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Bridging the Millennial/Baby Boomer Divide

December 13, 2018

Alexandrea Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the 29-year-old, newly-elected Congresswoman from NYC is a millennial in a hurry. She stunned the political world by beating a rising star incumbent to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. And she’s not about to be intimidated by the good-old-boys who have been treating the U.S. Capitol like their personal country club for decades. Case in point:  When Senator Lindsay Graham, who has been in Congress for over 23 years, tried to intimidate Ocasio-Cortez with an insulting tweet, she lectured him right back. 

The rising star’s leadership style is a classic example of the generational differences between ambitious, Millennial women and their Baby Boomer and Gen X “big sisters.” Millennials, such as AOC and her generational peers, have no interest in “waiting their turn” until more seasoned women leaders are ready to start sharing power it took them decades to achieve.  During the recent Midterm election campaigns, Ocasio-Cortez and multiple other first-time congressional candidates (including Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens, just elected from my home state of Michigan) vowed to voters that it was time for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and the old guard to pass the leadership gavel to the next generation.

But a funny thing happened once these young, impatient leaders arrived in Washington, D.C.

Behind the scenes, 78-year-old Pelosi has been working her magic. She is a master at bringing people together, which is how she succeeded in getting the Affordable Care Act passed (which had floundered in D.C. for decades), and raises millions in political contributions. I'm sure she needed every bit of political savvy to convince a new generation of confident, hungry and impatient young leaders that a battle-tested general, such as herself, skilled in managing the levers of power in Washington, DC, still has much to offer.  Which she did!

It's a valuable, learning moment for all of us who are trying to figure out how to get three very distinct generations of ambitious, educated women to stop criticizaing and competing with one another and collectively turn our sites toward the real prize: Political, Economic and Cultural POWER.

In my book, POWERING UP!, I  explain the mindset differences, strengths and blind spots of each of the three generations of high-achieving women in the workplace today.  I call them Pioneering Interlopers (think: Pelosi), Influential Insiders (think: Michelle Obama) and I’ll-Do-it-My-Way Innovators (think: Ocasio-Cortez). 

My POWERING UP! podcast this week explores these generational differences in a fascinating episode called, Stilettos and Sneakers. You'll find it wherever you get your podcasts, or through my website. 

As a new generation of aspiring  women, who were raised to believe they could "be anything and do anything," begins to hit its stride, we're witnessing a fresh surge of female activism and a re-kindling of feminist flames that were mere memories for decades.  Ambitious female Baby Boomers and Millennial women have more in common than most realize.  Both are products of extremely large and activist generations that share the hunger, courage and ability to advance social change. Millennials leading the #MeToo revolt picked up where the feminists left off. 

Women born into the smaller, Gen X generation tend to be very different.  Often following tough, trailblazers into work environments, they developed the skills of diplomats following marines into freshly-conquered territories.  They found more success with fitting in as “one of the guys” than aligning with the gender role boat-rockers. 

But I believe Gen X women leaders, such as Michelle Obama, are about to play an esssential role in helping men, in particular, undertand and effectively navigate the gender white water ahead.  The likes of Lindsay Graham and Mike Pence (whose "Pence rule" is the male backlash to #metoo outrage) are terrified by women such as Octavio-Cortez who have no interest in playing by the old rules and are poised to dramatically change the game. 

Michelle Obama stood aside and softened her public image while her husband ran for and served as president. But she is now becoming an important guide for a time that is about to become much more turbulent.  Millions are buying her memoir and filling stadiums to hear her speak. She shed new light on an age-old conundrum when she told an audience, "That 'lean-in' shit doesn't always work!"  

So grab your pink pussy hats, Chicas. Millennial women are just getting warmed up and Baby Boomer trailblazers can feel that fire in their bellies burning again!  Smart men will welcome wise female guides -- of every generation!

 As always, I'd love to hear from you!  Enjoy your holidays.  Anne

That's What She Said

June 3, 2018

My Millennial son, Kevin, and I have had a running joke (usually off-color) between us for years around the expression, "That's what she said."

But in the last few weeks, "that's what she said" has taken on new meaning for me.  I'm worn-out and disgusted with the nearly daily, cultural overdose of "breaking news" coverage about the latest racist or vulgar insult some celebrity, elected official or business leader has tweeted to the world. 

I'm much more interested in wisdom being shared than in stupidity being spewed. So, here's some good news. 

For the first time in over 20 years, what she said has dominated what he said at commencement ceremonies throughout the USA.  This year, females keynote speakers, from Amal Clooney and Oprah Winfrey to Sheryl Sandberg and Queen Latifah, had the last word for graduates at the majority of American colleges and universities.  

The biggest buzz was created by the powerful message that legendary soccer champion Abby Wambach delivered to the Barnard College class of 2018. The FIFA Women's World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist challenged the all-female graduating class to "be the wolves in the world" to move society forward.

