“What are your titles?” was the question that kept resurfacing in the early stages of starting The Olive Grove. The question gave us anxiety. We didn’t want to be CEO or founder or executive “fill-in-the blank” because it felt weighty and overly self important. So the decision was made that we would put the most basic titles on our business cards and not let them define our roles. And here are a few reasons why we don't stress over titles.
Titles feed the ego. Nobody wants to admit it, but we all give into our desire for power and status. We want a business card that says how important we are. So rather than letting it get to our head, we kept our titles simple.
Titles create hierarchy. In a traditional business model, the CEO is over the manager. So the CEO let’s the title get to his or her head and then he or she feels the need to talk down to the manager, making the manager feel inferior. Great CEOs know not to talk down to anybody, but when you do away with the titles, you’re less likely to think so highly of yourself and so lowly of those around you.
Roles over titles. Angela and I joke that if we really wanted to put our titles down, the list would go on and on. Director. Manager. Electrician. Barista. Plumber. Hostess. Secretary. Marketer.
When you’re starting a new company with a small team and a low budget, you don’t wait for someone to come fix the lights or clean the bathroom. You do it yourself. A CEO probably isn’t going to like the idea of making coffee and cleaning toilets. But when you take the titles away and go into the job knowing that you’re going to have to wear many hats, the various jobs get done. That’s why we don’t emphasize our titles, and focus more on our roles.
There’s nothing wrong with having titles, and we understand that some business require the hierarchal structure to succeed. However, when you’re a small team and you’re just getting started, we have found that it is more helpful to do away with the titles and focus on what is more important - getting the job done.
We're excited to launch our blog, "Olive It," where we'll talk about all of it when it comes to starting a business in the Middle East. We'll be discussing topics including what it's like as a woman starting a business in the region, the ups and downs of working with your friends, the importance of social responsibility, and many more relevant topics.
Today, we simply want to introduce ourselves.
The Story of Anna & Angela
After both spending a significant amount of time living outside of Lebanon, we both wanted to come back to Lebanon in order to give back to the country we love so dearly. We believe in empowering other entrepreneurs and small business by coming alongside them and giving them the space and tools they need to succeed.
We became friends in 4th grade and have since dreamed of ways to improve our community. We were always thinking of ways to make the world a better place. We painted cards and made magnets to sell to fellow classmates in order to put together goodie bags for children in Iraq during the 2003 war. The ideas never stopped flowing.
When we parted ways in 2004, we always talked about meeting up again one day to start a business together. And here we are - 18 years later, working on impacting the world around us through our work at The Olive Grove.
Check out the recent article about our story in Impact Magazine.
*We also want to acknowledge all those who have significantly helped get The Olive Grove up and running. We could not have done any of this without the support from our families, friends and donors. And down the road, we'll be sharing some of their stories.