The eight-cow entrepreneur

Dr. Carol Parker-Walsh
DR. CAROL PARKER WALSH Evolve Image Consulting

Have you heard the story of the Eight Cow Wife? In a very brief summary, it’s the story of Johnny, a South Seas trader who offered an unprecedented eight cows to secure the hand of Sarita, the women he loved. Everyone thought Sarita was homely and undesirable, but in the end she turned out to be a beautiful, happy woman. He was ridiculed and thought a fool until he returned to the village with his wife and everyone was overwhelmed by her beauty. As the story unfolds you realize she simply had low self-esteem. However, his eight-cow offer helped her see her own value and as a result her beauty emerged.

What does this have to with being a business owner? Well, I’ve always been intrigued by this story and the importance of having self-esteem and knowing your self-worth. After all, we could all use someone in our corner that believes in us as deeply and unconditionally as Johnny did in Sarita. However, there’s so much more to the story than just a tale of a man’s love for his wife. I believe there are lessons that can be used as fundamental building blocks for achieving entrepreneurial success. Here are the eight keys I’ve gleaned from this story and present to you on how to become an eight-cow entrepreneur.

1 – Clarity: It’s critical for an entrepreneur to be clear about what the want to do and what they want for their business. Without clarity, you can allow frustrations and disappointments sway you from moving forward and achieving your goals. In the story, Johnny was clear that he wanted Sarita and he set out to make it happen.

2 – Confidence: The key aspect of this story is found in the line “but the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself.” You must believe in yourself, your vision and your ability to achieve. Other’s can encourage you and support you, but what matters most is what you believe about your business and about yourself.

3 – Passion: When others doubt you, call you crazy or try to talk you out of doing what you believe is your life’s purpose, are you prepared to go the distance? Will your passion fuel and sustain you through the challenging times? Johnny was laughed at and ridiculed for offering so much for Sarita and many tried to talk him out of it. But his passion for Sarita kept him focused on the prize.

4 – Image: Perception is reality. How you show up in both your appearance and presence will tell everyone all they need to know about you. Do you want something such as the way you look or carry yourself to stop you from achieving the success you desire? What assumptions are people making about you? Everyone made assumptions about Sarita based on how she carried herself in her village, but once she saw herself as an eight-cow wife she improved the way she dressed and how she showed up.

5 – Communication: Are you letting everyone know about your business, what you have to offer and your intentions for your business? There’s no way for anyone to support you, help you or even find you if you are not sharing what you do, who you service and how you can help. When Johnny went to the Sarita’s village his intentions were clear – he wanted her for his wife.

6 – Behavior: Do you know how to network? Are you up on business protocol and etiquette (yes it still exists!)? Are you familiar with local, national and international customs, if you do business in these arenas? Having an understanding of these things can give you an edge or advantage over others less versed. Johnny was knowledgeable in the local customs and used that knowledge to his strategic advantage to achieve his goals.

7 – Digital marketing: How’s your marketing? Are you seen as a thought leader in your field? Do you know what’s happening in your industry and are you remaining relevant to your ideal clients? Are you seen and heard in the digital space? Johnny knew eight cows would cause a tremendous amount of controversy, talk and speculation, and that’s exactly what he wanted. An eight-cow entrepreneur can be recognized as an innovator, maverick or leader in their industry because they are known as the experts in their respective fields.

8 – Investment: Are you willing to invest eight cows in you and your business? Are you willing to invest in “unprecedented” amounts (meaning a bit out of your comfort zone) in business coaching, personal and professional development, support and other needed resources to advance your message and business? Are you willing to invest the necessary time and commitment? Johnny said he wanted an eight-cow wife. Ask yourself, do you want an eight-cow business?

Becoming an eight-cow entrepreneur is not an overnight proposition. You must first get clear on your business model, values, systems, needed support and purpose. These things will guide and lead you forward. Build these eight principles upon a solid business foundation and you’ll be on your way to becoming an eight-cow entrepreneur.

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, a certified image professional and owner of Camas-based Evolve Image Consulting, is the expert behind the Vancouver Business Journal’s advice column: Dress Code. These columns specialize in strategies for developing a positive and professional self-image. Walsh can be reached at

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