The first time we offered our Becoming the Head B*tch in Charge workshop experience, it was to a group of business women at the Ross School of Business. Event attendance was capped for planning purposes and it was barely marketed. The title of the experience was about all the ladies had to go on when deciding whether to give up an entire Friday afternoon and forego the 14 other options on their social calendars that day. In the end, the experience had a waitlist longer than 50% of our capacity, and the coordinators said it was one of the most sought-after events of the year. Clearly something was working.
Then we decided to offer the Becoming the Head B*tch in Charge workshop to the public. We figured if there was so much interest in a single MBA program, we’d surely find ladies interested in the program out there in the universe. As part of our marketing and promotional strategy, we decided we wanted to profile ladies that are already HBICs in their own right. We pulled our definition of what an HBIC would look like from the content we teach in our workshop: she’s unapologetically authentic, and is able to have an impact from where she is (irrespective of formal title or authority) because she’s crystal clear on her values, vision, purpose and brand.
We put the call out asking for ladies to profile via a post on facebook, with an in-your-face rendering of the words “Head B*tch in Charge.” That post ended up being one of our most successful posts to date, in terms of engagements, shares, and likes. We even had several extremely badass ladies we didn’t know, personally reach out to us to asking to be profiled. Something really WAS working.
“Yay,” we thought. “Let’s go bigger!!”
And so we decided to tell everyone we knew about our impending launch of the HBIC brand. We put out another request for introductions to badass ladies, and mentioned that we’ll be offering the workshop to the public in Colorado and New York in the Fall. We also launched our website, BecomingTheHBIC.com.
And that’s when it happened... We came face to face with the fact that our brand isn’t universally loved. In fact, it’s offensive to some people. We received an email from a peer stating that she viewed bitch to be an offensive title for women. Even family members suggested that the brand was “inappropriate” and a few ladies we were hoping to profile declined the invitation because the brand “wasn’t in line with their values.” Ooof… talk about daggers to the heart.
And so Kara and I had an internal pow-wow. We had to answer some tough questions for ourselves. How important was it that we put our point of view about professional female leadership out there under the mantle of “Head B*tch in Charge” or “HBIC”? What did the term mean to us, anyway? Was it worth alienating some of the world because our brand was charged and PG-13 rated? Were the ladies who signed up for the workshop, and the badasses who asked to be profiled, interested in our brand BECAUSE of the name?
We did some research. We talked to people. We read some articles, and we listened to our hearts. In our workshop experience we talk about being true to your authentic self. We talk about knowing your values and purpose, and choosing the tricks and routines that allow you to show up as your best self.
I am most definitely NOT the classy lady my mother would have hoped to raise. I’ve got an east-coast edge that I’m proud of. I curse. I’m informal, alpha, and definitely NOT apologetic. In the professional environments that I played in over the last decade and a half, I’ve had to put myself in a container and cap the lid… and I would have LOVED the permission to show up, instead, as the HBIC my inner self knew me to be.
When we founded wolf & heron, Kara chose HBIC as her actual title. In her words, “If you can’t give yourself an awesome title when you’re an entrepreneur, what’s the point?” She finds it to be empowering. She feels like that mantle gives her permission to let the best of herself shine.
Becoming the Head B*tch in Charge is an experience meant to empower women to take charge of their lives, own their authenticity, and create the impact they want to in the world. For Kara and me, being an HBIC isn’t offensive or derogatory. It doesn’t represent a stereotype. For us, it’s a positive pro-lady inner rallying cry to take charge and lead.
And so, with that, we choose to stay the course. Yes, "Head B*tch in Charge" is a provocative title. No, it’s not for everyone. If we offend you, our deepest regrets. To those of you who feel empowered by it, welcome home.
- Stephanie Judd, Boss Lady | Wolf