New Traits That Matter for Business Owners


What does it mean that everywhere I turn someone smarter than me has written or is talking about something I know in my bones? 

On the one hand, my initial instinct is self-flagellation and abuse with inner feelings of my own unworthiness, or, as Brene Brown would say with her groundbreaking work on vulnerability, my own shame.

“Why didn’t I do that research sooner?”“How can s/he possibly have beat me to the punch by stating what I have known for so long?”“I must be an incompetent nincompoop…”

On the other hand, in my most recent case of “writing envy,” I feel that surge of gratitude that someone besides me understands and has compelling evidence in support of something I have long felt or known.

John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio have written The Athena Complex, and articulate, with copious amounts of data, the story of how feminine values matter and are in fact, on a global basis, rising.

Through surveying more that 60,000 people around the world they uncover keys to future success in business and government that really matter:

• Connectedness

• Humility

• Candor

• Patience

• Empathy

• Trustworthiness

• Openness

• Flexibility

• Vulnerability

• Balance

They further describe these seemingly timeless virtues as largely “feminine” hence the resemblance and categorization to Greek Goddess Athena, venerated for her intelligence, skill, civilizing influence, and fairness. In contrast, the traditionally “masculine” characteristics that have long populated European and North American government and industry of aggression, decisiveness, independence, analysis, and pride are widely seen in their research as less critical to success and less connected to happiness.

Well, knock my socks off. They said it, they proved it, and they have a story to tell about it.  Thank  you Mr. Gerzema and Mr. D’Antonio.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what they say is true. 

In fact, after coaching and consulting to hundreds of leaders across a wide swath of industry, non-profit, and government sectors for more than 25 years, I have frequently been brought in to work with male leaders at the top of organizations to help them elevate their skills in precisely those areas listed as key to success. Many of the men I have had the good fortune to work with over the years have struggled mightily to re-wire the strengths they were trained to bring to the table from their education and upbringing to create room for, in particular, connectedness, humility, and empathy, in order to be more effective leaders.

Many women leaders I have worked with have done battle with the same issues, having long ago lost their way with their natural tendencies, replacing them with behaviors that seemed acceptable in business: aggression, competition, individuality, independence, and confidence.  For many women this new research means a re-discovery of traits long buried.

For business owners, the implications are enormous, albeit different than they are for large enterprise. For one thing, the ripple effect of fluency in each of these areas can make (or break) a small business, where connections with community and local resources is essential to business generation on a small scale.

Additionally, the ability to be flexible, open, trustworthy, humble and patient are critical to any entrepreneur seeking to fan the flames of his/her dreams against the odds of new business failure. In small businesses, sales follow connection, and the ability for the owner or founder to make connection and nurture positive relationships is key to his/her success.

Net-Net: local business owners should brief themselves on this research about traits that will matter globally for business, community and government leaders and entrepeneurs. The rules have changed and those that can navigate well with these competencies will outlast their competition fourfold. I know it in my bones.

Moe Carrick is founder and a principal of Moementum, Inc. a boutique consulting firm serving local, national and international clients from their HQ in Bend OR for 12 years.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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