At my first corporate job, we traveled for conference shows. During one particular trip, we ended up at a strip club where my boss bought me my first lap dance. I was literally sitting among three older white men, as a young female person of colour, each getting a lap dance. Needless to say, the strippers were just as confused too and asked lots of questions about who I was and how I ended up in that chair.
And then came my fall from “grace”…
Before we get into that, why did I ever choose a male dominated world known as business and finance? Yes, we women have come a long way – but let’s not pretend that a Caucasian male is generally preferred over a female person of color.
I’ve experienced this first hand one too many times as a wife of a caucasian male. There are times where I send my husband in place of me or to speak first because I KNOW he will get the attention we need (side fact – I have no shame in playing this game either).
But you see, the interesting thing about my own journey is that I never really saw it that way. I knew I was always in competition with men, but race never played too big a factor. Why?
I learned at a young age that, as a woman of colour, I need to work twice as hard.
I knew as a child that no handouts would be given to me. Perhaps it might have something to do with my Asian culture where men were always valued more than females. I’ve learned at a young age to fight and claw my way to have anything I wanted.
I became the parent to my parents – their emotional support as well as having to take care of myself too. I’m not venting here or going after your pity or playing the “poor me” card. Thankfully, my decades of therapy have healed those trauma wounds. But, I don’t want to skip past this part of my story as it plays a significant role in how I now see myself.
Ready for the irony?…
The “fight” I had in me was nurtured and it was refined over the years.
The best lesson turned out to be one of my greatest skills.
A dear friend whom I’ve never actually met in real life (thanks COVID) taught me that for those of us who are out to change the world, we need to wear a suit – some form of armor that shields us from the hate, the rejections, so that we can soldier on. Because there ARE people who need us, and those people are seeking us – so we have to keep fighting. Otherwise, we miss the people that we’re meant to serve.
In other words: never let one troll stop you from serving your soul’s purpose.
As a blessing in disguise, I was so used to fighting and knocking down doors that it became one of the best lessons and treasured underlying skills I developed. The no’s slowly started to fade away. It became less of a “rejection” feeling and more of a “you’re simply not on the same path as me AND that’s okay!” When it’s done right, your message brings in the people it’s meant for AND repels the ones it’s not meant to serve.
Oddly it wasn’t a “thicker skin” that I needed but rather, it was more compassion.
Instead of letting it consume me as it once did, I channel that into what GaryVee calls “eating shit”. Which sums up to: in order to succeed in life, you’ve got to be willing to work for it.
Be a man. It’s the only way to succeed, so they once said.
The “work” isn’t always easy. Let me rephrase that – it’s RARELY ever easy. Seriously, guys, I now eat rejection for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And on weekends, sometimes I just want to take a break but those damn notifications…
A glimpse of the message of “no, thank you” and I’m cut. Sure, some people will say, “brush it off” but damn… I’m sensitive okay? Especially on weekends when I’ve taken off my “armor” that allowed me to push forward during the week.
So… be a man they say. Because a man was generally seen as tough, reliable, untouchable. But no one ever told me to go and “be a woman”. And it wasn’t something I wanted to embrace. I didn’t identify with “being a woman” until I learned to love myself. It’s not about gender, but rather, honouring the different energies (both masculine and feminine) within us.
So to that I say, keep celebrating your fine selves.
What is the key to success in a male-dominated industry?
Back to my story: I grew up with men.
Rich men. Strong men.
And weak men.
The point is, early on in my life I was very comfortable hanging around men because I sort of had an undeclared mission to want to BE like them. I thought that the only way to succeed was to BECOME a man myself. To the point where I literally felt more comfortable with men than I do women. I actually started to fear women… but that’s a different story for another time.
And in the world of men, I observed some interesting traits. They’re weird, cooky, and for the most part don’t think all too much. Hang on now, before the gents start coming at me, I actually mean this in the best way possible. Confused? Let me break this down.
- Weird = Unique
- Cooky = You Stand Out
- Not thinking too much = You Take Action Quicker
So the formula is really to stand out, be uniquely you and take action fast! Doesn’t that formula also sound like the keys to success?
Not thinking too much doesn’t mean men don’t think strategically but rather, they don’t dwell too long on their choices or second guess themselves. They act FAST! If they make the right choice, fantastic! But if they make the wrong choice, most men also don’t dwell on it – they move on to try something else. Because what’s the alternative?
Now as with all things, I know this doesn’t apply to EVERYONE but thankfully, my circle was those with high net worth (like my first corporate job mentioned in the beginning).
Be unique. Stand out. Act fast.
As for that job where my boss bought me my first lap dance? Well, I ultimately left because I didn’t feel in alignment. It didn’t feed my soul. And naive me thought, “I’ll easily get another job because I worked for Mr. Superstar.” Well, that didn’t exactly go the way I had planned…
I was made aware once again that I was a young, inexperienced female. Back to reality, and back to square one.
I honestly didn’t think that I “chose” a male dominated world or industry. I’ve shifted my mindset to thinking that there’s actually no difference between him and I in terms of our abilities. And, as long as I could get my foot in the door (or bust it up), then I would always find a way to create my own opportunities. Remember how I love to say “Wealth is a Mindset”? Well, so is your perspective on life. You get to choose every day how you WANT to see the world, and choose who you want to be.
I chose business and finance because I wanted to make this knowledge accessible to the people. Not the rich people, but the people who are craving this knowledge and think that they can’t get ahead. I’m no trust fund baby, I clawed my way up and through as many of you have. And if one person gains a new perspective for some deeper insight from this (book/blog) then I’ve done my job. Because we can’t change the world in one day… but 10 years from now, 20 years from now, who knows the impact we’d have left behind? And who knows what that person would have missed had we not shared our story that made a difference in their life?
I choose to become a leader and a pioneer in this male-dominated space because I can. I gave MYSELF the power to act with integrity, and the FREEDOM of choice. I’m in this space playing with the boys because I say so. I may look different, but looking different is no indication of my abilities and what I can achieve.
How about you?
What are you choosing to tackle today? How do you plan to kick some ass?