On a Tuesday morning in August of 2012, I called the Greater Philadelphia Film Office to invite Executive Director Sharon Pinkenson to be a guest on my show. I had just read an article in Philadelphia Magazine that Sharon, a one-time wardrobe stylist, had successfully generated $4 billion of revenue in helping Philly become the movie metropolis she always knew it could be.
At the time, I did not know what the theme of my show would be—I didn’t even have a name—but what I did know was that I had an insatiable curiosity about people and where they came from. I also had the ability to connect with people and get them to open up about themselves. She said yes, and Women to Watch™ was born. That’s the short version of my story.
Two and a half years later, I have interviewed more than 150 female CEOs, business leaders, and entrepreneurs from across the country and outside the United States in an effort to provide a vehicle for them to share their stories with the world. I realized very quickly that when you get women to open up about who they are behind their professional title, the greatest lessons are learned, and that led me to my mission—to inspire and encourage more women to pursue leadership roles worldwide.
I would imagine that if you are reading Real Woman, you know why that’s a good mission—once we have more women in policy making positions, in C-Suites, on Boards, and in the field of STEM, the world is simply going to be a better place.
What have I learned from my conversations with 150 professional women and counting? The most profound lesson I have learned is that the great majority of us suffer from fear. Whether we are the president of a fortune 500 company or a woman raising her children at home, the worry that we won’t measure up afflicts so many of us. I believe what sets us apart is whether or not we choose to fight through the fear and be willing to take a risk so we can accomplish everything we are capable of doing.
Clare Munn, chairman of TCG, taught me about the importance of emotional intelligence over IQ. That made me feel smart. Natalie Mashaal, founder and CEO of Mashaal Media Corporation taught me the importance of “just do it.” If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. LeAnn Talbot, regional senior vice president of the Freedom Region for Comcast Cable, taught me that you could be kind and generous and still be successful working in the tech industry. Tracy Davidson, NBC 10 News anchor, taught me the importance of being vulnerable in order to really have an impact on people. And Michelle Tenzyk, president of East Tenth Group, Inc., reminded me that everyone we meet is battling something we know nothing about.
While each of these interviews has brought incredible insights to the surface, I’ve learned that sharing our stories with one another can make a real and lasting impact. When we create an environment where women leaders are open to telling the truth about their own journeys, it inspires those still struggling to find their own way. This human connection always touches people, and it allows people—especially women—to see themselves differently. It inspires them to aim for something that perhaps they felt was out of reach and be better, smarter, and achieve more. Learning from others teaches us about our own potential and capabilities. We just need to move past the fear.