We talked earlier this month about what collaboration is. We shared some great insights from some of the women in our community. This article is all about what collaboration is NOT and once again we called on our community for their views and opinions on what our theme for the month is not.
I’ve always found it a useful practice to look at what something IS and then what it is NOT when I am trying to truly understand something that is broad or open to many interpretations. We share what collaboration IS earlier this month. This time we focus on all that it is NOT.
For women in business, collaboration is not…
From our community:
Shaina, the Business Mystic, started us off with “A one way street. A collaboration should be beneficial to both parties!”
Yes. Yes it should be! True collaboration is mutually beneficial and supportive to all participants.
There are so many ways to collaborate successfully. Assuming that there is a right or wrong way to collaborate, especially in the world we live in today.
Marisol from Sol Reflections added a couple of great points to the conversation: “Collaboration is NOT power struggles and competition. It’s not suppressing your genius. It is NOT passive.”
There is definitely a lot of truth to each of these points from Marisol. Collaboration is not about asserting dominance or control over someone or something else. If it becomes that, then it’s not true collaboration. It’s not about playing it safe and not contributing your brilliance and gifts.
Community member Abi added “If you and your audience don’t learn, it’s not collaboration”
This is so important! When collaborating, both parties should walk away with something new, whether that be new knowledge or a new connection.
It’s safe to say we have a great understanding of what collaboration is NOT, especially for women in business. If you’re curious to read about our view of what collaboration IS, I invite you to check out this blog post too 🙂
I’d love to hear from you about what collaboration is NOT to you! Drop us a comment below.
We’re proud to be introducing you to, and featuring one of our community members! Today in this edition of Pass Her The Mic, we’re highlighting and interviewing Chioma Ossai and the incredible work she creates.
Chioma, please introduce yourself!
I am the author of “A Journey to Self-Love,” which explores concepts of softness, vulnerability, and sensuality. My poetry is often centered around themes of identity, healing, and authenticity, that challenges what it means to know and love one’s self. I was born and raised in New Jersey and currently based in Berlin, Germany. I received my Bachelor’s in Music at Montclair State University, and I’m a classically trained pianist. My mission is to simply tell inviting stories through poetry, music, and blogging with the hope to evolve, share, and inspire others to write stories of their own. Eventually I hope to provide workshops and resources to women that are centered around self-love and self-development.
What brought you to the place you are working from now, essentially, what in your history inspired you to do what you do NOW?
Mainly my mother, and the many conversations I have had with friends about setting boundaries and catering to self. They have often encouraged me to share my story and host discussions around these topics. Covid also gave me the tip to reflect and realize the importance of sharing one’s story. Every time I read my own work, I got emotional and knew that it was time to share my story in order to inspire others.
How do you define “collaboration”?
Collaboration is about sharing and exchanging ideas. It is about people working in unity and alignment to create something bigger than them. Collaboration is about cooperating, creating, and crafting something that tells a powerful story meant to inspire others.
How has collaboration helped you grow and succeed?
Collaboration has allowed me to see my strengths and weaknesses and where I could improve. It has required me to learn how to work with people and their different learning styles as well as their work ethics. Collaboration has also helped in my creative process and has challenged me to find innovative ways to tell meaningful stories.
What do you want people to remember most about the work that you’re creating?
I want people to remember how it makes them feel, and what it inspires them to do. I am an artist first, and I understand the value in art and the emotions it helps to evoke. I also want people to remember that they are just as capable of telling their stories in the way they want without permission. I hope people see themselves in my work and are able to feel inspired enough to write their own. Lastly, since my poetry focuses on healing and identity, I hope people form a closer bond with their own identity and are able to use some of the resources I include in my book of poetry to heal and become a better version of themselves.
What’s the next thing for you? What are you working on?
So I’ll actually be having an event with LBI this Sunday at 2pm EST to celebrate my book “A Journey to Self-Love.” Tickets are on the LBI site. The next thing after that is simple. To create and to empower. Specifically, I am in the process of editing my second book, Becoming Chi: The Journey to Self-Discovery,” which is set to release in the Fall of 2022. I am also working on crafting a newsletter that includes writing prompts, tips, and daily practices that are centered around self-awareness, healing, and emotional wellness. I would also love to host a women’s conference centered around these ideas where we could actively practice self-love. My hope is that women can leave this conference feeling empowered and be able to incorporate these practices in their daily lives so they can continue to strive in their business and personal lives.
