The Female Entrepreneurship Experience from Greece to NY

 
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Artemis Kohas is a Greek-American from Pennsylvania and the founder of The Kohas Agency, a boutique communications firm operating out of New York City. Her dual identity and strong connection to her Greek heritage have led her to ponder the difference between her two cultures. As a female entrepreneur, she has experienced and navigated the business climate on both ends of the globe. In this #ThoughtImports, Artemis shares her views on these diverse experiences in order to inspire women to keep reaching forward past adversity and aspire for change.


On Embracing the Power to Create Your Own Life

Because of my Greek origins and New Yorker mentality, I am always reconciling two very different perspectives. People in New York could definitely learn a little bit of the idea of slowing down, or as we say in Greek, to act halara (translated as “take it easy”). Sit down, have an hour-long coffee with a friend or even a colleague – the world won’t end. Build in the extra time, don’t rush, talk and listen – you’ll be amazed how much this can build and deepen your meaningful connections with others.

“[People] don’t realize how much power they have to create their own life.”

I also love the Greek mentality when it comes to work-life balance. In New York, people live to work. There’s this fear of not having worked the most hours, or not being the most “successful” person in the room, knowing that there are 20 people waiting to snap up your job if you lose it. But in Greece, people work to live. Greeks put the human factor first - inner well being, family, community - which is a lifestyle that fits me better. No one would look down on a well-deserved day off, or several if necessary, to sort out personal matters. I work really hard, but I know that personal well-being can only make you better at your work. There is more and more science to prove that. So, I make it a priority to constantly strive for some balance and keep my life well rounded. For New Yorkers, it can be hard to remember how much power we have to create our own version of professional life outside of corporate norms.

From Nurturing to Asserting: Balancing the Roles of the Feminine

If you’re raised in a traditional household, you’re often expected to live traditional roles. Despite my upbringing in a Greek home, I was never able to conform to those completely. As a traditional woman, you are meant to be a nurturer and take care of everyone else first all the time. However, I think that in business, you have to stand your ground and assert yourself in order to reach balanced agreements and ideally win-win deals. So there’s often a strong internal struggle for women, and as a society, we aren’t where we need to be yet. As a female entrepreneur, I’m very aware of people’s perceptions. There are times when I feel very aware of being treated differently because I’m a woman, and it makes me wonder if I’d get the same treatment if I were a man. Would people have the same expectations of me in negotiations? Would they interrupt me when I am speaking?

Even though I’m aware of these things, it’s still hard for me to assert myself sometimes, and so many times I have seen women avoid asking for what they deserve in titles and compensation. I am sometimes guilty of this as well. When it comes to talking about money, often women still can’t discuss how much we should be earning in comparison to our peers, and how much we actually make. Despite the growing attention to these inequalities by many celebrities, women’s groups, and even some people in government, they have strong roots and there is a lot that still needs to change.

On Supporting One Another & Unlocking the Power Our Divine Femininity

I truly believe as women, we can do more to rise up and move forward together. It’s too common for women to feel threatened by other women, and this leads to a lack of support between us. We should be willing to mentor other women and celebrate each other’s successes. Together we can accomplish more, and we can be even more successful … success-squared!

“We should approach the world as abundant. There is plenty for everybody. ”

The biggest problem I see is that we are often operating from the ‘scarcity mentality’ – the idea that there are not enough jobs, men and CEO positions on the planet for all of us. If what we see is that there is only one seat at the table for a woman, it puts us in a competitive stance with our fellow female professionals. Instead, we should approach the world as abundant. There is plenty for everybody. As women, we are miracle workers, we give birth to children, to new life. We are of the earth. We have this divine femininity, and it is something we should be connected to and revere rather than allowing society to disconnect us. If we see that in one another, we will innately raise each other up, invest in each other, and actively work toward equality from the ground up to create more seats at the table.

From Beaches to Wisdom: A Future Outlook on Greece & Greek Tech

What inspires me most in a place is its energy. I come back to Greece again and again because its energy is centuries old, and it has so much wisdom to share with us.

Today Greece has so much to offer, and there are really exciting things happening. We are a tiny country, but we have so many gifts to give the world: our sunlight, our beaches, our ancient wisdom, our centuries old traditions, but also our modern innovation in tech, and so many natural products connected to the earth, the Mediterranean, and our health.

“Greeks have been forced to become even more innovative, to find progress in areas they would not have looked before, to appreciate all that may have been taken for granted.”

There are still organizational issues that still need to be figured out, but the crisis has really helped people reorganize and do things differently. We are working on innovation and progress, and it may take a generation to reach its peak, but siga siga we are getting there.

Final Words of Advice: Go Out of Your Comfort Zone… and Enjoy the Ride

There are three essential things that I have learned as a female entrepreneur, and that I try to keep in mind every day. First of all, at the end of the day, remember to just dare. Get out of your comfort zone. Try new things even if you aren’t sure you can do them yet. Reach out and ask for help from people you look up to even if you think they might not respond to you. It’s all statistics; the more you put yourself out there, the greater chance something is going to work out.

“Don’t be afraid to dare. Go out of your comfort zone. … And if you keep putting things out into the universe, they will flow when they are meant to.”

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Second, shift anxiety to excitement and enjoy the ride. Don’t let fear hold you back. If you find yourself thinking, “I don’t know if I can do that”, and what you perceive as scary, may actually be exciting, you are in the right place. If you change your perception about anxiety and fear, it’s just a small pivot to feel it as excitement.

But the most important thing I have learned is to have faith that when something is meant to happen, it will. If you keep putting your desires out into the universe, they will flow back to you when they are meant to. Of course it’s disappointing when things don’t work out how you would have liked, but it helps to think that maybe that it wasn’t right for you, and to look for the lessons from what happened. Learn to see failures as inevitable stepping-stones to success, and try not to take it personally. The world has great things in store for you. You just have to trust it.


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