In case you haven't heard, the United Nations has declared March 20 International Happiness Day. #HappyDay
In April 2012 the first ever UN conference on Happiness took place in New York and in July 2012 the UN General Assembly adopted a further resolution which decreed that the International Day of Happiness was to be observed every year on 20 March. It was celebrated for the first time in 2013. – actionforhappiness.org
Many of the women entrepreneurs I know (including me) declared their happiness the day they left their “real jobs” to define life, and fulfillment, on their own terms. I discovered that six of the 10 keys to happiness listed on the Action for Happiness website are traits that women entrepreneurs embrace every day:
- Connect with people
- Keep learning new things
- Have goals to look forward to
- Find ways to bounce back
- Be part of something bigger
- Take a positive approach
Based on my unscientifc research, it would seem that women who take risks and accept change have figured out how to be happy. I dug deeper, reaching out to women entrepreneurs who are leading the way as CEOs, mentors and community advocates to ask them what being happy means to them. They all shared similar stories of connecting with people, making a difference and being true to themselves. Maybe the UN should have consulted with women entrepreneurs first!
Women have been sold the “you can have it all” mantra since the 1980‘s, when we were just hitting our stride in the work place. I believe the simple answer is, no, women really can’t have it all. Striving to be the perfect mom, wife and career woman will only give you more mommy-guilt. Sure, I bought into it, climbing the corporate ladder after college and enjoying the fruits of a two-income household that included a BMW in the driveway, a 4-bedroom home in the 'burbs, and a daytime nanny to care for my two daughters. It all looked good on the outside; but I was miserable on the inside. There was still dinner to prepare, bedtime rituals and laundry to do. At day’s end, I’d climb into bed exhausted, only to wake up bright and early to rinse and repeat my hectic schedule. I suddenly realized my corporate income was affording me a mommy-fill-in, while I was missing out on all the important milestones in my daughters' lives. What the heck was it all for?
I returned my “have it all” life and left my corporate career behind to have it my way as a Mompreneur, taking a leap of faith to start a PartyLite direct sales business in 1990. Learning a new business model and figuring out how to manage working from home with a 3 and 5 year old in tow presented new challenges. I soon discovered the sound of a ringing phone turned my well-behaved daughters into little monsters. For some unexplainable reason, their little fingers would suddenly be inspired to draw on my walls with bright red lipstick. Hanging out in jeans all day and driving around in my down-graded car chipped away at my ego. The important biz lady I thought I was began to disappear, along with my friends' and family's perception of what I did for a living. To the outside world, work-at-home Moms are "not real business people". They think we’re hanging out with nothing to do but wipe the snot from our kids' noses. I know this because friends would frequently call to ask me out to lunch or shopping, saying, “What are you doing today?” I wanted to respond, “Running a multi-million dollar business, how about you?" Instead, I’d just say, “Oh, the usual. Working.” Enough already!
Here are 5 Tips To Kiss Mommy Guilt Goodbye:
According to an article in the WSJ, the latest research shows fear of failure and lack of confidence are what really hold women entrepreneurs back. I asked my radio show guest, Susan Bass-Levin, CEO of the Cooper Foundation, to share some of her insights regarding both of these topics. As a former mayor, lady CEO and ovarian cancer survivor, Susan is a woman who’s been in the trenches of life.
Have you ever poured all your energy into one goal, and failed? Susan has. When she was mayor of Cherry Hill, NJ she ran for Congress, and lost. Imagine failing so publicly, that even your supermarket checkout clerk knows about it. That would make most people want to stay in bed. Or at least have someone else do their food shopping.
Susan and I chatted about everything from how we connected over candles to picking yourself up after failing, building confidence, and what’s really important in life. Here’s a recap of our radio interview:
Walk a mile in my shoes and you’ll meet a young girl who grew up during the 60s and 70s minutes from Atlantic City, home of the annual Miss America Pageant and the Show Us Your Shoes parade. The pageant was part of the fabric of my life, blending in with the sand, sea and boardwalk. It was easy to get caught up in the excitement as I watched the contestants parade in style, lifting their feet in the air with the crowds cheering them on. The experience left a lasting impression. I learned that a pair of shoes can magically give a woman superpowers, making us feel (as Marilyn Monroe said) that we can conquer the world. When women step into their shoes, they also step into their power, transforming from ordinary to extraordinary. I took the lesson with me to adulthood, rockin’ out in my heels when I found myself in a sea of blue suits, the only woman in my territory to land a job selling business forms and commercial printing.
Tory Johnson brought her spark, and a little hustle, to a PartyLite conference I attended last week in Minneapolis, MN. As Tory took the stage, she shared how she overcame fear and failure to turn her passion into profit. Her message for the 2,000+ entrepreneurs in the audience was to connect with your why, stop making excuses and ask for help when you need it.
Here are 3 Truths About Women I Learned from Tory Johnson:
Women leave money on the table: Tory shared a case study she did with women and men to find out why women earn less. In the study, both women and men were told they were being paid between $5 – $12 for participating in a focus group. They were all paid $5. The men immediately asked for more, wondering where the other $7.00 was. The women took the $5, saying things like, “That's Ok.” When asked why they didn’t ask for more, the women shared that they felt bad asking for more money and didn’t want to make a fuss. We’re not earning as much as men simply because speaking up to ask for more is not in our DNA. Teaching women how to speak up, ask and negotiate for what they are worth can change that.