Business and Life Lessons Learned from Femtech and Sextech Leaders During Quarantine
On a good day, balancing many demanding roles is challenging. Quarantine has created all kinds of new challenges for people — with all kinds of extremes — too much time alone or together, too much time spent cooking or ordering in, too much time spent homeschooling or not enough, too much business or too little, too much free time or too little, AND too much sex or on the other extreme — NONE.
As a vagipreneur®, I spend my time working to build businesses in female sexual and reproductive health. Sextech, femtech, and women’s health — regardless of the descriptor — entrepreneurs in this space face challenges — which have been well-documented.
What continues to astound, inspire and energize me about my work and this industry are the types of people and companies who choose to work in female sexual health — creative problem-solvers, disciplined leaders, and courageous decision-makers. They bring experience in other categories, drive, intellect, creative problem-solving, resilience, and endurance. Many have translated personal pain and problems into unique solutions and ultimately businesses.
So who better to provide insight as to how to manage the new set of challenges created by our new environment once it became clear that lockdown was for real. Since the beginning of April 2020, I have had the pleasure of having conversations with close to 70 entrepreneurs, health care practitioners, academics, investors and educators in the space as part of a learning and education series titled, “Quotes from Quarantine”. The participants provide products and services run the gamut include pleasure products, tracking apps, workshops, options for sexual health disease prevention, and makers of menstrual health products, among others.
And the most amazing part — regardless of their particular focus in the space — is their optimism in the face of obstacles, their high hopes in the face of hysteria. While not untouched by the ravages of the pandemic on businesses, funding, families, hospitals and communities, they are looking for and finding opportunities to retrench and reinvent.
KISS (Keep it simple, sister). Make sure to do the simple things that make a difference. Go outside as often as possible to relax, recharge and disconnect. Meditate or do deep breathing if you can. This could be a 10-minute reprieve from your responsibilities.
Make your self-care a priority: Exercise as often as possible. Run, skip, jump, hula hoop, do yoga, walk, stand on your head, do a push-up, it doesn’t matter – just make sure to get your endorphins racing. Eat as healthfully as you can. Sleep – enough said.
Turn off: Don’t watch the media that gets your blood boiling. Avoid the articles about the people who have made quarantine sound like being on a spa retreat. Replace the media aggravation with human connection.
Turn lemons into lemonade: Figure out a way to use your skills or your company’s skills in a different way during the pandemic. Retool your operation, by using your knowledge of supply chains and manufacturing to make PPE. Translate your technology skills into better systems to connect vendors in your ecosystem. Be aware that customer service – much of which is being moved to actual phone calls can be an empathetic ear on anything, not just your business.
Give generously: Provide free products to people who need what you sell to make others’ days brighter. Donate, volunteer, serve, help — in any way you can as a leader and a human being.
Jumpstart projects: With so many programs, projects and initiatives postponed, those “love-to-dos” cannot actually get done. Accelerate new product launches. Put together the infrastructure to offer services that support your business. Build partnerships. Small companies are looking for engines for growth. Large companies are looking for innovation. Reach out, be audacious, start conversations — just take a leap.
Experience pleasure (what would you expect from folks who talk about women’s health all day): Have sex if you are interested. Whether you are alone or with a partner, it is a great time to try new products, understand more about what makes you feel good, explore. And absolutely don’t worry if you have no interest. The increased anxiety, stress, pressure of all kinds leaves many people in the mood for anything but.
It is clear that these unprecedented times require extraordinary leaders to help us survive, thrive, adjust and adapt. Rest assured, there are many out there who are doing just that.
About Rachel Scherl
Rachel Braun Scherl is a champion for the business of women’s health and a pioneer in the space, where she has passionately focused on driving the conversation about solutions and options for women’s sexual and reproductive health. Rachel’s international client base includes Fortune 500 leaders, as well venture backed startups focused anywhere from menstruation to menopause. Board member, business unit director of Manna Molecular (a new CBD sexual wellness brand) board member, and the author of the best-seller, Orgasmic Leadership: Profiting from the Coming Surge in Women’s Sexual Health and Wellness, Rachel is a sought-after Keynote Speaker, featured at leadership and entrepreneurship events at colleges, universities, corporations and conferences, including: CES, SXSW, IWL among others.