Women vs Men, Men vs Women

BN-BV233_2BOSSY_D_20140307182719I am always asked about the differences between men and women entrepreneurs.  I have been thinking alot about it and since I am invested in so many women I can actually look at the landscape.  

I sat down with an entrepreneur turned investor and professor the other day and we talked about this.  He told me that he had recently introduced a woman entrepreneur to someone.  He thought she was really good. and they should meet.  The investor that he introduced her came back with some feedback that threw him off.  He said that she just seemed too arrogant.  I give my friend high kudos for coming back with the response which was "would you say that if she was a man"?  My guess is the answer is a resounding no.  

There was an article written in the WSJ this past week by Sheryl Sandberg and Maria Chavez on Bossy, the B word.  How do we level the playing field when young girls are discouraged from being bossy.  I am not so sure all women take to that, I certainly didn't and obviously neither did Sandberg but there is something to be said about this.  There has been several sociology books written on the topic of how once girls hit middle school they fall to the back of the class so they can be perceived as nice and perhaps popular vs smart.  How do we change that?  

I have come across more arrogant men in the tech business who are applauded for their bravado with in my humble opinion valuations that are off the charts.  Why we don't pull back the reins and build these businesses intelligently at every turn vs just wads of cash is beyond me but maybe I am just looking at it differently.  Perhaps I am looking at it from the womans angle.

In the past few weeks I have seen women who are having traction, revenues and a continue flow of customers at their door who continue to be scrappy, humble and almost afraid to take more cash.  They are methodical about their businesses, hiring when need be when they should be hiring a little ahead of the curve.  They are very interested in showing profitability.  They are wary of taking too much cash in at valuations that might seem absurd.  On one hand impressive but on the other hand you do have to spend money to make money.  

There are so many conversations around this particular topic.  My bottom line comes down to women need to be just a bit bolder.  Be more confident in your companies not to the point of being "bossy or arrogant" but being "confident and sharp".  Go to the head of the class and confidently raise your hands.  I love the way that all the women I work with are going about building their businesses.  I am so impressed with how they are all methodical and consciencious.  They all have great leadership skills.  Not that the men don't who I work with it is just that they go about it differently.  I respect both of them.  For me it is just fascinating to watch.  

Comments (Archived):

  1. leigh

    I still wonder if what is considered bossy or arrogant for a woman is seen as confident and sharp in a man…The gender bias is certainly real although we all end up having to modify our behaviour (male or female) to suit the particular situation and the people you find yourself with.I just wish sometimes, the behaviour modifications i have to make on a daily basis felt a little less cliche.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I wish they were a little less cliche tooI truly believe that if we would all be a little more accepting and positive about everyones individual behavior that perhaps things will change.I am sure the words arrogant and bossy and perhaps tough have been used to describe me. I say bring it on

      1. pointsnfigures

        “Leader” often goes hand in hand with those words.

  2. pixiedust8

    As the mother of a six-year-old, I think there is a difference between being bossy and being a leader. I see kids (boys and girls) who are bossy on the playground and it’s not attractive in either gender. Leaders are confident and persuade others of the worth of their point of view.I also wish more typically “feminine” leadership qualities were valued more (even though there are many men who lead by listening and talking as well). It seems to me that many companies only value those who enforce their wills on their coworkers and subordinates.The only problem I have with the “Lean In” movement is that it seems to espouse that traditionally male type of leading. That’s great for those who lean that way, but the traditionally female leaders also need to be valued, even if they aren’t “bossy.”

    1. Gotham Gal

      I couldn’t agree more. Great comment

    2. AMT Editorial Staff

      I also think campaigns like the one @ bossy should take the next step and help educate about being a leader. When our 7 year old is “bossy”, it’s not attractive, agree. So then we try and give her the language/skills to transform that bossiness to leadership. Part of it is truly a teaching moment.

      1. Gotham Gal


  3. AG

    Promoting bossiness seems to me the wrong move. Yes, women need to be more confident and commanding around men, but to me, that is not the same thing as being bossy, which I’d argue is a characteristic that isn’t appealing in women or men. It’s true that for men being arrogant and bossy has arguably been an adaptive quality ie the alpha male, but I’m not sure those are the characteristics that make a man or woman succeed in business or life long term. The best leaders inspire confidence and gain trust without being bossy. We need to make girls more confident. We need to teach them to lead without worrying what boys and other women will think. We need to teach them to embody strength, honesty, grit, and passion. I don’t agree that “bossy” is the word we want to start using.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Inspiring confidence. Yes!!

  4. Lisa Abeyta

    We should encourage each other and the next generation to step up to the plate – not unnecessarily labeling leaders as bossy but also not giving a free pass to bad behavior. Just as I cringe when I see the pendulum swing so far that we paint it as wrong when little girls pretend to be princesses instead of opening up the options wider for girls to pretend they’re princesses and engineers and doctors, I cringe when I see the pendulum swing so far that we lose sight that bossy really can be just bossy – mean spirited, selfish, and undercutting. We can easily lose sight of the message that we can be leaders who are bold, considerate, and dynamic.