Give yourself a gift and read her entire inspiring message here. Or, better yet, watch the video

If you haven't followed USA Women's Soccer over the last decade, you may not know how dramatically Abby Wambach changed the game. You should know. This short video will help. 

Her memorable message included Four Rules she urged the next generation of women to embrace. 

  • Rule One: Make Failure Your Fuel
  • Rule Two: Lead From the Bench
  • Rule Three: Champion Each Other
  • Rule Four:  Demand the Ball

Wambach told the graduates she learned the importance of Rule Four by watching one of her soccer sheroes. 

She urged the graduates to embrace it as their rallying cry to tackle the gender bias that still awaits, telling them: "Give Me The Effing Ball! Give me the effing job! Give me the same pay that the guy next to me gets! Give me the promotion! Give me the Oval Office! Give me the respect I've earned! And give it to my wolf pack (sisters), too!" 

Abby Wambach has always been a team player, "... in search of significance, not just success," as she has often said. Significance for her team, for her sport and, most importantly, for the next generation of girls. 

I hope you'll join me in taking a page from a legendary leader's playbook and strive for signicance on our watch.  Which leaves little time for worrying about the very insignificant tweets of nobodys.

Power On!  Anne 

P.S. Two don't miss movies: RBG, the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Book Club, I laughed my way through the whole thing!

The Rage & Resilience of Gymnast Sister Survivors

January 29, 2018

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are aware of the paradigm shifting events that unfolded over the past few days in a courtroom in East Lansing, Michigan, which is only an hour's drive from my home.

 

One hundred and fifty six (yes, 156!) courageous girls and young women stood before a judge and, in often quivering voices through bitter tears, told their stories of years of sexual abuse (camoflauged as "medical treatment"!) by child predator Dr. Larry Nassar. For decades - DECADES - this evil man repeatedly sexually assaulted hundreds of world-class, young, female gymnasts entrusted to his care. Some only SIX years old. 

 

Nassar is headed to prison. 

 

It's believed to be the biggest scandal in the history of sports. The stories of the "sister survivors" are ugly and heart-wrenching. But they are the tip of the iceberg. 

 

Equally depraved are the dozens of adults at Michigan State University and the USA Gymnastics community who ignored or refused to believe years of warning signs and complaints from young girls who sensed something was very wrong with the "treatments" he gave them for their pain. Those heads are just beginning to fall with the forced resignation of MSU President of Lou Anna Simon and the entire Board of USA Gymnastics.  

 

Our cultural tetonic plates are shifting.  As one survivor put it, "This is what it looks like when little girls grow up and become powerful women demanding to be heard."  We must learn from this depraved lesson so that future generations of little girls (and little boys) are no longer ignored when they raise alarm after alarm. They must be heard, believed and protected. 

 

The coverage here in Michigan, which is at the center of this tempest, has been intense with outstanding journalism shedding light and turning up the heat on this evil.  Here is a quick summary of the major players and the best coverage on each I have found.  I hope you will read, weep and believe.   

 

Key Players:

  • Dr. Larry Nassar - Now a convincted child molester who will spend the rest of his life in prison, Nassar was the USA gymnastics national team doctor and an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University. Who was/is Larry Nassar? 
  • Sister Survivors -- Who knows how many Nassar painfully violated; 156 told their stories to the world in court, including Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman. Remember this name: Rachel Denhollander. She is the courageous young woman who finally broke this perversion wide open by taking her story to the Indianapolis Star (2 years ago) and filing a lawsuit.  Please read her "The Price I Paid" commentary in the NY TIMES. And then listen to Aly Raisman confront Nassar in court.  
  • Judge Rosemarie Aquilina --  For seven days this  transformative judge did something highly unusual. She cleared her docket to make time at Nassar's sentencing hearing for any and all who wanted to speak to be heard. At first they thought it would be 88. But the calls kept coming as more and more of Nassar's young targets courageously stepped forward. The opportunity Judge Aquilina created for survivors to be heard and the support she gave them allowed the world to comprehend what happened and to react with appropriate vengence. This excellent Atlantic magazine article captures Aquilina's important role.  
  • Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon -- Once highly-regarded, Simon served as president for over 14 years. The MSU Board of Trustees, stunningly concerned more about its University brand than its students, circled the wagons around her with a vote of confidence less than 10 days ago. Unfortunately, she will be remembered for her complacency (if not cover-up) in this nightmare and the stunning ARROGANCE of her resignation letter. 

  • Investigative Journalism 
    -- That Larry Nassar is headed for life in prison and the survivors of his crimes are finally being heard is evidence of the importance of investigative journalism. The Indianapolis Star first broke this story two years ago. The Lansing State Journal, the MSU Student Newspaper and the Detroit Free Press have followed with oustanding additional coverage. But my favorite piece is the powerful commentary by sports columnist Shawn Windsor. His fury flames off the page as he tells one of the truths behind this story: society values boys over girls. Here's: This Isn't Penn State; It's Worse. 

