Recently, I sat down with Liz Dennery Sanders of She Brand who shares the secrets of successful branding with women entrepreneur, coaches and consultants, saying “those who put this secret to work in their business never have to worry where their next client is coming from.”
And if a leader is someone who gets something done, then LisaBeth exemplifies leadership too. She uses the power of her artistry to make a difference for the causes she—and YOU—believe in. When you or I wear one of LisaBeth’s cause pins, we’re also using Power Tool # 6: Wear the Shirt –showing the world what we believe.
I’ll bet LisaBeth would love to know what you want on your pin, if she were to design one for you. So tell her in the comment section below.
How do I know Gloria? Our paths were destined to cross, and they finally did back in 2004 at a campaign event in Pennsylvania. Having defined a mission of making a difference in the world over 20 years ago, I’ve always channeled my core beliefs into my work. It seems inevitable that my creativity and mission would manifest into a line of handmade pins for causes that began with a pin about CHOICE.
As an artist and activist, I realized that an art-pin could be like a mini-billboard for people to ‘wear their heart on their lapel’, to spark conversation, and to effect change.
Over the years, I developed cause pins for politics and voting, peace and social justice, women’s rights, the environment, animal rescue, and more. The pins found their way to many non-profit organizations that have utilized them for fundraising and awareness.
Executive leadership coach Ora Shtull understands the power of using your voice. In her lively guest post and the accompanying video, she tells women that it’s not enough to sit at the table; talk at the table if you want to have an impact on decisions and be recognized for your ideas. When I was writing No Excuses, I came to realize that power unused is power useless, and unless we are sharing our knowledge and ideas, they are not helping anyone, including ourselves. So, here’s how Ora tells it:
What is it about nines? Nine is the number of lives that cats are said to have. The Beatles sang “Revolution 9” on their White Album (in almost nine minutes!). And when you look pretty darn good, you’re “dressed to the nines.”
It’s no secret that I am a big admirer of Gloria’s work. Her rise from teen mom and high school dropout in rural Texas to CEO, author and acclaimed expert on women and power is nothing short of extraordinary.
Coincidentally and perhaps cosmically, I too have a belief in nine.
“Before I got pregnant, I was full-steam ahead in life,” said Carolina Pichardo, cofounder with Mary Targia of the educational and inspirational New York-based organization and website YUM (Young Urban Moms).
“I’d received a partial scholarship to New York University, after traveling abroad and interning at the New York City Public Advocate’s Office and Tor Books Publishing.”
But when she found out she was pregnant, the resulting harsh remarks and judgmental looks threw the slim, stately Harlem-born Pichardo off her track—for a while: “I just became angry. I didn’t know what to do with that anger, so I simply worked hard to prove those around me wrong.”
With some of the same rebel instincts that had propelled her parents to immigrate to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic—where her mother was a teacher and her father a doctor—she stayed in school through most of her pregnancy. She took a semester off after her daughter Lyanna (known as Lulu), now age 11, was born. Then she returned to earn her bachelor’s degree in communications from NYU “with leaky boob stories galore.”
As the absurdity of right-wing political figures’ pathological obsession with women’s uteruses continues, many people ask why this is happening now and what to do about it. In this Woman of the Weekinterview with Anna Louie Sussman for the Women in the World Foundation, Gloria speaks about how women can act, using what we’ve got (that’s Power Tool #3) to embrace our power to insist on our right to our bodies, our right to financial stability.
The article, excerpted here, was originally published January 24, 2012, and can be read in full on the Women in the World website.
Everything you need to know about Gloria Feldt can be gleaned from her email signature: “Warmest Regards and No Excuses, Gloria.” Her superlative compassion and conviction, combined with her intelligence and charisma, have carried her from teenage motherhood in West Texas to a thirty-year career with the reproductive health provider and advocacy group Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which she directed from 1996 until 2005, when she resigned.
Her most recent book, No Excuses, examines women’s relationship to power with an honesty and nuance often glossed over in media discussions. We talked with her about the current state of reproductive freedom in America and how women can transform their relationship with power.
Women in the World Foundation: What led you to this issue of women and power?
Gloria Feldt: In 2008, I was writing an article for Elle magazine about the many organizations that help women run for office. They are legion, and they raise millions of dollars, but women are still less than half as likely to even think about running for office as men. What I found was that the problem is no longer that women have a hard time running: the doors are open. Voters trust women more, women are now as capable of raising money, and when they do run, they are just as likely to win.
Census Bureau statistics cite that women on average earn about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. On Tuesday, the Senate GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced by Democrats to the senate floor.
This promising legislation would have bolstered the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, barring employers from retaliating against workers who inquire about pay disparities.
