Looking for a community to have your back? You’re in luck. Ellevate Network is the largest community of women at work. We show up for each other, helping everyone — no matter their background or aspirations — build a career they love. And, more importantly, we mobilize our collective power to change the culture of business. Join Ellevate for free today.
If you’re a woman who owns a business — congrats! It’s fantastic to hang your shingle and go off on your own. There is another advantage to being a Woman Owned Business: getting officially certified as one on federal and local levels. The government and large corporations are the largest buyers of goods and services and often award contracts specifically to women. These contracts can be constant, reliable sources of income.
In her recent webinar, Jean Kristensen of Jean Kristensen Associates explained what it takes to get certified and how to navigate securing government and corporate contracts. Kristensen has started three businesses that have been successful thanks in large part to being a Woman Owned Business and winning government contracts. She now advises women on how to understand the system.
[Related: Join Ellevate virtually for our Inclusive Managers and Leading With Empathy Series Capstone Event, our final discussion about the next steps we all can take to create Inclusive Workplaces. During the 2014 fiscal year, the U.S. government awarded 267,168 contracts to Woman Owned Businesses for approximately two billion dollars. The top contacts were awarded for professional services, medical and surgical supplies and administrative support.
Some businesses also have a 5% goal for subcontracting work to Women Owned Businesses once they win a contract. This can be as high as 30% in some state and local jurisdictions. So even if a Woman Owned Business doesn’t directly win a government contract, they can still gain business through subcontracting. But you have to know how to find these opportunities in the first place.
What Is The Purpose of Certification?
Being a certified Woman Owned Business is a tool designed to increase opportunities for women. It’s not a charity program nor does it give women special treatment. It’s designed to increase visibility. It’s also a way for government and corporations that have the aforementioned subcontracting goals worked into their contacts to meet directly with Women Owned Businesses.
There are two kinds of certifications: Women Owned Small Business and Woman Business Enterprise. A Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) is a program that provides greater access to federal contracting opportunities for Woman Owned and Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business. (EDWOSB).
The program allows contracting officers to set aside specific contracts for WOSB and EDWOSB that will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of 5% of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSB. An EDWOSB meets a certain financial criteria. The owner’s assets, excluding their business and their home, is under $250,000. That woman, and her business, in considered economically disadvantaged.
WOSB certification is overseen by the Small Business Association (SBA).
In order to be considered to be a WOSB the company must:
The SBA will verify this information by collecting documents such as tax returns, bank statements, operating agreements, etc. They will also ask for birth certificates and passports to prove citizenship. WOSB is unique to the Federal government. It is a program that a person can self-certify for. As long as you can prove that your company is owned by women you can start marketing your company, almost immediately, as a Woman Owned Small Business while the documents are being verified.
The second classification is Woman Business Enterprise. This certification is used by local, state, and other quasi-government agencies such as authorities, airlines and in the private sector. The qualifications for a WBE are similar to those of a WOSB. The company must:
It’s also important to know about:
What Does It Take to Succeed As A Certified Woman Owned Business?
Just because you get certified doesn’t mean that government contracts will magically start appearing at your door. Kristensen said the key is to have a plan when it comes to winning bids.
The Ability To Do Business And The Power Of Teaming Up
It’s important to know what type of project could you take on. Contractors will likely ask about the last project that you worked on that is similar to what they are looking for. Buyers often say that inexperienced companies are not going to cut their teeth with them. You need to have some level of experience in their space in order to be a contender. One way to get around this is to team up with someone who has experience for either a full contract or a subcontract.
Kristensen did this with a cleaning company whose contract with a large bank also needed to supply security. Kristensen ran a security company, and it was a great fit. She then went on to pitch her company’s security services to other banks and in turn won many more contracts.
Let Buyers Know Who You Are
Once you research what groups are buying in your area, make sure they know who you are. Research shows that it takes 18 months of continual effort before you score your first contract. That said, a commitment to marketing yourself is key to staying on buyers’ radars. Kristensen recommends consistent but meaningful communication with buyers.
Good public relations such as a professional website, social media, direct mail, email blasts, etc. are all tools to let people know about your services. Make sure your target audience sees you and knows you. Highlight your unique unique service offering and position yourself as thought leader.
