Do What Gives You Joy

Holly Dowling

Holly Dowling

Global Keynote Speaker and Women’s Leadership Expert Holly Dowling chooses every day to do what gives her joy and uses her driving passion to inspire other women to do the same. A crooked path led her from pre-law at K-State, through a career as a cruise director, life as a single mom and a VP of an international financial firm. What saw her through were her three words to live by: tenacious, fortuitous and perseverance. Now she tells women around the world to shed anything that dims their light and say yes to everything and every person who supports their passion and purpose. When Holly is brought into corporations for leadership programs, she finds that instead of professional development, women most need to focus on who they are and rekindle the power and the light within to truly make a difference in the world.

Hollyisms BookYou Are Not Alone!

No matter what culture they live in around the world, women want to know, most of all, that they are not alone. Holly’s mission is to share that message and why and how they can be true to themselves and live their passion. Universally, women look outside of themselves for permission to be who they are and go after their dreams. Holly sees many women break down in tears when they realize that they have been allowing the lack of permission to hold them back. They are liberated by the understanding and the epiphany that comes with knowing they have the power to choose. Holly urges women to see every day as the gift it is. When Holly considers her day, she asks, will this client give me joy?
On the flip-side, she tells women to stay away from emotional vampires. When you feel emotionally drained, look at who you spent your time with and what you were doing. Look for like-minded people who will support you, energize you and help you live your passion. “Quit shoulding yourself” and stay true to your character. There are more inspirational quotes in her book, Hollyisms: Let Your Life Shine, which is part meditations, part journal.

Celebrate You!

Listen to more inspirations from this engaging and fun conversation and check out Holly’s website, Her free special gift for people connecting with this interview is a button on her home page to listen to one of her all-time favorite podcasts that she broadcasts, Celebrate You!

Reach Out to Help Another Woman Lead

by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly
Women keep saying to me, “This is our time. There has never been a better time to be a woman.” It’s true. We have more degrees and opportunities than ever before and, even though we lag behind men in earnings, more women are achieving independent means than ever before. My Leading Women coauthor, Joanna Krotz, tracks women’s progress toward wealth in her chapter, “Redefining Sex and Power: How Women Can Bankroll Change and Fund Their Future.” Joanna says, “Women alive today belong to the most affluent, educated, and longest-lived generations in history.”
Women Reach Out and Help Each Other
It’s no wonder many of us who promote women empowerment are impatient to see women take their seats at the tables of policy and power. It’s time for each of us to step up and speak out to create a better world for all of us. It’s proven in study after study that when women lead, their policies benefit the lives of the people they serve. It’s not rocket science then to conclude that having more women leaders will make the world a better place.
I’ve been on this soap box for quite awhile now, encouraging women to reach out and help each other. Leading Women: 20 Influential Women ShareTheir Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life was created by 20 skilled leaders who did just that. They reached out with expertise and wisdom to share actionable tools women can use to accomplish their passion and purpose. With the influx of women signing up in recent months to learn how to run for public office, its messages are especially relevant today. The expertise in this book comes from a broad range of ages, races and countries. Women everywhere are looking for ways to continue — and accelerate –the momentum of the world-wide women’s march. That’s one reason why women are reaching out to share their time, talent and treasure.
And women do give, and at higher rates than men. Women give at all levels and by all means. Many establish foundations like my own WomenConnect4Good, Inc.
Leading Women co-author Linda Rendleman established her Women Like Us foundation to support other organizations working to benefit women and children. Her chapter, “Poise, the Final Ingredient,” tells how she developed the perspective to define herself in ways that would help her create social change. She chose Audrey Hepburn for her role model, because of her “poise” and quoted the actress as saying that her ambassadorship for UNICEF was the most difficult role she ever played.
If you read history closely, you’ll find women throughout the centuries who stepped up to care for those forgotten by society. They founded schools, charities, hospitals and agencies to fill countless social needs.
My co-author Shirley Osborne tells the story about one such school in her chapter, “Information: The Best Philanthropy.” A simple school that began to help female immigrant factory workers learn English became Simmons College, which instituted the first MBA designed specifically for women’s career and leadership success. That’s where Shirley, originally from a tiny Caribbean Island, received her MBA and gained the tools to realize her personal and professional vision.  With that inspiration and the stories of the women she met there, including one from China who hid her studies from her husband, Shirley noted the improvements in the lives of women and girls brought about by women philanthropists. In fact, Shirley Osborn has gone on to become the recently elected Speaker of Montserrat’s Legislative Assembly and Executive Director of The Women’s Resource Center.
There are literally thousands of such stories, in which one woman reaches out to another, in turn empowering them to do the same for still others, as did all 20 of the Leading Women co-authors. The single message here is that now we have an opportunity to engage women like no other time in history. Women are stepping forward to say, “I care. Women’s Rights Are Human Rights. I want to be respected. I want to make a difference. Feminine leadership is powerful leadership.” As my co-author Gloria Feldt says, “It is not power over; it is the power to” join with others to create a world that supports a culture of respect for all of humanity.
We have a responsibility as citizens of a free world to protect and exercise our civil rights. This is the way to protect ourselves and our families and create more women leaders. Most women already function as leaders in their families and communities; we just need to believe in ourselves and gain the self-confidence to go forward. Read the stories in Leading Women to find out how others overcame their fears, stepped into their “power to,” and achieved their purpose while helping others achieve theirs. The stories in Leading Women will inspire you to step up and make a difference in the world.

