I'm an independent woman - but I am a woman first. Part of being a woman first is understanding that the rules for man and the rules for woman are not the same - we are different, and we have to play by different rules. (This doesn't have to be gender specific - in relationships, we take on masculine or feminine qualities when with our partner.)
In the world of business, I've struggled with what it means to be a woman - a respected, strong woman who can lead teams, gain the trust of her clients and leadership, and is personable and well-liked. If I play the sweet and nice persona I prefer to play, very often colleagues and clients tend to see me as a doormat - they automatically assume I'm incompetent, soft, and sweet. It often takes an extra amount of energy to undo that kind of impression. If I play the hard-ass bitch card, colleagues and clients see me as high maintenance, difficult to work with, and as a person that's out for herself. If I wear boring pants and a button down all the time, I'm assumed to be cold and stiff. If I wear a pink skirt to work and heels, suddenly I'm super feminine and emotional - or better yet, incompetent. I smile a friendly smile at a male colleague or client, and sometimes, it's mistakenly assumed that I'm coming on to him. After a decade or so of trying to figure it out, I've stopped trying to figure it out. I wear what I want to wear. I act how I want to act. I say what I want to say. I prefer to wear red, black, grey, white, ... purple, green, blue, whatever I want. People will think whatever they want to think anyways.
In the world of relationships, I've also struggled with what it means to be a woman. I can tell you verbatim word for word what one ~boy~ said to me, "Arry, I think you are the sweetest person I know - and I like all of you except the business side of you." WTF? So there I learned lesson #1, some guys don't like a real smart woman - just the idea of one. So many guys will tell you they want a smart woman... yet when they get one, I'm pretty sure at least the ones I've run into, are in over their heads. I've heard guys say that the quality of women suck and that women are all gold diggers and superficial. What I don't get is how the guys that claim to want a good-looking well-kept woman can complain about the high costs of the beauty maintenance. It takes resources to look good! And why don't more guys put in some effort in the grooming and looks department, too? I've heard guys complain that all the women in a particular city are ugly. You know what? It's when guys say things like that, I get really annoyed. All the women in Seattle are ugly? That means the guy that's complaining about all the ugly women in a city is a superficial little boy who's not looking for an intelligent, kind, respectable woman, but a fake plastic soul-less barbie doll. I've learned so much - and I'm still learning ... To be a real woman isn't only about her looks, it's much deeper than that. I definitely haven't really figured it all out - but what I have figured out is that to be a woman is to be strong, smart, sensitive, sensual, ... (I'm out of "S" words...) respectable, respectful, honorable, caring, vulnerable, and real person who takes care of herself (because confidence is a woman's inner goddess) and who chooses her company of friends and her potential man very (~very~) carefully.
**And yes, on second thought and a couple hours of sleep, I've edited this blog post and replaced most of my insensitive use of the word "~boy~" with the word "guy". Sorry if I majorly offended anyone. Didn't like the sound of it myself either.
I'm an independent woman. Just like the song says, I can stand on my own two feet, open my own doors, buy my own house and car, buy my own jewelry, drive myself around, cook and eat by myself, take care of myself, travel the world, ... the whole works. Heck, I pride myself on being an independent woman who once used to own three vehicles. Yes. Three. My car, a motorcycle and a sweet scooter. I pride myself on the fact I drive a manual transmission car - 6 speed stick shift in fact. I drooled when the Audi R8 came out, love the new Porsche's and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Ducati's, ... and whole bunch of fast sexy looking and sounding machinery. I own a power drill. I got a kickass accountant. I've launched businesses.
... All right, I hear you, so you get the point. Arry is an independent woman. Great, so what?