Looking for a community to have your back? You’re in luck. Ellevate Network is the largest community of women at work. We show up for each other, helping everyone — no matter their background or aspirations — build a career they love. And, more importantly, we mobilize our collective power to change the culture of business. Join Ellevatefor free today. Read the rest of this article here
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In an investment industry known for big egos, overconfident analysts and “activists” who routinely tell CEOs how to run their companies, investor Nancy Zevenbergen and her team of four portfolio managers differentiate themselves by simply listening.
Zevenbergen, 61, founder of $5.7 billion (assets) Zevenbergen Capital Investments, believes the crucial job of an investor in today’s economy is to uncover the next great entrepreneur or technological innovation early on. The style is about “optimism and a view toward what the future might be,” she says. According to Zevenbergen, her task is to be curious and “understand the ‘crazy’ visions of new leaders and become investors alongside them.” If she likes a company, her Seattle-based firm will load up and watch from the sidelines, tracking the business patiently and holding their shares so long as growth doesn’t stall. Rarely do they worry too much about valuation.
This humble approach to investing has yielded results that make Zevenbergen among the best investors in the world. She has stuck by mercurial Elon Musk and owned Tesla for about a decade; Tesla’s stock is up 730% this year, and is the top performing stock of the ten years. She discovered Ottawa, Canada-based ecommerce company Shopify and its founder CEO Tobi Lütke in late 2016 when it was trading below $50; it now trades for $1,170.
Last September, Zillow chief executive Rich Barton decided the real estate platform would begin buying homes, leading to complaints from skeptics who sent its shares cratering 20% to below $30. Zevenbergen’s team liked Barton’s experimentation and built a large position. Fifteen months later, Zillow now trades for $140.
With stock-picks like these, Zevenbergen’s Innovative Growth Fund (SCATX) and Genea Fund (ZVGNX) are up a staggering 126% and 154%, respectively, in 2020. Of over 1,000 peer funds tracked by Morningstar, the two mutual funds rank in the top percentile.
Zevenbergen created her firm from her living room in the late 1980s with just $500,000 in assets while she nursed a young child. Her flagship strategy has beaten the S&P 500 Index by around four percentage points annually since 1987, but 2020 was a watershed. Assets more than doubled soaring towards $6 billion, based on performance and inflows to her mutual funds.
Zevenbergen is not the only woman fund manager who has crushed competition in 2020. Forbes found at least a half a dozen firms led by women-led funds that have blown away their peers and drawn in tens of billions of dollars in assets collectively since the start of January.
Cathie Wood, founder of Ark Investments, had the best year of anyone. In 2014, Wood, 65, created Ark with the idea of packaging stock-picking into tax-efficient exchange traded funds, and focusing exclusively on breakthrough innovations in genomics, robotics, financial technology, autonomous driving, digital services, and artificial intelligence.
Six years later, Ark manages nearly $44 billion in assets, up from just $300 million at the end of 2016. This year, Ark funds have pulled in over $10 billion in new assets, led by extraordinary returns. Her flagship Ark Innovation Fund (ARKK) has seen assets soar to $17 billion, fueled by a 154% gain in 2020 and a 46% average annual return over the past five years. Her $6 billion Ark Genomic revolution ETF is up even more this year. “I wanted individual investors to catch the wave,” says Wood of today’s enormous technological change. Her funds were designed for those “willing to step out and away from fixed income and into some of the most exciting stocks in history.”
Ark publishes its financial models, trading logs, and research to the investing public, and the firm’s analysts are happy to engage in discussion on Twitter, opening themselves to criticism and mockery. Wood’s $4,000 a share valuation of Tesla a year ago drew many scoffs on Wall Street. But her heady valuation was spot on. Short sellers have been burned by Tesla’s rise, while female investors like Zevenbergen and Wood have been patient bulls. On Friday, Tesla was added to the S&P 500 Index.
Female investing success in 2020 extends well beyond soaring growth stocks. Women-run funds are leading the way in everything from small cap stocks, to emerging market debt portfolios, dividend paying companies, and sustainable investments.
