Women Entrepreneurs You Should Be Following

cartoon with word "follow" and an index finger about to press it.

This piece from the Motley Fool highlights ten female entrepreneurs to follow as we head into 2021. The piece has links to different podcasts hosted by these women as well as links to resources and their twitter feeds. These leaders include:

  • Arlan Hamilton – Backstage Capital
  • Barbara Weltman – lawyer and founder of Big Ideas for Small Business, Inc
  • Lizelle van Vuuren – Undock
  • Amanda Boleyn – She Did It Her Way
  • Sonia Thompson – Thompson Media Group
  • Sallie Krawcheck – Ellevest
  • Emily Thompson – Almanac Supply Co
  • Kathleen Shannon – Braid Creative and Consulting
  • Beth Buelow – author and podcaster
  • Ahyiana Angel – Mayzie Media

Advice From Walgreens’ New CEO

Headshot of Rosalind Brewer - soon to be new CEO at Walgreens

At the end of February, Rosalind Brewer, who is currently COO at Starbucks, will leave that position to become CEO of drugstore chain Walgreens. Once in this post, she will be the only Black woman currently serving as a Fortune 500 CEO, and just the third Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 firm in history. (There are currently only 37 women in CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies)

According to this CNBC article, during a recent speech, Brewer commented on the reality that many women experience bias and gender discrimination in the workplace. She said that her most critical message to women in business is to “stay steadfast” and know that “your voice matters.”

Radical Candor Explained in Six Minutes

“Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” is a New York Times best-selling book published in 2017 by Kim Scott. The term “radical candor” is defined by Scott as the ability to challenge directly and show that you care personally at the same time. While that seems like it should be every leader’s goal, the reality is that being radically candid is challenging – often because it is counterintuitive to how we have been raised.

radical candor framework - x and y axis with four labeled quadrants.

Scott breaks down the concept of radical candor and outlines the other quadrants where we can find ourselves in this six-minute video. If you want to dig a little deeper, she has a podcast and a blog as well.

Thinking Back and Looking Forward

headshot of Caroline Kim Oh
Caroline Kim Oh

Caroline Kim Oh is an executive and leadership coach and has also been a course facilitator in the Women’s Entrepreneurship Certificate program. She just sent out a “year end review” newsletter that contained a link to a expert interview she had with WID (Women In Development). While the article is usually only available to members of WID, it was reprinted with permission here. While reflection is a common practice as we near the end of a calendar year, Caroline’s interview shares examples of important questions that we should all be asking ourselves at any time of the year to help reflect, reset, and refocus.

Link to Webinar – Codeswitching: Navigating the Dynamics of Workplace Norms

Headshot of Professor Courtney McCluney from webinar given through eCornell

In this webinar from December 15, 2020, Professor Deborah Streeter had a conversation with Professor Courtney McCluney about the concept of codeswitching and how it affects the everyday realities of marginalized, devalued, and underrepresented employees at work. To view the recording, click this link

Resources mentioned during the discussion included:

  • Book: “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo
  • Book: “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Book: “The Souls of White Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois (link to NPR piece discussing book with Ibram X. Kendi)
  • Essay: “The Souls of White Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois (link)
  • Publication: From Harvard Business Review – “Advancing Black Leaders” – (available for purchase via this link)
  • More information about Professor McCluney and her research can be found on her website or you can follow her on Twitter at @CL_McCluney

Podcast Featuring Melanie Hart

“If your life is your currency, decide how you want to invest and spend it.”

Melanie Hart
W.O.C at Work podcast logo

In the W.O.C @ Work podcast, Rai King and Dr. Blanca Ruiz explore what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace by elevating the voices of female-identifying leaders of color in order to shed light on their common experiences as they push for transformational change in organizations across the country.

In this episode, Rai and Blanca talk with Melanie Hart ( Chief Diversity Officer and Sr. VP for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice at The New School in New York City) about traversing white-dominant education spaces as a confident woman of color. Melanie also reveals what it looks like to take off that cape and rest to help heal from a traumatic event. This podcast is a must listen for all women.

