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It’s our first birthday this week – whoop-whoop! We are thrilled, and pretty proud, of how far we’ve come since our first event on the 8th of May 2013 in Hyde Park, London.

To run the first event was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. We had no idea what we were doing really. We were simply excited about our mission to create a forum for women to become the best they can be. Guided by a deep conviction that the world needed a forum like this, we felt sure we had something to offer.

Taking that first step outside my comfort zone and hosting an event where I could not rely on my ‘professional’ skills was difficult. I always had that shield of my education or profession to protect me from failure or ridicule. But to put yourself and your beliefs on the line, to go ‘all in’ on what you believe is your purpose in life, is super scary. You make yourself vulnerable like never before.

But that’s what has made this year one of the best in my life. It has also set the tone for DrivenWoman and created the DW experience for all our members. The year has been full of personal growth.

The second revelation has been focusing on others instead of on myself (I’ve been a master of that all my life). Instead of assessing your career through external metrics such as title or salary (“How high can I climb?”) you think about how you can help others. “What do I have to offer that can make a difference to other people’s lives?” Things start taking a dramatically different turn and suddenly the things you are naturally good at and enjoy doing pop up to the surface.

We started DrivenWoman because we believed every woman can, and should, be successful.

Like any start-up founder, we were caught up in external metrics at the start, but soon realised the only metrics that mattered were what our members get out of this.

Like anyone who’s doing something new, we too were a little unsure at the start. The truth is, we didn’t have a clue! But we kept going and we kept exploring. We kept asking questions. And our members helped us by sharing their struggles and frustrations.

And you know what? Mileage breeds confidence! The more you do something, the more confident you are at what you are doing. Now, 40 DrivenWoman group sessions and one bigger seminar later, we can confidently stand behind the value DrivenWoman offers to our members.

Whatever you are starting out, whatever new thing you’d like to do, you will not feel confident at the start.

You will feel scared, incompetent and sometimes even ridiculous. Starting something that no-one else has done will fill even the most confident person with self-doubt. Doubts like: Will this be the right thing for me to do? Will anyone like this? Will I look stupid if this fails? What if I make mistakes?

Co-founder Jennifer and I may come across as confident, but we too have heard the nagging voice of self-doubt during the first year of building DrivenWoman. There has been evenings when only one person has showed up to our session. Days with nobody commenting on our blog. No new membership sign-ups. It has felt terrible. But we realised that everyone who starts something will go through that.

We’ve learned two important lessons:

People don’t show up to your thing or buy your product or say nice things about you because:

a) You haven’t deserved it yet. There’s something you have to improve; either in your own skills or in the product; or in the way you talk about it. It’s called feedback, not failure.

b) The Universe hasn’t discovered you yet. The problem with the Universe is that it doesn’t hear individual cries because there are so many people asking the Universe to help. You need to keep spreading the message. You need to keep believing and ploughing!

We could have given up when only one person showed up to our Introduction session in October. We could have listened to the sceptics. We could have been persuaded by people without the balls to believe in taking risks. But we decided to see this through,  to persevere and learn. Instead of thinking about external metrics, or us as a failure, we decided to improve our communication and our approach. We kept listening to our members and kept giving them more of what they wanted.

We also accepted the natural pace at which the Universe wanted us to grow. We sensed that we were to become stronger before we could become bigger. We started valuing the amazing feedback our members were giving us and cared less about how fast we grow. We decided to go all in on membership satisfaction and only focus on creating value for the current members and be less concerned about attracting new ones.

We have never enjoyed building the network of driven women more so than we do today, on our first birthday. We’ve made it through many obstacles and though we understand there’s still many to come, feedback like this makes it all worthwhile.

“I wouldn’t have made it to the Asian Awards if it wasn’t for DrivenWoman. I’ve come out of my comfort zone and done something I never thought I could achieve.” Vuyisa Akuchie, founder of Sweet Surprises

“It’s so satisfying to hear about others’ journeys and discover how I can use those experiences in my life.” Louise Ward

“Thank you both for your enthusiasm and encouragement. You are making a great difference in the lives of others!” Judy Toorie

“You guys are great! Go on in the same way. This will be big!” Charlotta Björkskog, founder of London Art Nanny

“Helping other women like myself has been helpful to me. This is a great concept!” Jane De Croos, founder of ChilliDrops

We want to thank everyone who has supported us and believed in us to get this network off the ground. We want to thank our members especially. We look forward to welcoming new women to the forum as we want to see a change in how women see their opportunities in life in terms of success.

What do we wish for our birthday? If you believe in the message do help us spread the word! Or simply comment on this post. Would mean a lot to us 🙂

~ Miisa

 

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