On Being #100


allison-iantosca-portraitIt’s a list. Of one hundred people. Women. The 2014 Top 100 Women Led Businesses in Massachusetts. And I am on it. As number 100. Huh.

I think when you are #100 life is more titillating. I mean when you’re #1 (Sandra Fenwick, Boston Children’s Hospital) or even #77 (a glorious woman, Lisa Brothers, Nitsch Engineering) you have a long way to fall before you drop off the list. But me? My humility is fully intact. One little slip. One drop in revenue. One bad decision and Ms. 101 is happy to replace me.

I know what being a woman in business means. And I don’t. Because I think to fully know what it means to be a woman in business you might need to know what it means to be a man in business. And I definitely don’t know what that means. I don’t know what my #100 male counterpart worries about deep down. I don’t know how he positions himself in his family and his community and his work life. I don’t know what achievement means to him. I can assume, I can read studies, and I can ask around the office. But honestly and comparatively how could I ever know without stepping inside his heart and mind? The deep places where our identities live.

top-100-women-businessesAnd so I experiment. I work in a male dominated industry. I dress up every day and worry about my hair. I use the “F” word…oh, that one too, but I mean “feeling”, I use the word “feeling” a lot. Because it turns out human beings feel, a lot, and it is a very good indicator of what matters to a client, to a colleague, in the heat of the moment discussion, in the outcome of a job-well-done, in the plan we create for each employee’s pathway to success, in the arrangement of a trade partner, in the creativity of an architect. I experiment with communication and truth and fear and resonating as I listen to someone talk. I like to inspire and lead and pull the company out of the construction oriented comfort zone to look at life from a different angle of self awareness. That’s where the magic happens.

And never, have I once felt disrespected or disliked or dissed—period. I am lucky. I have had decades of women before me open doors I don’t even imagine anymore. I am lucky. I work with the most honest and hardworking and ethical trades on the planet. I am lucky. I have a male business partner who will say to me “Al, I don’t quite understand what you are doing, but I trust you” and he does and I do and it works. We collectively succeed; for his input and mine.

So maybe that’s what kept me on the list. Those around me who let me experiment to succeed. Maybe my humanity or my curiosity. Whatever it is, I’m glad it got me to #100 but it will be okay too if next year #101 takes my spot.

To read the article in the Boston Globe

My best always,
Allison