The Sum – Meaning of the Week: Transform

The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.” —Warren Bennis.

Word of the week is TRANSFORM.

As in the women who transformed Rwanda.

As in women transforming lives and communities through philanthropy.

As is in a transformational confrontation with one’s power demons.

Ever have one of those weeks when you have to, as I used to hear people say when I was growing up in Texas, holler “calf rope?” Well, I just hollered, and that’s why “The Sum” is coming your way on Monday instead of last Friday.

No Excuses to coin a phrase, but I did have reasons, such as my sister’s challenges as she recovers from a kidney transplant and preparing for the launch of the 50 Women Can Change the World program for emerging women nonprofit leaders in Arizona.

Summer slid imperceptibly into a vertiginous array of fall events. Save the date of November 14—exciting details coming soon about the first ever Take The Lead Day—it will be epic and transformational and I imagine my team and I will all holler “calf rope” by the time it’s done.

Continue reading “The Sum – Meaning of the Week: Transform”


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Sum Volume #4: Heat

“The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.”—Warren Bennis.

Word of the Week is: Heat

 I landed in Phoenix @ 120 degrees. Or 122, but who’s counting. Yes, it feels like putting your head in an oven even if it’s a dry heat.

There’s lots of heat everywhere.  They say if you can’t stand it, you should get out of the kitchen. I say this week gave us at least three more reasons why women need to stay in the leadership kitchen.

3 Reasons Women Need to Stay in the Kitchen

Sometimes the pot boils over and it’s a good thing.  Uber founder Travis Kalanick resignsafter the pot of his own making boiled so hot that he had to. It took the cool head of a woman on the board to force the change. Here’s Arianna Huffington’s speech to Uber’s employees. It’s been a rocky ride; she was quoted in Broadsheet saying, “Knowing how to deal with crises without being overwhelmed – keeping one’s head while people all around are losing theirs – is the most important leadership quality.”

Contrast Kalanick’s leadership style (power over) with that of China’s dominant rideshare CEO Jean Liu (#powerTO). Can’t help but apply a gender lens to this though the article did not do so.

Continue reading “The Sum Volume #4: Heat”


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Sum Volume #2

“The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.”—Warren Bennis. Welcome to the Sum, where I share my take on the meaning of sum of the week’s parts. I want your voice too. Leave comments here or @GloriaFeldt.

It’s about power this week.

Of course with me, every day of every week I’m obsessed with women’s relationship with power.  That’s because it’s so central to the decisions women make to aim for those higher salaries and leadership positions, elective offices, and grander entrepreneurial ventures – or not. The relationship is so profound, it’s almost spiritual, and often fraught with ambivalence.

The news of the week reveals the two kinds of power I talk and teach about as the basis for changing the power paradigm: power over versus power TO.

Continue reading “The Sum Volume #2”


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Are You Angry Enough to Embrace Your Power To Act? (3 Signs You Are)

Get power-to without leaving home!

Join me for a No Excuses Facebook chat on my fanpage Sunday, March 25, at 3pm eastern, 2pm central, 1pm mountain, noon pacific, etc. I’ll be on video, you’ll be able to ask questions and talk with others via chat box. It’s easy. Really. And there will be giveaways! Let me know if you’re coming here.

In decades of experience as a women’s advocate, I’ve learned people can be inspired to action by one of two things: anger or aspiration.

A roiling, boiling anger is propelling women — even many who’ve never been activists before — to embrace their “power to” to take leadership and make change. They’re making their voices heard over the din of political rhetoric they might shun under other circumstances.

