By Eryka Parker
From the moment I walked through the doors of the American Greetings Market Square in Northeast Ohio's beautiful Crocker Park, I felt every ounce of the power, pride, and purpose that rested within those four walls. The “Center Stage: Standing Out and Speaking Up” theme of the annual “Women in Leadership Symposium” was focused on equity for women and equal rights in the workplace and was on point with our current entrepreneurial climate.
As BABEs, we often struggle with charging the rates we deserve as compared to those set by our male counterparts for similar products and services. Some of us struggle with self-doubt, impostor syndrome, solidarity with our peers, and lifting one another up.
Well, the expert panel members, all VPs of varying industries and prominent corporations, along with the moderator, an admissions director for an educational institution, ignited a renewed sense of worth within us that I can’t wait to share with you.
Although there were enough gems dropped in those three hours to last a lifetime, I will focus on the ones I found to be most impactful for BABEs.
Challenge Your Fear and Self-Doubt
“If you’re operating out of fear, ignore that. Do not make decisions from that place.” Kelly Ricker, Group Vice President, Chief Creative Officer at American Greetings.
If you want to offer a new product or service or enter a new territory in your business, but lack the track record within your business, don’t let that deter you. Think about the transferable skills gained from your previous career or your extracurricular positions and responsibilities. If you don’t have any, take a few classes and find a mentor who is knowledgeable in that area. Leverage your network to get the introductions necessary to level up your business. Do anything except give in to baseless fear and self-doubt.
Redefine Your Success
“Success is how you define it, not how others suggest it… if you’re happy and giving one-hundred percent effort, you are successful." Asha Gowda, SVP, Senior Audit Manager: Treasury and Models Keybank.
Most of us left the corporate rat race to define our own paths of fulfillment and success. Measuring ourselves against others when they have had different paths, journeys, and experiences is not only unfair to ourselves, but it’s not even using the same measuring stick! Take the time to celebrate every win, every new client, every endorsement and every new contract. Take the wins and strive only to compare yourself to the person you were yesterday.
Being a Team Player
It’s free to give advice, to share a post, to refer a client, or to join forces with a fellow entrepreneur. We know good it feels to gain the support of a peer and to embark on new opportunities while united. So why aren’t we doing more of that?“Adopt an abundance mindset. There is not a scarcity of opportunity. It doesn’t cost you anything to build someone else up.” Tamra Billinghurst-Black, Corporate Vice President – HR, Learning and Organizational Development, New York Life Insurance.
If someone outside of your business is interested in learning more about your operations or in forming an alliance with you, consider yourself blessed. Whenever possible, assist, nurture, and mentor others into the leader you would want to hire or join forces with. “Nurture, latitude, and structure are the three components needed to thrive and build up the women around you.” Cheryl Forino Wahl, Senior VP, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, The MetroHealth System. There are always opportunities to help one another and it all starts with an attitude of humility and gratitude. Besides, you never know what doors that person can open for you in return.
Asking for Help/Securing a Diverse Mentorship Network
“Mentorship is mentee-owned and mentee-supported. Make it easier on your mentor to advise you and create a diverse network with varying skills, positions, outlooks, backgrounds, expertise, and [points of view].” Tamra Billinghurst-Black.
Solopreneurs are driven, focused, and most of all, self-reliant. As a result, it can be very easy to lose sight of the value that partnerships and mentorship can bring to our business. I have personally witnessed members of solid mastermind groups launch sustainable businesses in months. I have seen networking group members brag of referral conversions amounting to more than half of their business’ gross revenue. Girl, go out there and netwerk!
When it comes to mentorship, I learned that I’ve approached it incorrectly. When I first went full-time with my 9-year business over a year ago, I wrote personal letters to my coach, my mentor, my accountability partner, and the other four members of my mentorship team asking them to assist me in becoming my best self. They all heartily accepted the invitation and I asked them to let me know when they were available to meet, but not much happened afterward.
Confused, I wondered if they were too busy or if I had selected the right people. The truth is, I dropped the ball. Of course they never responded. They didn’t know what I needed or how to help me. The moment they said yes, it was my responsibility to educate them on my current and future projects, provide my business plan, schedule calls and meetings, and follow-up. Having a dope mentorship team is the difference between running a business and running a thriving business.
If you haven’t done so already, figure out what skills you're currently lacking, where you need professional development, and which skills your customers need you to have that you don’t. Then, hand select successful individuals who will be committed to helping you reach your goals. Next, get in the driver’s seat and make magical things happen for your business!
Remember, BABE, together, we can stand out, speak up, and let our our united voices be heard!