Photos by Agora Photography
This week’s Women Entrepreneurs Connect Event (WEnyc) with Grameen America CEO Andrea Jung at Brooklyn Borough Hall was particularly inspiring.
After a powerful intro by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Jung, a lifelong business woman in a ‘man’s world’ (first in finance and then as Chairman and CEO of Avon Products) pointed out discrepancies that continue to exist between genders. For one, women receive only one out of every 23 dollars in venture Capital funds. And some studies show still earning 78 cents to every male dollar for the same job.
Progress is being made, but slowly. As CEO of Grameen, Jung works closely with women entrepreneurs in various fields helping them to actualize their dreams; pointing out that investors are starting to realize that women are as successful, if not more, in business and equally worthy of their dollars.
Jung also took the time to impart upon us the gracious wisdom of the late visionary Steve Jobs, whom she knew. Advice we found particularly useful regardless if you are a woman or man.
1. He told her to ‘fail forward.’ Everyone fails, you’re going to fail, just be sure to learn from your mistakes and never make the same mistake twice. Sometimes the biggest misfortunes turn into the greatest gifts.
2. Follow your compass not your clock. Many people believe there is a time limit to certain things. That you need to reach a particular destination at a predetermined time. Instead, follow your intuition your instincts, your gut.
Jung recalled when she was offered a CEO position at a new company, after being passed over for the same position at her then current company, Avon, for a much older man.
“I sat with myself and I thought about it,” she said, dreaming of that corner office and that ‘big job.’ “But I realized that it wasn’t really what I really wanted. I felt that at Avon I could empower women and help.”
The foundations of AVON are one of the first female driven enterprises, where women were allowed to earn their own wages through sales. So she stayed and was offered CEO months later.
3. Be tenacious. Be tenacious with your vision and your goals. Don’t let anyone stop or obscure you from yourself, especially if you fail, keep going.
Then on a personal note as a single mother with two kids; she expressed the difficulties in being a CEO and having a family. Once she turned down a dinner at the White House (she was the only female out of six CEO’s to be invited) to go to her daughter’s important event.
“I knew that President Bush wouldn’t remember me five minutes after I left. But my daughter would remember that event for her lifetime.” She was invited back to the White House nine months later.
“You have to choose,” she said, stating that for years she her feelings of guilt prevented her from being able to concentrate on any one thing completely.
“Make a choice,” she said, “and then be 100% in what you do. Sometimes the business will lose and sometimes the kids will. But you have to be Ok with that.”