Brené Brown Interviews Elizabeth Lesser

Book jacket for "Cassandra Speaks" by Elizabeth Lesser

Professor and best-selling author Brené Brown recently shared an Unlocking Us podcast where she interviewed author Elizabeth Lesser on her recent book entitled Cassandra Speaks: When Women are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes.

Cassandra Speaks looks at the cultural stories we all know and often blindly believe – from famous myths to religious parables to fairy tales. Each story shares specific lessons about gender roles, power, leadership and other values. Yet all of these stories throughout history have mostly been written by men. Despite our evolution as a society, these stories and the way we carry the lessons within us endure. This book – as well as the podcast – is about what happens when women become the storytellers and explain what it is to be human from their perspective.

OpEd: A Call for Empathy in Leadership

many hands making a heart

Female leaders have been in the news in recent months.  Recently, Forbes featured an article on the women leading those nations (e.g., New Zealand, Taiwan, Norway, Finland) who have done relatively better fighting the COVID-19 situation during the early months of the pandemic.  They cited a systematic study done by U.K. academics Kambhampati and Garikipati (2020).  The suggestion was an empathetic approach to the tradeoffs between the economy and loss of life was more a feature of female leaders as compared to their male counterparts.   One of the authors of the study told Forbes, “From Bangladesh to Norway to Iceland, a study reveals that some characteristics that are typical to women in leadership positions were instrumental in the success of these countries: “it required big thinking, empathy, and good communication skills.”

Among the many reactions to the widely circulated news of the successes of women-led countries, we noted the response of Chamorro-Premuzic and Wittenberg-Cox in their article in the June issue of the Harvard Business Review.  They argue that instead of focusing on male vs. female leadership styles, it would be more productive to redefine the general concept of a strong leader to include those “take care” aspects of female leadership.  “In short, tales of strong female leaders succeeding through this crisis could lead to a change in the overarching narrative of what a strong leader looks like.”  As a result, they suggest, “Society at large may become less surprised and more accepting of leaders (s)elected on their expertise, intelligence, curiosity, humility, empathy, and integrity.”

A recent example of strong leadership we have witnessed personally is a letter that Cornell University President Martha Pollack recently sent to the Cornell faculty and staff, as undergraduate and graduate teaching commences amidst great uncertainty and risk due to COVID-19. President Pollack  opened by saying, “As we begin an academic year like no other, I want to thank everyone at Cornell who has worked so hard to make this reopening possible. “  She notes the “grace, creativity, and patience” of Cornell employees and acknowledges that people had “mapped new paths around every obstacle,” thanking everyone for their efforts. 

President Pollack goes on to discuss the “new normal” and how it is “very far from normal,” pointing out that individuals and families are coping with a variety of challenges.   She promises to work closely the leadership team “to explore possible ways of lessening the stress and the burden on our many employees with caregiving responsibilities.”

The next part is what stood out to us.  President Pollack challenged everyone in leadership to “lead with empathy, and find every way you can to be flexible, to be understanding and to be generous.”   To employees, she encouraged asking for “help when you need it.” For everyone, she said that there is a need “to change the ways we define success” and that it is essential to “be kind to others…and yourself.”

We think that President Pollack has demonstrated what Chamorro-Premuzic and Wittenberg-Cox calls the  “expertise, intelligence, curiosity, humility, empathy, and integrity” that should be the basis of selecting great leaders.  And we agree that if all leaders were chosen with these characteristics in mind, the world would be better off. 

Finally, we are heartened by the nature of the entrepreneurial leadership we have witnessed among participants of the Institute.  Your letters and responses to us have shown a deep level of concern for your own employees and your community.  You are actively supporting other small business owners.  Whether or not this empathy and  integrity is a result of your socialization as a female or some other force, it is a demonstration of great leadership and we think it is worthy of emulation by others. 

Countries With Best COVID-19 Response Have Female Leadership in Common

woman wearing t-shirt with words "friends, mothers, daughters, visionaries, queens, rulers, women"

The female leaders in Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark are showing the world that when women leverage their own unique leadership styles, the results can exceed those of the more traditional model. This Forbes article highlights how these leaders used transparency, technology and empathy to handle the pandemic and keep their citizens safe.