 

Finally  -- I'm numb and sick over all of this. But I'm also in awe  and inspired by the courage of the amazingl little girls who grew into incredibly strong and powerful women who refused to be quiet. It took an incredible, tenacious young leader to unleash the power of this young sisterhood. They gained in strength as each stepped out of the shadows and felt their collective strength grow in that courtroom. They are an example of the power of the next generation of young women who are just beginning to hit their stride. 

 

They will not settle for "being one of the boys" or being silenced.  They are taking the baton of empowerment from generations of women who have gone before. Me Too; It's About Time; and "We're Coming For You Larry!" are just the beginning. Long may they lead!  

 

 

 

Oprah's Golden Globe Message Was About Us, Not Her

January 9, 2018

As much as I would love to see Oprah Winfrey debate Donald Trump on a national stage and believe that a Winfrey Administration would be a powerful antidote to the toxicity that has the USA in its grip, I agree with the parallel perspective. Oprah's stirring message, as she accepted a Lifetime Achievement honorary Golden Globe, was not about HER. It was about US. Hope you'll take the time to read this insightful commentary as you choose your own path. We are living in challenging times. Let's not be bystanders.  

Insightful Voices on What's Next After #METOO Cultural Explosion

December 31, 2017

The New York Times recently gathered seven wise women for an insightful, roundtable discussion of the challenges and complexity of moving forward in the wake of the Silence Breakers and #METOO explosions of 2017.  One year of outing predators is just the beginning. How do we turn this moment of cultural reckoning into a positive turn on our evolutinary wheel?  Lots of thoughtful insight in this fascinating discussion about Work, Fairness, Sex and Ambition. 

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 

Gold Medal Sistering

April 13, 2017

If you know anything about construction, you know that beams and joists, be they wood or steel, are fundamental building blocks. But do you also know what the construction term"sistering" means? I just learned that "sistering" is all about making structural elements even stronger, by reinforcing them with additional support.

But sistering isn't just for construction. It's equally important for human progress. Significant social change demands not only individual bravery, the tenacity to stand your ground against inevitable resistance and, when necessary, the courage to fight for what is right. It also requires collective action -- standing shoulder-to-shoulder with others for greater impact and strength.  

If you're looking for modern-day examples, as I always am, look no further than the U.S. Women's Ice Hockey team whose members just taught a master class in the power of "Sistering." You may not know their story because even "big news" made by women is rarely given the media coverage it deserves. But the willingness of these world-class athletes to fight for fair compensation for their skills and to stand together for the development of women's hockey, led to one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of women's sports.   

In a nutshell, here's what happened. 

After years of pathetic compensation and disrespectful treatment by USA Hockey, the governing body of organized men's and women's amateur hockey, the U.S. womens' national hockey team threatened to boycott the IIHF World Championships just a few weeks before teams from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Canada were scheduled to face off in Plymouth, Michigan. The women took their stand, risking the right to defend their World Championship, after 14 months of negotiations had stalled.  

To no one's suprise, rather than addressing the athletes' very legitimate concerns, USA Hockey tried to form a replacement team, contacting dozens of pro, college and high school players all over the country. But to their credit, women hockey players, who normally would have jumped at such an opportunity, stood with their hockey sisters and refused to play.

Members of the U.S. Women's Soccer team, who've been embroiled in their own compensation fight for years, added their support. Then, new allies appeared. Players' unions from Major League Baseball, the NHL, NBA, NFL as well as the U.S. national men's team and the National Women's Hockey League threw their support behind the women's fight. Even 16 U.S. Senators weighed in with public support.

Because the women stood up and stood together for what they believed was right, just days before the World Championships were set to begin, they won a four-year contract with USA Hockey that was a stunning victory for women's hockey and gender pay equity. Before their fight, America's best female hockey players earned only $1,000 per month in the six-months leading up to the Olympic Games. With their new contract, they will earn $70,00 in non-Olympic years and could earn up to $100,000 for medal bonuses in Olympic years. They also won travel per diems and medical insurance comparable to the U.S. men's team.

But their fight wasn't just about money. It was about the next generation of girls. Your daughters and granddaughters. The new contract requires USA Hockey to dramatically increase its investment in girls' developmental teams, as well as marketing and pr for this growing sport.

“We’re going to be able to grow the women’s game and give youth girls something to look up to, and that’s huge,” team-member Megan Keller told the Detroit Free Press. "It's about the future."

