My Feminist Journey in Business and Life - Marshall Folger, co-founder and Chief of Staff


My Feminist Journey in Business and Life 

Marshall Folger - Chief of Staff, Polaris Talent Inc

For the past 8 years, I have discovered something about myself and my professional life as an entrepreneur…I like working with a woman as my leader. 

Some of you that know me will say,  yeah but you guys have been friends for over 40 years so there's a bias. While you might have a point, it's not entirely accurate. 

Even as best of friends we still have our disagreements and I still trip and fall into the old patriarchal stereotypes but the difference is now I am more aware of this and do my best to remove actions and language from my daily conversations and behavior.

Sociologists and Psychologists call that growth.

So do I. 

It happened because I was OPEN to the change. You can only walk the same path for so long before you realize you’re chasing your tail and not elevating your game or outlook.

I was stagnant.

I was stuck in a terrible rut. 

As we grew our business, and I was as green-as-grass in the recruiting game, I started listening and learning. I started to see how my friend's peers would treat her.

The male ones who knew her in business treated her with respect and as an equal.

Those who were just learning would step on her toes and I could see what they couldn’t - the body language response. Observing this, I would see the same reaction when I would overstep and say things in ways that I didn’t think were offensive and discover that same body language retort. It also made me feel bad. 

I’m not some hard-assed unfeeling person. I genuinely like to treat others the way I want to be treated and that moment made me understand that I was indeed changing. 

As we went on in growing the company I learned more and more from her and our third business partner, her daughter. 

Here's an enlightening moment for all of you guys over 50.

A 20-something that is educated and well-read CAN teach you something about the world we live in. Their perspective is unique and more human than what ours was when we were kids. We might have more life experience but the new ideas and fresh outlook that can be placed in your hands is a powerful tool if you use it. More importantly, it's a young woman's view of men and how they treat women and value or not value them. Some of these truths are pretty eye-opening.

Now my journey is with these women and every day is a lesson, a good lesson. 

I see the professional world through a woman's eyes. I see where we as men have failed to accept them as equals. I see where their strengths are and where our weaknesses begin. I see every opportunity for growth as a human being being given to me with every conversation. 

I have worked for more than my fair share of men over the years. They were smart and fairly good at their roles. They don’t however have the empathy and vision that a female leader has. They forget about the human factor when push comes to shove. 

Don’t misunderstand me, female leaders are just as strong and know when to cut losses as well, but they do try to develop the talent they have on their team before cutting them loose. Women leaders have a slow trigger finger when it comes to their team and for good reasons. They see the potential and try to give the person every opportunity to improve within the time frame they have established. 

I will never work for a male-led company ever again in my life because of this attribute. I have succeeded in this company because of two things.

My willingness to learn and be coachable and my willingness to have an open mind and listen. 

I don’t have all the answers and I’m still learning and growing and evolving and I’m trying to help erase the inequities that have kept women leaders a step behind for centuries.

I am here to help break the glass ceiling further and help other men learn that there is nothing to be afraid of with a woman as your leader. They are more capable than we have given them credit for.

They are just as strong.

They are just as effective.

They don’t need to dress like men to be taken seriously.

They have a voice that needs to be heard.

They’re not going to get in a room and shout it out with you.

They will wait and calculate their words carefully and surgically.

They win wars and never leave a team member behind.

They might lose battles, but I can assure you that in the end, they will win the war in the boardrooms, in the sales deals, in the courtrooms, on the playing field. 

This journey is far from over for me. There is a lot more to learn and to put into practice.

But I’m enjoying the journey.



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