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What Does It Mean to be Independent?

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Why independence doesn’t mean doing things independently

“Every woman needs ‘f-you money’ to be able to do things independently,” she explained to an audience largely made up of upper-class white men.

Those were the words of Tyra Banks, former supermodel turned entrepreneur, as reported by TechCrunch reporter Sarah Buhr.

Banks shared her ideas on money and women while wearing an “I’m an entrepreneur, bitch” t-shirt.

While I’m no expert on Tyra Banks or her business ventures (though I do admit to catching few episodes of Top Model!), and while I also champion any woman looking to become a successful entrepreneur, I have to question the helpfulness of those words and Banks’ disposition.

About that money quote

Let’s start with the money quote.

While it’s important for women to be independent, it’s not achieved by doing things independently, per se. This might seem like weird logic, but I assure you it’s not. Why? Because success in business and life requires a team.

The importance of a team

There is not a single, successful person in the world—man or woman—who has not had an incredible team behind them. Without a great team, “f-you” money will only get you so far.

As rich dad said, “Business and investing are team sports.” Money is important to success, but it’s only a component. There are other people who help a venture to be successful. A person with money, like a skilled teammate, is key player, but the minute that player starts telling others, “f-you,” that team is going to fail.

Attitude matters

Admittedly, Banks is addressing a culture where women entrepreneurs have to fight an uphill battle. The instinct and desire to fight for success is commendable, but the second observation from Buhr’s article, Banks’ t-shirt, “I’m an entrepreneur, bitch,” I think gives insight into a brashness rather than confidence about business, money, and entrepreneurship.

Frankly, only a former supermodel and reality-TV star could get away with such an approach. It’s effectively taking the worst of male power and simply mimicking it, and not very well.

Long story short, such attitudes rarely work for men, let alone women.

A different kind of fight

Attitude matters. What bothers me most about taking on aggressive behavior to fight aggressive behavior is that it cancels out some of the greatest strengths we women have when it comes to money: our passion, grace, empathy, and consensus-building.

For us, there should be a different way to fight for both equality and success. It’s not about us getting ahead at the cost of others, but rather raising the tide for everyone. If we’re going to lead in business and investing, let’s really lead.

Want to succeed as a female entrepreneur? Here’s a tip: Focus less on nurturing the chip on your shoulder and more on building a great team. Realize you’re rarely the smartest person in the room, and that if you are, you’re probably in trouble. And always remember the people who have contributed to and continue to support your independence.

Original publish date: October 29, 2015

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