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The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right

April 5, 2018

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of American Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many media outlets are replaying segments of his most famous speeches, including the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" prophetic speech he gave in Memphis, Tennessee the night before his death. Listening to his hopeful reminder that "Only in the darkness can you see the stars," I find myself thinking of the new stars that are shining fresh light on today's darkness. 

Today's social justice warriors are: 

Grieving high school students fighting for their lives. 

Outraged athletes taking a knee against racial violence.  

And courageous, young, gymnasts confronting an evil, sexual predator.

I believe that each of us has multiple opportunities throughout our lives to help move humanity forward. Some require only very small steps outside our comfort zones; others, gigantic, scary leaps. I've learned that the important thing is to recognize them for what they are: opportunities to help inch humanity forward on the long,moral arc toward justice.  

We have a magnificent, story-telling event in Detroit -- The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers -- that was created by storyteller, entertainer and truth-seeker Satori Shakoor, with the goal of "Transforming lives one story at time."

Satori chose Justice & Grace as the theme for last month's stories, and gave me the privilege of taking the audience back to the late 1970's and early 80's when I was one of the first female, TV sports reporters to walk through the doors of professional sports locker rooms.

To come with me, click here. 

When opportunities to make a positive difference knock for you, I hope you will open the door and let them in. And after you do, share your story. Because, it will inspire others to find their courage, as well.  

SPORTS INOCUATE GIRLS AGAINST #METOO CULTURE

January 12, 2018

Participation in sports is one of the best ways I know to help inoculate our girls in preparation for the toxic culture they are growing up in. I'm a strong supporter of the Girls Changing the Game program of Detroit's PAL (Police Athletic League), which provides athletic opportunity and character building for 30,000 urban youth annually. Here's a great article in the Detroit News on why the opportunity to compete on sports teams and build confidence through physical activity is so important for our girls.

Bullying Boys and Bystander Enablers

October 13, 2017

 

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers,

 

Are you as shell-shocked as I am by the barrage of cultural and physical bullying dominating America's mindset?  The dysfunctional, nasty and even criminal behavior is so pervasive, with fresh examples coming so fast that I barely have time to soak in the implications of one before I'm stunned by the next. Las Vegas. Harvey Weinstein. Roger Ailes. "Don't you dare 'take a knee.'" Women's health is against my religion! Charlottesville. "Fire her!" I look at major news stories in a cultural context. Not as isolated events, but as connected threads and bellwethers of the society we are weaving. I'm distraught about the direction my country is heading. Bullying, backlash, fear and male power seem to be unchecked, while millions of bystanders lacking courage or moral fiber quietly enable the dysfunction. Where are our leaders?  

 

Here a few of my thoughts on current examples of America in cultural crisis. 

  

Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Scandal. Are you surprised? I'm not. Disgusted, yes. And furious that powerful men continue to prey on young women. Whether it's Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas, John F. Kennedy or sexual trafficking, domestic violence and child marriage, this has been going on for centuries.  Do I think that this scandal is a sea change? I doubt it. Instead, I see the present reaction to the Weinstein, Ailes and Cosby sexual assault scandals as very similar to our behavior following mass shootings, such as the recent massacre in Las Vegas. Big stories grab the headlines and our national attention for a few weeks, at most. But nothing will change. We'll continue allowing citizens to stockpile weapons of war, and boards of directors will continue protecting sexual assaulters who are good for the bottom line. Not until dismayed Americans DEMAND change and stop looking the other way, ignoring the rumors, doubting the victims and accepting "boys will be boys/locker room behavior," will anything change, except for one predator finally getting caught.  Sadly, our iceberg of sexual assult and hostile work environments for women is as large as the national arsenal of American citizens. 

