I recently had the opportunity to share my journey as a woman entrepreneur with a women’s incubator in New York City. As I pondered what wisdom to share I considered the last few female founder events I had attended. The ones I received the most value from had one thing in common: honesty.
As women, many of us are raised and rewarded for looking nice, speaking quietly, and always having a smile on our face. We were raised with the expectation of perfection. This expectation follows us through life and makes it difficult to “say what we need to say,” or admit to being frazzled and tired. Instead we smile and say, “everything is fine.” That statement doesn’t help the person saying it or the person hearing it. With that in mind, I prepared a candid talk about five female founder truths I had discovered over a decade building businesses.
I didn’t brush over my less than stellar past (like when I didn’t get into medical school), and I didn’t spin my startup story to only highlight the successes that make me look like a rock star. That is what I’m used to doing. The world and the media love perfection… and I excel at delivering on that expectation. But, that was not what these young women needed to hear as they are living the throes of founding, funding, and scaling their startups. They needed to hear about the mistakes, the lawsuits, that entrepreneurship and motherhood are not exclusive, and all the things I sincerely wish someone had told me when I founded MissNowMrs.
These young women entrepreneurs also needed to hear that what they are doing is important. They, by their existence, are changing the face of entrepreneurship. I encouraged them to be role models and share their startup stories. Not just for exposure, but to inspire women and girls that have things in common with them to dream big and create companies that solve problems that they face.
Baring my battle scarred soul was not easy, but it felt right. Afterwards, I told the attendees that they could ask the real questions they were wondering about. Not the politically correct business questions one would expect after a talk. When one woman asked how a relationship between two entrepreneurs works I knew I had done my job. I had broken down barriers and by showing my weaknesses, passed on wisdom and the strength to persevere.