by BIG Idea Facilitator Yvonne DiVita
Women Entrepreneurs - we ARE millions strong!
My office is a reflection of me, as I expect your office is of you. Given my devoted attention to women entrepreneurs, especially baby boomer women, you can imagine I am surrounded by strong, inspirational things. We'll call them things because they range from rocks, to pictures, to books. The books, as anyone who knows me intimately will attest, are the 'things' that are the essence of my soul.
Behind me the saying, "Words are not just letters on a page. Words have sound. Words have soul." came to me as I discussed the power of how we speak to Robbi Hess, another baby boomer woman who loves words. I keep it around to remind me that soul is not just an ephemeral cloud of atoms, floating about our heads. Soul is more concrete and more expressive. And, it's what inspires women all over the world to start a business on their own.
Calling out our numbers is merely one way to remind the world, and all my baby boomer women friends, that women matter. The way soul matters. The way words matter. The way dreams matter.
On The Story Exchange, we learn a good deal about the power of a woman's dream. We learn...
that an estimated 224 million women in 67 economies around the world are starting or running their own businesses. Some 112 million of them employ one or more people, helping to support millions of families and to sustain countless communities.
Do visit the exchange and read, watch videos, add your story. But, do not drown yourself in what others are doing. YOU are your own best cheer leader and there is no time like now to move forward in your ambitions to be the woman entrepreneur you can be. Let the others showcased in the exchange inspire you, but do not let them keep you from doing what you should be doing to move your business forward.
It's not easy building a business when you're past the age of, say, 40. I use that number because I am not ashamed to admit 40 -45 was the BEST time of my life. I felt young and I was in great shape (I bought size 8 clothing off the rack without ever trying it on, knowing it would fit). My kids were grown and fairly independent so I could leave the house whenever I pleased, and do whatever I pleased. It was intoxicating.
The years after that were hard. I found being an employee increasingly stifling. I found myself always asking, "Why?" Not "why me" although there were many days the why me floated in my consciousness. I pushed it away because life has taught me well that there are always others in must worse circumstances than I. And so, I, in my sometimes despair, would dream of a different kind of life. Until, one day, I collected my things from my desk, went home, and said, "I'm done with this. I can do better on my own."
Strong words. I felt strong. I was angry - the jobs I had worked at for all those years following my divorce did their best to stomp my hopes and dreams into the ground. I was not allowed to be creative or innovative at any of them! (yes, there were several) I was treated as less than. Just a woman. Good enough to fetch coffee. Even now, looking back, I don't know what I did wrong. I don't see that I allowed the mistreatment (we won't get into the 'me, too' moments). I stood up for myself. I did more than I was asked to do. And still, I was force-ably held back. Sometimes made fun of. At one place, I was harassed until I cried. They smiled, happy they had broken me.
When people say time heals all wounds, they likely have not experienced what so many women entrepreneurs have had to endure. I will not forget. My wounds, while mostly scar tissue now, exist still. I don't think about them as much, but they do color my world a darker gray once in a while.
As time marches on, I do see wonders ahead of me. I see rainbows and soft fireworks in purple and blue. I see red as the power color it should be, announcing the arrival of someone important. I hear colors - the words they whisper are words of encouragement and support.
The purple colors surround me in soft silk, swishing in a breeze that gently moves my hair and caresses my face. There is warmth and acceptance in purple.
The blue colors shimmer like a summer sunset, reminding me of my accomplishments. They whisper happy words, "strong, able, embraceable." They hint of partnerships I will make, have made, dream of making, to bring women entrepreneurs into a fold of acceptance and truth.
The red colors remind me, in their pink folds and sharp crimson layers, that nothing is easy but I can stand tall and be strong and courageous, and never give up.
Women entrepreneurs - we are millions strong! The Story Exchange, with its 1000 stories, with its invitation to share, with its videos and advice, and its welcoming words, tells a story itself. A story of recognition. A story of history. A story of women and the importance of how they make society a place of nurturing, where the goal is to bring wealth to all. Wealth in connections, voices, stories, and finances.
And they leave us to answer that question.
What say you, amazing women entrepreneurs? What say you, baby boomer women in your second act? What say you, young women who are standing tall, who bring your youth and fierce determination to the field?
Tell us... comment below!