I think of myself as the prototypical new woman of 2011 - one that is educated, independent, and strong. And I've been doing everything I can to prove that over the past five years. Today, driving home... it hit me. Independent is an adjective to what? The noun it describes is WOMAN. I am a woman first - what does that mean? Like I said before, working on figuring that out... but I might step out on a limb here again and throw a stake in the ground that says, "I am a woman first. Yes I can do [it] by myself - and I will choose to let some things go (in the control/power sense). I am open to having another person, particularly a man, taking care of, protecting, and treasuring me." To be a woman first now means I don't have to prove anything to any one, including myself - I already know I can do whatever I want.
What does that mean to you? To be continued...
It's been one of those just absolutely crazy weeks - meeting after meeting, commitment after commitment, ... Friday came along and at about 4PM, I was just done. Everything in me just shut off and I could not even fathom looking at the computer screen or my growing ginormous to-do list any more. --|| Done ||--.
Anyways, I had a very interesting tete-en-tete with the president of my recently newly acquired employer, Logic20/20, Sean, who recommended I check out this leadership training program called Pathwise. During our one on one, he stated three observations about me he's noticed over the past month I had been at his company that I'll share with you: 1) I'm smart [yay!], 2) I push against boundaries, [hmm...], and 3) that I'm eccentric, in a good way [huh?...] ... I suppose nothing said was a surprise, but it's always interesting to hear what kind of first impressions I give off, particularly at the work place. Shortly after the meeting with Sean, I met with one of the Pathwise founders and super PhD Psychologists, Todd. I quickly realized that I was definitely into this Pathwise, and so, immediately sent mail to my boss and said, "sign me up!" It's a year-long commitment, too.
This past week, I had my first meeting of the my Pathwise cohort with 7 other leaders-in-training. Compared to the other trainees, I was the one that is most likely in the earlier part of my career journey. A few of the other trainees were maybe 5 or so years ahead of me, and the rest, just plain ahead of me (CEO's of established companies, ...). From the looks of it, the cohort teams are built on a sort of bell-curve in terms of career experience and progression. Very interesting. A few things that I walked away with from the first training day are: that it is very important that we are open to listening before real listening can occur, that life is better when you live it with intention, and finally, that ultimate control is being able to let go (... or something like that...). We practiced "suspension of attention"... and that is my homework over the next month until our next cohort meeting.
Dudes (and dudettes)... it's like learning to be like Yoda! :) I'll give you more updates as we move along, but I am pretty darn excited about this opportunity. Thanks Logic20/20!
Arry, you have to be both mentally and physically hungry to keep pushing as an entrepreneur. Never let yourself be too full - you have to ~really~ be hungry to get what you want. This is what not long ago, one of my favorite fellow woman entrepreneur friends told me. She's a petite, blonde-haired, feisty woman. She's sort of like me: says it like it is, pushes against boundaries and walls to move her business, herself, and everything around her forward - but I see her as alittle more badass than me. :) She's expanded her business out to other states and will be visiting Seattle very soon for her big 4-0 birthday celebrations. She's awesome.
I've been eating too well for my comfort.
I remember very well what it is like to be both mentally and physically hungry. Starving actually. I was lucky to go to college on a full ride and with some extra scholarships given to me to help pay for books and room/board. I used to take the meal plan that the school gave me, cancelling it, then taking that cash and using that to pay for piano lessons, money to live on during the summer breaks, and doing the $3-5/day meal budget. Fried rice with ketchup and one over-easy egg on top with soy sauce was my staple meal. Sometimes I'd go to the Chinese fast food place and get this egg-n-tomato dish with rice - make that last at least three meals. I found a waitressing by the time I got to junior year in college, so the employee meal at 130AM was my main meal on days when I worked. BTW, Waitressing pays WAY better than the on campus jobs - my grades suffered though.
