We need to stop money-shaming women

I had just hung up the phone when the message notification came in. I had spent the last 20 minutes convincing my family to evacuate Florida as Hurricane Irma barreled down towards their homes. When I had finally verified that every last adult and 1, 3, and 6 year old child was in a car en route to Georgia, I took a deep breath of relief as I closed out the phone call.

I clicked over to read the notification on one of my social media accounts and suddenly gasped.

Oh my god, I said out loud, half amused and half amazed at the level of energetic vitriol in the comment I had just read underneath a post I had written asking for prayers for my family and Florida.

A comment from someone who I have never met in my life, who I’d had maybe two pleasant but brief interactions with online. Her message, paraphrased from my memory, said this:

Haha. Too bad you couldn’t have “predicted” this hurricane was happening to get them out of harm’s way since you’re such a “seer” and “intuitive.” Maybe then you could have saved them and warned them ahead of time instead of going around having to ask for prayers from people on Facebook. But I guess family hasn’t paid the “high five figure investment” for your insights, now have they?

Not only did she somehow think it was okay to laugh at a person’s genuine concern over their family being in harm’s way and openly mock what I do for a living (which she clearly doesn’t understand, since ‘predictor of massive weather events’ is not in my job description)…

But also, I was fascinated by the way she was trying to “publicly shame” me for the prices I charge for the work that I do, by posting a link to my program and application under her comment. This is what really got my attention.

You see, the investment for my highest level offering in my business is very hidden and hard to find. She had to have gone on my website and really DUG through several layers to find it.

So what did that say about what was really driving her? She had been triggered and was looking for something, anything, to justify whatever negative opinion she needed to form about me to avoid looking within herself.

Let’s be clear — after being in business online for so many years, I’ve received my fair share of nasty comments. That is definitely not the nastiest one I’ve gotten. I’ll never forget the time someone called me a “high class whore” online because I was a woman who had a successful business, so “how else could I have made the money?”

These comments don’t hurt me much anymore nor faze me. Most of them actually have nothing to do with me anyway. Rather, they are often projections of a person’s own fears and miseries onto the only mirror they can find in the moment — me.

More than anything though, I felt lit up to write this post after I read her comment.

Because I am not tired of — but rather, pissed off by, the increasing money-shaming of women I see perpetuated by other women in my industry… and frankly, in ALL industries.

A few years ago, I joined a forum of women entrepreneurs that cared about social causes and were committed to being aware of the impact of their businesses on important issues in our society.

I was so happy to see women other than me talking about these issues, which I have been fighting for since before I was even visible online. I couldn’t wait to have conversations in this forum about these shadows I saw in my industry. I had attempted to have conversations about these topics for years, whether online or in person with others, but no one I brought it up with ever seemed interested in it. Eyes would avert and the room would go silent.

To my dismay, however, as I started scrolling through and reading some excellent posts that really got me thinking and examining myself in all the right, uncomfortable ways, I found quite a few posts that were catty, mean, and absolutely shredding successful women to shreds for their prices.

Some of the women that were being mercilessly torn down were women who I knew personally and who I knew were really good women. Who gave a lot of their company revenue to social causes and did a lot behind the scenes to help out their fellow human, without constantly posting about these good deeds on Facebook for others to see.

Yet, because their companies made a lot of money, they were being torn apart in the threads of this forum, by women who did not know them at all.

Feeling into some (not all) the intentions of the women tearing down other women for making money, I could feel that I did not want to be a part of that particular energy, so I left the group. In the years since I left that group, I have watched many women from that group go outside of the group and attack other successful women for their prices, as well.

Now, I do GET why people get triggered by higher priced offerings.

As a person who has built her business upon the values of integrity, diversity, and a reputation for over-delivering value, we have always been committed to giving our absolute best to clients with every transaction, whether low or high priced. We have a policy, whose name I adopted when I read a Jonathan Fields blog many years ago “adding an extra layer of love.”

It really bothers me that there are real scammers out there. People who charge exorbitant amounts of money only to deliver a shitty product or who use weird manipulative tactics that teach people they are broken vs. whole, in order to get them to buy.

