ANNABEL KARMEL AD­VICE FOR WOMEN

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - ANNABEL KARMEL For for more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.annabelkarmel.com/ mumpreneur

WOMEN ARE a match for any man. We can put our hand to any­thing, ab­so­lutely any­thing, with the right mix of pas­sion, de­ter­mi­na­tion and self-belief.

These were my words at the Chel­tenham Literary Fes­ti­val last week where I spoke about my new book

Mumpreneur and how women can bet­ter suc­ceed in busi­ness. The key, I said, is not to mimic how a man might deal with things, but to show your emo­tions and sen­si­tiv­i­ties as these are pow­er­ful at­tributes. Don’t be se­duced into think­ing and be­hav­ing like a man as that’s not how we’re built.

Be your­self and be­lieve in your­self, that was my mes­sage. The more we be­lieve in our­selves, the more chance we have of suc­ceed­ing in our goals. And don’t let be­ing knocked back or crit­i­cised — like I’ve been over this past week — dull your am­bi­tions. The way that some of my ad­vice was mis­in­ter­preted was in­cred­i­bly hurt­ful. But I’ve dealt with it. You have to as a role model for the mod­ern fe­male en­tre­pre­neur.

Another point that the Chel­tenham cyn­ics mis­con­strued is: choose your path wisely. Not be­cause women can’t take on men at their own game but be­cause a ca­reer lasts a life­time and you have to do what you en­joy.

The press had a field day when I spoke about dis­suad­ing my 25-yearold daugh­ter from go­ing into city trad­ing as my 26-year-old son has done. What they failed to re­port was that I warned her off be­cause I know her per­son­al­ity and I know she wouldn’t thrive in such an en­vi­ron­ment. Not be­cause she is fe­male. If my son had pos­sessed the same per­son­al­ity traits, I would have warned him off too.

OK, so we might not yet have achieved com­plete par­ity but women have proved them­selves as adept as men at most things; we will suc­ceed by be­ing women — not by pre­tend­ing to be men and so win­ning ac­cord­ing to the rules they set.

Util­is­ing our in­stincts for what fam­i­lies want and need, be­ing able to solve prob­lems by think­ing in more lat­eral and cre­ative ways, work­ing twice as hard be­cause we know that’s what it takes to get to the top of a very crowded, sharply­suited tree. But we’ve got to get there on our own terms.

I’m the first to con­cede that it can be hard get­ting to the top, or even run­ning your own busi­ness as a woman. I’ve had stand-offs with sup­pli­ers and knock-backs from re­tail­ers and plenty of fail­ures. But it’s a myth to say women can’t cope with fail­ure. We sim­ply re­act to it in a dif­fer­ent way — of­ten with more emo­tion and pas­sion. But that’s an as­set, not a fault. And it is emo­tion that pushes us to face our fail­ures and learn from them.

The pub­lish­ing world was a male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try back in the 1980s and I faced 15 re­jec­tions from pub­lish­ers for my Com­plete Baby and Tod­dler Meal Plan­ner. But I bat­tled on un­til a book pack­ager saw my vi­sion and took me on. I felt emo­tion­ally bat­tered and bruised but sign­ing on that dot­ted line was a eu­phoric mo­ment.

Be­ing told by a room full of sharply-suited busi­ness­men that my idea for chilled tod­dler meals would never catch on was a blow, too. But the neg­a­tive whis­pers only made me more de­ter­mined, re­sult­ing in a 10-strong range now thriv- ing in ma­jor re­tail­ers. I might be sen­si­tive, but I’m strong.

Suc­ceed­ing in busi­ness doesn’t come with­out hard graft. But I’ve never re­ally known any­thing dif­fer­ent. When I was a child, my mother had to be­come the ma­jor bread­win­ner when my fa­ther lost his busi­ness mak­ing shoe soles. Af­ter 10 years of be­ing a house­wife, she re­verted to her pre-baby ca­reer as an ar­chi­tect.

I re­mem­ber her work­ing in­cred­i­bly long hours to put food on the ta­ble. It was hard but it was some­thing she was pas­sion­ate about.

Be­ing raised by a strong mother, it never oc­curred to me I couldn’t do what a man does. And let’s look around us — some of the UK’s most suc­cess­ful busi­nesses have been set up by women — Chrissie Rucker of The White Com­pany, Chloe Mac­in­tosh of MADE.com, and so forth.

In fact, I’ve spent months in­ter­view­ing a host of lead­ing busi­ness­women (many self-made with­out any for­mal busi­ness qual­i­fi­ca­tions) for Mumpreneur, and here are some of the key pieces of ad­vice for get­ting ahead.

Firstly, con­fi­dence is just as im­por­tant as com­pe­tence. The more you be­lieve in your­self and in your chances of suc­ceed­ing, the more likely you are to do just that.

Sec­ond, put those trans­fer­able skills into ac­tion. Women are hard­wired to be mas­ters of mul­ti­task­ing. And, let’s face it, ap­peas­ing an in­sis­tent baby or tod­dler on the verge of melt­down re­quires pa­tience, diplo­macy and cre­ativ­ity of the high­est or­der. Trou­bleshoot­ing is our forte.

An im­por­tant one: don’t suc­cumb to guilt. Chil­dren know they have an amaz­ing abil­ity to pull on your heart-strings. Feel­ing guilty is a waste of energy and men­tal ca­pac­ity.

Next, em­brace fail­ure. If you sel­dom fail, there is a good chance you’re play­ing too safe. It’s how you deal and learn from fail­ure that mat­ters.

The op­po­site of suc­cess isn’t fail­ure, it is not try­ing.

Fi­nally, don’t give up. Ap­ple’s Steve Jobs said; “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep look­ing. Don’t set­tle. As with all mat­ters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

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In­spir­ing: Annabel Karmel is now a men­tor for young moth­ers

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