The Daily Thrive $10 Buck Talk: Sister Courage

by Gloria Feldt on April 20th, 2012
in Previous Speaking Engagements and tagged

Webinar Event

Ten Buck Talk: Sister Courage – How Movement Building Principles Can Grow Your Business, Break Glass Ceilings, and Change the World.

I was the main presenter for this virtual event that was recorded for those who could not attend.

The Daily Thrive – $10Buck Talk A virtual experience you won’t want to miss! “SISTER COURAGE: How Movement Building Principles Can Grow Your Business, Break Glass Ceilings and Change the World” -April 19, 2012

Gabourey Sidibe, Jane Fonda: Two Courageous Sisters Employ Every Medium

by Gloria Feldt on May 4th, 2011
in 9 Ways Blog, Employ Every Medium and tagged , , ,
The Women’s Media Center Board and special guests. From left to right: Jodi Evans, Jewelle Bickford, Jane Fonda, Gabourey Sidibe, Julie Burton, me, Carol Jenkins, Robin Morgan, Marlo Thomas, Gloria Steinem, Jamia Wilson, Michaela Monaha.

Before she began her remarks at the podium, Jane Fonda pointed her digital camera at the 500 women and a few men packing the Paley Center auditorium on April 20th. We’d all paid somewhere between $50 and $5,000 to see D. A. Pennebaker’s 50-year old documentary Jane.

The film tracks Jane’s dismal flop in her first Broadway play at age 23.  Afterward, we were to hear the actress discuss women’s self image with Precious star Gabourey Sidibe in a panel moderated by feminist star Gloria Steinem.

But first, Jane’s blog had to be fed, so she snapped her photo. She does her own blogging and a good bit of her own tweeting, and those social media are always hungry for content.  I could relate. After posting at least daily during Women’s History Month, I have not been feeding my 9Ways blog properly. Today I begin anew with a promise to post at least twice a week so we can keep the conversation about women’s relationship with power that was started with the launch of No Excuses going.

But back to the evening’s program…Widely divergent in age and race, Jane and Gabourey found their key differences to be in their relationship with power, the locus of their power (inside versus looking outward for affirmation), and their concern about body image.  Most notably, Gabby expressed love for herself whereas Jane still obsesses about her weight and appearance.

As Jane reported in her blog afterward: “Gabby was really amazing. I wish I had recorded some of the things she said. So wise and strong.”

The screening and panel discussion were a benefit for the Women’s Media Center, a nonprofit dedicated to making women visible and powerful in the media. Women currently make up only 16 percent of the expert “talking heads” on news and public affairs shows, and 3 percent of the top level positions that decide what the stories will be. I’m honored to serve on the WMC board to support women employing every medium to get their messages out and change those dismal statistics to 50/50.

What stories about women do you see in the media you watch or read?

How has the prevailing media narrative affected your self-image and sense of power?

I’m interested in your thoughts. Please share them here.















See Jane Do webinar

by Gloria Feldt on April 13th, 2012
in Previous Speaking Engagements and tagged

Free Webinar with Gloria Feldt

Invest in Your Passion!  Power Tools You Need

You are invited a See Jane Do Webinar featuring Gloria Feldt!

Thursday April 12th, 2012  10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. PDT

Join us and learn how movement building “power tools” can propel your passion, grow your business, break glass ceilings and change the world.  Embrace Sister Courage and succeed.

In this webinar you will learn:

  •  How how to apply 3 simple principles of movement building Gloria learned on the frontlines of leadership.
  • Bite-sized, useful takeaways that you can use right now to put your personal passion into action and harness the power of Sister Courage.

We will discuss key topics from Gloria’s  newest book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Powerwhich reveals why women are stuck at 18% of top leadership roles and, through both inspirational stories and practical “Power Tools,” shows how we can redefine power, lead ourselves with intention, and reach parity from the boardroom to the bedroom for good–our own and society’s.

