January 23, 2012

Dear Fellow Women,

Being a woman isn’t a business handicap. At the end of the day, we’re all graded based on a performance card. Men and women. Confidence, action and results are tightly related regardless of gender. If we believe we are inferior, we will be. If we believe we have a disadvantage, we will. It will impact our level of confidence, which impacts actions, and therefore results will suffer.

A few years ago when Vanity Fair announced their infamous list of “America’s Tweethearts” and wrote this piece they created social controversy. As one of the ‘chosen ones,’ I unknowingly played along and after the article hit I responded with this. I had a decision to make. I could either get distracted by the debate or focus my energy where my skills, passion and purpose collided. Turns out, proven results tend to quietly and confidently fight back, much stronger than whining. I kept my eye on the ball and played my own (different) game.

Until we start bringing the confidence, action and results (numbers) we aren’t going to get a seat at the boardroom table. Men are simply more successful when it comes to business. Yes, I just said that. Here’s why:

Studies show that men attribute their success to their own abilities and women attribute their success to external factors such as their mentors, outside help, etc. Women don’t own it. Men do.

Here’s how WE can change this:

  • Own It. It’s time. If we don’t have the confidence to take a shot at what we want in the business world, there’s a 100 percent chance we will fail. Basic math. Lack of confidence plus lack of action equals zero opportunity for success. It’s a game of confidence, action and results.
  • Innovate our approach. Change the game. We have to innovate our approach and be fearless enough to color outside the lines and not care what everyone inside the lines thinks. Society’s templates are often obsolete and antiquated. As a single thirty-two year old who lives by herself something must be wrong, right? Nope. I’m simply a happy person who hasn’t conformed. You have to be willing to face some adversity if you want to innovate your game. The ROI is worth it.
  • Keep our eye on the ball. Frequently, people ask me, “So this is your company?” with a confused look that a semi-young female could make moves in the world of business. Do you think they would ask the question to a male who has done the same? It doesn’t matter. Who cares. It never occurred to me to be distracted by these types of comments. Low ROI.
  • Get out of our own way. I’ve attended and spoken at many business conferences designed for women. These are business conferences, not supportive cry-on-the-stage-and-talk-about-how-tough-it-is-to-be-a-business-women conferences. Stop with the stereotype gender fluff in business settings. Focus on what you can control for better ROI.

The chip on our shoulder is chipping away at our ability to change the uneven percentages. We are simply getting in our own way.

If someone has an issue because you’re successful, driven or even because you haven’t conformed to society’s template of “womanhood,”  fine. That’s their problem and it’s none of your business what they think about you. In fact, it has nothing to do with business so spend your time focused on making a difference in your own world of business. Joining that distracting game or conversation admits there is relevance. In my opinion that’s a waste of mental space. We only have so much square footage upstairs in our minds and it’s valuable real estate. Own it.

Here’s why I’m so passionate about this message: Fifty percent of our leaders should be women. The world would be a better place if the gender percentages evened out. This generation of women is programmed and cultured to make a difference. It’s time we dismiss the chip on our shoulder, step up to the plate and start chipping away at the uneven percentages with more confidence, action and results.

We can’t do this on our own. It takes all of us to own it.

Onward and Upward,

Amy Jo

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