This is a guest post by Darlene Crane in anticipation of attending the Tech Women of SVForum March event: Why Smart People Feel Like Imposters and How to Thrive in Spite of It
I was watching a recent video from the Conscious Capital February event on executive women where a question was posed “What issues do you see that are most pressing for women executives?”
The answer given was that executive women are unsure that they will be able to realize their potential for making a greater contribution than the company expects they’re capable of.
When I heard that comment I was frustrated. After decades working in the San Francisco Financial District, contracting and consulting in California and around the country the cultural barriers to women moving up to executive suite positions are still there. However, women with the ambition and desire to take executive accountability for seeking the right industry and leadership role can make their contribution.
The first step for women is to identify the contribution they want to make to an industry, community or social challenge. Second, describe the contribution you can make which represents your unique point of view and expertise. Third, make sure you make a significant contribution that you are proud to put your name on. Fourth, enjoy and remember the feelings of accomplishment, purpose, satisfaction and meaning. Finally, continue on the path to make your contributions come alive for many more people.
Here is my story.
I have been on a path to help underrepresented populations grow their businesses over $1 million. For example, per the U.S. Census only 2% of women owned businesses cross $1 million in gross revenue. I always thought that statistic was illogical given the education, work experience and ambition I observe in women business owners across all demographics.
As a mixed race local woman from Hawaii, I always had a passion for knowledge. I became an accredited Masters in Librarian Science using social science research methods to identify community knowledge needs. I went to business school to gain more knowledge from outside of the library industry and went into banking management, IT Program Management and Product Group Management.
I left the technology sector in 2003 because I saw a gap in the tech world about distribution of knowledge to all populations in useable form. Advanced business knowledge about executive roles and decision making in particular was shaped for a limited population, Caucasian males, and ignored other cultures and decision patterns. Pacific Islanders use a more consensus decision making process which I wanted to apply to business. On an island everyone has to live together in a small place. You learn to live together or end up like the Easter Islands with big stones left with no people.
I decided to take my point of view on management and decision making to represent other people like myself who want to have their experience and voice contribute to the success of their own businesses, as well as companies they worked for and the communities they lived in. I understood I had to go to people like me who were the “outsiders” and help them become the new original contributors and insiders. If I shared all the knowledge and paths to knowledge I had, then I would find my own path.
Since 2003, I have done the research on successful business growth to $10 million in revenue, conducted non-profit group programs and private consulting services to diverse business owners. I have tracked the revenue growth outcomes and am pleased to report that 7% of businesses completing my programs (a majority were women) crossed the $1 million revenue level which is over three time the US Census level of women. My goal now is to further extend the knowledge and tools to businesses beyond $10 million in revenue and more industries.
The insights from this work especially for professional, highly educated and skilled women is that they evolve quickly when they have a process and a place to practice leadership and decision making. They become more authentic, get comfortable with acting authoritatively and being at the head of the table. I call this process getting used to the Executive Mindset. Women have to respect their strengths and make the tough decisions.
There are always times where we get insecure. At those times I remind myself and my clients to recall all the education, work experience, relationships, special projects and major accomplishments they have made. Realize you have the resources and skills to look beyond barriers. Keep moving forward one step at a time toward achievement and higher purpose. FORGE ON and NEVER let the barriers stop you! At this time in history women need to make sure their voices are heard and we shape a better future.
I developed and taught 1,000 graduate students and over a 100 businesses my strategic thinking and decision process that connects business decision making to the implementation cycle. My Great Decisions Framework brings together all the business disciplines with a humanistic point of view to business. People do business, corporate entities process the transactions. Know yourself and be the authentic leader others trust to create mutual value.
About Darlene Crane
Darlene Crane is a senior Business Growth Advisor, author, product and business marketing research and positioning consultant and executive coach. She combines her knowledge and experience in financial management, product development and management decision making to delivery multi-functional processes and tools. She is particularly proud of the women CEO’s she has guided across the $1 million revenue level who continue to grow and lead in their industry, markets and communities.
Darlene was Executive Director of The Alliance for Community Development from 2011-2015,to adapt her MBA level business content to a range of demographic segments and engage with the debt and equity financing community to better support her clients in seeking financing.
Darlene realized early in her consulting projects that she had a talent for advising executives through high risk and complex projects in enhancing product portfolios, merger integration projects and enterprise replacement projects impacting billions of dollars in assets. Her welcoming and holistic approach to business growth evolved from over two decades of consulting internally and externally in financial services, utilities, technology companies.
Darlene will be a participant at the Tech Woman event at Apple on Tuesday, March 29 entitled “Why Smart People Feel Like Imposters and How to Thrive in Spite of It”.
>Register now to join Darlene Crane and other women for this important discussion.
>Find out more about the event.