Sign up today!  Registration is free.  Space is limited

Each registrant will receive:  Free download of Gloria’s 9 Ways Power Journal

Equali-TeaSpecial giveaways: Winners will receive a copy of Gloria’s book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power or a For Good Tea package including the just launched Equali-Tea.

ABOUT  GLORIA: Gloria Feldt is a nationally renowned activist, author, speaker, and leadership expert. she’s former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood and has worked for a variety of social justice causes.

About Us: See Jane Do is a social change organization that redefines media for women & the power of story to create positive change.  Turn your Passion into Action today.

Power Tool #8: Employ Every Medium

by Gloria Feldt on December 6th, 2010
in Employ Every Medium, Power Tools and tagged , , , , ,

On a snowy January day in Grass Valley, California, 250 women packed the Holiday Inn Express conference room, the only place in the Northern California town of ten thousand large enough to hold such a crowd. Even in good weather, it would have seemed remarkable for so many bright-eyed activists from a sprawling rural area to spend a full day in a cramped meeting room discussing what they were “going to do about it.”

The “it” was each individual attendee’s passion. I’d been invited to speak about “Sister Courage” at this first See Jane Do Passion Into Action conference, organized that winter day in 2010 by Jesse Locks and Elisa Parker, a dynamic duo of young women who created the hub for activism and social change called See Jane Do. But I ended up learning more than I imparted. It was an eye-popping experience.

First of all, the attendees were unusually involved and evolved activists for a variety of environmental, health, and women’s causes. Second, See Jane Do’s unique multimedia platform holds exciting promise as a new model for civic engagement and leadership in today’s fast-paced, fragmented world. Its usefulness in rural areas, where women may be less able or inclined to participate in traditional organizations, is especially encouraging.

But See Jane Do isn’t about networking for networking’s sake, nor is it just a clever social media technique for more chatter with little substance. Parker said she had decided her time for making excuses was over when her five-year-old daughter asked: “Mom, why are we killing the earth?” The only real way she figured she could answer the question was to do something about it.

The women at See Jane Do are employing every medium in order to make the changes they wish to see in the world.

What media are you most likely to get your information from? To communicate with others? What percent of your time is spent with social media versus traditional media such as newspapers and television?

What goals would you like to accomplish? What media might you use to do it and to let the world know you’re doing it? How can you be the media?

Power Tool #7: Create a Movement

by Gloria Feldt on November 30th, 2010
in Create a Movement, Power Tools and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

In this video, women wearing their virtual shirts put their convictions into action. But they didn’t do it alone.

In No Excuses, I show how to apply movement building principles to any area of life. Those principles can be described as Sister Courage: be a sister. Reach out and ask for help when you need it. give help when someone else needs it. Have the courage to raise issues. Put the two together with action and you have a movement.

Think about it. When you needed to plan Thanksgiving dinner, didn’t you call on your sisters to help you plan the menu and distribute the workload? Those same skills can be incorporated into the workplace and in politics.

What’s on your shirt? What is the goal you want to accomplish? What are the various components and tasks? What strengths do the individual members of your team have, and how can those strengths be utilized to pull everything together?

I just love what Gloria Steinem has to say about building a network for yourself and getting a movement going. Do you agree with her?

Where do you need to create a movement in your life? Have you established support networks? And how can you apply the principles of movement building into your day-to-day life?

Speaking of movements, don’t forget to enter the Wear the Shirt contest. We’re accepting entries until December 4th. One lucky winner will receive an autographed set of my books, just in time for the holidays. Give them to someone special or keep them for yourself. But we’ve got a fabulous group of activists who have already joined the Wear the Shirt movement. So don’t be left out!

Do You Value Yourself?

by Gloria Feldt on October 28th, 2010
in Define Your Own Terms, Power Tools and tagged , , , , , , ,

Nicole Baute from The Star asked me to share some of the central messages of No Excuses when she interviewed me last week. I posted part of the interview Tuesday on the 9 Ways Blog. Here is another excerpt from that interview.

One of the things in the book that struck me was the stat that women are four times less likely to ask for a raise. Why?

