March is Women’s History Month and a chance for us to recognize and thank the many women pioneers who have made significant leaps and bounds in a variety of industries. We are extremely lucky to have so many wonderful women-run businesses and women leaders in our chamber. We asked a few leaders to share with us who inspired them and what wisdom they have to share about being a leader.
Who Inspired You To Be A Leader?
My father inspired me, he taught me not to compare myself to a man, that I have the ability to do anything not because of my gender but because I can. He was transparent about business, he never shunned from business conversations, he encouraged me to challenge him but allowed me to teach him what I thought, and he listened, so empowering to be heard and valued. When I achieved something he would ask ‘what next?’ He started my love affair with the stock market, he listened to my opinion of the world, he heard my passion for business and he didn’t put me in a category of gender. He believed that I could do anything, he empowered me to be a woman in a man’s world without realizing there was a difference. That to me is a leader, he made me believe that I could lead someday. Self belief is hard, overcoming fear is hard, while I had all these things I also had a “watch out world” attitude. For that I am grateful to my great role model, to a man who believed in me and allowed me to not feel less than, but rather gave me wings. – Kym Joles, Owner of The Fox and Pantry
I have so many people to thank for encouraging me to be a leader throughout my life and career, whether personally or professionally. My mom is one of my biggest cheerleaders and has always believed in me and encourages me every day to “go for it.” My dad has always taught us, “if you are going to do something, do it right the first time or don’t do it at all.” My three sisters are my very best friends and are my trusted counsel when I need advice or encouragement. My husband David is my everything and the reason I am so fortunate to be a wife, a mother, a businesswoman, and volunteer for many of the organizations I am passionate about. My kids are a gift and make me strive to be the best version of me. I am incredibly grateful for the supportive bosses, business partners, coaches, advisors, and some of my dearest family and friends, who have inspired and encouraged me to take on many of the leadership positions. – Gina Holman, Founding Partner of J. Carver Distillery
My mom, Ruth, was widowed at 41 with 8 children and Timmerman Construction Co. She persevered, raised strong and independent sons and daughters, ran the company, lost the company, lost a son, lost her home, went back to school, struggled and enjoyed life. She was honest, smart and authentic. – Ellen Timmerman-Borer, Chief Development Officer of Hammer
How can women support other women in their organizations?
Collaboration over Competition is the best way to support each other. Don’t be threatened by someone else in your industry – work together, brainstorm, help each other solve problems. Cheerlead for other women in your field. When one of us is doing well, we are all doing well! Shopping small, shopping local – spending our money in our communities supports the women business owners and their employees. – Lesa Fenwick, Owner of Candlelight Floral
I think women can support each other by letting them know anything easy may not be worth it and anything worth it isn’t going to be easy. Becoming your personal best takes work, and not everyone will accept it or you. You then need to decide what you do with that.- Sarah Kaelberer, President of Business & Estate Advisers
What advice would you give to women looking to lead?
My advice for women that are looking to lead is to follow and embrace your passion. Life is too short to spend it doing something that depletes you, and you just won’t have the energy needed to be successful if you don’t have a passion for it. I started my career in a field that I was good at but gave me the Sunday night blues. So, I intentionally evolved my professional growth to a path that energizes me. I genuinely love impacting my client’s daily lives through the environments we design for them. – Stephany Eaton, Owner & Principal of Pure Alchemy Design
Don’t forget about the younger version of you. Remember your successes and reflect on why you and the organization were successful. Remember your failures, disappointments, and struggles. Some of the best learning moments are when a mistake was made, and a lesson was learned. Learn from it. Don’t dwell on it. Respect when a yes is a yes and a no is a no. Sometimes hearing no is ok. The timing may not be right for you or individuals on your team. They may have more to learn before taking on a leadership role. – Gina Holman, Founding Partner of J. Carver Distillery
As a leader, how do you stay mindful of who’s at the table and who’s missing?
For too many years, many have been missing from our tables. I am learning what it means to be open and listen to understand and become more aware. Asking the question, Who is missing? is a good start. Our founder, Alvina Hammer understood that people living in institutions in 1923 were not invited to any tables. She founded Hammer Residences, opening her home, teaching people who others said were unteachable. She focused on abilities and helped people to live good lives in the community. Let’s keep doing just that for all people for another 100 years. – Ellen Timmerman-Borer, Chief Development Officer of Hammer
I like to make sure that we have people with varying experience and different views at the table. If everyone at the table has a similar background or opinion, you rarely get new ideas generated and you easily get stuck in group think! – Sarah Kaelberer, President of Business & Estate Advisers
In my business, my whole team comes up with ideas and there is no “ranking” in roles. If someone wants to try a new menu item I encourage them to put in out to the customers. If my event coordinator wants to throw a particular event, I allow it. This creative freedom has built a team that is encouraged to be creative and bullets ownership in my business, it allows each of us to learn lessons but more importantly it allows my staff to feel valued. I pay close attention at the strengths of each of my employees and work hard at developing a role that they excel at because they are following their passions. – Kym Joles, Owner of The Fox and Pantry