Four words yelled by my grandmother towards my mother who made a surprise visit to her house in La Jolla following a month of unreturned phone calls. After ten minutes of arguing, my grandmother opened the door.
“Mom, why are you wearing a wig?!” questioned my mother.
“What wig?” she responded. “Ok fine. I have cancer.”
My grandmother calmly explained that she didn’t want to communicate her status to her three daughters because she didn’t want to put up with their “complaining and worrying.” In the month prior she had been driving herself to chemo treatments because my grandfather had turned in his driver’s license after a few sidewalk cruises and the death of a few mailboxes.
My grandmother was the CEO of our small relatively non-communicative family and took it upon herself to get the job done and rely very little on others. She managed the finances of a small commercial real estate portfolio, served as President of the Beverly Hills Hadassah for two terms leading local initiatives in supporting medical care and education in Israel, housed Russian Jews post-soviet emigration when Gorbachev opened up Russian borders and this is just where the list begins. My resume at a comparable age would read proficient in folding Origami cranes, slight addiction to guacamole, failed on four dating sites, and still hasn’t figured out how to put on a duvet cover.
Intrigued and inspired I have walked a path filled with successful business women. Most recently I was given the opportunity to work with Jill Angelo of Genneve. Jill has a rich history in tech marketing and executive management of some of the world’s leading technology brands. Small one’s like…Microsoft and Xbox.
For 8 months I watched a talented executive take an entire business on her shoulders and do it all. The true embodiment of a CEO that sacrifices personal life and immerses themselves 24/7 in a startup. Why? Because that’s what it takes. She can take a look at the financial statement and explain every item in every expense bucket and explain growth twelve months forward in operating expenses and how it should positively affect revenue. The next day she’s on set producing viral videos, podcasts, and creating a community led by some of the industry’s leading physicians.
More recently, I had the pleasure of working with Sarah Boyd. The founder of “Simply Stylist” who in a few short years has built a digital agency representing some of the top voices in fashion with conferences all over the country and as of next year internationally.
Call it coincidence, yet somehow I’ve been guided down the path of dealing with strong independent female CEO’s that don’t make excuses, make hard decisions, and just like my grandmother…get the job done. Yes, this may mean skipping that Sunday Funday and waking up at 5:30 am every morning, but that’s what it takes.
Can you answer every question and do you know where every dollar will go, is going, why its not there when its suppose to be there? Do you know why you didn’t hit your target sales goals because investors are going to want to know when they’re seeing returns?
It's startling how many times I hear in Los Angeles “we’re in the middle of a Series A round” when the same individual can’t tell me the difference between a balance sheet and a balance beam. Saying you’re involved in a raise has almost become a buzz word around these parts, but more important than dropping the lingo is knowing where and how that money you are raising is being placed to yield a positive result at some predetermined point in order to satisfy shareholders.
If you do not know the answers to these questions, there’s two ways to go about it. Pay me…OR…educate yourself. Initially when my grandmother passed those two simple words on to me it flew over my head and only years later I have an understanding that knowledge is personal wealth and the kind of wealth that can lead to true happiness. I’m pretty sure if you look up the word education in a thesaurus, fairly close to it you’ll find the word “enlightenment.” Let that sit in your crock pot for 24 hours.
Unfortunately, after a fairly courageous fight, my grandmother lost that battle with cancer. She passed just about six years back and although irreplaceable I have been incredibly lucky to cross paths and make friends with some incredible business women in this town. I wish she was here to meet them, but I’m pretty sure she’s watching while organizing her finances upstairs and telling everyone to stop worrying and complaining.