541 Andrea Simon:

What would you discover about women entrepreneurs if you studied all of us like an anthropologist …would? Turns out, applying anthropology to business reveals a lot that can spell the difference between scaling, stalling, or failing.

MELINDA

I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who is an international leader in corporate anthropology, award-winning author, podcaster and business consultant leveraging her PhD in anthropology for fresh insights into what makes entrepreneurs and corporate executives excel.

Dr. Andrea Simon uniquely leverages anthropology – that is, all the methodologies that help us observe what people are actually doing as distinct from what they “think” they’re doing – to help founders and executives create effective cultures and realize the results they want.

Today we talk about the unique abilities of women business leaders, the gap in how we’re evaluated by men, and much more, including change management.

Andrea Simon is the president of Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC) where she uniquely enables companies – from startup to Fortune 500 – to see their cultures with fresh eyes. Her clients come from across the globe and span industries as she helps them come “off the brink,” and learn how to soar again.

She’s also an award-winning author of On the Brink: A fresh lens to take your business to new heights with a new book out in January called Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business.

I can’t wait to introduce you to Andrea, because you’re going to get a fresh perspective!

Most business leaders don’t think about what the field of anthropology can teach them about how to grow and scale a successful business.

Andrea Simon says it’s about time they do.

Andrea’s talks on Change Matters and Blue Ocean Strategy have been featured in over 400 engagements, and widely covered in Inc.com, Business Week, Good Morning America, and Modern Healthcare and Forbes.

And with more than 130,000 monthly listeners, her podcast, On the Brink with Andi Simon, is ranked among the top 200 business podcasts and the rated among the top 20 for futurists. First…

Make sure you grab your phone and download Podopolo if you haven’t already and find this episode in our growing library. You can comment, share and ask follow-up questions. I’d love to get to know you there!

Andrea Simon is now turning her focus to helping women entrepreneurs take their ideas and make them into extraordinary success stories. Her new book Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business, to be released in January 2021, shows how women are challenging expected norms and crashing through with extraordinary creative business, legal and professional solutions.

Today Andrea shares why men tend to see their roles as CEOs climbing the Empire State Building to save the damsel in distress and their client a half a billion dollars – while women CEOs see themselves as teammates innovating so their clients would never ever have to face losing a half a billion dollars.

We talk about the gap between what we think we’re doing compared to what we’re actually doing, why our inner mindsets dictate how we evaluate everything, and what we can learn from applying anthropology to business.

Let’s put on our wings with the inspiring Andrea Simon.

Melinda Wittstock:       Andrea, welcome to Wings.

Andrea Simon:             What a pleasure to be here, Melinda. Nice to meet you.

Melinda Wittstock:       Nice to meet you too. I’m fascinated how anthropology can be used to understand all of us entrepreneurs, women in particular and business. Tell me a little bit about that.

Andrea Simon:             It’d be my pleasure because I’ve built literally a blue ocean strategy around applying anthropology to other kinds of organizations. People say to me, I thought anthropologists study small scale societies using observational research or ethnographic research or storytelling, all the methodologies to help us observe what people are really doing, not simply what they think they’re doing. And I was a corporate executive for 14 years, and then I was in healthcare helping healthcare change. And when I launched my business in 2002, I was an entrepreneur looking to craft a new market space to apply anthropology to modern complex organizations. Well, while we say we study small scale societies, most companies are small scale societies. They have rituals. Humans create cultures. And as we work with particularly mergers and acquisitions, people become really clear that, oh my gosh, cultures do matter. And they are very different. So we’ve applied it. And it’s been a wonderful journey for us helping people see, feel and think in new ways, which is what we try to do.

Melinda Wittstock:       Oh, that is fascinating to me. I’m particularly curious about the differences between men and women in either startup cultures or corporate cultures. What are some of the things you’ve found through your anthropology lens?