I was lucky enough to be in the sold-out, standing-room-only USA Hockey Arena for the final championship game when Team USA met Team Canada -- their arch rival and the definding Olympic gold medalists. As a former sports reporter who covered the Title IX battles of courageous girls who were forced to wear athletic cups by Little League coaches enfuriated that girls had won the right to compete for spots on their teams, it was a thrill to witness how far women's hockey has come in its 30 year history. The speed of the game and skill of the athletes gave me goosebumps. 

And it's no surprise that the women who achieved this precedent-setting victory are athletes who play a TEAM sport which requires the willigness and toughness to fight for the puck and dish out as well as take your hits along the boards. The Americans had something to prove that night. Their skill, guts and courage were all on display as they won their 4th straight World Championship Gold medal with a 3-2 overtime victory. 

Social progress isn't for sissies. Nor is it for prima donnas or Queen Bees who prefer being the only woman in the room to helping open doors for others. It takes courage, tenacity and collective support -- sistering. As Megan Keller told reporters, "The thing I think of is how everyone stayed together, not just this team, but the college player pool, the younger girls, other sports chiming in. It was amazing to see. You don't think it's that big now. But years down the road, we are going to look back and think, wow, we did that."

This was just one victory in the ongoing war for gender equality in every arena and on every continent. At a time when it feels as if women's progress toward the full equality I dream of has taken two steps backward, it warmed my heart to see young girls at the championship game holding home-made signs up against the glass for players to see which read, "Thank you for being bold."

Take a page from these millenial American sheroes. As the hash tag urges, #Be Bold for Change.  

Onward!  Anne 

The Anticipated Roar That Dissolved To A Whisper

November 15, 2016

November 15, 2016 -- Auburn Hills, Michigan USA 

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers: 

I have been in a state of shock, grief, horror and growing despair over our U.S. presidential election for the past week. Thank you to so many of you who have been in touch out of personal concern for  me, as well as over the implications for the entire global family of a Trump presidency. I've been trying to process my many, complex feelings.

I worked hard throughout this long, presidential campaign, hosting a Clinton campaign staffer in my home for months, helping to register voters and  knocking hundreds of doors.  I even dressed as a Suffragette for Halloween.

My first reaction was that of millions here in the United States and throughout the world: STUNNED SHOCK. Initially, it was nearly impossible for me to believe that American voters would put a rookie without a pilot's license at the controls of our national 747.  But they did. 

My shock was followed by GRIEF. I felt as if someone I loved deeply had died suddenly and unexpectedly. Instead of preparing myself for a possible loss, I was naively anticipating over-the-moon joy. Bearing bottles of champagne, close friends gathered with me to watch one of the most respected leaders in the world, a person who has been on the front lines of the global fight for the rights and empowerment of women and girls my entire life, help our nation take an historic and gigantic step forward for womankind and human rights. But that was not to be.

The day after the election, I received these beautiful flowers from a dear friend who was with me on election night. I burst into tears when I read the card with Helen Reddy's memorable words: "You can bend but never break me, for you'll only serve to make me more determined to achieve my final goal." 

The HORROR I feel began with the realization that my nation, which was founded with a system of checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of federal government, will have no BALANCE for at least the next two years. The Republican Party, with its conservative agenda that has had controlling women's rights at the top of its agenda for decades, will now control the U.S. presidency, both Houses of Congress, and nominations for the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as federal judgeships.  My horror has only continued to grow as I have heard the names of people Donald Trump is choosing and considering for positions of power and influence in his Administration. Mike Pence, vice president. Steven, Bannon, chief strategistRudolf Giuliani. Chris Christie. Sarah Palin. Newt Gingrich, Betsy DeVos and Dr. Ben Carson (possible Cabinet appointments). 

But it is my DESPAIR that has cut the deepest, because it is about everything I have stood for, believed in and worked towards for my entire adult life. There are two pieces to my depair.

The first is about one of the fundamental lessons of this historic election. If Hillary Rodham Clinton had been elected, which she actually was by the POPULAR VOTE, the story heard 'round the world would have been: "USA Takes Gigantic Step Foward Toward Gender Equality, Electing First Female President." But that's not what happened.


So, notwithstanding all of the other forces at work in this historic election, the fact that voters backed away from what would have been an historic and gigantic step forward for women is still a huge part of the story, and carries a brutal lesson. 

As I told WJR radio when they called me on election night, "The choice of a vulgar and frighteningly unprepared man to become president over one of the most qualified leaders ever to run for president of the United States is a stunning metaphor and powerful evidence that it just doesn't matter how QUALIFIED a woman is for leadership. Women as well as men are still willing to settle for a mediocre, offensive male leader over a woman they "just don't like." My deepest pain over this election result is one that millions of women share. We've had to come face-to-face with the stunning realization that even "dancing backwards and in high heels" isn't enough. Regardless of a woman's superior education, experience, track record, accomplishments, brainpower and work ethic, credentials will NEVER BE ENOUGH. As comedian Joy Behar profoundly put it, "I've learned from this election that a man can get away with ANYTHING, and a woman can get away with NOTHING." 

