“If owning and growing a business was easy, everyone would own one.”
In the last episode of Mad Men, a successful entrepreneur broke up with his lover after she said she was starting her own business. Explaining his rationale, he talked about how building a business is “going to take all your time, all your energy and all your attention.”
Few things are so equated with the American Dream as business ownership. Yet for the many Cleaner and Launderer readers who own their own business, you know that more often than not, owning a business can actually interfere with your dreams… your dreams of sleep, of a life with less stress.
It’s now Sunday night, and I’m on deadline. Yes, the article is due, but I also am dealing with our Chinese factories, dealing with two government agencies, talking back and forth with two funding sources and preparing to introduce a new employee tomorrow to the community.
To work this hard, I have to be continually inspired. And I am, by my partner in life and the managing member of my business, my wife Jennie Nigrosh.
I have a theory – women are better at business than men. I have lots of reasons for this – from women being more about resolution than they are winning, to the fact that women are so much more used to multi-tasking work and home than men are.
Recently, Jennie was asked to post a blog for the Soderquist Leadership Organization about who inspired her.
Reading about what she found inspiring, the women in her life, was pretty inspiring in and of itself. “To me,” she writes, “they were leaders first, gender second. The way they ran their business and the way they created and nurtured and led was truly inspirational. Had they been men, perhaps I wouldn’t have identified or understood this could be me someday. Perhaps I would have identified with the support staff and not the leadership. But they weren’t men; they were strong, smart women.”
“My mother raised seven children, some hers, some not so much. That didn’t matter; we were all equal, and she made sure we knew that. Yes, she cooked and kind of cleaned (we had a little help) but she organized and schlepped and comforted and protected and laughed. All the good stuff you want in a mom. And then she went to work. Not just a day job around the corner, but she flew to New York from Boston every week where she ran a showroom for a clothing manufacturer.”
You’d think that would be inspiration enough. But it was the women in the adjoining showrooms that really got me thinking. Adrienne Vittadini and Norma Kamali had showrooms in the same building. These women were the trendsetters that truly helped define 80’s fashion. Yes I was star-struck, and I was also inspired.
“Cut to, college internship. I worked for my mother’s dear friend Irma Mann, who owned a formidable marketing agency in Boston. I’d never before seen a woman RUN things. She was on fire. The place was beyond busy; huge walls with notes and stickies, conference rooms, people running around, buzzing, activity, phones ringing, and it seemed everyone needed Irma for everything. And she had the answers, all the time and in seconds flat. She was fast and abrupt and so incredibly sure of herself. She was a force.”
Jennie notes how, “I was lucky enough to gain confidence and learn from smart, strong women. I hope that my company garners great success, but more importantly that my mission to make the planet a cleaner place continues to gain momentum. And I hope to mentor others as they go through their journeys.”
We all need inspiration to help us go through our journeys. I hope you all have your Jennie, and if not, you find someone to inspire you soon.