Andrea Simon:             Well, as we work with companies, we are fascinated by how people are very different in how they take assumptions and turn them into their impression of reality. So I’ll break your question up into two parts. On the one hand, humans in general take data and create stories about them. And their brains then have this illusion of a reality and then they only see the things that conform to them. And when you have to change an organization, you really have to change the story. Men see their stories often in, I’ll call hierarchical command and control systems, where they have wisdom and knowledge and they think that their employees need to be controlled, commanded, organized. Entrepreneurs think differently like that, but they are often looking up to a leader to know where we’re going and to help them get there. What we found working and doing our research among women is that they are different in how they have this illusion in their mind and they see things differently. They collaborate, they communicate.

I had one situation where the compensation committee of a firm, the men all saw themselves as climbing the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building to save the damsel in distress and their client a half a billion dollars. And the women all saw themselves as teammates, were organizing people into doing things in innovative ways so they could actually never have the client lose $500 million. And so they approach it differently. And they also are humble enough to often get out into the field to understand what customers are thinking and asking for as opposed to assuming they know. And in our new book coming out, we have a bunch of women who have smashed the myths of women in business by doing just that. It isn’t that they are mimicking men. They have a whole different style. And I love the women today who have really tackled the COVID 19 virus in a very different fashion, being much more decisive and conclusive and bringing the scientists and collaborating, thinking about the country as a whole. It’s an interesting time to watch women lead and act.

Melinda Wittstock:       It feels like right now, there is a shift, a profound shift, more of that archetypal, feminine style of leadership. You see a lot more men adopting that certainly in startups. You also see a profound reaction to it, mind you. But there’ve been so many studies that suggest that companies say on, quoted on NASDAQ or the Dow that have women on their boards and women in their executive teams outperform those that don’t. Even studies about startups, when there’s a woman on the founding team, they’re more likely to actually survive. Do you think there’s a big shift going on here?

Andrea Simon:             Well, there’s a couple of things. Some great research shows that when women are evaluated in companies, whether it’s men or women evaluating them, they come up much higher than the guys as leaders, as managers. So there’s something different than what’s going on. May not be acknowledged yet. The second thing that’s going on is that they love to solve complex problems in innovative ways. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that those entrepreneurs where there’s a woman on the team seem to thrive better than when there is none. That cognitive diversity is really important. It’s more than just gender. It’s seeing things differently. And the third thing is that one of the chapters of my book is an IT expert. And Samantha Radocchia finds that the venture capitalists keep thinking that she should be the chief people officer or the chief marketing officer when she’s doing an IT startup.

And she can’t quite figure out how they can’t see her as the CEO or the creator or the founder. She’s founded five companies. She’s a 30 under 30 person. And yet they keep putting her into a box because they’re either afraid of her being the leader, or they simply can’t imagine that she could be. But she’s extremely successful. She’s a coder, but she’s not a coder. She’s a creator. And she’s built blockchain companies, supply chain companies, all using IT in innovative ways. So there’s something very magical going on. I love the fact that we’re seeing it, but we haven’t turned it into the new wisdom or the new mythology, but we’re ready to. Women are going to change the story and it’s going to be a real ripple effect.

Melinda Wittstock:       Yeah, I believe so. I mean, I happen to believe that entrepreneurs have the solutions and ultimately the major problems in our society, of course, there are many, will ultimately be solved through creativity in business. And you see a lot of social impact models and new ways of doing that. And you see a lot of women, like you said, we have minds that are able to tackle a lot of different things at the same time and thus apply things in innovative ways to create new solutions. And yet there is that disconnect between the amazing innovation that so many women are coming up with and these old, I think, tired models of what makes a CEO and how you have to be or behave to get funded even, and to get supported. Do you see that changing? What’s that disconnect between the investment community and female entrepreneurs who still, two decades on, are still only getting 2% of the venture capital money?

Andrea Simon:             It’s says a lot about, not the women, but the folks who are controlling the money. And as you know, power and the money that is there is as much a reflection of how men see the world as the folks who are coming with the ideas. Even then, the research on the conversations, when people are evaluating a presentation, some great work out of Washington University, and we’re very involved with the university in St. Louis. This great research that when they’re listening to a woman present, the evaluators are hearing one story that is not as supportive, that they’re looking for the risks and the places where it will fail. And when men are presenting to the same venture capital, they’re looking for the opportunities and the growth in the marketplace. It’s less about what the men or the women are saying then what the evaluators are listening for and hearing.

