Number 10 – To Thine Own Self Be True
To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
It’s one of my favourite quotes and I repeat it to myself often. To be a true success you have to be you. If you reach the top of your tree by trying to be someone else, or fit someone else’s idea of the successful woman, you will never be comfortable in your own skin.
That is a particular issue for women because the rules and mores of business have been broadly defined by men and suit men better that they suit us. For decades if a woman was to rise she had to adopt male ways of behaving. Even relatively recently when I was undertaking management courses many of the traits that were lauded were male. Female styles of behaving were frowned upon.
This presents ambitious women with a huge challenge. Until we have true gender equality the male ways hold sway. Some women have already blazed a trail doing it their way and they are worth reading about. For example, a while ago I interviewed Sam Roddick, who runs her own successful business. Here’s an extract from that interview:
Me: I have a course for women in which one of the exercises is to ponder how different the world of work could be if it had been designed for women and not by and to suit men. What do you think would be the most significant differences if women, not men had been in charge at the time of industrialisation?
Sam: Well, time management, job shares would be more available. I think women work better as a teams not competitively against each other, include a sense of true well being in the work place, sense of dress would change, emotional expression would be included and I truly believe that women want to have their values and ethics included in what they do, to have something to believe in .
Me: How do you encourage and promote diversity in your company? Do you think you operate very differently from your competitors?
Sam: Coco de Mer is more like a cottage industry than a company. We are all messy around the edges, passionate and emotional, but warm and loving. Actually, only women and gay men ever apply for the jobs – saying that we have our first heterosexual male, he is our minority.
Me: There has been some recent research showing women are far less likely to ask for start up capital for business than men are, and when they do ask, they don’t ask for enough. What advice would you give to a woman who was looking to change career, maybe even considering a business venture?
Sam: What you need in setting up a business is to take the risk and invest your belief into your self – I honestly believe the same skills it takes to run a house and a family to run a company – the only ingredients are the ability to be proactive and reactive
- change your course of action if you need to
- fire fight
- admit when you’re wrong
- fight for what you believe is right
- pay your bills and count the cash coming in
- parent staff in the same way you parent your kids, fair just with clear expectations and healthy boundaries and encourage them to grow and take responsibility
- be prepared to fail but work like your gonna succeed and don’t give up
- network like hell
- be sceptical of experts : trust your self
- ask for double, budget for half , forecast for loss
You can read the full interview here.
As you plot your path through your career, remember to ask yourself every so often do I approve of me and what I’m doing right now? If the answer is yes, carry on!
Thinking of expanding your training business? Are you passionate about empowering women? I can help you. To find out how, click here.
Posted on November 18th, 2013 by Jane