If this were the ’50s, I’d be what you’d call a “career gal.” My inner monologue is a female version of Don Draper pitching the rest of my brain on business and marketing ideas throughout the day. “See this typical pair of baby pajamas with the illogical design? Imagine instead…..”
Because we all tend to see things through our own lens, I started to spout a specific brand of female empowerment. Of course women should be in business! We’re powerful, pantsuit-wearing workaholics! What is this nonsense about feelings anyways?
That is, until I started a company with my best friend.
In contrast to my “lean in” beliefs that I attributed to my first company’s success, my best friend Melinda is driven by her intuitive and emotional intelligence. She is also the best business partner I’ve ever had.
Here are three things I’ve learned to admire about those of us who tend to be more John Lennon than Sheryl Sandberg.
3 Things My Best Friend Taught Me About Women in Business
1. Passion is Powerful
My idea of passion in business is a combination of extreme drive, a competitive spirit, and commitment to an idea or project. Melinda has redefined that for me. She exudes true passion in a way that can only come from feeling emotionally involved in an idea.
When we first came up with the idea for The Relievery, she wanted to create products that would empower women to use ancient practices like reflexology and aromatherapy in the comfort of their own home. I focused solely on our product – reflexology socks. Melinda’s real passion drove her to take the socks we created and make them into more. She refused to compromise on the quality of our products and sought out peer reviews of each design we created for maximum effectiveness. Then she threw herself into creating supporting educational materials for clients. What I clung to as a product she built into so much more with her passion.
True emotional attachment to ideas can cause us to view those ideas as living, breathing things that we must nurture. That view fosters a deeper commitment to the quality and growth of an idea or product.
2. Networking Isn’t All Business
Caring about relationships more than dollar signs can create more dollar signs. When I go to a “networking” event, I network. I start conversations and covertly uncover who a person is, what they do and how they can benefit me and how I can benefit them within the first few sentences.
Melinda is different. When she meets people in a networking setting, she talks to them as friends. She chats about her dog or the person’s family. She builds a bond that is much stronger than one formed over business alone. By the time she naturally falls into a conversation related to work, she’s already so familiar with the person (and vice versa) that she knows their true strengths and weaknesses. She knows them well enough she can figure out how to truly benefit that person and how they can enrich her professional life.
Those personal relationships lead to partnerships and those people provide sources of valuable feedback. Since they are committed to the success of their personal friend, they are more committed to the success of a company.
3. Indecisiveness Isn’t Always Bad
I’ve always clung to the fact that my quick decision-making ability helped me beat my competition to new markets and features. However, Melinda has shown me the alternative – letting ideas fully sink in logically, and emotionally, before committing.
While we were discussing names for an essential oil blend, we came up with a name I was entirely satisfied with. Melinda refused to commit. She needed to “sleep on it” before giving an opinion. A week later, we talked it out. It turned out she didn’t like the name because it solely focused on the discomforts/symptoms related to the blend and might evoke negative feelings for clients rather than a sense of relief from those symptoms. We polled several friends and it turned out she was right. Because she refused to make a decision until her gut agreed, we prevented ourselves from having to go back and relabel 500 essential oil bottles.
Indecisiveness can be a mental/emotional warning that an idea may not be good enough. It’s our intuitive way of understanding we need to do better before our logical brains have figured out why.
Overall, I think it’s about time we recognize the successful women in our lives who do not fit the stereotype. The intensely intelligent, emotionally aware humans that truly make the world (and our businesses) a better place.
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- 3 Things My Best Friend Taught Me About Women in Business - June 19, 2017