Melinda Wittstock:       How do you change that?

Andrea Simon:             Well, I’ll tell you how they’re changing it. Because at WashU, they’re actually putting programs in place to change the way the evaluators are listening and evaluating, making them aware of what their brains are doing. Let’s assume they’re not intentionally unsupportive. Let’s just assume that their brains have a process in place, which they do, and they hear things in different ways. Everything’s a conversation, and so they listen differently. So now we have to change it. I can’t make them bias neutral, like some hiring and HR processes are, where you can’t tell if it’s a woman or a man who’s being interviewed in some fashion. But in some ways you need to be able to change this, and in fact, create that gender neutrality. But there’s also a need to have women who are funding women, because they get it, and they hear things in a different fashion.

They look for different possibilities and they are more open to the kind of collaboration and risk-taking that the women are bringing to them. So it’s interesting. There’s a new book coming out shortly, I just pre-ordered it, on the genius of women. And in my own book, I went back to all of the geniuses. You know, the first computers were women. They weren’t even computers. And they were pulled together at Harvard to analyze the telescope and the data coming back that the guys weren’t interested in analyzing. The women have done it all early and not necessarily left in control of it. There’s some new research suggesting that women created agriculture, and then the men discovered what they were doing and took it over. I can’t ever prove that. But there’s a pattern here of good ideas coming out of female minds and work, and others seeing the power and potential in it, and not necessarily giving them the recognition that they deserve. So it’s a good time for change.

Melinda Wittstock:       Right. I’m on my fifth business as a serial entrepreneur in media and tech, and I’ve built a whole bunch of businesses to seven and eight figure success. But I remember pitching, in one of those kinds of American Idol type startup pitches. And there were 10 of us, two of us were women. And I did my pitch, and it was a couple of companies ago, and I talked about all the different use cases and all the different value we were providing for our customers and what the before and after was for our customers, went into all this great detail about that, showing all our traction. At the end of all of the pitches, the investors had this valuation period where they kind of talked about their takeaways from all our pitches. And one of the judges said, I just wish one of the companies would have talked about their customers. And I’m like, hello.

Andrea Simon:             Did you hear us?

Melinda Wittstock:       Did all you hear while I was talking, was la la la la. What was that?

Andrea Simon:             I’m sorry you had to experience that. Because it wasn’t what you said, it was what they were allowing themselves to hear. And there’s some great research out of Stanford, and Sarah Soule did it. And if you tell somebody that, she did it on craft beer and other things, but if you tell them that a man developed this craft beer, they say that is really good. And if you tell them that a woman created the same craft beer, they said, oh, that’s really not that very good at all. And the bias is very profound. There’s no facts. There’s no reality. There’s nothing here except a long standing assumptions about what women make and do and how good it could be, and what men make and do and how they can exceed whatever that woman just did. They did it with houses. They gave them designs, architectural designs. If they said a man created, it’s gorgeous. If a woman created it, man, it failed the test. So going back to your question, how are we going to change it? We’ve got work to do.

Melinda Wittstock:       We surely do. So with your consulting firm, when you work with different companies at whatever stage they’re at, and also in the mergers and acquisitions scenario, that’s fascinating to me as well. What are some of the things you do to help people see this and get past their cognitive dissonance, if you will. It’s a big problem in society generally right now, but how do you help them do that, so they have a very effective culture that is inclusive for both women and men?

Andrea Simon:             I’ll answer that in three different ways. First, in my first book, On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights, we had seven companies who had stalled or stuck, and we used corporate anthropology, observational research, and we took them out to actually watch what people were actually doing. And we took them inside their companies to see exactly how people were interacting. Undercover boss is some of my best advertising, when you go out and hang out. People say, what do you do? I hang out. And in the process of observing and listening, you can begin to see what’s actually going on. Because if I said to them, your biases are coming through, they don’t even know what they said or how they did it. But if they watch, and they observe, all of a sudden, they have their own epiphany where their brain goes, oh really? And, I often put them on the telephone to listen to what people are talking about because they have to be distancing themselves from the day to day and begin to see what’s actually happening.

