Meeting women entrepreneurs from around the world is always inspiring for me. This time around the feeling was a renewed sense of energy and positive outlook. The global financial crisis was unable to cast a shadow on the passion of these women. The opportunities that arise from change are embraced, rather than shied away from. I was honored speak with the founding president of honor, Madame Armand Dutry. Her presence and warmth was felt by all that she interacted with. She should be proud of the women from all corners of the globe that assembled to support each other and FCEM.
Women and network leaders have been contacting me all year to ask me how to get Swedish women more involved in international networks. I have to admit I have been asking myself the same question. We all work, we have the classic double duty of being in charge of the home and family as well as our careers. But it is not simply a matter of time. We are not placing a high enough priority on our needs for connecting. Is it lack of ambition? I definitely do not think so. But a culture opposed to risk taking might be a better explanation. The women I meet who do “get out” are quite exceptional and not what I would call “typically Swedish” in that regard.
As my adopted home country, I feel it is my duty to try to do what I can to remedy this. I have met so many wonderful women around the world and at home. I just can’t imagine them not benefiting from interacting with one another. Whether it be for social, professional or personal reasons, we all have something to gain from the interaction. Even if it is simply to get a fresh perspective. Or even better to realize that often our views are the same once the cultural blinders are removed.
So here is my shout out. Ladies, you have nothing to lose but a missed opportunity. Take a chance, reach out, try a new network, attend an event, treat yourself to a weekend away and enjoy the new connections you can make and the richness that they add to your life.
The sun is now coming out again in Sweden with a vengeance. The days are longer and we are all finding ways to maximise the exposure to the sun to replenish that missing Vitamin D from the long Swedish Winter. What better way to do this than golf. As I dig through my storage space, past the piles of ski gear, sleds and roller blades, I see my golf bag waiting for me. No tee time booked yet, but my mind is set on improving my golf game now that I am in the land of golf. As an entrepreneur, I find I often have to justify my efforts that lean toward the decadent (not in the office or with my family). But wait, I can still work while I do this wonderful sport.
Something is driving me to think about golf at work, after all this is about “Balance”. And then, lo and behold, I receive not one, but three links from friends about women professionals golfing and networking. So, something is indeed driving me to the range (pardon the pun). I will share them with you and encourage you to do the same. Get out on the range, enjoy the walk, the company and the opportunity to expand your horizons (and even your business).
The sound of a whisper can scarcely be heard. The whisper of many can be a thundering roar. I don’t expect women to roar alone. But I do hope that women will rise to the occassion and part with a whisper. It might be in the form of sharing a burning question. It might be simply by sharing a favorite book, story, event, website or words of wisdom and inspiration passed to them. It might even be all of the above.
The feeling of giving is equal when one is sharing their thoughts. Each question inspires a thought, and in that a connection is made. We are not alone in our needs. We are more alike than we are different. I look forward to the roar created by parting with whispers in unison with women around the world. It has only just begun.
A social enterprise in the academic sense is one that has a vision that is socially motivated for improving peoples lives. This said, when presented with a social enterprise that has the potential for making a profit, it is somehow tagged as unethical or evil. I argue that we should encourage more companies to think socially and remember their vision, as often the original vision is socially motivated. Profit produces incomes and it encourages innovation of better goods and services.
Building 2BalanceU has been a passionate endeavor for me driven by the vision to make it happen. The best bits of inspiration I have been given have often been from a fleeting interaction with someone unexpected. Opening myself to new experiences and cultures has helped me to learn and become who I am. I wish to provide a tool to extend that opportunity to women around the world to share and learn from one another. It takes so little effort to share what we already know. And it can make all the world of difference to the receiver.
Remaining authentic in our actions is critical for credibility. We intend to make a profit, as it will help us grow to create a better tool to a larger more diverse audience, compensate us for our efforts, enable us support our partners in their efforts and remain viable. We believe that we can improve peoples lives, including our own, in a profitable social enterprise.
Thank you ladies who participated in the Women Sharing Wisdom; Making the Most of Cross-Network Mentoring Workshop at the International Committee for the Red Cross on the 4th of September. It was a pleasure to meet you all and to see you all interacting in a moment of wisdom sharing, laughter and inspiration.
I encourage you to continue your efforts to be open beyond your traditional networks. Remember to make the most of the mentoring and networking available to you within your organization, but remember that there is much to be learned from unexpected connections both locally and globally. As we all move through transitions in life, be them small or great, there is much to be gained from learning from those who have passed through them before, are moving with you, or are approaching. Keep in mind the curious traveler that knows more about their destination than the resident they are visiting. Wisdom can come from many places.
I look forward to hearing about your journeys and hope you will take the time to pass on the wisdom to one who needs it. In the meantime, best wishes to you and thank you again for sharing your time.