One of the things I've realized recently is that for many founders, one of the hardest things we have to do is put ourselves "out there." This could be our posts on LinkedIn or social media, speaking at events, pitching ourselves to investors, asking for the sale from a client, or any of the other marketing or business development and reputation-building activities we engage in.
It can feel uncomfortable, awkward, palpitation-inducing, and even terrifying. What-if's start to flood our brains: What if they say no, What if they laugh, What if they reject me, What if they think the idea is stupid, What if they think I'm stupid, What if I make a fool of myself... and on and on and on.
I get it. I have been there too. And as women, we have the added burden of society's pressures telling us we have to be perfect, we have to look a certain way, we have to behave a certain way, we have to be 100% sure of everything. It's a double-standard that plays in the back of our minds any time we strive, reach, consider, or try for something or move outside our comfort zones. We take society's impossible standards, mix them up with our own, and paralyze ourselves.
But in these moments of should-I-stay-small-or-really-go-for-it, it's crucial that we remind ourselves that we chose to do what we are doing for a reason. We want to create something, contribute something, improve something, help someone, add value, see what we are made of, see what we can make. We are do-ers and creators and value-adders.
And every time we keep ourselves to ourselves, every time we shrink from raising our hands or our voices, every time we talk ourselves out of a seat at The Table, or don't post that article or don't apply for that award, every time we stay in our box, we are being selfish and serving no one.
Because the world needs what we have to offer, but no one will ever find us, hear us, be lifted by us, helped by us or our products, or inspired by us if we don't put ourselves out there.
To quote the brilliant Abby Wambach, "Imperfect men have been empowered and permitted to run the world since the beginning of time. It's time for imperfect women to grant themselves permission to join them." So let's go out there and share our sparkling imperfect radiance with the world exactly as we are and as big and shiny as we can be.
Let's go out there and be bold, be ourselves, and be visible.
Amongst all of the broader social conversations happening recently around worth and wealth and access and fairness, what has galled me the most is that too many of us are still having to ask for permission to access the illusory "level playing field" and "equal protection" others enjoy implicitly.
For women, pay gaps, VC funding patterns, systemic biases, and a whole matrix of external structures keep us persistently under-represented in positions of power and keep us poorer than men. The statistics are depressing and universal, and all of the unpaid work we do robs us further of our potential wealth and influence.
But we can, and have to, do something about this. From demanding what we are worth to paying ourselves properly, the work starts with each of us. We need to get better at getting actual cash, and we need to stop telling ourselves we can't afford to invest in ourselves or our businesses.
There are a few simple things we can do right now to give ourselves more money and therefore more options and more of a say:
My dear Entreprenoras, the world already de-prioritizes us and minimizes our worth, but we shouldn't do that to ourselves. Let's have those difficult money conversations with co-founders or partners or suppliers, let's plan for our financial futures, let's learn what we need to learn, and let's start building our financial fortresses so that no one can ever, ever pull us down. [Get started with some of the books about money and wealth here.]
Money isn't the answer to everything, but having more control over more of it gives us the freedom to do more of the good we want to do in the world and in our lives.
So let's stop with the status quo and start paying ourselves and owning our worth. Cha. Ching.