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Today, all I want to give you is a little food for thought. It is the story of Keith Mann, a man who is entirely fictional and whose persona was created for a singular purpose. Keith came to be so a startup would be being taken seriously.

The story is rather simple. Two young women business partners realized they were not being taken seriously enough. So, they applied a strategy that many of us who are in business for ourselves have used. They invented a fake email address for a non-existent employee.

Sometimes small business owners do this so our businesses seem “bigger.” In this case, the two women created a fake man so their business could finally gain some credibility and respect.

How sad is that?

Fake Men Can Be Helpful

The women realized they weren’t getting responses to their emails or calls, and if they did get replies, they often came days later. Sometimes emails they received addressed them as “girls” instead of using their names. So, because creativity is their business, they invented Keith Mann as a fake co-founder.

The results were astonishing!

Email replies came much faster. “Keith” was always addressed by his proper (albeit fake) name. Overall, he became a valuable member of the team and helped increase the credibility of the business.

What is the story here?

This is about the pervasive unconscious bias in our society that demonstrates just how little respect women, especially young women, can expect to receive.

Creating a fake employee is an act of desperation, and of course we can’t invent a fake man for every unfair situation. But what we CAN do is remind ourselves that many, many of us hold strong bias toward women and the quality of work women produce.

Today’s Message

Let’s make an even bigger effort—a conscious effort—to take women more seriously. If you’re not sure how, start with simple things. Like the way we address women versus men, the tone of our communications, and what we say and do when we think nobody is watching.

At her lowest point, Beate Chelette was $135,000 in debt, a single mother, and forced to leave her home. Only 18 months later, she sold her image licensing business to Bill Gates in a multimillion dollar deal. Chelette is a nationally known ‘gender decoder’ who has appeared in over 60 radio shows, respected speaker, career coach, consummate creative entrepreneur, and author of Happy Woman Happy World. Beate is also the founder of The Women’s Code, a unique guide to women leadership and personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private, and digital worlds. Determined to build a community of women supporting each other, she took her life-changing formula documented it all in a book Brian Tracy calls “an amazing handbook for every woman who wants health, happiness, love and success!”

Through her corporate initiative “Why Acting Like a Girl Is Good For Business” she helps companies with gender diversification training, and to develop and retain women.

If you’d like to book Beate as a speaker on New Leadership Balance or Creative Entrepreneurship for your next event please connect with me.

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