“Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher.” Oprah Winfrey
Did you ever hear the one about the farmer who took his mutt to the dog show? As the story goes, this old farmer heard that a highfalutin dog show was coming to town so he started cleaning up his old mongrel to take to the show. A neighbor saw him making preparations and asked, “Now, come on! Do you really think that ole dog is gonna win anything?”
“No,” replied the farmer. “He won’t win but, Man! Won’t he be in good company!”
Early in life I learned the importance of surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and of having mentors and role models that exemplify the qualities you want to have. That has served me well over the years. Sometimes I’m astounded at the places I’ve been and the people with whom I’ve rubbed shoulders. I’ll admit that at times I’ve felt like a mutt at the Westminster. Rather than feeling timid because I’ll never win ‘Best in Show’ I just say to myself, “Man! I’m in good company!”
That’s sort of the way I felt recently as I sat in a meeting with Sallie Krawcheck and members of the leadership team of the new Atlanta Chapter of 85 Broads. I first heard of Sallie in 2005 when she was number seven on Forbes list of The Most Powerful Women. Now I’m taking a selfie with her! Good company indeed!Getting involved with 85 Broads wasn’t just a coincidence. It was, to use the phrase coined by author/speaker, Sam Horn, “SerenDestiny.”
Here’s the backstory. Last year I helped Vikki Locke put on a ‘Women in Media’ luncheon as a charity fundraiser. The organization didn’t want to sell individual tickets, only tables. I knew lots of people who would want to buy just one seat so I purchased three tables and put out the word that I could sell individual seats. Nandy Hurst contacted me and bought a couple seats. I did not know her.
On the day of the event when I went to ‘my’ table; the one up front where I would be sitting with friends; there sat Nandy and her guest. Now, they were ‘supposed’ to be seated at one of my other tables in back. The tables I’d sold individual seats for. As it happened a couple people for ‘my’ table hadn’t shown up so when Nandy realized the mistake and offered to move to the back of the room, I asked her to stay. That’s how I met Nandy.
A few weeks later she called and invited me to coffee where she told me she’d been contacted by Sallie Krawcheck about starting an 85 Broads chapter in Atlanta.
Interesting. Years earlier I had been very involved in women’s networking groups. I served on the boards of about five women’s organizations. I’d done lots of research on women in the workplace and had interviewed over 100 female executives. I knew who Sallie Krawcheck was. I also knew of 85 Broads because I came across it in my research of national women’s associations.
I had resigned from all but one advisory board, pulled way back on networking events and stopped speaking to women’s groups. I’d even taken all the notes and documents related to the book I’d been working on, boxed them up and stashed them away while I dealt with the diagnosis (brain tumor) and eventual death of my husband. People assumed I’d go back to it all.
It had been four years.
Just before Nandy ‘accidentally’ sat at my table, I had decided to start fully focusing on rebuilding my business. That would mean involvement in women’s organizations. Now, out of thousands of business women in Atlanta, I’m having coffee with the one woman that was personally asked by Sallie Krawcheck to start a chapter of this international organization in Atlanta. And she’s offering me the opportunity to be involved.
So, to recap: I volunteered to support my friend, Vikki at a Women in Media luncheon, even though I’m not in the media. It was there that I met another woman, who invited me to coffee, then asked me to help coordinate an event of executive women in Atlanta, even though, under normal circumstances, I would never have even made the list of invitees.
It proves there are no “normal” circumstances, only circumstances, period. It’s what we make of them that determines whether they ever become anything more.
I’m glad that I learned early to surround myself with people I could look up to. It has served me well. Yep, sometimes I feel like a mutt at Westminster. But I’m happy to be in good company!