The other part of my despair has been about SISTERHOOD. I've come to believe that Hillary Clinton's biggest mistake in this election has been my mistake for decades. The idea that female human beings share a sense of sisterhood solidarity with collective clout that can be leveraged to help lift girls and women throughout the world was a fundamental building block of Clinton's campaign. It has also been one of my core values. "Every woman for herself is a losing strategy," is one of my mantras. 

Is Sisterhood a myth? I'm struggling with that. Hillary won women's votes overall (54%), thanks to the support of African American (94%) and Hispanic (68%) women. But I cannot fathom how or why white women -- who chose Trump over Clinton (53% to 43%) --  could turn their backs on a stunningly accomplished female leader who has been on the front lines of championing their economic opportunities and legal rights for over forty years.

In the 2008 presidential election, 96% of African American voters supported Barack Obama. If women had supported Hillary Clinton in numbers anywhere close to that, she would have been elected by a landslide. I'm having to come to terms with the fact millions of "my American sisters" were willing to accept an abundance of t-shirts reading "Trump That Bitch," yard signs advocating "Hillary for Prison" and even video evidence of Donald Trump's fondness for "pussy grabbing," while walking away from an unprecedented opportunity to make HER-STORY with powerful, positive implications for half of the human race.

As the Atlantic magazine wrote, "what women should strive for, how they should be treated, and even what they should havwe the right to do, are far from uncontested ideas in American society." 

I'm working to regain my joy and put my shoulder back to the evolutinary wheel pushing uphill for the human rights arc of history, with the help of friends and my fantastic son, Kevin, who took me out to dinner and a Marvel movie (Dr. Strange - it's great!) to get me out of my funk!

What's next? I have a plane ticket to be in Washington, DC in January for what I thought would be an Inauguration for the history books. I'm still going, but it will be to raise my voice and walk shoulder-to-shoulder with my like-minded Sisters and Brothers as part of the "Million Women March" at the Lincoln Memorial on January 21, 2017.  That, too, will be one for the history books.  

My only hope is to live long enough to hear women's whispering rise to a mighty roar. 

Sleepless in Motown, Anne 

 

Hear Us Roar!

October 16, 2016

Months of hateful language against multiple minority groups, as well as the proliferation of anti-Hillary signs and t-shirts proclaiming: "Lock her up!" or "Trump that Bitch!", were bad enough. But it was the explosive release of video evidence of Donald Trump in sexual predator mode that opened a cultural Pandora's box of gender pain, denial and outrage in America.  

I have my own litany of deep emotional bruises and scars from male interactions I've tried to forget. I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't. So, how am I dealing with all of this? I've often found myself humming Helen Reddy's powerful 1971 anthem. 

"I am woman, hear me roar. In numbers too big to ignore. And I know too much to go back and pretend." 

Wise Women Words

I've been soothed in the last 10 days by four powerful women who have raised their voices in outrage and shared their wisdom on how to keep reaching toward the light. They've given me hope that this painful labor is giving birth to another leap foward in human evolution. Women are on the rise throughout the world. And there is no turning back. 

"Cause I've heard it all before. And I've been down there on the floor. No one's ever going to keep me down again." 


Michelle Obama: "Enough is Enough."
In a speech for the ages, America's most respected public figure gave voice to women and girls everywhere who are all-too-familiar with the fear and pain of gender disrespect, humiliation and violation. If you have not heard her words, please listen. They will go down in herstory as a defining moment and a call heard round the world for women and men who respect and love them to stand up and roar, enough is enough! 

"Oh yes, I am wise. But it's wisdom born of pain. Yes, I've paid the price, but look how much I've gained."


Gloria Steinem:
"Go Toward Freedom."
Just a few days ago, I was lucky enough to spend an evening with Gloria Steinem on the campus of Michigan State University. What did Gloria say about what feels like a culturally dangerous time in America? 

She responded with the metaphor of domestic violence, telling the audience: "The most dangerous time for victims in abusive relationships is when they try to escape. That's when they are most likely to be killed or suffer the worst beatings. It takes great courage for victims to make the leap toward freedom." Steinem told us she is not surprised by the stunning, gender-specific backlash against the first woman to seriously challenge the male monopoly on the most powerful leaadership position in the world. "We have arrived at a moment in history where the female half of the human race is reaching a tipping point of escaping from thousands of years of subjugation in culturally-abusive relationships. No wonder it feels so dangerous,"Steinem, now 82, told us. "Take care of each other and keep pushing for equality for all. It is our only path to freedom." 

 "You can bend but never break me. 'Cause it only serves to make me. More determined to achieve my final goal. And I come back even stronger. Not a novice any longer. 'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul." 

