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Welcome to episode 10 of the School for Mothers Sunday Supplements. My name is Danusia Malina-Derben and I’m your host. Today is all about the world of entrepreneurs trying to STAND OUT. I’m going to share about success themes I’m noticing; in other words what it now means to be perceived as a success online. This is where we can choose to, or not, lay out markers seducing people into assuming we are on the up, successful as fuck and/or in serious demand. These markers are easy to spot. 

What I see are a set of business tactics (I’m calling them theatrics of success) as they rely on us believing in a business etiquette of this is how things are done. 

Let’s see if you recognise any. 

Here’s a cast of characters, all real examples with names changed to protect their identities :

Get you to seven figure Sue is bored with six figures. She knows she has to outdo the six figure gals, the multi six figure Sisters and the megastar ‘millions in a month’ Masters. She has to ramp up the action or be left behind. She sets up a 7 figure Mastermind which sells out without her needing to mention the only way she reached six figures herself was by selling courses on how-to-make-six-figures. 

>>> Fact: nothing replaces business elbow grease en route to creating solid foundations, systems and practices. There’s no shortcuts people and these pseudo MLM programmes, in the end, show themselves up as faux. 

Gutsy Greta who says she has a team, refers to her associates and always writes about “we” except when you begin work on a project with her it becomes obvious she’s a one woman business. 

>>> Fact: own your solo business. Stand tall in what you’re building. Teams are overrated, unless you’ve a mighty one, yes?!

Creative Kate who left her corporate career when she had kids but never mentions exactly what that corporate role was. Except that it was corporate, and she reported to a Board at an insanely young age, a few times. She’s now a top biz coach telling others how to …. (you name it, she can tell you what to do). 

>>> Fact: ‘fess up. If your corporate job was a crock of shit, say it sister. Not everyone can be an exec. Go get professionally coach trained, will you?

Inspirational Ingrid who talks a great talk. She’s loud, engaging and fires out her battery of generic business wins as impressive food for thought. Scratch the surface of her website and you’ll see her testimonials operate in a loop. Every single testimonial giver and receiver worked for one another. 

>>> Fact: tricky, don’t ya think? It’s not that these are fake, not one bit. It’s the shade they throw on the very talent that somehow mars the magic effect of great testimonials. Play straight. 

Feisty Fiona who sold her home, moved into a rental and is using her chunk of capital to 1) buy a Forbes feature on her business, by the way it’s around $8,000, if you’re wondering, and 2) invest in bought Insta followers and likes. 

>>> Fact: buying is ok. But the lie is that merit got her there. 

Vulnerable Verity uses her recent life situation to curate content and a new programme for a select group. She emails her list with at least 3 mails a day and relentlessly becomes a fixture in your inbox. Eventually your brain thinks “if she’s this insistent then maybe she’ll be like this for me”. Worn down, you hire her. She’s relentless, for herself. 

>>> Fact: haranguing is no good move. Clients feel press ganged even when they want what you’ve got. Better to start with them at full fat choice.

Lifestyle Lucy used to be a lawyer but found the hours incompatible with her children, husband and PTA commitments. She’s now freelance and although she doesn’t really have the time for business she’s keen to secure interest and retainer clients.  Especially if these clients can bear with her as she prioritises her kids. She advertises being available full time with a client wait list, as she’s fully booked. In reality, she works with one client for two hours a month. 

>>> Fact: being a stay at home mother has become a job to justify. Something to hide under accomplishments others value. Screw this shit. Seriously. 

Ambitious Agatha who quotes £10,000 for a 3 month coaching gig and refuses to have potential clients talk with anyone she’s worked with before, because she’s not about “proving herself to anyone”. 

>>> Fact: proving is bullshit. Correct. Hooking up potentials with current/past clients is a no brainer hell yes, IF that £10,000 mirrors talent.

List conscious Lyndsey ring fences her influence by only working with people with 25,000 Insta followers. See Feisty Fiona who is now able to work with her. List conscious Lyndsey won’t ask where followers came from because appearances matter. She routinely tells wannabe clients “get back to me when you’re bigger, right now you’re too small.” 

>>> Fact: influence matters. But narrow minded metrics foster urges to circumvent social follower rules to appear to fit tight-arsed definitions of success.

Profitable Penny is a go getter. Her public profile is all about making that cash. She calls herself an investor in women, financially and spiritually. She’s known primarily as a moneymaker. Awkwardly after four cocktails and after dancing on tables she’s also known to confess her hubby funds everything and that she wishes her business would make money. 

>>> Fact: having a supportive partner is a must. Sheryl Sandberg of “Lean In” told us it’s the most significant determiner of our success. Let’s be proud and loud about our men behind our success, if that’s where the money’s coming from.

Liquid Libby is an edgy serial entrepreneur. She loves nothing better than to setup vibrant new brands she hungrily sets off into the world with her signature fervour. Typically by 18 months to 2 years she’s accrued many commitments and is in over her bank balance. Much as her vision is pure, she liquidates so she can move on along and create the next big better thing. 

>>> Fact: liquidation is common. Business failure too. Leaving a wake of small business women owners empty pocketed, not cool. Need I say more?!

and finally,

Precious Patricia, Tight Theresa, Earnest Evie, Sacred Sarah and Friendly Faye don’t know one another but do share one way of making their own businesses fly. They rather like putting on events with speakers, panels and workshops. Despite being ticketed events they rather dislike the question “what’s your budget for speakers?” and instead tell all speakers they have zero budget to pay fees but instead simply being “seen” by the audience is marketing gold. Sometimes they DO pay speakers – if he has a penis/or she is insistent/or a celeb. There’s this secret handshake situation where each of them, by sleight of hand, make money and build their brand through the name of other women. Ultimately there’s a tacit game where all agree it’s not ladylike or sisterly to talk money. 

>>> Fact: start out events often rely on good will; where there’s no money or a break even event, got ya gals. Make no mistake this begins to stink of a perfume called Wicked. And not the Victoria’s Secret Tahitian vanilla one…

Sixteen characters in a farce involving ‘success’, brand awareness and curated positioning. Like any juicy saga there’s lies to be uncovered, authentic vulnerability as currency, sisterhood imploded. 

Look closely. Epic work in the world is no fad. The rules of business among men can teach women an alarming amount. Sure enough most men (if I’m generous many men) aren’t tapped into emotional nuances enough to play manipulative moves.  They play straight(er) *Insert question mark*. And if they don’t they identify themselves fast as wanker type salesmen. We know what we’re getting then, right?! But the 16 characters described here, in different ways, are all sisters rooting for success. Certainly their own (and why not?), often for others. Yet they reproduce a scarcity model, a vulnerability narrative model, a sisters-are-doing-it-for-all model, and a popularity model based on shaky success metrics. 

The way to subvert these models is to get tunnel vision turned-on bringing your own stuff to people exactly how you want to. Take your eyes off others. It’s a female issue. We cannot seem to see ourselves, our worth and our place vis a vis others unless it’s by looking outside ourselves. We are trained to be OTHER focused. And this is one mega reason why men (trained to be SELF referencing before looking out at others) create, build, and distract themselves less. 

We have this other-focus down. We are Olympians at OTHER referencing. We can afford to not attend to what others are doing. The great lie is that we must get caught up in other people’s versions of success and outwit, outdo and outsell them. Even when we’re collaborators because that scarcity tripe is powerful. Excuse me while I vomit. 

The urgent challenge now is to learn the art of self approving, self focus, and not caring a flying fuck for anything apart from what WE call success on our very own terms. Screw familiar formulas requiring positioning. Here’s to your undiluted success exactly as you want it.