 

Take-A-Knee --  I see Colin Kaepernick as a leader. A patriot willing to risk his career to help our nation live up to our ideals of equality. Becoming the "more perfect union" our founding fathers and mothers imagined and fought for, doesn't just happen. It takes courageous leadership.  Not just in the beginning, but always.  Athletes, beginning with other NFL players and growing to include the WNBA, high school students and entertainers who have followed Kaepernick's lead to protest police violence that disproportionately affects African Americans are not disrespecting our flag or our troops. They are taking responsibility as active citizens. Challenging, perhaps shaming us to live up to our purported values. Disrespect for our "united nation" is not taking a knee during a song. It is flying a Confederate flag, insulting a United States senator who was a prisoner of war, groping female citizens at will, tempting World War III. 

 

Quarterback Cam Newton Insults Female Sports Reporter -- I was not the least bit surprised to hear Panther QB Cam Newton's insulting response to an excellent question from NFL beat reporter  Jourdan Rodrigue. "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said, chuckling. "It's funny." No it's not funny. But the good news is that none of the other male sportswriters in the room enjoyed his joke. They met his comment with stoney silence. Then, multiple male journalists around the country wrote commentaries criticizing Newton's neanderthal behavior. Dannon Yogurt dropped him as a product spokesman.  It's not just in the world of sports where females have endured unwelcoming (and much worse!) work environments. It is only when male colleagues get "in the game" with us as vocal, active allies that our culture will truly overcome sexual harassment, misogyny and both conscious and unconscious bias. Thank you guys! 

 

Suspension of ESPN Host Jemele Hill -- Because I was one of the first female TV sportsbroadcasters in this country and helped open sports locker rooms to female reporters (1978-1984), I want ESPN host Jemele Hill to succeed. That's why I initially thought she made a mistake in calling President Trump a "white supremacist" on Twitter.  A "personal twitter feed' for a public figure is an oxymoron. There is no such thing. I thought she crossed the line between sports commenting and political commenting. But she persisted in speaking up about national issues that concerned her. Now, ESPN has suspended her for two weeks.  Raising your voice during times of crisis when too many others are silent, takes courage. So, instead of criticizing Hill, I'm wondering why a sports commentator or NFL athletes should be held to different standards than our President -- who has called for the firing of both Hill and kneeling NFL players. Keep raising your voice, Jemele.  We need you -- not only covering sports, but speaking your truth as a woman of color refusing to be silent about racism.  

 

Bernie Sanders Opening Speaker for Women's March Conference --  I don't get this. If your slogan is, "It's Our Time to Lead," why would you not model your own motto? Of course men are essential allies in the fight for women's equality. When Susan B. Anthony opened the very first National Conference of American women in Seneca Falls, NY in 1948, Frederick Douglas and other men were with her. But Anthony and other suffragists led the convention. Bernie Sanders is one reason why the historic opportunity to elect the first woman president slipped away; perhaps for my lifetime. So, I won't be at the Women's Conference to hear him speak, although it is being held this month here in Detroit. Instead, I'll be in Houston at the World Leadership Conference of the International Women's Forum. And guess who we'll be inducting into the IWF Global Hall of Fame? Hillary Clinton, a leader who has done more to advance women and girls all over the world than Bernie Sanders has ever thought about.  

 

Battle of the Sexes. Finally, if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and go see Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as the legendary Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as self-described "male chauvanist" Bobby Riggs.  It's great! And take a few Millenials with you (my 24-year-old son, Kevin, loved it.) Hopefully, the movie will inspire them to pick up the torch of women's equality. Millenials are my greatest hope for once again hearing women Roar. 

 

Raise your Voice!  Anne 

On the Eve of Significant Leadership Change

April 20, 2016

I know. I know. I've heard from quite a few of you who have been wondering why it has been several months since I was last in touch. The answer is in this photo. Her name is La Brava (spanish for brave female), and she was my Christmas present to myself. Brava is now five months old, house-trained and beginning to calm down a bit. So, I can finally begin turning my attention to more than simply integrating the "new baby" into my household.  

The other reason for my blog silence is that I haven't felt that I had anything new to say or compelling enough to share with all of you. My lens on the world is that of a journalist. I'm always looking for "the story." What's new? Where are the cultural edges? Based on USA news coverage for the last few months, you'd think there was nothing else happening in the world other than the incessant verbal abuse that Republican and Democratic presidential "wanna-bes" have been hurling at each other. All I can say about the present state of the U.S. presidential campaign is simply this: "I can hardly wait to see the TV debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump!"

