I had the honor of serving on the Visionary Leadership Panel last week in Boulder, hosted by SheSays, a national network for women in the digital and tech industry. SheSays started as a small community in London and has grown to seven cities across the world with 3,000 members. Alicia Wallace at the Daily Camera did a great write-up on the group’s mission to bring women in tech and digital together.
(photo by Kathy Dragon)
I was thrilled to meet fellow panelists Claudia Batten (on my right), CoFounder and COO of Vistors & Spoils, the first creative ad agency based on crowdsourcing principles and Monique Elwell (on my left), Co-founder and CEO of Conversify, an international social media agency. These women were great examples of how “kick-ass” transcends gender and I told them both I was taking down my Chuck Norris posters and putting their pictures up on my wall.
I must admit that sometimes I’m wary of women-focused events. I want to contribute to a conversation that champions the inspiring and rewarding parts of entrepreneurship and addresses the challenges without getting stuck there. That’s usually where the conversation spirals into a commiseration summit on all the hardships and unfairness of striking out on our own. The isolation, personal sacrifices, the “what-if’s” and the inevitable topic of how it’s harder for women than men. I’m not saying we don’t need to go there. We definitely do. Let’s just make sure we don’t set up camp and live there. We don’t honor ourselves or each other when we do.
What I loved about this panel and its audience is that, when confronted with the notion that entrepreneurship is hard, the overriding response was “So what?”. We get that its hard, now help us overcome the hard part. Lets’ get down and dirty about investors, hiring, co-founders, pitching, making money, and yes, even being a woman in a male-dominated industry. That’s what I’m talking about! Being a start-up entrepreneur isn’t hard because we’re women, it’s hard because it’s hard. Once we embrace that empowering idea, the real party starts.
Huge thanks to the SheSays leadership committee that put the event together. That committee includes Denise Horton (the grand master), Megan Newton, Julie Ann Storr, Lindsay Brust, Daren Longenecker, Kathy Dragon, Laura Nichols, Laura Hamrick, and Lori Kirkland. If you get wind of a SheSays event in your area, be sure to check it out.