TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Marketing Lessons From Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign

Donald Trump during a news conference ahead of a rally in Dubuque, Iowa on Aug. 25, 2015.
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg via Getty Images Donald Trump during a news conference ahead of a rally in Dubuque, Iowa on Aug. 25, 2015.

What you see is what you get

Donald Trump has taken over the 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign. Whether you agree or disagree with him, there’s no denying that his candidacy has been a powerful force in the race and has commanded a great deal of media attention.

Time will tell whether Trump’s campaign will be successful in winning the nomination, but he’s already been very successful at generating headlines. Despite his brash demeanor and highly questionable (some would say “hateful” or “stupid”) statements, as of this writing, Trump just keeps rising in the polls.

Regardless of what happens with Trump’s presidential campaign, he’s already a winner in the constant battle for public attention. Here are a few marketing lessons from Trump that any brand or political cause can emulate:

1. Know your audience

Donald Trump doesn’t care if you love him or hate him. He’s playing to a very select crowd of voters who believe in his message and who want to support him. There’s something about Trump’s tough-talking “I don’t care what the experts think” attitude that appeals to Republican primary voters in 2015. Lots of Republican primary voters are feeling frustrated and are passionate to take back the White House. Trump is giving voice to feelings that are widely shared in that political party.

In the same way, your brand doesn’t have to appeal to “everyone.” Know your target market and speak to their concerns in a relevant way.

2. Know your brand

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump knows who he is. The Trump that we’re seeing on the campaign trail is well known to New Yorkers (I’m a native New Yorker myself). We have watched him for decades become famous as a New York real estate developer, bestselling author and TV reality-show contest business mogul on “The Apprentice.” Trump hasn’t changed. He’s just talking about politics now instead of business deals. But he’s always been bold and brassy, with a take-no-prisoners attitude.

The lesson: Your brand needs to stand for something. Lots of people are not fans of Trump, but even people who oppose his candidacy find themselves grudgingly admiring the consistency of his brand message. What you see is what you get.

3. Be audacious

Trump has said a lot of outrageous things during the campaign, from inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants to accusing John McCain of not being a “war hero,” but every new media gaffe or media whirlwind just seems to boost his performance in the polls. The reason: Trump’s core supporters respect him for speaking his truth, even if he’s not saying it in a polite, genteel way.

Most political candidates are so polished and focus-grouped that it’s almost impossible for their real feelings and emotions to come out. Trump is in your face, every day, with unvarnished depictions of life as he sees it. He’s not afraid of what anyone thinks about him, and it shows.

The lesson: Don’t be afraid to really stand for something as a brand, even if it’s controversial. Too many companies try to be blandly inoffensive in a failed attempt to be “mainstream” and appeal to “everyone.” It’s better to be memorable, even if you lose some customers who don’t “get it,” as long as you keep appealing to the niche market of customers who love you the most.

4. Trust yourself

Trump doesn’t follow focus groups. All candidates these days test out their message, trying to find the right combination of words and issues to appeal to the right demographic segments of voters. But often, candidates end up sounding excessively “focus-grouped.” The real human connection of the candidate gets lost in trying to appeal to too many people. Trump seems to be resonating with conservative Republican voters because he’s so unrehearsed and unpolished — he’s not afraid to speak off the cuff. Every day on the campaign seems like he’s just really talking about whatever is most urgently on his mind at that moment.

The same goes with your product. It’s good to do some market research to find out whether a new product is viable, but it’s even more important to trust that you have a good idea. If you feel that way, trust that others will feel the same. I’ve seen so many great ideas become convoluted and watered down, when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. If you try to make your product appealing to everyone, you’ll ultimately end up appealing to no one.

5. No apologies

Trump is like no one else we’ve seen in presidential politics in recent years. He seems to have absolutely no sense of regret or shame. He says what he says, he calls it like he sees it, and then he moves on, ignoring the critics. Has Trump ever apologized for anything? He seems incapable of admitting to mistakes or being wrong.

This raises an interesting question for your brand: when should you apologize? If a customer has a bad experience with your product, should you apologize? Or should you just give them a refund and move on, writing it off as “Well, they’re not the right kind of customer for us?” If someone is offended by or misunderstands something your company posts on Twitter, should you apologize? Should you ignore the critics, or try to learn from them?

