Last night at iaeou- Chicago we had our 2nd Creative Women Taking Charge networking/speaking series event. Our keynote was delivered by Jill Salzman, the founder of FoundingMoms.com. Her current business, Founding Moms, is a paid meet up type of networking event to support Mom entrepreneurs. She currently has 43 meet up networking groups around the world. Jill is a ‘just do it’ evangalist, who preaches the power of taking the ideas you have and putting them to productive & financial use. She shared with us how her keen observation, willingness to speak her mind and follow her heart has brought her ideas to productive use in her life.
Before her current business, Jill has had other businesses that have supported her- from being a successful independent talent scout in the music industry, to designing children’s jewelry that Gwen Steffani’s kids have worn- which of course landed her a 15 seconds of fame spot in People magazine when Gwen’s kids appeared wearing Jill’s jewelry.
After last nights event, what continues to stand out to me is how undervalued those of us who use our imagination to create our living really feel. It’s not a self esteem thing. It’s a respect thing. How many people do you know that can dream up something they would like to do and then turn it into a way to pay their rent and support their families? The creative sector IS NOT RECOGNIZED for the jewel of a talent we have. We make the impossible possible and by doing so are a huge untapped economic leadership resource for corporations, NGO’s and governments around the world.
I was raised to believe that if I don’t like something that is happening, to look in the mirror and change what I can- me. And increasingly I am realizing this is a far bigger problem that cannot get addressed alone facing the mirror if we want our world to evolve in meaning filled ways.
Recently, I met a very successful creative woman who ran for Congress. I don’t know if she would want me mentioning her name, so I won’t, but she has spent 30 years, like I have, successfully building things from her imagination. Building businesses that have employed hundreds and given opportunities to thousands. When she ran for Congress she was told by others on the Hill that she did not belong there. Literally. She was completely disrespected. She was told that creative thinking and her kind of businesses and skills had no value or place in the room. She ran last year.
How outdated is this kind of thinking?
Well in part, no doubt, its because Congress is run by mostly pretty uncreative (thinking) men. So anyone who wants access to Congress better fit right in. Talk about the ultimate old boys network and iron gate.
I understand how this woman feels. As a successful creative woman taking charge, myself, I have repeatedly been treated like someone’s muse or adornment to serve their agenda. VC’s have looked confused when I tell them I can improve their portfolios. And I have yet to be seen as a truly valued contributor to economic development opportunities.
It’s time for all of us women who are using our imaginations and supporting ourselves, or are trying to, to show the world what we can do. It’s time for creative women to take charge. It’s time for us to build our case as to why we should be more valued to other sectors, why we are leaders, and risk takers, and show others HOW we more efficiently find solutions to complicated problems on a shoe string budget. And this is just the short list of skills creative women have.
And yet creative emerging leaders are often misunderstood because we see things differently. Our ideas can produce friction and require patience and communication to be understood. Our talent is creative thinking. We don’t start in the same place with our reasoning as most. And utilizing the strengths of our thinking will produce far greater value, collaboration, efficiencies and productivity. And the discipline, work ethic and values that Creatives have serve as a role model for others in the c suite and government especially. It indeed is our life long commitment to knowing thy self and relying on thy self to earn a living which gives us amazing intuition and integrity.
We need to tap this resource- it’s time. And with that will come a new found respect, recognition and appreciation for how our gifts can be economically utilized.
Former Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis, before she resigned on January 22, 2013, admitted that there was no tracking system for non conforming fragmented trade sectors like creative industries and therefore we are not on their ‘radar’. Our government will never see the power of the creative sector without knowing the facts. We return $7.00 of profit for every $1.00 of investment. (source: Americans for the Arts)
It’s time to show the world what we can do and WHY creative thinking skills matter.
About Lisa Canning
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