Description: Happy Women’s History Month! This week we are taking time to highlight a few of our favorite women leaders who inspire us and have played a significant role in shaping the world we know. Plus we’ve got a great gift idea for the tea or coffee drinker in your life!
We’d love to know who you are celebrating this month as well, you can head to our voicemail page to share a woman that’s inspiring you!
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
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Kerri: Hello and welcome to the Flourishion Friends podcast. Happy March. I am your host, Kerri, and I’m here with my friend and collaborator. Hi Esther.
Esther: Hey, Kerri. Hey friends.
Kerri: Our goal for this podcast is to create an avenue for our flourish community to gather around important conversations that lead to more growth and more flourishing.
Esther: Yeah, nothing is really off the table because how we lead our life spills into how we lead at work, and overall, our brand reflects that, especially as creatives.
Kerri: March is Women’s History Month. We’re highlighting some of our favorite women trailblazers in this episode because we all need some more herstory in our life. But first, let’s start with some fun things that are giving us life.
Kerri: Esther, what’s your fresh pick this week?
Esther: All right. So this week I wanted to highlight my drinking glasses that we got when we moved here. There, those ribbed glasses, I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about, but we found them at one. Those stores, it’s similar to like a Home Goods, I would say. But, these ribbed glasses, you can kind of find them anywhere nowadays. They’re super, super trendy.
But I love them because they’re a great size. They look really cool. And, Yeah.
It’s funny. When you think of like the trends versus fads episode, we just did. It’s one of those scenarios where you see it in a store, you don’t know why you gravitate towards it, but you just want it. And you don’t know until you see it. And that was kind of the experience I had when I saw them in the store. the first ones we found were like purple-y and then we also went back and got some more gray ones.
But, uh, yeah, just love them.
Whenever I buy things for my house, I’m also thinking about how it can be a prop in a photo. It’s a problem. Yeah, a problem or good thing of a food photographer is that you’re always thinking of, oh, well I could use this also in photos.
And so like, getting colored glasses has kind of been an obsession for me, over the last few years because the light coming through, colored glasses just so beautiful as opposed to just like a normal clear glass. And then the rib just makes it even more interesting when light comes through.
Kerri: It’s so beautiful. Do you find yourself drinking more water? Or whatever beverage.
Esther: We use it mostly for the coffee drinks and things like that. And then cuz it’s, it’s kind of too small. We didn’t get the, the big ones. We might, feel like we should get the big ones too. That are more like 16 ounces. I feel like when you’re drinking water, you want a, a larger glass. And these are definitely more like rock size, like cocktail coffee, that type of thing.
So anyways, Carrie, what’s your fresh pick for this?
Kerri: I am on the drink train as well, I guess. My fresh pick this week is my electric mug warmer, and I love it. I use it every day and it sits on my desk and it’s basically, if you haven’t seen one or don’t have one, it’s something you plug in and it just keeps your mug warm and that’s pretty much all I can say about it.
It’s very key because I find sometimes I drink my tea really fast, but other times not as much. And it’s just nice to be able to set it on there.
Kerri: Have it stay warm and it’s a very simple thing, but it brings me a lot of joy. And I know I’ve seen recently a lot of l ike smart mugs or fancy mugs that keep your tea at the right temperature or your coffee at the right temperature.
Do you have any of those?
Esther: No, I don’t, but I, I know this is like a huge problem with coffee drinkers. If they’re a hot coffee drinker, like they. A lot of people don’t like it if it starts getting room temp. So I think this definitely is geared toward that.
Esther: Whenever I’m drinking tea, I’ll just add more hot water, but then, you know, eventually it gets diluted. Yeah. Yeah.
Kerri: Yeah. I like this. And we’ll link it in the show notes, but I like it because I can use any old mug and just set it on there. And I don’t know, I think a fancy mug that has it built in, I just don’t. See myself really using those cuz I like, I don’t know, I like my quirky mug, collection of random things from gifts and, and visits and life and travel.
So I really like using those and just keep it on my desk and it works really well and I. I’m not really a thermos person either, cause I think then it gets too hot. So it’s just this, this is a sweet spot, you know, you just gotta find what works for you. And this electric mug warmer, which was gifted to me, was a fantastic gift.
