Channeling the Comedy Goddesses
Go to a business pitch competition and chances are most women will look like some variation of this:
Me at a business pitch competition at Georgetown
And most men will look like some variation of this:
(Hopefully) no caption needed
Okay, so not all men can exactly rock the black turtleneck. But my point is that women are in conservative business outfits that scream, “Please take me seriously! I am a WOMAN entrepreneur!” whereas men lean back and woo the audience and potential investors with their jeans, iPads, and awesomely cool sneakers.
Seeing this phenomena repeated multiple times forced me to wonder which group of women had mastered this type of “bad ass” leadership. The kind of leadership where you can lean back in your chair and still command a room. The kind where you can focus on content rather than proving legitimacy. The kind where you can focus on being best in class, rather than best in class for women. A few women popped into mind. Mindy Kaling. Amy Poehler. Kristen Wiig. Tina Fey. So what can women in all sectors learn from female comedians?
1) Unapologetic self-confidence
Mindy Kaling is quoted in New York Magazine saying, “I never want to be called the funniest Indian female comedian that exists. I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?” I love this unadulterated, unapologetic self-confidence. Not only is she best in class for women of color. Not only is she best in class for women. She is best in class. Period.
2) Drive to challenge
To use Sheryl Sandberg’s terminology, female comedy powerhouses are definitely not “leaning back.” There is a clear trajectory from being funny to using serious brains to produce, direct, write, and really take control over the end product. From her days performing at Second City, Amy Poehler is now a lead, producer, director, and writer on her Emmy nominated show Parks and Recreation. Similarly, Kristen Wiig transitioned from performing on SNL to writing, producing, and starring in the Academy Award nominated film Bridesmaids.
3) Sense of humor
I see so many women leaders who take themselves really seriously (hence the conservative business suits). In many ways, I thoroughly respect this. Especially when you are upheld as a role model for other ambitious women, there is a degree of pressure to assert yourself and be as perfect as possible. Yet, I admire how female comedians are able to poke fun at themselves. Take Tina Fey’s spread in Esquire, depicting Fey’s “wild night out.” According to Fey, “The idea of the photo shoot is something like my wild night out. The irony being that I don’t do that. I’m a mom.” Yet, she was able to poke-fun at herself while embracing her femininity.
So I hope to channel these female comedy goddesses going out in the business world. Whether I’m in a business suit or Nike’s latest kicks, I want to be a hyper-confident, challenge-seeking leader who isn’t afraid to laugh at herself. Why? Because I want to be the best female business analyst – excuse me, the best business analyst my firm has ever seen.
Images from http://www.esquire.com/features/tina-fey-pictures-031710#img, http://zillionarts.com/