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Ryan’s Journal: International Women’s Day

Friday, March 17th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ufv/33321834446/Folks. I am about a week behind on recognizing International Women’s Day, but wanted to speak about it today.

There is always an element of folks out there who cry that we are dividing each other more by recognizing every different group of people, but I disagree.

At this point we have roughly 7 billion people in the world and they are each unique. That’s pretty cool if you ask me and I find that recognizing the differences that make us unique can be a unifier.

One reason I want to address this holiday is because I have been personally affected in a profound way by strong female leaders, both in life and work.

These women were mothers, wives, bosses, employees and, in some cases, warriors. I call that out because throughout history there was not always the option for women to follow their own path — it was chosen for them.

I am the father of two beautiful girls, they are identical twins and they light up my life. My wife and I are blessed (and challenged) by them daily. In June I get to experience it again with the addition of our third girl.

If I am being completely transparent, I was never a feminist. I didn’t think men were the superior sex, but I didn’t think the status quo was an issue either. While having girls has helped to change my thinking, the journey began many years ago.

I served five years as a United States Marine and enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of something greater. Now, the Marine Corps has around 200,000 active Marines and about 7% who are female. It’s a male dominated world where recent news has uncovered that misogyny is alive and well unfortunately. I don’t bring this up to shame the institution but to call out the opportunity for improvement.

Within this environment though I had the pleasure to serve under a female Marine officer by the name of Meredith Brown. At the time she was a Major and retired as a Lt. Col.

She was a no-nonsense person who expected results and demanded excellence. I recall how I used to write reports for her and she would pull out a red pen and begin striking things out. As she did that though, she took the time to show why the corrections needed to be made and expected that I wouldn’t repeat the errors.

Now you may be thinking, this lady sounds rough! I will tell you though, she knew what she was doing. I was a young man who needed guidance and she also saw something in me that perhaps I didn’t see myself. As a Marine she was tough but also fair to a fault. She was the first strong woman in my professional career and I valued our time greatly. We still speak to this day and she continues to give sound advice.

How does this fit into culture? Because as a society we have determined that sex, color, background, race or other factors that could be discriminated against are not how we should be judged.

We have deemed actions to be our judgment. Does this always happen? Absolutely not, but we strive for it.

If I had been an older man in a different Marine Corps, I would have never had the opportunity for a female Marine to lead me. I would have operated in a bubble and be unable to see another point of view without great difficulty.

So next time we have a day that celebrates a unique quality about a specific group of people I suggest we take the time to embrace it.

See something from a different perspective, walk in another person’s shoes, so to speak, and learn.

Culture is continuous.

Image credit: University of the Fraser Valley

Entrepreneurs: Mary Hunter

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/theaccent/3367457947/Earlier this year I cited a study that demonstrates the value of experience for entrepreneurs, something in short supply if you are a twentysomething starting a company in your dorm room.

Best of all, there’s no upper end to creativity or sources of inspiration.

Mary Hunter says her ideas com from God, as do her recipes, but it was diabetes that drove her to find a better way to add flavor to the large roasts she cooks for her church.

And it was moxie that kept her moving forward for twenty years, because, whether your idea is the result of heavenly inspiration or drowning frustration in a few beers, execution is never smooth.

Now it’s finally happening.

Later this month, Mary’s Marinating Sticks are scheduled to go on sale in Target stores.

It took enormous risk, Hunter mortgaged her home at age 63; great support from family and friends; a sales force recruited from her church (a la Sarah Breedlove, AKA Madame C. J. Walker), the kind of hard work that generates good luck and a belief strong enough to overcome everything that went wrong—and plenty did.

There are dozens of entrepreneurs who are held up as examples of perseverance in the face of adversity, but few fought it through for 20 years.

Those that fight and win all have one thing in common; an edge of some kind.

Hunter would tell you her edge was God, others would say it was a spouse or friend or just plain stubbornness.

But I think they are more like the Energizer bunny and just keep going and going and going.

Flickr image credit: The Accent

Passion Sustains Your Efforts

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

candle_flameIt’s Sunday night and I’ve been staring at the screen trying to find something to write for you, but my mind is totally blank. This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I tend to look back at years of posts for inspiration.

When I did that I came across something I wrote in 2006 when the same thing happened.

Passion beats the blues

On low days (we all have them), as I sit here writing and sending these words into the ether, I wonder if the people who read my blog find it as useful as I mean it to be. I wonder how many people read MAPping Company Success, and, to be honest, I sometimes wonder if anybody would actually care if I stopped writing it.

Then, yesterday, I happened to read Brandstorming and was reminded that, when I get right down to it, I’m writing my own passion and, even without my clients’ comments, I know that it has value and works.

Now all I have to do on those odd blue days is remind myself that passion pays in many ways. (Hey! It rhymes—how ’bout that:)

What I wrote then is still true four years and more than a thousand posts later.

We all have days when we wonder why we do what we do; how we can keep going when we’re stale or find ourselves wondering if [whatever] really matters.

Now and then it’s good to take a step back and recognize that we’re going to have these days; that although our passion will sustain us in the long run it doesn’t always burn with uniform intensity. At times we may even feel like the flame has died, but if we keep going we’ll find it again and it will be stronger than ever.

In short, you need to trust your passion; if it’s real it will never desert you, but it might need a day off now and then.

Image credit: mooncross on sxc.hu

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