Finaally Some News Worth Mentioning: We're On the Eve of Significant Change. The cultural tide carrying talented, skilled women leaders to positions of significant power and global influence is about to come in. I've sensed for some time that a gigantic wave of change was beginning to surge. Because the old narratives about women and leadership are as worn-out and as irrelevant as those 1980's "dress for success" female bow-ties.

You know the platitudes: Needing to fill the talent pipelines. Fixing women to fit in to Neanderthal work cultures and master male behaviors. Walking the tightrope between being too passive or perceived as a bitch. And, of course, being realistic about work/life balance. Men can be both high-achievers and good parents;women, however, must choose. We could sense that times have been "a changin'." But finally, there's evidence that enough women (an emergent critical mass) have achieved executive leadership positions to be successfully leading transformational change. 

The Everest Project is an unprecedented study of how women are successfully leading change and innovation in corporate America. Its first report, "Eve of Change: Redefining Corporate America," has just been released. I was alerted to this ground-breaking research by personal friends at EY (formerly Ernst & Young), one of the study's sponsors. Everest Project Co-Founders and study authors Pamela Carlton and Lily Tang call the compelling insights revealed by their findings, "A call to action to CEOs, senior executives and all women executives (1) to examine opportunities for leading change and creating cultures of innovation and (2) to fully support women executives who in many respects are leading the way." Here is how Carlton and Tang summarize several of their Key Findings.  

Finding 1: Women Lead Transformational Change. Women executives who are effectively leading -- aka "Everest Women" -- are actually transforming companies, through not only their own behavior as role models, but also as catalysts for collective behavior change in corporate America.

Finding 2: Women Embrace Smart Risk. "Contrary to popular belief," the authors report, "women often take significant risk on behalf of their organizations." In my book, POWERING UP!I call this leadership skill the ability to Drink at Dangerous Waters. It includes everthing from having the courage to voice a contrarian opinion, even when you are the only woman in the room, to being willing to throw assumptions about "how we've always done things" out the window.  

Finding 3: Humility is the New Power Tool. But be careful, Carlton and Tang advise. "Confidence and credibility are prerequisites for leading with humility, which is all about the delicate balancing act between signaling leadership presence without being perceived as too agreessive or arrogant." The gender tightrope that women leaders must walk is a little wider thesse days, but navigating it well still takes skill. 

Finding 4: Collaboration is Not Consensus. Everest Women take the view from ten thousand feet across the organization, communicate well, are open to new ideas and encourage healthy debate. But they also understand that it eventually falls to take the critical step forward.   

Finding 5: Difference is More. I wrote an entire chapter in POWERING UP! about the leadership skill I call "Womaninity," to explain why leading as a woman is no longer a weakness to be overcome; it is a strength to be leveraged. Everest Report authors Carlton and Tang agree. "Because of their difference, women are multidimensionally competent," they report. "Women who have figured out how to use their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and cultural background as part of their leadership toolkit, bring far more to the table for their corporations and teams." 

This is fascinating and actionable insight. I urge you to download the report, read it and share it.

I'm Celebrating:

  • Roberta Gibb's 50th anniversary as the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon.  
  • Harriet Tubman about to replace former slave owner Andrew Jackon on the $20 bill. 

I'm Watching:

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advocating for male engagement in gender parity at this year's Davos World Economic Forum 
  • Confirmation -- HBO's excellent new movie on the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas showdown that held our nation spellbound 25 years ago and deepened our understanding of sexual harassment. 

I'm Reading:  

  

Next month, I'm travelling to Tel Aviv to participate in my 12th global conference of the International Women's Forum, one of the preeminent networks of women leaders from every continent. As the newly elected president of the Michigan IWF chapter, this will be the first time that I will participate in the President's Council sessions, as well. The content is always cutting edge and this year's theme is, "Seek, Solve, Soar." I promise to take great notes and to share the most compelling insights and stories  . . . SOON! 