I don’t think we always value our worth as much as men value their worth. Men are pretty ruthless about valuing their worth, they’re not at all timid about it. In fact, they tend to overstate their worth. Women understate their worth.

Why do women isolate themselves and try to fix things on their own?

We’re working in a workplace culture that was designed by men for men, who could work day and night because they had a woman at home taking care of the house and the kids. And that paradigm no longer works for anybody, I don’t think. So as women have entered that workplace culture, if you’re the first one, if you’re the only one in a department, you tend to try to fit yourself into the predominant culture.

That’s exactly why we need to consciously un-isolate ourselves and reach out with what I call Sister Courage. Ask another woman for help if you need it. Ask a man for help if you need it. Offer help if you think someone else needs it.

Do you think that competition — women competing with each other and women competing with men — is a barrier to asking for help?

It is a barrier when we define power as the power-over. And that’s why I say in No Excuses that we need to redefine power on our own terms. Women feel very comfortable thinking about power as the power-to — the power to accomplish things in this world. The power-over implies a finite pie: ‘I have to have power over you because I want what you’ve got. And if I take a slice of the pie, you have less.’ But the power-to implies an infinite resource — the more there is, the more there is. And that’s a definition of power that women are much more comfortable with and frankly, it’s a definition of power that allows people to be much more creative.

You wrote that some political programs meant to eliminate external barriers overlook the fact that the most stubborn barriers exist within women. I’m wondering if you got push-back from the women and feminists that you interviewed on that concept.

I got that every time I talked about it. I get push-back occasionally from some of the women who run the groups that help women run for politics. Whenever I make a speech about it, I do usually have someone who says, ‘But you know, there are still these structural barriers, there are barriers of class and race and poverty.’ And every bit of it is true. But there does come a time when we have to just take the responsibility for ourselves. You can wallow in that fact that there are still external barriers, or you can decide, ‘I’m just going to take that on.’

A lot of women slow down their careers or opt out because they want to be mothers or for other reasons. If they’re making those choices for themselves because of what they value, is that necessarily a problem for the rest of us?

I think the idea of what is called choice feminism is bad for everybody. All choices are not necessarily of equivalent value. A choice of eating a greasy hamburger, while it may be good, is not as good a choice for your health as eating, you know, a turkey burger. This is not something you can do by law. It has to be done by changing how we interact with the culture.

Right now over 50 per cent of the women who have MBAs leave the workforce when they have children. And that’s why we’re so slow, that’s why only 18 per cent of management teams in our workforce are women. The more women who don’t continue working their way up the ladder, the more people can say, ‘Look, don’t even think about hiring a woman into that position, they’re just gonna leave the workforce anyway, when they have kids.’ That said, what I think needs to happen is that women and men together need to change the workplace and how it’s structured. I really think that instead of castigating women that leave the workforce, I think it would be more productive to change the workplace.

I assume you would agree that we need more of a critical mass of women in the workforce to make some of this happen and if women do opt out, it’s just going to take longer.

That’s precisely why I say it’s not a good thing. It’s unhelpful to (society) as a whole. And again, to put it into a more positive cast, there is a social responsibility we have to each other. We do make our choices for ourselves and ultimately we’re only responsible for our own lives. But if we can take a slightly more expansive view (we’ll) realize that what we do today is going to be somebody else’s history tomorrow.

Get Your Coven Together-It’s Friday the 13th!

by Gloria Feldt on April 13th, 2012
in 9 Ways Blog, Carpe the Chaos, Personal Relationships and tagged , , , , , ,

I like Friday the 13th.

Thirteen is a great number. Why?

First of all, my birthday is on the 13th, April 13th. Every once in a while it lands on a Friday, as it does this year, and I feel just as lucky as when it falls on a Tuesday. The gifts are just as much fun to open, the good wishes just as lovely to receive.

