Escape from Toxic Corporate Culture (Blogging Challenge Day 1)

The 30 day blogging challenge. I was really inspired to meet someone who’d done it this week. I need and want to blog more. Everyone in business should: it’s one of the best things you can do to raise your profile, keep your website fresh and the search engines happy; it’s also fantastic for clarifying your thinking and really engaging with your community and customers. The discipline of the challenge is attractive. What do they say about habits? Do something every day for 3 weeks and you change your habits for good. So here goes…

Trading money for lifestyle

Office politics
Farewell to office politics… Photo: Kai Hendry / Foter / CC BY

Wendy Kerr of Corporate Crossovers was the inspiration. I met Wendy at an event where she was speaking about the research she’s done on women who leave corporate jobs to start their own business. Wendy carried out a survey on around 300 women and talked in-depth to 50. The results stunned her. Only 1% of the women talked about the glass ceiling. Most said they left because of ‘toxic cultures’. You know: bureaucracy, back-stabbing, poor leadership, presenteeism, that kind of thing. All of those women had an epiphany and woke up one morning clear in their mind that the compromise was not worth it. The costs to health, values and what really mattered to them was just too much.

The event was a roundtable on innovation and entrepreneurship, with a mix of academics and business owners. Almost everyone who ran their own business nodded in agreement: men as well as women. And that is the thing.  As Ann-Marie Slaughter said in her celebrated essay about ‘Why women still can’t have it all’, corporate cultures have become toxic for everyone. For a whole bundle of reasons, it can be a little easier for women to take that step to leave.

Most of the women Wendy talked to earn less working for themselves than when they had a job. They trade money for a lifestyle they can control. It’s also a view that is coming out loud and clear from our readers’ survey. Few of you want to get rich, but you do want to make a good living from your business.

Partly, as Wendy said, being self-employed is cheaper: “you don’t have to spend so much on retail therapy for stress!” But she also thinks too many women are selling themselves short.

Corporate constructs have their uses

There’s an understandable rush to dump corporate constructs when you start up on your own. There’s that honeymoon period where you bask in the freedom to be yourself and do things in your own way. But when the honeymoon is over, take a fresh look at your old corporate toolkit. Some of it is worth holding on to and can help you “make the money you are worth.” Setting clear goals and targets, budgeting, having a marketing plan, all that stuff. You know it makes sense. It’s time to move on up to the next level.

This resonated. I have been on my own honeymoon for, well quite a while. Mostly it has been great. I needed a period of exploration and openness to new people and ideas. Now it’s time to focus. Really effective entrepreneurs balance both and that’s my aim: the very best of both worlds.

Open to learning

‘The teacher appears when the student is ready to learn.’ So, thanks Wendy for appearing this week and hopefully you’ll take up my invitation to blog on Prowess 2.0 soon!

Back to the 30 day blogging challenge. The next step is to write a list of topics. But you know what, it is day two and great blog ideas are sprouting from every conversation I have… Tomorrow’s is already written and it’s a cracker.  Until then.


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