So highly recommend it. If you have a gift, maybe can pin it for holiday gifts later this year for a birthday gift for someone who a hot beverage drinker. All right, well grab your tea or your ribbed glass and get ready for our conversation on Women’s History Month.
Kerri: Well, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite women’s leaders because if you don’t know, March is Women’s History Month and, as we all know in textbooks, in growing up, in history in general, there’s always more focus on the stories of men than the stories of women.
And I feel like our generation and future generations are catching up on a lot of history or herstory, whatever you wanna call it.
So I always just love hearing inspirational stories about different women in different fields, either living or not living anymore and just hearing their stories. So we thought we’d share. We each picked two women. We could probably do a whole series on inspirational women leaders, but we just picked two.
And Esther, do you wanna kick us off with the first woman you chose?
Esther: Yeah, sure. I love this prompt because it made me kind of go back into like yeah, evaluating who has influenced me or who I just find deeply moving. And Toni Morrison is one of those people where her work has really influenced and shaped fiction and like, just opened up the world in the mainstream. I think.
There’s always been fiction writers who’ve written from a black and African American perspective. But I feel like what she’s been really able to do because she worked in publishing for so long at Penguin Random House that she was able to kind of have that influence in ways that maybe other writers didn’t on the whole market.
But yeah, she is very well awarded. She ended up winning the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1993, which I think is just incredible. It shows how influential she has been. And she also won the Pulitzer for her book, beloved. They turned that I think, into a movie as well. And then in later in. She was made an officer of the French Legion of Honor, and two years later she was awarded with the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
So it’s one of those examples where it’s really nice because she got recognized in her lifetime. I feel like so often writers don’t get recognized in the time that they’re writing. So Yeah, I think just acknowledging that.
But she is an American writer, if not familiar, noted for her examination of black experience. The book that I always knew her for was The Bluest Eye, which is her debut book, and that that was released in 1970 and she kind of, explored the metrics of beauty within and the influence in the African American community through a young girl’s perspective. And I think that that book for me, it, it does a few things. As most fiction books do, it makes you step into someone else’s world. And then it also brings empathy and yeah, all these other things that are necessary within that examination work that that we feel is so important.
And then her book, Song of Solomon This is an examination of the complexity of family relationships. I feel like every book that she released, it just went into a new sphere of exploration. So this was kind of exploring the legacy of racism in America, human frailty and yeah, just those realities.
Her, her writing in the seventies and eighties is on, on the heels of the civil rights era. So I feel like it just was that megaphone of just the, the, black experience that was starting to rise in volume. I would say that more people were creating space for themselves to talk about these much overlooked stories. So I just, I really wanted to highlight Toni Morrison and just how she’s paved the way in literature. I’m obviously a huge believer that art shapes our future.
And so things like books and fiction our kids are reading, you know, the next generation’s reading. And so if they’re able to start seeing and reading all these other experiences, I think that just makes for a more empathetic society. And I think we could all use a little bit more empathy, but yeah.
I’ll switch it over to you, Kerri, who is someone that you have been kind of impacted by and their story.
Kerri: So I chose Georgina Pazcoguin. She is a ballerina, a soloist with the New York City Ballet. And if you know me, you know, I like a lot of different things, including tea and ballet’s pretty high up there on that list too. Having grown up dancing and if you don’t really know anything about the dance world, New York City Ballet is like the preeminent company in nation, if not the world, just known for their innovative dance style and commissioning of new works and all of that.
And she is the first Asian American woman promoted into the upper ranks of the company. She’s not alone anymore. There’s a next generation dancer who’s also actually a couple of dancers who are in the upper rinks in the company now, but she was the first Asian American woman, promoted.
And she’s still dancing. I think she’s in her, maybe her, mid to late thirties, and she wrote a book called The Rogue Ballerina. I wouldn’t recommend it for children to read. It’s more of an adult read. She’s very has kind of a funny sense of humor. Definitely some. Crude language in there, but she kind of defines what a rogue ballerina is.
As you know, you think of the concept of a ballerina being this naive, slightly emotionally unhinged woman who might have body dysmorphia. And she sees herself as like the opposite of that. Someone who’s very outspoken, who takes up space and who is I see in a lot of ways a leader in a very kind of old, deeply problematic industry.