What can we as individual women do retroactively to create a work life for ourselves in which we don’t have to resort to investigating discrimination by our employers?
In this interview, Gloria encourages women to define their own terms: at meetings, “Say the first word, say the last word and establish yourself as an authority.”
Meg McSherry Breslin: For women who feel frustrated and unable to move up in their companies, what are some concrete things they can do?
You met Lily Womble in last week’s She’s Doing It and learned that she attended the AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) international forum in Istanbul.
There, she recorded video interviews with a number of women from around the globe. Besides the two in this post (watch them to learn what the post title means), you can see more on Lily’s YouTube channel.
Continuing the series of asking women I interviewed when I was writing No Excuses “What have you learned about your relationship with power since we talked?” here is a beautiful essay from Kristal Brent Zook explaining her answer about a very personal choice.
How Gloria Feldt’s No Excuses Reminded Me of My Power
Not long ago, my friend Gloria Feldt, author of No Excuses, asked me to take another look at her 9 ways women can embrace power to see if any of the strategies had resonated lately, in the year or so since the initial release of her book.
Since we all know how political the personal will always be, I thought immediately about the upheavals of the past year in my home life.
Last February, my husband and I decided—on a whim, really—to relocate from Manhattan to the suburbs of Long Island.
“Why not leave the city?” we asked ourselves. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Get some fresh air. A yard. A real house. It would shorten my commute to Hofstra University; and of course, we would be saving all that money.
A charming, two-story 1923 Colonial about 30 miles east of the city caught our eye: it was more than 5,000 square feet, with two sun rooms and front and back yards. The rent was $1,200 less than our midtown high-rise, and ditching New York City taxes meant another $1,000 a month in savings.
“Let’s do it!” we agreed excitedly, handing over a check for the first month’s rent.
When I speak on college campuses, I score points with students when they find out I know Courtney Martin, author, among several books, of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and Do It Anyway. Though she’s the youngest of the four of us on the WomenGirlsLadies intergenerational feminist panel, she is usually the most together. The one who knows where we’re supposed to be when, gets the power point together, and remains calm when things go awry.
Follow Courtney @courtwrites and find her commentaries on The American Prospect and many other publications. Courtney is the Founding Director of the Solutions Journalism Network, along with New York Times columnist David Bornstein. In addition, she is the leader of the Op-Ed Project’s Public Voices Fellowship Program at Princeton University–coaching women academics to become part of public debate. She is a partner in Valenti Martin Media, a communications consulting firm focused on making social justice organizations more effective in movement building and making change and is an Editor Emeritus at Feministing.com.
Here’s what Courtney says she learned since I interviewed her for No Excuses:
Are there generational differences in women’s relationship with power?
When I started writing No Excuses, I wanted to interview young women in their 20’s to learn about their relationships with power. Media relations professional and digital strategist Jen Nedeau, then 24, brought together several of her friends for a frank and far reaching conversation.
Jen, who seems to have been born knowing her power, blew me away with her poise, sense of balance, and that power of intention that many women of all ages need to be urged to pursue. See what I mean in her update—she must keep those power tools in her purse, because she uses them so proficiently to deal with the ups and downs of life. (As befitting a digital strategist, you can follow Jen on Twitter @JenNedeau.)
Gloria Feldt: In No Excuses, I asked, “When did you know you had the power to_____?” What have you learned about your power to ______ during the past year or so?
Jen Nedeau: When I spoke to you for the book, we talked about finding the “power source. ” For me, few experiences have been more profound in discovering my own source of power than the past three years I’ve spent in New York. Since moving here, I watched a company I once worked for go bankrupt, I’ve been robbed three times, lived with far too many random roommates and I had to stare down an army of cockroaches on a regular basis in my old apartment in the Lower East Side.
But if the company I worked for hadn’t gone bankrupt, I probably would not have started my own consultancy and secured a variety of clients in the arts, media and non-profit worlds—proving to myself that I could make it on my own—before taking a job with a major magazine publisher. After two years of living here, I was able to move out of my cramped apartment in the Lower East Side and into a studio apartment, which I am glad to say is thus far, free of Manhattan’s favorite pests.
All of these challenges, big and small, helped me learn that I have the power not only to survive life’s challenges, but succeed despite them. Now, at age 27, I can say that even a bit of struggle can reap big rewards. I am enjoying my life here, meeting amazing people and working on interesting projects, but more importantly, I know that no matter what happens, I have the ability to make it on my own. And independence, in any form, is one of the most empowering tools in the toolbox.
GF: Was there a moment when you felt very powerful recently? Was there a moment when you felt powerless?