It’s hard to know when to draw the line. If you apologize too often, you’ll find yourself catering too much to customers who really don’t understand the value of what you offer. But if you don’t apologize when an apology was really warranted, you might damage your brand. You have to toe the line between maintaining your brand reputation and doing the right thing. Don’t spend all of your energy on trying to make bad customers happy.

Trump embodies the purity of a certain kind of bold, no-apologies approach to doing business. He’s almost Zen-like in his clear-headed refusal to get bogged down in details of saying “sorry.” He just keeps moving forward and on to the next deal. There’s something so refreshing about that, but not all brands can pull it off.

Whether you’re voting for Trump or not, there’s no denying that he’s a fascinating one-of-a-kind figure in American politics and business. You don’t have to become like Trump to learn from how he’s marketed himself and built his brand.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

More from Entrepreneur.com:

TIME Business

Amazon Isn’t the Problem. We Are.

Deanna Fei is the author of Girl in Glass and is the recipient of a Fulbright Grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship.

Our culture of overwork creates a system in which mothers can be punished for biology, or just bad luck

A recent report about Amazon’s workplace culture has made waves: Eighty-five-hour workweeks, annual staff culling, executives encouraging underlings to sabotage one another, employees weeping at their desks. Is this a necessary formula for success in the innovation economy? In a letter to employees, Jeff Bezos decried such practices as “shockingly callous. … Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.”

The most appalling charge: that female employees who had suffered personal traumas such as miscarriages and stillbirths were forced to maintain their productivity or else face punishment. This week, another former Amazon employee has come forward to tell her own story of being cruelly mistreated after she delivered a baby and received a diagnosis of cancer.

From where I sit, such incidents don’t appear to be unique to Amazon. Ever since my infant daughter and I were singled out as outsized financial liabilities last year by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, I continue to hear from women who were victimized by their employers upon suffering a personal health crisis—especially those related to pregnancy and childbirth.

One mother of two from Seattle writes to tell me that the same day her doctors ordered her on bed rest due to pregnancy complications, her employer informed her that her job would be terminated. Another woman tells me that her employer directly called her a “burden” on the company because she had been diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer. A mother of premature daughters describes a company meeting where the insurance rep complained that someone with twins had cost the company a lot of money.

Such instances of mistreatment might be extreme, but they indicate a much wider problem in our underlying value system, says Anne Weisberg, senior vice president at the Families and Work Institute. When an ethos of overwork collides with the messy realities of child-rearing, we create a culture where it’s plausible “to treat a woman’s medical situation as a personal failure.”

Tech companies including Netflix and Facebook have grabbed headlines for new policies including extended parental leave and complimentary egg freezing. But the larger problem remains that a relentless 24/7 work culture continues to rule most elite companies. And so long as women are biologically destined to bear the physical burden of childrearing—and all its attendant risks—they’re disproportionately vulnerable to being targeted as drags on the bottom line.

“It’s a new work world,” says Ann McGinley, a professor of employment law at the Boyd School of Law of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “The lean-and-mean ethos is particularly hard on women. It’s a cowboy ethic: You can’t play in our clubhouse unless you play by our rules. But those rules don’t work with having a family.”

Any data-obsessed CEO might be tempted to slap a price tag on the financial liability represented by a female employee who needs extra time to cope with a stillbirth or to care for a special-needs baby. But the true costs of a system in which such women risk getting pushed out of the workforce are immeasurably greater.

“There’s a huge price to pay for the way we work now. Our whole society is paying a price,” Weisberg says. “The 24/7 work culture is bad for your health, bad for families, and bad for business. We need to redefine what it means to be an ideal worker. Workers need to be able to sustain healthy performance over time.”

Studies show that the benefits of supporting women through life events such as childbirth—in terms of employee retention and engagement, maintaining a diverse and creative workforce, and reducing work/life stress—far outweigh the costs.

Furthermore, as McGinley points out, companies that employ harsh tactics that disproportionately affect women might risk serious lawsuits—as well as long-term growth. “If you seek to discard half your population, you’re losing a lot of expertise. You’re not going to have the innovation you need.”

