Self-Made Women

July 20th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 15 comments

The cover story headline on Forbes magazine, America’s Richest Self-Made Women caught my attention. Surely, the stories of the sixty women listed would shine a light on women and money. It did, though I’m not sure that what I saw will make social engineers happy.

Here are some sentences from the top four bios:

#1) Ilitch and her husband, Mike…cofounded Little Caesars pizza… (Marian Ilitch)

#2) The Wisconsin native cofounded the business with her late husband, Ken… ( Diane Hendricks)

#3) She and her husband, Tom, first leased a gas station… (Judy Love)

#4) Fisher and her husband, Don (d. 2009), opened their fashion retailer, Gap… (Doris Fisher)

Do you see a pattern here? #5, Oprah Winfrey, as well as #6, Judy Faulkner, have no men in sight while #7 reverts to the previous model. I am curious enough to plan to read the rest of the biographical snippets, and a sociologist might draw up an interesting chart referencing age and location, but to me the message was not surprising. In the world in which I live, husbands and wives are partners, whether or not both names are on incorporation papers or both spouses are active in all of the same activities. Together the couple accomplishes what only one person couldn’t, both in the financial and family realm.

On a list of America’s sixty richest self-made men, I would expect the majority to be in lasting marriages as well. Their wives are fully their co-partners, even if the wife isn’t directly involved in the profitable business. Rather than encouraging men and women to “go it alone,” there probably would be more wealth all around if we provided resources and cheering squads to facilitate successful marriage. Instead the thought makers and idea generators of society do all they can to pit men and women against each other, turning them into adversaries.

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15 comments

I own a small business which I run without my wife in any capacity. It is very difficult and challenging. There are times I wish to close the doors and go to a local burger joint to get a job! Then I think of my wife , not so much that I need to support her but I do not want to disappoint her. So that does keep my going , as well as the all the great Lapin family information ! She is a pretty good cheer leader too .

Susan Lapin says:

Jerry, life is much easier when we are blessed to go through it with someone who loves and supports us.

Teena says:

Interestingly, Oprah has been with Stedman since 1986, the year she started her talk show and no one knew who she was. I think you make a great point Susan.

Susan Lapin says:

I have now read more of the bios and it is striking how many of these businesses were formed by couples.

bob blochowiak says:

My wife and I operate a consulting business. I worked as a field engineer in the oil field and after losing my job an opportunity presented itself as a consultant doing the same work. It has been 14 years now with me working the field and my wife handling the books. I must say, my partner, my wife, has to be the smartest woman I know when it comes to financial books and taxes. I do work away from home two weeks at a time, but what I do would not be possible if it weren’t for my wife. To say that she is intelligent would be an understatement, I pretty good at what I do, after 37 years, but I’m terrible at book keeping, thank God for my wife.

Susan Lapin says:

It’s very helpful when we can see what our complementary strengths are. Glad you and your wife are such a good team.

Clementina Ufeli says:

Two heads are better than one. It is only a God fearing man that fits the bill.

Becky says:

My husband and I ran a machine shop. He ran the shop side and I ran the office, we shared sales work, customer service. We started it in our garage when the kids were little. How proud we all were of our success and improved standard of living. As we made good choices and did correct thinking the kids learned too. Things like “always try to quote accurate delivery dates”. People know how to deal with reality but pretending parts will be ready on Friday when they will not helps no one. Now we are retired, kids are grown with their own families……..and they all are very successful in their own businesses……electronic sales…..interior design. They have built on our success. I would guess together they probably provide good jobs for over 100 people. People who can buy a new car, buy a home, support a family. I am a very proud mother and grandmother, working hard to see this go into a third generation! Love sharing our story.

Susan Lapin says:

I love your sharing your story too, Becky. Your children clearly learned a great deal from your experiences and marriage.

henry says:

Stanley and Danko documented the importance of a stable marriage in the Millionaire Next Door and in their follow on research. Given my limited personal observations, I would contend that divorce is one of the greatest destroyers of family wealth. A man and a woman working together toward common goals over the course of 50 years or more can accomplish a lot.

Susan Lapin says:

Henry, you are correct that marriage and family stability does correlate with not only individual wealth, but societal wealth.

Edie Swenson says:

I am so happy to hear what you and your husband the Rabbi have to say about everything. I am not Jewish but feel kin to your culture and am drawn the the wisdom the Lord has blessed you both with. I am a divorced woman against my wishes and run a family business that my father started and my husband and I carried on. Just today I was asking the Holy Spirit to make utterance for me as i feel I cannot do this alone. Although the Lord has helped me continue runnning this business since 2005 alone. I surely walk by faith and feel blessed to hear your wisdom.

Susan Lapin says:

Edie, I pray that God soon sends you someone to share your life and business with.

James says:

It is wonderful to see the distaff side honored for their contributions. Some years ago when my father graduated from pharmacy school, and the great majority of graduating pharmacists were male, the school awarded their wives the honorary pharmacy degree of PHT (Pushing Husband Through). A very nice thought! Today, since likely 70% of graduating pharmacists are female, I wonder if their mates receive the PWT degree. But truly the male and female perspectives differ and complement each other in a way that sparks greater success.

Susan Lapin says:

What a nice acknowledgment from your father’s pharmacy school, James. Our culture seems to miss that message.

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