The other day I went to see Naomi Simson (RedBalloon and Shark Tank) speak on her book tour to launch her latest book - Live What you Love. It felt rather surreal as I’m sure that I heard Naomi speak via Business Chicks many years ago on how she created the Red Balloon dream and then turned it into a reality - along with some of her struggles with starting a business.
Ten years on Naomi is a polished performer with a love of storytelling, command of the stage and an understanding that conviction in what you believe is far stronger than convincing people to buy things. She is a great role model for entrepreneurial women about what’s possible - and for me her most memorable line was “hope is not a strategy” - a perfect reminder that we need to take action and not just hope for the best.
My personal interest is in gender diversity from a perspective of how we might fire women up, motivate and encourage women to “lean in”, not out, and step up into leadership opportunities when they present (rather than opting for sideways moves or work life balance choices). Organisations with women at the helm are frequently more productive, profitable, mitigate risk better and are better places to work. And women might find once they get over the perception of potential increased workload, on top of doing the majority of domestic duties as well as office “housework”, that they relish the “cut and thrust” of leadership, taking the helm and leading with their own form of feminine energy.
Naomi Simson describes balanced voice as ensuring that both male and female voices are heard. She tells a story of asking Richard Branson to provide an endorsement for her latest book and receiving a ‘no’ answer. As a result of the knock back she started scanning the environment for others and noticed to her alarm that there was a dearth of female voices when it came to describing success and greatness.
I was reminded forcefully of this the other night as I was searching for quotes to pepper my own writing with - memorable quotes that would inspire, resonate and encourage women to see that success is of our own making, rather than someone else’s responsibility. And you know what? There are page after page of male quotes with only one or two female voices sprinkled in!
- Is it that women don’t have big ideas? I don’t think so.
- Is it that women haven’t been seen as “success” role models previously? Possibly.
- Is it that historically more men are published than women? Probably.
- Is it that sometimes we (as writers) get lazy and jut pick the biggest name or most well known quote when publishing assuming it might drive readability? Absolutely.
So what can we do about it to ensure that future generations of young women are able to identify with idols, icons and role models providing the feminine perspective as well? Let's find ways of redressing the balance and tipping the scales in the other direction. Let’s publish powerful quotes by women in places where people go to look for quotes. Let’s make these insights easy to find – and not just on women’s pages. Let’s ensure that our children, and their children understand that both men and women have powerful and important insights into our human experience, what works, what doesn’t and what helps catalyse change.
To help inspire women everywhere to reach a little higher, stretch a little further, get in there and take an active role in shaping their workplaces, shaping their communities and lead from the front, I’m creating a page of quotes by women only.
My favourite quote at the moment is from Elizabeth Gilbert,
If you have a favorite quote from a woman who has inspired you – please put it in the comments section below. It doesn’t have to be specifically about women’s issues but rather a quote that will add balanced voice to discussions of success and greatness.