Truth in Business and the Impact of Women-Owned Business


Join Jennifer as she discusses recent podcast changes, the challenges of finding truth in business in a ‘post-truth’ world, and the impact of women-owned businesses and people of color on the economy and hiring.

Show Notes

Segment 1: Podcast Changes

Segment 2: Truth in Business

Segment 3: Women and People of Color in Business

About Jennifer McFarland

Jennifer McFarland, MPA, is a technology strategist and project turnaround artist. She’s nerdy enough to talk to the techies, but her real passion is helping nontechnical business owners get the technology they need to support their business vision. Her superpowers are listening, evaluating complex problems, and finding direct, simple solutions. Whether it’s a database responsible for handling millions of dollars, or a small business website, Jennifer’s tech agnostic, research-based solutions deliver powerful results. Her clients have experienced up to 250% increases in web traffic, and a 98% reduction in data entry. Schedule your free Tech Turnaround Session today!

Show Transcript

Jennifer:                      00:00               Hello and welcome to the Third Paddle podcast. I’m your host, Jen McFarland.

On this episode I’m going to talk about a few changes to the podcast. Also, for the first time, we have a couple of segments. One about truth in business and how to navigate in a post-truth world, the other about women-owned businesses, and how supporting women-owned businesses and businesses owned by people of color helps the economy as a whole.

Can’t wait to check it all out. Thanks for listening.

Announcer:                  00:26               Welcome to the Third Paddle podcast, recorded at the Vanda Lounge, in beautiful south-east Portland, Oregon. Why the Third Paddle? Because even the most bad-ass entrepreneurs  get stuck up in business shit creek. Management consultant, Jennifer McFarland, is your third paddle, helping you get unstuck.

Jennifer:                      00:46               If you’ve listened to the Third Paddle podcast since the beginning, you’ve probably noticed some recent changes. Rock music opening the show, more interviews, and one host, me, Jen McFarland.

I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge those changes, and let you know that, moving forward, there will be one host, and about two to three interviews per month, with great subject matter experts. But I also wanted to let you know what hasn’t changed. This podcast is still intended to help businesses get unstuck. I am particularly interested in the intersection of leadership, technology, and customer service, and how we, as business owners, can learn and use best practices to gain an edge.

I am passionate about helping businesses realize they don’t need a big budget to lead well, automate, help customers, and make decisions aligned with their three to five year business vision.

I am so grateful that you’ve been listening to the show, and I hope that you will continue to do so. I would also love it if you reached out to me and let me know how things are going. Let me know what’s keeping you up at night, and if I can’t help, I’ll find a guest to address those needs on the show.

I’m here for you, the listeners, above all else. Honestly. The easiest way to reach me is by scheduling a listener call on thirdpaddle.com website, or, if you’re interested in being a guest, I have an application for guest submissions.

Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy this week’s show.

One of the things I’ve been considering a lot lately is truth and business, and how these two concepts aren’t discussed often. What we talk about is things like authenticity. I’ve written blog posts about authenticity. I’ve talked about it on the podcast before, and for me, truth and authenticity are one and the same, however, what I’ve been learning and what I’ve been experiencing is that that may not be the case for everyone, and because I’m a researcher and a thinker and a writer, I really wanted to spend some time thinking about the truth, because the truth is a very complicated concept.

What is true for me, may not be true for you. That doesn’t mean your truth is any less valuable than mine. Truth is actually a relationship, and it has implications for everybody. We can speak our truth, but then there’s also the concept of receiving truth, and whether we receive truth in anger or in joy, or cast blame, I think we need to acknowledge that truth is very fuzzy, and it’s become even more fuzzy as now we are living in what even the — it’s so funny to me — even the Oxford English Dictionary is calling this the post-truth era.

It was the 2016 word of the year. Post-truth. And that’s not just in the political sense, it just means that objectively, facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotional and personal belief. I think that that makes life in business much more complicated, because if you work in integrity, if you work in truth, if you find authenticity aligned with your power and standing within your own truth, how do you navigate a post-truth world, where … you find it everywhere. I personally get bombarded with it all the time on Facebook, when I’m interacting, because I follow things like entrepreneurship and business, and I find I get all of these marketing ads telling me these claims that I know to be false. Things like making a million dollars in six weeks with this wonderful sales funnel, or how I don’t need to pay attention to this that or the other thing if I want to be rich, and because truth is so fuzzy, it really appeals to people.