There are reasons for optimism as we witness the inevitable maturation of the predominantly young and male tech workforce. But the trendy rhetoric of family-friendly policies needs to be followed through with meaningful reform. No progressive workplace can abide the insanity of a system in which female employees are vulnerable to getting discarded the moment they suffer a stroke of reproductive misfortune.

Meanwhile, nearly all of the women who write to me about falling victim to callous mistreatment by their employers in the wake of a medical emergency also tell me that they were unable to speak out to defend themselves. They couldn’t risk losing their jobs. They were afraid of seeming troublesome or expensive to potential employers. They were steeped in the shame that often surrounds medical crises related to pregnancy and childbirth—as well as the stigma of being labeled a financial burden. I can’t blame them.

But until we speak up, we risk perpetuating the myth that those reported instances of cruelty at Amazon are completely anomalous incidents. And we make it all too easy for corporate leaders to pay lip service to workplace reform even as they continue to practice business as usual.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME energy

How the American Oil Industry Got Its Start

Oil Well
AP This is the well near Titusville, Penn., that pumped the petroleum industry into existence 100 years ago. The picture was taken four years after Col. Edwin L. Drake struck oil on Aug. 27, 1859.

Aug. 27, 1859: Edwin Drake strikes oil in Pennsylvania with the first commercial well in the U.S.

America’s first successful wildcatter had a lot in common with fiction’s most famous whaler. Edwin Drake was as obsessively single-minded in his hunt for oil as Ahab had been in his quest for the white whale: He was called Crazy Drake, per PBS, after pouring the modern equivalent of more than $40,000 in investors’ money — and his own endless labor — into a search that spanned more than a year without results.

But on this day, Aug. 27, in 1859, Drake’s monomania paid off. He struck oil after drilling 69 ft. into the ground in Titusville, Pa., launching the petroleum age and making Titusville ground zero for the Pennsylvania oil rush.

Unlike Ahab (spoiler alert), Drake wasn’t destroyed by his discovery — at least not instantly. But although he was the first to engineer a successful oil-drilling system, lining his well with pipe to keep it from caving in, he never patented the method, and the money he’d made when he struck oil soon dried up.

A century later, TIME referred to him as “a sickly, bearded failure of a man in a stovepipe hat” in a story that nonetheless acknowledged that “[t]hough Discoverer Drake wound up virtually penniless and forgotten, his find opened the scramble for oil across the land,” inspiring a legion of oil prospectors to chase what had become, by 1959, “the greatest single source of wealth in America.”

His discovery also helped bring the whaling chapter of American history to a close. At the time, of course, petroleum didn’t power cars; it was used primarily to make kerosene for lamps. And it proved far cheaper than the prevailing source of lamp fuel: whale oil.

At its peak, around the time Melville published Moby Dick in 1851, whaling was the fifth-largest industry in the U.S., netting the equivalent of roughly $10 million, according to The Atlantic. But by the time Drake drilled for oil, over-hunting in the waters around North America had decimated local whale populations, forcing whalers to venture farther and stay at sea longer to catch their prey — and making the hunt both more costly and more dangerous, some historians say.

The parallels between the declining availability of whale oil at that time and the modern-day perils of the petroleum industry have not gone unobserved. As the New York Times has noted, whale oil once seemed to be an “impregnable” industry that the world could never do without. But petroleum, and the kerosene it produced, proved a fiercer rival to whalers than boat-bashing sea creatures.

Read more about Edwin Drake, here in the TIME archives: The Greatest Gamblers

MONEY Food & Drink

You Could be Entitled to a $25 Check — or $50 in Tuna

Starkist is on the hook for under-filling cans of tuna.

If you come across a headline about class-action lawsuit over tuna, the first thought you might have is Oh no, what was I eating if it wasn’t tuna?

But you can relax. Filed two-and-a-half years ago, the suit was launched when one consumer noticed five-ounce cans of Starkist were slightly under-filled. While the short-changing wasn’t noticeable to most people, it saved the company a ton of fish (and money). However, the fishy practice has backfired.

Consumerist reports that the case has just been settled. If you’re a resident of the U.S. who bought Starkist Chunk Lite Tuna or Solid White tuna (either in oil or water) between Feb. 19, 2009, and Oct. 31, 2014, you’re entitled to a payout of $25 cash — or $50 in tuna if you prefer. Consumers can get the payout even if they don’t have receipts, which surely very few people have at this point.

