CEO as Chief Psychologist

When Rachel Cook started her company, Seeds, she wanted to create a culture that valued open, clear communication. She was looking for an alternative to the ego-driven communication style she had experienced in the male-dominated field of stock trading. Rachel decided to institute a practice of holding one-on-ones with each person on her team, every single week. She encouraged her employees to use this time with her to talk about any uncomfortable interactions or other concerns from the previous week. By being receptive to her co-workers’ feedback no matter what, she was able to create a place in these one-on-one meetings where each team member felt safe speaking honestly.

The result of this practice of prioritizing regular one-on-ones is that the team has extremely productive and positive communication in their work together, even in times of conflict. Another unexpected benefit for Rachel is that, as she received all of her team’s feedback openly, she gained a very accurate picture of her own strengths and weaknesses. This accurate picture is critical to the success of any CEO.

Rachel Cook prioritizes the feminine values of connection and openness. Her company’s chances of success are increased by having the full benefit of all perspectives on the team.


P.S. Check out Seeds, an incredibly creative social venture which funnels more funds toward micro-lending through mobile gaming. Only a woman could have thought of this!

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Building Women’s Entrepreneurial Culture

When women create an entrepreneurial ecosystem, what unique systems and practices do we lay down so that we can work according to our values?

I see a number of exciting trends right now. Women have been working hard for decades to increase our influence in the corporate world, with very little progress to show for it. Now, women are eschewing corporate careers and starting their own businesses in record numbers. At the same time, women are looking at how to put all of their resources to work to create the kind of world we want.  In the past, we haven’t wielded our money to make much impact on the world. Now, women are entering the field of angel investing to support startup businesses that we care about. Women are forming philanthropy circles to figure out together how to best leverage their philanthropic opportunities.

Research shows that women entrepreneurs are statistically more successful than men. Yet, women still have more trouble getting funding for their businesses. Now, women with financial resources and deep experience are supporting women entrepreneurs, creating a new entrepreneurial ecosystem for women. We even have our own incubators, such as the Women’s Startup Lab, whose founder, Ari Horie, was recently recognized nationally for her vision.

Women entrepreneurs have been around for awhile. Now that the ecosystem of women supporting them is growing, are there things we want to do differently?  For example, with the growing ranks of women angel investors, perhaps we want to rework the system of raising seed funding.  Or, maybe startup founders work together differently in an incubator designed specifically for women entrepreneurs than in other incubators.

Let’s create our women’s entrepreneurial culture mindfully. We are, at this very moment, laying down systems and practices that will be used by those women who follow in our footsteps. We can integrate values that we hold dear which have not necessarily been respected in most business cultures.

I propose we have a global conversation about what the values are that women want to integrate into their work culture in order to thrive. And let’s share what we’ve learned from new systems we have created and practices we have tried.

Please leave a comment or contact me with your thoughts.


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