I recently had a conversation with my other half about an upcoming networking event we’re attending at a posh golf club. While guests have the opportunity to play a round of golf as part of the day, neither of us are golfers, so we’ll be skipping that part. Deciding on our arrival time, I mentioned I’d be there for breakfast and would spend the morning working. Since he had meetings that morning, I suggested he join during the afternoon.
That’s when he asked, “Will you be okay going on your own?” My immediate response, tinged with a mix of surprise and playful defiance, was, “Yes, I is boss lady.” (For reasons unknown to me I affect a childlike, grammatically incorrect tone reminiscent of Can I Has Cheezburger much of the time when speaking to him…fairly sure there must be some deep psychological significance to that, but I’m loath to look at it too closely. Anyway, I digress.)
Regardless of my response, his question lingered in my mind.
Why did he even need to ask?
I’ve been running my own business for over a decade — starting as a freelancer, evolving to leading a team of freelancers, and now, the proud owner of a digital agency. In between, I even headed the marketing for his agency. This journey hasn’t been without its challenges. Before I met him, he’d partnered with another man, they merged their businesses and stood as equals. But during my tenure with them, all my clients were expected to come under their umbrella, paying them directly, while I was relegated to drawing a salary, not recognized as a partner. This, despite the fact the biggest client they had for most of the time I worked for them was actually mine.
This was largely the reason I left and returned to working for myself. Fast forward to today: I have my own office, my own agency, and yet, there was his question — “Are you okay going alone?”
As if I’ve always been waiting in the shadows, needing someone to pull me into the light. Despite the fact I now stand at the helm of my own agency, I still find myself dodging these nuances. But here’s the truth — I’ve never been the damsel in distress. I’ve actually strive subvert the damsel myths. I’ve weathered storms, faced setbacks, but never once did I sit about twiddling my thumbs, awaiting some gallant knight in shining armour.
I’ve saved my own damn self, repeatedly. Every achievement, every milestone has been a testament to my hard work, creativity, and a fierce determination to shine on my own terms.
This led me to consider a recurring theme: the underestimation that countless female entrepreneurs often confront. Whether subtle or overt, there’s a persistent shadow of doubt, an insinuation that perhaps we aren’t up to the task, that we need some form of hand-holding.
History of Underestimation
The path of women in the business world is a tapestry, intricately woven with threads of both struggle and triumph. Historically, women have been sidelined, often relegated to roles that were deemed ‘suitable’ for our gender. Picture it: boardroom meetings in the ’50s, dominated by men in crisp suits, while women, dressed in pencil skirts, took diligent notes or fetched coffee. This wasn’t just a scene from an old movie, it was reality. We were present, but often as silent observers, seen but not always heard.
The corporate ladder for many women started and ended at the secretarial desk. It was a time when ambition for a woman was measured by how fast she could type, not by the ideas she could bring to the table. However, as the world evolved, so did we. As society changed its tunes, the hum of typewriters in the secretary pool began to be replaced by the assertive clicks of heels heading into boardrooms.
But this evolution didn’t happen overnight. The ’70s and ’80s saw a rise in women enrolling in business schools, eager to break the glass ceilings that had long confined them. They were no longer content being the backbone; they wanted to be the face, the voice, the decision-maker. These trailblazers faced ridicule, bias, and countless closed doors. Yet with every no, they pushed harder for the next yes.
And so, brick by brick, women dismantled the walls built around them. Today, while there’s still work to be done, it’s not uncommon to find women at the helm of corporations, leading teams, and making decisions that shape industries. From secretarial roles to corner offices, the journey has been arduous, but oh, how far we’ve come.
Still, it’s essential to remember that the climb to leadership hasn’t been linear. Every step forward was met with resistance, every achievement marred by doubt. But as history has shown, underestimate a woman, and she’ll not only meet your expectations – she’ll surpass them, leaving an indelible mark as she does. Because, as my own journey has taught me, when you’re determined to shine, even the darkest shadows cannot hold you back.
Subvert The Damsel Myths And Blaze Your Own Trail
In almost every fairytale, there’s a common archetype – a damsel, a dense and menacing wood, and lurking creatures symbolizing danger. But what if the story was rewritten? Enter the Rebel Wolf concept.
The woods aren’t just dark and daunting; they’re intricate tapestries of challenges and opportunities, a realm where one finds themselves amidst adversity. In my journey, I’ve learned that the woods aren’t to be feared. Instead, they are the landscapes where resilient souls forge their path. While traditional tales warn of wolves, portraying them as threats, I’ve embraced a different perspective. In my narrative, the wolves are not the antagonists. They are the catalysts.
Like the wolf, often misunderstood yet undeniably sharp and intuitive, I’ve learned to navigate the complexities of the entrepreneurial landscape. Every wolf knows the ins and outs of the woods, and every growl, every nip at the heels isn’t a threat but a nudge — a reminder to stay alert, to pivot, adapt, and most importantly, to lead.