Thank you so much for sharing who you are, what you do, and why you love it with us, Chioma! We’re looking forward to your upcoming event!
In this episode of tech tips with Techie, he’s sharing his favorite weather apps and why he prefers them.
As women in business, the weather can certainly play a factor in how our business operates. From storms that cause internet outages to making your meetings on time, it’s something we need to consider and factor in when planning our day.
Are you ever frustrated with the fact that the Big Tech companies, platforms, retailers, media conglomerates and really most large corporations across the globe don’t design their products and services in a way that best serves half the population? Those that lead corporations make decisions every day that impact women and our families in ways that don’t serve us well, contributing to a pipeline problem!
How can we get women seats at the head of the table across sectors and industries?
Let’s focus on the “pipeline problem”:
The growth rate of women launching their own businesses has been outpacing that of men for years. In terms of business ownership, women have risen the past decade from 30 percent to nearly 40 percent of business owners as females are founding businesses at nearly twice the rate of men. Yet in 2020, less than 3 percent of all venture capital investment dollars went to female founders.
Given this form of investment is the path to an initial public offering on a publicly listed stock exchange, this translates into a miniscule number of women heading up the Fortune and S&P500 companies. We need to fix this pipeline problem together!
The good news is there is nothing wrong with individual women; biases in the systems and institutions that serve entrepreneurs are what need to be fixed. As my research highlighted in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: A Gender Perspective published by Cambridge University Press, much of the gender gap can be attributed to structural, attitudinal and institutional barriers, and not some deficit in individual women or among women as a category.
The advice women receive is also flawed.
Too often, women are advised to act more like men in their entrepreneurial endeavors. But individual women are not the primary source of the gender gap in equity finance either. The main barriers lie in our perceptions of women, entrepreneurs, and who is worthy of investment, mentoring, and other resources.
Here are the top five ways to close the gender gap in equity finance, without putting the onus on individual women to change who they are or what they are doing as founders.
Ask women founders what they want and need, without judgment and by checking your assumptions about women and your stereotypes about entrepreneurs. Actively listen and design programming, resources, and support according to what women ask for. Women know best what they are striving for, what they are experiencing, and what barriers and issues they face as women. Understanding these challenges is the first step to designing solutions to resolve the underlying problems women face as entrepreneurs.
Design your outreach, programming, and events in a way that is inclusive and represents women, their interests, and needs. For example, holding weekend-long hackathons and pitch competitions late into the night, with atmospheres invoking memories of college fraternity parties is likely to turn off too many women and make the probability of their participation and satisfaction greatly reduced. Instead, make sure events featuring panelists, keynote speakers and experienced mentors are representative of the population you seek to serve.
Respect women’s ideas, competence, ambition, and capabilities. An all-too-common complaint among female founders is that they feel condescended to and assumed incompetent, or as a cute anomaly or exception, or both. You wouldn’t want your daughter to be treated this way, so give women the same level of respect, dignity, and treatment as men, which they deserve without question or hesitation.
Commit to transparency, accountability, action, and change. If leaders, gatekeepers, decision makers, and investors cannot hold themselves and their organizations to account for closing it, the gender gap in business and entrepreneurship will continue as it has for decades, with 97 percent of all venture capital funds in an average year being invested solely in male founders and their ventures.
Fix a common underlying source of the gender gap, which is something called implicit bias—that is, stereotyping that is unconscious or subconscious, but nevertheless ubiquitous and harmful. Investors, resource providers, and leaders of organizations that have a mission to support and fund entrepreneurs such as those who run accelerator programs, incubators, co-working spaces, small business development centers, angel investor networks, and venture capital firms are the primary source of implicit bias that works systemically against female founders. Fixing the bias requires awareness, training, and holding these important actors responsible for the choices they make. Reward decisions that promote gender equity. Use metrics to measure progress on closing the gap. When those responsible for inclusive economic development through entrepreneurship commit to inclusion, keep themselves accountable through transparency, accountability, and positive and negative consequences for choices made, we will see the needle change on who gets funding and which firms succeed.
Share these with your network and especially with the men and leaders of support organizations that want to do a better job serving women, but don’t know how to get started. Let’s solve the pipeline problem and shift the paradigm now!
