My father was a great baker, a virtual artist with his knives, piping jelly and decorating tube.
For more than 35 years he delighted his customers with his wedding cakes, ornate teacakes and birthday cakes bearing an uncanny likeness to the celebrant. During those 30 years customers streamed in to the Village Bakery in Tyler, Texas to buy those special treats as well as fresh breads, pies, cookies, and breakfast pastries. To say he had a loyal following would be an understatement.
But it was my mom who made it all work. She was the business brains behind the scenes. She saw to it that payroll was met, bills paid and that some money was set aside to educate her three sons. For all of my father’s genius as a baker, it was my mom who kept things under control and balanced.
She had no formal business degree. She earned it by pitching in to help her family through the Great Depression and World War II, serving as secretary to the President of the local bank. Those were tough times for businesses and businessmen – there were very few women business owners. My mom was a good listener and keen observer. Occasionally, in the privacy of her boss’s office, she would ask questions, but mostly she listened and watched. And she learned.
Of course, the role of women in business has, thankfully, changed. Dramatically.
Luke Johnson, Chairman of Risk Capital Partners, London, and a columnist for the Financial Times, reported this week that, although it is rarely discussed, women are playing a bigger role in launching start-ups.
“..I think the patriarchy is ending. Surveys indicate that women in the west are narrowing the gap in terms of personal wealth. Moreover, they are responsible for more than 80 percent of all purchasing decisions and so are better placed to supervise new product development, marketing, customer relations, and many other aspects of business operations,” Johnson writes.
He contends that women tend to have a higher emotional quotient than men, and
hence, are well-equipped for the modern workplace. Frequently they are less egocentric and better at team building. Women now make up the majority of graduates in many professions, including law and accountancy, traditionally the source of many business leaders.”
Now here is the most interesting part of Johnson’s recent column, The Entrepreneur: according to a 2012 survey by VentureSource, a Dow Jones company which tracks start-ups and their investors, “companies have a better chance of going public, operating profitability or being sold for a net gain if they have women founders or board members.”
For Nadine Jackson Self, that factoid would hardly be a surprise.
© 2019 John Gregory Self