Phumzile Mlambo-Nqcuka & Kah Walla:  "Why Are American Women So Quiet?" My third source of inspiration comes from two courageous African leaders I was with at the recent World Leadership Conference of the International Women's Forum. Over 900 women from 40 nations gathered in Chicago.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, was inducted into the IWF Hall of Fame at the conference. Kah Walla, a political leader from Cameroon who has been imprisoned multiple times for challenging and running for president against her nation's 32-year dictator president, was the closing keynote speaker. Both used their moments on stage to express their dismay and challenge American women to flex their collective clout.

"Why," Walla asked the stunned audience, "have American women been so quiet as one of the most respected leaders in the world -- who happens to be a woman -- has been repeatedly demeaned and insulted on the global stage?" 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka put it this way: "Don't Americans realize that Hillary Clinton's election would not just be a breakthought for the U.S., it would be a world changer!" 

At moments like this, I ask myself, "What would Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro and Coretta Scott King do if they were with us today? I have no doubt they would say, What are you waiting for? The moment is at hand. The world is watching and waiting." 

 "If I have to, I can do anything! I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman!" 

Let them hear you Roar!  

 

 

It's Time for Women to Stop Being Politely Angry

September 11, 2016

I just returned from a fascinating, yet challenging, one-week assignment in Trinidad & Tobago for the U.S. State Department. The U.S. Embassy there asked me to lead three days of workshops on both islands for local NGO leaders and change agents working to address gender-related, civil society issues. Rape, incest, domestic violence and religiously-sanctioned marriage of girls as young as 12 top their URGENT list.

This "Scourge of Abuse," as the banner in this photo correctly calls the crisis, has gone unchecked for centuries.  It is now a full-blown global epedemic with females of every age vulnerable to attack at any moment, be they citizens of a tiny, 2-island West Indies nation or the most powerful democracy on earth. There is not a country in the world where female members of the human race are safe from the ever-present threat of sexual harassment, physical abuse and violent death, often at the hands of their own family members.

Babies and very young children -- victims of incest. Wives of every social class -- violently abused and often murdered by their own husbands. Gang rapes in India. Nigerian school girls kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. Rampant sexual trafficking of young girls and child pornography. Women of any age, from puberty to senility -- raped; in their homes, on college campuses and while serving their country as soldiers in the military. The statistics are staggering and sickening.  

Add to that shameful list the hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits that languish, forgotten for decades on crime lab shelves while serial rapists continue on their perverted paths of human abuse. 

I didn't go to Trinidad & Tobago bearing the gift of solutions. I wish I had them to give. I went seeking fresh insight for solving the "Scourge of Shame" we all rail against, as I went to lead workshops on collaboration and building allies for social change. 

One of the gifts I received was meeting U.S. Ambassador John Estrada. A native of Trinidad who came to the U.S. as a youngster and rose to become one of the highest-ranked officers in the U.S. Marines, Estrada is publicly raising his influential voice -- in speeches, in the news media and with government officials -- in opposition to child marriage and all types of gender violence. For him, it's personal. 

When he dropped by my workshop to show his support for the NGO leaders working for social change, the Ambassador didn’t just stick his head in and wave. He pulled up a chair and shared intimate memories of watching his mother being beaten by his step-father when the future Marine was too young to protect her. And he told how his own sister recently confided to him that she was sexually abused as a child by a relative. "Hurting females is a sign of weakness, not strength is what I want men to understand," he told us. 

I'm inspired and receive an injection of hope when I meet deeply committed male allies, such as Ambassador Estrada and Embassy Public Affairs Officer Stephen Weeks, who sponsored my visit. But I wake up in the middle of the night wondering, "Why is half of the human race still so passive as to allow our own tribe to be violently preyed upon day after day, year after year, century after century -- in our cradles, our homes, our campuses, our offices, our communities, our countries?  

At the beginning of the 21st Century, women throughout the world have achieved unprecedented levels of education, empowerment and leadership -- as individuals. But we are in kindergarten when it comes to leveraging our collective influence to fix the mighty wrongs still inflicted upon our half of the human race. 

We are naive if we believe gender violence will decline and women's influence will rise without a mighty fight. As Frederick Douglas, the former American slave who rose to become one of the greatest thought leaders of his time wrote, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

Are you still "politely angry" over the rampant violence, sexism, outright mysogyny as well as lack of EQUAL POWER to shape the human condition of the human family? 

I'm done citing research and statistics until I am blue in the face, hoping logic and facts will trigger the long overdue, gender tipping point.  

I am too sickened by story after story of girls and women as victims. Too outraged over example after example of only TOKEN female representation in positions of power -- be it moderating presidential debates or taking our rightful seats in Congress and corporate Board Rooms. Too disgusted with criticisms of one of the most admired and accomplished women in the history of the world being picked apart, nibble by nibble, over trivialities. 