I also like Friday the 13th because 13 is the number of a coven. Covens are powerful. Every women needs her coven, no matter what her religion is or what she thinks about witches. We need our circle of women friends, our old or new girls network. Our sister courage. Our girl gangs. One of us alone can accomplish a lot, but 13 of us together make a movement. Remember, thirteen colonies started a revolution and formed a new nation in 1776.

Third, according to some traditions, twelve is considered “complete” but 13 is deemed “irregular” because it disrupts the “even dozen.” The thirteenth witch was considered the devil in ancient Rome, where apparently witches normally traveled in 12’s.

Then there were 12 apostles, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 months of the year, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 gods of the Olympus.  Never 13. That makes me like 13 even better because in my experience disruption, or chaos, is opportunity. In a time of chaos, people are open to new ideas they wouldn’t have considered when things were normal. Chaos breeds innovation because innovation always comes from the margins, from the abnormal, from the boundary breakers who don’t quite fit. That can only be a good thing.


I have never understood why anyone thinks he or she is avoiding the number 13 just by renaming the floor in a building or the row of seats on an airplane “14” instead of “13.” A rose by any other name, and all that. And so far the fact that those rows and floors are really 13 has made no difference at all in how the world turns.

Yes, I like 13 just fine.

PS. I like black cats too.

Who Will the Woman of Tomorrow Be?

by Gloria Feldt on March 26th, 2012
in 9 Ways Blog, Know Your History, Leadership, Power Tools, Use What You've Got and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

“What do you want to be?” we ask our daughters and sons when they are growing up.
It seems only right that as Women’s History Month draws to a close, we don’t just look backward but that we also focus forward to ask what we as women want to be and what women of the future might or should become.

This article on Canadian women’s economic power  indicates economic parity is on the way. A new study published in the Harvard Business Review says women are better leaders than men on almost every measure of leadership. But does that translate to women moving from the current 18% to parity in top leadership positions?

Since the power to define the woman of tomorrow is to a large extent in our hands (See Power Tool #3) and based upon the history we make today (see power tool #1), I’m asking what you think:

  • What do you want to be next?
  • Who do you think will be the woman of tomorrow?
  • How would you define her character and characteristics?
  • What external forces will influence her?
  • How will she define herself?
  • Will she be a “Powered Woman”?
  • Will she have “sister courage”?
  • What are your aspirations for women’s lives five, ten, 25 years hence?

It’s a worthy conversation. Please post your comments here and let’s discuss.

Are You an Iron Lady?

by Gloria Feldt on January 20th, 2012
in 9 Ways Blog, Gender, Know Your History, Leadership, No Excuses, Politics, Power Tools, She's Doing It and tagged , , , , ,

The Golden Globe Awards this week featured the most gorgeous dresses I’ve ever seen (yes, I confess to being a fashion watcher) and Meryl Streep winning her 9th Golden Globe, for her extraordinary portrayal of the British rock-ribbed Conservative former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the first and only woman ever to serve in that post.Meryl Streep Iron Lady

The film is titled “The Iron Lady,“ a moniker the press slapped on to Thatcher and it stuck.  Ever feel like that describes you—strong enough to balance and juggle everything in your work and home life, with everyone expecting you to stay—well, tough as Iron?

The nickname fit Thatcher for reasons having more to do with her firm and some would say obstinate resolve on political issues, though the poignant story of her relationship with her very supportive husband and her twin children does weave in and out of the tale.

Image courtesy the Weinstein Group
I never cared for Thatcher’s rightist politics—she mind-melded with U.S. President Ronald Reagan whose term of office overlapped with hers in the 1980’s–and I probably wouldn’t have gone to see the movie had I not been warned that I’d be asked about Thatcher’s life and leadership by Molly Dedham, co-host of the Sirius XM radio talk show, Broadminded when I had the pleasure of appearing as a Regular Broad (Listen to the podcast here).

Know Any Iron Men?

I do admire Thatcher’s strength of conviction and her tenacity. But do you think any male political or business leader would have been so dubbed? Of course not. Men would be assumed to be strong and resolute. Only a male body builder would be called “The Iron Man.”