The news comes on the heels of accusations of colluding to fix prices among tuna brands, rounding out a very poor month for Starkist.

TIME Business

This New Ad Will Get Anyone Excited for Star Wars

Nostalgia alert

A new ad from Target is a celebration of Star Wars fandom, featuring little boys and girls dressed up like Han Solo, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and battling older relatives with lightsabers — all while John Williams’ classic Star Wars theme plays in the background. The two-minute spot is a promotion for new Star Wars merchandise hitting shelves on September 4 — also known as “Force Friday” — to gear up for the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18.

Watching the promotion is a total nostalgia trip that will make Star Wars fans feel like the force is with them all over again. And the retailer hopes that fans who feel this way will channel that energy into submitting their favorite memories about the films on its website.

TIME Business

What the U.S. and Cuba Can Learn From the Past

Habana: Casino De La Playa. National Casino At Marianao, C1910.
Print Collector / Getty Images Tourist postcard of the National Casino a Marianao in Havana, c1910.

This won't be the first time Cuba has a chance to start something from scratch

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Cuba is about to change. As relations between the United States and Cuba improve, lessons from the origins of U.S.-Cuba relations 200 years ago can help to prevent the island’s tourism sector from becoming a new monoculture akin to the sugar industry. Consider two years in which Cuba was on the verge of a major shift: 2013 and 1790.

In 2013, despite popular commentary on an island “frozen in time,” Cuba was not entirely isolated from the United States. That year, Cuba received an estimated 100,000 visitors from the United States, not counting an additional 470,000 Cuban Americans visiting family. By comparison, approximately 1.6 million American tourists visited the Dominican Republic.

The Cuban tourism sector hosts 3 million visitors each year. Yet the total contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP of Cuba was just 9.8% in 2013, compared to 15.3% in Jamaica and 25.6% in the nearby Dominican Republic. Today, improving Cuba’s tourism sector could be the quickest way to jumpstart the economy, and there are lessons to be learned from the money that was once crystallized from that previous driver of Cuban economic activity: sugar.

In 1790, Cuba was an underdeveloped Spanish colony, important primarily because of its role as a military waypoint for galleons carrying silver and gold from the Americas to Europe. Sugar was the oil of the era, and the Caribbean was the center of production. U.S. merchants were no strangers to Cuba, but the Spanish island was a third-tier destination. That year, the French colony of Saint Domingue and the islands of the British Caribbean produced 80,000 tons of sugar each. Cuba produced just 14,000 tons of sugar.

But then, as now, things were about to change. In 1791, the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution – a successful slave rebellion in Saint Domingue – created economic upheaval, with dramatic consequences for Cuba and the United States. The 2014 announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama that cross-strait diplomacy had finally created an opening to move past decades of geopolitical animosity could have a similar impact.

In 1790, just two percent of Cuba’s arable land was under cultivation. After the start of the Haitian Revolution, a wave of new arrivals, including French planters fleeing Saint Domingue and American and European investors, combined with the liberalization of trade, jumpstarted the Cuban sugar industry, which could short-cut centuries of trial-and-error to immediately adopt the most advanced methods available. Plantations expanded at a frantic, unprecedented pace. The slave trade accelerated, and Cuban planters created a monoculture of sugar production that historians now recognize as an “agro-industrial graveyard” in which enslaved Africans were systematically worked to death.

Today, much of Cuba’s tourism infrastructure is similarly undeveloped. The island’s current supply of 40,000 4 and 5 star hotel rooms are unlikely to be enough to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are expected to arrive if U.S. travel restrictions are eliminated. The number of U.S. visitors to Cuba was already up 54% year-over-year in the first half of 2015. The Cuban government’s 2014 call for foreign direct investment to construct several thousand new hotel rooms in areas outside the visitor hubs of Havana and Varadero will not be enough to meet demand.

In fact, however, the same characteristics that have historically made Cuba so attractive to Caribbean traders, smugglers, and pirates – the island’s narrow wedge of strategic ports – also make it perfect for contemporary cruise ships. Cuba’s ports are ideally sequenced along the coastline for day-trips that allow visitors to spend cash without the need for a hotel. This is precisely why numerous cruise ship companies have recently announced plans for Cuban excursions, beginning in late 2015- 2016, and as many as a half million additional Americans are now expected to arrive in Cuba via cruise ships from 2015-2017. This means that the development of Cuban port facilities, shipping regulations, and incentive policies might be more immediately relevant for the Cuban tourism sector than new hotels.

