I was chatting with an agency industry friend about the salaries in NYC, and it went like this:
“I’d say a female Sr Strategist should earn between 75-105 usd/yr” — him
“why does gender matter?” — me
“Glass ceiling… I know it sounds harsh, but its true” — him
Ouch. Although it’s not surprising. I’ve found it a lot easier to have the marketing agency, and work with companies — than work inside of a company. Plus I’m not particularly fond of politics, and being the founder of the agency, I don’t have to worry about that much. Management is top down, and I won’t tolerate politics or carbon monoxide in H&B. We won’t even take a client we don’t have chemistry with. (Fortunately we’re lovely people, so that doesn’t happen often ;)
Here’s something I’ve learned along the way — money doesn’t care what color you are, what gender you are, or what age you are. If you’re good at business, you can find a way to make it work. And if you’re not good at business (which few are out of the gate) you can learn what you need along the way.
So ladies reading this — don’t think small. Start your own startup. Don’t wait till you have enough experience, because there is no experience that will prepare you for your own business other than doing your own business.
This isn’t something you need to be overqualified for — this is something that you can only get experience from by doing.
Why write this post?
I was in Sofia, Bulgaria last week speaking at Next, and I spoke to at least a dozen young women. They were all the “marketing girl” in an office. They were young, and bright, and talented — and guaranteed all of that talent was being squandered. I talked to them about doing their own companies — and almost all of them balked at the idea. They couldn’t possibly do that, they don’t have enough experience — while they ignore the fact that the founder they are working for is close to their age and has as much experience as they do. This isn’t just a problem of Sofia, Bulgaria — this happens at every conference I go to. It’s rare when I find a female interested in creating her own business. At most I’ll find one interested in being an independent contractor.
The problem is, when I was their age I did the same thing — and I wish I didn’t. I wish when I left RichFX I asked if I could take over Greeting Center and worked to turn it into an ecommerce site. This is what I should have done, and what others suggested I do — and I balked at the idea. I didn’t even ask. I thought I couldn’t possibly do that. I have no idea why I thought I couldn’t, but that’s what I thought. So I didn’t.
I wish when I went for the job after my MBA I insisted on VP of Marketing instead of Director of Marketing (no one was above me — and that was the job I was doing). No man would have taken a Director role with the amount of experience and education that I had. Yet I see so many women stuck in the Director of Marketing position — few making it up to VP.
I have myself to blame for these mistakes — but we live and we learn. And now I’m trying to keep others from making the same mistakes.
The only meritocracy is the one you create. Go start your own business. And think big — $100M and up should be the goal.
What I’m telling you is what I wish someone had told me. Go do your startup. Now. Don’t have a technical co-founder? Go find one. Can’t find one? Go learn to code. There are sites where you can get all of the information on how to start for free.
Find a pain in the market and fill it. But start. Now.