Written By: Jessica Clifford on behalf of Joelle Parenteau, Founder, Xpeeria
I gravitate towards her; like others do I am sure. She’s hard to catch even for a brief moment, unless you truly have her attention. I’ve grown the skill of being adaptable, which you must be in order to work alongside an entrepreneur. With a clear vision and strong mindset, there is no stopping this underdog and I’d like to share why.
Voice steady, her tone and posture exuded certainty and urgency. “We’ve got about an hour, so let’s get focused to make sure you have what you need to write this. Is that okay?” That’s when our conversation began to flow.
Joelle shared, “I look at it more as a double-edged sword.” It is trendy to support female entrepreneurs. They tend to get more attention than men and the media just loves to follow them. There are investors who pay close attention and panels and events specifically tailored to females. She’s not sitting here sharing her hardships; she’s focused on her strengths and talents instead.
There’s a subtlety and grace to her business mindset. Image an intelligent young woman; witty, feminine, sporty, gorgeous – and who knows all about the world of start-ups. Did I mention her first business successfully sustains her and she isn’t even thirty years old? Allow me to paint this picture for a moment.
“I just happen to like playing poker, shooting guns and racing cars, and I’m more than happy to do all of those things with makeup, a dress and heels on.” I know this of Joelle first hand. I’ve tried to connect with her in Vegas and after hearing she was playing in a big poker match; I thought to myself, “that is so badass”.
There is rareness in her which is commonly found in entrepreneurs. She is a visionary, a risk taker, naturally competitive, resilient, persistent, versatile and able to cope with stress. When asked how she developed these qualities, she fondly recalls one of her dads favourite lines, “suck it up princess”. And so she did.
She shared a funny story with me about being at a meeting with a man who was so impressed by her business. He asked naively if she worked on the marketing team. She remembers the look on his face when she laughed and told him the truth – quoting the movie The Social Network, “I’m the CEO, b***”. He found this shocking and amusing.
As a female entrepreneur, there is one challenge that is in particularly hard to express, and very rarely talked about, and that’s (s)expectations. So here we go, in full candour. There are extremely awkward moments when she actually has to figure out if as she creatively shares “he genuinely wants to do business or get up in my business, if you know what I mean”.
Joelle understands the difference between going for drinks or coffee – as you can be sure there are varying connotations. I can only imagine what she’s had to face during the process of launching this new company. Women risk losing a deal because they might offend or bruise a man’s ego by turning down his approaches. She has experienced this first hand; something most men never have to consider.
Joelle is a leader. That is why she is successful and will only go on to do extraordinary things. From what I’ve gathered in our “straight to the point” conversation is that entrepreneurship has nothing to do with whether you have boobs or not; the reality is most men and women equally would never “have the balls” to do what Joelle does. No longer should entrepreneurship be a conversation about gender, but rather about courage, attitude and mindset. Ladies: we need to stop hiding behind lame excuses.
Joelle left me with these final words of wisdom “Shut up and start-up”.