Amy Zhang, portfolio manager of the Alger Small Cap Focus Fund (AOFIX) and Mid Cap Focus Fund (AFOIX) was hired in 2015 to expand Alger’s presence in niche small and mid-cap stocks. When Zhang arrived at Alger, the Small Cap Focus Fund had just $16 million in assets. Now, after a 54% return in 2020 and a 30% annual average return over the past five years, Zhang’s Small Cap Focus Fund has $7.5 billion in assets.
Top holdings include refrigerated logistics upstart CryoPort and fast casual restaurant Wingstop. Her Mid Cap Focus Fund, launched in mid-2018, has attracted over $500 million in assets as it has soared by 84% in 2020, bolstered by casino operator Penn National Gaming and power equipment manufacturer Generac.
Long before sustainable investments became a prolific buzzword, Karina Funk, an MIT-educated engineer at Baltimore-based mutual fund giant Brown Advisory, was a pioneer in bringing sustainable investments mainstream. Funk, 48, a vegetarian who watches her carbon footprint by biking to work, launched the Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund in June 2012, alongside David Powell, with a goal to back about 35 companies with products improving social and environmental sustainability, or efficient operating footprints.
Its focus on companies like Ball Corp. and American Tower has made it one of the best funds on the planet during down markets. Even in 2020, the fund has gained 38% despite its defensive posture, thanks to savvy picks like life sciences conglomerate Danaher and Etsy, which has empowered many small businesses during the pandemic. Funk can be a tough customer. She exited Facebook in the fall of 2018 due to data privacy concerns.
“Sustainability is a means, not an end in and of itself,” she told Forbesas part of a profile three years ago, when the fund’s assets were just $1.1 billion. “Our end goal is performance. We achieve that by finding fundamentally strong companies using sustainability strategies to get even better.” The fund’s assets have since soared to $4.6 billion.
Other female-led funds that have done well include Capital Group’s $128 billion American Funds New Perspective (ANWPX), led by a team of managers including Joanna Jonsson and Noriko Chen, and the $36 billion in assets JPMorgan Equity Income Fund (HLIEX), led by Clare Hart. The New Perspectives fund has beaten its benchmark by four percentage points annually over the past decade, while Hart’s Equity Income Fund has returned an annualized 11.65%, two percentage points annually above its benchmark, according to data from Morningstar.
Rebecca Irwin, Natasha Kuhikin and Kathleen McCarragher of the $1.3 billion in assets PGIM Jennison Focused Growth Fund (SPFAX) have returned 68% in 2020 and 25% over the past five years, ranking in the top decile of peer funds. At Alger, Ankur Crawford, co-manager of the Alger Spectra Fund (ASPIX) and Alger Capital Appreciation (ACCAX) has seen returns surpass 40% this year.
In fixed income, Tina Vandersteel of the $4.4 billion in assets GMO Emerging Country Debt Fund (GMCDX) has been able to outperform emerging market bond indices despite underweighting China and many Gulf-states due to her skepticism of the veracity of their economic data.
The bull market of 2020 is also creating new opportunities for female fund managers to shine. Two years ago, Julie Biel of Los Angeles-based Kayne Anderson Rudnick, was a rising star at the $30 billion (assets) firm and excited about the looming public offering of software company DocuSign. Known for investing in established businesses, Kayne had never participated in an IPO. Biel was late in her pregnancy as the IPO progressed and trying to win an allocation. She needed a doctor’s note to fly to the Bay Area to meet with DocuSign’s management. Kayne eventually won a large block of shares, quickly becoming one of its largest outside investors.
Biel also began to manage the firm’s KAR Small Mid- Sustainable Growth strategy around that time and made DocuSign the fund’s top holding. Its shares have risen 225% in 2020. This year, Biel’s fund has returned 42% through November. In December, Kayne decided to launch a mutual fund version, launching the strategy, called the Virtus KAR Small-Mid Cap Growth Fund (VIKSK), with Biel in charge.
Like Zevebergen and Wood, Biel is starting small and manages just $60 million. But the investment industry rewards performance above all, hinting at much larger things to come. Entering 2021, Biel’s portfolio is loaded with hidden gems like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and MarketAxess that could grow for years to come. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.
I’m a staff writer and associate editor at Forbes, where I cover finance and investing. My beat includes hedge funds, private equity, fintech, mutual funds, mergers, and banks. I’m a graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and I’ve worked at TheStreet and Businessweek. Before becoming a financial scribe, I was a member of the fateful 2008 analyst class at Lehman Brothers. Email thoughts and tips to email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter at @antoinegara
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For leaders guiding the way, belief in a company is something that is earned and must come naturally for employees. And according to a new study, attracting and promoting more females into leadership roles is the way forward.
Employees respond better to women-led companies
A recent Peakon study found that employees of women-led companies, meaning those with more than 50% female leaders, feel a stronger connection to the company and their products.
When over 60,000 employees were asked the question of “how likely is it that you would recommend [Company Name] products or services to friends and family,” those at women-led companies answered 0.6 points higher than employees at male-led companies.
Women-led companies also answered higher in terms of satisfaction in the company, an important part of being an active, efficient employee.
Female leadership could be a major enabler in driving the company culture, and female-led companies are proven to be better in communicating mission and strategy, and managing more engaged employees.
Why belief in a company and its products is so important
Belief in the company is also strongly tied to the company strategy. When employees believe in the company — the origin, mission, and value the company offers to consumers and clients — they will subsequently have stronger belief in the strategy as well.
According to Roger Dooley, an experience marketer and author, believing in your company and its product makes you more persuasive. Employees with a strong belief in their product will be more able to effectively sell products or services the company offers, and will have a stronger connection to the company itself.
Belief in a company and its values is also critical to employees’ commitment and persistence. Employees with stronger belief in their company tend to be more willing to continue in their hard work when they trust the path the company is moving on.
According to the Harvard Business Review, belief in a company and its goals will enforce motivation throughout all of the employees — both to get work done when needed, and to keep up the same work ethic when it gets harder.
Belief in a company also helps leaders. When your company supports the same goals, it becomes easier to manage and communicate.
In Authentic Happiness, psychologist Marty Seligman writes that employees become their “happiest” selves when they are doing work they find worthwhile. Leaders who are able to motivate others to work towards a communicated, shared goal — and a shared belief in the goal — are able to maintain morale and engagement throughout the employee lifecycle.
Moreover, belief in a company and its goals also creates a feeling of solidarity among employees and their leaders. If at any point there is a disconnect between employees and leaders, it can be mended quickly and easily when there is a strong belief that the company is going in the right direction.
Ari Weinzweig, a founding partner of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, points out that belief in a business is one of the most productive foundations that employees and leaders can both share. It creates a shared purpose that may otherwise not be found, as most beliefs are formed before a person is even old enough to be in the job force.
Forming a community where there is a belief in a business allows for clearer actions towards the shared belief, and helps everyone’s job within a larger company make sense.
Clearly the research proves that you must care about the belief in your company strategy and its product. But we must not ignore the key component. As Peakon’s study revealed, investing in female leaders will help you bring deeper conviction about the company and its services, and therefore empower your business to grow in a sustainable way.
Why are there so few women leaders? Weaving together scientific research and personal narrative, Alexis Kanda-Olmstead explains why women may be reluctant to take on leadership roles and what we – women and men – can do to disrupt the powerful internal forces that undermine women’s leadership aspirations and confidence. 1. Alexis Kanda-Olmstead leads talent and diversity initiatives at Colorado State University for the Division of University Advancement. Throughout her twenty-year career in higher education, Alexis has worked to help students, faculty, and staff actualize their potential as leaders through self-knowledge, personal empowerment, and service. As a student and practitioner of women’s development, social justice, and organizational psychology, Alexis believes that with grace and humor we can create positive change that benefits everyone. Alexis is a blogger on women’s issues and the founder of AKO Collective, a women’s leadership development company based in Northern Colorado. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
I recently launched an intimate dinner series called The Whisper Network covering taboo topics facing women’s advancement in the workforce. Many of these topics aren’t addressed because women don’t feel comfortable raising them or might be nervous about repercussions if they are openly talked about in larger forums. As women we tend to have a stronger reliance on one-on-one bonds and smaller, more intimate networks vs. men in order to discuss more controversial subjects such as how much money we might make or not make, how we were passed over for a promotion by a male peer or worse, “the mean girl.”
