It was quite a weekend, wasn’t it? I’ve been left with a head full of thoughts which I’m not sure are very coherent, but I’ll write down anyway, as a work in progress:
Working from a place of care
We need to break apart that idea that we need women to just work harder or sharper or be tough as nails…
I don’t fucking want to be tough as nails. I like being me. I like being in a good mood. And working from a place of care. “
This ‘working from a place of care’ sums up for me what I saw on Instagram this weekend. Those crowds were impressive and strong, and whether the marchers were fed up, witty, angry, smiling or cheeky, they were working at giving physical, hands-on expression to values of solidarity, love and care for others.
It feels a bit like this painting by Laura Berger (but with more people, and with clothes on).
One of the issues that got people marching was Leadership, which has been on South Africans’ minds over the last few years too, as our political leaders squabble and grab. I’ve always been a bit of a solo flyer, and have never thought of myself as a leader. However, when you are a business owner, you end up in that role, so with local and global leadership issues making headlines, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to figure out how to do that job well myself.
I spent my first week back at work reading the Zingermans Guide to Being a Better Leader which, teamed with this wonderful interview on Goop with Leslie Blodgett, the founder of Bare Minerals, has inspired me on the topic:
“I don’t know if I would ever call myself a leader. I like to win, I like to compete, and I like to get people together, aligned around a mission. If that’s leading, then I guess that’s what I’ve done. I’m definitely an introvert, which is weird, for a leader. It’s always been very complicated for me—it’s hard when you’re a shy person. I never considered myself a salesperson, but all great leaders are selling something—a lifestyle, a belief, an idea, a product… If you believe in something, it’s just not that hard to sell it.
… I lead when I’m passionate about something. If I can get behind it, that’s when I can make sense. If I have conviction, then people get into it and they want to follow. I listen to myself, then try to lay out compelling ways to win. It’s about creating a common goal, then getting everyone on board.
Now I work with a lot of start-ups, both as an advisor and an angel investor. I invest in the ones with enthusiasm: I know they’re going to make it. I meet people who aren’t sure—and I don’t want to invest in those people, I want to invest in someone who can win. If they can get other people as enthusiastic as they are, that’s how you grow a team—that’s how the movement begins.
The way I look at business, it’s about developing big ideas that people can get behind—then you don’t have to do all that other [business] stuff. It’s about knowing where you’re going.”
Business and Life
Of course, enthusiasm about a common goal can take us in all kinds of directions (like getting Trump elected), but one of the things I like about this quote is that Leslie Blodgett doesn’t set ‘business’ apart from ‘life’. When I found myself heading in a business direction, I thought it meant I’d have to become mean and nasty and cutthroat (‘tough as nails’, right?), which really didn’t appeal very much, and is probably why I kept the idea of myself as a business person at arms length. I think a lot of people believe business to be something outside of being human. The result is either a “It’s not personal – it’s business!” cold-heartedness, or else a head-in-the-sand approach, which has been mine for a while, and which is the approach with a lot of creative business owners tend to take.
But I’m not interested in having a business that operates outside of my values, and now that people like Leslie Blodgett and Ari Weinzweig are showing me the way, I know that it’s not remotely necessary. In fact, I reckon my measure of success would be the extent to which my personal values and interests align with the work I do. It’s back to ‘working from a place of care’.
In a nutshell
I did say that this was not a particularly coherent set of thoughts, but perhaps I can distil the feelings that these articles and the painting and the marches have inspired in me:
- I want to work from a place of care.
- I want my personal values to shape the way I do business
- I want to generate shared enthusiasm as we work towards a common goal
- I want to be in a good mood, and I want to put people in a good mood.
A bit more
Read the rest of the interview with Leslie Blodgett here.
Read Ari Weinzweig’s 12 laws of business here.
More paintings by Laura Berger here.