Elizabeth Taylor and 100 Women
I was honored to be asked to be asked by Janet Hanson, the brains behind 85 Broads, to be the guest speaker at an event that was definitely celebrating women. After all 100 women signed up and I guarantee it wasn't to hear me speak but to get a private showing of Elizabeth Taylors collection that is currently on the auction block at Christies. That is certainly a perfect platform to celebrate women.
The collection is over the top. If you get a chance it is so worth seeing. Liz Taylor was an iconic movie star who lived life large and peeking into her closet is pretty amazing. She certainly loved jewelry. Starting with the 32.5 karat diamond ring that she referred to as the baby to couture clothing to Van Goghs to photo frames to Chanel bags. It is all out there for the world to see. Walking through the rooms and listening to the women ooh, ahh and comment was part of the fun.
After the exhibit we all went to a luncheon held at Christies. It is always interesting to hear the conversations that take place in a room with 100 women. The majority of the women that attended this event come out of the financial world such as investment banking, assest management, professional services that run the gamut. Impressive crew.
I was interviewed by Kelly Easterling, a CPA out of Rothstein Kass. Rothstein Kass partnered with 85 Broads to put on this event and had collaborated on an interesting survey around Women in Alternative Investments. Their findings weren't shocking as the information basically confirmed everything we know about women in the financial industry. Not enough women in high level positions. That seems to be consistent across the board.
Kelly and I covered a few topics. Women as entrepreneurs and why I support them, women-led ventures that I have been involved with and women in fundraising. I spoke about why I am a supporter of women entrepreneurs which I have talked about many times before. Women are amazing entrepreneurs, they get shit done. Women led ventures and how I decide who to invest in. It is all about the entrepreneur first and the idea second. I obviously have to be a believer in the idea but I realize that those ideas evolve and pivot as companies grow and lastly how women raise money and from whom.
Interesting questions from an audience that is not as familiar with the start-up community as I am or perhaps many readers of my blog. One interesting question was do I look at the entrepreneurs and think are they going to be able to take that business to the finish line, be that an IPO or selling to another company. I don't think about that. When I looked at kindergarten for my kids I did not worry about what the HIgh School looked like. That seemed to resonate.
Then there were a few women who pointed out that having balance and getting off the track in the world they are in does not bode well. Why can't they be the President of Goldman Sachs. Many seem frustrated by the inability to be at the top top of their field although I guarantee most of the women in the room are sharp as a tack and have managed billions of dollars creating amazing returns on that capital that they manage.
I said that I am not an expert by any means in the industry that any of these women are in but my reaction was why be frustrated in those companies for years on end. Learn what you need to learn, grab four other women who are just as smart as anyone at the table and create your own companies. Be your own President and change the marketplace. If women want to truly change it is not going to come from being in environments that have been set in stone for years on end where men run the show, it is going to change from women walking out the door and starting up their own and proving that they can succeed at the same level. Change needs to come from outside the box because it rarely works inside organizations that haven't changed in fifty years. Take a look at companies who aren't nimble enough to even figure out their online presence.
Janet Hanson followed up with the perfect story. She was at Goldman and got off the track for a bit to have kids. The person who reported to her ended up taking over her job and moving to a super senior level. She couldn't back to that so she started her own business doing the exact same thing she did at Goldman. She named herself President of her own company and the tables shifted. People at Goldman saw her differently because she was President of her own company. They were equals. She eventually grew her business with over 3 billion dollars in management....and you know what, not only does she rule, she changed the ratio, she changed her life, she played in the mans league but she played by her own terms.
Janet is the exact reason why I am a big supporter of women entrepreneurs. Don't whine about how difficult it is to be recognized, recoginize yourself and show the world that you deserve to be recognized. In our house, in pure jest, we would say..."she's da man".