Laura Roeder is the founder and CEO of the successful social media company MeetEdgar — which she grew to $4 million in her 20s and 30s.
Way to go, Laura. 💪 💰
But as a woman in business, her journey to grow her company wasn’t easy.
With all the stories about sexual harassment in tech and business, I wanted to hear Laura’s female point of view.
If you’re a male, my #1 goal is you’ll come away from this post and podcast episode with an appreciation of what women have to go through in business.
Below, you’ll learn 3 key things…
- Laura’s experiences being a woman in tech
- How Laura recommends men interact with women in the workplace
- Why she was able to start a business while other women haven’t
Plus a bunch more.
How to interact with women in the workplace
I've never heard of a woman that's raised money that hasn't had some super sketchy situations. It’s just part of how things work.
Women in tech and business face daily challenges.
We see it in the news all the time…
As a woman, Laura has to decide every time she receives a message whether the other person really wants to talk business (or whether they just want to try and flirt with her).
The most important thing that men can do is one be very straight-forward with their intentions, Laura told me.
If you want to ask someone out on a date or grab a drink, ask them… and make it clear.
But if you say something like “let’s talk shop” or “discuss business”, then everything has to be 100% business.
And if you’ve there’s a power dynamic (like you’re their boss, or an investor interested in their company) then that’s where the relationship should stay.
Whether you're a boss or colleague, having a women colleague can be a sensitive topic — but that doesn't mean you should avoid talking to your female colleagues out of fear.
I have a friend who organizes these informal weekend retreats for founder friends. He told me that some of the men's wives don't want women there.
If it’s the norm for it to be unusual or uncomfortable for men and women to talk to each other, how can women ever progress at work?
We have to get over uncomfortableness and awkwardness.
Sometimes there will be an awkward conversation about how to treat your female colleague at work, or you might not be sure what kind of complement is okay.
The only way things will improve is if we open ourselves to the vulnerability and difficult conversations.
Want to hear more about how Laura deals with sexual harassment in the workplace? Check out the video below.
Female entrepreneurship and starting a business
It’s not uncommon for people to ask Laura questions like:
- “Who started your company?”
- “Do you work for your dad?”
- “Is this your husband’s company?”
It sucks that she faces these questions all the time. No one has ever questioned me founding Sumo.
Laura sees some the silver lining.
I know that people aren't trying to be terrible. And now they know a young woman that started a business, maybe they'll put that in their data set for next time.
There are more female business owners and founders than many realize: More than 9.4 million companies are owned by women.
Laura even grew MeetEdgar to $4 million ARR, which is impressive for anyone regardless of gender.
Laura believes a lot of women are interested in running smaller businesses and not interested in the fundraising game, which is why you don’t hear about them on the news.
Personally, Laura wants flexibility and freedom in her time which is why she hasn’t raised millions of dollars and become a household name.
Those certainly aren’t female-only traits. Many entrepreneurs choose to start their own businesses so they can be free from the corporate world.
Laura also believes there’s some cultural differences in the way men and women are raised to view work and their careers:
- Often, men are raised to believe your salary and job is very important. As a male, your role at work is very important to how the world sees you
- Often, women were raised to focus on families, avoid coming off as aggressive, no negotiating, etc.
The good part about that is maybe women don't have as much ego attached to our job title or salary, so maybe we're not desperately searching those things as much.
This is just the tip of the iceberg with my chat with Laura.
If you want to learn more, we have a 30-minute podcast waiting for you.
Plus check out Laura's new startup for coaches, Paperbell.
Hear more about being a woman in the workplace — and how men can help make it better.