Gloria Feldt On How to Change the World
Odds are if you were a woman growing up in Texas in the 50s with three babies by the time you were 20, the word “career” was not going to show up in your lexicon. But Gloria Feldt was different. And whether you know it or not, you were on her mind.
During the dozen years between her last baby, which coincided with the advent of the pill and a few short years later, the inception of Planned Parenthood, she earned her college degree, and was planning to teach.
Instead, she writes in her book No Excuses, Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power:
I found myself in a tiny windowless office donated to Planned Parenthood by the local bank, staffed only by me and my big-haired assistant, Mary, who had given herself the title “sexretary.” I broke out in hives from the stress of knowing how much I didn’t know about running the five family planning clinics over a dusty West Texas expanse. Before long, I fell headlong in love with the movement to bring birth control to women, and with it, the power to chart the course of our own lives.
Gloria went on to become CEO and president of the Planned Parenthood federation. Over 30 years and four books later, countless appearances and articles in everything from The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Truthout, NPR, MSNBC, Gloria, now retired from Planned Parenthood, is still fighting for your right to choose as a speaker, trainer and leadership expert, and asking you to use those same movement building principles to chart your career, break glass ceilings and change the world.
And she wants you to start with you by asking you to take personal responsibility for walking through the doors of power that have been opened for you. While she views this time in history as a pinnacle moment of possibility for women, the status quo is hyperventilating with a renewed vigor in the new War on Women with everything from the repeal of the Wisconsin Equal Pay Law, to Rush Limbaugh’s slut talk, to the multi-pronged conservative efforts to repeal Rowe v. Wade, all designed to send us back to the mythical glory days when we were barefoot and pregnant and loved every minute of it.
What all this means for you personally is to see the correlation between your career and your political power. Because without economic power, we have no political power, we have no voice. No presence. No platform. No credibility.
So if you struggle with fear of speaking first, or speaking up at all; working harder and longer yet feel insecure about your future; taking initiative, but feeling you could be more strategic; feeling isolated, but resist asking for help—you need to put Gloria Feldt in your back pocket. Like we did.
About 18 months ago, I followed Gloria on Twitter and told my business partner Victoria Pynchon, “Hey, follow this woman, she speaks our language.” A short while later we invited her to join us in teaching women to negotiate at our first leadership retreat. That invitation not only forged a relationship, but a shift in the way we thought about the impact of our work at She Negotiates. We were no longer building a business, but a movement.
Now is the time. Put Gloria on your A-List because you’re on hers.
Follow Gloria on Twitter here and Facebook here, and start talking with her. And if you want to engage in a personal conversation, register for her upcoming Ten Buck Talk teleconference “Sister Courage: How Movement Building Principles Can Grow Your Career, Break Glass Ceilings and Change the World” at The Daily Thrive on April 19 here. Proceeds benefit the Women’s Media Center, whose mission is to amplify women’s voices in the media and change the conversation.