For those of you that know me, I am a planner.
I like taking risks that I am prepared for–carefully analyzing the pros and cons and developing a strategy for both the best and worst scenarios. However, as I learned through the years, this type of planned risk taking can be time consuming and detrimental when trying to launch something of value. I’ve missed several opportunities due to my over-analysis, careful planning, and overwhelming fear of failure.
Recently, I almost missed another opportunity if it was not for my good friend (who also happens to be one of my many mentors), Jason Todd, advising me to just face my fear and take the leap.
We were chatting over some whiskey and tacos (the best combination for brainstorming), and Jason asked what my passions were along with some of my biggest fears.
I explained my love for manufacturing and learning about its past; interviewing people and retelling their stories; and educating younger generations about the sector. I told him about Mavens of Manufacturing and how I thought it would be a great platform for manufacturers wanting to close both the skills and gender gaps. I also mentioned a sky-diving trip I went on for my 37th birthday to face my overwhelming fear of heights.
“How was it?” he asked.
“It was the most amazing thing in my life, aside from my kids, of course,” I replied. “I’m definitely doing it again.”
I could tell from his facial expression he had more to say, so I took the bait and asked, “What are you thinking?”
“I really think you’re onto something with Mavens,” he responded. “And… I think what you did with skydiving you should do with Mavens–just jump.”
As I gave a list of reasons why I was not ready to “just jump” with Mavens, he thoughtfully responded, “You’re never going to be “fully” ready. Sometimes you just have to step up to the door and jump. Let the rest take care of itself. Trust the things that are meant to be will be, and if things don’t work out there is always something else you can do or try.”
He then suggested a list of things for me to think about to get things in motion for Mavens.
Know Your Why
Starting a new venture can be scary. Especially if you’re used to being told what to do or how to do things most of your career. It is absolutely essential to know your why before pursuing any project. Ask yourself:
- “Why is this important to me?”
- “Why is it important to others?”
- “How does it provide value to myself and to others that I am trying to reach?”
Without knowing your why, it becomes extremely difficult to stay motivated. Your why pushes you forward regardless of the challenges that lay ahead. It focuses you during times of failure and humbles you through moments of success.
No one likes to fail, especially if you are a perfectionist like me. It can be a gut-wrenching feeling that tempts you to give up and hide in a dark corner. However, success is difficult to achieve without failure. Failure teaches resilience, flexibility, humility, and patience. It helps us to dig deeper and research the root of where things went wrong. It makes us better and helps us grow.
Finally, just step up to that ledge and… JUMP!
Of course, the unknown is scary, but how are you going to know the end result without taking that first step?
And it is so ridiculously easy to come up with a million reasons why not to pull the trigger on something: lack of preparation, resources, skills, etc. But that hesitation and self-doubt kills innovation.
Start with what you know you’re great at, find those who can help you with what you’re not so great at, and fill in the spaces as you go along. As Jason said to me when I was on the cusp with Mavens, “If you shoot for one percent better than the day before, you’ll be on a successful growth path.”
So, I jumped and I’m happy I did.
The Why for Mavens of Manufacturing
So back to Mavens.
I’ve been writing my whole life, specifically for manufacturing and engineering since 2008 for a variety of companies. The main thing I noticed during my manufacturing journey is that the ratio of women to men, especially in leadership positions, is low. Currently, we represent around 28 to 33% of the workforce.
Not bad, but it could be better.
I also noticed the scarcity of women in the major conversations happening across industries, and I wanted to know why.
Lastly, conversations I observed of my teenage daughter and her friends lacked any mention of manufacturing or engineering opportunities. Some of them were pursuing healthcare and educational opportunities, a few were relying on athletic opportunities, and A LOT of them were undecided and not sure what they wanted to do.
When I discussed manufacturing opportunities with them, all of them had misconceptions about the sector as a whole, including:
- Career opportunities only exist in dirty, dark, dull, and dangerous facilities.
- There is little room for growth, specifically for women.
- Instability in terms of promotions, pay, benefits, etc.
- Constraints with work-life balance.
If you are involved in the sector, then you know that all the above are false, and it’s going to take some work to change the minds of the next generation. But where do we begin?
As I continue my journey with Mavens, I will provide updates on all the above along with recommendations that manufacturers can consider changing how they are recruiting for manufacturing and how they are presenting themselves to the next generation workforce.
Stay tuned because the future of manufacturing starts now. Let’s get it!