There was no one trigger, rather a succession of insults. I talked with Richard Lui about them this week on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co. Here’s a smattering:

  • After 30-year-old Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke was denied the chance to speak about why contraceptives should be covered by insurance…
  • After the stunning optics of an all-male “expert” panel pontificating on women’s reproductive health before a Senate committee (also all-male because the women on the committee were so incensed they walked out)…
  • After shock jock Rush Limbaugh denigrated Fluke, calling her a slut and a prostitute (can one be both—don’t sluts give it away?) and demanding to see videos of her having sex…
  • After bills like those in Texas and Virginia forcing women seeking abortions to submit to 10″ ultrasound “shaming wands” (as Doonesbury dubbed them), an AZ bill requiring women to bring notes to their employers verifying they take birth control for health reasons not pregnancy prevention or risk being fired, and a Tennessee bill that mandates public reporting of the doctors by name and the demographics of each patient…

Women are rightly furious.

Why is this happening?

Writer Susan Swartz, who blogs at Juicy Tomatoes, notes, “It’s not just the warbling of a choir boy who believes that sex should only be for procreation and wants to turn the country into a theocracy. It’s a growing roar against women with one wild-eyed effort after another to attach new laws to women’s bodies.”

Hillary Clinton take at the Women in the World conference in New York recently was, “Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.”

Have women finally stopped playing nice about all these “power over” affronts? Here are three signs that tell me the answer is a resounding YES!

  1. Individuals aren’t waiting for someone else to tell them to take action. They’re just doing it. Like Sandra Fluke—who now says she’d consider running for elected office. Go, Sandra, you’ve sure got my vote!
  2. Pro-woman legislators, previously silent, are filing in-your-face bills that smoke out those cruel and unjust measures that shame, blame, and make women barefoot and pregnant again. The antidotes? Requiring men seeking Viagra to first have a cardiac stress test and rectal exam or watch videos of treatment for prolonged erections to one that would restrict vasectomies to men who are at imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm.
  3. Between the spontaneous petitions, thousands of smart-ass but well taken questions on TX Gov. Rick Perry’s Facebook page (“What kind of tampons do you recommend, Gov. Perry?” “I’ve been researching chastity belts and would like your opinion.”), and constant chatter about the issues, I haven’t heard this decibel level of righteous anger since early 2001.

In my book No Excuses, I urge women to redefine power from the oppressive power over, rightly resisted by many women, to the expansive leadership implied by power to.

So yesterday on my Facebook page, I asked: “Are women finally getting angry enough to embrace their power to?”

Hong Kong spa director Shoshana Weinberg asked in response: “Why does it have to be anger? Can’t love get us there?”

My answer was:

Love without using our power to stand up for ourselves got us into this pickle. Anger is a good motivator to action. But you are right, anger isn’t enough. After we get riled up by anger, we need aspiration. Aspiration to use the “power to” for good. For me, that’s another, more intentional word for love.

More on aspiration in another post. But for now, I want to know:

What about you? Are you angry enough to embrace your power to? How?

And PS: Want to talk about the concept of power to and the Power tools in No Excuses? Join me this Sunday, March 25, at 3pm eastern for a chat on my Facebook page. It’s easy! Full info and instructions here.

This article originally ran in a blog post for FORBESWOMAN. Check it out here.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Debt ceiling – looming catastrophe or Y2K redux?

You know the drill — Politico’s Arena asks, I answer. I’d like to know what you would have said, so please tell me in the comments section below.

 

Politico TheArena logo

Arena Asked:  President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warn of calamitous effects if the nation’s debt ceiling is not raised soon. But a few prominent Republicans, such as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a presidential candidate, say nothing much would happen and blast the administration for its “scare tactics.”

Are Bachmann and co. naive about the consequences of default? Or do they have a point? Might this be the economic equivalent of Y2K, the turn-of-the-21 century computer scare that ended up causing minimal damage?

 

My Answer:  Bachmann and her Tea Party minions are not naive–they are ruthless.

They are ruthlessly seeking power over others. They are ruthlessly seeking to change America into a narrow, dog-eat-dog, hierarchical culture consistent with their extreme fundamentalist theology.

