My favorite type of role model, however, was the female entrepreneur. I gravitated toward the idea of having a "cottage industry" that you could mesh with your other life responsibilities. Most of the entrepreneurs I knew had small businesses, often operated from their home (aka micro-business), and they commonly provided goods and services to other women. I liked their lifestyle--how they fit work in-between their home and family responsibilities. They were mothers, wives and entrepreneurs, all at the same time. And that really appealed to me.
These childhood role models would eventually come to inspire the type of woman I aspire to be: a marketplace maven. A maven, by definition, is someone who is an expert on something. A marketplace maven, then, is an expert on the market. In other words, she knows how to apply her unique skills and talents to the market for both profit and pleasure.
Marketplace mavens surround us today. Titans like Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey show us that there is no ceiling to success. But my favorite mavens are the small ones--the women who run businesses alongside their day-to-day lives.
Not every maven is a business-owner, though. Many mavens apply their market expertise in the traditional workforce, shining creativity and innovation into their industry. A workplace maven is a woman who goes above and beyond in her career. She practices creative thinking, and presents her ideas to her superiors. She is always envisioning a newer and better way to do things in her company or industry. She is a reformer and a visionary. She takes ownership and initiative in the marketplace she works in, and quickly rises to leadership because of her efforts.
I will be starting a new feature on www.stephaniehillberry.com called "maven of the month," where I'll be searching out marketplace mavens and sharing their stories. Whether they operate a side-business, are self-employed full-time, or work in the traditional workforce, these women are inspirations. Please send me your maven story, or nominate a maven you know, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.