feeling like she wasn’t having fun anymore, completely disliked her routine, and yearned for something more. She then went on to say how she would tell herself, “This is NOT my life.” I chuckled. I remember literally repeating that same phrase to myself every day at my last corporate job. I just felt there was so much more to life than this. This couldn’t be it. This was not my life. My life was meant for greater things, and I’m sure that many of you feel the same way.
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone; some people genuinely enjoy a regular job. All of the ladies on the panel admitted they envied others’ ability to be satisfied in the typical nine to five job as it would be so much more of a clearer path that way, but that’s just not how they operate. If you do have the entrepreneurial spirit, there’s good news for you though! The universe is conspiring to give you what you want. Follow what makes you happy. Do what you’re passionate about, and you’ll be surprised at how mysteriously people and resources will come to help you in your journey. The more you do you, the more people know what you’re all about!
Emily Webb, CEO of MyLücke, an app that is essentially the AirBnB of parking spaces and alleviates the much-needed parking crisis here in LA by renting out personal driveways, walks to the beat of her own drum. She talked about how she has always given herself permission to do what she wanted to do including her multiple transfers to universities in different states, following her heart, moving around to follow boyfriends, changing her career, and none of it she regrets. Webb says those were all things that made her happy. Life isn’t about following other people’s plans; it’s about creating your own life that you enjoy.
The hardest part is really just knowing what you really want and being bold enough to stand up for it and put yourself out there. It’s the first page to the book of the life you’ve always wanted!
These women are not just people we deem as successful business people. These women are successful at life because they live passionately and are genuinely happy doing what they love!
#4 Recognize With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility
All of the women agreed. We are privileged here in the U.S. compared to many other countries, and we have an obligation to help others in need, given our ample access to opportunity.
Kimberli Hudson is the CEO of Nexi, a company focused on creating behavior changes in energy management through an innovative home monitor system. Hudson talked about how she grew up in a wealthy family, her role within sustainable development projects, and how she actively participates in working within government and other groups to advocate for changes that empower communities.
Delilah Panio’s organization, SHEEO™, is all about the empowerment of women and creating safe spaces that educate and empower women within entrepreneurship and investing, using people’s radical acts of generosity.
Emily Webb is at the forefront of innovation on a plight to change the way we deal with the parking problem we face every day in LA through her app, MyLücke.
Thaís and Bri are reconstructing the way we connect with others in business relationships through the “Un-Networking Event”.
We can all do our part, in some way, to make the world a better place. I can tell you from my own experience traveling the globe, we take it for granted just how good of a life we have here. We don’t see the pain and suffering of the people in other countries and even locally because we’re not exposed to them, but so many people struggle with daily life. No act of great kindness ever goes unnoticed. We owe it to ourselves to do something worth doing and help others along the way.
So do your part. The world needs that special gift that only you can give!
#5 Don’t Play the Game; Change It
It is estimated that in the U.S., equal pay for women doing the same job as men will not happen until 2050 or later. Delilah Panio, Los Angeles Lead at SHEEO™, does not blame the men. Instead she points the finger to all of us. We are our own worst enemies. We do not command the respect and rights we want. We expect it will be given to us, but it’s a man’s world. The day we have equal pay is the day we demand it. It’s up to us.
We live in a system designed by men for men.
In TechCrunch’s recent Women in Venture Report, only 10 percent of venture capital dollars globally go to women-led startups. It’s not because there is a lack of women starting companies; in fact, it’s quite the opposite with women starting businesses at a rate 1.5 the national average, according to the 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express Open.
When pitching investors or participating in anything in general, Panio, an experienced professional in the investment realm, advises is to “show up as an equal”. You have every right to be in the room as the guy next to you.
I’ve witnessed this gender dynamic in one entrepreneur event I was volunteering with. At a Startup Weekend, an experiential event for early entrepreneurs to test out their ideas, the theme was a women’s edition, focusing on empowering women in the startup community. What we found was the typical pitching process actually intimidated the women. The majority of people who pitched and led teams at the women’s event ended up actually being males. When asked for feedback on why this occurred, the women simply said they held back because they didn’t feel comfortable sharing in that format. They said if the format were changed to meet their unique needs as a woman, they would definitely do so!
