Rather than spend hours alone, researching and going through the same mental processes of coming up with a business or social venture, what would it be like if you went through a new process. One amongst a group of like-minded strangers? The results would prove beneficial.
In a time of rapid socio-economical and technological change and growth, keeping up (not with the Kardashians) can be daunting. Further, shortening the learning curve and finding the right support systems and motivation to move successfully forward can be a vital counterattack to societal constructs set up to prevent females from entering male dominant spaces. That’s what SheEo founder Vicki Saunders is accomplishing – redefining female entrepreneurship through education and workshops on supporting, and building up the networks and future businesses led by girls and women beyond the business mentality to include the soft skills.
I attended the IdeaFest on Tuesday March 3, 2015 at the North York Civic Centre, Toronto, and was inspired by women at all phases of business development and received some networking and tools. All with a hopeful vision that I too will one day create something with social impact. More questions than answers arose: Why me? Why now? How do I get there?
A great ideation tool is the 5 minute brainstorm (see image on right). The advice and resources a group of ~ 40 women came up with in less than 5 minutes on 1 specific question is a great starting point when you’ve hit a mental block. Yet you might not have a room of 40 women, however events similar in nature can do the trick. Check eventbrite, Enterprise Toronto or SheEO for events.
Just starting can be daunting when we know the internet is overflowing with an abundance of knowledge, info, opinion and sometimes conflicting material. Trouble shooting and not knowing where you are going wrong or what questions to ask or what the next steps are can be even more cumbersome without direction – Vicki emphasized the importance of seeking a mutually beneficial mentor. One study revealed in Forbes, 1 in 5 women have never even had a mentor (source). Yet it seems that women are up for the challenge, with much support behind them, seen here in the “Business case for Gender Equality.”
There is an extensive body of knowledge on why we need more women in leadership positions, for e.g. why Women are more effective Leaders via Business insider. We also need to do more than just “Lean In” to close the wage gap of .77 cents to every dollar a male earns, but also learn from those who won’t lean in like Vanessa Garcia because submitting is not the answer, and we also need to include those who voice the complete absence of representation within those books such as marginalized women or single moms, for example. And the need for a narrative that moves away from the status quo, which centres on men as the central point from which we must measure ourselves – that is not equality, that is not feminism. And so the adventure becomes, how will you define your success?