I’ve been a passionate and successful entrepreneur my entire professional life. Despite knowing as much as I do about the hustle and grind of the startup life after almost 25 years, I talk a lot about the value of life wealth. Life wealth has a lot to do with the time, attention, and energy I spend with and for my family. My wonderful wife and two teenage daughters are my top priority.
I’ve talked publicly about not missing a Donuts for Dads or carving a pumpkin in their classes. I’ve shared that my wife and I made the decision to pull the girls out of school for a year and travel the world with them; we even lived abroad where they attended an International school in Barcelona. These are unique experiences that my career has been able to provide for our family, but, really, at the end of the day, it’s about driving them to school; talking together; eating dinner as a family. I truly value the TIME with my girls – learning more with them and for them.
My older daughter is in high school now, and I have started thinking more seriously about the path each of my daughters may choose in life. They have certainly heard me beating the ENTREPRENEURIAL drum their whole lives – do what you love, don’t follow the pack, be bold, take a risk. And recently I realized something else that I’ve started to really thinking about: I don’t just have two kids who may become entrepreneurs, I have two GIRLS who may become entrepreneurs.
Why does that matter? Great question.
My wife and I tried to raise our girls with strong voices. They played sports, sometimes even on boys teams. They were told by both of us almost every, single day that they could do anything a boy could do – and they could probably do it better. We tried not to put limits or constraints on them or their views of what is possible for each of them, respectively.
But, as an entrepreneur, I also know the world they will enter. A world where men get more funding than women. A world where women entrepreneurs get treated differently. A world where sometimes (perhaps often) that “different” is more negative than positive.
So knowing their chances of being the CEO of a successful startup may be smaller, or raising venture capital is smaller, or that even being taken seriously as a leader may be questioned, should I encourage them to pursue a more corporate path? To avoid the punch in the face that being an entrepreneur can deliver – especially if I know that it can and will be harder for women?
I’m not a woman, so I won’t pretend to know what it feels like or how hard it may be. But this International Day of the Girl, what I want for my daughters is what I want for all of the amazing, female entrepreneurs whom I’ve met recently.
I want my daughters to show the dumb, male investors who have turned women down and the men who aren’t willing to come work for women who have built and continue to create amazing companies that these men are just that – dumb. And more than proving to others, having them prove it to themselves which is one of entrepreneurship’s greatest lessons we don’t talk about enough.
Know that many women have a unique capacity to be strong AND empathetic at the same time; that women balance organizational skills and attention to details with drive and ambition incredibly well.
The truth is is that women (generally speaking) have a different approach, which is EXACTLY what makes women powerful leaders. Women won’t take the path most men will take; they won’t manage or strategize or react the same ways. And guess what – that means that they won’t get the same results. And that is what great startups are all about. Breaking the norms. Disrupting the incumbents. Changing the rules and the game itself. What better way to do that than ensuring you are coming at it from a different point of view.
And that the very fact you have already had to overcome hurdles means you are even MORE prepared for the challenges, rejections, hurdles and problems that every entrepreneur tends to face in order to create success. You are battle ready.
So to my teenage daughters on this International Day of the Girl: I will love you and support your decision to pursue whatever lights your fire in life. To work in an office, to teach, to work outside, to travel to foreign lands, to work in the home, to pursue the arts, to start your own companies. I will support your decision to be an entrepreneur or decide that isn’t the right path for you. All I ask is that whatever you decide, KNOW that you are as good, as smart, as capable and as worthy as anyone on Earth. So go do something great. – Dad (Mac)
For more on startups, scale and living the entrepreneurial life visit: maclackey.com