Women Gain Power Through Our Stories

by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly

Woman walking on the roadWhen I tell my story, I find a connection with other women that is so close I feel like something magical occurs. We connect through our shared truth, and the hardships and traumatic events of life that made us grow and push past the barriers that held us back. Once we dissolve these barriers we stop being victims of our circumstances and become empowered through knowing and engaging our own truths. I’ve always felt that it’s very important for women to reach out and support one another in this process of sharing stories without worrying about how they will be perceived. The more we do this, the bigger our community will become to help us make the greatest positive impact on the world.

2017 is a year of new beginnings. The interviews I’ve conducted for my podcast so far this year seem to be focused on women who have had such beginnings. One of these, Michele Weldon, wrote three books about her journey from shedding an abusive marriage and raising her children as a single mom. Michele admits that while she experienced some very challenging times,  it was important to share the story. Especially  now she has moved on to something greater. Releasing the hidden truth of being a battered woman liberated her to live the life she deserved.

My Leading Women co-author Bridget Cook-Burch shares her story in her essay, “Transforming the Stories We Tell Ourselves as Women.” Strong women like Bridget are often surprised to find themselves in situations they thought impossible. In a decisive moment, Bridget looked her truth in the eye, took a stand, and shut down the circumstance that made her a victim. Having transformed her own story, she embarked on a successful career in business and as a best-selling author telling other people’s transformational and inspiring stories.

Another amazing woman I interviewed, Nancy Michaels, told of how her life was perfect on the outside while it crumbled on the inside. She suddenly became critically ill in the midst of a failing marriage. She survived it all to become a spokesperson for patient advocacy and tell her story about the mistakes women make trying to make our lives on the outside seem perfect while dismissing the very foundation needed to live a fulfilling life.

Nancy’s story is more common than you might think among women. When I went through my own divorce, people shied away from me for not staying in the marriage. I was shocked at the number of people who didn’t support me through that very difficult time. If they did support me, they would have to admit their own truth and the imperfections in their own lives. When I shared that fact with Michele, she laughed and said, “Yes, it’s like they think they can catch it if they get too close.” But once I found my own truth, and how I needed to transform my own story, I began to soar. When I was ready to share my truth, my very best friends were there to support and help me find my way to truly pursue my passion and purpose.

Women end up being victims because they don’t reach out for help. The purpose of WomenConnect4Good is to provide a venue for women to reach out, tell their stories, read and hear the stories of others, and support other women on all levels. And we are not alone. Stiletto networks are forming all over the country. Through these networks, women leaders hear the good and the bad and that helps us to problem solve and learn how others overcame difficulties we are facing. The issues we deal with in our lives are not unique. These communities of women where we can share our truths are so empowering that the possibilities are endless.

