I can always tell when things are really falling apart for me by how many days in a row I wear the same outfit. Last week, I wore my I’m-a-successful-CEO outfit four days in a row. In case you need a visual, it is black all over with ruffle near the neck — a little bit girly and hides dirt well.
You will be interested to know that four days included one plane trip, meetings with six investors, and one date (I smelled the shirt right beforehand and it seemed okay. I didn’t think he’d be getting that close anyway.)
The last day was when I was really sure I was going to change outfits. I had an interview with Elizabeth Vargas for 20/20. I packed a huge suitcase full of everything that might look good on TV and I told myself that I’d figure out what to wear the morning of the interview. But the morning of the interview I was actually crying to my attorney about how complicated our second round of funding is becoming, and I told him that I was going to quit the company and get a job writing for a local newspaper. I really said that.
Forget the fact that local newspapers really are not hiring writers. Really. I think I was just saying it to him so he could understand how totally stressful it is raising money in this financial environment. Plus, it’s totally not cool to be admitting to such huge stress levels when you are the CEO. I mean, who wants to fund a company when the CEO is having a mental breakdown? But really, every CEO who is raising money right now is staying up all night worrying. And not telling anyone.
Well, except me. I am telling my attorney. And now you.
Okay. So I spent the morning crying and screaming at my attorney. In between phone calls with investors where I try to sound really, really pulled together. Like I don’t really need their money. Which is how you have to sound if you are ever going to get money.
And sometime during all that, I messed up time zones, and, as I was cleaning the most recent torrent of mascara down my cheek, I noticed that I was actually in the process of standing up Elizabeth Vargas.
So that was day four of my successful-CEO outfit: On 20/20. Mascara streaked. But, as I said earlier, the outfit is all black, and in a happy coincidence, so is my eye makeup.
I think the interview went well. We talked about salary and I went on my usual tirades:
All salaries should be transparent. The only people who benefit from hidden salaries are incompetent managers who are either overpaying or underpaying and don’t want to fix it.
There is no gender disparity. Women earn more money than men in their 20s and when they have kids, women choose to downscale and men don’t, so why don’t we all shut up about the pay disparity and talk about the parenting disparity?
You earn a higher salary if you are good looking. This bias runs so deep that even better looking babies get better treatment from mothers. So forget social justice and just get Botox.
Then I went back to my hotel room. And, finally, I considered changing my clothes. But before I could do that, I took a look at the community at brazencareerist.com, and I was totally taken aback by what I saw.
We are running a contest for people in their twenties to write about how blogging affected their life, and the winner gets a free trip to SXSW (a totally cool conference that I love going to each year.)
The posts people wrote are great. They provide moving descriptions of why it’s important to blog and to make sure your blog is part of a community.
So many days I think I am nuts to do this company. It’s so hard to do a startup in a any economy, let alone a bad one — the pressure to keep believing in yourself is intense, and the long hours are too. But today I am so happy to be doing a startup. Because the community at Brazen Careerist is exactly what I had hoped it would be: Meaningful conversations about things that matter to people who are earnest and honest and want to have great lives.
Here are links to eight of posts that make me feel lucky to be struggling to fund my company. Because I am lucky to be able to have my career, and my heart, linked to this community.
“The difference between me pre-blog and me post-blog is simple: I went from an invisible, hiding lurker to a real person, and an outlier. Seems simple, but that transformation is empowering in a way you'd never expect. I went from letting others define me to defining myself.”
“It would be a bit of an understatement to say that blogging has changed my life. It’s been the most important element in leading an examined life, because of the conversations and reflections other bloggers and commenters provide.”
“Mike: If you're graduating in a year, you need to be blogging right now. It'll help you get a job.
Me: Blogging? That's a fun word.”
“On our resumes, though, we both proudly proclaimed ourselves as co-founders of the blog and included a link. And, though I haven’t independently confirmed this yet, I’m pretty sure that’s how I got my job at Google.”
“With little to no previous experience in this type of work environment, my application was in jeopardy. However, I was able to land the job on a trial bases because of my blog.”
“For me, the power of my words is used to share what little I’ve learned, and more often than not, to show what I haven’t … blogging.. reminds me each and every day that I’m not alone, that my situation isn’t unique.”
“I created my blog, Tough Girl 101, to rekindle whatever spine I had before the marriage drained it away. I remembered being a tough girl once, I figured that I could be again Blogging was the first step in getting myself back on track.”
“That’s how I’ve changed through blogging. I’m less likely to deliberate quietly on an issue and instead more likely to provoke debate. I’m quicker to throw my thoughts or beliefs into the (modest) spotlight and more likely to change my mind.”