Dr. Susan Clark Muntean is Associate Professor of Management at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. She is the author with Banu Ozkazanc-Pan of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: A Gender Perspective published by Cambridge University Press.
Have you ever struggled with how to love your body when you just hate her (If the word hate bothers you, or doesn’t feel right, how about dislike)?
Maybe it’s an everyday battle with food, your appearance, the voices in and out of your head and how you feel during sexy times. Or perhaps you have the occasional bad day where you don’t like what you see in the mirror reflecting back at you.
Either way, being at war with your body is not healthy and it’s exhausting as fuck. We live in a society obsessed with the shape and weight of our bodies. In a society where companies and our whole culture tell us what to hate about ourselves, and then picks on them until we become insecure about them. Please tell me I am not the only one who sees how fucked up this is.
Learning to fully love and accept your body isn’t linear and it takes time. Unfortunately there are no quick fixes. Trust me, I know, there simply aren’t any short cuts. But there are some small, powerful steps you can take each day to begin loving (does “loving” feel too strong, how about liking) your body instead of hating her and feeling hopeless about this damaged relationship.
Here’s the beginning steps to start loving your body:
That’s right. You gotta get super real and admit that the relationship you have with your body SUCKS or at the very least isn’t what you want it to be (yet).
It’s okay that you’re struggling to love your body right now. Plenty of us are.
You know why?
Because we live in a society that constantly teaches us to hate our bodies. And if you manage to grow up unscathed, you’re one of the few, not the many.
But what’s important is you’re aware of your current relationship with your body, and you’re acknowledging that you want to make some changes. Because this is the first step to change.
So be accepting of your negative relationship with your body. And acknowledge that you want to create a friendship with your body. Tell yourself this, and mean it.
2. Asking the Right Questions.
Why do I want to look different than I do right now?
Have you ever really thought about this? It is a skipped over question, because it doesn’t even cross your mind. So there’s no better time than now to think about why you want to look different.
Why do you want your body to be a different shape or size?
More times than not, your reasons are deeply rooted in external love and acceptance. You believe that a more “attractive” body (whatever that means, because really we don’t know and it’s always changing) will get other people to like you, or respect you, value you, love you, have sex with you etc.
This is the biggest body lie out there. Changing the way you look does not equal happiness. Sure, it might be a factor in helping you feel good about yourself, but it’s definitely not the sole answer. As someone who has weighed well over 200 LBS and under 100LBS in my adult life I would know, I was never happier at any of these weights even if I “thought momentarily” my body looked better.
Don’t believe me? You only have to look at people who have had cosmetic surgery, or naturally thin models, who are still battling with addictions, eating disorders and hate for their bodies.
For you to really learn to love your body, you have to let go of the belief that your “dream body” (whatever that even really is) will fix all your problems. Because if you don’t address why you don’t feel good about yourself today, you’ll carry those feelings with you until you confront them, and process with them.
As cliche as it sounds, true love, true joy, and true pleasure come from within you, babe.
3. Stopping the Judgment
Do you spend your day walking around or scrolling on your phone and criticizing the way other people look? Or maybe wishing your body could look like “hers”?
When you do this, you reinforce the idea that your body equates to your worth and value as a human being. And news flash, your body size (big or small) has NOTHING to do with your worthiness or value. In case you didn’t get that I’m going to state it again in a different way. The way you look holds absolutely NO value as a human in this world.
On top of that, you keep yourself trapped in a negative, low-vibration state. And this will affect your mood and mental health, which you’ll then bring with you into everything you do the rest of the day.
Deep down, I know that you know, you deserve to be loved and accepted for who you are right now RIGHT THE FUCK NOW! So release your judgment, because it’s not serving you or your body.
4. Less Focus on Weight
We are so obsessed with our weight, we try to determine our health and value based on the number of the scale. You cannot demonize your body, while simultaneously worshiping it above all else.
Ever find yourself in toxic habits that you are unaware of, or unable to break free from. As a society we are so detached from our bodies, that we don’t hear them speaking to us; telling us what they want and need. Even when we do, we don’t trust them.
But we can’t stop punishing ourselves until we stop believing we deserve to be punished. And to do that, you have to stop scrutinizing, what you eat, how you experience pleasure, what the scale says, and the number on the back of your jeans.
