In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8), I want to recognize seven professional women who I admire and, whether they know it or not, have made an impact on me. At first, I thought I’d write this from a purely marketing industry angle–those in my field making great waves–but the first seven women that popped into my head are from all over, and that’s the best part.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some listed here in the marketing industry (and so many others who are amazing at what they do) but the women who popped up in my mind right away were those that have influenced me, on a professional level, in more ways than one.
It’s a bit of a direction shift from my usual posts on our site, but an important post. As a woman business owner, it’s important to see others like me in the spaces where I want to be. It can be hard to aspire to be something, to do something, if you don’t recognize yourself in anyone around you doing and being the same things. It’s important to challenge the norm because from challenge comes change.
Highlighting the women around me who have made a difference, who have made me stop and think that I could push myself in ways I was not ready for, is important. I hope that is important for you, too.
Some of these women I know better than others; some are in my professional circle, some are famous, some I’ve come to know only in passing (but keep very close tabs on using social media) and others I grew up with.
All of these women have commonalities: They are special. They take stands. They work hard. They push envelopes. They make me think, “Yes! I can do that, too!”
This isn’t a ranked list (it’s alphabetical) as those who inspire us do so in equally important ways. It’s a list I encourage you to read and when you’re done, give a shout-out to the amazing women here or those in your life who give you positive vibes; the ones who inspire you and make you think, “Yes, I can!”
Author, speaker, marketer and business owner (partner at MarketingProfs) extraordinaire, Ann is someone I’ve adored pretty much since the beginning of my career. She’s witty in her writing and has a way about her keynotes that offers such good education that makes you want to go back to the office and do everything she told you to do. If you are looking for inspirational, funny and tangible books to learn by, grab Everybody Writes and Content Rules. I’d like to think that I’ve improved my writing by learning from Ann over the years. She is lovely in person and also posts the cutest pet pics on Instagram. Go check her out and be inspired at AnnHandley.com.
A fellow hockey mom and all-around great friend, this lady knows about raising four kids while maintaining a career. She also has a huge heart and sticks to her values at all times. Ashlie is a helper to a fault; she raises money, collects food, drops off supplies when you’re in need. When things get messy, awkward and hard to handle, she sticks in there and fights the good fight (even if she is the only female doing so). I admire her ability not to give a $*@! what other people think and always work to do the right thing anyway.
Without even really knowing if this statement is true, I think Christine’s email inbox rivals just about anyone’s and she is always on it with dignity, grace and emoji smiles. As a small business owner Christine has weathered so many storms–big, small, you name it–as many have during the pandemic. Still, she remains positive and inspiring to every single dancer that walks into her studio doors and has remained diligent in keeping dancers (and families) safe and engaged. Her out-of-the-box thinking and constant updates every time a new way of doing things presents itself, are the epitome of excellent customer service. She has built a brand of empathy and compassion just by being herself. The best part? She’s never stopped rooting for other small businesses, even while feeling the pressures of owning her own. She is a gem.
Erin and I went to high school together and while we don’t live near one another, the power of social media has made it possible for us to stay in touch (aka: for me to keep tabs on her amazingness) and seriously, this is a lady you want in your corner. Erin is the queen of #GetOutTheVote. Her work in public policy, getting women into office and just plain educating others on how to be better citizens is so inspiring. As the former executive director at Emerge Wisconsin, this is a woman that you want to keep tabs on. She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s not afraid to speak her mind. She has an empowering energy even from miles away. And usually, when I have a question around politics that requires a reliable source of information, I turn to Erin’s posts to see what’s up.
I met the former first lady in 2019 during her book tour. I was completely flustered. We were introduced and then she says, “Oh, I have a Melissa on my team,” and I’m all like, “Yes! I know!” and then Michelle pointed her out and I started to go over there like the two of us (Melissas) were going to hit it off and have this great conversation (Michelle graciously interrupted me with, “Wait, where are you going? We need to take our picture!”)
It’s why we’re both laughing a bit in the picture (and I’m completely out of my element).
I can’t succinctly describe all of the ways in which Michelle has inspired me, but she is for sure the reason I started journaling again and, even if I’m not feeling it, the reason I try to write down at least one or two things that I loved (or didn’t so much love) about my day. It is refreshing to see someone who has been in the spotlight so much be real about the stress of it all and speak freely about how it can impact one’s self and one’s relationships.
I met Mo a handful of years ago through my connections with Content Marketing Institute. She is someone who so perfectly melds her professional and personal worlds on social media and does so in a way that showcases her passions, her beliefs and her marketing savvy. The ultimate community builder, her work to increase the visibility of underrepresented communities does not go unnoticed; I have learned a lot from Monina over the years and I always look forward to her insight both from an industry standpoint and a community justice standpoint. Continue your great work, Mo.
Her books make me laugh (and cry), her podcast is so real (and I’m telling you, “Who Cares? (Part 1): Fairplay at Home w/Eve Rodsky” was one of the most relatable piece of content I have ever digested in. my. life. Listen to it. Today.) I don’t know Nora personally, but I’ve heard her speak a few times live, I listen to her podcast religiously and I follow her on Instagram, so that’s almost the same, right?
Nora speaks from the heart, she never holds back and she isn’t afraid to put people in their place. It’s refreshing and it’s inspiring. And as much as I’d like to think I do the same on most days, it always helps me to see her put herself out there and inspires me to get the courage to do the same (some days).
To all the ladies who’ve pumped me up and amazed me at various times in my professional career; keep doing what you’re doing because it’s awesome.
We must continue to celebrate women’s achievements. To speak up when we’re confronted with bias. To take action even when it feels impossible to do so. To recognize those that make us feel good, who encourage us and who are out there making great impacts of their own.
This year, I want to work hard to do more of that. My challenge to all of you is to join me and think about how you will continue to recognize the women in your life.
Who has inspired you this year? Let me know in the comments, below.