If we want to own ourselves, we need to stop trying to be men, embrace who we are — our strengths as females and redesign the system itself to empower future women to take strides where we felt limited.
That’s exactly why SHEEO™ was founded, to alleviate this growing need of women in this sector. By raising millions of dollars through individual $1,000 contributions, SHEEO™ creates a fund for women-led startups and educates the women donors on investments — all in one swoop, in essence, creating a whole ecosystem of women entrepreneurs and a ripple effect for the next generation.
We are only as strong as we think we are. We need to wake up. We need to claim our victory and chart a new path, more inclusive off our unique strengths as females.
#6 Invest in YOU time (Stop Burning Yourself Out.)
Emily Webb wanted to be president of the United States. She made a dramatic statement about how she, after college, was planning to join the military and become a general, on a track for what she believed was needed to become the next president. This lady obviously has ambition to spare and a fabulous and fearless attitude towards life.
During college, Webb was president of the hockey team, the associated student body, and other organizations. She did everything, attended everything, helped everyone. Can any of you relate? I know I can.
Here in LA, we suffer from a workaholic mindset as we are constantly on the go. We never have time to take a second and just breathe. We are too caught up in what we feel we need to accomplish. Here we live to work rather than working to live.
This is not what life is about. This is not the kind of mentality we want to create in our society — to live without being fully present, to constantly be checking our phones, to always be rushing off to the next thing.
Emily tells us her own personal story of burnout and how she made the decision to cut back and focus on doing things that did not drain her. With her company, MyLücke, she finally is at a place where she feels energized. Be intentional with your activities. Don’t do everything. Focus on what matters most.
From meditation to yoga to taking relaxing walks, the ladies in the panel repeated that it is essential to take some time for you, re-energizing and renewing your mind. “Relax,” Seeley says, “What I would have told my 20-year-old self is everything is going to be okay.”
#7 Experiment Often and GET DIRTY
All that is to say — JUST GET STARTED! You don’t learn anything by not doing something. Kimberli Hudson, a serial entrepreneur, shares with us her experiences starting over 13 businesses. Her first business she launched was when she was only 17 years old, right out of high school!
Hudson says she didn’t need a business school degree because she was living it! By the constant process of building something up, succeeding and failing, she has learned more than some people with MBAs do.
Similarly, the other panelists affirmed that the real learning is through rolling up your sleeves and just doing it. The beauty of starting a company is not in being an expert, it’s in the journey of becoming.
So take that first step towards your passions, and be that amazing woman you know you are!
Quotables from SoGal’s High Tea:
“I’m a badass woman, and I don’t let society or anything define me.”
“Follow your bliss.”
“What we need to do is deconstruct the idea of who we believe ourselves to be. So many of us are defining ourselves from our job title. Stop putting yourself in a box.”
“It’s going to be okay.”
“The Dali Lama says the world will be saved by the western woman. I say the world will be saved by the woman who feels worthy of it.”
“So many of us women suffer from the disease of “enough-ness.”
“Be weird. Be yourself.”
“Show up as an equal.”
Thank You to SoGal for Hosting!
SoGal (www.iamsogal.com) is a global platform for diverse entrepreneurs and founders. With its mission of closing diversity gap within this generation, SoGal has hosted more than 100 high impact events in LA, NY, SF, Singapore, Vietnam, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing, including SoGal Summit, Startup Bootcamp, and SoGal YouTuber Fest. In July, the SoGal Summit 2016 attracted 450 amazing entrepreneurs and investors from all over the world (video recap here) to Silicon Valley! SoGal Ventures’ editor is Pocket Sun. It’s past media partners included abc7 live news, Forbes, Harper’s BAZAAR, Huffington Post, Inc., etc. In October 8th, SoGal is bringing all the media experts and influencers to Los Angeles for SoGal Influencer Summit (www.sogalfest2016.com).