Today is International Women’s Day.

It is curious that we celebrate one half of the population on a single day, but given women’s history of oppression and the lagging rights we hold when it comes to matters of bodily autonomy and pay equity, I suppose that our own day on the calendar is not that far-fetched.

When I started my first business, Proactive Compliance Services, Inc., over twenty five years ago — no, really, it was during the LAST century! — it was the women in my professional network who unfailingly gave me an opportunity to provide safety training and consulting to their companies. (Thank you, Heidi and Colleen and DJ and Tracy, and a bunch of others who ensured I got my share of opportunities.)

Particularly given my male-dominated clientele in the construction, remediation and hazardous waste businesses, that leg up was the difference between making a go of it and being yet another failed small business.

There is just something about the sisterhood.

Since founding PCS Custom Training Solutions, LLC, in 2016, I’ve surrounded myself with smart and talented and resourceful women, experts in their field, business owners themselves. Without them, PCS would not be the well-oiled machine that we’ve become, handily creating customized safety eLearning and providing turnkey LMS services with a passion and efficiency that makes me proud. (With thanks to Christy, who I found via a Google search, and Jennifer and Bridget and Kayleen and Bela. We are a diverse and eclectic group but our sense of teamwork and willingness to rumble things out because we care about the quality of what we do, well, it is inspiring.)

Even as we are positioning ourselves to scale and grow, I pick the collective brains of the women in my circle, sometimes seeking new partnerships, sometimes sound business advice, sometimes just a reassuring pat on the head. Being an entrepreneur is earning a living via rollercoaster, and the highs can be exhilarating, and the lows can be, well, low. (With a grateful nod to Lisanne and Anita and Dani and Cindy.)

And the laughter, oh, the laughter!

I count on women to buoy my passion outside of work; horses, horses, horses. From Elise, who keeps my boys from going completely feral when work or travel keep me from riding, to the women who step up to crew for me at endurance rides or ride alongside me, or give me dressage lessons, flock my saddle, ultrasound a ligament, or recommend the best local tire shop.

This is not to say that the men in my circle are any less supportive. It was Mike (Mac) that promoted me to my first position of incompetence, teaching me that I could get curious and listen and stretch to a place where I held my own. Tim, on the PCS team for over a year now –the lone Y chromosome in a sea of Xs– is a steady gem of unflappable support. This is due in no small part, I am certain, as a result of a mother and grandmother who are women of great strength and integrity, and whom I have known, quite literally, forever.

I’ve got male clients and colleagues who see me as a peer, rely on our wisdom and experience and results, and promote my business, which is good, because marketing is really not my jam. (You know who you are.)

My father, a late arrival to the safety profession even as I was a fledgling, was the type who told me, and who believed, I’m sure, that I could do anything. When my mom said she wanted to swim across Lake Erie, he said he’d row the boat beside her.

Then there’s my husband, Tom, who helps with Excel spreadsheets and prudent decisions about cash flow and when to pounce [pouncing is my favorite hobby] and when to step back and exhale and enjoy a business that is, in so many ways, already enough. There is a peace now in my life, a steady partner who makes it clear he’ll catch me if I fall, and hold my hand when it all gets just a little too exciting. It makes all of it an adventure, even when the roller coaster dips and twists and causes my stomach to be left behind on the crest of a hill.

Oh, what a ride!

There’s some old quip about a successful man and the woman behind him, but when it comes to being a woman, there’s a whole village.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


[Photo credit: Kelsey Eliot]