This website, and the associated book, are dedicated to every woman who’s ever broken through a barrier, violated a taboo, or overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve what seemed impossible, but was merely difficult . . . without even breaking a nail, or whining about it if she did.
As a woman studying chemistry and physics at Wright State University in the early 1980s, gender bias was somewhat of an unknown to Kimberly Wiefling.
“I was treated with so much dignity and respect and included equally and fairly, I never even perceived that there was a gender issue,” she said.
Wiefling would face a completely different reality following her 1984 graduation from Wright State.
In graduate school and the high-tech world of Silicon Valley, Wiefling quickly realized that women were not always welcome at the table. It’s a blemish on corporate America she still sees today.
“I know from research that companies that have higher participation rates of women in their leadership and senior executive ranks make more money. There’s really a financial benefit to companies that do include more women, and yet, there’s still a bias,” Wiefling explained. “My intention is to help eliminate that bias. Let’s have women participating and contributing equally.”
After spending 10 years at Hewlett Packard followed by a few turns at several startup companies, Wiefling founded her own company, Wiefling Consulting, in 2001. Today, business is booming, with much of it coming from Japan, where Wiefling travels almost monthly to advise Japanese companies on global leadership and management.
In addition to her consulting business, Wiefling is the author of two out of the five guides in her Scrappy About series of books, including Scrappy Project Management and Scrappy Women in Business: Living Proof that Bending the Rules Isn’t Breaking the Law.
Wiefling co-wrote Scrappy Women in Business with 11 of her “scrappy gal pals” to describe their real-life experiences as women in the world of business. It also inspired the name for a scholarship Wiefling has established at Wright State the Scrappy Women Scholarship Fund.
The granddaughter of a coalminer and daughter of a welder, Wiefling was determined to achieve a college degree despite her lack of financial means. Following her high school graduation, Wiefling entered the military so she could attend college on the GI Bill. Scholarships also helped pay for her education.
Wiefling hopes the Scrappy Women Scholarship Fund will help women from similar backgrounds who may think a college education is out of their reach.
“I’d like to make that possible for some woman who comes from that kind of scrappy, hardworking family,” she said.
The scholarship is also a means for Wiefling to give back.
“None of us made it to where we are today without help,” she said. “We got here through the help and generosity of many other people. It’s our responsibility to continue that flow of generosity.”
Wiefling was initially surprised to find out that it only takes a small financial commitment to establish a scholarship. To fully fund the scholarship, she has made a bequest in her will where a percentage of her estate will come to the university. Wiefling, however, has already endowed the fund with current gifts so she can provide one scholarship a year to a worthy student.
“No matter how much you have, you can always share something with people who don’t have as much,” Wiefling explained. “What brings real happiness is not the money or the wealth itself, but the ability to share it with other people.”
ABOUT the AUTHOR:
Kimberly Wiefling is the founder of Wiefling Consulting, LLC, a scrappy enterprise enabling individuals, teams and organizations to achieve results that seem out of reach or nearly impossible through leadership and project management excellence. Vigorously scrappy, she reemerged, consulting on leadership and project management worldwide – from Armenia, to Tokyo, to the Silicon Valley. Kimberly is the executive editor of The Scrappy Guides®, a regular contributor to the “Project Connections” newsletter, (70,000+ subscribers weekly), and her radio show, “The Scrappy Dialogues®”, airs occasionally on www.wiefling.com, and she is the lead blogger at www.SVProjectManagement.net.
I subscribe to the belief that life is a journey, not a destination.
Born and raised in Germany, I came to Silicon Valley in the 90s to work as an intern at HP in Palo Alto.
Coming from a country where your career progression is often tied to time worked at the company and possibly your age, I was mesmerized by the seemingly endless opportunities and energy of the dot.com boom.
Fast forward fifteen plus years, and I am the owner and founder of MarketingXLerator, a social media marketing consultancy.
Sounds picture perfect, doesn’t it?
Have you heard people tell their life story in a way that sounds as if they carefully planned each event to lead them to where they are today? You just know they picked out the best bits and aligned them to make the story sound linear.
Well, life is not like that for most people. I’ve been trying to find my calling or passion all my life, and I am still looking. Is running my own business what really fulfills me? Can any job fulfill me for the long run?
Along my road, there have been many bumps. Externally, I appear to be very confident and outgoing, but internally I can’t shake off that impostor feeling. I hear from many other women that they can relate.
My life strategy has been to push past the fear. I think that fear is normal and challenges are normal, the skill is how to deal with them in a productive manner.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Buddhist philosophy, which encourages us to live in the moment, slow down, get to know ourselves, and accept who we are; the ultimate challenge.
My relationship to Silicon Valley has changed. If I enjoyed the fast-paced and go-getter mindset in the past, I now look for more meaning in my work and for connection. I struggle with the “always-on” expectation and the culture that sometimes seems to put business success ahead of humanity.
For at least the last four years I have experimented to create a better work-life balance for myself while attempting to do stimulating work at the same time. Frankly, I am not sure it is possible.
In one job, I reduced my work hours to a four-day-week. I learned that it was just not the right job for me, no matter how many hours. Then I became a contractor for 3-days-a-week to have more time to teach yoga and start my own business. I found working a 3-day-week extremely challenging, as it is not the pace at which business moves. It is difficult to be given responsibility when you work part time and many people did not take me seriously.
My current stage is that I work full time in my own businesses. My hope was to reduce my hours to enjoy other parts of life while helping clients use social media to meet their goals – but, especially working in social media (such an ad hoc culture) -I have been unable to make that a reality (yet).
Good lessons I have learned so far are that I am never as good alone as in a team. I’ve built my own professional support network and have colleagues that I can bounce ideas off on. And it feels great to be able to make independent decisions based on my personal values.
Where will the journey take me next? I don’t know.
I think the key is to figure out how I define meaning and then execute towards that.
A book I co-authored “42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing” was just published and after working on it all year, it’s a good feeling. We are donating all proceeds to the Khan Academy (matched by our publisher), and I see meaning in providing a resource that can hopefully help others do a better job.
ABOUT the AUTHOR: Natascha Thomson is the Owner & Founder of MarketingXLerator – a B2B Social Media Marketing Consultancy – with a focus on using social media to connect people for business impact. She is also a co-author of the book 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing.