Regular guest columnist Anne Doyle wrote this post for International Women’s Day, but it applies every day. It reminds me about how important symbols are, and is a great example of what I call “Sister Courage”–be a sister, have courage, and work together like a movement with sister courage. Here’s the link to the original on Anne’s website if you want to connect with her there. I’m so proud of Anne for running for city council (and winning!), as well as admiring her leadership ideas.

Nearly two years ago, just before I was to give a speech before a group of Michigan businesspeople, I met a woman who was wearing a very unusual, intriguing pin. I complimented her on it and she told me how much she loved it.

After my speech, the same woman came up to me, handed me the pin and told me she wanted me to have it. “Oh no, I couldn’t take your pin. I know it’s very special to you.” She insisted, but told me there was a string attached to her gift. “You must promise me that one day you will give this pin to another woman,” she said. “I am giving it to you with the understanding that you will pass it forward.” “How long can I keep it?” I asked her. She simply said, “You will know when it’s time to pass the pin and its power forward.”

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On Thanksgiving Eve, I’m grateful to three courageous leaders. First, Dana Kennedy, Executive Director of Emerge Arizona. Dana not only works every day to recruit, train, and support pro-choice Democratic women to run for office, she put her convictions into action by running for Phoenix City Council. Though she didn’t prevail this time, I hope she will run again until she joins the ranks of leadership consultant and occasional guest poster here, Anne Doyle and political blogger par excellence Jill Miller Zimon, both of whom mounted their first political races and won city counil seats in Auburn Hills MI and Pepper Pike OH respectively.

As then-AZ Governor Janet Napolitano, now Secretary of Homeland Security, once told me, “You can’t win if you don’t run.” That’s a great leadership lesson, whether we’re talking politics or profession, civic engagement or choosing life goals.

Nervous about taking the plunge? Help is a Google away. In the political realm, check out this report featuring Emerge Arizona.

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This is what’s on Anne Doyle’s mind these days as she contemplates the recent rise of women in disparate worlds of politics and business. She’s “tired of tokens and tailblazers”, and looking for real, sustained leadership by women. Thanks, Anne, for sharing this thoughtful post.

What a month it’s been.

First it was an historic, stockholders meeting for Xerox. CEO Anne Mulcahy officially confirmed she willbe retiring July 1st and introduced her personally selected and groomed successor, Ursula Burns. Not only will Burns be the first Black woman to head a Fortune 500 company, she and Mulcahy have also charted the path of another milestone: the first woman-to-woman CEO handoff in Fortune 500 history.

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