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Leadership at the Crossroads Part 3: Courage to Speak Boldly When it Counts.

Are you thinking about deleting your Facebook account in the wake of revelations about how your personal data may have been misused?

I’m not. 

I’ll be honest. Social media is my water cooler. It came of age about the time I traded a position where I interacted face to face with hundreds of people daily to one where I worked largely alone. The new media (as it was called then) was an exciting way to tell the world about the books I was writing while keeping me in touch with far-flung family and friends.

Sure, it’s a time suck filled with inane cat pictures. Still, how many meaningful photos of Passover gatherings and Easter celebrations filled our feeds last weekend while filling the miles and time that separate us from loved ones? It’s a wonderful thing and I’m sticking with it. But despite my rosy view, there is clearly trouble in paradise. Trouble of the sort that creates a leadership crossroads like those I wrote about here and here.

Little did I realize a decade ago that this remarkable technology’s connective tissue with such benign purpose would come with such a potential for harm.

I suspect that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, one of the company’s founders, was equally naive about it. Yet now he is facing a crossroads of classic proportions.

Because the solution to a problem always changes the problem. Businesses are built on solutions to human problems that in turn bring new problems leaders must grapple with. Continue reading “Leadership at the Crossroads Part 3: Courage to Speak Boldly When it Counts.”

11 Top Quotes About Feedback and One Big Ask for Yours

When I went looking for a great quote about feedback. I quickly noticed how few women are quoted in collections of quotes, especially those pertaining to leadership.

So then, I deliberately looked for quotes by women about feedback. Here are a few:

  1. “There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.” —Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics, which she started after being passed over for promotion by a man whom she had trained–talk about using feedback productively!
  2. “Everything in my environment is offering me feedback, if I will only listen.”–Sharon WeilChangeAbility: How Artists, Activists, and Awakeners Navigate Change 
  3. “In fact, all of us are very susceptible to having our humiliating experiences turn to shame, especially when the person who is putting us down is someone with whom we have a valued relationship or someone whom we perceive to have more power than we do…”–Brené Brown
  4. “Policy was not reconsidered because the governing group had no habit of purposeful consultation.” —Barbara W. TuchmanThe March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam
  5. “If you put out a new product and it doesn’t sell at all, that tells you something about what your audience does and doesn’t want. When we look at praise and criticism as information about the people giving it, we tend to get really curious about the feedback, rather than dejected or defensive.” —Tara MohrPlaying Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message
  6. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” —Oprah Winfrey (who needs no introduction)

The message in all of these quotes is to listen to what the universe is telling us, don’t let shame or defensiveness deter us, and to give feedback as well as receiving it. Continue reading “11 Top Quotes About Feedback and One Big Ask for Yours”

How to Make History Herstory

Here’s the thing about history: those with more power generally get to write it.

But that’s a changeable paradigm if we think of history as a dynamic, unfolding reality rather than a static past. Not only is history subject to interpretation; history is made by intentionally

Our new Leadership Ambassadors meet in NYC ready to take on gender parity!

shaping the future. What each of us does today creates the history for tomorrow.

Or Herstory. Her Story.

I had the best time this week interviewing two women who are making and shaping history—one by telling stories with her films and one by philanthropy and social action. Our topic for Take The Lead’s monthly Virtual Happy Hour was “Women Making History Today.”

Too often, women have been written out of history. Sometimes they’re simply ignored, regarded as not sufficiently important to be recorded. Other times, women’s accomplishments have been stolen, credit taken by male colleagues, husbands, superiors.

March is Women’s History Month. Think about why for a moment.  Continue reading “How to Make History Herstory”

Hear Our Voices – Best of International Women’s Day 2018

March 8 marked the 107th International Women’s Day at time when women’s voices are being raised more prominently than ever to say, “We are here and we expect equality.”  This year’s theme was #PressforProgress. Happy #IWD – it’s a great time to gather up your 9 Leadership Power Tools and do just that.

“You do not disregard my voice”, actress Kathleen Turner said to me in her resonant tones when we were working on her memoir, Send Yourself Roses. When I call a restaurant and say, ‘This is Kathleen Turner,’ they say, ‘Yes…yes it is.’ And I get a table.”

A Bit of History First

Esthetics are not an unimportant aspect of a woman’s voice. But when it comes to International Women’s Day founded March 8, 1911 (Broadsheet’s brief history is a good overview) in Copenhagen as part of a socialist movement to gain not just a seat at the table for women in global society, but also policy gains like the right to work, safer working conditions, and women’s suffrage, a woman’s voice has larger meaning: it’s a metaphor for women’s equality.

Its socialist roots have long been severed, women have made stunning advances in many parts of the world, and many ask: “Haven’t women found their voices yet?” Is a global day for women still needed, given U.N. declarations like CEDAW, World Bank programs fostering women’s economic development, and advances women are making in global leadership? Continue reading “Hear Our Voices – Best of International Women’s Day 2018”

WOMEN, OUR HEARTS, AND OUR POWER TO

It’s the call none of us ever want to get.

A sudden heart attack has hit someone we love. And in this Women’s History Month, it’s important to remember that the history of women’s healthcare in this country has been uneven at best.  Luckily, Go Red for Women is an organization whose mission is changing the odds for women’s heart health.

Today I am headed out into this latest Nor’easter to be a part of Go Red for Women’s panel talk on resilience.  I’m looking forward to the conversation with the distinguished women Go Red for Women has assembled for this event and I will be sharing with all of you what the panelists discuss.

I thought I would share something today I wrote in honor of another Go Red for Women event that Take The Lead co-sponsored. The message remains true today and maybe in this year of #metoo and Time’s Up even more so when women are being called to understand, take on and redefine power like never before.  A critical element of owning our power is taking care of our lives—our hearts—in ways that allow us to see our biggest intentions through to their bold ends.

Here’s my speech and my call to action for each of you.

Continue reading “WOMEN, OUR HEARTS, AND OUR POWER TO”

5 Lessons I Learned About Risk from a Fictional Rabbit

The recently released controversial Peter Rabbit movie reminded me that one of my favorite childhood stories was Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of the spunky bunny whose misadventures in Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden were told as though they were meant to teach kids to mind their mothers and shy away from risky behavior.

I, however, drew five distinctly different lessons from it.

Briefly, the story is this: Peter and his three sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, lived with their mother Mrs. Josephine Bunny, in a cozy rabbit hole. The protective Mrs. Bunny sternly warned her brood that while they could play in various places, they must never, ever go into Farmer McGregor’s garden. Surely terrible consequences would befall them there, as she recounted had happened to other rabbits.

The three girls obeyed but Peter went straightaway into the forbidden territory, where he blissfully munched on carrots, radishes, and French beans. It was rabbit paradise—until the farmer saw him and gave chase.  Peter got away after a series of heart-pounding near captures, but he lost his new blue jacket and a shoe and arrived home bedraggled. Mrs. Bunny punished her bad boy by putting him to bed without supper, whereas Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail “who were good little bunnies” feasted on blackberries and cream.

I must have asked my grandmother, who was my main caregiver, to read this book to me hundreds of times. Continue reading “5 Lessons I Learned About Risk from a Fictional Rabbit”

Power TO

In a week marred once again by a horrendous mass shooting, I have been contemplating the work I do to help women change the power paradigm that has long shaped our culture’s narrative. I ask them to shift their thinking from oppressive, often violent, scarcity-based “power over” to expansive, innovative, abundant “power TO.” Every time I do this, I see women’s faces relax and the mental lightbulbs go on.

For we have known and often borne the brunt of the worst aspects of power over us, from being collateral damage in wars we didn’t start to the harassment and abuse that today’s #metoo and Time’s Up movements aim to eradicate.

I spent last weekend in Los Angeles, launching our 50 Women Can Change the World – Media and Entertainment along with Leadership Ambassadors Tabby Biddle and Elisa Henderson Parker.

Leadership Ambassadors Elisa Parker and Tabby Biddle

Once again, I had the opportunity to see how important it is for women to make that simple definitional change in order to embrace their power fully, with intention, confidence, and joy. Continue reading “Power TO”

These “Brave Enough” Women Create Technologies That Change Your World

Who Says Women Can’t Rule Stem? 

I’m so glad I didn’t let the nasty rain and snow deter me from attending a Women’s Forum of New York-hosted panel called BRAVE ENOUGH: INNOVATORS TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD at one of the fastest growing and chicest women’s workspaces, The Wing, in New York’s SoHo neighborhood.

Wing co-founder Audrey Gelman welcomed an audience that melded the Forum’s accomplished members largely of a “seasoned” generation with The Wing’s younger, edgier, up-and-coming members. “We use words like ‘badass’ a lot around here,” Gelman said. Yes, and a neon sign blares “No Man’s Land,” the name also of the Wing’s new magazine.

I think The Wing might be the real Themyscira.

Moderator and Forum member Sarah Beatty Butler barely had to throw one question at the panelists to get them going. Dr. Nina Tandon, Hahna Alexander, and Dr. Leslie Dewan: these entrepreneurs are disrupting health care, battery chargers, and nuclear power respectively. Brilliantly.

The urgency, in my opinion, is this: until women are creating technologies that change how we think and live, along with wealth at the level of Bill Gates (or fill in your favorite tech giant), we won’t reach parity.  Women like that will come from women like the ones on the panel. Continue reading “These “Brave Enough” Women Create Technologies That Change Your World”

When Did You Know?

One of the most intriguing questions I ask in speeches and training is “When did you know you had the power TO _____?”

You fill in the blank. There is no right or wrong answer. Think about it. When did you know? Where were you? What did it feel like, look like, sound like?

Just like when I delivered a mini-workshop this week to women who are managing directors and directors from two prestigious financial institutions, RBC and BlackRock, the answers are varied, individual, and often quite touching. “When I was 11 and I won a dancing contest and my father called me a ‘little winner.’” “When I learned I had diabetes and decided I would take charge of my life rather than let the disease control me.” “When I was given a challenge I didn’t know how to do but I did it.”

Right this minute, many women are experiencing a collective “Power TO moment.” Fired up by the Women’s March, #metoo, and #timesup, women are taking a hard look at the cost of waiting for gender parity and doing something about it.  A record number of women have signed up to run for office in 2018, and women are asserting their right to workplace change from pay equity to respect and freedom from sexual harassment.

The unifying thread is like the activist classic sung by Aretha Franklin, “Sisters are Doing It for Themselves.”   https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VtUWs6muGzg

It’s all DYI these days. No waiting for anyone else to do it for us. Continue reading “When Did You Know?”

Fashion in the time of #metoo

A Vintage Tem-Tex shirt

My father manufactured western shirts (Tem-Tex, “Styled in the Heart of Texas”), so I grew up building structures with empty thread spools on the office floor, wandering around the clattering sewing machines that smelled of 3 in One Oil, loving the fabrics and their textures, reveling in the endless range of colors, trims, and patterns.

Little wonder that I love fashion now. So when the Maggy London women’s clothing brand asked me to be one of their “Women Who Make a Difference,” I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Saying yes to unexpected opportunities in life was one of the pieces of advice I shared.

I spent a fun afternoon doing the photo shoot with Maggy London’s amazing creative team and wearing several of their beautifully styled dresses. Especially the red ones of course, but the black ones are lovely too. I stayed on brand. Continue reading “Fashion in the time of #metoo”