Yet, although cruise ships could help to solve Cuba’s immediate supply capacity constraints and inject cash into the Cuban economy, travelers will expect improved infrastructure. For tourists, even cruise ship tourists, infrastructure matters, and in many sectors – as in 1790 – Cuba can benefit by starting from scratch. Seventy-five percent of paved roadways in Cuba are in extremely poor condition, and it is estimated that the island may need as many as 1.6 million additional dwelling units to support its population. Rail and water/wastewater treatment are in various states of decay and disrepair; fixed-line phone services experience frequent outages; the Internet is virtually nonexistent; and the oil-importing energy sector, like much of the island, is ripe for a makeover.

It wouldn’t be the first time. From the 1790s – 1830s, Cuba underwent one of the most significant economic development projects in history, with a massive expansion of roads, ports, sanitation, and railroads, funded by taxes and foreign investment – all to support sugar production. Within a generation, Cuba became the world’s largest sugar producer and the second-largest trading partner of the United States. By the 1820s, for example, the price of slaves in Havana correlated directly with the price of sugar in New York. From the start, U.S. foreign policy, including the Monroe Doctrine, encouraged the expansion of the Cuban slave regime for the sake of America’s own inter-dependent growth. Slavery would not be abolished in Cuba until 1886; its legacy persists today.

A rush to jumpstart the Cuban tourism sector could have consequences that are just as significant. Located just 90 miles from the large U.S. economy and Cuban Diaspora, Cuba could be attractive to investors interested in quick profits or uncertain development initiatives. U.S. and Cuban stakeholders should remain wary of anything that hints at a new economic monoculture to support tourism at the expense of sustainable, equitable internal development. Across sectors, they should begin with the best technologies and top experts, and encourage first-hand travel and engagement on both sides. Lessons from the origins of U.S.-Cuba relations offer a cautionary tale, and a way forward – a way to create prosperity in Cuba that benefits both nations. For the first time in 200 years, the United States and Cuba now have the opportunity to begin again.

Stephen Chambers attended the University of Chicago and received a Ph.D. in history from Brown University. He is the author of No God But Gain: The Untold Story of Cuban Slavery, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Making of the United States (Verso Books, September 2015).

TIME Careers & Workplace

I Learned All of My Business Lessons From Selling on a Street Corner

street-fair
Getty Images

It wasn’t enough that I loved my creations and thought they were clever

For about six or so years, I hocked goods I had made on the street, at state fairs, county fairs, art fairs and festivals up and down the state of California.

It was the late 1970s. I was 21 years old. I had dropped out of college at San Jose State University, needing only three units to graduate. I had loved studying sculpture, but I was dubious, to put it mildly, about my employment prospects. Who was going to hire me?

When I looked in the paper, the only jobs were for graphic artists and art galleries — neither of which I was qualified for. I knew I would not be creating fine works of art, but I decided then that if I could make things with my hands and make a living — I’d be satisfied. I’d be more than satisfied: I’d be rich.

At the time I was living in the Santa Cruz Mountains with a ragtag group of friends. There was a lot of kicking back and hanging out. I was fortunate to cross paths with someone who was extremely creative. As we sat in front of the television watching Dallas (Dallas was always on), I remember watching Marlena make little funny-looking characters out of stuffing a nylon stocking with cotton using a needle and thread. With their wrinkly faces, they looked like little old men.

It seemed fun, so I started to design a few of my own. When some of our friends told us they thought they were cool, an idea dawned on me — could I sell these?

Driving home on Summit Road one day, I noticed a sign advertising an upcoming craft fair at a local elementary school. I took down the phone number, called it, showed up the following weekend with my folding table and soft sculptures, and had an absolute blast. I felt like I had met a community of like-minded people. They didn’t have jobs either. They weren’t mainstream. They caravanned across the state like gypsies, and that appealed to me. What freedom! As I felt the warm sun on my face, I was sure of it: This was the life for me.