So she also co-founded Final Bio for Yellowface, which is an organization eliminating discrimination against Asians in ballet. So a lot of these historical ballets have. Orientalism and just some problematic stereotyping both within the storylines, but also things like costumes and makeup and dance moves.
If you think about movement and the way stories are told on the stage, those, most of those stories were all created by white men. So there’s a lot of problematic things there. And what she and her co-founder Phil Chan do is they they not only have a pledge. All of the, most of the dance leaders around the world have signed basically saying they’re committed to eliminating those stereotypes.
But they also advise companies on updating their ballets. So if you’ve ever seen the Nutcracker, there’s different variations in the second half. Like they go to the fairy land or the land of suites and there’s a Russian dance and a French dance. And There’s the land of the flowers, and then there’s also the Chinese dance.
So that’s like one of the most famously, often problematic dances that there are. So she and her, her business partner, Phil Chan, help advise companies on that. And what I really like about her is she is,
Really changing the system from the inside out. She is both speaking her truth and she’s also forging relationships in an industry where it’s really, really hard, we say like change the narrative in, in our industry, in a lot of the organizations we work with, changing the narrative is it takes investment cuz you have to update your website, you have to update your collateral, you have to get buy-in from leadership. Like that’s all investment.
And like in an industry like ballet, changing the narrative is really big investment because they have all of these prop pieces and costumes that they have to re-update and they really are helping champion and advocate for those changes being made. And they do it in a really inclusive, and they focus on really building bridges rather than they kind of say it like, we’re, we do not believe in cancel culture in this movement for and I know that’s a very loaded term. But just the idea that we wanna partner with the, all the companies and the leaders to help create this change.
So, Georgina PAs, Kogan, she’s a rockstar. She’s also an amazing dancer, actor, ballerina. So just all around such a cool lady. And she’s living history, so.
Esther: Yeah, I love that both of these first people are reshaping their industry and that it’s both in the arts as well. I think. Toni Morrison has done a few interviews around the topic of writing in other people’s perspectives and whose kind of qualifies to write from someone else’s perspective, and that’s a huge thing. A huge topic in the writing world is especially fiction.
Kerri: And who gets published, who, who has the power to create those stories, and then who actually gets to share those stories and who are those gatekeepers?
Kerri: It’s really, really interesting and every, every space in this world has. Those similar, similar tensions happening. But it, it’s really important to see it in things like the arts and in fiction in an entertainment because those are so powerful.
Kerri: And we know people are captivated by stories and people can change through stories, and we want people to have more access to those stories.
Kerri: Who is your second woman leader? Esther.
Esther: Okay. So my, for my second one, I wanted to choose This Australian activist, she’s big in the Christian world cuz she’s an international speaker, an author, and also a pastor, but her name is Christine Cain. She founded the A 21 campaign also known as just a 21 in 2008.
So Christine has a really interesting story. She was adopted at birth and didn’t find out till she was 33 years old, but she was adopted into a Greek Orthodox family. She grew up in government assisted housing in New South Wales, Australia. And overall just had a really hard childhood and upbringing.
She suffered from sexual abuse from the age of three to 15. And she kind of talks about just the struggle of that. And Not being listened to, not being believed and just how abuse really started shaping her identity. She has this quote, “that when you’re first abused, you’re filled with shame about what has happened to you. But when it happens over a long period of time, you then begin to think it’s happening because of who you are.”
And she ended up finding hope and restoration and talks about in her book on Unashamed, the long journey of healing that’s taken place over 40 years and continues to take place. And, if you’ve ever heard Christine Caine speak live you would know she’s just full of fire, full of passion. She commands a room. She. It was just really convicted about what her mission on earth is, and that is to, to help the vulnerable.
So she’s just one of a kind, really. I think her activism was really birthed out of that desire to help. She talks about also in early two thousands going to Greece and kind of encountering this world of human trafficking for the first time. And. How people were missing, how In Eastern Europe, the effects that had on people and families and yeah, something just pulled at her heart. She didn’t know what to do you know, something like that is just a huge problem and a huge thing to take on, but she wasn’t afraid she stepped into it. And ended up in 2008, starting what we know as a 21.
Which is combating human trafficking across the world today. And. Her husband is CEO now she’s leading lots of different things at different capacities. And. But she really is the pioneer behind it and has started this whole movement towards helping the vulnerable and. Providing materials, preventative materials for people like in the Ukraine where they are experiencing war and the vulnerable woman and children.
There’s just thousands and thousands of Refugees fleeing or have already fled. And so their organization has been on the ground providing resources. To, educate refugees on how traffickers work, what to look out for, what to avoid. And things like that. So they’re really involved on that preventative part, the intervention part, and then also the restoration part. And have been doing some incredible, incredible work.
So a little bit more about a 21. It’s a Global 501c3 nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to fight human trafficking, which includes sexual exploitation, trafficking forced slave labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, and child surgery. And they are currently working in 14 countries. And then also they protect the victims once they are intervened. So they, they train up like frontline workers, like police to spot when someone is possibly in danger.
And then they also have a lot of work on the legal side prosecuting traffickers. And they have, yeah, various partnerships with people on the ground as. I’ve been exposed to her work for a really long time, so I know that some people aren’t aware of human trafficking. It’s becoming more talked about in the public sphere. But uh, yeah, I just love how much she’s already done and really releasing her team and the local communities in those areas, training up people. But I think this is something that will you know. Go on past her lifetime as well, that she’s started a movement in this space and that it will have a legacy.
Yeah, that’s Christine Caine. And again, if you want to read a bit more about her story, her books called Unashamed, she was written a lot of other books as well but Unashamed is more her memoir.
Kerri: So good. The work she does is so important, and as we think about. Markers like International Women’s Day, which is March 8th and this Women’s History month, this whole month. It is a reminder that of, all vulnerable people, not just women and girls, but women and girls, especially in some areas of the world, are exposed to that, that violence and that system.
And yeah, just really grateful for leaders like her who are not using, I guess not making excuses. They’re, they’re just digging in and just getting started and you can’t tackle the whole system, but you can, you can serve in different ways. And it sounds like she and her organization have made a lot of impact and just getting, getting started and like you said, it definitely will live on beyond her. It’s so important.
Well I can share my last lady leading lady Mamie Hughes. If you’re in the Kansas City area, you may have heard of her. She is a Kansas City icon. She’s a civil rights activist. I believe she’s in her nineties, maybe 91 or 92. And I learned about Mamie Hughes through the Central Exchange, which is a Kansas City Women’s Leadership Organization where I formerly worked and Mamie was one of the co-founders of the Central Exchange.
And just a little bit about her story, I wanted to highlight someone who was local and known on a local level. Because she has had so much impact on this community and I, I know many people in the Kansas City area know of her, but not everyone does.
So a little bit about her story. She was a longtime activist in politics and civil rights. She was a teacher by trade. And in the fifties and sixties, she had moved to Kansas City. I think she was born in Florida, got married, and then eventually made her way to Kansas City. She was an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. She was a leader in the NAACP, an organization called Freedom Inc. and in the panel of American women.
And then in the seventies, she entered politics and she won her first seat in the Jackson County legislature and just served the county in so many different ways. Advocated for projects that helped break down discrimination racial discrimination, and gender discrimination.
So she just, through the decades, just made so much impact in the eighties and in 1980, she co-founded Central Exchange, which is a women’s leadership organization. And the co, the founders of that group were all very racially uh, economically. Industry wise, very diverse. And they envisioned the CX as a place where women could meet and exchange ideas, because at the time, there were still two clubs, the Kansas City Club and the University Club, that in 1980 were places of business that only men could congregate and talk about business. And women were prohibited from joining them.
So Central Exchange was really envisioned as that, that meeting space for women and men all inclusive. And yeah, so through politics, she really helped shape transportation in Kansas City. There’s a section of 71 and Kansas City, if you’re familiar. And she helped navigate that project and she has a bridge named after her.
And then, her second husband was Dr. Samuel Rogers, and if you’re from the Kansas City area, that name may mean something to you too, cuz he has a healthcare center and that focuses on equity and equality and healthcare services.