Change begins with our voices, our votes, our money -- and leveraging them collectively. Women have never been stronger; yet we are far from together enough to DEMAND and FORCE POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE. 

As you rise, I hope you will also challenge yourself to INSIST that your Global Sisters rise with you. Not someday. But now . . . on our watch. 

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 

Death By A Thousand Cuts

April 8, 2015

Dear Thinkers, Friends, Global Citizens, 

The “fire in my belly” is focused on helping to create a world where women and girls can achieve their full potential. It fuels my work as a Keynote Speaker, Author and Voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. It is also the area of greatest opportunity for human evolution. Because, at the beginning of the 21st Century, our greatest untapped natural resources are the brainpower, talent and wisdom of the female half of the human race.

 But I also care deeply about protecting and respecting the safety of the world’s children, the health of our planet, and the right of every individual, as our U.S. Constitution affirms, “to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That is why I am dismayed and grieving, along with millions of Americans, over a stunning event that just occurred in our nation. A fleeing male, African American U.S. citizen was shot in the back eight times by a white, male, South Carolina Police Officer. Because someone was courageous enough to capture those terrible moments on cell phone video, the officer has been fired and charged with murder. The video is difficult, but important, to watch. 

In every corner of our globe, humans are the only life form that attacks its own for inexplicable reasons. This is one of those days when I stagger under the weight of another tragic commentary on our species.  My response is an even deeper commitment to do everything in my power to help bring balance to the decision-making of the human family. We must CLOSE THE GENDER LEADERSHIP GAP. Let’s not leave it for others to do.  

On My Mind – What else am I thinking about?  

 

Spain- I spent the month of February in Spain and was privileged to teach at ESADE Business School in Madrid, as part of PROMOCIONA -- an Executive Women’s Leadership Program for women from top companies in Spain. Here’s a photo of these fabulous, young leaders just after they received copies of my book, POWERING UP! 

 • Ellen Pao and Sexism in Silicon Valley. Reddit CEO Pao may have lost her case but her conviction in confronting VC firm Kleiner Perkins has turned up the heat on hostile, frat-boy work climates that are driving women out of STEM fields in staggering numbers. Here’s one of the best articles I've read on the ongoing impact. 

• Women in Tech Experiencing Death by 1,000 Cuts. Those are the words of Ellen Pao. Here's a terrific Harvard Business Review article on the facts behind Pao's compelling claim. Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers. 

•  A Woman's Place is On the Money. Momentum is building in the U.S. for the first woman to be featured on our paper currency.  African American Shero Rosa Parks, whose refusal to sit in the back of an Alabama bus symbolizes the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the USA, is the leading vote-getter to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Here’s the link to vote. 

• London Women's Leadership Conference. I’m thrilled to have been invited to be one of the Keynote Speakers at the June Women Mean Business Conference in London, co-sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Network and the UK’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills. My theme: Invite Yourself to the Leadership Dance! 

• Jimmy Carter Raises His Voice Against Religious Sexism. The former U.S. president and deeply-spiritual Christian has just severed his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention over church leaders re-newed insistence on the subservience of women to men. Here's his compelling explanation of why he has taken this painful but powerful step. I’ve long admired and appreciated the decades of contributions President Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, have made to lifting the human family. I highly recommend his most recent book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power. 

Cool Upcoming Events: 

 Global – Johannesburg, South Africa. The Global Cornerstone Conference of the International Women's Forum, one of the preminent global networks of women leaders, will be in South Africa this year. Over 600 inspiring and accomplished “Sisters” from nearly 40 countries will gather to learn, discuss and consider, "Legacy & Inheritance: Journey Into the Future." I’ll be there.  

USA – New York City, April 22-24. Women in the World Annual Conference is one of the BEST I have ever attended. Big Names; Powerful Content. If you haven't attended, add it to your bucket list -- this year or next! 

• USA – Detroit, Michigan, April 28. Women of Courage & Achievement Awards, hosted by Michigan Women’s Foundation attracts over 800 movers and shakers. Great networking. See you there!  

 USA – SE Michigan, April 30. WONonder Women Awards, annual event hosted by the Women Officials Network (WON), which is committed to increasing the number of women in office. I’ll see you there, too!

 

Global Women Leaders Gather & Gamergate Backlash

November 16, 2014

These days, I think of myself as a SCOUT -- lucky enough to travel freely in multiple directions, meeting leaders, from across industries and global cultures, who are on the cuttting edge of women's progress. It's not enough for me to experience the pulse of change. I feel the responsibility to share what I've learned and observed with my network. I'm deeply aware that each of you has your shoulder to the wheel, pushing the edges of possibility in your circles of influence. We need you there.... because we are all laboring in the same vineyard.  So here's my news from the front lines!

