March is National Women’s History Month celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment. This month I’ve had the honor of meeting many extraordinary women in business, women entrepreneurs and dedicated volunteers in the community. On March 2nd, I attended a conference dedicated to such women at the Enterprising Women of the Year Awards in Sarasota, Florida. I have to say that I was thrilled that our own CEO, Carmen Jacob, was one of this year’s award recipients. It is considered one of the most important and prestigious honors given to women in business and well deserved. Carmen was extremely gracious, humble, and of course, instantly well liked by everyone. Importantly, the awards are dedicated to successful women, but women who also work at mentoring and creating opportunities for younger women and girls. It was an extremely worthwhile conference with workshops and networking events and the opportunity to meet some very creative people. The extraordinary comes in when you hear their stories. There were so many stories about challenges, successes and tragedies turned into triumph, that I was humbled and inspired. I learned about being a “visionista,” and what it means to maintain a vision, a fresh perspective and the importance of remaining curious about all that work and life has to offer.
During the conference I met a woman who has successfully launched more than 1,000 businesses. Gayle Jagel founded the Young Entrepreneurs Academy in 2004. The program shows kids how to develop their big ideas, create actual business plans, pitch their plans to a panel of “investors” who make the decisions to put real money into the student’s ideas based on merit, and then help the students turn those ideas into real businesses or social policy organizations. The enterprise operates in 50 locations in 22 states. Their motto is “Embrace Your Passion. Live Your Dream. Change the World. “ Gayle has been wildly successful and working to change the world with one young entrepreneur at a time.
Recently I was reading an article about Grace Murray Hopper, (December 9, 1906- January 1, 1992) who was a United States Navy Admiral and computer scientist whose work in developing the idea of machine-independent programming languages, lead to the development of COBOL, one of our first modern programming languages. A pioneer in the field, she is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” when fixing computer glitches. With the breadth of her accomplishments and unique story she has been referred to as “Amazing Grace.” She is just one example of the women in our world who work, and in their own unique way to change the world.These inspiring stories prove that determination, imagination and inspiration applied -- leads to innovation and change.
While I am blogging about National Women’s history month, I think it safe to say that even if you are not of the female persuasion, that we all can take note from a chapter of this book and think about what inspires us and what our aspirations and dreams are all about. I have been profoundly influenced and motivated by so many, including my male co-workers, colleagues, peers and friends. The women of our world are our mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters and friends. Supporting women in business, women entrepreneurs, girls who would like to create a life in science, technology, engineering and math is a very good thing. Regardless of gender, we all need support and encouragement in order to face the world, made easier with three graces…character, courage, and commitment.