And then, you know, just because she’s not cool enough, she helps save the Historic 18th and Vine District in Kansas City. She’s an author. She did write an autobiography. I haven’t read it yet, but I, now that I know that she wrote an autobiography, I didn’t know that before I did this research. I’m definitely going to get it from the library. It’s called Mamie Who. Who W h o, the life and times of a colored woman, and it just chronicles her story and her struggles for racial equity in Kansas City.
And yeah, just rounding it out, she’s. A mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother. She is always given back and served on a lot of different charities, chairing different events, and she’s a calligrapher.
So, Mamie Hughes, just living legend and yeah, so much of Kansas City is, has been shaped by her, has been shaped by her and the work that she’s done in the way that she has just built bridges and really prioritized relational connection in the city.
So we’ll include it in the show notes, but I guess I wanna, I wanna share the quote that she did a call piece of calligraphy around that was a Chinese proverb. It says, “man says it cannot be done. Should not interrupt woman who is doing it.”
Esther: She sounds incredible. I hadn’t heard of her, but I’m definitely gonna pick up her autobiography. That sounds really interesting.
Kerri: Yeah, she’s, she’s incredible. She’s won pretty much every Kansas City based award that she can, and she deserves. She deserves all of it. For sure. For sure.
So we would encourage you to just maybe pick a woman leader who you’ve heard of, but really haven’t dug into their story yet, and do some research around her this month. And we’d love to hear from you who you learn more about because we’re always looking to hear more stories of inspiring leaders.
Esther: All right, so moving on to our bookmark section. Carrie, what is something that you think we should check out? Maybe read, watch or listen.
Kerri: Well, since I mentioned Georgina, I have to mention the New York City Ballet YouTube channel. They do have a fantastic Instagram. It’s so beautiful. And it’s like pretty easy for it to be beautiful cuz you just take pictures of these amazing ballets and sets and costumes and stuff. So definitely, I always recommend people check it out if they’re ever looking for some Instagram inspo.
But their YouTube channel, you can actually see them dancing, which is the, you know, always awesome to be able to see people in movement. And they have some really good, interesting interviews. They do a segment called Anatomy of a Dance, which I really like. So they’ll take excerpts from some of their most famous ballets that are in the repertory, and the dancer will talk over like what, what they’re doing, what they’re thinking as they’re going through the movement.
And it’s just, Interesting. And I think in a world where there’s a lot I don’t know, fame and celebrity around a lot of different things, I just think these, the rigor of professional dancers and the work that they do and the like, level of exceptionalism that they’re at just needs to be all the more recognized.
So, and yeah, being in a, being in a company like the New York City Ballet, even harder than becoming a an NFL player or an Olympic athlete, like the, the possibilities are so rare. It’s really, really rare to be able to not only get into any ballet company, even if it’s a regional company like the Kansas City Ballet here.
But especially the big national ballet companies. So anyway, go check ’em out. If I have an evangelized ballet enough, I will by the end of this series. How about you, Esther? What should we check out?
Esther: So I want to highlight Dr. Caroline Leaf. She is a neuroscientist mental health and mind expert. But I had the privilege of hearing her give a talk and she’s got a TED Talk just about thoughts and what they look like physically. It was really cool to like understand it in a neuroscientific way.
She’s really good at explaining things. But she has this book called Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess. She also has a podcast and she just developed a new app called Neurocycle, which helps put all of these theories to practice. So if you are wanting to break unhealthy thought patterns she’s created this out of her research to help lead people along the path, and that’s been getting a lot of praise and A lot of good feedback on that.
I mean, there’s so many apps out there that are like calming apps, but this is actually a really, this is for sustainable change. So. Highly recommend any of those things. If you’ve never heard of her, check out her Ted Talk. We’ll link that in the show notes and then we’ll link her Instagram and then also the app too, if you’re really interested in kind of getting into that. But I think as leaders and creatives we’re always battling in our mind. So, just wanted to highlight her and to promote some mental health as well.
Kerri: I’m so excited to check it out. That app sounds right up my alley.
Kerri: Well, thank you for tuning in today. Be sure to check out flourishcreative.co/podcast to see our show notes.
Esther: We’d love to hear from you, and you can send us a note to email@example.com, or you can tag us on Instagram or @FlourishCreative Co. And feel free to leave a review wherever you’re listening. This helps new friends. Discover our podcast community.
Kerri: Until next time, live well and flourish.