Rebel Wolf isn’t just a brand or a metaphor; it’s a revolution. It’s about tearing down age-old stereotypes, ripping apart the pages of tales that bind us to fear, and penning a new story. A story where the damsel is no longer in distress, waiting for salvation. Instead, she’s the alpha, fearlessly leading her pack, carving paths where none existed, and embracing the wolves and woods alike. It’s a journey of subversion — a journey that transforms tales of trepidation into anthems of empowerment.
Because in the heart of every damsel, there’s a Rebel Wolf waiting to lead, to challenge the status quo, and to show that the woods, in all their mystique, are not places of peril but playgrounds of potential. And the wolves? They’re not dangers but guides, allies in a quest to redefine the narrative and rewrite the fairytale.
Society’s Unspoken Scripts: Navigating Subconscious Biases
You might recall the seemingly innocuous question my partner posed, “Will you be okay going on your own?” It’s in these understated moments that the depth of societal conditioning surfaces, unveiling the underlying biases, sometimes even unbeknownst to those uttering the words.
In every innocently delivered comment, in every well-meaning question, there often lies an undertone, a hint of doubt, suggesting perhaps I’m not up to the task or I’m out of place. It isn’t just personal interactions; this sentiment seeps into the very fabric of our culture, shaping perceptions and setting the tone for how female entrepreneurs are perceived.
Case in point: I recall a certain instance when I was renting my office space. Having gone through the entire process on my own, I brought Simon, my technical director and website director, to check the technical aspects like cables and internet connection that are his forte and honestly bore me to tears.
Yet, my landlord, despite being a lovely individual, seemed to have his compass skewed by ingrained biases. Meeting Simon for the first time, he almost magnetically began deferring all conversations and questions to him. The contract, bearing my name, became invisible; the fact that it was my enterprise and I had built success on my own terms seemed to evaporate in the presence of a man. Simon constantly corrected the narrative, emphasizing the reality of the situation, but our landlord, perhaps unconsciously, saw the story through a different, more traditional lens.
Speaking of the domestic front, a similar bias came to light when interviewing potential cleaners for my home. Despite the fact that hiring a cleaner is something I insist on, because I don’t like to spend my spare time cleaning but enjoy a pristine house, and I am the one who bear the full expense, one potential hire made the baffling comment that I should check with “the man who pays” before finalizing anything. The presumption stunned me, and suffice it to say, she didn’t make the cut.
Mainstream media and pop culture, while proclaiming advancement and inclusion, often unknowingly play the role of archivists, preserving stereotypes that have long held women back. Whether it’s the portrayal of a female business owner as perpetually stressed, emotionally volatile, or in over her head, the narrative remains consistent – she’s an anomaly, a fish out of water, and inevitably in need of guidance.
These old tales linger, subtly colouring perceptions and setting the stage for biases. It’s not always overt, and that’s what makes it insidious. But just as the Rebel Wolf finds her path in the woods, unheeded by tales of trepidation, we too must rise above these subtle stabs, these societal insinuations. Embracing the challenge, we can shine a light on these biases, dissect them, and continue our march forward, unwavering in our resolve, with the wolves – our allies – guiding us through.
Embracing the Boss Heels: Power Beyond the Sole
In the realm of entrepreneurship, especially as a woman at the helm, it’s essential to realize that true power doesn’t emanate from an external seal of approval, but from the recognition and appreciation of one’s worth. There’s a special kind of magic in stepping into our “boss heels,” metaphorically and literally. But what are these “boss heels”?
Boss heels, for all intents and purposes, are symbols. Symbols of authority, dominance, and self-assurance. Now, they could be a pair of sky-high stilettos with that iconic red sole, emanating an aura of high-fashion. Yet, for others (like yours truly), they could be as unconventional as cuddly vampire bat slippers. On sunnier days, they might manifest as flip flops, or for those chilly winter mornings, a snug pair of Uggs. The essence isn’t in the design, the brand, or the height of the heel. It’s about the statement they make: this is me, in my element, at the top of my game.
This symbolism goes beyond fashion. It is a battle cry for every female entrepreneur to remember that our validation doesn’t hinge on societal norms or expectations. The beauty of running our businesses is the absolute freedom it grants — the freedom to set our rules, chart our path, and define our style. Be it negotiating a deal in Louboutins or conceptualizing the next big idea in comfy trainers, the power lies in the conviction, the passion, and the relentless spirit behind the shoes.
For female entrepreneurs to truly shine and leave an indelible mark, it’s vital to step out of the shadows of doubt and underestimation. This requires a few strategies:
Self-affirmation: Regularly remind yourself of your achievements, big or small. These milestones are testaments to your hard work and resilience.
Networking: Build a robust network of like-minded entrepreneurs. Their journeys, insights, and experiences can serve as both inspiration and guidance.
Continual learning: Equip yourself with the latest in your industry. This ensures you’re always a step ahead, giving you an edge in your dealings.
Boundaries: Set clear boundaries in professional relationships. This not only fosters respect but also ensures you’re never undervalued.
In essence, embracing your boss heels is about recognizing and harnessing your power. It’s about stepping forward with unwavering confidence, knowing that with every stride, you’re shattering ceilings, breaking barriers, and carving a legacy that future female entrepreneurs will look up to.