The toughest times were during my internships in New York City when I had to figure out how to pay for subway fares and food. Luckily for me, my summer internships always provided good housing for me (thank goodness). But seriously, working at a publishing company on Fifth Avenue for a summer is not easy at all. I was able to secure a Journalism fellowship, which gave me $500 for the summer. $500 to live on for three months in New York City is rough. My friend's dad bought me a monthly subway pass for a couple months. I didn't eat dinners. I lived on one piece of fruit and the $6 California roll that I was able to find in a side street off of Fifth Avenue during my short lunch breaks. I'd take an extra kit kat bar when I saw them in the candy bowl when I was at a client site and save that for "breakfast" the next day. A slice of Joe's pizza saved me when I couldn't take it any more and needed food in the evenings. I remember learning to zap a 3/4 cup of pasta and eating it with a little salt/pepper. ... and lots of ketchup and rice. Lost a lot of weight that summer (that was the bonus).... I know you're wondering: No... I did not want to burden my family - I was determined to do it on my own.
I've worked my butt off to where I am now - and I'm still not done. I've been eating well since getting out of school and with my first salaried job at Microsoft and onwards - no doubt about that. Food, good food, is such a luxury to me. Still. How ridiculous it is for me to walk down the street and grab a $10 cocktail and a $15 burger. Holy cow!!! I despise wasting food - I eat all leftovers. With all of my "projects", I have to put down a crapload of investment money. AllThingsWishful.com - we are bootstrapped and putting in another round of funds. My patent-pending table needs more prototypes/demos built and licensing contracts made. I have a mortgage weighing me down. I have to get smarter - and more creative with the limited funds I have. I'm recently re-employed at Logic20/20 - but after almost a year of being unemployed, the savings are pretty scarce (and anything I had went into my startup "projects" and living costs). This is why I'm trying to look at this on the bright-side (thinking about my past, where I am, and the advice about being hungry I had received). It is time to go on the starvation plan and push forward.
This has got to happen - and NOW!
I received my jury summons and actually got selected for a trial - all for the first time about a month ago. When I received the jury summons note in the mail, I thought, "No! No! No! Why ME!?!?" ... My family and friends told me all the tricks they had used, had heard about to get out of it. Tell them you don't speak English! Tell them you have a sick child. Be super opinioned and tell them you hate the Jews. Tell them you're broke and you can't afford it. Say you believe in the death penalty. ... Ai ya... time to share with you what I learned.
The thing about getting summoned for jury duty is that there really is no short cut. Tell your employer, family, friends that you will be showing up at that courthouse for at least two days in a row (830-430PM). You get a long ass lunch break in between - it's really not that bad. Think of it as a way to explore all those downtown lunch options you never had time to before. Definitely bring a book, a magazine, music to listen to. Bring a beverage and some snacks. Expect to hang out at the very least for those two days.
I got lucky. Monday morning. I was in the very first group of jurors selected to go through the "voir dire" or the jury DE-selection process for a trial. Okay - so I could have tried all of the tricks to get out of that trial - but you know what? I get out of that trial and I'm thrown back into that room with all the other potential jurors. I then get recycled and may have to do another "voir dire" deselection process for a different trial - get thrown out of that jury pool and there you go again. The trial I was sitting in the voir dire process for and actually inside the jury box from minute one was a civil trial. The civial trial, the lawyers said, would most likely be a very short one. It was. Trial started Monday afternoon - we had the verdict by Wednesday afternoon (I was voted the jury foreman).
I miss my fellow jurors who sat with me in that jury box for 2 days - we played hangman together, talked about food, went to a couple art galleries during lunch, ate at Salumi's together... What I learned was that those who do show up when they are summoned for jury selection, those that make it through the voir dire process, ... those that go in and willingly perform their civic duty - what you get is a really really really good group of people with hearts of gold. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like I wanted to hug everyone there - I'm saying in general, you had a group of 13 jurors who were aware and cared (check out my old post on that). A senior architect, a builder/developer of large buildings, a retired university researcher, an event planner for nonprofits, an art museum volunteer, an amazing employee** of the Casey Foundation, a woman I knew only by name who works for KPMG ... Really A.W.E.S.O.M.E. group of people.
