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A Surprising Message from an Investing Conference

Updated: Jul 10

Susan and I are coming off of a five-day work event where we met in Austin to work on our business in person, and then attend an investing conference.


Greetings from Austin!


The conference is one we've attended before. InvestHerCon is tailored to women in real estate investing, and for this reason, to be honest, I was a bit under-motivated to attend. Don't get me wrong; I love talking about real estate investing, but at this point in my professional life, I get more excited to learn about ways Rising Femme Wealth can deliver the most value, and how I can live my healthiest, fullest life. But a particular message struck me early and often at the conference: from an early age, boys are taught to be brave and girls are taught to be perfect.


💅 It can start on the playground, where we are more likely to encourage sons to climb as high as they can, while cautioning daughters not to get too dirty.


🎓 It continues in school where boys are rewarded for taking chances, regardless of whether they succeed, and girls are encouraged to stay quiet until they have the right answer.


💵 We see it in investing habits, where men tend to hop on a tip from a friend, colleague, or the news, while women (despite statistically having better portfolio outcomes), hesitate to start until they feel they've exhausted their research.


What are the implications of these lessons? I see them every day.


I watch my own daughters wanting desperately to try riding their bikes over a jump in the park, but not wanting to fail in front of everyone, even after watching less-skilled boys jump it without the air, or style, that I know these girls would have. The boys are not better than them at biking; they're just being brave. But their bravery will allow them to be the better bikers in just a couple of years.


I hear my friends and sisters, extremely talented women, lament about how they'd like to ask their employers for more opportunities, or modified schedules, or an extended maternity leave, but they're terrified the answer will be No. So, they never ask. They stay on their safe career path, stick to an unsustainable schedule, and miss out on time with loved ones. I feel this one deeply, because I've been there too.


In the many conversations I've had with clients, friends, and peers in my work, I've also come to learn about the ways in which highly educated and high-achieving women have investment portfolios that don't reflect the prowess, confidence, and money they've achieved in their careers. "I don't even know where to start" is the response I hear when we broach the subject of reallocating, trying alternative investments, or self-managing a stock portfolio. I'm beginning to wonder if that means "I'm not enough of an expert to start."


When I started a business, it didn't feel that brave. But when I began to put myself out there, to show those in my network that I was pouring myself into work that was only able to be measured by a few followers, and scant likes, that was terrifying. I still feel my hesitation to allow the world to watch me build something, rather than wait to unveil a beautiful, final product. But waiting for that perfection, and abstaining from the several failures along the way takes away from my progress, and probably results in me never building what I want.


We can all do better in enforcing the "brave, not perfect" message among our daughters, sisters, friends. And we need to start living in. Go ahead and risk failure, or mediocrity. Ask for the raise, or the modified schedule. Open a new brokerage account and buy some index funds outside of the management of your advisor. Do the cartwheel, or the headstand, or whatever it is that you want to try but are afraid of looking foolish to attempt. Fail. Get a "no". Block the reprimand of your advisor. And then do it again. We need to practice this, over and over. Practice being brave, not perfect.

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