When Miisa Mink decided to start a new network for ambitious professional women a few years ago, she didn’t waste much time overanalysing.
“I’ve always been a doer,” the entrepreneur and author says. “When I got the idea, I just started writing a blog.”
Mink’s approach clearly resonated with her readers. What started as a blog in 2013 has now grown into Driven Woman, a hugely popular global “lifeworking” network for women with groups and regular events in London, Switzerland, Helsinki, Singapore and even Australia.
Mink, however, insists on not unpublishing her early, unrefined blog posts.
“Some of them are pretty bad, but they are there to prove a point. You can start doing things without being perfect at them.”
“The perfection trap” is one of the things Mink wants to help women fight against.
“When you look at women’s magazines or read about successful women in business, the stories still perpetuate a very narrow idea of success – that you have to be incredibly confident, tough and always fully in control to make it,” she describes.
“And that is simply not true!”
Moving forward is easier together
Mink herself has – by all standards – been incredibly successful. Born and raised in Finland, Mink has lived all around the world before settling in London, and has previously launched and grown start-ups including the famous Nordic Bakery chain in Central London and international design agency TBWA/TANGO.
Whilst on maternity leave with her twin boys, Mink noticed that her idea of success started to shift.
“There is so much more to good life than an important title or a big paycheck, and success should look different for different people,” she explains.
Mink has always been naturally good at bringing people together and making things happen. Driven Woman was born when she realised she could use these strengths to help more women find theirs.
The principle behind the network is simple. Women from all industries and life situations can join a local group, which meets once a month to discuss individual objectives and goals in life. The focus is on finding tangible solutions to move forward.
“We hold each other accountable, which makes it easier to actually start getting things done,” Mink describes.
Leaving guilt and shame behind
The members of Driven Woman are diverse in age, ethnicity, background and profession; there are bankers, life coaches, photographers, cleaners, florists and authors attending the groups. But the challenges women struggle with are surprisingly similar, Mink says.
“Am I allowed to do this? Am I making the right choice? Am I letting everyone down?” Women are often programmed into looking for acceptance outside themselves.”
Mink encourages members to move away from guilt, shame or fulfilling someone else’s idea of success.
“First of all, there probably isn’t one right choice, but multiple possible routes to a good outcome.”
Driven Woman is all about dreaming big, but also about setting realistic, manageable objectives to move towards those dreams.
“Success requires a lot of work and time. It’s taking small steps,” Mink says.
In its first five years Driven Woman has grown organically – women visiting the local groups have wanted to start their own group in another city or country. Mink is currently busy building new partnerships and the network’s digital presence but her vision for the future is crystal clear:
“In the next five years, I want our global network to have one million driven women.”