Women Can — And Men Can, Too


Women Can  — And Men Can, Too
Sonja Hubbard

Arkansas Business was a sponsor of Leadership Arkansas’ Women Can! conference last week, and there was no mistaking its intended audience: professional women looking to grow personally and professionally.

But the keynote speakers had messages of value to anyone in business.

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Since 1982, author Anne Doyle told the crowd, college degrees have been awarded to 10 million more women than men in America. Yet looking at executive suites and boards of directors would not lead one to imagine that. That’s a message that should resonate with all businesspeople: Are we taking full advantage of the talent and training that are available?

Women who have succeeded in the marketplace have, almost invariably, been given opportunities by men. But when women have those opportunities and grab them, they sometimes see other women as competition for the limited number of places at the table. To that, Doyle said, “Every woman for herself is a losing strategy.”

There may be a few jobs out there in which every man — person — for himself is a winning strategy, but a rising tide generally does lift all boats. All of us should ask: Am I protecting myself to my own detriment? Would I be more successful or happier or richer or less stressed if I shared the opportunity?

Sonja Hubbard, CEO of the E-Z Mart convenience store chain, described her sudden ascent to the top position in her family-owned business when her father, company founder Jim Yates, died in a plane crash in 1998. It was a reminder that every business needs a strong succession plan.

But our favorite message of the day was Hubbard’s mantra: “Fail faster so you can succeed sooner.” That’s excellent advice, no matter your age or sex or what business you are in.