Turning Doubt into Defiance: Reflections from a Woman Entrepreneur

They start as tiny cuts: a well-intentioned gentleman approaching you at the end of a conference and suggesting that, despite a stellar research presentation, “you should smile more.” A male boss who tells you, 11 weeks after having your first child and returning to work, that “you’ve lost your sparkle.” A senior leader who stoically advises you and a colleague — both women — that a business matter should be handled with “less emotion.”

These are not fictional anecdotes. They happened to me.

If you let them, these tiny cuts have the potential to become wounds, infecting you with self-doubt, no matter your intellect, experience or confidence.

As a woman in business, it is unavoidable to have these encounters every day and in every way — even in 2019. It does not mean you have to accept them.

Nearly five years ago, wholly passionate about the work I do, but feeling the wear and tear of institutional bias, I decided to take my destiny into my own hands — and started the Additive Agency.

The ideal was simple: work with good people to deliver transformational strategies, stories and experiences for great causes and companies, without the oppressive structures that persist elsewhere.

While no system is perfect, I am proud to share that it is possible to build a better culture and a better company for all — not just women.

Now, as I look ahead to 2020, I feel a renewed sense of purpose — especially as we face one of the most important elections of our time — and I say to any one of you who has ever felt marginalized or diminished because of your gender, what you believe, where you are from or who you love: while the systems are designed to keep us down, no one can ever contain the infinite power of dreams or the spirit of defiance.