  5. JLM

    .What is required to get along and to get ahead in the world is an “authentic” voice and a sense of what you want to accomplish.The authentic voice is where most people get confused.There may be a difference between:”Howdy, ya’ll!”and”Whatsup, dude?”There may not. You decide. It’s all about intonation not really voice.It’s SXSW here in the ATX and I just came from a TechStars Austin Mentor’s BBQ networking event. I have just agreed to work with them.When I go to these type of events, I will often turn off my normal outgoing personality and turn on my “run silent, run deep” mode questioning everyone and letting them drive the conversation.I say: “Wow, that’s interesting, then what happened?”I did not find a single woman to be bossy, arrogant or in any way offensive. Maybe because I put them in the spotlight and just shut up. [Knowing me, can you imagine the novelty of that?]I personally find aggressive women to be very interesting — we’re not talking dominatrix here, ya’ll. Just women wearing spurs and not afraid to use them.I made My Perfect Daughter play basketball with the boys when she was young. You did not want to try to get a basketball from that one. She owned the floor and scrapping because she could scrap with anyone (mean big brother).This was a huge boost to her confidence.Act natural. Find your authentic voice. Just watch the volume knob from time to time. Don’t worry about being bossy or any other adjective. Trust me, the real guys will find it a bit alluring.Business is a contact sport, bitches.JLM.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Brilliant ending

  6. LE

    In the past few weeks I have seen women who are having traction, revenues and a continue flow of customers at their door who continue to be scrappy, humble and almost afraid to take more cash. They are methodical about their businesses, hiring when need be when they should be hiring a little ahead of the curve. They are very interested in showing profitability. They are wary of taking too much cash in at valuations that might seem absurd.Business is about taking risks and gambling. You can walk outside right now in NYC and you will see both men and women who are not gamblers and who are not as successful (if you want to call it that) as those that are “gamblers”. Those who bet more potentially make the bigger score at the risk of going belly up. And of course the media, popular culture, bloggers etc. all talk about the big win which is what is encouraged in our culture, right?Unfortunately, there is no question casual observation shows that there are more men who are gamblers than women. Just go to any casino. Just see how men gamble on sports.To me it reduces down to this fact and it’s really that simple. Women are more practical and fearful because they are less likely to want to gamble. You see any man who has made it big and you will find a gambler in that man. My Dad? (Your dad?) Never made it really big was afraid to lose the house and not be able to provide for his family. So he never took a big enough gamble to hit it big. That’s why you’ve never heard of him. (And my mom didn’t even want him to take the chances that he did!)All those domains that I try to buy? The worse owners to deal with are the ones that I identify as being owned by gamblers. They can just walk away from a good offer and are quite willing to take their chance (in vain in my experience) that a super big multi million dollar offer will come to them in the next year.Anyway to me the women are right in their approach. The world is littered with men who have gone for the brass ring and failed you just don’t read or know about them (I do because I follow this type of thing and have since I’ve been a kid with men in my neighborhood).

  7. LE

    Be more confident in your companies not to the point of being “bossy or arrogant” but being “confident and sharp”. Go to the head of the class and confidentially raise your hands. I run into this situation all the time with my wife. We’re in a restaurant and I want to complain about something and she doesn’t want me to say anything. Same thing my Dad ran into with my mom. Always worried about appearance.I dated a girl once who was a professional. She got angry if we were driving out of her neighborhood and merely pointed at something if any of the neighbors were watching.

  8. LE

    One thing I will say about complaining, being bossy etc. Always try (it’s why I do) to go the nice route first. Nothing is worse than someone who comes out fully blazing as if they aren’t going to get what they want by trying to be nice. I like to use a layered approach.You know what? It can be done. Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you get a free ride in this world because of that. Try being a relatively short jewish guy who wears dungarees and hates to wear a suit. You end up learning how to use your mouth and logic to run circles around people to get what you want. Any obstacle can be overcome if you use your brain. (And it’s much more fun that way as well.)

  9. JLM

    .Take a look at this video. It’s an Apache gun ship flown by a woman who is killing Taliban attempting to attack an American firebase in A’stan. This is not something you will ever see in the US media.http://www.liveleak.com/vie…I show this to demonstrate that women in the military are doing the same work as men.This lady is providing critical fire support while ensuring that she is not endangering friendlies. Notice how careful she is to make damn sure she is not killing friendlies.I doubt this young woman cares about whether she is considered to be aggressive or bossy. She is a killer. A stone cold killer.Some day when she decides to get out of the Army and get into business some lucky company will be able to harness this performance.Listen how smoothly she plays her part and how the men don’t even notice she is a woman.JLM.

    1. Gotham Gal

      that video is wild.