I think we also still live in a world where we want the quick answers, otherwise the diet industry would have gone by the wayside years ago. Sometimes the truth is painful, and sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes the truth is not what we want to hear, but that still doesn’t mean the easy way out is valid or truthful or meaningful.

I’ve been reading a few articles — I’m reading this article now — about truth and how to actually get a competitive advantage in a post-truth world, and I’ll post this article in the show notes on thirdpaddle.com. The first point is to define your standards for truth. That sounds kind of fuzzy, but I think this really works. I think if you have a team or if you’re on your own, you have to really think about what you consider to be false advertising tactics. What you consider to be stretching the truth a little bit too far, or if maybe you have a high tolerance for false truth, and how that plays out, but either way, putting truth as a standard, and considering how that standard aligns with your business, with your vision, and your goals.

The second point this article makes is, making truth part of your culture, and, I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked in places where the truth is used in a very fuzzy way. Where truth is optional. I’ve worked for people who just wanted to hear, “Yes,” all the time, and I really struggled with that, because being a yes-man really is not a good gig for me, because I research and use data to help me make decisions, and to help me when I have worked in a management consulting situation to help guide somebody in finding a solution that will work given the parameters and assumptions that we’re making.

So think about how truth is part of the culture. Think about how truth has wiggle-room, or doesn’t have wiggle-room, and how that flows through, not only to employees and people on your team, but to your clients and to your overall culture, and then figure out how truth comes out in things like messaging, and how you define what truth is and what truth isn’t.

This is all very crazy. How do you know what’s true and what’s not true? I haven’t exactly figured it out, myself. I find that truth, for me, again, is about that feeling in my stomach about whether or not I feel good about something, because I have a pretty strong moral compass, but at the same time, I also acknowledge that we are living in a post-truth world, and that truthfulness is fuzzy, and I’m working with other people who may not share my compass.

So as I read these things, I’m considering if there are ways, or how I can ensure, that my truth is considered and part of the conversation, and when truth is in or out, if that makes sense. Because when truth isn’t part of the conversation any more, there’s no quicker way than to see me leave a conversation.

I read yet another article, and again I’ll post the link, about just some questions you can ask yourself, like, “Are you being truthful about putting your customers first?” Look, that’s something that everybody says, but are we really doing it? Do we really know if we’re putting our customers first? How can you get the information about that? How can you ensure that you are, in fact, putting your customers first if that’s a value of yours? Or, is it that when you say you put your customers first, it’s not really true?

And I think that’s a really difficult conversation to have with yourself, and your staff, but I think it’s worth having.

Another one, and I think it’s really important, is, “Are you being truthful with yourself about your business?” One of the things that I really encourage people to do is to look at the data, because the data doesn’t lie. We went through our growth-hacking series, and we have an ebook out there about measuring your growth-hacking. Those measurements are ways that … they’re truth tellers. They’re ways that you can evaluate the truth with raw data. With facts, instead of truth being, “Well, I just feel like it’s good or bad,” which is what I referred to earlier, about making sure that truth is part of the conversation. There are actually times when you’re looking at your business, and evaluating how things are going, that you an actually look at it in a very cut-and-dried manner, and be very truthful with yourself. “Am I just doing something because I enjoy it, but it’s not making me any money?” That doesn’t mean you should stop doing it, but what it does mean is that you need to be honest with yourself about it, and see if you can actually afford to continue to do the things that you enjoy that aren’t making you any money, because there are clear indicators everywhere that tell you whether or not something is working, and it’s important that you look at those, because if you’re not looking at those then you might be completely flummoxed as to why your business went under, or why you’re struggling.

So being truthful with yourself? Super-important.

And, of course, because I am a nerd, and because we just talked about the data which — I get it; most people aren’t excited about the data — I’m not going to lie about that, but I will tell you that the truth of looking at the data, the truth of making decisions on what you see sometimes, and not just based on how you feel: that’s what differentiates the winners from the losers.

There was a survey conducted by Bain that said there are three particular findings that stand out among companies that get good analytics. These are companies that look at the data and who look at what’s happening and the importance of data, how that data helps them make better decisions about the truth of their company, and how they can move it forward.