If that sounds too optimistic, look around you at what women are doing. When others try to put them down and make them feel less than they are, women are standing up and following their passion. They are starting their own companies , creating their own futures, and reaching out to other women to help them do the same. Although our numbers lag behind in the executive suites of corporations or seats of government, women are stepping up to change that. Feminine leadership is a natural fit for today’s successful social profit initiatives. When women find their truth and build a solid foundation, they can and do become leaders. If you’re already a leader, reach out to another woman, create a network for sharing stories and support. And if you’re still hiding your truth and unsure of how to find your path, reach out to other women, listen and share your story. It will liberate you in unimaginable ways.

11 Ways to Connect vs Compete with Other Women

handshakeCompeting with other women is out. Connecting with other women to share ideas, work together on projects, and offer support is in. The changes brought about by the global economy have made collaboration and innovation “must-have” skills, and the great news is that women tend to be naturals at them. And that, says clinical psychologist Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly, is why the women-helping-women movement is really picking up steam.
“We’re making a shift to what I call ‘Connecting 2.0,’” says O’Reilly, who along with 19 other women, co-wrote the new book Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life. ”It’s more meaningful than the ‘mile-wide and inch-deep’ type of connecting we associate with social media. It’s based on sharing and co-creating, not self-interest. It’s authentic, it feels good, and it works.”
This deeper approach to connecting works so well, in fact, that we are creating an ever-expanding network of resources offering expertise and support to women in business, government, education, philanthropy, and other fields. The idea is not just to advance our careers and make money, but to make life itself richer, more exciting, and more creative.
“This is more than a trend; it’s a movement—and women are loving it,” says O’Reilly. “More and more smart, amazing women are connecting to help their ‘sisters’ live their very best lives. These like-minded women are passionate about making the world a better place—so they are finding one another and building strong, supportive communities.”
The women-helping-women movement is nothing like the phony, self-serving, let’s-exchange-cards-and-move-on networking that most of us hate. Sure, connecting with other women does pay off in amazing ways, but the rewards flow organically from our “feminine strengths” and a genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
You may be wondering, Where do I sign up? The answer is “everywhere.” This is not some exclusive club—it’s open to all women with passion, enthusiasm, and a yearning to live a richer, more fulfilling life and maybe even change the world. But O’Reilly knows you may not be used to thinking this way. That’s why she offers the following tips:

  • First things first: Aim for a good mix of online and face-to-face connecting. It’s easy to send an email message, and it’s really easy to like, to share, to follow in the world of social media. That’s why so many women do it. (It’s easy to push a key or click a mouse after all.) And while there is nothing wrong with social media, it’s also no substitute for real-world human interaction. The women-helping-women movement depends on both types of connecting: virtual and face-to-face.

“If you’re burning up social media, consider taking an online contact offline,” she advises. “Tell her you’d love to meet her for lunch the next time she’s in town. Conversely, if you’re proudly ‘old school’ and are neglecting your social media presence, dive in. You really need a foot in both worlds.”

  • Join a new group that interests you and really attend the meetings.Make them a priority. It doesn’t matter what activity it’s based on. This may be a book circle or a kayaking club or a community cause. What’s important is that you’re getting together with other women who share a common interest—and that you go to meetings and events often enough to let these strong connections develop.

“It’s the shared passion for the activity that generates the connections,” notes O’Reilly. “And those connections take on a life of their own. You may end up forging alliances, finding jobs, winning clients—even though that’s not the ‘purpose’ for the group.”

  • Get on a different team at work. We tend to stick to our comfort zone. But shaking things up from time to time keeps you sharp and puts you in the path of exciting new people. When you work with women you don’t know on projects you’re unfamiliar with, you will learn, grow, and often discover vital new talents and interests.
  • Get involved in a philanthropic cause that speaks to your heart.Women who care enough about others to volunteer their time, talents, and treasure are the kinds of women you want to meet. They tend to be “other-oriented” and want to make new connections, too. So whether your “cause” is homeless animals, kids with cancer, adult literacy, or clean oceans, get involved.

“I actually met the 19 women who co-wrote the book through my Women Connect4Good, Inc., foundation,” she adds. “In fact, the book is living proof of the kind of collaboration that happens when women make connections based on their desire to serve.”

  • Think about what you need to learn. Seek out mentors who can help you learn it. Let’s say you have a small catering company specializing in weddings, parties, and family reunions. You’d like to expand into the healthcare conference arena but know nothing about the field. You might reach out to someone who plans such conferences and offer to trade services—perhaps cater an upcoming event for free or for a greatly reduced price—in exchange for the chance to learn and get a foot in the door.

“You’re not asking for something for free,” notes O’Reilly. “You’re also bringing something to the table. Who knows: Her clients may love your fresh approach, and it could result in the two of you starting a whole new venture.”

  • Likewise, give back to women who need your expertise. In other words, don’t just seek out mentors. Be a mentor to women who can benefit from your knowledge and experience. It’s “good karma” and it can pay off in unexpected ways.
  • Take a class. (And don’t just sit there; talk to your neighbor.) Whether it’s continuing education for your job, a creative writing class at the local community college, or even a martial arts training session, actively pursue new knowledge and skills. This will bring new and interesting women into your life—women who, just by being there, show that they have a zest for life and learning.
  • Volunteer your speaking services.Yes, yes, you hate public speaking. Many women do. But taking to the podium is a powerful way to get your voice heard, to build up your confidence, and of course to make new connections with those who hear you speak. And there are many civic and service organizations—like the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club—that need speakers.
  • Handpick five to ten powerful women in your community and ask them to participate in an event. This might be a roundtable discussion that takes place at an industry conference or a community fundraiser, for example. And don’t think that busy, important women won’t have time for you, says O’Reilly.

“Remember, women love sharing stories, best practices, and ideas,” she says. “You might be surprised by how many will say yes.”

  • If you’re invited, go.When someone invites you to an event or gathering—whether it’s an industry trade show, a party, or a hiking trip—go if you can. Yes, even if you’re tired, out-of-sorts, and feeling blah.

“Say yes if it’s remotely possible,” advises O’Reilly. “There are always reasons to say no and some of them are good reasons. But overall, life rewards action. Life rewards yes. The more times you say yes, the more connections you will make. The more connections you make, the richer and more creative your life will be.”

  • Set a goal to meet “X” new women per month. Insert your own number, depending on your circumstances and personality. Hold yourself to this number (it will help greatly to keep track in a journal or calendar). If you take this metric seriously, you’ll figure out how to make it happen. And while meeting isn’t the same as connecting, it’s the essential first step.

“Let’s say your goal is to meet five new women this month, and it’s the last day of the month and you have two to go,” says O’Reilly. “You can always pop into the spin class at your gym, or maybe go to an open house or political rally. While you’re there, of course, strike up conversations with at least two women and introduce yourself.” Voilà! You’ve met your goal!

While women are naturally good at connecting, it doesn’t happen automatically, notes O’Reilly. We really do have to make an effort.
“Most of us are so busy and overwhelmed that we just don’t make it a priority to connect with other women,” she says. “We really do have to be deliberately purposeful about it. The benefits of connecting with other women are incredible, so we owe it to ourselves—and each other—to make it happen.”


First appeared February 17, 2015 in Homebased Working Moms
Home-Based Working Moms is a professional association and online community of parents who work at home and those who would like to. It provides a variety of opportunities and resources to help moms network, learn and grow in their role as a home-based working mom.

Share Your Story and Move On

Michele Weldon

Michele Weldon

Award-winning storyteller, Michele Weldon seemingly had it all, the perfect marriage with a handsome, charismatic man, three sons, and a successful career in journalism, but the truth was very different. She told the stories of other people while working as a journalist for major newspapers and magazines, but when she decided to tell her own truth after her divorce, her peers warned her that she was committing professional suicide. Michele ignored their warnings and courageously wrote I Closed My Eyes: Revelations of a Battered Woman.
I Closed My Eyes BookHeralded for its authenticity and riveting story-telling, her book was more than a good read. Michele’s messages helped other women to see how hiding keeps you trapped in the unhealthy, destructive victim role. Her personal story showed women how they could move on and liberate themselves to create a new truth..
Michele’s own life broke open after the book was published. She began to teach journalism at Northwestern, and wrote more stories and books, five non-fiction books to date.
Escape Points BookHer most recent memoir, Escape Points, follows her life after I Closed My Eyes, about being a single mom, diagnosed with cancer and trying to raise three boys in the wake of an absent father. It won several awards including Editor’s Choice from Booklist.

The Good News and Bad News Is That Truth Is Contagious.

Dr. Nancy and Michele relate accounts of how people reacted after their divorces. Women shunned them. Michele said that it’s difficult to be around someone who is telling the truth if you’re being inauthentic yourself. Nancy agreed that she felt like people thought she was a leper and she wanted to tell them that they didn’t have to follow her lead. They could stay in less than rewarding marriages. But she chose to move on. And both women agreed also that when they did, it was empowering.
Michele said that since her first memoir, she has felt invigorated by her work. She is a prolific writer herself, but she also works hard to help other writers. Her work with the OpEd Project helps develop new voices across gender, economic, racial and political lines to narrate the world’s stories. Through workshops and scholarships, the project seeks to provide guidance and opportunities for writers to get their voices heard at a high level and make a difference in the world.

Reach Beyond Your Own Circle

The biggest problem women have is reaching out to ask for help. Staying in a truth that you can’t own keeps you stuck in an unproductive place. Developing communities where you can share your truth empowers you to get unstuck and live a more rewarding, happier life. Nancy repeated her mantra, “When we form communities of like-minded women and share our truths, anything is possible.” Michele encourages women to reach out beyond the circle of people they know. In Take the Lead Women, where Michele serves as editorial director, a large group of women work to create gender parity by 2025. It’s thrilling to work with women who are so energized by a cause and doing such amazing, life-changing work.
Listen to more of the advice and stories in this interview and check out Michele’s website for more about her and her intriguing stories. As editor of Take the Lead’s website, Michele is always looking for possible contributors. And she also says that the best thing about having written her memoirs is the women who contact her to share their stories and tell how her book helped them move on from their own stuck situation.

Empowering Story–Surviving to Thriving

Ragan ThomsonOvercoming a 20-year eating disorder was just one step Ragan O’Reilly Thomson took on her path to become the loving, compassionate and intuitive healer and Transformational Life Coach she is today. Ragan has recently partnered with her mother Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, to present Mother-Daughter workshops in Santa Barbara, CA. She also conducts couples counseling with her husband Alex, provides counseling on the phone and in person, and hosts goddess gatherings, and inspiring seminars. Her life has blossomed from surviving to thriving as she discovered her life’s work, which is to help others discover the healing she has experienced herself.

People Don’t Have to Suffer and Be Miserable

Having found joy in her own life, Ragan explains that most of us do not participate actively in our lives today but are instead asleep, thoughtlessly absorbing the collective unconsciousness in our culture. We listen to the media, see the movies and believe our friends and family when they make us feel less than we really are. When we begin to open our eyes to our authentic selves and see our paths more clearly, we rid ourselves of the roller coaster of highs and lows and wake up to abundant joy.

Dr. Nancy and Ragan agree that when you find your true passion and purpose, your daily life and the work you do are transformed into something beyond being merely happy. For Ragan, she says that it was like removing a lifetime’s build up of dust from a light bulb. Although she was born light and bright – like every person – she accumulated energy blockages that caused multiple problems. As she went through each stage of searching, first playing tennis, then acting and producing, she was really lost and weighed down by her life experiences. Then she found a spiritual community and a mentor and learned what was inhibiting her growth and knowledge of her true self. As she cleared away the blockages, she learned that she is a teacher and healer. She also discovered she could trust her own intuitive gifts.

You Can Wake Up and Live Your Dream

The Dali Lama says to “wake up.” Ragan says that while 95% of the world is still sleeping through their lives, more and more people are waking up. It is so easy today to find teachers that you only have to reach out and ask for help. You can search online for transformational teachers or spiritual healers and find someone in your community. She maintains that if everyone would recognize the god or goddess within them, we wouldn’t have wars, suffering and violence. We would find peace and live our dreams.

