The following is the full transcript of Stop Making Excuses. Create Your Own Reality by Gary Whitehill at TEDxBayArea.
Gary Whitehill – Founder of Entrepreneur Week
Thank you. Well, it’s interesting being one of three males in a room full of women, and the first speaker you have in a woman entrepreneurship summit is a young white male. That normally doesn’t make a lot of sense but I hope over the course of the next 12 minutes, you’ll give me an opportunity to prove to all of you why I am here up on stage.
So what I am obsessed by is the fact that this top-down monopolistic beat on your chest, efficiency-driven economy is the way in which the future is. But it’s really not. That’s what corporations want you to think; that’s what venture capitalists want you to think.
I’m obsessed with the fact that everything that is mostly promoted here in Silicon Valley is actually the complete opposite. Because I’ve been all over the world. My last company called Entrepreneur Week, I scaled to four continents within two years from scratch, having never built an event company.
I met women just like all of you in this room, who came from every continent. We scaled to Chile, Brazil, Greece, all over the world and I never ever forgot when I got to a bunch — to every single emerging economy, the women that were there and the stories they would tell me of how they couldn’t manifest their dream, how they could see an opportunity and they couldn’t do it, how they wanted to even be in a mid-level job in a corporation but they weren’t allowed to do it.
There’s also a lot of other folks who believe what I believe when it comes to inequality, folks like Daniel Pink is another — he has a great study on the future of the world being more on the right brain instead of the left brain. I also sit on the board of Astia. How many folks have heard of Astia before? So I sit on the board for Astia, and I also do a lot of things with Dell. I sit on the advisory board for Dell, and the women entrepreneurs program and I do a lot with Springboard Enterprises, which I am sure you’ve heard of as well.
But everything I just told you about is the business justification for why I’m here, as if that’s not really what I care about. They pale in comparison to the woman that you see right there. That’s my mother, Callahan and this picture was taken the year my mom got turned down three times in a row for an assistant vice president’s job at Travelers. I was six years old. I got in the car out of school and my mom, as we were driving started crying, uncontrollably. And I had no idea why. This little kid you have no idea why and of course I asked my mom, you know, why.
She said one word – well, two words – “I’m a woman”. And so that started my journey since the age of six till now of trying to understand why half of the world is full of folks like you, yet less than 4% of you are CEOs of Fortune 100 companies – it’s completely inverted paradigm.
We all know the statistics of the power that women have in purchasing. Yet, guys like me, we never think about you when it comes to the companies that we build. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. And this is a lie you’ve been told, just like my mom was told, because my mom spent — my mom never went to college. My mom started off as a clerk at Travelers and she spent 15 years on the IT side and 25 years on the business side and is now one of the top consultants in the world in the insurance industry. But she was told the same thing, you know, why, because in the early 90’s it was easier for — everybody wanted women to just get patted on the top of their head. There was two ways you got ahead in the insurance industry. You were submissive or you slept your way around. My mom did neither of them and I’m sure none of you have either. And that is how you truly make a difference.
When you want to create your own reality, when you fight against the men, folks just like me, I’m your stereotypical average white guy and I hate people like me. I really do, because the fact of the matter is that’s not where the world is going, and we’re going to talk a little bit about where the world is going.
So I’m always a get-stuff-done guy and I hear all these excuses. This new trend called Lean In, don’t know how to show up to the boardroom, need to ask for permission. I think it’s ridiculous, because how is that helpful — how is that inspiring to women like yourselves? How does that give you a framework to change the paradigms that you see that don’t make sense? It doesn’t, and neither do these statistics. I’m sick of hearing about income inequality. I’m sick of hearing about unemployment. I’m sick of hearing about board roles, you know why because statistics look in the past and the future of the world is not what the past is like, these big corporations, this male-driven society. It’s not.