When you have a passion in your life besides your business, it’s easy to make apropos analogies between the two topics to make an impact – especially when you’re speaking to a room full of equally passionate businesswomen.
During Mary Jane Westra‘s acceptance speech after she was named Business and Professional Women’s Woman of the Year, she spoke of her love of sailing and equating it to her both her professional and personal life. A fellow sailor, Bonnie Bell was in the audience that day. She was moved by the analogy, and both having a remarkable head for business and sailing in common, the two became great buddies.
Through other social events the two women scrounged up some more professional women who also loved sailing. Do you see where this is going? Basically, friendships are being formed left and right and all these women want to go sailing together.
When Westra and her husband completely restored their own 32-foot Erickson boat, she and the ladies took themselves to the high seas, or more accurately, Lake Superior. Noted Westra about the experience:
I was watching the other charter customers coming and going from the charter office. There were families, couples and guys but no groups of women sailors. I thought this was curious so I asked the charter company if they ever have other groups of women sailors. The charter company owner gave me a thoughtful look and said, ‘Yes. We had a group of women in 1981, I think.’
And alas, The Estrogen Cruise was born. Each woman brings their own experience to the event, their own personality, and everything is planned out beforehand including the important details of who will be cooking dinner each night and how many bottles of wine they’ll bring along. The entire experience is one of respect and admiration, as well as a bonding and learning experience for all the women involved. Says Melanie Dethlefsen:
When you are sailing, you are at risk. There is no time to question the person in charge. If they tell you to do something, you just do it. It is the safety part of sailing, you don’t ask questions, you simply trust and respect the person in charge.
That risk brings the women even closer; the adventure draws them in even more. In realizing the beneficial effects of such a venture, The Estrogen Cruise has made it an annual event for the last few years, and their group of female sailors is just growing and growing.
To be honest, you couldn’t pay me enough to get on anything that has “estrogen” in the name. But for the women who belong to this makeshift country club, it’s a great way to network, relax and work on bettering themselves professionally and personally. So good for them. However, I’ll be declining should I ever get an invitation, not entirely because of the name, but because this sailor only sails oceans.