Add issues of social privilege into the mix and it gets even more complicated. As leaders, we DO need to be aware of HOW we are making that money and whether the platforms we benefit from while making that money contribute to more oppression and extension of toxic patriarchy.

I have had more than my fair share of conversations with women who are traumatized by a bad experience and feeling afraid to invest in working with me, because of said bad, previous experience with an out-of-integrity coach. (Luckily by the time we’re done working together, her faith is restored).

This is not okay. And never will be okay. When a person exchanges their hard earned money for a service you provide, it’s important to give that person your 100% and best. That is something I have never taken lightly.

But let’s dive a little deeper below the surface shall we?

As a woman who has worked with a very diverse group of women in the last 8 years, I see way too many women undervaluing themselves and working themselves to the bone, while not getting appropriately compensated for it. They do this because they are afraid of other women tearing them apart for charging the prices they feel are appropriate for their hard work, or calling them “uncaring” about social causes or a “sell-out” because their soul genuinely feels called to offer higher priced programs.

I want to lay a case for why the price that you feel is the correct energy exchange for your own offering, is not just perfectly okay, but important.

And why, if you feel like tearing a woman down for her prices, you might want to think again before you post a nasty comment under her post asking for prayers for her family during a serious, life-threatening natural disaster.

#1. Are you sure you know what it costs to run that successful, large business that serves thousands of people on a daily basis (the one you love to criticize)?

It really makes me laugh when someone thinks that the revenue my company made last year is the actual amount that I paid myself. Or that I’m sitting back, buying Mercedes Benz’s by the handful, and eating bonbons while people go starving.

I want to give you a peak behind the curtain of my high multi-six figure company, so you can see the reality of what most businesses in this range do with “all that money” that you think they are greedily doing God-knows-what with.

Reality is MOST of the money my multiple six figure company makes goes to paying my team, expenses for the paid programs I offer, and expenses for free offerings to the community. My actual CEO salary, like most CEO’s, is a small percentage out of the total revenue of the company.

Yes, that amount the company pays me has grown a bit every year. As it damn well should. Anyone who has built a business to multiple six figures & up, and survived past 2 years knows how hard you have to work to make that happen, and what a feat of sheer will, courage, blood, sweat and tears that is.

Women are already underpaid in comparison to men, as it is. So we damn well should be compensated well when we work this hard, especially considering the massive pay cuts CEO’s take in the beginning of their businesses and the tons of unpaid hours we spend doing things that no one else on the team can figure out.

But that $25,000 you see for the program that you feel the need to shame another woman for?

Yeah, she’s not taking that and sitting back on her greedy laurels with all of it, laughing while others struggle. (This seems to be the overwhelming perception of those who criticize prices of others.)

My highest priced program costs six figures to run, in order for it to run properly and for the women to get an amazing, high value experience for the money they paid. And I’m informed by our company financial manager that we are spending pretty responsibly compared to some spending they have seen on some other people’s masterminds.

Do you know how much it costs to rent a decent space for 11 women?
To feed them the quality of food they expect for their investment?
How about all the hours the leader of said retreat spent lovingly preparing curriculum?
Or the vats and vats of energy the leader spent holding space for women to have the biggest breakthroughs of their lives?
How about all the people on the team that led to that event even being able to be pulled off?

Who pays them? How do they feed their families?
Where does that money come from?

It comes from that $25k.

You know what else often gets taken out of that $25k?

Contributions towards social causes, because we have a company that values sharing a percentage of profit from the company to assist in uplifting underprivileged women in the world — otherwise why are we in the business of transformation and empowering women? Isn’t it to help change the world?

After all of that, the company pays me, the CEO, and leader of said event.

Here’s another example from my own company:

We are raising prices on everything next year.
No, it’s not because we’re greedy, self-serving jerks.

It’s because the more people you reach and impact with your free content, the more hours your team needs to work, the more you have to add people to your team, to keep serving up both free and paid content, to thousands of people.