Actionable Steps To Get Your Glow On
In the ever-shifting landscape of entrepreneurship, every individual finds their own unique path to shine. Emboldened by the Rebel Wolf ethos, it’s clear that a fiery passion isn’t enough on its own; it must be paired with purposeful steps. Following the wolf’s lead, it’s about embracing your natural instincts and adapting to the surroundings. Here are actionable steps tailored for every female entrepreneur to let her light glow:
Acknowledge Your Worth: Start from within. Recognize and internalize your value. Each setback faced, every hurdle overcome, is a testament to your resilience. They aren’t just obstacles; they’re stepping stones. Let them form the foundation of your entrepreneurial journey. Know your worth, and the world will follow suit. When I started out a lot of people scoffed at the notion I could ever make money blogging. They worried I needed help, encouraged me to get a ‘real job’, yet I turned that blog into a six figure business, then opened my own agency. That is how you subvert the damsel myth.
Cultivate Self-Belief: This journey requires patience and persistence. Begin by setting small, achievable goals. With each accomplishment, your confidence grows, reinforcing your capability to tackle bigger challenges. Dive into resources that foster positivity, be they books, podcasts, or affirmations. The wolf doesn’t second-guess or succumb to self-doubt; she moves forward, driven by instinct and unwavering belief.
Elevate Your Circle: It’s often said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, while cherishing existing relationships, consciously make an effort to surround yourself with individuals who are at the echelons you aspire to reach. Their perspectives, habits, and ethos can subconsciously nudge you to elevate your game. This doesn’t mean abandoning your roots; it’s about ensuring your growth environment is enriched with visionary inspiration.
Carve Your Unique Path: Traditional methods, like networking, aren’t the only way to grow. Find what aligns with your ethos and comfort. It could be content creation, online forums, collaborations, or simply quality work that speaks for itself. Remember, the wolf defines her path; she doesn’t follow the trails of others.
Celebrate Every Win: No achievement is too small. Whether you’ve sealed a deal, launched a new initiative, or garnered positive feedback, bask in it. These moments aren’t just successes; they’re affirmations of your capabilities.
Commit to Continuous Learning: The entrepreneurial realm is dynamic. To consistently glow, stay informed. Workshops, online courses, or setting aside time for research can be invaluable. Adapt and evolve, just as the wolf does with changing seasons.
Trust Your Instincts: As the wolf trusts her senses in the wild, rely on your instincts in business. Gray areas are inevitable, and in those moments, let your experiences and gut feelings guide you.
Stand Your Ground: There are times we must draw clear boundaries. That might mean telling an unsupportive family member that they need to backoff and mind their own business. Equally it could be sacking a client who has proven harmful to your business (or mental wellbeing!), or simply keeping to set hours for business communication rather than being a slave to your email or WhatsApp.
Ask For And Accept Help: Being the boss does not mean doing everything yourself, everything alone, never asking for or accepting help. That way lies toxic independence and a very sore back (that’s a whole other story). Bossing it requires delegating; discerning what you have to do and where your unique strengths lie, and finding others to handle everything else. Asking for help isn’t an admission of failure; it doesn’t make you the damsel or mean you’re distressed. It’s simply an acknowledgement that there’s a finite amount of time and energy in your life, and you are careful about where you spend it. Like hiring a cleaner, or having a tech guy who deals with all the techie stuff I don’t understand and don’t care to know about!
Entrepreneurship, mirroring the complexities of the woods, offers myriad paths. Yet, with purposeful steps and the tenacity of the wolf, any female entrepreneur can not only find her way but can lead the pack. It’s about shining authentically, embracing the glow that’s uniquely yours. So, kindle that inner light, and let the world witness the brilliance of your journey.
Howling At The Moon
In a world frequently penned with biases and predetermined roles, it’s a radical act to rewrite our narrative and subvert the damsel myths. We must recognize that while the woods of entrepreneurship can seem daunting, filled with shadows and eerie silences, they also resonate with opportunity, growth, and discovery. The tales we’ve been told – of dark woods, lurking dangers, and damsels awaiting rescue – need not be the tales we tell our daughters or ourselves.
As the embodiment of the Rebel Wolf, every woman has the power to subvert these traditional tales. The wolf doesn’t fear the woods; she thrives in them, understands them, and becomes their very essence. It’s time we embrace that ethos. Those metaphorical wolves biting at our heels aren’t threats but mentors, guiding us, showing us the path, and encouraging us to run with fervour.
If history has often side-lined women, casting them as mere secondary characters, then the present beckons us to take centre stage, to don the boss heels (or vampire bat slippers) of our choosing and stride forward with conviction. To understand that the journey is as crucial as the destination, and every challenge met, every bias shattered, doesn’t just elevate us but raises the bar for the next generation of female trailblazers.
You are not the damsel in distress of yesteryears’ fairytales; you are the hero of today’s saga. Howl with pride, run with purpose, and let the world see that the best stories are those where we save ourselves, lead our packs, and become legends in our own right.