Last month I went on a one-day conference with Michael Neill – creator of Supercoach and author of The Inside Out Revolution. He explained that by the end of the workshop we would either leave saying ‘thank you, that was helpful’, or feel ‘wow, that has had a real impact on me’, or possibly leave transformed, picturing the world in an entirely different way.
Two Fridays ago I attended theTED X Whitehall Women event in Piccadilly, London. I arrived confident that I was just about to experience something transformative, and I have to say I was not disappointed! Since I started Aviatrix last Summer I have become more and more interested in the idea of women reaching their potential and becoming successful in the work place. I have also become increasingly aware of the general lack of confidence amongst women in business. My passion for the subject peaked when I attended the TED Talk. I walked into a room of like-minded, ambitious, intelligent, sassy, funny women who repeated the same message over and over – ‘Come on, join the sisterhood and let’s go for it!’
Each speaker had a great tale to tell, even the two men that attended (joke!)! Story after story of struggle, success, overcoming barriers, standing up, pushing forward, speaking out and sheer bloody mindedness and determination. It was brilliant and my only regret is that I didn’t take my 15-year-old daughter along, and all my girlfriends.
Drunk on inspiration from attending the TED Talk, I left to meet old friends for our annual Christmas get together. As attention turned to me, I summed up my day with enthusiasm and explained to my friends that I am now a feminist. Silence hung over the table like a bad smell. One girlfriend (a board director of a large UK business), said: “What are you on?” to which a male friend added: “You are not a feminist, you are just a go getting girl.”
To them, the word ‘feminist’ summoned up the image of a male hating, bra burning, dungaree wearing lesbian. Clearly, to overcome the power of stereotypes is a mammoth task.
I am a feminist. I love and support women, but not at the expense of men. I love and adore men and appreciate the wonderful differences between the genders. I believe in women (I think we are amazing): we love chatting, sharing, helping, caring, nurturing, we have incredible energy, intelligence, empathy, understanding but we generally do not put ourselves first, forward, and sometimes we don’t even join the game. (Read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead to explore further.)
My mission is 100% clear: using my workshop, Discover the Business Within You, I wish to help as many women as possible become entrepreneurs and set up their own businesses. Why? Because research shows that women are bloody brilliant at running businesses.
In the words of the great Nelson Mandela: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Anais Nin also contributes to the debate in her own way by saying: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I believe that the time has come for women to take their full share of life and reach their infinite potential.
Lara Morgan, one of my favourite speakers at the TED Talk event, said that there was no point in listening, leaving and not doing anything with our new knowledge. She exhorted us to make three commitments that will make a difference. Mine are:
- To approach those I aspire to work with, instead of waiting for the universe to send them to me
- To research female entrepreneurs, understand their psyche and the way they work, in order to help other women
- To present my findings at next year’s TED Talk women event as a social entrepreneur
If you would like to come along to one of my Discover the Business Within You workshops, please sign up either for the afternoon session at the Brighton Pavilion on the 16th January, or for the full two-day workshop starting on the 30th January at Tilton House.