All that free content that we put out on a weekly basis? That costs money to provide.

We actually have a person on our team who is paid solely for managing & coaching women in our free Facebook group where we give lots of value and free content. We regularly run free challenges to help people achieve their goals and give out prizes (of which we absorb the cost) to those who are the most engaged.

Yes, some of those people become clients, which helps us recoup some of the money we spend paying the team to manage the free group. But there are thousands in the group who never do become clients.

Yet, our community is important to us. We know there are some people who have life circumstances there they can’t currently invest in a program. We still provide value for them every day, at our own company expense.

When you have an important message that is going to change the world for the better, or in our case, build up leaders to go out and make impact in their communities and in the world…

Or you want to be able to get to a point where your company profits can go to large donations to social causes, or to create social change…

Money is often what makes that happen.

Underpricing your services will not make you a saint.
It will make your company go under. All the people who were feeding their families with the money the company was paying them, go unpaid. And all that free content that you were using profits to provide those who are not yet in the place to afford your services, will go away.

And then the impact you want to make goes away too.

Point is, through some deeper research, I’ve found that many people who criticize other people’s prices have never run a business of the caliber and size of the business they are criticizing.

They simply have no idea what it costs to run a business that impacts thousands of people. Once you do run a business of that type and size and actually manage to make a profit at the end of the year, then I welcome you to criticize all you want, about things you now actually understand.

#2. Tearing a woman down for making money actually contributes to the oppressive and toxic patriarchy you’re trying to take down.

I went to a marketing event a few months ago. In the room there were a variety of people with businesses of different sizes. Some small and some empires that made millions of dollars. I walked up to a circle of men to say “hi” to someone I was told I should meet, who I was looking forward to meeting…

My friend, she introduces me to the circle as Lisa, from Panama, with a successful business that serves women leaders with internal, spiritual work that helps them become more impactful in the world.

You know what the first thing was out of one guy’s mouth?

Wow, you’re Latina? That’s sexy.

The only other Latina in the group nervously laughed this off, not knowing what to do. I stood there for a few seconds not even knowing where to begin with that comment and exited the conversation a few moments later.

I wasn’t asked about my work, how I had managed to build a successful business from the ground up, or any of my accomplishments. The first thing that was noticed and stated about me in the group, from a man, was my apparently fetish-worthy latina-ness. There seemed to be an underlying assumption that because I was a woman, I couldn’t possibly be as successful as the men in that circle I was standing in, so let’s just focus on my appearance & fetishize my heritage instead.

Men ask me about my “cute little business” all the time at networking events. When they find out that my company has been around for 8 years and what its revenue is, their faces go pale, and they go mute. Some even become low-grade hostile throughout the rest of the conversation.

Once, a male entrepreneur asked me to tell him more about my business revenues, profits, and mission (I think he thought he was going to end up ‘giving me advice” because I’m a woman).

As I began to tell him our revenues, profit, and impact, he actually interrupted me and said: you know what? I’m going to need you to stop talking about your business now because it’s really triggering me and intimidating me that your business makes more money than mine. So let’s talk about something else.

Yeah, that happened.

I’ve come to expect that from a business world still mired in toxic patriarchy, which still excludes women and even more so, women of color. Let’s take that a step further — because, at least I “just get fetishized” as a fair-skinned woman of color, and I still carry light-skin privilege (though throughout my life I have rarely been mistaken for white).

I have women friends (white women and women of color) who have been trying to get funding for their companies… yet when they walk in to ask for funding, the boards of most of these investment companies are filled with white men who are looking out for… white men. There are very few women-centric investors out there still.

We still have a system that makes it harder for a woman to succeed without being fetishized, sexualized, objectified, or even flat out denied from opportunities because of the color of her skin, the shape of her body, or even her nationality.

So imagine, having to overcome some or all of that, and finally being brave enough to stick your shingle out there because your deepest desire is to help other people. You spend months reclaiming the value of your work, working through the internalized misogyny that all women carry inside, detoxing limiting beliefs around “how much money women are allowed to make without being burned at the stake or stoned” …all that time pumping yourself up to put up the price that feels aligned for your soul…

And a fellow woman attacks you online for your prices, calls you a sell-out, greedy, or the most awful kind of person on the planet. I have seen women shrink and go mute under such attacks. Women who have voices that need to be heard in the world.

