When asked to share my thoughts on International Women's Day, the first thing I thought was, "I am too tired to have an opinion."
On this day each year, I celebrate my greatest mentor's birthday--my Grandma Opal Thompson. Anytime, I would complain about going up against men in my industry, she would say, "Honey they're just shit hooks. You need to work harder and smarter than them and get'er done." We are from Texas, and get'er done translates to "achieve your goals." (I am still not totally clear what a s hook is, but I think I get the gist.)
My life revolves around five distinct roles: mom, wife, daughter, entrepreneur and community leader. And that is the order by priority.
My hours and days involve a lot of switching between managing my software company, ensuring my two children are cared for and loved, getting my politician husband out the door, caring for my aging mother and, finally, helping my community (which recently went through fires and floods) get the attention it needs.
You may ask, "Elizabeth, do you make time for yourself?" The answer is just a plain no.
When I can, I turn to running and wine to survive. As I write this, I am negotiating a new hire, launching a new product feature, trying to get on a plane and have serious mom guilt because my son is home with a fever.
Does all this make me better at running a company? You're damn right it does.
Women's ability to multi-task, to receive their emotional reassurance from family, to make extremely shrewd time management decisions, and to absolutely focus on the task at hand is why they do better, over time, in growing their businesses.
Even though women are only getting 2.3 percent of venture capital, they ultimately drive more revenue overtime. The older I get, the more I am blown away by the capacity of women to be successful in life.
In preparing for SXSW this week, I had multiple calls for different panels and speeches. One call, the would-be moderator for the panel said, "And by the way, we are going to stay away from that highly inappropriate question of how you manage work life balance." On the next call, a different moderator said, "I think it is really important that we discuss how you balance work and life." I think there is a different question to be asked. What happens when the balance beam cracks right down the middle?
Balance to me is organized chaos.
The time has come for us female founders to stop fitting into old models of business and start either tapping into new ones or creating our own. I am a huge fan of new generation networks, capital and services that are created to leverage the way we, as women, run our lives and business (not ones that "compensate" for it). On this International Women's Day, I'm especially celebrating these models that are leveraging women's strengths.
A highly popular early stage investing vehicle focused on businesses founded by women entrepreneurs, where every applicant gains access to HelloAlice.com; providing guidance, support and mentorship, whether they receive a financial investment or not.
Black Girl Ventures
This tool is an easy online investing product using algorithms tailored to your salary, gender and lifespan with no minimum commitment. This was built for women by women, utilizing their unique ability to pick smart investments overtime.
A model that provides an innovative financial solution dedicated to the franchise industry. ApplePie enables high-quality franchise brands, their entrepreneurs and investors to achieve the growth and financial rewards they are looking for.
So happy International Women's Day everyone -- to women and men alike. As my grandma Opal once wrote to me, "Keep your head up high and give them hell."