By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
I just finished Nora Ephron's book of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck. As you might expect, she's LOL funny, with some poignant points about aging. The title refers to the state of her 60+-year-old neck. Seems she and her friends wear a lot of turtlenecks these days. I don't feel bad about my neck (yet) - but I have changed over the years, mostly (I believe) for the better. My bank account could be a bit larger and my hips a bit smaller, but overall, every decade has been better than before. That goes for both life and business.
Ms. Ephron writes about the reality of getting older and what it does for the perspective. We can natter all day (and 51-year-old Madonna can lift weights until she looks like Mae West on steroids), but the truth is...50 isn't the new 30; and 60 isn't very likely "middle-aged." I was discussing all this with a consultant friend who's a very young 71. She pointed out that our "quality versus quantity of life" perspective should apply to business as well. (And we women have a big advantage, if we choose to take it.)
We're in a very interesting "growing up" period in American business - and growing up is always painful. Previously, we believed that all growth was good and the bigger the better. Entrepreneurs weren't taken seriously if they didn't want to become the next IBM, Microsoft, or GM. Marketing consultants pitched (still do) programs to "KILL YOUR COMPETITION" or "RUN THEM OUT OF BUSINESS." Yawn. That's so 20th century.
Things have changed and I believe for the better. Certainly we need to pay our bills, but - and this is oh-so-trite but true - it's only money. As Jane (my friend) said, those pieces of green paper only have as much value as what I can get in exchange for them.
And, some of the most valuable things can't be bought and if they can, it's not the traditional buying transaction. I figured out that I'm actually "paying" about $100K a year for the privilege of not flying all over the U.S. all the time, being a "big-time" consultant. (Morning coffee zen time - priceless.)
People are frequently pitching programs to me to grow, make millions, expand, etc...short answer: I don't wanna. I've got a business model that works for me (most of the time) and, as a sole proprietor, I've got a lot of flexibility about what I do and when. The other piece of it is that - as a woman - I wasn't indoctrinated from the womb with the " winner take all, at any costs, BIG DOG!" mentality.
Of course, this is always why we women (are still) dissed. We're perceived as too "soft" and "not serious" in business. (Fellas? Some of those "home-based" Mommy businesses pay the mortgage and put the kids through college.) All those women who left corporate America? Many didn't do so because they couldn't hack it. They did it because the games were so silly and wasted valuable time.
In today's flattened global economy, the traditional "win at all costs" way is a sure recipe for failure. We can't simply run over the opposition - we're too integrated/interwoven/connected/interdependent (Example: U.S. and China. Neither of our economies - all political ya-yahhing aside - could now survive without the other.)
I don't feel badly that I'm not a grand poobah of marketing - I'm simply not wired that way. Certainly, I like to do well; I'm competitive; and I can play the boys' games (and beat 'em) when needed; but I don't lose any sleep over what others think of me and my business.
So, before you dive back into your 80-hour-week, expand into another facility, or get on yet another plane to fly God knows where...ask yourself, am I doing it because it's good for business (and me)?...or am I doing it because of I want to be seen as a BIG DOG?
Reading Recommendation: Seth Godin's Small Is The New Big
P.S. Just don't look at your neck...or backside. And, put lower-wattage light bulbs in around the house. Works for me. ;-)