In April, I found solace in two books whose publications coincided with the darkest days of the Covid-19 outbreak: Untamed, by Glennon Doyle, and Women in Business – Leading the Way. Doyle’s mantra, “We can do hard things,” was what got me out of bed each morning, and Women in Business – Leading the Way was what got me to keep working.
Women in Business – Leading the Way is a collection of contributions of women CEOs from across America. All 14 women have done business with Fortune 500 corporations and all share the belief that opportunity comes in many forms.
Life is more demanding than ever
For small business owners, opportunity often comes from sheer necessity. Entrepreneurship works for many women because it provides the flexibility that many women’s lives demand. Women now comprise 58% of new entrepreneurs. I’d love to know how many businesses founded by women were driven by the pressure of outside forces. I’ve seen many women cope with unforeseen circumstances by letting one goal morph into several and handling it from there. In the words of the women of Women in Business – Leading the Way, it’s not about climbing the ladder to the top. It’s more about leveraging qualities like multitasking and conflict management to get somewhere on your own terms.
In light of the classic compromise between family and career, women have also had to be clever and creative in order to balance the two sides. On a positive note, more and more generations observe early on that Mom works, and she can earn.
With this in mind, I paid special attention to the chapter written by Joan Brothers, the CEO of Manhattan Boutique Real Estate in New York City. I recently joined Joan’s brokerage as a real estate agent. I chose to work with Joan because I witnessed her artful balance between work and family. Her specialty is in guiding sellers and buyers in the Coop and Condo market that is distinctive to New York City. Getting leads, developing relationships with clients, and keeping customers are what good businesspeople do. Joan sees this less as a tactical response, and more as a fundamental gesture for developing lasting understanding and trust.
Listen to learn, and get to the next level
Like her fellow contributors to Women in Business – Leading the Way, Joan knows that certain basic tenets of family life apply to a career in business. The more we listen, the more we learn about what matters to our people. There’s no honest replacement for time spent. This is a great way for women to get to the next level in business, and I remind myself of this, whether in my role of business broker, or of real estate agent.
As a mother, Joan gets that time does indeed fly, and she nurtures her client relationships with this in mind. A rental client may someday become a residential sale client. Moreover, it’ll likely happen in the blink of an eye, so better to keep that in mind in the beginning, rather than to rue inaction in hindsight.
On a more technical level, Women in Business – Leading the Way offers real-world advice about professional issues such as how to define your vision and brand, how to work up the courage to delegate, how to lead a team, and how to pivot when hardship comes.
Another lesson of the book is the value in women supporting other women. Empowerment wears many hats, and this empowerment serves to influence the next generation. Without phenomenal women we’re moored.
Why do we work? Because there is a joy in taking action, even if it’s to get past fear. I’m for any book that helps women work towards achieving that first taste of the fulfillment that comes with earning one’s own.
It bears repeating that some of the best opportunities come from times of uncertainty. The Covid-19 outbreak has called for a more nurturing leadership. It’s taught working people how to be home-based and not only get through the day, but to thrive by nurturing personal and professional relationships, moment by moment.