More Empowering News

Listen to this interview to learn more about Ragan’s story and the changes she sees happening across the planet. Check out her website for upcoming events and contact information. And visit for more information about Mother-Daughter workshops in the Santa Barbara area.

The Lost Art of Listening

pexels-photo-29066-copyFriends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer. – Ed Cunningham
One theme that was repeated over and over in the recent election season was “making our voices heard.” Left, right, red or blue, it seemed like not one person in the country felt like anyone was listening to how they really felt, learning about what motivated them, or caring about where they actually were. Masses of people in this country felt abandoned and voiceless, and they took their frustrations and concerns to the polls. How can we turn the tide and reach our neighbors, coworkers and friends? How can we lessen that sense of abandonment or loneliness and find ways to work together for the greater good?
We can listen.
“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force,” writes Brenda Ueland in her essay, “On The Fine Art of Listening.” The people who “really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and want to sit in their radius as though it did us good.”
When people know people are listening, it is a clear indication that their voice has merit. But as The Wall Street Journal recently reported, experts find we’re naturally just not good at listening for a whole range of reasons. We have a tendency to swap stories, so we interrupt. We’re uncomfortable with emotions, so we avoid focusing too closely on someone else’s feelings. We’d rather talk about ourselves, so we rush the talker along. How can we increase our listening skills and become more actively involved in the conversation?

Stop Focusing on What You’ll Say Next

According to an article in Fast Company, you simply have to stop focusing on what you’ll say next. When you listen, you are learning from the other person. Research by social psychologist Arie Kruglanski and his colleagues at the University of Maryland, suggests that there are two distinct mindsets: a thinking mindset and a doing mindset. When you listen, you put yourself in a thinking mindset. It gives you a chance to understand what is going on around you. When you focus on planning your next contribution to the conversation, you enter a doing mindset. With attention to your own participation, which hinders thinking through the events carefully.
Sunny Sea Gold takes that advice a step further and writes in Scientific American that we can all improve our listening skills if we:

  1. Check assumptions – Cultivate a sense of genuine interest about where the other person is coming from and what he or she might say.
  2. Get Curious – ask open-ended questions.
  3. Suspend judgement – try really hard to let the other person talk.
  4. Know when to tap out – If you’re hurried, rushed or overly stressed, you’re not going to be able to be truly present and curious during a conversation. If you need more time, ask to wait for a bit.

Listening builds a foundation of trust, creates empathy, and paves a path for conversation. If we all take time, not just post election, but real time to listen, we can change our relationships for the better. And if we take that time to listen to strangers or those with different or opposing viewpoints, we really could understand how to change the world. Women need to make an effort to recapture this lost skill. Together, we accomplish amazing things, and if we truly listen and support one another we can do anything!

Now Is the Time for Women Parity

Author Gloria FeldtNewsmaker, commentator, best-selling author and co-author of Leading Women, Gloria Feldt tells women that we already have what we need to achieve parity in leadership and earnings right now. We don’t need to pace ourselves, go with the flow and wait until 2095 (as predicted by the World Economic Forum) to become full and equal partners in world leadership. Gloria co-founded Take the Lead, a 501(c)3 foundation with investment banker Amy Litzenberger to create a synergistic program of training, mentoring, role modeling , and thought leadership needed to accelerate progress toward leadership parity. With the launch in 2014, which streamed to half-a-million people world-wide and packed Arizona State’s field house, TakeTheLeadWomen was off and running. #25not95 and the close the gap app became the rallying cries to prepare, develop, inspire and propel women toward the leadership equality they deserve.

Women, Own Your Power!

No Excuses BookGloria’s best-selling book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, explains Gloria’s central message that women already have the tools they need to do so. Culture has taught women that power means “power over,” a concept that has been drummed into feminine consciousness through domestic abuse and heavy-handed masculine leadership. This has made women feel like victims, not owners of power.
When women re-think power as the “power to” accomplish their goals, they want to own it and use it in an entirely different way. Through her workshops, “9 Leadership Power Tools” Gloria conveys the message that when women embrace this new positive, expansive and innovative view of power with intention, they can crack the code of implicit gender bias and the fear that there’s not enough pie to go around .

The Infinite Pie—More Means More

In this conversation Gloria talks about her concept of The Infinite Pie. There is no finite pie of power or resources unless you think that way. Actually, the more there is, the more there is. And Gloria is proving it by sharing her life’s work. She has shared her signature core curriculum, the “9 Leadership Power Tools,” with other capable women trainers. At this time, there are 35 Leadership Ambassadors certified to deliver the training, with a goal of 15 more by year’s end.
Gloria stresses the fact that women are better together. When we collaborate and work in a sisterhood, we strengthen, not only our intentions, but our power to make positive change in the world. The partnership of Take the Lead and WomenConnect4Good is a perfect example of that. Both Dr. Nancy and Gloria agree that it’s inspirational to work together and it feels liberating to reach out and help others up the ladder.

One Small Thing A Day

Gloria said she would not be where she is today without the help of one woman. Then she told the story of Mildred, who wrote a letter of recommendation for Gloria without being asked and from her death-bed. At that point, Gloria had no work experience or boss, other than Mildred. While we’re all trying to create big change in giant steps, we should remember that doing one small thing a day could completely change the trajectory of someone’s life. We never know what we have created over time with a simple gesture of generosity and a hand-up.

New Programs from Take the Lead

Take the LeadBesides creating the Leadership Ambassador program, Gloria describes several new programs offered by Take the Lead. They have recently partnered with GlassBreakers to create a mentorship program. It’s free and Glassbreakers will match you with a mentor or a mentee through some simple criteria. The goal is to create one million mentors in a year and she’s confident they will achieve it.
Gloria also invited everyone to participate in this week’s live Virtual Happy Hour on Wednesday 11/9/16, which will address the 2016 election results and the importance of having women lead in the top levels of government. These take place the 2nd Wednesday of the month and usually feature an inspiring expert woman or man who provides guidance. Participants can chat or tweet their questions and comments.
There are many more opportunities and resources, online and in person available through Take the Lead. Listen to this conversation for more ideas and check out  website, social media  and YouTube for more information.

Women Must Align with Their Power

Sarah Acer

Sarah Acer

When encouraged by her parents to pursue something in her life  to contribute to the betterment of society, Sarah Acer decided to connect in the most meaningful way. An award-winning global communications and development strategist, she founded and serves as managing partner for Align Communications and Creative, headquartered in New York City.
Align is a collective of six women who see themselves as industry disrupters and who left their respective big-brand careers to build a new kind of agency. Their full-service strategy and development firm works exclusively with government agencies, nonprofits, and socially conscious organizations looking to deliver social change and a positive impact to the world.

What Does Profit Really Mean?

Sarah sees a change in the way the world views profit. The United States is still focused on financial applications, but worldwide the perception is expanding to view it in terms of gains, such as increased longevity, decreased mortality rates, reduced HIV cases, etc. She says these gains for the good of society are more aligned with “outcomes” than the traditional view of profit. However, she expresses her wonder that investors will gamble on ten “for profit” businesses at $50,000 each and be happy if one of them makes a profit, while they see investing in a “non-profit/social profit” organization as a loss.
When Align works with a corporation, they make sure their community goals align with their business goals and unlike many businesses, they don’t create a foundation for foundation’s sake. They support the “triple-bottom line model” from the 90’s in which companies are concerned with people, profit and planet.

There is Power in Numbers.

Align has become the agency of record to help Take the Lead reach its goal of achieving parity for women by 2025. Sarah says that now is the time for women to join together and help each other. The US is far behind other countries in leadership. While over 60% of college graduates are women, only 20% occupy upper management and we rank 95th in the world in Congress. However, things are beginning to change.
Sarah cites an article in The Washington Post that talked about what happens when women really support other women. When the Obama took office, two-thirds of his top administration was male, made up of those who had worked for him during the campaign.  The women banded together and created an “amplification strategy” in which they repeated each other’s ideas and credited the woman who came up with the idea. More and more aids and staff joined in this sort of cabinet of leadership and got more women appointed through demonstrating and emphasizing women’s contribution.