As we sat around the table, everyone had a story about a mean girl they dealt with in their careers. Certainly, in more male dominated industries, the mean girl, sometimes referred to as the “queen bee” is not just a theory, but a reality. Further, this isn’t just about the women at the top, but also encompasses female peers. With all the focus and momentum on raising each other up as women and building support networks, it should have surprised me that the mean girl continues to present as such a big issue but it didn’t. I hear quite often that while there are so many women walking the walk, there are still many that just talk the talk.
Jennifer DaSilva, President of Berlin Cameron and Founder of Girl Brands Do It Better, wrote an article earlier this year talking about women and the power of community and stated “Among all the women I talk to, the overall sentiment is that the energy of women helping other women is at an all-time high. We’re in a moment where women are less competitive and more willing to help each other succeed. We’re all starting to understand that lifting each other up doesn’t mean you put yourself down.” While I completely agree and as someone who launched a business focused on developing women, I think we need to add to that sentiment: that lifting each other up doesn’t mean you have to put yourself or others down.
Competition is healthy until it’s not. DaSilva also stated in the article that “while women are still supporting each other, [in a recent study] 55% of respondents still feel there’s work to be done. This can especially be said in the corporate world, where a lack of female representation can lead to competition and a lack of camaraderie.” How do we continue to advance and support each other with a little healthy competition in our networks, if we continue to face or be the mean girl at the table?
As a woman, there is heavy competition with men but there seems to be even more competition with some women, mainly because there are fewer of us. This competition is not just at the senior levels of organizations. We live in a culture that perpetuates women’s feelings of insecurity. It’s one the reasons we are banding together to support one another and creating real change. We are also human and filled with insecurities around career advancement, success, financial wealth and power. Company cultures often mirror grade-school school culture, dividing their employees into different groups: top talent, high performers, needs improvement, etc. This can further fuel unhealthy competition, meanness and exclusive behavior.
How we do leave the mean girl at the door but also work with her? It’s hard to escape the mean girl at the office, out with new clients, at women’s events and in other professional environments. “Mean girls exist in business networking events too,” shared Cindy Ashton, CEO of Minerva Enterprises. “They stand in their circle, staring at the other women, making comments on what they are wearing and criticizing what they do. It lowers our self-esteem and confidence. We need to catch ourselves when we get ‘catty’ and reframe – ‘what would it take for me to truly get to know this other woman and collaborate?’” Roll out the welcome mat instead of pulling it out from underneath their feet.
After much deliberation in our dinner, we unanimously decided to call out the mean girl and make them aware of their behavior. At a time when we are calling out certain men for their lack of support, why don’t we call out the women who don’t have our backs and perpetuate the culture we are fighting so hard against? I’m not advocating for confrontation, but I am talking about communication. If we don’t bring awareness to this challenge, those cracks in our networks get larger and success for all vs. just for one decreases.
Focusing on positive reinforcement and how we can work together is just as important as building community with like-minded women and male allies. Share in our successes and in our struggles. We need to team up to help move forward by sharing what we know, how we can support and empower each other, and how we build real community. As women we need to lend our voice and support at the table for other women, become their true advocates for new opportunities, be open and make connections as well as follow through. Walk the walk.
To circle back to DaSilva’s article, Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network states “a community is a group of people who are active participants in your success.” Supportive communities celebrate each other and their wins, large and small. This definition of community leaves no room for the mean girl and it’s time to leave her behind. Leading by example is critical and we need to exemplify the qualities we wish to see in others. When we think of the next generation of female CEOs, politicians, activists, entrepreneurs and more, what do we want those women to see when they look up? We don’t want to embrace a future with negativity and bullying. Creating an even playing field that is collaborative and supportive is something I am striving for.
I am the Founder and CEO of Luminary in NYC, the premier collaboration space for women who are passionate about professional development and expanding their networks. Luminary is the ultimate career advocate providing our membership community with unparalleled programming and access to industry leaders and pioneering entrepreneurs. A long-time advocate for empowering women and girls, I serve on the National Board for Girls Inc. I have over twenty years of leadership experience in financial services. Previously, I was the Executive Vice President and Global Head of Multinational Corporate Banking for HSBC managing roughly $2 billion in revenue and teams in 55 countries. Prior to that, I was a Managing Director and Head of Multinational Corporate Banking at J.P. Morgan in EMEA. I’m committed to leveraging my corporate experience to support and encourage women and push for gender parity in the workplace.
