Dr. Patti Fletcher is a seasoned tech executive, marketing influencer and gender equity advocate. She is also the author of “Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold,” an angel investor, speaker and executive-in-residence at Babson College.
In her new book, the self-proclaimed anti-“Lean In,” Dr. Fletcher discusses what different women in business have done in order to reach success as they define it. She stresses the importance of a culture of inclusion, one that is and, not or, and urges entrepreneurs to achieve their own version of success, despite any odds.
StartupNation caught up with Dr. Fletcher to discuss her new book, equality in entrepreneurship, and what success means to her. The following conversation has been edited for clarity.
StartupNation: What are some of the main habits and tactics that separate those who succeed from those who do not?
Dr. Patti Fletcher: It’s all about mindset. You can either let things stop you, or you can see them as a path to innovation and disruption. That is the most critical piece, the mindset component.
The next thing is around networking. No one gets to the finish line alone, period, end of story. Nobody does, no matter what we see with Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. We all know it takes a village. Those networks are incredibly important.
The other piece of that is that these disrupters know that it’s not about what you know, and it’s not about who you know, but it’s about who knows you. Your brand. Who knows you? Who is going to advocate for you when you’re not in the room? That is a key to disruption.
StartupNation: In “Disrupters,” you share that a 2016 data analysis by Pitchbook found that women-led companies received 2.19 percent of VC funding, while men received 97.8 percent of VC funding. Why do you think there is such a discrepancy?
Dr. Patti Fletcher: There’s the stigma of, ‘I don’t want to be one of those women who only invest in other women.’ The other challenge is, ‘I would invest in more female-founded businesses, but I never meet women (founders). Where are all the women?’”
Women start businesses at six times the rate of men. Trust me, there is no absence of women that have huge startup needs to be fundable ideas. The challenge is in the funding. The mission has really switched to getting female founders and their businesses funded.
StartupNation: You profile several amazing women in business in your book. Can you share one of their stories?
Dr. Patti Fletcher: Nicole Sahin (CEO of Globalization Partners) is amazing to me because she represents the new face of leadership. She truly is a transformational leader. The job of the transformational leader is not necessarily to do the work, but it is to clear the path.
What Nicole has done is, she’s taken a very human approach to this. She understood that a leader is only a leader when followers enable them to be. She is a true servitude leader who had this idea for a business and she created an industry, and she did it in a very human way.
She’s the best kind of leader in that she has aligned her passion with her profession, and that’s really a disrupter. She’s made it her business to create connections around people, and she understands that it’s not just about making money; it’s about the human component. She’s the face of tomorrow’s leadership.
StartupNation: How can entrepreneurs do their part to foster a culture of inclusion in order to help diversify entrepreneurship as a whole?
Dr. Patti Fletcher: Cultural change requires the people in power to believe it’s important, and entrepreneurs rely on people with money. Those are the people with power.
When you are a startup founder, you’re so focused on your product… and as a result, you hire a bunch of people with really good skills. But you’re so focused, that you forget about culture. Entrepreneurs and startup founders have the ability to start from scratch when it comes to culture.
StartupNation: The entrepreneurs profiled in your book all share their own version of success. What does success mean to you?
Dr. Patti Fletcher: I really do want to leave the world a better place for having been in it. For me, my little slice of that is that women know and understand and are enabled to create equity in their own lives. When they do that, they pave the path for the women behind them, and I want to help with that.