What would happen if you made a shift, and started focusing all that energy you use on food, and your weight and directing it toward compassion and radical body love?
This is the KEY to breaking the vicious cycle, and freeing yourself from your own obsession with weight. When you do that, you will naturally start making choices that make you feel amazing and set your soul on fire.
Yup. Masturbation is essential to feeling joy, pleasure and connecting to your wonderland of a body! Caressing and playing with your most intimate, sensitive parts, is a wonderful way to reconnect with your body, and associate it with pleasure.
You’ll get to know your body on a deeper level, understand that you are worthy of pleasure, and feel good. Plus, orgasms fill you with intoxicating chemicals that leave you on a type high. And you’ll have your body to thank for that.
I encourage you to make it like a ritual for yourself. Have a bath, light some candles, slip into something that makes you feel sexy, and just have fun exploring your body.
These 5 things are just the start. I highly recommend getting some support, (not only as a professional) but also as a woman who has tried to do this work by herself for years. It’s nearly impossible to see your blind spots. You have the power. You’ve always had the power. So take it back today you gloriously magnificent creature!
Trying to get to a networking event, important business meeting or can’t-miss coffee date and you’re stuck in traffic? AND your map can’t offer a realistic solution?
Our resident tech genius, Techie, has some tips for this common problem!
Depending on where you live, navigating your way can be vital! There are all kinds of navigation and map options out there, but which ones work well? Which map apps have the best features?
Techie talks about his favorites, experience in different terrain and how advancement in navigation technology can make like a little easier!
Do you have a tech struggle you could use some wisdom with? A burning question about a platform? Require help with something that feels technically complicated? Drop it in the comments below and we’ll have Techie record an answer for you!
OK let’s start this one off with a little visualization, shall we??
Close your eyes – yes doooo it!! Ok ok, first read the passage below and then close your eyes!!
Think of a wheel, specifically a bike wheel. It spins graciously when it is built correctly, maintained over time with good, kind attention, regular pressure checks and the occasional pump of air. Maybe this wheel is even a fly wheel that needs the momentum of its surroundings to gain great speed. Ok close your eyes and just see this with me for a minute.
Ok, no open now ‘em!
This wheel of fortune we are collectively visualizing is flying! And it’s gaining momentum by building concentric circles with women in business in a global way; using social media built by women for women as it’s expressway to cruise at optimal speed. How this wheel is built is particularly important because it relies on the internal spokes of the wheel to be strong & supported, tended to and caressed, massaged with extra care, the kind you give your most cherished relationships.
And collaboration is just that: deeply tended to relationships that have the same goal in mind. As I like to call it: same mission, different copy.
A note on those parts of the circle that are called to be strong & supported arms to keep the mission rolling are also relying on other spokes to hold the weight of the wheel’s momentum together, so each spoke has a moment of reprieve from carrying the full weight of the wheel. The spokes, as you can guess, are the people who make the mission come alive & keep us collectively moving forward.
The women we feature on the LBI Backstage Pass are really the integral part of collaboration held together by the hub, the smaller yet incredibly important concentric circle that energizes the larger, exterior circle. Currently, I am the hub and there is absolutely no way on earth I could keep the wheel spinning without all the strong spokes aka women in business in our community and on our LBI crew!
It is my personal goal to collaborate from a place of integrity & kindness as I lead our internal LBI crew ( 9 and growing strong!) and as we share externally with our network on the LBI Backstage Pass.
The wheel itself has to have these various components to allow for the circle to really spin in a balanced, fluid way and so does a circular model of business leadership through collaboration.
Community is the wheel and each of our individual roles are the spokes that keep the collab flywheel spinning. This visual is really what inspires me to build, grow and lead our community on the LBI Backstage Pass to be truly collaborative. Knowledge I gained from personal experience of opening & running a community bike program during my undergraduate studies at Warren Wilson College taught me that each of the spokes need to also be tended to regularly to ensure the wheel aka the community’s overall health & growth.
