Issue 101 — July 14, 2019
This week, we mark the The 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing.
People said that mission was impossible, and then it was done.
Similarly, many people said it was impossible five years ago when Take The Lead began with the bold mission to achieve leadership gender parity across all sectors by 2025. After all, women had at that time been stalled at 18% of top leadership positions across all sectors for two decades. And 2025 is 70 years faster than the most optimistic projections.
(We’re having a party to celebrate and an online silent auction with loads of amazing donated items — and you are most cordially invited. Details here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/take-the-lead-summer-silent-auction-and-5th-year-anniversary-celebration-tickets-63977893602 )
It started when cofounder Amy Litzenberger asked me why there was so much disparity in leadership despite the advances women had made in changing laws and earning 57% of college degrees. The data showed clearly that companies with more women in their top leadership make more money. Besides, technology now allowed for flextime and few families any longer fit the Leave It to Beaver 1950’s nuclear family model.
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Well, I said, I know the reason. I wrote about it in my book No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. And I’ve developed the 9 Leadership Power Tools training that enables women to break through the internal and external barriers, redefine power into a new paradigm, and have higher career intentions. Then I provide the tools and plan template to propel women forward to their goals.
This video is the Cliff’s Notes version of how and why it all happened.
It was a short leap from there to realizing that one person could do a lot, but to break the seemingly intractable patterns holding women back takes an organization.
The last thing I wanted to do was run another organization after 30 years as a CEO. I’d planned to write books the rest of my life. So we spent months trying to interest various organizations to integrate my findings into their leadership programs. But inertia is powerful, and though they hadn’t been moving the dial, we found they didn’t want to change.
What happened then was nothing less than incredible. There have been many ups and downs and enough lessons learned for me to write another book. But since a picture is worth a thousand words and a video must then be worth 100,000, I’ll summarize the main points with videos to illustrate.
Five Lessons + 5 Videos from the first 5 Years of Take The Lead
- Timing might not be everything but it is a necessary key to success. This is a strategic inflection moment when numerous social and technological advances converge to make quantum leaps to gender parity possible. So in 2014, Take The Lead launched publicly in collaboration with Arizona State University and 200 other supporting organizations. The 3000+ seat Grady Gammage auditorium was packed that evening and 500,000 people tuned into the livestream.
When the first keynote speaker, Carla Harris walked out onto the stage, the audience reaction was electric. And I knew in that moment that we were in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. Her speech trended on twitter globally.
2. I also found that it’s much harder to raise money for programs that keep women from being victims than for programs that rescue women. It’s a constant struggle for me not to let passion for the mission overwhelm the practical needs for adequate startup capital. We started with almost none. If I were doing It over, I wouldn’t start with less than $1,000,000 in the bank to create the necessary infrastructure from the beginning. With the growth we’ve had to date, we’re aiming to raise $5,000,000 over the next three years to make this a sustainable organization, through a combination of philanthropy and earned income from training and coaching services.
We’ve had to do many things on a shoestring, like this “Play Hockey Like a Girl” panel we did. Watching it pumps me up every time.
3. Persistence is key. The five year mark feels like a significant turning point. The oscillation principle helps: stay true to vision while being flexible about how you get there. Learnings along the way have reshaped some methods of delivery. We still do shorter workshops and they are effective, but immersive programs like 50 Women Can Change the World are more impactful and a better value whether for individuals or companies. As one participant in 50 Women Can Change the World in Journalism said in her evaluation, “Is there a category higher than “highly recommend? This program is life changing and I wish every woman had a chance to do it.” And we’ve found that public events are important friendraisers and fundraisers.
The inaugural 50 Women Can Change the World in Nonprofits program, sponsored by American Experts Foundation, Freeport McMoRan, SRP, APS, and more leading community organizations, showed us the power of the cohort. It’s the secret sauce of these programs where the women have enough time together to form a long-lasting support group that will sponsor one another’s career growth.
4. Our own interventions, if successful, will alter the playing field creating new problems and opportunities. Based on most current studies, women now hold almost 25% of those top leadership positions. So we’re enriching what we teach about redefining and embracing power — still important and the core principle, but now putting greater emphasis on intention and intentionality of what we choose to do with the power we realize we have.
Iowa Women Lead Change Executive Leadership Institute gave us an opportunity to develop an executive level program.
Further, other social shifts like the confluence of #metoo, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and the rising numbers of men who support gender parity align with our mission, and we must make sure our programs clearly articulate why and how. We’re also adding new products and services all the time Most recently, we’ve added coaching and as a special thank you for the trust and support of donors and women who appreciate Take The Lead’s offerings, we’re launching the Take The Lead Women podcast.
5. Finally this one is not a new lesson for me because I hear stories every day from women and organizations that have benefited from our work. That’s why we are here. This mission is about you and how we can help you succeed. When you succeed, we succeed. Your success is always our bottom line. Our metric of success is that almost all our participants say they are more confident and most significantly to me, 80 to 90% implement their Strategic Leadership Action Plans.
Watch what Ana Ontiveros, a participant in the 50 Women Can change the World in Media and Entertainment has to say.
“We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy but because it is hard,” said President John F Kennedy. Setting a goal of leadership gender parity in every sector in just over five more years is going to be very hard, maybe harder than getting to the moon. But it will be infinitely more valuable in the mobilization of previously untapped human capital and a healthier, happier, more prosperous world for everyone.
So join the movement! We need all your help — participate, donate, volunteer.
Will I see you online bidding or in person at the 5th anniversary event in NY? Both? Yay. Here again is the link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/take-the-lead-summer-silent-auction-and-5th-year-anniversary-celebration-tickets-63977893602
GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of four books, most recently No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet @GloriaFeldt.
GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead. People has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”
As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.