I say, actually, with quotes around it, because it’s a different reality when you observe. And so the first part is beginning to be humble enough to go out and watch in a different fashion, or hang out and listen to your folks actually doing things and beginning to watch what the dynamics were. The second thing is we did some work for Cleveland Clinic and it sort of illustrates how we help companies change. And they were making acquisitions of other hospitals, and they wanted the hospitals that they were acquiring to come in and adopt their culture. And we use a methodology developed at the University of Michigan called the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument.

And it’s licensed to a group in the Netherlands. And we’re consultants with them. And so we did our analysis of the cultures. And what was so fascinating, both gender as well as status, was that the guys inside the Cleveland Clinic culture weren’t so sure, a, what it was, or b, why it was so good. And the folks on the acquired hospitals weren’t so sure why they were bad or how it was going to be better. And that became a wonderful opportunity to begin to realize, what is culture anyhow? It isn’t the clothes they wear to work, because they’re all doctors or nurses, they wear the same scrubs. It’s the essence of who they are. It’s the way they value things, what they believe in, the conversations they have, how they think about status and hierarchy and certainties and autonomy and how they get along.

And it’s the way humans have created survival by having cultures that they believe to be the best way to do it. Then as we begin to take some exploring and begin to understand what their culture is, then we use visualization, and it’s very powerful. We’re learning a whole lot about how the brain, if it imagines something, it begins to see it as real. So we begin to imagine what would be the right kind of culture, where men and women can actually have parity? You don’t have to be the same. You don’t have to be a man. You have to have an equality in the conversation and a balance and an openness to hear each other. And if you visualize it and imagine it, and then we can backward plan it and begin to do small wins to actually get there and help you change. And it’s a lot for a podcast to go through, but just try it. Visualize how you would like to see your organization operate with men and women across silos, together deciding things.

Now, in one law firm, the partner, the woman partner still gets asked to clean up the table. She’s not quite sure why they still think she’s a clerk instead of a partner. And that’s really a bad story. And so, working together, we’re going to try and figure out how do you create the right story where her position is an equal or even sometimes a superior. But the guys don’t quite see it that way. But you have to begin to visualize something different for you to begin to actually do it. But once you do, you’ll be amazed at how it happens.

Melinda Wittstock:       This sounds like a journey into consciousness. I mean, it really is a mindset. And I’ve learned over the years that the real change always happens from within. It’s like the stories we tell ourselves ,how we value ourselves, how our own neurons kind of connecting? And you were talking about visualization for your company. But also just visualization for yourself. I think these things have the power to change tremendously when we change internally. Is that part of your practice as well, being able to work with founders and CEOs and executive teams, to really change their own way of thinking?

Andrea Simon:             You’re making me smile and I don’t see your face because we’re doing this without video, but I wish I could, because you could see my smile, The new book coming out in January, it’s called Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business. And at the end of the book, I said, there’s got to be a way for you to rethink your own journey, as a woman or as a man. And I’m putting a program together now that I’m testing on 10 women who are working with me to help them rethink exactly what you’re talking about, the story. And many of these women have successful careers, but are not happy.

And they are in positions in companies where they’re expected to do things that they no longer enjoy doing any longer, or they’ve reached a point where they really would like to take a new direction in where they’re going. Or some folks out of COVID have lost their business altogether and need a new place for their life to move forward in a new career. But we’re working on this visualization model because it is a very fundamental way of how do you begin to see, feel and think about yourself in a new way. If you can begin to visualize it, tell a new story about it, can you then make it happen? Because until you have that, you have no idea where you’re going.