Precisely because Thatcher smashed through gender barriers, breaking stereotype to become a leader in the male-dominated world, she was mocked in that particular sexist way.

But here’s the rub: Instead of calling it out or joining forces with other women to pave the way for more of her gender to advance, Thatcher instead became increasingly like the men around her.

This clip shows her being coached to change her speech pattern to sound more authoritative, and she’s told to ditch her hat and pearls. As you’ll see, she’s willing to mold herself to what her image consultants advise her for the most part, though she did draw the line at removing her double strand pearls, a gift from her husband and representing her twins. And she often said that being a woman made her better able to handle multiple priorities and get things done.

She fit herself into the male culture and denied that she either owed anything to the women who had struggled for women’s rights, or that she had any special responsibility to other women to bring them along.

“I owe nothing to women’s lib,” she declared.

And as a first and one of the few women in politics in the United Kingdom during the mid-20th century, Thatcher was isolated, just as many women feel they are in the workplace in 2012.

But she also isolated herself. Many women who have been firsts in whatever realm do the same, as do even many women who are not the first but are still in the minority within their field or place of employment. As women have entered that workplace culture, if you’re the first one, or if you’re the only one or one of just a few in a department, you tend to fit yourself into the predominant culture. You may look like a woman but you start to think and act like a man.

Why do women isolate themselves?

And when we have problems at work, we hunker down, convince ourselves we’re the only ones so afflicted, and that we have to be strong enough to solve it alone. There are few models to tell us otherwise.

After all, we’re still for the most part in workplaces designed by men for men. Furthermore, by men for men who could work day and night because they had a wife at home taking care of the house and the kids. Even the water cooler banter has been male-oriented, the places workers hung out were male oriented—the golf course and Hooters–not to mention the leadership metaphors, which have been largely drawn from war.

That paradigm no longer works for anybody.

That’s exactly why women need to consciously and intentionally un-isolate ourselves and reach out with what I call Sister Courage.

Why Strong Women Need Sister Courage

Ask another woman for help if you need it. Ask a man for help if you need it too—there are many men now in the workplace who were raised by women like you. Offer help if you think someone else needs it. Have the courage to raise the issues that need to be dealt with. And when you do that and join together with your allies, you have a mini-movement that can help you achieve your career goals, or make the changes you want at work, or at home.

The Iron Lady was unbreakably strong, as the film shows, but her isolation didn’t serve her well in the end either politically or in her personal life.

You can be both strong and connected, successful and human if you use Sister Courage and the rest of the No Excuses 9 Ways Power Tools (download them in brief here).

Are you an Iron Lady? Or do you feel like you have to be one? What steps have you taken to un-isolate yourself and use your Sister Courage to create a more gratifying career? I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences.

By the way, if you happen to be in New York on January, 31, please join me for an invigorating workshop to Boost Your Power for 2012, sponsored by the wonderful women at Digitistas. You’ll leave with your own plan and theinspiration and practical tools to achieve it.

(To get a “friends of Gloria” discount when you sign up, just type in the NoExcuses promotion code.)

This post was originally published in BlogHer Career. Check it and all my every-other-week leadership Q and A columns out there. Got an example to share? Got a question you’d like me to address in a future column? Please comment here or e-mail me.

Gloria Feldt

Because power unused is power useless, please visit:

Friday Round Up: Will Egyptian Women’s Revolt Sustain a Movement?

by Gloria Feldt on December 23rd, 2011
in 9 Ways Blog, Create a Movement, Gender, Leadership, No Excuses, Politics, Power Tools and tagged , , , , , ,

I was incredibly moved to see photos of Egyptian women marching in Tahrir Square earlier this week. A few hundred protesters were expected; thousands showed up. And they were angry.

Women figured prominently in the demonstrations that brought down Hosni Mubarak last January/February . But once the government toppled, they were pushed aside, and not included in the constitutional reform committee. Egyptian feminists warn that decades of painstaking advances could be reversed, as religious fundamentalists ascend to power in what has been a nominally secular state.

