5 min read

The Info Dumpster Paper that Started It All: My 37 Page Womanifesto for coFLOWco

If you read my work often, this will be not be shocking. Instead of a 1 page Manifesto, I ended up with a very LONG research paper. Is anything more on brand for me than 37 pages with stats and 240 citations?
Illustration ala riso. pastel blues, pinks, reds. Collage charts, book, money, laptop, megaphone, globe, Goal 5.
Illustration by Cathy Libnic for Womanifesto: Leading with Purpose (in 2019!)
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This article was originally published on coFLOWco.com's blog here.

I started my business at 2 am, two years before a global pandemic, while standing in my kitchen in the dark. I was in a particularly bad mood after coming home late from another crap day at my very full time job (re: 60+ hours/week) in Ad Land.

At the time, it was just an info dump–observations about work into a Google Doc–ideas about how to make it suck less. ALL the pieces poured out: Who I knew. What was broken. Examples of businesses getting it right. What I did best. What problems I could solve. A few stats already burned in my brain.

While I didn't know I was starting a business, I did know my days working for someone else were numbered. I still remember the feeling when I was done...like "Damn, I'm on to something."

Over the next two years I wrote my theories out, studied my "competition" and what options were out there. I started to plan the structure of my business, but moreso, coFLOWco's brand, while I transitioned to freelance and started iterating on our services the following summer. ‌

I tested what was needed to achieve my mission with new clients. I wanted to change work and the economy for those of us who had just about enough of Advertising, Brand, and Design being a guys club. I set out to help all the creatives who should have already been making headlines (especially those from the global majority, over 40, and caregivers), to make noise and make bank.

When I heard the term social entrepreneur, it was a lightbulb. That's what I am! It took another two years to be able to articulate my "Theory of Change" (but first I had to learn what a "Theory of Change" actually was). In fact, I didn't even know any of this terminology when I worked it out on digital paper that night, next to my kitchen sink.

Over the years, I've continued to write out my vision for the future of work, and became a writer along the way.

‌‌‌‌If you read my work often, this will be not be shocking. Instead of a 1 page Manifesto, I ended up with a very LONG research paper. (You can download the intro to Womanifesto here, or purchase the full paper here.) My brain dump, lists, mind maps, and landscape study of the current economic gaps and workforce challenges grew into a formal paper (about as formal as I get, with over 240 works cited).

Is anything more on brand for me than 37 pages, dozens of hyperlinks, and 200+ footnotes, stats, more stats and custom illustrations for a "statement"? What can I say? I love words.

coFLOWco started with me writing, and a few months later, publishing a thorough report on the state of work and need for intersectionality with little fanfare. It was the foundation and became a my strategic plan.

I invested actual money–not just sweat equity–into this research. I (under) paid my former graphic design partner at Nike do the illustrations. I hired a librarian and culture critic to edit it. I did so because I knew, once again, I was onto something.

Months spent gathering insights to creatively and scientifically take down the patriarchy, data for days, yet I barely shared it. It is worth reading, and referencing (Download it here!) So, why didn't I talk about it more?

I was already on to the action plan in Part 3, and researching and writing about our next hurdle.

PRACTICE MAKES PROGRESS.

Humans evolve, grow, improve. I surround myself with humans who are not "finished" yet either. How we change the workplace is still a WIP, and always will be because working with others is complex, too.

I encourage my clients, friends, partner, kids, community, and colleagues learn to love change–to be available to be moved, to stay open.

Experiment, make mistakes, and try again.

We don't say that we are "done" learning, do we? (If you do, maybe find a different blog/newsletter.) We are always iterating, testing and evolving. We evolve and refine our work and our services often because we are reflective. This is what good designers do; they improve on old work, and level up.‌‌‌‌

Missions Matter — Collective Flow Consulting

Read why our Mission Matters and Download the Womanifesto here.

My paper took a similar path. I dug into the obvious first: B Corps and the SDGs. I quickly learned about Social Entrepreneurship and what "Business for Good" truly meant—both to me, and to the corporate world. (Note: We do not have the same approach and ESG is pretty meaningless to McKinsey and all their clients.)

The deeper I went, the more I observed all the ways "Business Experts" and "Leaders" keep replicating old workplaces. They're causing more harm, packaging "purpose" to hide a lack of will, and an enormous failure to invest, commit, and address the work needed to create systemic change.

"Systems Change" requires strategic brains. It requires people who see the connections, hold lots of information, and can see how to set the dominos up so they fall in a new direction.‌‌‌‌ (Neurodivergents, artists, inventors, experimenters 👋).

Anything needing repair, a remedy, or to heal–anything broken in our orgs, our communications, our businesses, our personal lives: We must be methodical, flexible, and collaborative in our approach. We have to be great listeners, and ask even greater questions.

My plan is not "baked" or done, but neither am I. Ultimately, WE come up with the plan and take action. I DO NOT have the answers. WE DO. Together, we let YOUR purpose, your ideas, your desires and hopes lead the way.

I am proud to share this "gray" paper with you, to bring back the hard work from years ago that is still as relevant as ever. I invite you to download Womanifesto: Leading with Purpose with my new-for-2023 Prologue. I briefly explain what has changed (and what hasn't) since I first shared it in early 2020.

Why read it?

Learn about the stats and the state of business that first lit my fire. See why I remain full of fire–why I keep going, and maybe, find a way to do the same.

We all deserve workplaces that support us and make life more manageable. You deserve support and the information you need to keep going.

Through communications, I help creators, consultants, and leaders leading with purpose. I share what I know to help remove friction, seek ease, and find flow.

Want to change the world of work with me? Start here, because the patriarchy is not going to fix itself, and the Future of Work does not work without YOU.