I am a woman who is passionate, care-taking, and empathetic. I’m focused, assertive, and entrepreneurial. I’m also a bitch, a dragon lady, and a cunt. Aren’t the terms men use as euphemisms for a female entrepreneur astute and poetic…?
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that men can be staunch negotiators for business deals or bombastic tyrants that scald employees and still be straight-up admired and respected. A woman? Not so much. We’re called names and told we’re being shrill or emotional. It’s the way of the world in which we live.
People often tell me what a great job I have after I mention that I own a successful restaurant or that I’m the founder of this site you’re now reading. And yes, to a point that is true. But it’s because I’ve chosen to do what I love and start businesses that make my soul thrive.
I take risks and I’ve often been judged for doing so. I’ve heard rumours that my success must have been born of my privileged upbringing. It wasn’t.
I am my father’s daughter. My dad soared for success in his career, and in my family failure has never been an option. I was taught to always work harder, to take the riskier road if it meant being in the driver’s seat, and that at the end of the day only results count.
I consider myself lucky because my father instilled in me a rigorous work ethic and drive for achievement – not to mention that a glass of wine at the end of a 14-hour work day is the sweetest release. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for dad believing in me and supporting me with the same focus that he gave my brothers.
Maybe that’s why, when I first started building my ventures, I was astonished by the lack of respect and the seemingly never-ending hurdles I’ve had to overcome to prove myself and my acute business sense to the men I encounter in my career. Yes, life as a female entrepreneur has its joyous obstacles – let’s call them “opportunities to grow,” shall we? – and, sometimes, it can be fucking frustrating.
That said, us ladies have some major advantages. We tend to go further when looking at all the minute details of a project, often resulting in stronger results. We’re better at manipulating situations in our favour; with a little bit of extra charm I’ve been able to get what I want from my landlords, bankers, associates, etc. But the bottom line is men and women are not built with all the same materials and we’re not dealt all the same hands.
So, as a female entrepreneur, the struggle can be quite real. And when we do succeed, we must temper our satisfaction and excitement or we’ll be viewed as vain and narcissistic. Fuck that nonsense. It’s time we take pride in our triumphs!
A woman I admire immensely is Melissa Austria, the founder and owner of GOTSTYLE. This girl is no joke and it shows. Melissa has built a budding empire and is worthy of awards and accolades, but you’d be hard-pressed to find her celebrating her numerous accomplishments. “I think as females we do not acknowledge our achievements and successes in general,” she says. “It’s a guy thing to be boastful; females tend to be more humble. I don’t think I appreciated any of the wins I’ve had because it was never enough.”
I can certainly relate to this. Sometimes it feels like I need to work twice as hard to accomplish something of which I’ll be proud. But then I can’t let that pride show – lest I be viewed as vain and narcissistic, of course.
Another great girlfriend I admire is Desia Halpin-Brill of Brill Communications. I’ve known her for decades and worked with her in New York City when we were both twentysomethings; a hardworking lady to say the least.
Like Melissa and myself, Desia doesn’t give herself enough props. “I am the first and only entrepreneur in our family, so that would be my biggest accomplishment. And winning one of my first accounts was a pretty big deal for me. But it’s not like I went around applauding myself.”
Are we all like this…?
I just recently started doing JOGA with Jana Weber of The Real Housewives of Toronto. Something they don’t highlight on the show is just how smart and successful an entrepreneur she is. Why not?
Like me, she comes from a family of entrepreneurs and clearly has done well for herself: JOGA is in almost every city in Canada and several in the USA. And Jana isn’t sitting still, so the future is bright.
The day I first met her, she was exhausted and overworked – we could relate to one another. But she taught a kick-ass class and then sat with me and we commiserated about our careers. “I know everything will get done, one way or another,” she said towards the end of our talk. I added, “And nobody will die if it doesn’t.” We both laughed.
So, ladies, let’s give ourselves more props for being kick-ass. It’s harder for us to get here than it is for the boys so our celebrations should be that much sweeter, not softer.
As I finish this piece, I’m sitting at a favourite restaurant of mine enjoying dinner on my own. Two tables away from me is a couple. He appears to be a well-to-do older gentleman. She’s at least 15 years his junior, but seems just as confident and collected. They look like they’re having a fabulous time. Guess who paid for the bill? She did.
Girls, who run the world? Seems like it may be us soon enough…
Have you ever encountered some of these stereotypes in your career or role as a female entrepreneur? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.