Every year, Sunny and I travel with our family to a global conference held by TiE for Charter members and their families. It’s a destination retreat full of networking, getting to know other entrepreneurs from around the world, and allowing our families to interact with one another. Our kids have grown up in this community of entrepreneurs and have made friends with the other kids. It has become a staple in our summer holidays schedule, with our annual Kaila Family Adventures happening somewhere near our TiE venue for the year. It’s been 8 years since we started, and every year, we learn more and make new friends.
I love the organization, and we have a lot of fun, so I’m going to try to not make this a rant, but I was quite irritated recently during a conversation with a member that I felt the need to share it with all of you. Most of the Charter members are men. I’ll be honest. While the leadership does make a concerted effort to drive more participation from women—they even had 25 of us on the stage to discuss our roles in our organizations and help drive more female participation—it doesn’t always filter down. Every year, they give away awards to the chapters for their work throughout the year. Chapters are organized by cities, and during the awards ceremony, one chapter that was not present for the awards. The leadership asked the “sister” chapter to come up to receive the award, and someone yelled out “brother” chapter, kudos to the leader on the stage that said, “No, I prefer sister, thank you.”
But that is not why I rant, and I don’t want to digress. Three of us ladies were sitting at a table chatting about shopping. It’s a hobby of mine, yes, I admit it. We were absorbed in our conversation when a gentleman I knew, and has come to our home, stopped and said, “Of course she can go shopping, she lives in the sky. It’s people like me that have to work.” I know, you all are probably wondering how I got out of jail so quickly and how the man is still breathing. No, I didn’t need to bribe a judge or flee the country, having buried the body. Rather than react to the gentleman, I responded that, “Oh, you mean the 20 years of blood, sweat and tears of working full time, raising my children and managing a household with 3 generations?” His response was that his wife, too, raised two doctors, great, but was it while she was working full time?
Now, most of you probably think that I’m upset about the sexist comment. True, I was, but what upset me more was that I was living in the clouds and hadn’t worked hard to get to where I was. What Sunny and I have built has come with 20 years of non-stop work. ITBD is like a child to us, and each of the 600 families we support are our family. We love and care for each of them, so for someone to say that we lived in the sky and didn’t work hard to build a ladder to get there, was diminishing of the work we all have done. Plus, we have supported and built so many other careers and brought many team members along on our journey.
Oh, I was angry, but my response was clear. “What you see is the 20 years of hard work that Sunny and I have both spent to build ladders to get here. At the same time, we have built ladders for our other leaders, so that we can share our success. We aren’t content, and yes, I, too, work full time and raise my children while working side-by-side with my husband. So if I am able to enjoy life now, it’s a result of the 20 years that I have committed and will continue to commit to our growth. Oh, and we aren’t done yet, so if I’m in the sky now, the moon must be my next stop.”
I share all of this with you because I wanted you to know, that no one can diminish what you have built. Small people criticize others’ success. Instead, cheer each other on, congratulate your friends that have built wonderful careers, marvel at their growth and celebrate their success. And never allow anyone to say that you are anything less than what you are. Where we were 8 years ago when we first joined the organization to where we are today is a different place. But one thing has remained constant, our determination to learn from others. That’s why we come, to learn and cheer on their success. Now, I came home having made wonderful new friends, caught up with friends of old, and overall enjoyed a wonderful time with our children. So I don’t allow this one incident to impact me, more than it serve as a reminder, to always cheer others on in the world. Support their success, be happy for them, and make sure that we continue to always build ladders for others to join us in the sky.
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