Spring Greetings from Motown - a city beginning to rise again.  Anne 

Dare to Raise Your Voice MORE in 2015

January 9, 2015

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Paris and the controversy in the USA over the movie, THE INTERVIEW, I've been thinking a lot about leaders and the importance of continuing to raise our voices, even in the face of push-back, disdain and threats.

Sometimes those threats can mean life or death, as in the case of the French journalists or Martin Luther King, Jr. and the thousands who marched with him in Selma, Alabama (the topic of a powerful, new film). Often, it can mean social ostracism and disdain as Susan B. Anthony and the American Suffragettes faced for decades as they fought for the right to vote. 

Or, it can be as subtle as well-intentioned, but insidious, career advice. I'll never forget the Ford executive who told me, "Anne, you've got to stop always seeing things through the eyes of a woman. People are getting really tired of it!" The "people" he was referring to, of course, were all men, many of whom would have preferred I always saw things their way, or at least stifled myself more often! 

My 2015 message is simply this: BE COURAGEOUS. Dare to continue raising your voice to make a positive difference. Everywhere we look, the human family is crying out for the mothers of the world -- women -- to step up and take an equal role in shaping the economic, cultural, educational, military and public policy decisions that impact all human possibility. 

I love the words of Admiral Michelle Howard, vice chief of U.S. Naval Operations, who is raising the Navy's game. She recently told a Washington, DC audience, "My definition of leadership is 'Not standing around and doing nothing while watching everything go to hell!'” Everywhere we look, things are going to hell. Pick your passion. Then put your shoulder to the wheel and let your voice be heard -- particularly if you are the lone voice who brings different perspective to decisions.

Leadership is rarely easy. I draw courage from watching or reading about others in action, such as the movies: Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay; Iron-Jawed Angels and Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. Or, pick up, "Race Across Alaska," the fascinating book on Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the 1,000-mile Iditarod dog-sled race. Plus, right before our eyes, fabulous examples of powerful, brave and wise women are rising up and taking action. For example: 

  • United States Congress. We now have 100 women (out of 535) elected to the U.S. Senate (20) and House of Representatives (80). That's nowhere close to what it should be. Two of our newest Congresswomen, Brenda Lawrence and Debbie Dingell, are from Michigan and pesonal friends. Here's a fascinating articles on the women who led the way in the ultimate "boys club" and the sexism even U.S. Senators still contend with.
  • DC's Matriarchy - For the first time in history, the Mayor, Police Chief and School Chancellor of an American city are all women -- and two are women of color. It's time for the rest of America to catch up!
  • Women of Africa Rising -- Kah Walla, a courageous political leader I met years ago at a global conference, is running for president in Cameroon. Her TedTalk is a must-view primer on this critically important continent. 
  • Marissa Mayer and Silicon Sexism - 2014 brought fascinating revelations about the blatant sexism in Silicon Valley. In Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! author Nicolas Carlson blames Mayer's Oscar de la Renta shoes !!!) instead of Silicon Valley culture for any sexism she faced. The recent review in NY Times magazine is worth your time.
  • Actress and activist Geena Davis continues to raise her voice on behalf of girls and women. She is partnering with Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and Walmart to host a film festival promoting women and diversity in movies. 
  • Hillary Clinton -- Yes, of course she is running for president in 2016. And she will be elected. Let me know if you want to help!

The Instigators are Watching Us. We need to start innoculating and preparing our next generation of girls much younger to successfully navigate the toxic cultural waters they must wade through on their way to embracing all the possibilities of Womaninity. Over the holidays, a dear friend and fabulous "Innovator" entrepreneur invited me to get to know her beautiful daughter, part of the generation I call "the Instigators." This young Instigator show her Mom and me that even 8 months old isn't too young to start learning to "power up"! 

Remember: There's nothing to fear in this moment. And this moment is all there really is. 