Melinda Wittstock:       Absolutely. Well, our minds play tricks on us. So say for instance, if we have a memory of something that’s happened, and you can always see this where people have repeating patterns in their lives, right? And so it happens again, and it’s almost like our mind is looking to be proven right. See? There it is again. And so it’s literally changing that story, because we’re looking for things to confirm what we think we know. And I mean, my partner and I often joke about, our phrase for it is you can be right or you can be rich. But there’s this dopamine hit of being right, but it keeps you trapped in this story that doesn’t actually serve you. And how to change those stories internally is a fascinating thing.

Andrea Simon:             But you’re an entrepreneur. I’m married to a serial entrepreneur, and I’m very entrepreneurial. And often when we’re working in well-established organizations, part of the challenge they have is they’re anchored in a story that’s no longer relevant. And they need to have, I say to them often, if you want to change, have a crisis or create one or don’t hire me. If you show any attention to what we’re trying to do, everything you’ll say, you’ll go back to the habits of yesterday. Your brain is much happier doing what it used to do, even if it’s no longer working.

Melinda Wittstock:       Well, yeah. Talk to Kodak about that.

Andrea Simon:             Well, Xerox isn’t far behind. It’s like, we’re perfect, but nobody needs us anymore.

Melinda Wittstock:       Yeah. So it can be difficult to change. I mean, how do you handle the change management part of this? Because change is something that people really fear. I’ve come to know in my life, it’s the only thing I can take for granted. I mean, it’s just, once you accept it, life becomes a whole lot easier because you just know, and this is something you just learn as an entrepreneur I think over time, is that there’s so many things beyond your control. I mean, all you can really control is your own behavior, your own attitudes, your own story, as we’re talking about, and all these sorts of things and your own vision of what you want, those internal things. But the change is going to come regardless. So if you kind of run from change or hide from it, that’s not really a solution. So how do you help people become more comfortable with the concept of change?

Andrea Simon:             Well, in some ways, you must make change your friend, because if you thought of it as a friend, and all of a sudden it takes on a personality that makes it go from bad to good. Remember, our brain has this old reptilian part, the amygdala, and it really is very important because it helps you survive in changing times by making you flee things that are new and unknown, fear the unknown, the dangerous things outside of your knowledge base, to appease the new in some fashion. And it produces a lot of cortisol in that brain that tells you stop, run away, don’t do that. And it’s not personal. It’s the way it has helped us survive. But that newest part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is ready to learn new things if you’ll let it.

And if you often think about how to do this in a collaborative, trusting fashion, it creates a lot of oxytocin, that love hormone that makes you feel like this is really cool. So when we’re working with people who need or want to change, the first thing we try to do is make them understand that it isn’t personal, that their brain is fighting against it. The second thing is that they have legitimate fears that we need to begin to understand because they protect themselves. They don’t want to lose their job, or they don’t want to look stupid among their colleagues. And nobody likes to be an outlier in some fashion. And it’s important that we understand that we’re mimics. So I’ll change if I see somebody else changing. I will do it if I can see it, and then I can understand that’s what you’re trying to do.

Don’t tell me the words. Show me how it’s going to be. I do a lot of this as if we are a performance on a stage. I tell them, I tell you what. You’ve been playing Macbeth for a long time, but we’re not going to play Macbeth anymore. Now we’re going to play Hamlet, but you haven’t written the script yet. You haven’t learned it. You have no rehearsal time. And people want to put you out there on the stage to perform without any directing or others to play with. And so, using the metaphor seems to take the sting out of it. You know, if Robert Redford can play many roles, I can too. You’re not a bad person. You’re just changing the role you’re playing. But let’s practice. And I get them to begin to get small wins. How are we going to do this differently so we can test it?

I love them to think that this isn’t forever. It’s a beginning. We’re doing two leadership academies for two clients. Everybody wants leaders, and I’m teaching now followership. And I’m telling them you can’t be successful as a leader unless people are following you. How would you like them to help you collaboratively get something done? Or are you going to command and control them? What’s the methodology that you’re going to use? And how are you going to change people? The most important thing is empower them to help lead the way, because if they see it and they do it, they can’t go back and say, I don’t know what it is you’re trying to do. And my last thought is, it’s a journey.

