Virtual Business: Take It Like a Man

Confident Business WomanExperience is a wonderful thing. Even a bad one will prepare you for the “next time” some situation or other arises. I have learned so much this year just by hearing about all of your experiences. It’s nice to have other strong business women to share with and relate to. I love girl talk, but we haven’t even once really talked about men! Sure, a husband or son gets mentioned every once in a while, but what can we learn from these seemingly simple creatures about business? ;)

Why is it that so many brilliantly capable women I love and work with seem to be living the same experiences over and over? We go through phases of racing into stress, and then crashing into the inevitable phase of fatigue. The longer the periods of stress equal the intensity of fatigue. Does this sound familiar? I can’t complain because this year has been wildly successful in so many ways, yet continues to be intensely stressful in others. I don’t think stress is so much different for men, but it seems like more of my girl friends are complaining of burn out on a regular basis. So we should talk about it.

Tasks men often seem do “better” than women:

  • Switch gears
  • (Don’t give me that “women are better multi-taskers than men”.) Your mind has probably gone 3 different directions just since starting this article. You’ve probably had to write down a reminder, refilled your cup, and looked at the clock twice. Right?  A guy would start delegating before he even tried to handle as many thoughts that are going on in your head right now. So, let’s face it, we need to try to learn how to separate some of our complex thoughts. That way, when one thing gives way, the rest doesn’t follow.

  • Toot their own horn
  • Maybe back in high school you weren’t supposed to brag on yourself because you’d be seen as conceited. “She’s so stuck on herself!” Right? In business, humility has a place. Save it for your anonymous charitable donations. It’s a bad idea to post somewhere that you didn’t love your latest press release or can’t believe how stupid you feel not knowing something. Enough with the personal put downs!

Self sabotaging tasks women seem to do more than men:

  • Apologize constantly
  • Whether it’s for inadequacies or absences, for some reason, we feel guilty about being less than Wonder Woman; and must make a mense with “I’m sorry” and over-compensation. I once worked with a girl who’d type up a page and a half (slight exaggeration… very slight) about why she was going to be gone and she was sorry about not being there for you in her auto response email. She was the sweetest girl you could meet, but seriously she made herself look bad because she did it. In fact it turned into an intra-office joke.

  • Take on everyone else’s problems
  • The truth is we could probably do so much more if we didn’t get offended by something someone said (that probably had nothing to do with us anyway), or if we weren’t concerned about our friend’s neighbor’s sister who just found out she has a tumor that might be cancerous. It’s true that there are disasters and bad memories that are going to invade our thoughts, but they are our thoughts and if we are going to get anything done we need to be in control of them. It’s ok to be sympathetic, but don’t live through the tragedies with everyone.

  • Over share
  • Some things are better left unsaid. It very well might be because some guys still live in the Stone Age and think “I can’t talk about my feelings. Men don’t do that.” I don’t know to many of my guy friends who are posting messages about how they “can’t take it anymore!” or “I can’t believe that %$!# just said blah blah blah to me, but…” on Facebook (Yeah, you know what I am talking about.) The people who share every stick and stone life throws at them? Sorry, but most of the time, it isn’t the men doing that. Think of it this way. You are giving the whole world info that could be used against you.

Ladies, make sure you have these two very important traits in check and in balance to succeed as a virtual business owner.

1. Confidence

(Yeah, I said it!) Thanks to Cover girl, coffee, and Botox we can fake clear skin, energy, and even hang on to some version of youth a little bit longer; but the hottest asset any woman (especially running her own business) can posses is nearly impossible to fake or live without and that is confidence.

Let’s get a man’s opinion.
Because he’s had a lot of experience working with (sometimes putting up with) quite the wide variety of virtual business people at New Marketing Labs, and he’s a man, I decided to ask Chris Brogan of what he thought about my gender confidence theory.

So, I asked him point-blank: “On average, do you think that men are more confident than women in the virtual business world?”

Chris responds: “I think men are more confident, period, for an unfortunate reason. Men are willing to say they can do something when in actuality, it’s a stretch. Women most often only say that they can do what they KNOW they can do, and what they’ve had experience doing (on the average). Thus, men are much more likely to take wild swings for weird possible new futures, where women tend to think they have to show capability/experience first.”

Think about it. I do think he missed that men seem to worry less about what people when think if something doesn’t work out. Many also do better about not dwelling on the details that didn’t go perfectly. This leads me to trait number 2.

2. Perfectionism

I have learned more and more over the past few years that I am more willing to turn in a paper late or not accept a project at all if I don’t think I have the time or resources to do it the way that I know it should be done. This is truly a wonderful trait to have. Ask any of my professors or clients! I try to remind myself that no one is as big a critic of my work as I am, and I don’t need to get a hundred percent on everything do I? Well, yes I do and that’s my style, but it’s also a sort of curse because I wonder if I’ve have missed out on some things that I could have done great.

We even teach our kids that no one is perfect all the time.
It’s like I told my daughter this weekend, “No one can be good all the time.” She looked at me puzzled. “Why not?” (As if I’d just completely derailed what I’d been teaching her whole life. :{ Scary.)

“Well, because eventually that person would just snap and go bad or get sick.” I replied.

“Well, then can someone be bad all the time and then snap to good?” she reasoned. (LOL! Yeah, kids…)

“No, because you need a healthy balance.” I told her.

The moral of that story?
If you don’t allow yourself enough slack, your goals will always be out of reach, and if you give yourself too much slack, then there probably was never a concrete goal there to reach for anyway.

8 thoughts on “Virtual Business: Take It Like a Man

  1. Alison Golden

    I think Chris is dead-on. And so are you. I think it all comes down to relationships. For women, they are pre-eminent, we protect them at almost all costs and once they breakdown, they are difficult to get back. Observing my sons, they make and break relationships a hundred times a day, it seems. So what other people think (which affects confidence and perfectionism) isn’t as important in the first place and recoverable in the second, for men.

  2. Michele Cox

    Thank you so much for this post — and thanks to Chris for the twitter link that brought me over here. I’m working toward a career shift, and it is so easy to fall into the “who do you think you are” trap! And yes, it’s frightening to say “I can do that!” when it’s something I haven’t actually done before — something I have no proof I can do.

    But I’m learning to brag on myself; and I’m learning to keep my mouth shut and decide if something is actually my responsibility before I apologize, and I’m getting better about the whole self-deprecating humor thing, too.

    And it’s awfully nice to have those things affirmed here, and to have the encouragement of seeing other people also struggle with them.

    So — since, unlike apologies, thanks stand up pretty well to repetition — thank you again.

  3. Shelly Kramer

    Brilliant! And Chris is dead on. Women don’t raise their hands often enough. I talk about this often and I think that part of the secret to my business success is that I’m, pardon the pun, ballsy. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve raised my hand, said that I can do something, without the slightest idea how I was going to pull it off. But I always did. Errr, do.

    Fake it ’til you make it.

    It works. I’ve built a career on it. But honestly, I still have to kick myself in the butt from time to time and remind myself of that. It’s just the way we women are wired.

    But, if you recognize that, you can take steps to overcome it. And don’t forget …. fake it ’til you make it! And then keep it up!

    Great post.

    Shelly
    @shellykramer
    http://v3im.com

  4. Kristin

    What a wonderful article.

    I believe balance is the key. Learning to both “raise our hands” when appropriate and keeping our mouths shut when inappropriate are indeed vital to success.

    Although, I’ve known men that need to learn this as well!

    Kristin Rublaitus
    @krublaitus

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