‘Crabs in a barrel?’ Not at this women’s roundtable
Hats off to Seattle women leaders and entrepreneurs who joined a group of Malaysian professors and business leaders for a women’s roundtable on business, leadership and entrepreneurship. Ten women from Malaysia, including professors from the University Malaysia Kelantan and successful Malay business leaders, traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, New York and Seattle to meet with women to share best practices, learn, and inspire each other.
The U.S. State Department sponsored the event as part of its International Visitor’s Program. Seattle entrepreneur and author Whitney Keyes came up with the idea for the roundtable and generously moderated the panel discussion since the Malay group is establishing a Women Entrepreneurship Center. It wants to help current business owners grow their businesses through mentoring, training and education, and funding. I was lucky enough to be invited to participate, along with Heather Correa, Dost Bardouille, Dr. Melissa Lerch, Hillary Sjolund, Gretchen Sorenson, Linda Neunzig, Cathy Allen, Cate Goethals and Madhumeet Singh. Nancy Porzio, Sherry Mina and Linda Laws from the SBA also attended.
What we learned is this: women business owners, whether here or in Malaysia, face many of the same issues. Women don’t always dream big enough. We discussed building relationships, mentoring, partnering, risk-taking, problem-solving, education, storytelling, and how to bridge age gaps to share information. The professors shared that many women in Malaysia are the primary bread-winners in their families, but don’t have the training to learn how to expand their businesses. They wanted to know how women in this country have been able to grow their businesses.
We also discussed group dynamics, and how to encourage all women business owners. If you’ve heard the phrase ‘crabs in a barrel,’ you know it means in a barrel of crabs, when one tries to climb to the top to escape, the other crabs pull it down. It’s a phrase sometimes used in reference to people who are trying to improve their socioeconomic situations, but kept from doing so by others trying who are jealous of their success. Certainly, we found no ‘crabs’ in these groups! In fact, I’m a firm believer in networking and relationship building, and working with other women to expand our opportunities. We’re not each other’s competition, but each other’s networks!
I look forward to seeing the new partnerships and programs that come out of this meeting, and how business owners in each country continue to share and learn from each other!
Margo Myers, Principal, Margo Myers Communications