There weren’t many vendors, but I could see that some booths were doing a lot of business, because every so often a wad of cash would peak out from someone’s hand. They’d figured out that magical sweet spot, the one that exists when you sell something for the right price point in the right place. You can make it as complicated as you want, but if you’ve made something, brought it to market, and someone has paid you for it, you’ve completed the circle. You’ve done what every major business does. I wanted to duplicate their success.

Later that afternoon, my father stopped by the show to see how I was doing. “Great!” He saw how wide my grin was and asked me how many things had I sold.

Zero. I hadn’t sold anything.

To his credit, and this really was not his scene, he didn’t say or do anything that might have put out my fire. He simply smiled in a way that said, “You’ll figure it out.”

I learned a very important lesson that day. If I was going to make rent and feed myself, I had to come up with ideas that would sell. It wasn’t enough that I loved my creations and thought they were clever. I started thinking, “Who is my audience?”

So I went back to the drawing board to examine why I had failed. The nylons I had used were very plain — you could even see the cotton through them. The characters weren’t very recognizable either. When I reflected on the day, I remembered seeing mostly women, and that the fruit and vegetable stands were a big hit. Fruits. Vegetables. Women. I came to the conclusion that I needed to invent something that was fun, whimsical and for the kitchen.

So I changed directions. I bought colored nylons and formed them into playful fruits and vegetables. I called the tomato “Mr. Tom-a-toe.” The banana’s face peaked out of its peel. There were peas in a pod, each of their three faces silly and cheery. My carrots had shaggy green “hair” that I cut to look like the Beatles.

The next time I set up my table, I smoothed out a red and white checkered tablecloth on top of it. I staged my creations inside a wooden crate. And I waited.

That day, I sold out.

Immediately I thought (like every entrepreneur who has ever lived), how do I duplicate this? How do I scale up? I’ve been trying to do just that ever since.

So what did I learn? Know your audience. Create something they desire. Test it quickly to see if it sells. And by all means, have fun doing it. For me, these lessons are as foundational today as they were then. How could they not be? The path was as plain as day. When I sit in boardrooms with major corporations, I ask myself the same questions. Who is my audience? And how am I going to get them to open their wallets?

You can learn so much from observing successful operations. And I think there’s something to be said for having your back up against the wall. It actually works in your favor. If you have to support yourself, you get darn creative — fast.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

More from Entrepreneur.com:

TIME women

Don’t Call Me a ‘Mompreneur’

Haven’t we earned the right by now to just be called entrepreneurs?

I was aimlessly wandering through Costco last weekend (it’s as close to a hobby as I’ll get), when I ran into an old friend. Not having seen each other in years, we exchanged the usual questions to catch up between shoving a year’s worth of taquitos into our carts. “Are you married? How many kids? What part of town do you live in?” Then she asked the one question that always makes me cringe, “Do you work outside the home?”

It’s a question that’s loaded with assumptions. For starters, it insinuates that people who choose to abandon a career to take care of their families are resided to the simplicities of their home. We know that’s not true. These parents are as much working outside the home — as drivers, coaches, educators, activity managers, and caretakers — as they are inside the home.

Second, the question presumes that because I’m a mom I have a choice. Third, it presumes that I want that choice.

When I got home I asked my husband, “Have you ever been asked if you work outside the home?”

“No,” he said, “of course not.”

I asked if he’s ever been called a dadpreneur, as he has his own law practice, and is by definition a dad. He rolled his eyes at me and proceeded to help me unload 400 pounds of rice and frozen lasagna.

For the same reason why my long lost friend asked me if I work outside the home, I’ve been labeled a “mompreneur,” more times than I can count. I’m the founder and CEO of a software company. I’m also the mother of two.

There’s a deep-rooted assumption in our society that women entrepreneurs with children will always regard themselves as mom first and foremost, and entrepreneur second. They can never exist on the same plane, and this is hurting us all.

Perception is everything

The term mompreneur conjures up images of a smart looking woman wearing a suit, holding a baby in one arm and a briefcase in the other. As I write this, in Entrepreneur’s Mompreneur section of their website, there are 14 articles on the home page. Eight of them have images of a woman entrepreneur with her kids. Seven of them have headlines about work-life balance. Two have headlines on how to involve your kids in your business.

There isn’t a single headline on just how to improve your business. Nothing on growing sales, raising capital, mastering culture, or recruiting the best talent. Apparently the only thing women entrepreneurs are supposed to care about is how to balance their godforsaken careers with having a family.

