Why I wrote Secrets to a Successful Startup… An Ode to the Power of the Feminine

These days the phrase ‘The Power of the Feminine,’ seems to have gone mainstream. I hear it in many diverse media. I think it means different things to different people and, sometimes, it strikes me as a bit patronizing. Just by using the phrase sometimes, people show their prejudice — as if what they’re really saying is ‘even a woman can do this.’ I use the phrase as well and perhaps I should desist… but for me it’s a phrase I use to sum up the impactful influence of the main women in my life. I’m not saying ‘even women can impact me’.I’m saying, ‘My God how they have impacted me. Without them and their influence I would be half the person I am.’ If I had to summarize their impact, two strong images come to mind immediately: The first is my mum’s funeral scene in May 1982. She lived in a village of around 100 people, but over 300 turned up at her funeral. The majority were just customers who frequented the Deli where she worked a few days a week. Throughout the service and at the meager reception we had afterward, dozens of mourners came up to me to tell me stories of how my mum had influenced their lives, and not one story had I heard before. There was the father who said she talked his daughter out of suicide — even going out of her way to find the distraught girl several miles from her home… in spite of the fact that she walked with a cane because she had cancer in her bones. There was the ex-wife of a world-famous rock star who said my mum’s humorous storytelling in the shop kept her sane through challenging life events. A local farmer told how she often walked miles up to his farm to bring homemade soup to his dying wife (homemade soup when at home we were on bread and jelly rations)… and on and on the stories went.  Many years later, I read For One More Day by Mitch Albom. In short, a man gets into a car crash and in his comatose state gets to spend one more day with his mother who died when he was a boy. Now viewing his hairstylist mother through adult eyes, he sees the impact she has on the lives of all the women in his town as he follows her in her day’s work one more day.What I would give for just one more day…

The second image is of my wife the day after her first serious operation in my married life experience. She’d had serious operations before, the most challenging at age 9. Being my wife (and also my first experience of ‘husband of patient’), I was a bit of a basket case. I barely remember anything of the prior 24 hours before she regained consciousness.Finally, the time came when I was allowed in the room to visit her. I imagined the dreadfully sick state she would be in. I reached the door to her room, and with shaking hands turned the handle. The door wouldn’t budge. I could tell it wasn’t locked, so I had to shove and then shove harder until the door actually opened a little. I squeezed my head and shoulders through the gap and saw Lyn slightly raised on pillows and the room full of staff members. Standing room only. Assuming something bad had happened, I squeezed in and slipped unnoticed along the rear wall. Suddenly the room exploded with laughter… Lyn was holding court. She’d not only survived a life-threatening operation, she was engaging the whole staff in banter. My jaw dropped. I listened incognito. My wife is shy. She hates parties. She keeps to herself and doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but here she was charming the whole staff of the ward. She somehow knew every person’s name, their personal lives, their aspirations.I learned later that it was Doctor’s rounds and all the staff asked to be involved because they all loved taking care of her. This was not a one off. The whole time she was in the hospital I never got a single moment alone with her. When she was finally discharged, I wheeled her through the ward and it took an hour to get through the hugs and out of the doors.Perhaps it’s no surprise that it was my mother who introduced me to my wife. So when I use the phrase ‘power of the feminine’, this is what it means to me: Having the power to intuitively know what ails a person, what troubles a person’s mind, what needs to be said, what stories need to be told to heal them and, above all, to do the right thing no matter the pain or the cost. It’s not just about healing because men are healers, too. It’s something more, something intangible.I used to think it was like they have a secret umbilical cord that connects them to the soul of the universe. Now I think they have a uniquely strong stickiness in the Higgs field. Same thing, but different perceptions, I guess. Whatever it is, it’s not all nebulous. In 2016, Forbes magazine said it like this: Today’s corporate world may be male-dominated but companies should take note: Hiring women is actually good for business. It’s not just about equality, it’s a business case with measurable success. Companies with more women on board tend to outperform companies with more men onboard. According to a report by Catalyst, businesses with the most females had on average, 42 percent greater return on sales, 53 percent better return on equity and 66 percent greater return on profit. In business, it’s always about the numbers. They don’t lie. Who wouldn’t want a 66% greater return on profit? In 2019, 40% of all startups were led by women, up from just 4% in 1972. And I think this number will continue to rise exponentially because we’re just in the beginning stages of a new industrial revolution in which the single-person startup has advantages over traditionally structured companies — most of which, of course, are male-dominated.My mother and my wife never wanted to be entrepreneurs… but if they had been, I’m quite sure they would both be household names today.CheersTrev

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