The birth and growth of the tech industry—specifically Silicon Valley and the Silicon Prairie—gave rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Young Americans from Generation X, Generation Y, and millennials harnessed the power of the internet and open-access technology to build apps, solve problems, and disrupt traditional ways of doing business.
In many cases, these entrepreneurs have been young men. But in recent years, the voices of female entrepreneurs have grown louder, their success stories gaining more attention.
It stands to reason, then, that in a country where women have historically earned less than their male counterparts (and secured fewer promotions and board seats), women deserve a space dedicated to finding and networking with professional peers.
Meet Stefanie Monge, an Omaha-based serial entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and consultant who has launched a local platform for such women. Monge started an Omaha chapter of FemCity, which bills itself as a community of strong entrepreneurial women supporting one another, both in business and in life.
Monge and her all-female board of directors host monthly events around the Omaha area featuring guest speakers who tackle topics ranging from self-awareness, self-empowerment, mindfulness, and even failure. Women may drop in to any FemCity Omaha event for $15 or join the organization for $125 per year.
Monge knows a thing or two about pursuing her many passions. A former Omaha World-Herald reporter, today she serves in many roles: a managing partner at Petshop Gallery; CEO and founder of Think.Start.Do, Welcor Enterprise Yoga, and Stefanie Monge Consulting; and a content strategist and event producer at San Francisco-based Serverless.
“The thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that my work is never done. I will always work more. I will always have the capacity to work more. And if I don’t set the boundaries and decide when is work time and when is non-work time, everything by default turns into work time,” Monge explains. With technology and email, it’s also about setting boundaries—being responsive to emails, text messages, and the like, but not setting the expectation that she is immediately responsive or always available after hours.
FemCity Omaha strives to empower women to work and live mindfully, making choices that improve both their business and their whole being. Monge can relate to other women who may strive at work, yet see their personal relationships suffer as a result.
“It quickly became apparent that I could not function without figuring that out,” Monge explains of finding her realistic work-life balance. “But as I became more successful, I had more freedom to implement it.”
For example, there are consistent days of the week and even set times that are off-limits to Monge’s clients and co-workers.
“And it’s beautiful, because it means that I start every day and every week basically on my own terms, and it feels much less hectic. It helps me to be more productive. It helps me to be more calm. It helps me to be more efficient. Ultimately that all goes back to mindfulness,” Monge says.
Which is why FemCity Omaha has proven to be a meaningful and impactful organization for Monge and the more than 150 women who have attended a FemCity event since it launched in April of 2016.
“The thing that really impressed me and really drew me to this group, and ultimately was a major deciding factor in launching a group in Omaha, is they really focus on women as whole human beings,” Monge says. “It is definitely about building a successful business. But it’s also about having a balanced life, and having a really strong support system of other successful, motivated women who are more than willing to share their resources and share their experience.”
Traditional networking environments, Monge says, often feel more like a non-stop sales pitch than an opportunity to develop deep connections with other individuals. Even today, she evaluates new networking opportunities based on what they will yield and what they will cost—largely, her time.
“I felt there was an opportunity [with FemCity Omaha] to take the mission of helping women form really authentic relationships, to help support each other’s professional and personal growth, and promoting a welcome environment that is authentic,” says Monge, noting that the genuine warmth, kindness, and general sense of community that she both witnesses and personally experiences at each FemCity Omaha event is unlike anything else she’s seen in Omaha.
“As women, female entrepreneurs, and female business leaders, it’s easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of networking. Getting rid of that has been really appealing,” she says.
Women who attend are in their mid-20s upward to age 60. They are business owners, women who seek to own business, and some are freelancers or consultants part-time. Others still are simply seeking an outlet to meet other professional and dynamic women.
“The idea was to create a space that is only women, that is a safe, supportive space where women can feel less inhibited about speaking their truth,” she says. “The reality is, my experience as a female serial entrepreneur is very different from that of my male counterparts. The things I think about in my daily life, or the ways I balance my work and my life, are specific to being a woman. There is value in providing that place where women feel safe to voice those feelings and relate through shared experiences.”
Visit femcity.com/omaha for more information.
Women’s Networking Groups
Women to Women
Contact: Sarah Bernhagen
402-293-0999 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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