So the three findings are that companies that get good analytics are twice as likely to be in the top quartile of financial performance within their industries — twice as likely, that’s a big finding — they are three times more likely to execute decisions as intended, meaning if you look at the truth in the data you’re more likely to make decisions that are good. You’re more likely to make decisions and execute them and fulfill them because you know the truth is there. You’ve seen it and you have something actionable that you can do. It also means that these companies are five times more likely to make decisions faster. So not only does it make it clear what decisions you need to make, it also makes you more likely to make decisions faster.

And you might say, “Well, Jen, you know, these are big companies,” and what I’m telling you is the analytics are out there. I don’t care if you’re one person of a million-dollar multi-national company, there are pieces of data that are accessible to you if you’re a sole entrepreneur and there are pieces of data that are accessible to you if you have multiple products on different continents, but the truth that I have for you is it’s your responsibility to track that stuff down and have it given to you in a consumable manner. What that means is, find something like Databox, or Whatagraph, or any number of these reporting products that are available to you, that let you know exactly what’s happening with the information that you’re putting out there.

Those are truths that you can work with. Use your CRM and find out what’s happening with your pipeline. Use your point-of-sale system, and leverage that to see where people live; how many products they’re buying. Use data-tracking software to find out what happens from the point that someone first interacts with you, until they make a purchase.

These are things that are all actionable to us. These are things that we can totally do if we just stand on our truth long enough to know that, as responsible business owners, we need to know as many facts as details as possible, not only in our interactions with our customers or potential business partners, or people we work with — like that everyday-interaction truth, knowing who you want to work with — but also in the big decision-making. The decisions that may impact your business for years and years and years.

There are times and places for that gut-level, “I have a good feeling about this.” There are times and places for getting in to the details, and getting in to the math, and looking at that so you can make actionable decisions based on information that you’ve collected, and that’s a truth that I think I can get behind.

I also think that standing in your power, and standing in your truth, and taking that next level of authenticity and really being grounded in that, and making sure that it aligns with your vision and your goals — the more fuzzy kind of truth — I also think that’s vitally important.

At least it is for me, and I have a sense that it is for you.

Jennifer:                      15:09               One of the things that I wanted to talk about on this show is the impact that women-owned businesses have on the US economy, and explore the fact that many of the women-owned businesses are also owned by people of color. If you go on Google — and I do it often, so I know what’s out there — and you type in “leadership” you don’t see a lot of women. You don’t see a lot of people of color. If you type in “technology”, or “technology quotes” — which I often do, because leadership and technology are the two things I talk about the most on social media, so I’m always looking for new images and new quotes — if you type in “technology” you won’t find a lot of women or people of color, so it’s important that we talk about the impact that women and people of color have in the business community, so that we understand that the images that we see, and the news that we hear over and over again, isn’t the entire picture.

So I wanted to share a few things with you. The thing I’m most disappointed in is that this data is from 2012, which is a Small Business Administrations Office of Advocacy. I’m also going to post some statistics on the show notes that go into some of the projections that you’ll find on places such as the National Association of Women Business Owners. I’m not going to use those because they’re basing their data on this 2012 data, and it’s an assumption. It’s a guess. So what I would say is I believe that this information is lower than actuality, but the numbers, alone, from 2012 are pretty astounding.

So, for starters, women-owned businesses employ over 8.4 million workers, and generate 264 billion dollars in payroll. That’s a lot. It’s pretty phenomenal. The downside is that almost all, like 99.9%, of women-owned businesses are considered small businesses, with fewer than 500 employees, so even though they’re generating 264 billion dollars in payroll, they only account for 12% of all sales, and 15% of all employment, just because they’re smaller. This doesn’t include women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies that are much larger. Those corporations just aren’t women-owned.

There are also about 2.5 million businesses that are owned equally by women and men, and they account for an additional 189 billion dollar in payroll, for 6.5 million workers, so that means that if it’s a joint venture, that are equally owned, those also have a large impact on the economy, as do joint ventures, which generate 2.5 trillion in sales. So the data is there, even six years ago, that women are having a tremendous impact in business and in business ownership, and the beat thing we can do is continue to support women in business, and to continue to support people of color who are also business-owners. What’s noteworthy is that minority communities have higher shares of women-owned businesses.

