She’s Doing It: What Courtney Martin Learned This Year

by Gloria Feldt on March 21st, 2012
in 9 Ways Blog, Gender, Leadership, Power Tools, She's Doing It, Tell Your Story and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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

Here’s what Courtney says she learned since I interviewed her for No Excuses:

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?

Courtney Martin: I’ve learned that my power deserves to be used with collaborators that respect and match me in integrity, accountability, and courage.

GF: Was there a moment when you felt very powerful recently?

CM: I recently convened the activists featured in my book, Do It Anyway, for the second time to serve as the teachers and mentors for a conference with 200 teenagers from 85 different countries. It was amazing to realize that my hard, daily work and instinct to gather people together for these kinds of in-person experiences had helped create such a powerful experience for so many people.

GF: Which of the 9 Ways Power Tools have you used or do you particularly resonate with?

CM: I love them all, but I’d have to say that “tell your story” is the one that speaks most directly to the mission of my life. I’ve realized that I have a gift in learning and telling both my own story and others stories in service of changing the world. It all lines up with my favorite quotation by a nun named Mary Lou Kownacki: “Engrave this on your heart: there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you heard their story.”

GF: For the first time in history, gender parity at work, in civic life, and in personal relationships seems possible—if we choose to make it so. That’s my take. What’s yours? What are the signs that tell you I’m right, or that make you think I’m overly optimistic?

CM: I feel as if we’ve truly come a long way when it comes to formal and institutional parity, but cultural liberation still seems like a very hard nut to crack. Of course women and men are considered equally, at least before the law, for the same job, but how much do men see themselves as caretakers and how much are women able to fully embrace their own professional prowess? This is why your book, Gloria, is so critical. I think it’s chipping away at old internalized sexism.

GF: What other observations about women’s relationship with power or leadership do you want to share?

CM: I’ve been thinking a bit about how most of the powerful women that I know appear to spread themselves way too thin. Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t reached parity, in some respects, because we refuse to believe that we deserve to focus on one professional goal at a time, like the guys. Instead we try to take it all on at once and don’t do it as excellently as we could. Just a theory….

Gloria Feldt

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.

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