Leadership for Women – 3 Take-Aways
I was honored to be invited to Ingrid Vanderveldt's IV Club inaugural meeting in San Antonio, which was hosted by Ingrid along with Sharon Lechter and Lauren Flanagan. There were 100 women in the room, many of whom own businesses doing from $1M to $10M annually, along with representatives from the United Nations Foundation. It was a rare opportunity to network with each other, have focused roundtable discussions about our businesses, and talk about the effects we can have in the world.
You might imagine it was a fast-paced few days! I met so many women entrepreneurs who are brilliant at what they do. Thirty of us were invited to meet Texas billionaire Red McCombs, who has been a mentor to Ingrid for her entire career. I'll probably write an entire blog post just about that event next.
Right now, here's my best effort to share what I think will be most useful to women business owners from the 2 day event.
First Take-Away – Utter Commitment
The first and foremost thing I came away with is the utter commitment of the women in attendance to build or maintain their businesses and their willingness to connect and collaborate toward that goal. These women are serious. They move fast, think fast, decide fast, judge you as a player (or not) fast. They notice everything. Those who showed up and were a little too strident or pushy were not embraced except at a very polite surface level. Those who sought to connect and chat without pushing their business first were the winners. Case in point – no one even bothered to use a business card except at the END of a conversation if it made sense. The few who tried to do mass distribution of business cards got absolutely nowhere. These women are savvy and can smell a fake a mile away. I've heard Ingrid say “if you are truly committed, you arrange your life around the commitment.” No one ran out and got on the phone every half hour to check on something. These women were there and present.
Second Take-Away – Opportunities Abound
There is SO MUCH opportunity to do so many things in the market these days that it almost makes me feel faint. And as opportunity abounds the need for focus becomes even more highly necessary. I saw opportunities to go in at least 5 different directions without even thinking about it much. Here's the deal – focus or die in the quicksand of too many ideas and not enough action. It's not so hard when one thing is working for you, it's a lot harder to bring on the discipline and focus when you've got abounding opportunities. Opportunity dies without focus. These women are expert at seeing the opportunities, questioning the parameters, making quick decisions, and organizing to focus and give it priority once they decide yes.
Third Take-Away – There's Finally a Good Ole Girl's Network!
It almost makes me cry to write those words. I have been in the corporate and entrepreneurial marketplace now for decades and I've seen and gone up against the good ole boy's network many times. More times than I care to count, I've been the only woman in a room full of men who would barely give me eye contact until they realized I held my own and then some. Suddenly, I realize, there is a budding good ole girls network. It is mostly of women younger than I am by a decade but finally it exists! For the first time in my working life I see it, and more than that, I feel it. I have been fielding connection requests, phone calls to follow up, invitations to speak on podcasts, proposals for new work. These women are alive and don't let grass grow under their feet. It's a virtual network with 2 or 3 meetups a year, but it is an actual good ole girls network. It feels and is incredibly powerful. It has been a long time coming.
If you'd like to hear more about the IV Club weekend and be a part of my own Salon for Women Entrepreneurs please go to Facebook and leave a private message for me asking for admittance. Be prepared to share resources, discuss, and celebrate with other women entrepreneurs. The Salon is a virtual network for businesswomen who know that networking and collaboration are key to leading their businesses to success.