As individuals, we have super important roles on our own that support the mission at large. In true collaboration, the mission is shared by all the folks aka spokes to help the wheel keep spinning. This is something that my alma matter WWC had us eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Now where this gets really juicy: how we as women in business flex on our own personal strengths AND reflect them fully back into communities that not only support our individual goals but also those of the greater good for our shared humanity. See business activism, putting our money where our mouth is, walking the talk and talking the walk! Studies overwhelmingly show that when women have more money, we invest that money not only in our inner circles but also within our communities, too. Again, women are true collaborators!!
In other models of business, commerce and even simply said, power structures, there is a more top down model that serves the few leaders of the organization first and the rest trickles down to the worker bees. I’m here to flip that script, to truly do business differently in a more collaborative fashion and as such, we end up sharing more of our tools & resources with our community; which in turn allows us more seats at the table & to see more women in roles of leadership.
The reason I love to collaborate with women who are industry disruptors and thought leaders is because we not only naturally collaborate, we can take these collaborations to the next level and actually elevate each other !! Be sure to stay tuned for next month’s theme on the LBI Backstage Pass where we elevate all month long.
Looking forward to a collaboration with you soon, Boss!
Think about it. We can all clearly distinguish a good leader from a bad. Is it the demands a bad boss makes of our time that places him squarely in the bad leader category? Is it the unmet expectations or is it the promise of a raise and then the letdown of a good review versus a great review? What about a good leader? Is it their willingness to help others grow into leaders that makes them a good leader? Is it their willingness to listen? Perhaps it’s their ability to help you become the person that you want to be? My question to you is, What category do you fall into as a leader?
Several months ago I was blessed to be in a leadership class that altered my perspective on leadership for the better. This class focused on servant leadership and has since become the foundation that I model within my own company.
Principles of Servant Leadership:
“Servant-leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you, you work for them.”
Servant leadership is the idea that you flip the traditional leadership model on its head. For generations, leaders have been expected to provide guidance, direction and support to their staff, while keeping motivation high. The cornerstone of servant leadership is the emphasis on service. Servant leaders focus on their team, rather than the entire company.
Many believe that focusing on the people in the company helps produce skilled employees who are experts in their field. This focus also helps employees to feel motivated, making it more likely to help improve operations and management.
Servant leadership requires leaders to be ethical in their choices and lead by example. It allows for diversity of thought and encourages all ideas. The final product is often a collaboration of many gifted individuals.
Servant leaders are coaches
Servant leaders are often guided by their personal mission, vision and values. This attracts people who are in alignment with the leader and builds a sense of trust. As a servant leader, you must have a clear understanding that it’s not about you. It never was and it never will be.
Adopting an attitude of “It’s all about us!” creates a safe culture for risk taking. That risk taking leads to out of the box thinking and ultimately to innovative products and ideas.
Servant leaders take on the role of a coach rather than a boss. They don’t boss people around because their people already have the skills and motivation to take on the projects and be successful.
Servant leaders look for Obstructions within a Project, and work to remove them
Research suggests that employees are the most fulfilled when they are making progress in their business. Servant leaders establish daily check- ins with their team, identify blocks and obstacles and then brainstorm with the team ways to remove the blocks and move forward. Essentially, servant leaders work to build their team into leaders.
A great example of a servant leader is George Washington. As the story goes, on a rainy day during the Revolutionary War, George Washington was out riding when he came upon a group of soldiers attempting, without success, to get a huge log beam into position. All the while their commander shouted words of encouragement from atop his horse. After watching for a moment, Washington dismounted, rolled up his sleeves and went to work with the soldiers. When he finished, all wet and tired from the work, he told his soldiers, “If you should need help again, call on Washington, your commander-in-chief, and I will come” (Maxwell, 2011). This story was told from soldier to soldier and many historians believe that this was why his soldiers were so loyal to him and willing to follow him into battle.
Leading from the back to build leaders
Servant leaders build leaders of tomorrow. Service to others is their motto and they work to empower their people to lead. Service leaders are enablers, supporting and guiding rather than dictating and demanding. Servant leaders set guidelines and teach their team to work for the greater good of the company. As a team, servant leaders trust that their team has the skills and expertise to support the project and get it done.
Change comes from new ideas. New ideas lead to innovation. Servant leaders inspire change by being open to the new ideas that their team brings to the table through their diversity or experiences and ideas. When leaders focus on inspiring others through service, all the other pieces click into place. What changes can you inspire in your organization?
So, I’ll ask you this, what kind of leader do you aspire to be?