Eileen: As female business leaders, what has been the most challenging as you strive to be a strong presence in your target market?
We’re not going to pretend that this hasn’t been a challenge in our work. And yet, we also believe it can be an opportunity. It is sometimes hard within the business sector to remain true to what we feel is indispensable and valuable in “being feminine”.
It is why in the past many women “had to act like men” to get ahead. Many of the “typically female” attributes, such as concern for the well workings of a group, are not always esteemed. And, as we’ve experienced and heard from many female counterparts that it can be “off-putting” when either emotion or being “firm” are expressed by women in the workforce.
However, we are seeing a necessary shift take place. Businesses are beginning to realize that human beings are at their core and that they must be attended to, or the many issues that are plaguing businesses, such as decreased productivity, high turnover, workplace bullies, and the multiple costs associated with stressed-out workers, will only increase.
There is value in these “differences”. It is less about “right or wrong” or “either, or”, but how to bring together and integrate these – what only at first glance – seem like opposing truths.
With the creative tension of differences, new solutions can be gained. However, this requires learning how to tolerate the often-uncomfortable lessons that accompany this stage of the growth process.
When we feel tired, like we’ve been climbing unceasingly uphill with limited visibility, we are reminded of the Taoist principle of water.
“It invites us to flow quietly but persistently around the obstacles that stand between us and the common good, wearing them down as a river erodes boulders.”
Eileen: What has been the most memorable part and greatest lesson of your journey as an all-female business? Why?
Dayna & Jennifer: We really do practice what we preach. This work has been a very different experience than previous positions for several reasons, but one of the primary ones is that we actively seek to bring together our various strengths to achieve our mission.
We have created safety and trust in our work relationship and make communication a priority – even the hard conversations.
We often look at issues from different vantages. This is both a strength and can be challenging. When we can put into action the many tools we teach, something even better than us completing a task individually comes to fruition. For example, we’ve learned:
- It is very easy to take things personally during the creative process. The ideas we generate often feel like a part of us. When an idea isn’t used, it is easy to take offense. However, through communication, we’ve come to learn that one person’s idea leads to another inspiration.
- Some conversations should NOT be done through email. Though email allows us to easily get our thoughts down, they can be misconstrued without opportunity for back and forth clarification. It is necessary to take the time to schedule time to talk regularly.
- We plan differently. Jen likes to work backward, and Dayna likes to build up. It may take a bit more time, but looking at matters from multiple perspectives is priceless in creating quality work.
Most memorable part: That we’ve held this shared dream for over a decade and despite the twist and turns of our lives, the distance in locations, we’ve circled back together and have worked really, really, really hard to get this going: from copy to websites, to networking, to marketing to implementation.
The fact that we still work off each other in both creativity and in faith that we can do this, carry out our dreams and share our gifts and lessons in order to carry out a mission that will make this world a better place to live and work in.
Biggest lesson: You know how when you’re a freshman in college or you start a new job, you have all of these hopes and dreams of how smoothly things will go and how rapid things will happen? Not only is selling corporate retreats a long sales cycle, there is also a man’s world we must find our place in so that (mostly) men and some woman trust us with their baby, trust us with all of their vulnerabilities around their baby.
For me, the lesson has been that the secret sauce to that process takes more ingredients than I realized from the start. It’s more than “fake it to you make it”.
There are connections and conversations that aren’t easy to coordinate, yet necessary to have to gain that trust. And it’s not just one conversation, it’s multiple.
I’m not exactly sure what I thought, but I’ve learned that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
And that is a lesson that makes you dig down even deeper to keep the faith and not give up because the patience and diligence for this process is something more than you realize.
Eileen: What keeps you going, leading others, and creating a legacy for generations to come?
Dayna & Jennifer: Sometimes it is very hard to keep the momentum going.
You wonder, “Is this worth it?”
Maintaining a private practice, while also running all aspects of a consulting agency – the most arduous being marketing to corporations – is not for the faint-hearted. However, with the realization that we are all interconnected, there is a sense of responsibility both personally and socially that can’t be ignored.
As we’ve mentioned, we often must look to each other for that motivation to keep going. And it often comes down to the mission. The strong knowing that these skills we wish to bring to companies will be something that will make their working environment more productive and fruitful and that they will take this home to their families and benefit that way and then their families will take it to the community and the ripple effect continues.
When we stop and say, imagine what a difference that ripple effect will make, it’s hard to give up.
Eileen: Share some words of wisdom for other females who would like to go into business for themselves.
Dayna & Jennifer: It doesn’t have to be “us” and “them”. Are there differences – absolutely!
However, the productive question is, “What can we learn from each other?”
It is more fruitful if we can work together and bring all our strengths together at the same (level) table with the aim of creating balance and optimization within the workplace.
It is our hope, as it was our foremothers’ wish, that it can be different for the next generation. We seek to make psychological safety, effective communication, insight and awareness, value alignment, collaboration, creativity, human-centered tech and societal good mainstays within corporate culture.