Creating a special category of content for entrepreneurs who happen to also be moms creates a perception that these women don’t run their businesses the same way other entrepreneurs do. And this is completely false. Every entrepreneur I know — mom, dad, and the kidless ones — want the same things. They want to grow. They want to keep costs down and quality up. They want to recruit and retain the best talent. And they all want to create something awesome that fits their definition of success.

The deluge of this type of content, expertly marketed to millions of women just like me, sends the message that when it comes to running our businesses, our biggest concern should be how we balance our ventures with our family obligations.

Men entrepreneurs aren’t targeted with articles about balancing work with family, and it sends a very different message.

This disparity feeds into the fact that women who work still take on more of the housework (three more hours per week) and spend twice as much time on childcare than their male partners.

The message permeates outside the family as well. Women entrepreneurs already face an uphill battle in funding their companies, with fewer than 5% of venture-backed companies run by a woman CEO. Investors prefer a venture pitch by a man to an identical pitch by a woman at a rate of 68% to 32%. The perception that women are less capable entrepreneurs than men is deeply engrained in our culture. Add “mom” to the woman entrepreneur’s CV and investors jump to the same assumption everyone else does: Is she really interested in working outside the home?

Learning is Limited

If I were to read every article on the top three pages of the search term “mompreneur,” I’d learn a lot about how to balance my life, but nothing about how to grow my business.

The average executive spends an estimated two hours per day reading. This includes email, so let’s be conservative and say that the average entrepreneur spends 30 minutes a day reading content specifically for the purpose of helping them grow and/or manage their business. If I’m spending that 30 minutes on how to cut down on childcare costs (real headline in a mompreneur blog), and my counterpart who’s a dad is spending 30 minutes reading up on how to increase sales by 20% this quarter, who’s going to get ahead faster?

The sad part is, what we read isn’t necessarily our choice.

Today’s publishing platforms have pretty much guaranteed that consumers are served up a steady stream of content, including on mobile and social platforms, which aligns with their perceived attributes. Some companies and the platforms they use are brilliant, and can derive really precise data on you just by your browsing history and online profiles. Others create personas based on shallow data and hit the send button with abandon. Woman + business owner + mother is the reason why I open my inbox everyday to find newsletters from spa resorts and kids clothing trunk shows. But if I want to find articles that can help me scale my software company, I have to do my own digging. Carrying the label “mompreneur” on social media profiles, blog posts, websites, or even just searching the term on Google can quite literally mean getting bucketed into a specific persona and targeted by an onslaught of content that’s geared more towards the mom and less towards the ‘preneur.

Not that this content is bad. Most every parent can benefit from cutting childcare costs and finding more time to spend with family. The problem is only half of the world’s parents are receiving the message on a near constant basis. The other half is being spoon fed real business advice.

The Imbalanced Dialogue on Work-Life Balance

Women have been launching and running their own businesses since the 1700s. Today, almost a third of businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, and they employ nearly 8 million people. About 70% of mothers in the U.S. work.

Haven’t we earned the right by now to just be called entrepreneurs? Why the special designation? Back to those nasty assumptions…

Visit the Wikipedia page on Mompreneurs and you’ll see that most of the links in the “See Also” section are about work life balance. There is a strongly held assumption that women entrepreneurs struggle with work life issues above all other challenges. A similar search of “Dadpreneur” on Wikipedia didn’t return the same results. Do we really believe men don’t struggle with this too?

Further, can we admit it’s possible that entrepreneurs who happen to also be moms might NOT struggle with work life balance as much as we assume? Can we change our mindset to believe that many entrepreneurs who are also moms wake up in the morning thinking about how they’re going to take on the world with their start up? That many of them enjoy spending eight to 10 hours a day focused on disrupting an industry, and don’t give a second thought to the audacity of ordering pizza three nights a week? That many, many entrepreneurs who also call themselves mom spend as much time visualizing how to get to a B round or a billion dollar valuation as they do visualizing a great life for their kids? Yes, these things can be of equal importance to women.

Motherhood doesn’t define us in our careers or predict the success of our ventures. Our vision and tenacity does. If you really want to label me, call me what I am. I’m an entrepreneur.