This week’s protest was spurred my pervasive police and military brutality to women. Attacks on women, called “shocking” by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “A new democracy cannot be built on the persecution of women,” she declared.

I was pondering the paradox of a freedom movement that results in less freedom for half the population when radio host Lisa Wexler e-mailed, asking me to come on her show. Lisa’s question to me was: how do you sustain a social movement once it gets started? She asked me to relate what’s happening in Egypt to my experiences in the U.S. women’s movement.

You can listen to the program here. The topic starts at 46 minutes in, my interview at 1:10.

Here’s how Lisa framed it:

Listen Women, a one day revolt is fabulous, it’s brave, it’s amazing, and it’s wonderful, but it is MEANINGLESS if you go back the next day put the veil on and serve dinner as usual. You CAN’T FADE AWAY. I WANT A MOVEMENT, NOT AN OUTBURST – THAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO AFFECT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE AND IN THE WORLD – AND IF YOU DON’T SEE THAT – YOU ARE DOOMED TO A SECOND CLASS LIFE, AND SO ARE YOUR DAUGHTERS. The only hope ALL of us have is if women are equal participants in the world.

I told Lisa about cutting my activist teeth in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Much like the Egyptian women, after working in a movement that was largely led by and for men, I had my “click” moment when I realized that I and other women have civil rights too. That’s when I got involved in the women’s movement.

Decades on the frontlines of movement leadership taught me there are four “M’s” of movement building.

A successful and sustainable movement captures a Moment when people are angry about something. It has a clear Mission (its demands, goals, what it intends to accomplish). It tells its story and delivers its Message effectively through whatever media exists, and most of all, it MOVES.

In No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, I call that movement creation process “Sister Courage.”

You create a movement by applying three simple steps to bring about social change, or even to get something changed in the workplace:

1. Be a sister. Reach out to others who share your concerns. Offer help, and ask for help when you need it. By linking up with like-minded colleagues, you create a supportive network, and you are stronger together.
2. Have the courage to put the issues forward. Deliver the message. Tell the story for all to see. The more repressive the culture, the more courage this takes, and that’s why it was so moving to see the Egyptian women marching.
3. Put Sister and Courage together into a systematic plan and execute it. This is the hard part. It’s easy for one person to get mad. It’s not too hard to capture many people’s anger and get them to march. It’s much more difficult to change the system that is angering you, and harder still to give people a positive vision of change to aspire to. This part requires persistence. willingness to have leadership, and organizational structure. All social movements fall down to a certain extent here, because egos get involved and people get co-opted. But movements that are successful capture the fear and anger and use it to fuel aspirations. Aspirations—mission, vision, action goals–keep a movement moving and sustain it for the long term.

In comparison, Occupy Wall Street has done a great job of finding allies, capturing a moment of fear and anger, and creating a story–a narrative that delivers their “We are the 99% message” effectively in the media. But they don’t yet have a clear aspirational mission or leadership that can organize people around it. What are their demands?

Similarly, what exactly are the Egyptian women demanding? Only time will tell if they take that step.

From Tahrir Square and the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street this has been a year of astonishing protest movements. No wonder Time Magazine named the anonymous, eponymous protester as person of the year.  Said Time’s editor-in-chief, Jim Frederick, “It is a moment of hope and a moment of possibility, but we can’t say with any certainty whatsoever that it is necessarily going to lead to a happy ending.”

In the U.S., as in Egypt, women have often taken bold steps forward only to take steps back after reaching part of their goals.

Linda Tarr Whelan of Demos connects the dots between the various global women’s movements and points out that the U.S. stands almost alone (save for Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and two island nations) in failing to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  Now there’s a movement long overdue.

Revolutions usually are started by people who have begun to see that another, freer, better way to live exists. Yet if a movement doesn’t keep moving forward, at best progress will stop and the movement will wither. At worst, freedoms won will be lost.

How do you see the Egyptian women’s protest unfolding from here? What can Sister Courage do for them?

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