Jan 9, 2011 Posted by Julie Kirk
It has been a long time since I’ve had time to blog, but this past weekend my experience with this year’s ACTiVATE class is so compelling, I had to find the time and break my silence.
This past weekend was our final Saturday session for the UMBC Class of 2010. The topic was “Are you thinking big enough?” We took the opportunity to reflect back over the year, where the women had come in just one short year. Their observations and revelations were so incredible – and illustrates so clearly the value proposition of ACTiVATE, I just had to share. In order to protect confidentiality of the women in the program, I’ll draw some generalities and change circumstances just enough to mask identities.
The most common revelation for a great majority of the women was newfound or resurgence in their confidence. “I have what it takes to do this” and “I can ask for help and get it” showed reclamation of personal power and belief. For many, this “feeling more comfortable in my own skin” is expanding far beyond business and the classroom and into their personal lives. For others, this new knowledge helped them to capitalize on opportunities that surfaced that, without the program, they may not have even considered or perhaps only dreamed of.
A lot of self discovery occurred over the past year of the program as well. An appreciation for the skills of others and the importance of finding complementary skills to team with were both key for several of the women. I think my favorite was the shattering of a previously-held understanding: If the product is good, the business will be simple.” That belief is sooooo typical among technology entrepreneurs, especially those who find success elusive. You can tell people that until you are blue in the face but nothing sinks in like discovering them discovering that first-hand.
Recognizing there was a world of support ready to assist them in their endeavors was another key realization. Within the class, among ACTiVATE alumnae, and including extended advisory community, many women marveled at the assistance they’ve received with, in most cases, nothing requested in return. The “awesome group of women” - their fellow participants and alum - were heralded as “a gift,” one that I’m sure none of them will be returning this holiday season.
Inevitably the conversation turned to the tendency for women, common in the past, to adapt their behavior to better fit in with their male colleagues. More than one confession of owning a ladies tie and man-cut suit surfaced during the conversation. All were relieved those days are gone and embraced the future of business where women don’t have to pretend to be something they’re not and can lead from their authentic selves. And these ladies are not waiting for corporate America to change – they’re quite capable of building companies that are not top-down, command and control but, rather, realize success through collaboration and smart business sense. And after getting ACTiVATE’d, they’re READY and WILLING to do just that! GO GET ‘EM, LADIES!