Aly Saxe is founder and CEO of Iris PR Software.

This article originally appeared on Medium

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

21 Polite Ways to End a Long Conversation

business-woman-phone-rear-view
Getty Images

Polite but firm ways to say good-bye

The Muse logo

How many times have you had an awesome conversation that’s gone on just a little too long?

You know what I’m talking about. There’s a point in the conversation when everyone knows it’s time to wrap it up, but somehow, the discussion keeps trailing on. (Or, worse, when the other person’s still going strong and you’ve been looking at your watch for five minutes now.)

Great news! You can now stop talking at the ideal moment, all thanks to these 21 lines that will end things on a good note—and on time.

On the Phone

  1. “I’ve got another call in a couple minutes; thanks so much for speaking with me, and I’ll talk to you again [soon/in X days].”
  2. “My battery’s pretty low, so I’m going to hop off. Have an amazing day!”
  3. “It sounds like we’ve covered everything we needed to, so I’ll let you go. Thank you for such a productive meeting!”
  4. “Can’t believe it’s already [time of day]. I’m sure you’ve got lots of things on your agenda, so I’ll let you get to them. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you.”

At a Networking Event

  1. “Please excuse me, I’m going to make a quick restroom trip. It was lovely to meet you!”
  2. “I’ve had such a nice time talking to you. And I’ll definitely connect with you on LinkedIn so I can keep up with all of your cool ventures. In the meantime, I’m going to go [grab some hors d’oeuvres/say hi to a friend/go to the next panel].”
  3. “I’m sorry to leave so quickly, but it’s been a pleasure and I hope we can reconnect soon. Do you have a business card?”
  4. “I’m going to mingle a bit more, but before I go, can I introduce you to someone? [Introduce them to each other.] I’ll let you guys talk!”

In the Office

  1. “I’ve got to head back to my desk and work on [X project]. Let’s catch up at happy hour!”
  2. “I know you’ve got a crazy schedule, so I’ll let you get back to it.”
  3. “I’d love to hear about your [work/side gig/current initiative] when we’ve got more time, so let’s plan lunch!”
  4. “There are a couple emails I have to send before [time], so I’m going to have to excuse myself.”

At the End of a Meeting

  1. “Looks like we’ve hit everything on the agenda. If no one has anything else to discuss, see you all at next week’s meeting.”
  2. “There’s another meeting in this conference room right after us, so we should probably clear out and let the next guys in.”
  3. “Great to see we finished 15 minutes early! Going to go knock out some quick emails.”
  4. “[Person], are you walking back to your desk? I’ll walk with you.”
  5. “Thanks, everyone, for a productive meeting! I can send around our notes later this afternoon.”

On a Video Call

  1. “I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. Have a fantastic rest of your day, and I’ll look for your [email/notes/report/follow-up].”
  2. “Your ideas sound really promising; can’t wait to see them in action. In the meantime, you’ve probably got a lot on your plate, so I’ll let you get back to work.”
  3. “I want to get you the answers to your questions as soon as possible, so I’m going to get off now—look for my email by the end of the [day/week].”
  4. “Wow, I can’t believe it’s already [time]. Do you mind if I hang up and finish up my to-do list?”

With these polite but firm ways of saying good-bye, you’ll never be stuck in “conversation purgatory” again. And I can almost promise you that the person on the receiving end will be thankful (or at least not offended).

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article above was originally published on The Muse

More from The Muse:

TIME Business

Watch the Mesmerizing Under Armour Ad That Proves Practice Makes Perfect

"You are the sum of all your training"

If you ever needed inspiration to get yourself working toward your biggest dreams, Under Armour has just the thing.

The activewear brand’s latest ad stars NBA MVP Stephen Curry, who helped the Golden State Warriors bring home an NBA championship; Misty Copeland, the first black principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre; and golfer Jordan Spieth, who won both the 2015 Masters and the U.S. Open.

The #RuleYourself campaign launched with a hypnotizing video that shows each athlete, and thousands of replicas of themselves, focusing on their own training, with the final tagline: You are the sum of all your training.

Tom Brady, who is currently challenging a four-game suspension from the NFL over “Deflategate,” is also set to be part of this new campaign. Though he’s absent from the latest spot, an Under Armour spokesperson confirms that Brady’s commercial will debut sometime September.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com