You said the word before. You cannot turn a battleship with an oar, and people, once they get into it, become real advocates for it. And they also need to see your leaders. If the leaders are staying in the corner office and not changing anything, nobody’s going to change. I had one client like that, three months into our work, nothing had changed because he refused to change anything. And people said to me, well, if he’s not, I’m not. And it’s very interesting. Anyway, we work hard to help people do things they hate to do. Sometimes they hate us as well.

Melinda Wittstock:       Yeah. I mean, the change thing is really tricky. I mean, having been in companies of all shapes and sizes, ‘intrapreneuring’ within big organizations like the BBC, for instance, earlier in my career. But then also starting in major media, but also starting things from ideas out of whole cloth, and innovating and creating whole new systems and technologies and all of that. And in my career, there’s so many different things and different skills required at different stages of a company. So when a woman is scaling her business, say from that starting place of ‘solopreneur’ through to getting to that point where she needs to hire, and she needs to build a team.

I find at that stage a lot of women struggle because we tend to be perfectionists and kind of control freaks a little bit, or just so focused on our own competency that we don’t reach out and do the thing that’s natural actually to us, is to create and foster those relationships. And the men are out doing all the relationship thing. And it’s always been perplexing to me because that’s the thing that’s going to allow you to really scale your business. What’s going on there for a woman that stops her from actually asking for help? Should there be an AA for perfectionists? I mean, what is that thing and how do you help women at that stage?

Andrea Simon:             Well, you know if you will look at some of the businesses that women have grown, a couple of things come to mind. One of which is, I’m not going to say they have a crisis, but they see one coming. They hit 10 million, they want to go to 100 million, don’t really have the skillset to be scalable to get there. It requires a whole different business model. And often we get hired as an executive coach to work with them, to help them understand the difference between being a solopreneur to running a large business. Different skills.

Melinda Wittstock:       Different totally. You have to almost be a different person between, roughly I’ll sum it up this way, between zero and 100 or 300,000. And then between 300,000 to a million, between a million to three million, between three million to 10 and 10 and beyond, right? There are almost these specific numbers. It does tend to correlate. It’s funny about that. And it’s almost like the thing that you master you have to let go and then master something else.

Andrea Simon:             Sounds like you’ve been there?

Melinda Wittstock:       Yes, I have. Or just sell your business.

Andrea Simon:             Well, actually, that’s just what I was going to mention. The reason often entrepreneurs cash out and move on is that they were really designed really good for that early stage startup, they had the concept, they began to build enough to show it was a viable product that was needed in the market. They had enough revenue coming in to see maybe even a profit. But they were beginning to build platform. And then they had two options. They could now learn new skills to get to the next level, or they could come to terms with that’s really their strength on the early stage. The women who run large companies often need ‘intrapreneurs’, you said about being an intrapreneur, different skills that are needed for those who can run complex organizations of many levels, even remote ones, and those who are in that early stage startup building the entrepreneur. And being an entrepreneur, we make decisions where we say this is big enough, as opposed to, my husband took his business from zero to the fifth largest in the summit of assessment world for education.

And he had several different business models as a group. And I actually wrote an article about him for John Wiley. And because he had to change the culture, he had to change the leadership. He had to bring in new talent. He had to take people who were really good at the early stage and say, thank you very much, but I have got to find replacement parts. And the culture began to change as the business grew in complexity. And there’s one woman who I love because she never wanted to get there. But she grew a business to be a Malcolm Baldrige award-winning company, chapter in my new book. And what she did is she kept everybody in groups of 20. And she never let it get more complicated than that of a small business. But grew very nicely in pods of 20. And I thought that was a really interesting way to be both entrepreneurial on one side and scalable on the other, using the entrepreneurial model to get them to grow.

Melinda Wittstock:       Oh, that’s interesting. That’s very interesting, because I think a lot of companies start to lose their innovation muscle when they start to get so necessarily system focused that the innovation can go out the window.

Andrea Simon:             Well, this lady’s name is Celeste Ford. And Stellar Solutions is a company in aerospace. And she’s a chapter in my book. But I did work with them because they are continuously looking for unmet needs, non-users, blue oceans. But she does it by building these very innovative groups of people looking and acting differently. And the complexity of the problem is an opportunity as opposed to fitting it into a box.

