Women put as much energy and passion into their outside interests as they put into their businesses. Maybe more. We want to succeed in business and leave the world a better place than we found it.
Our passions run the gamut; politics, women's issues, diversity, discrimination, the environment, children, human rights and trafficking, domestic abuse, and poverty. The reason? Because we are personally affected by these issues. We’ve experienced firsthand the struggle to rise in a man’s world coupled with the lasting effects of realities like alcoholism, poverty and family violence.
Nearly all of the 50 women I interviewed since last fall shared a piece of their life story. Some stories brought tears to my eyes, wishing I could reach through the phone and hug the woman on the other end.
But for the most part, they really didn’t need it. They have come to terms with their past circumstances. In every case, they used their nasty experiences to fuel their passion. The commitment to make a difference isn’t a choice for these women. It’s a permanent part of who they are.
The story of one woman, I’ll call her “Sally”, almost seems made up. Accept that it’s not.
Sally grew up in California well within the poverty level because her single mother was addicted. Sally attributes her early struggle with confidence to the “sad reality of being raised by a drug addict.” But Sally used that situation as fuel. She set out “to prove everybody wrong” who told her she’d never be any better off. Sally opted to attend college and get married. She proudly gained her MBA and gave birth to her daughter just ten days later.
However, life once again threw a few twists her way resulting in a divorce not long after. Sally also made the difficult decision to leave a high-level job due to being sexually harassed along with a lack of support from an indifferent management team.
Today, Sally serves as founder and CEO of a growing high-tech firm. She recently closed on a $7M round of funding. Her fire for making a difference led her to create an internship program for high school girls. Sally’s program focuses on the poorest areas in her city giving girls the opportunity to work in a professional environment. “It gives them a chance to see that there is a better way.”
Burning at both ends
I used the image of a candle burning at both ends for a different reason than you might think. Yes, women have a lot to manage in their lives. But the real message is that women have a burning passion at two distinct ends of their lives. On one end, women have a fire to succeed. To succeed in a man’s world. To compete, kick ass, and get shit done. Kudos to Sally.
At the other end of their lives is the fire to make a difference. The wounds of life are sometimes deep. But these women use them as a reminder of the need to make a difference for those coming up behind them. Kudos to Sally, again.
Yes, men want to make a difference in the world. But, and I’m generalizing here, men tend to throw money at a problem. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But women roll up their sleeves and dig in. Hands dirty, sweat dripping, fire burning. On issues that disrupted their lives. On issues that need to be addressed moving forward.
As my research to date has uncovered, successful women have this one trait in common: they are burning their candles at both ends. And that is a really good thing.
Kudos to all the Sallys who are fueling their passion at both ends of their lives; kicking ass, getting shit done and making a difference in their world.