When I was six, my favorite toy was a GeoSafari. You used laminated cards to “play” what amounted to timed quizzes. I knew how to have a good time back then, too! My favorite were the solar system cards. I knew all nine of those planets like the back of my hand. I also took for granted that I was encouraged to embrace an early love for science.
Research suggests girls begin to avoid activities for “really, really smart” people as early as six years old. Related stereotypes then discourage women from pursuing many prestigious careers associated with intellectual ability. In a compelling ad last week, Barbie brought this idea to life suggesting girls are less likely to be given science-related toys and at an early age stop believing they can be scientists, presidents, and CEOs. They dubbed this the “dream gap.” An ironic source, but the phrase is a catchy encapsulation of the message with an important (though not truly gender-specific) call to action: We can’t do it alone. Moms, dads, brothers, bosses. We need all of you to help.
Only within the past few years did my dream evolve to focus on building an organization that could create opportunities for myself and others to do meaningful and enjoyable work with people we care about. I never stopped believing I could succeed in business; business hadn’t even entered my realm of consideration. Then I was fortunate to see up close the power of business to do good – for clients, for employees, for communities – and it changed the way I thought about who I am, who I want to be, and how work fits into those definitions and aspirations.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m happy to have joined the more than 12 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. I’m happier to have a small army to thank—moms, dads, brothers, bosses…friends, sisters, colleagues, neighbors, family, and acquaintances who have helped and continue to help along the way.
So this month—National Women’s Small Business Month—I’m celebrating by thanking you, dear reader.
Thank you for the encouragement and for the kicks in the butt. For blazing a path. For teaching me and showing me. Thank you for believing and for questioning. For the advice that I took…and the advice that I didn’t. For the doors you opened and those closed, too. Thank you for reading and for the conversation.
And thank you for considering joining me on what’s sure to be a wild ride—it, and I, wouldn’t be the same without you.