You know that Steve Jobs quote?
“Only when you look back can you join the dots.”
This is so damn true.
Growing up, I had ZERO idea what I wanted to be.
I told my careers adviser that I didn’t want to work in an office.
His interpretation was that I wanted to work outside so geography was the obvious choice.
I didn’t want to work in an office cos I DIDN’T WANT A REGULAR JOB.
I knew I was meant for something else. Even at the age of 13.
(Respect to those choosing a career, you’re bloody amazing!)
Then came the arts vs science debate.
I wanted to be a fashion designer but I was nudged into doing science and geography, and for the next ten years, I was a science nerd.
Not a very good one but the one thing it showed me was the female to male ratio of students in STEM was a bit out of whack. I wondered why ? I was there but where were the other women?
Then came my trusty 286 PC (it had a turbo button!) and the Internet. Thanks Dad!
OMG! This thing allows me to see what was going on further than the A19 dual carriageway and I can build websites on it ?
A whole new world opened up and I could talk to people who weren’t from my hometown about things I loved!!!
Mainly drum and bass ? And again… where were all the women? I saw Kemistry and Storm and fell in love. Strong women, doing their thing and owning it!
Then I started my first business… web design. I was crap. But it was better than coming home with a degree and not having a job.
Letters after my name, working in the Early Learning Centre (kids ?) and learning to code HTML… very badly.
So, I did something about it.
A Masters in Business and Multimedia. Oh yes, multimedia included learning Flash (RIP) and ripping CD-ROMs to transfer data. I fell in love again.
I produced a short film about never giving up. I cried. Back then there were hardly any women BMXers and it pissed me off. Where were they?
I started another company. BMinX, a women’s BMX company to bring female BMXers together and start a movement.
We were gonna be bigger than Quiksilver.
My business tutor laughed at me. I told him to fuck off and stuck BMinX stickers all over the Uni.
My computer lecturer, on the other hand, thought I was on to something. “Keep going with your studies into human behaviour.”
My dissertation was on proving people could learn from the internet. It was the early 2000s and the online education space wasn’t even a thing.
And yes, you can teach BMXing via CD-ROM if you were wondering.
At 24, I was given my first personal development book (thanks B ?).
Obviously, it was a Tony Robbins book and I read it every day for a year. #obsessed
I did my hour of power every day and outgrew a normal life. There was no going back.
As for work, I was still flirting between web design and crappy project management jobs until I worked for a Fortune 200 company as an operations exec.
I was in the big leagues and watched how a behemoth of a corporation worked from the inside.
I was obsessed. I read every big business book I could get my hands on. Amazon loved me, my bookshelves didn’t!
Then I found out our CEO was a WOMAN. I cried. I wanted her job.
When she stepped down to advise some guy called Obama, we got another WOMAN!!!
I cried again.
Something inside me ignited.
I was offered some kinda fast-track management thingy and I went for it.
And as the story always goes, a change of manager and a change of the rules quashed my dreams.
I was PISSED. My male manager had championed me and pushed me but my female manager didn’t. Strange huh? Bookmark that thought.
I moonwalked out of there. Honestly, I did. And I went back to web design and business strategy. Yawn but it was the only thing I could do.
Then came the lost years of trying, failing and learning. Startups, service businesses, Amazon businesses, creative businesses, consulting… nothing really worked but I learnt shit loads.
Even how to use an overlocker for my fashion business and those things are fucking evil.
Then earlier this year… everything stopped.
A nasty mixture of depression, getting RSI (bye bye web design) and the death of someone very important to me.
A hard stop and a lot of tears.
I read, I wrote, I cried. It was the worst time of my life. I contemplated bowing out altogether.
Then a spark… helping women… hmm…
My Momma came to visit and we looked at everything I’d done.
“There’s a thread that you can’t see, it’s there but you don’t want to look at it.”
For a long time, I didn’t want to see it but it was there.
Every business I had was to do with kickass women.
I didn’t want to be a feminist. Ugh… feminism… I wasn’t gonna play that game. I was logical, I was a scientist, I could code websites, I was an ENTJ, I was a hard-faced business strategist who got shit done…
And my Momma (being the epic empath she is) reminded me of my other side.
I was a cheerleader, a pioneer, an empath, a coach, a Reiki practitioner, a caring soul who wanted the best for everyone.
I broke wide open and surrendered.
It took months of undoing years of logic and some epic humans reminding me of who I really was.
I looked at every story I was telling myself and rewrote it.
It was hard work. People, things, old habits, old stories… GONE.
And then slowly… things started to align.
Women, business, leadership, online education, personal development, inspiring others…
The dots were joining up. I could see it all.
“This has to live,” I said to my Momma.
I registered the domain name (still a web nerd)…
And The Gentlewomen was born.