Radio Interview with Emily Gail, ESPN Radio Hawaii

December 2, 2012

Emily Gail was a high-energy Motor City businesswoman in the late 70s and early 80s when I was covering sports for CBS-TV, Detroit and helping to open sports locker rooms for women journalists.  She recently interviewed me about those days and my new book on women's leadership, POWERING UP!  Click here to listen.  Scroll down to the Nov. 17th interview.  

Herman Cain's Gender "Miss-Understandings" More Serious Than He Imagined

November 7, 2011

Does the latest "sex, lies and politics" mess remind you of the all-too-similar, Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill  scandal that rocked our national consciousness 20 years ago? It does me. But Americans take workplace sexual harassment a lot more serious today than we did in 1991, thanks, in part to the courage of a 35-year-old lawyer to speak truth to power. What does Anita Hill think of the Cain conundrum?

 I had a chance to hear Hill's thoughts on the Cain conundrum during her recent visit to Detroit. Here's my column on the topic for Forbeswoman.

Focus Hope's Eleanor Josaitis Refused To Be A Spectator

August 13, 2011

Detroit just buried a great leader.  

You may have never heard of Focus: HOPE co-founder Eleanor Josaitis.  But for more than four decades this 79-year-old visionary and unstoppable force has taken multiple American presidents, members of Congress, Fortune 500 executives and community activists by the hand (literally!) and inspired them to care more, to give more and to do more  to “overcome racism, poverty and injustice.”  

 The Motor City’s Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which seats 1500, was filled to capacity with admirers from every generation, gender, race and walk of life.  We came to celebrate a life well-lived and to commit to carry on her work of providing training for good-paying jobs and national food programs and support services for families and senior citizens in need.  “We Shall Overcome” and “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,” were the closing processionals.  

To understand the courage and tenacity of Eleanor Josaitis, as well as the thousands of lives she touched and the legacy she leaves, you have to think back to 1968.   Forty-four years ago, in the wake of the 1967 Detroit riots -- some of the worst urban uprisings in American history -- droves of stunned and terrified Motown residents  turned their backs on a community they once called home and fled to the suburbs. 

Eleanor Josaitis and her husband, Don, the parents of five young children, did exactly the opposite.  They moved from suburban Taylor into the Motor City, after Josaitis and close family friend, Father William Cunningham, “. . . walked the streets of Detroit the day after the riots ended and decided they had to do something," according to her obituary, "to get at the root of the problems that caused the tragedy. ” 

 Together, Josaitis and Father Cunningham, co-founded Focus: HOPE in March 1968, with a Mission Statement that is as relevant and compelling today as it was then:  “Recognizing the dignity and beauty of every person, we pledge intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice.  And to build a metropolitan community where all people live in freedom, harmony, trust and affection.  Black and white, yellow, brown and red from Detroit and its suburbs of every economic status, national original and religious persuasion we join in this covenant.” 

Hate letters, fire bombs and resistance only strengthened their resolve.  Over the years,  Focus: HOPE rose to national prominence as an organization that knows how “to make a difference in the inner city.” 

Josaitis would be the first to say that her work is not done here in Detroit. But as I listen to the stories about her passion for protecting and respecting the dignity of every individual she encountered, I can’t help but think about the agony in England these days of astonished Brits who are reeling from last week’s unanticipated uprisings.  When I watch the scenes of London and other cities burning, looters rioting and listen to Britain’s political leaders arguing over the correct response, I can’t help but reflect on how Eleanor Josaitis responded, decades ago, to eerily similar scenes.  She often said, “There’s no greater way to eliminate racism and poverty than to see that people have education, skills, jobs and opportunities in life.”

As Michigan’s U.S. Senator Carl Levin told the mourners, “Eleanor Josaitis could not abide being a spectator." And she never stopped asking herself the question, “What should I do about this?”  Becoming a leader, in my book, begins with making the giant leap from thinking, “It’s all about me,” to discovering that "It’s all about we.” 

Detroiter Eleanor Josaitis understood better than anyone I’ve ever known that we are all in this together. 

 

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