** the amazing employee - here's a very nice looking man with a very kind face. Quiet. Soft spoken. Gentle aura and spirit. Heard his story when we all went to lunch together at Salumi's. All of us floored by his story. A person who grew up as a child in the foster care system - vowed to devote his life to helping other foster kids. Adopted 5 foster children of his own - all older in age and with special needs. That is the kind of person that tells me, there's hope in the world for all of us.
Jury duty is an honor. I wanted to share this with you because I for one, think it is an honor to serve our country as it is one that I call home and has offered me so much. It is an honor to be given the opportunity to meet 12 other good hearted people from my community - that I normally do not get the chance to meet. And really, if you are lucky to have a salaried job - and can afford to take some time off, ... go in with an open mind. I miss those fellor jurors from my first experience with jury duty. I do. I wish I had stuck my hand and neck out and asked if any one wanted to keep in touch. Really good people - and as crazy and nonsensical as our government system is sometimes, I have renewed faith in our country and system. Be proud.
It is an understatement when I say, I am afraid of commitment. Majorly afraid. And by commitment, I mean, taking on dependencies like relationships or employers. I go into each situation involving "commitment" usually with a very clear idea of how long this or that particular chapter is going to last. Time box it up. 3 months. 2 years. 6 months. ... I thought I was completely done with dependencies last summer when I parted ways with my last employer. Good-bye! Freedom! I can finally breathe! No more - it was going to be me, myself and I! I can do it! I am charging forward and taking on the world, it's do or die!!!!
Since July 2010, I've been 100% freelancing, picking up work here and there, working passionately on my own aspirations and projects... 1099 is awesome, bring it on! I like the time I get in between contracts/projects to work on my own passions. It's an awesome way to live (for me). Right after the new year, January 2011, I put up a post on LinkedIn saying that I'm available for freelance contracts/projects. When I did that, I had no idea that my life would change in a few weeks in an unexpected direction. Two weeks after putting up that post, I had a slew of interviews, contract job offers, and opportunities. (And seriously, if you're looking for work - I now believe one of the best resources is that innocent-laid-back-status update on LinkedIn that'll be most helpful...) And in the midst of freelance contract offers left and right, ... Logic20/20 came into the picture.
You never know where life's going to take you. I met with a bunch of the Logic20/20 guys - they all seemed nice, intelligent, well-intentioned, ... a little badass, too. I'm expecting negotiations around a freelance 1099 contract. They came and said, "we want you to join us fulltime". Really? Seriously? I'm not the corporate full-time employee put me in a box and make me conform type. Funny - apparently Logic20/20 has a name for people like me who have big dreams and aspirations, who refuse to conform to the corporate mold, and who continue to be that nail that sticks out. (Yea, I stick out - and I get hammered by employers, usually). "Misfits". Apparently certain "Misfits" are encouraged to join and welcomed in this company. How's that possible? I've been with them exactly one month now - and it actually might be possible. Imagine that - a company that might actually walk the talk. They say they want to grow me, mentor me, help me get where I want to go. They say they can help me become a bigger better leader. ... And ... I actually see the possibility of that happening! The leadership - they are smart, they get their hands dirty and into the details, they are on the ground building relationships, they seem to sincerely care about clients/employees as humans and people (not just dollar signs), they are forward thinking, they invest in interesting and smart ways, they understand that business drives technology, ... This place, Logic20/20, is very interesting to me.
As for commitments, ... this may be the first time in my career where I have no idea how long my stay at this company will be. I have no set time box around how long or short I will stay in this job with this employer. (And usually, as with relationships, I see the end before I even start - aka the time box.) ... This might be a good thing - going into a relationship with my employer with no expectations, no limits, no lines... only possibilities, responsibilities to do the right thing and do it well, and aspirations to make my dreams come true. They actually want to help me achieve my dreams/goals, for me. Amazing.
When I'm ready, I'm going to try this in my relationships with love - go into them with my heart open to the possibilities, doing the right thing and doing it well, ... and aspirations on making dreams come true. No more time boxes, limitations, ... and expectations (at least of the "shooting in the foot" kind).