As a business strategist, entrepreneur and VAGIPRENEUR™, I have experienced firsthand the challenges that stand in the way of building businesses and the perseverance required to gain traction when trying to do things that are against the grain or require a change in behavior. Building any business is hard, but try building one that requires you to incorporate the word, vagina. All bets are off!!!
When my business partner and I were building a female sexual health business, we contacted more than 100 media outlets network TV, cable TV, radio, web - and 90% of them refused to take money to place our ads for our safe, clinically-proven product. It became crystal clear that we would not - under any circumstances - get access to advertise our product in places, channels and outlets where our targets might be looking.
The topic made the media decision makers uncomfortable - really uncomfortable. . We were not trying to make anybody uncomfortable. We were just trying to help the 43% of women who at same point in their lives will have sexual concerns and difficulties.
So now what - armed with a great product and no place to tell anyone about it? We got creative and used the rejection of our ads to fuel a creative PR strategy: "If you won't let us buy media, we will create it." And with the right partners and focused strategy, we told our story over and over again to anyone who would listen, making it about the disparity of standards and access to advertising for male and female products. The NY Times, ABC news, and dozens of other major media outlets and sites covered it. And people heard about the product and bought it.
Based on my experiences, I have continued to study the phenomenon of what appears to be systemic or even societal resistance to certain types of business. So I have been conducting interviews with dozens of innovative business leaders and creative thinkers as input to a book to shine a light on those who are trying to create new, better and breakthrough solutions - NO MATTER HOW HARD IT IS. The working title is Orgasmic Leadership: People Who Are Creating Positive Change in Female Sexual Health, Women's Health and Wellness Against the Odds.
Whether the business is helping alleviate pelvic pain, incontinence (which affects both men and women), feminine hygiene or satisfaction, many entrepreneurs experienced different standards being applied to them than they had seen in their other businesses. During fundraising meetings, many conversations stopped cold if the people in the room weren't interested or worse, uncomfortable, with the product. Most responded with something like this: "This must not be an issue because my wife never mentioned it, so I am not sure this has big market potential." Not willing to take no for an answer, these business leaders continue to demonstrate the creativity and endurance required to drive their businesses forward and become market success stories. And I call that Orgasmic Leadership™.