Business 13 March 2018
The Oxford dictionary defines confident as, “feeling or showing certainty about something." What it doesn't tell us, is that a confident mindset is one that takes years to develop, and is only as strong as the foundation that supports it.
In the midst of the #MeToo movement and long-fought war on pay gap, confidence emerges as a less distinct, yet just as significant, gap between women and men.
“As women, we tend to be more focused on competence than confidence. And it's holding us back," says Carrie Kerpen, CEO of social media agency and digital content studio, Likeable. Kerpen is one of the keynote speakers at this year's Million Dollar Women Summit, where she hopes to convey the importance of confidence as a tool of empowerment.
As a part of the Million Dollar Women movement, founded by Julia Pimsleur, this year's second annual Summit is a two-day event of coaching, interactive workshops and keynotes by successful female founders. The theme is Women Who Dare, “in honor of all the women who dared before us, not just entrepreneurs but inventors, activists and trailblazers of all kinds, who defied societal expectations and took risks in order to live their boldest lives," explains Pimsleur.
A two-time founder, author and influential speaker, Pimsleur understands confidence. This is why she set out to share her hard-earned wisdom as one of the few VC-backed, women-run businesses in the country. It all began as a controlled workshop to coach 75 women through their early rounds of funding.
Founder MDW, Julia Pimsleur
Three years later, and a collective $15 million in capital raised, Pimsleur decided to share the lessons in her book, Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big, before ultimately establishing the company, Million Dollar Women.“Knowing that they [women] have a tribe of other high growth women should make it a bit easier to access the three things you need to 'go big:' the right mindset, skillset and network," shares Pimsleur. “The Summit helps with all three. We are demystifying what it takes to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar company and breaking it down for women so we can make that three percent a thing of the past."
The three percent that Pimsleur addresses is the sobering statistic she discovered six years ago while raising capital for her company, Little Pim. “Fewer than three percent of women entrepreneurs get to $1 million in revenues and just four percent of venture capital is invested in women-run businesses," she explains.
With a mission to help one million women reach $1M in revenues by 2020, Million Dollar Women channels Pimsleur's confidence into a community for women navigating one of the most isolating periods of entrepreneurship. “At the beginning of my business I had so much passion and enthusiasm and drive, but a few years into it, I was burnt out, and needed new skills and networks to get to the next level," admits Pimsleur on the self-motivated mission to learn from fellow entrepreneurs.
“We are helping women go beyond their comfort zones and build big, successful businesses. Now they can scale up faster, and in great company," she states.
Although the entire Million Dollar Women company is steeped in the underlying theme of confidence, as women gain a community of like-minded motivation, this year's conference is a distinct opportunity to recognize the significance of what happens when you “dare" to think bigger--whether that's leaving your comfort zone or fostering belief in yourself.
“I think that male founders are generally more assertive, while female founders are generally more modest, myself included," says Shan-Lyn Ma, founder of Zola.com. As the co-keynote speaker at the Million Dollar Women summit this year, Ma reflects on the early days of her entrepreneurial venture, where confidence was her most important aspect but one she hadn't quite grasped yet.
“Venture Capitalists are attracted to founders who are confident in their ability to build the next billion-dollar business, which men time and time again promise they'll do, regardless if they have a solid idea or not," she says. “Women have a tendency to come in with a conservative five-year plan, which while practical, isn't as inspiring to VCs."
It took years of realizing her visions and community support for Ma to exude the confidence that reflected the investment she made in herself, to attract an investment from others. For this reason, Ma looks forward to encouraging this level of confidence for women in their early seeds of funding alongside fellow keynote speaker, Carrie Kerpen, and of course, the summit's founder, Julia Pimsleur at the Summit.
“I hope my story helps light a fire in people's hearts to go after something they've always wanted to do, whether that's starting a company, taking on a project at work, trying a new skill, or something else entirely," says Ma.
As the confidence gap presents itself as a non quantitative fix, Pimsleur has undoubtedly created a platform where women can leverage their network to inspire the qualitative change--one which confidence's “feelings of certainty" are rooted in. “While #MeToo is fixing the egregious harassment issues, we are fixing the more subtle mindset, skillset and network issues," concludes Pimsleur.
In using these as key touch points, Million Dollar Women reflects how as confidence becomes more accessible and understood, women will no longer have to look at it as a daunting gap, but rather as another tool they can master along their entrepreneurial journey.
The Million Dollar Women Summit will take place April 5-6 at the Microsoft Conference Center in New York City. For more information on scheduling, coaches and registration, click here.
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Help! I'm Dating a Jerk!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I've been dating my boyfriend for a year. After spending some vacation time with him and realizing he is not treating me the way I like I'm wondering — what do I do? I need him to be kinder and softer to me but he says simply, "chivalry is not his thing." I believe when two people decide to be together they need to adjust to each other. I don't think or feel my boyfriend is adjusting to what's important to me. Should I try to explain to him what's important to me, accept him for what he is, or leave him as I'm just not happy and the little gestures are important to me?
- Loveless Woman
Dear Loveless Woman,I am saddened you aren't getting your needs met in your relationship. Intimacy and affection are important to sustain a healthy relationship. It's troubling that even though you have expressed your needs to your boyfriend that it's fallen on deaf ears. You need to explore, with a therapist, why you have sought out this type of relationship and why you have stayed in it, even when it's making you chronically unhappy? Your belief that couples should adjust to each other is correct to some degree. These things often include compromising and bending on things like who gets the bigger closet or where to go for dinner. However, it's a tall order to ask someone to change their personality and if your boyfriend is indeed a jerk, like you say, who refuses to acknowledge your love language or express kindness and softness, then maybe you should find a partner who will embrace you while being chivalrous.
- The Armchair Psychologist
Hi Armchair Psychologist,
Just wanted to let you know that your article was really offensive to read. Do you refer to women's genitals as: "gross," "ghasty," "smelly," or otherwise? Humans are not perfect, each of us is different and you should emphasize this. I hope that man finds a partner that will love and accept him rather than tearing him down. Which gender has a whole aisle devoted to their "special" hygiene needs? I can tell you it's not men.
Dear Male Reader,Thank you for your thoughtful feedback to my Armchair Psychologist column. My email response bounced so am writing you here. I am so sorry I offended you. It wasn't my intention. I actually meant to be sardonic and make the writer see how ridiculous she sounded for the harsh language she used to describe her date. I obviously failed at this sneer since you think I meant to be offensive. Many apologies. I'll do better. Have a wonderful day and keep writing us with your thoughts.
- Ubah, The Armchair Psychologist