For example, 59% of black and African American businesses and 44% of Hispanic businesses are owned by women. This is much higher than among white businesses. So what that means is that we need to rally around women-owned businesses, and businesses owned by people of color, and oftentimes both, meaning women of color who own businesses, because what we’re finding is, more and more — and the data is out there — more and more, if hiring is done blindly, meaning … for example, the Samantha Bee show, when they did their first round of hiring for writers, what they did was they just had submittals, and they stripped it down so they didn’t know if it was a man or a women, and they found that the result of that hiring process meant that they had more women and more people of color — higher diversity over-all — than had they gone in a more traditional route.

What that tells me is that — and this is happening more and more — I can’t remember all the places I’ve read this, but there are more and more places that don’t want to know if you’re a man or a woman, and they don’t want to see the names, because the names can also reveal if you’re from another country, or potentially a person of color, because oftentimes family names really tell you a lot about the background. What I can tell you is, time and time and time again, when we do things that will eliminate, or greatly reduce, our implicit bias, that we find more diversity in the workforce.

What we’re also finding is that the opposite is true. So if an environment is largely governed by white men, then people, when they say they’re hiring for fit, are oftentimes hiring … that fit is oftentimes what people are comfortable with, and, by and large, people are comfortable with people who look like them, whether it’s the same gender or the same color. That it kind of perpetuates the cycle of male-dominated areas, which is why you Google “leadership” and “technology” and the imagery doesn’t look like me.

And I find these statistics all the time, and I read these articles … I’ll give you an example. There’s an article in the Harvard Business Review, July and August 2018 issue, called The Other Diversity Dividend, By Paul Gompers, and Silpa Kovvali, and I posted this picture of this graphic on Twitter, that only 8% of venture capitalist investors are women, and fewer than 1% are black. What they did in this study was they looked at the impact of the business results in this one area, among venture capitalists, and they realized that what was happening, by and large, is that venture capitalists are investing in people who look like them, and that’s why it makes it so difficult for women and people of color to get funding to further their business.

But the opposite is also true, so in places where there is more diversity, where there are more women, when women entrepreneurs are funded, when people of color entrepreneurs are funded, what they’re finding is there’s actually greater success, and that once diversity or equity are pillars and values, and that flows through, not only funding, but also alignment with vision and values and goals, and even hiring processes — the case of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is actually an example from this article — for hiring blind, meaning you’re looking solely at skills rather than whether someone is a man or a women, when you start to look at things in that way, and strip away all of these implicit biases, you find more diversity and more success, and then we’re able to start to diversify beyond the workplace.

I’m going to post a link to this article about diversity, and about how what we’re finding is there’s actually more success out there by taking a chance on a woman in terms of funding a business, by taking a chance on hiring people that look different from you, that behave different from you. Something we’ve talked about on earlier episodes of the show, is actually about how important it is to have a diverse team, and if you’re really serious about having a diverse team, meaning not just in terms of how they relate to the world, if they’re an introvert or an extrovert, if they’re an analyst or a leader, or really interested in power, if you’re really looking for diverse ideas and a diverse approach so you can really move your business forward, the data’s out there. Hire women. Hire people of color. Support women-owned businesses. Support businesses owned by people of color, and what you’ll find is everybody wins.

And isn’t that what we want? We want everybody to win.

Jennifer:                      23:40               That’s a wrap for this episode of the Third Paddle podcast. We covered a lot of ground today, looking at how to approach truth in your business, not only at the gut-check level and in interactions, but by also looking at the data to help you make data-driven decisions so you know the truth of your business, and can act appropriately.

We also took a brief look at the state of women-owned business. If you’d like to connect with the show, please go to thirdpaddle.com, where you can apply to be a guest on the show, or schedule time with me to discuss your ideas and likes and dislikes about the Third Paddle. You can also find me on Twitter at fostergrowthpdx, or on Facebook, at Facebook.com/fostergrowth.

Thank you so much for listening.

Announcer:                  24:20               Thank you for listening to the Third Paddle podcast. Be sure to catch every episode by subscribing on iTunes. To learn more, check out our website at www.thirdpaddle. com. The Third Paddle podcast is sponsored by Foster Growth LLC, online at www.fostergrowth.tech.

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