Often I was the only female FBI agent on my squad. I learned how to be successful amidst a variety of situations and circumstances. Most importantly, I learned what not to do if I wanted to compete in a male dominated environment.
I learned that my success was inexorably linked to the choices I made regarding attitude and subsequent actions. More often than not, it was the choice I made to kick myself into high gear rather than relying on someone else to do the kicking.
While every woman has her own definition of success, here are 9 things that successful women never do:
Suppressing a negative feeling only gives it more power, fueling our fears and slowing us down. In fact, trying to control what we fear will increase the likelihood it will happen.
2. Successful Women Never Run From Conflict
As a female FBI agent, I got burned by conflict, criticism, and unfairness—just like everyone else. The difference is that I did not cower into accommodating others to avoid enduring those negative feelings again.
People who shy away from conflict assume that conflict always looks aggressive, overbearing, and disrespectful. This is not true because conflict can camouflage itself in many forms. We need to be alert for any behavior from others that is attempting to manipulate our emotions or thoughts. Once we recognize conflict for what it is, we make a choice on how we respond to it, rather than react out of fear or ignorance.
3. Successful Women Never Listen To Their Inner Critic
I needed to nip that inner critic in the bud and eliminate inner voices of doubt and anxiety. I did this by choosing to focus my attention on positive feedback and constructive criticism—limited as it might be at times.
Mental toughness is being able to control how your mind thinks, rather than letting your mind control you. The key is learning how to manage your emotions with self-talk and using the right (and positive) words when controlling your thoughts.
4. Successful Women Never Expect Perfect Circumstances
It’s easy to say that conditions are poor, nothing is going your way, and that you’ve been dealt an unfair hand. These are all excuses as you move further down the road of surrender.
Use what is at your disposal to keep moving forward in life—take a tip from MacGyver and learn to make the best of your situation. Mental toughness is approaching your circumstances with the right perspective and not expecting a break.
5. Successful Women Never Look At Their Past As A Mistake
I made a lot of mistakes as a new agent. At times it was embarrassing, but I vowed to learn from each one of them.
Some mistakes from our past can be painful or bad, but instead of wallowing in misery, look at them as opportunities to learn something that you didn’t know before it happened. Walk beside friends and colleagues who have made mistakes—you can learn from them, too.
The past does not define us, it simply prepares us for our journey toward success and wisdom.
6. Successful Women Never Miss Opportunities To Shine
I knew that many times the best way to be successful was to do what others were unwilling to do.
Identify those things that others hesitate to take on. It can be small and simple—it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, do it well and you will instantly differentiate yourself from the pack.
Then keep going because you never know where it will lead; often, we don’t know what opportunity looks like until we’re closer to it.
7. Successful Women Never Fail To Keep Their Cool
No matter my situation, I knew I was in total control of my life.
One of my favorite quotes is from St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.”
Many people make excuses for themselves by saying luck determines whether they are successful or not. Mentally strong leaders are in control of their own luck because they see success or failure as something over which they are in control. Luck may have had some role in their present circumstances, but they don’t waste mental energy by worrying about what might happen.
Control your own luck by seizing opportunities to improve your life and situation. The result will either be a lucky break or the regret of a road not taken.
8. Successful Women Never Fail To Do Their Research
When I interviewed a suspect, I made sure I knew what I was talking about.
When you are meeting with potential investors, clients or customers, make sure you know what you are talking about—know where the landmines are before you open your mouth.
Do your homework; be polished, poised, and prepared.
9. Successful Women Never Say Quit
No matter how hard the investigation or how difficult the assignment, “quit” was the only four letter word I never heard in my 24 years in the FBI.
When you say “quit” or “can’t,” you are sacrificing ownership and control over your attitude and behavior. It shows you have created your own boundaries. When you say quit, you are sending a message about your fear of failure and a lack of grit in testing your limits.