My favorite part of a wedding is that awkward moment just before the first course is served. Everyone’s had a few drinks and a few crab cakes and perhaps a mini-quiche or two during cocktail hour. The lovely bride and groom have been introduced and the band is set to go.
It’s time to dance. At first, the wedding singer practically begs people to take the floor. A collective bashfulness takes shape in the room that rivals a kindergarten class coming together for the first time.
And then what happens? The ladies take the floor. They’re always the first ones out there, right? The first people to say “Who cares what they think of me?”
They dance together, a confident group of uninhibited women, enjoying themselves without fear of judgment.
I have to wonder: As women in business, why are we so reticent to put ourselves out there when we need career help or professional guidance? We are relatively quick to pull our friends together to ask about fashion or child care or even appropriate responses to co-workers. So what prevents female CEO’s from forming a board of advisors and seeking guidance? In my experience, assistance in all arenas is essential in order to grow a successful business.
Does the actual dance of asking for help need to be a soul-crushing admission of weakness?
“Not at all”, says Britnie Turner, CEO of the Nashville-based Aerial Development Group. “Whether it’s a hand up, a nudge in the right direction, a helpful piece of advice or structured mentoring, we all benefit from help in our respective industries.” At 26 years old, Turner is the founder and CEO of the largest urban real estate development company in Nashville.
Like most successful entrepreneurs, being a curious sponge for information has taken Turner to new heights. But, she admits, asking for help isn’t always easy. “When you ask for guidance,” she says, “you’re admitting that you don’t know something. Pride and ego are the barriers that keep most people from collaborating. It’s a tragedy since there is no greater force than the synergy produced by minds working together.”
That’s true of both genders in the business world. As a long-time consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, I’m witness to the fact that women are less likely to come forward with needs and questions than men. And I sit in amazement as to why.
“Most career women tend to be self-reliant,” Turner says, “Typically, they have had to forge their own way and be their own hero. They know how to carry their burden and the burdens of others. But they hesitate asking for help or guidance because they think they will be placing their burden on someone else.”
The effects of trial and error can be devastating to the time axis on the learning curve. It makes little sense to go forward blindly when someone right next to you has a piece of advice that could save you a year’s worth of effort. “In five years,” Turner says, “I went from living in my car to being a multi-millionaire making a real difference in the city of Nashville. I attribute my success to hard work, resilience and the guidance given to me by mentors.”
It’s time to look past our insecurities and identify the advisors we so desperately need. Strike up the band and ask like no one is watching. Exercise your Ask Muscle.
Contributed by Joy Taylor | CEO & Co-Founder | TayganPoint Consulting Group | firstname.lastname@example.org