Come on now.

And no, it’s not just white women who have “lifestyle” businesses who get these attacks.

I see it happen to all of the women I know, consistently.
I see it happen to women who contribute a great deal to their communities, who do a lot of good in the world, and who DO contribute to social justice with their company’s successes.

And, often, it’s other women who attack them.

Hell yes, we should take a good look at how white systematic bias allows white and light-skinned women of color to feel more comfortable charging higher prices, and it is our duty to lift ALL of our sisters up with us, not just the thin, able-bodied, white ones.

We still need a hell of a lot of diversity when it comes to the female side of online business. I want to see women of all shapes, sizes, and colors out there rocking it equally. I want to see all bodies represented. Not all of us are in privileged bodies, privileged sexual orientations, privileged financial places, or privileged skin tones.

So as women, yes let’s call out privilege. Let’s call out the ways in which some of the old ways of marketing women are taught only emphasize division and subconscious oppression. And let’s make sure all our sisters are coming with us, not just the sisters who benefit from the systemic bias in business culture.

Let’s ascend together.

But I’m not going to criticize a fellow woman who is charging prices that feel aligned to her just because they are higher than I’m used to seeing. Or just because I’m triggered that she feels confident enough to charge those prices and I don’t allow myself too.

And I’m not going to get smaller and lower my prices for the woman who is angry at my prices because she doesn’t allow herself to raise hers because of her own fears. Rather, I will stand as a mirror for the woman who is ready to claim the true value of her work, as a mirror that says, yes you can do this if you feel called in your soul to do this and I stand for you doing that, because that is what I would hope a fellow woman would do for me, even if I’m triggered.

There are a lot of women who run successful businesses who want to build success responsibly, who want to lift all sisters up and make sure ALL women who want to succeed financially can do so. And who, while working towards that, feel aligned with charging higher prices.

I know how much of my very cells it takes to do what I do in my work with women and I think my high prices are a bargain for the complete life changes I see every day for the women in my programs. I know how fully I give of myself and my energy when I work with a woman and what that is worth. I never do anything half-ass. When you work with me, you’re getting a little bit of my soul. And I know of what high value that is. My prices will reflect that. I hope yours will too.

And I will always have free, high value resources and scholarships for women who are not in the place yet to invest, too.

Before you criticize or shame another woman for her prices and her success, have a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror and make sure that you are coming from a clean place. Meaning — make sure your own fears, jealousies and projections about money aren’t wrapped up in your criticism.

If you feel triggered from a place of envy, why not turn that trigger into inspiration?
See if you can see that woman as a mirror of what is possible for you, if you want the kind of business, wealth or success that she has.

We need MORE financially successful women, not less.

The Wall Street Journal reports that: “The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found consistently that women and men give differently. In one study, baby-boomer and older women gave 89% more to charity than men their age, and women in the top 25% of permanent income gave 156% more than men in that same category.

A 2013 U.S. Trust survey on women and wealth found that women are nearly twice as likely as men to say that giving to charity is the most satisfying aspect of having wealth.

A $10,000 rise in the woman’s income is associated with a more than 5% rise in total household giving, while a similar rise in the man’s income is associated with a nearly 3% rise in total giving.

It is a good thing for more women to be financially successful. It benefits all of us.

If you’re tearing down a woman for her financial success because of your own triggers which you haven’t cleared out before you speak, you’re just contributing to the patriarchy that still pays a woman only 70 cents to every man’s dollar, discriminates against women of color, and that tells a woman she can only achieve “so much success” before she gets “too big for her britches” and needs to be “knocked down a few pegs.”

So let’s stop this nonsense, shall we?
Let’s look into our hearts and get clear on what is driving some of these attacks and this shaming of women around money.

No one wins when we tear women down for valuing themselves and their work.

 

 

 


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