Melinda Wittstock:       I love that. I love that. So tell me a little bit, before we run out of time, I want to know a little bit more about your new book that’s coming out, about the myths of women in business. And that’s debuting in January. Tell us a little bit about that book.

Andrea Simon:             Well, here’s how it developed. I did my first book that I mentioned. It won an award and it was an Amazon bestseller and all of that. And I was reading it again, as we often do. And almost all the case studies were men. There was one woman. And I said to my publisher, how did we do that? And she said, I don’t know how we did that. She’s a woman. And so I said, there’s a woman’s story that I’m missing. And then my husband and I launched at Washington University in St. Louis, the Simon Initiative for Entrepreneurship to help women entrepreneurs. And as I’m listening to you, we should talk some more about that program because women were looking for role models. And they came with ideas, but they didn’t want to be [Cheryl Stamper 00:00:31:07]. They really wanted to be a woman like themselves who were going to build something.

It was fascinating. So I started to write a book about the women who could be their role models. And then, I was reading the book to my husband and he said, they’re smashing the myths of women in business. I said, oh, that’s a much more important story, went back and rewrote the book. And so what I’m really interested in, being an anthropologist, is the way in which stories, as you and I have been talking, create our reality. And each one of these women, there are 10 of them, and my own story’s in there. They basically said that reality isn’t the one I’m going to do. I’m going to smash the myths. He didn’t say the words, but they did it. And I’m going to become what they say I can’t. So I have a lady lawyer in there who was told when she was in elementary school, don’t be a lawyer. Women can’t do that. It’s not their job.

I have a woman, two entrepreneurs, who were told by their family don’t do that, you can’t do that. One sold her $9 million business for 50 million. It’s really quite interesting. One was a geoscientist who was told women don’t go into the field. She’s extraordinarily good at discovering oil. And she’s working with other women to help them. One of them is the IT woman I mentioned, Sam Rad, who has really said it’s not about coding, it’s about providing innovative solutions using technology. And so they all have a story to share, part about their own story, but more importantly about what they said, of course we can do. And my whole point in writing this is that there’s a great transformation coming. 65% of the accountants today are women. Over half the doctors and half the dentists are women.

40% of the businesses in the U.S. are owned by women. 400,000 women are attorneys. That’s 40%. We’re working hard through the Women’s Business Collaborative to bring 25% of the board members to be women, women of color, and to get 25% of the C-suites in major businesses to be women and women of color. There’s a movement going on. But then the women’s soccer, which I love, and the women moving into politics, which I enjoy. But the book is designed to help you see the trends that are happening and how we can help move them forward faster. And out of that’s coming my program to help individual women to do that as well. And this is my passion.

Melinda Wittstock:       I love it. I can hardly wait to read your book. So, how can people find you and work with you? Because I guess any stage of your business, it sounds like we all need a really good anthropologist to come in and evaluate what’s going on in there?

Andrea Simon:             You know, as you say that, I remember when I launched myself as a corporate anthropologist that helps companies change, someone said to me, what’s that? I said, I have no idea. Let’s make it. And 20 years later, it’s done extraordinarily well providing people with a fresh perspective. To find me, I have two websites. My books and my programs are at andisimon.com. That’s A-N-D-I simon.com. And my business is simonassociates.net. And there’s lots of ways of contacting us there, email and text messaging and all kinds of stuff. I’m on LinkedIn. And it’s Andrea Simon. LinkedIn has become a great opportunity for people to meet with us. And my Twitter is @simonandi, and that’s where I have all my friends and family. It’s a great place. The social world is fascinating today. Think about it as our culture and our culture is changing. And I’m open to talk to anybody. My own podcast is On the Brink with Andi Simon, and we have about 150,000 monthly listeners. It’s a pleasure to provide it. I love podcasts.

Melinda Wittstock:       Wonderful. Well, Andi, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.

Andrea Simon:             Oh, I’ve had such fun today. You are a fabulous host.

 

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