The following is an excerpt from my new book, Feminine Feminism.
Five years ago, a good friend of mine hanged herself.
I had coffee with her the day before.
She was married to a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur who ran a couple of major companies and had a brilliant career. She did not work. But on the surface, they had everything.
I knew both of them well. It was a deeply disturbing incident that shook us all up.
Five years have passed. I have observed society around us closely. And today, I am writing this with a certain amount of lingering sadness.
One of the greatest defeats of the feminist movement in America has been the phenomenon that women in the thirties are quitting the workforce in large numbers. Many of them are highly educated, and just as they acquire sufficient experience to take on more substantial roles, the body clock sets off an alarm.
The feminist movement has suffered some major setbacks. One of the greatest is talented women in their thirties dropping out of the workforce in large numbers. In the latest volume of her Entrepreneur Journeys book series – Feminine Feminism (Amazon Kindle) – Silicon Valley entrepreneur and writer Sramana Mitra presents the struggles and triumphs of successful women entrepreneurs who have chosen to make the most of their many talents. Through this collection of essays and interviews, she illustrates how entrepreneurship may be the answer for many women looking for a flexible way to balance a fulfilling career while raising children.
As the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) global virtual incubator, Sramana Mitra strives towards 1M/1M’s audacious goal of helping 1 million entrepreneurs globally to each reach $1 million in annual revenue by 2020. With Feminine Feminism, she aims to inspire women to explore the path of entrepreneurship as part of their pursuit of work – life balance. This series of complex, emotional, intimate, and candid perspectives from a great collection of female role models fall under such headings as:
Working mothers are constantly struggling to strike a balance between spending time with their kids and making the most of their professional skills or supporting their families financially. Jana Francis, co-founder of Steals.com, has achieved this balance, and for her, the most rewarding part is that her employees are able to strike a balance as well.
The motivation for Steals.com came to Jana Francis right after she had a daughter, her third child, when she had to head back to work in the sales management team for a dot-com startup at the end of her maternity leave. She realized she was a smart, capable woman who could come up with a way to earn money from home. Once she started thinking along those lines, the ideas started to flow.
Daphne Kwon is the chief executive officer of Expo TV, a free-to-join community where consumers post “videoopinions” about products and services they acquired. Daphne studied at Harvard Business School and was a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley, senior analyst at The Walt Disney Company, and CFO at Oxygen network, among other positions. In this interview she talks about Expo TV’s unique view on user-generated content and how it affects or can affect content marketing for brands and retailers.
Sramana Mitra: Daphne, let’s start with some background about yourself as well as Expo. What have you been up to until now and what is Expo? >>>
Jana Francis is the co-founder of Steal Network, an interactive marketing company that delivers top-quality brands and products one day at a time to their online communities of women through the websites babySTEALS.com, scrapbookSTEALS.com, kidSTEALS.com, and sheSTEALS.com. Before founding Steal Network, Jana spent her career specializing in advertising and marketing for technology and internet companies in Silicon Valley, California, and for KSL, the largest media company in Utah.
Sramana: Jana, where does your story begin? Where are you from and where did you grow up?
Jana: I grew up in Utah. My father was an engineer. I was raised in a household that had computers in every room when virtually nobody else even had one in their house. We had the original Apple, and my father would teach me how to write programs to get my name to flash across the screen. I was a very early adopter of technology. >>>
Maxine Manafy is the founder and CEO of Bunndle, an app distribution network. Prior to founding Bunndle she held various sales and executive positions with companies such as Viximo, Mochi Media, Yahoo, KLA-Tencor and Intel. She is a graduate of San Jose State University and Stanford.
Sramana: Maxine, where does your story begin? Where are you from?
Maxine Manafy: I was born here in the Bay Area, in San Francisco. I was raised in East Oakland. Both my parents are immigrants and entrepreneurs as well. My father is from Iran and my mother is from Samoa. My father built his own furniture business, so he had a furniture factory. My mother worked in the family business, and we all were raised around that environment. My interest in starting my own company has always been there. >>>
There was a time in Silicon Valley when VCs did not like the idea of funding couples. Nonetheless, Cisco and 3Com – two legendary Valley startups – were founded by entrepreneur couples. These days, the startup world seems to nurture a lot more romance… Sometimes he is the CEO, sometimes she. Sometimes they switch roles. To have a baby. Or a few babies. Or not. In any case, the bias against entrepreneur couples needs to be over. Entrepreneurship is a passionate affair. A powerful aphrodisiac. Better acknowledge that phenomenon.
A blog post that I wrote on the subject in October 2010 still garners readership and discussions. Meanwhile, our 1M/1M virtual incubator continues to work with women entrepreneurs actively, and I am happy to report that women ARE starting up companies, and building interesting businesses ranging from healthcare IT to e-commerce, and everything in between. >>>
Over the years, I have spoken with many women entrepreneurs who had various questions around balance and flexibility. The most critical question comes up when these entrepreneurs face the have a child vs. start a company question.
I frequently facilitate discussions about female entrepreneurs, and the company vs. children question, and I would like to do so again. We’ve seen through conversations with entrepreneurial women like Sarah Sutton Fell that not only is it possible to have both, you can also be incredibly successful.
To reinforce that point, I would like to introduce another set of “mompreneurs” who are charting their own ways in business while still raising a family. >>>