But in the end, they are actually the lapdogs of those corporate interests (e. g. Murdock) that operate from pure greed with no connection to the social threads that bind a society together and enable a healthy economy to function. They don’t get that co-operation and mutual support (I call that the power TO) are as essential to successful cultures as competition. On that point, perhaps they are indeed dangerously naïve.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

MLK Inspires Our Power-to

Inspiration is balm for the soul and a powerful kick in the resolve to take action.

Last year, to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on his birthday, I posted this call to share his quotes that have most inspired you.  I hope you’ll go read them, for I know you’ll be inspired to use your “power to” to take action.

Upon rereading the quotes, I was struck by what  King said about power: “I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.” In words far more eloquent than mine, King tells us to define power on our terms. To reject the oppressive power-over model; to use the power to, in order to do good.

As I  mourn the effects of power over, carried to its logical extreme by Jared Loughner  in Tucson a week ago, I am so grateful for King’s uplifting words. They  remind me to celebrate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ moral, right, and good use of her power to make life better for her constituents, her state, and the nation.

And I am inspired all over again.

What MLK quote most inspires you to use your power to? Please share it here to honor Dr. King’s birthday.

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Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Your New Year Power Tune-Up: a Resolution You’ll Keep

The problem with many New Year’s resolutions is that they reinforce the very problems that keep us unhappy and unhealthy. They’re aimed at reshaping our bodies and ourselves to please others rather than fulfilling our own passions or aspirations. That’s why so often resolutions are quickly abandoned. And then we feel like failures

My No Excuses Power Tune-Up and Journal is a set of questions you can ask yourself based on the 9 Ways power tools and practical tips I created in No Excuses. They apply to work, politics, and personal life. The questions can be used as a journal to jot down reactions and answers over the next year. Or, just to zero in on one  problem and find a new insight or strategy for solving it.

I’m excited to report the Tune-Up has been written up on StyleGoesStrong.com, with these examples of how it can make for more productive New Year resolutions–resolutions we’ll want to keep:

1. We first need to change how we think about power. Define it on our own terms not as the traditional idea of power over (oppression) but as the expansive power to (leadership). Then we won’t resist our own power, but will be able to embrace it wholeheartedly for the good it will do.

2. Take a fresh look at our personal assets. What we need is there if we have the wisdom to see it and the courage to use it.

3. Carpe the chaos: seize the opportunity chaos brings. The current economic instability, for example, is a time when companies are much more open to new ways of doing things, including women moving into more responsible positions. And every major study finds that the skills women bring to the decision table result in better decisions and higher profits. Innovation always comes from the edges where chaos reigns.

4. Embrace controversy. Don’t think of it as conflict but as a teacher and an essential characteristic of a vibrant society. Use its energy to propel your ideas or authentic feelings forward.

5. Use movement building principles to make the changes we want at work and at home, as well as in political issues.

6. Stop following our dreams and start leading them.

7. Pass it all forward through the power of telling our stories.

Download the 9 Ways Power Tune-Up and Journal now. Enjoy it yourself, but also think about sharing it with a friend or using it as the basis of your book group discussion. Focusing on these power-full questions will help you lead an unlimited life. That’s more likely to energize you than worrying again about losing that persistent 10 pounds.

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Wonder Woman!

I love this video artist Linda Stein made about the history and social significance of the female super heroine created by psychologist William Moulton Marston (inventor of the lie detector test, perhaps the precursor of Wonder Woman’s ability to know who was telling the truth–or who knows, maybe she could tell who was lying because she was a mom) to be the antidote to Superman, the epitome of male power over others. Wonder Woman instead never kills, she uses her power to to help, protect, stop the bad things from happening. Here’s Stein’s intro:

How does Wonder Woman do it? She is able to stop the bad guys—even convince them to reform—without ever killing! Her gender-bending strength and power is matched only by her compassion in seeking peace and justice. The question, CAN WONDER WOMAN CRA-AC-CK GENDER STEREOTYPES? is paramount as this icon and superhero confronts the sexism prevalent at the time of her creation in 1941 as well as today.

So how does Wonder Woman do it? What lessons can we learn from her today?


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.