“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.” – Dhirubhai Ambani, Against All Odds: A Story of Courage, Perseverance, and Hope.
I came across this quote while I was browsing Pinterest and that statement sat with me for awhile. I wondered what tugged at me when I read this? It was one of the openings that start as just a sliver of curiosity, with enough attraction to make you feel slightly uncomfortable and a little unsettled.
Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly restless in the enterprise environment. The culmination of economic events along with strict focus to inch profit higher has changed corporate grace and appreciation for their people. My work history comprises unique experiences and challenging projects. I appreciate the solid foundation these opportunities have given me: Interviewing subject-matter experts in a variety of specialized fields, building online communities, and promoting programs. I know these skills work especially well for social media services and social media strategy at 3 Bossy Bees.
I appreciated the time and effort organizations put into my continued education in project and program management. These two areas, combined with my education and work in adult learning and instructional design, naturally led to an interest in social media blogging, trends, and consulting. The investment in people gave way to a investing in the balance sheet that accounted for pennies, while the true corporate asset – people – withered. What do enterprise organizations want from you after a few reorganizations, downsizing benefits, and limiting decision-making authority?
“Women leave tech: It’s the culture…”
Mine isn’t a unique story about women working in technology. I didn’t think this is how my story would be written, particularly as my passion for community and social media services carried me through the long nights and weekend work. Fortune’s article on, “Why women leave tech: It’s the culture, not because ‘math is hard’,” surveyed 716 women that left technology companies. 45 of the 716 are running their own companies and 625 of those 716 departed technology with no plans to return. With multiple studies and countless articles about women leaving technology as they move into their 40s or take on the adventure of motherhood, I find myself in the same boat. In my thirties I read these articles and assumed I would be better positioned for promotion, for a climb up that ladder. I didn’t think it would happen because I was owed or it was due to me. I thought the advanced degree, the right companies on my resume, the awards won year after year, and the hard work would ensure the right doors would open. They don’t open. And having children offers you a different journey in sorting out priorities. My passion and long hours were now anchored to bright, shiny lives that delight in the simplicity of my presence and engagement.
I started questioning my allegiance to this enterprise culture that deletes tenured employees effortlessly from their directories after they’ve given up countless weekends, family dinners, and half-taken vacation days. The majority of us aren’t independently wealthy. Finding work that pays well is essential when job searching, and the current bonus in the enterprise environment is liking what you do. I was satisfied to accept the arrangement of late nights or bringing my laptop with me on vacations, when my employers cared about my professional growth.
Slowly, the enterprise encroached on my personal space and the balancing act of caring for my little kids, my marriage, dog, fish, chickens and all the pieces that consume the minutes: packing lunches, teaching my kids how to tie their shoes, making dinners, exercising, connecting with my spouse, enjoying time with friends, laundry, emptying the dishwasher… when I realized more of my time was to serve the business, to work on someone else’s dream. What was leftover was just bits and pieces of the actual life I wanted to create.
This is my now. I’m building a future for myself. I am putting energy and care back into making space for my life and my loves. What we aspire to at 3 Bossy Bees may seem impossible, such as finding a way to honor treasured personal time over demanding personal sacrifices, but we are building it the way we hoped the enterprise would have supported us. It will challenge us to be resourceful and creative. Along the way we will continue to confront working styles once needed to survive in a large enterprise environment that favored callousness and obedience. Our vision will continually bring us back to the original purpose of rediscovering a more colorful life, to offer generosity, lift others, and learn to fail gracefully.
Today, I am a part of developing something that strives for more than inching the dollars upward at the cost of people’s self respect. Even more than the comparison to the enterprise, I’m developing opportunities for myself and my community.