In the spring of 2016, I gazed out the window of my luxurious hotel room, over the scenic city of Amsterdam, and thought about how far I was from the people I love.
Thirty or so years into a successful corporate and start-up career, and after building two lucrative, respected companies, I was a 50-something-year-old woman attending one more trade show with thousands of techies, mostly men in their 20s, 30s and early 40s. I’d already visited 42 countries for work, many of them more than once, and the thrill of business travel was long gone.
Missing my husband, my kids, my friends and my home, I suddenly knew this stage of my life was coming to an end. I returned home with a plan to wind down my business and started thinking about what I’d do next.
I’ve always wanted to write about the many lessons I’d learned during my career in business and from my father, one of the original entrepreneurs. It wasn’t long before my dream intersected with the dreams of one of my three daughters, Danielle.
Danielle had recently launched an amazing networking group for millennial women in Vancouver, our hometown, and she asked me if I’d consider helping her. As I got to know these inspiring young women, I realized that—while a lot has changed since I started out in my 20s, particularly in technology—some things remain the same. Women still have to work harder to stand out and be taken seriously; they continue to do more than their fair share of work outside work, leaving less time and energy for networking and education; and they still experience a severe shortage of female role models and mentors with time to spare. In other words, they need help.
Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours on the phone talking through career and business challenges with my entrepreneurial daughters. It occurred to me that every young female entrepreneur needs a mom who has built successful businesses, but most don’t have one. I wondered—what if I could share what I’d learned with them as well?
This question inspired the book “Letters to my Daughters, business advice to Entrepreneurs”. Without judgment or intimidation—no jargon or jockeying for ego points—my aim is to equip the many women who are starting businesses with the basics they need to succeed.
Whether you are deep into your start-up and working 18 hours a day programming a new app or you’re thinking about starting an Etsy business that will allow you to pay some bills while spending time with your young children, this is for you. It’s a caring, straightforward look at the problems everyone in business will face at some point, with a particular focus on the issues women tend to experience.
Being an entrepreneur is a long, tough road—you won’t succeed if you’re not willing to work hard, learn constantly and build resilience. But the rewards are unbeatable, too, and you don’t have to do it alone.
I hope you will take this journey with me, Mom.