If you’ve ever had the privilege of listening to Jessica Eaves Mathews talk about her book, Wonder Women: How Western Women Will Save the World, you’ll know that one of the resonating themes – and one of her driving passions – is how we, as women, treat other women. In fact, the belief that we need to support each other and our fellow women entrepreneurs was the common ground that drew the three founders of Hautepreneurs together from very different walks of life. For all three of us – Jessica, myself and Hillary Randolph – the desire to create a women’s network to support the growth and success of women entrepreneurs, thought leaders and innovators in New Mexico has remained the litmus test for every choice we make – what events to host, what speakers to invite to our state, what topics to discuss at our Masterminding Working Wednesdays. With everything for the purpose of building stronger support, better tools, and wider reach for business owners, Hautepreneurs is truly a labor of love for all three of us.
The realization that not everyone operates under this same set of values came home to us recently when we discovered some fairly underhanded comments being made to a few of our members by a fellow business woman as a tactic for sowing seeds of dissension and negativity. For years, this kind of negativity and competitive mindset has ruled the old business model. It is where we used to say, “It’s not personal. It’s just business.” (Can I just interject here how much I love Meg Ryan’s response to this mantra in You’ve Got Mail?)
As Jessica often says, “Our new economy is based on collaboration, not competition, and as women, we are wired to build connections, relationships and bring everyone along with us. It is the old way of thinking and the old way of doing business that believes there isn’t enough space for more than one of us to succeed. It is the “I win by you losing” mentality that got us into the Great Recession.”
But what we believe deeply is that there is plenty of room for all of us to be successful – and plenty of groups to join that will be a good fit for each of us.
If someone out there is seeding negativity to gain business (or members) for themselves, that speaks volumes about that business and that business owner. The next time you’re asked to buy a product, join a group and sign up for some service when the request has been largely based on slandering another product, group or business, ask yourself this: why would anyone want to join a group or buy a product that tries to gain membership or revenue by knocking down other people and other groups? When someone succeeds by bad-mouthing another person or company, there is no integrity – and when we choose to do business with those who have no integrity, we are endorsing that kind of behavior whether we think we are or not.
As we discussed how to address the information that someone was sowing dishonest seeds of negativity about us, we thought about being very direct in our response, since the comments being made were not only untrue but potentially destructive. But after giving it some time and thought, we are choosing to follow our own mantra and take the high road. We firmly believe that we can help support women entrepreneurs without stooping to the negativity and ugliness that is far too often very personal and not just about business.
I was reminded today why it is so important to keep our perspective on the hopefulness and possibilities that await us when we work to help others succeed. On a day when I was wondering if we could really change the way we did business – not in dragging down the competition but in supporting others as we succeed – I received an inspiring comment on one of my previous posts. “… it has been a wonderful reminder of what’s important, of my own strengths and how much I have been ignoring them in favor of my fears and worries. So truly, thank you so much for posting this. It made a difference.”
When we can make a difference without tearing others down, why in the world would we opt out for anything less? It doesn’t have to be “I win when you lose” if we choose to not operate that way.