Take the Lead’s Strategy

It’s a different take on how Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt, founder of Take the Lead, is working to create an even bigger outcome for women supporting women. Gloria believes in the infinite pie: the more there is, the more there is. Create more women leaders at the top and we create more women leaders at every level and in every sector.
Sarah invites everyone to check out Take the Lead website for the many programs that are offered to women of all ages and at all states in their careers. There are many free resources, such as Virtual Happy Hours and online courses. Check it out also for how you can contribute in your own way to their efforts to bring women into a place where parity and equality is achieved. Sarah says that ultimately the goal of Align is to work themselves out of a job and there’s no longer a need to talk about women reaching equality any more.
Listen to this conversation for more intriguing insights into how feminine leadership is more profitable for both the companies and the communities they serve. And look at Align’s website for the impressive outcomes of organizations they have served.

Diversity Means All of Us

diversity-woman-conference-3I recently attended my second Diversity Woman Business Leadership Conference, this year in Baltimore. Once again I welcomed the feeling of inclusion; we are all women coming together to support one another. If I were ever to feel set apart, I might expect this to be the place, where three quarters of the attendees were women of color, and where I was the only white woman on  a panel of four. But that was not the case. I discovered again that when we share our stories we are more similar than different and we all want to make the world a better place.
This was the 11th year for the Diversity Woman Conference, although I just learned about it last year. My friend and co-author Kristin Andress, not only suggested I attend, but signed me up to speak on a panel. What an experience! I had never been among so many women (and men) working to help one another and it inspired me to reach out, sponsor this year’s conference and join a panel once again.  This year’s panel, which included a millennial, baby boomers and women in charge of diversity in major organizations, answered probing questions aimed at getting all of us to work together to create more diverse executive leadership and cooperation in the workplace.
Millennials are the toughest women entering leadership today. If interviewed by a stereotypical white male businessman, they will walk out. They insist on working in companies that have management that looks like them and they have enough talent and persistence to persevere and follow their dreams. They are accustomed to obstacles of race and gender and have the determination to overcome them to reach their goals. The talent they bring to a company makes, not only a more collaborative place to work, but brings in new ideas, a fresh perspective and synergy that directly impacts the bottom line. Study after study supports this. If corporations want to make more money and succeed in today’s economy they must welcome diversity of all kinds within their management ranks. Companies and governments around the world are waking up to that fact. We can no longer limit the dynamic input from diverse genders, races and cultures and expect to succeed in any enterprise.

Lisa Lutoff Perlo, CEO Celebrity Cruise Line

Lisa Lutoff Perlo, CEO Celebrity Cruise Line

However, achieving this transformation will take all of us. No one person can change the world. We must realize that when we share our stories, we make connections. Women want to solve the problems of the world. We all want better places for our families to live, better communities, and a more secure future. We know when women serve on boards, in public office and in upper management, the conversation changes to include what will benefit people. Women nurture by nature and that makes us bring others together. Excluding others is actually against our feminine inclinations. When we authentically welcome the feminine leadership model, we become inclusive and understand fully how no one group can do it all. I’ll say it again: it will take ALL of us working together and welcoming everyone’s insight and effort to make the world a better place.
Kristin said it simply in my recent interview about her new book, “Why can’t we all just get along?” No reason at all that I can see.  Yes, I know, there are all those issues of money and power and control, competing interests and different ideas about the best ways to accomplish goals we may share. But when I’m surrounded by all the energy, vitality, skills and creativity of diverse women and men, I’m inspired to do more. I feel optimistic that we can do it. We are so alike it’s just crazy not to be inclusive! We must help one another to nourish our own lives and the lives of others. It’s the only way we are going to create a world we can all live in and sustain for our sons and daughters, one in which all races and all cultures honor our diversity and the best of our humanity.

Happy 80th Birthday Dr. Johnetta Cole

~ Dr. Nancy

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