World Leadership Conference of International Women's Forum: I was one of over 700 women leaders from 30 countries who gathered recently in Atlanta, the home of the US Civil Rights movement. The themeHuman Rights/Human Responsibility: Towards a Better Future. Highlights for me of three days of powerful dialogue with brilliant, courageous and inspiring thought leaders included: 

  • Andrew Young, former Atlanta Mayor, Georgia Congressman and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, needed only a couple of minutes to light a fire in the hearts of attendees at the opening reception, telling us: "Keep raising hell! You are doing the work of the angels.  Remember -- well-behaved women never make history!" The opening reception was held at the spectacular Center for Civil and Human Rights, which just opened in June. The interactive museum includes a replica of "white only" lunch counters where courageous African Americans defied local laws and dared to sit down in the early 1960's. Visitors can sit at the counter, put on a headset and hear the sounds of the hatred that black citizens faced, including people being pulled off stools beside them and beaten.
  • Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee and author Sheryl WuDunn teamed up for a powerful presentation and discussion about human rights abuses that girls and women throughout the world still face. I've read Gbowee's book, watched the documentary about the women's rebellion that she led to stop 10 years of war in Liberia - Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and have heard her speek multiple times. Each time, she inspires me to do more. Her message in Atlanta, "We need to unleash the greatness in girls. Reach out to one girl and take her on a leadership journey -- someone who is not related to you. Make it part of your legacy!"
  • Memorable Women: Of all the fantastic women I met during this conference, three stood out for me. First, the Honorable Maureen Harding Clark. As an Irish-American whose grandmother hopped a boat for America at age 16, I was see thrilled to see her inducted (photo) into the IWF Hall of Fame.  A member of the International Criminal Tribunal, former member of the Ireland Supreme Court and one of the most respected jurists in the world, she is down-to-earth and oozing with self-deprecating, Irish wit. When we shared an elevator, she told me, "I've started reading your book, Anne Doyle. If there is anything I disagree with, you'll be sure to hear from me!"
  • Second, I was lucky enough to sit down at lunch next to Linda Davis, who introduced herself as a rancher from New Mexico and the mother of six children. We talked about our mutual love of horses. She never mentioned that she would be honored at the closing reception as an IWF legend -- nor that she is in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and the CEO of CS Cattle Company, one of the most honored cattle and quarter horse ranches in the West.  She offered to show me around NE New Mexico -- on horseback. One of my 2015 goals is to take her up on that invitation!
  • Finally, former First Lady Rosyln Carter, one of the founder's of the Georgia chapter of the International Women's Forum, who was honored for her 44-years of human rights activism. She felt fragile when I shook her hand, but she spoke powerfully about her lifelong commitment to raise awareness about mental health.

GAMERGATE: If you haven't heard about the recent uproar and terrifying backlash against outspoken women who have dared to raise their voices against the pervasive violence toward women in video games, you need to know. Female game developers who have dared to complain receive rape and death threats. And Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist media critic who has done excellent reporting on the excessive violence and victimization of women, was forced to cancel a presentation at Utah State University after USU received threats of a mass shooting if the "craven little whore" was allowed to speak. It was my 22-year-old son, Kevin, who brought this outrageous situation to my attention. Hope you are paying attention to the images and messages that gamers in your family are saturated with.

GOLDIEBLOX TAKES ON BARBIE: Finally, here's some fun. Take a look at the latest GoldieBlox ad about the first action figure for girls. With the gift season coming up, hope you'll keep the message in mind as you choose gifts. Remember the words of the indominatable Leymah Gbowee and help "unleash the power of girls"!

Happy Thanksgiving, Anne

 

 

We All Have the Power In Us To Change the Tide, says Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee

December 6, 2013

I have the greatest admiration for Liberian Peace Activist Leymah Gbowee, who is carved out of the same enduring and courageous cloth as Nelson Mandela. She received a long, standing ovation when she told the audience at the recent Texas Conference for Women, "The world is waiting to hear from someone in this room. Remember, the power of possibility is only possible if you decide,'I'm going to step out and do something.' It is possible for us to turn our upside down world upright…You have the power."

You could have heard a pin drop as she spoke.  Click here to see and listen to her powerful words.    

Behind Black Robes, Hijabs And Niqabs, Saudi Women Are Dreaming Big

June 7, 2013

Thanks to an invitation from the U.S. State Department, I recently spent 10-days in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The Gulf Region is one of the last corners of the world I ever expected to be invited to speak about changing roles for women. But I was, and I jumped at the chance to engage in cross-cultural discussions with students, journalists, business leaders, medical professionals and more PhDs than I could count. 

 Did I have to cover-up? Yes, I wore a long, black abaya over my street clothes whenever I stepped out of my hotel room. That was a small price to pay for such an incredible learning experience.

Behind those mysterious, black robes, our Saudi "sisters, and the men who support them, are on the verge of stunning change. Here's what I wrote for Forbeswoman.  

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