Cheryl offers: I met a truly interesting man today at First Friday Book Synopsis; his name is Dean Rubsamen. He works for my insurance company, State Farm. Though he’s not my agent, in a manner of speaking, he is. What I learned was my insurance company is changing their ways in order to give women what we want. If you’ve read either the HBR article “The Female Economy” or the book Women Want More both written by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, you’d know there’s a huge emerging opportunity for many businesses to capture the multi-trillion dollar sized female market. Yes, that “t” is correct; it’s not an “m” or a “b”. In the book, the research is clear about what women want and what is missing from today’s offerings in several key areas: food, fitness, beauty, apparel and financial services. We want convenience that saves us time, products that fit our needs, to be treated as intelligent consumers, and we are willing to trade up to get it. State Farm recognizes this opportunity and is doing something about. In the words of Melanne Vermeer, cofounder and chair of Vital Voices Global Partnership, “Without women’s full participation, no country can prosper, but in order to tap their potential, women need the tools for effective leadership. There is no better investment for our world.” I’ve been with State Farm for years based on their service; now I’m with them because they are innovative.
Cheryl offers: My friend Bob Morris recently loaned me the book Women Want More by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, two consultants who are making a mint being experts on what women want and how/where they are willing to spend their money. Did you know the female economy was larger than the estimated GDP of India and China combined over the next 5 years? Well, it is and by a large proportion. One quote seems to sum it up “The rise of the worldwide female economy will challenge assumptions about how companies do research, how they develop products, how they sell merchandise, and how they add services to their value proposition.”
It seems some homebuilders have followed their advice by designing and building “WOMEN-CENTRIC” homes. Kim Sliney, a 46-year-old interior designer in Rhode Island turned down 37 houses while looking for a new home; she almost gave up…until she drove past a development advertising WOMEN-CENTRIC homes. What does that mean you ask? Instead of the run of the mill jumble of rooms and space, she purchased a home with killer walk-in closets(sigh), spacious open living areas, and custom details like crown molding, granite countertops, and a gas fireplace – all at no extra cost. What else might it include? The other details a woman might want of course: security system, walk in pantries and “drop zones” for groceries, plus low maintenance. It seems there is a company in Omaha that has been teaching and certifying home builders to be WOMEN-CENTRIC for several years. (Really, in Omaha?) For a measly $10,000 a year, you can also use their logo in your marketing. Michael and Kate aren’t kidding when they stated the female economy will challenge assumptions. Obviously for anyone looking to expand their business into new markets, innovate, or challenge competition differently, this is one aspect worth looking into. And I want one!
Cheryl offers: I LOVE my dogs and as I read Women Want More by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, I learned I am in the good company of most women because women receive great joy from their pets. Now they aren’t all dogs of course. They might be cats, pigs, or iguanas, but in their research to determine what women want, these two Boston Consulting Group consultants learned that women want time with their pets, regardless of education level, income bracket, career choices, or location. Even more important to retailers, we are willing to spend a lot of our money on those babies. It makes perfect sense to me. When I’m experiencing a tough day, have a headache, or come home after a 14 hour day, there they are. My dogs have a way of cheering me up and making whatever was bothering me just moments before disappear. They insist on taking daily walks and maintaining a schedule. What a relief; otherwise, I’d likely sit at the computer too long and miss some great fresh air. All of a sudden, I might be working away, and here comes one or the other. It’s always a surprise which one of the four has been volunteered by the others to lead the charge. And I must admit, it’s a nice surprise. In fact, I’m wondering right now, who will wander in to save me…hurry, I’m tired!
Sara adds: There are a couple of leadership lessons here. First, when someone (two or four legged) wants to have fun, do stuff together and always (always, always) trusts us, it’s hard not to respond in like kind – that’s the lesson on the receiving end. The message on the sending end (leadership in action) is one of consciousness. If we learn a lesson from our pets, it’s to be really aware of our employees because it’s contagious! Fred Kofman states it in Conscious Business, “Conscious employees take responsibility for their lives…unconscious employees do the opposite.” Consider the value of an employee that takes responsibility versus one who does not. Which would you rather have? Let’s go back to the lessons. First, if a leader shows their employees that they want to have fun, do stuff together and that they trust them, it’s hard not to smile and join in. And consciousness modeled by a leader is picked up by those they lead. Remember how the excitement of the dogs invited play from Cheryl. Excitement from a leader invites engagement (or consciousness.) My dog pokes me in the ribs with her snout when I’ve been sitting too long. She is a great inspiration!