I realize that the last time you heard from me, the Farmer was running me over with his tractor. But it was just a fight. Today I feel like I fit on the farm. When I am getting along with the Farmer, the whole farm feels enchanting – even a goat standing on top of my car and probably putting a dent in it.
It’s reframing: When you feel like you’re in the right place, you can reframe the bad stuff to feel like good stuff. I learned this from all the counseling I went through after being at the World Trade Center when it fell. Now that it’s almost the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I field a phone call each week from a reporter writing a story about how 9/11 affected the survivors, and I always talk about reframing.
I’m starting to think where I fit, in terms of my career, is saying what none of us wants to hear, and then reframing it so it feels good.
I used to get upset about people thinking I’m an idiot. For example, when I was writing on Yahoo Finance, I wrote along side Suze Orman. And people would write such hateful stuff about me and Suze (imagine the most offensive gay slurs you can think of) that it was part of someone’s daily tasks to delete awful comments. I used to think I got those comments because I was writing for the wrong audience, or not connecting with people, or something that signaled I was not in my right place.
But I’m thinking that the job of annoying people is actually a good fit for me.
Last week I wrote a post for BNET about how diversity is bad at the beginning of a startup. I did not think this was particularly controversial topic because I am talking, in this article, about a very short period in a very specific type of company: the time between the seed round and the A round of a startup. Those companies are mostly founded by men, and men would increase their company’s chances of survival by not partnering with a women.
Really, this is not news: Diversity is bad for small companies. I published this research four years ago, with not much fanfare. But now, when I apply the research to a specific type of company, I get killed in feminist diatribes on blogs like Jezebel and Built in Chicago.
But so what? I think I’m right. And I think I’m right that most women don’t even want to be a part of the founding team of those startups because those companies are high-risk ventures that ruin your personal life. (I blogged about that — originally for Tech Crunch– here.) And guess what? Tons of men and women told me I was wrong. But I did not get one criticism from one woman who is CEO of a venture-funded startup while she has young kids at home.
I got tons of complaints from women who are pregnant and say their passion for startups will be undaunted by having kids. But really, this is what they wish. These women wish they fit in everywhere. Women wish they were being pushed out instead of just stepping to the side. Women want to feel they can do everything, but we can’t.
Look, we know the baby boomers failed at work-life balance. We know it doesn’t exist. So let’s just start talking about things that are real. You can have a rip-roaring career in a great big city or you can have a goat on your driveway climbing on your car. You can’t have both. You can have kid-centered days or you can have career-centered days. You can’t have both. Let’s just stop lying to ourselves because it’s not helping anyone.
All we can do is reframe. We can say that we are so lucky to have all these choices. We can choose what we want, we just can’t choose everything.
It is real that twentysomething women need to worry more about having kids than a career if they want kids. It’s not pleasant or nice or encouraging to say, but it’s true. It’s true that reporting sexual harassment is old-school and stupid. It would be great if we could take down every lecherous boss, but we simply cannot. It’s true that everyone would rather have a miscarriage than an abortion. Someone has to talk about this, and I like that it’s me.
I think I fit where people want to hear the truth.
I am settling into my role of the bearer of bad news. I have found, in my personal life, that if I face everything, even if it’s bad, then at least I have a chance at making it better. This is true for women at work, too. So let’s get going.