Because International Women’s Day shouldn’t just be one day, we turned March into International Women’s Month here around the Page Two HQ. To celebrate, we invited our women clients to share, on our Facebook and Instagram, the invaluable wisdom they’ve learnt on their journey—either from other women, or a book that had a far-reaching impact on their professional and personal lives. Here is a selection of their advice, lifehacks, and book recommendations! You can find out more about each of these amazing women at the bottom of this post.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women?
Komal Singh: There’s only one person you need to become—the better version of yourself. Have faith in your capacity and take a chance on your abilities; you deserve to meet that person. I truly believe the algorithm for success is non-deterministic.
Jean Davey: Believe in yourself. Recognize and own your strengths. Have a goal or a dream, and when an interesting opportunity comes along—go for it. Gender in the workforce can still be a problem in certain areas but remember, to-day you can demand equal pay. “Roadblocks” are just challenges. Unfamiliar parts of the job can be learned. Once you have started the path to your dream, open your horizons, and dream bigger. A larger pay cheque, or a better title will insure a higher step on the ladder. Don’t be afraid of change. Change is good if it is better for you.
What’s your favourite piece of wisdom another woman has shared with you that you’d like to share with others?
Ritu Bhasin: Always strive to be excellent. A few of my female mentors gave me this advice at the beginning of my career. And as Aristotle (and Oprah!) said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” This has definitely proven to be true in my life. What I didn’t know when I was younger was that in striving for excellence in everything I did, even in small things like proofreading seemingly unimportant emails, I was actually rewiring my brain to produce at a high level all the time. And given the barriers that women of color face on the path to success, developing this habit served me well.
Rumeet Billan: Life is not a linear path. You can plan and have direction, but be prepared for the unexpected. Learn about others who inspire you but write your own story. Follow your own path.
What’s the one book—or books—you think all women should read?
Louise Green: Noted as one of the most important feminist publications, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf is an important book for all women (and men). It unearths social control in pursuit of flawless beauty which I can definitely identify with right up to my mid-thirties. I truly think The Beauty Myth should be a book that’s studied in high schools for both teen girls and boys. It’s books like this that helped me gain control over my authentic identity as a woman, and I really want that for all women—of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Life’s too short to self-hate, obsess or hold back. We are granted only one life and all women deserve to feel like rock stars in their lives.
Rumeet Billan: My conventional answer—Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, which gives us permission to be vulnerable and to use it as an asset as we lead. My unconventional answer would be What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada. Often times, we put ideas aside because we might be afraid of what others might think or perhaps we lack the confidence. This book is a great read for anyone at any age to welcome the idea and use it to change the world.
Susan Piver: I think all women (and all humans, for that matter) should read Shambhala; The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa. It is a handbook for living with fierce courage and profound kindness—and we need all the warriors we can get.
Patricia Hetherington: Rising Strong by Brené Brown. The title says it all, and I resonate with Brown’s work as it expresses a similar attitude that runs through my recently published collection of personal stories called Under the Covers. The connection between these books is what I call “gumption,” which I use in my subtitle. We’re talking about an unwavering response to what life throws at us. We trust our instincts and follow through.
Kimberley Record: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.
Louisa Jewell: I think every woman should read Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. As women, we are always doing so much for everyone else we can forget to savor life’s beautiful daily blessings. Practicing mindfulness is the greatest gift I have given myself. It allows me to find balance even with a crazy schedule and to truly receive all the many gifts life brings me.
Ritu Bhasin: There are so many books I love, but The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz stands out. This book provides a code for living through four simple but powerful reminders: be impeccable with your word; don’t take anything personally; don’t make assumptions; and always do your best. These reminders encapsulate how to stay healthy in how we think and how we live. Particularly resonant for women, I think, is the agreement “don’t take anything personally.” Many women (myself included) have a tendency to do this, which is rooted in internalized gender bias, and doesn’t serve us in our lives.
Heather Moyse: Besides my own book—which I truly think will help a lot of people ;)—I just finished reading You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero, and I loved it. Sincero puts things in a different perspective, which is what I’m all about, with no fluff. It has a slightly harsher tone than my own book, with a kick-in-the-pants attitude that most of us may need to hear.
Jean Davey: The Only Woman in the Room—I am very proud of my Memoir.
Which woman in your life inspired you and why?
Susan Piver: The first person who came to mind is Carlyne Majer, who was a mentor to me when I was quite young and had just taken my first “real” job. It was at a small record company in Texas, and the music business back then was even more male-dominated than it is today. I wanted to prove myself and was ready to take on any task. Carlyne was a successful music manager, and she was (and is) incredibly smart, blunt, and savvy. I kept making myself available to do anything because I thought it would make me look committed. One day, she took me aside and said, “Darlin’, never, ever accept responsibility without authority.” From that moment on, I never did. I only took on work that I knew I also had the power to actually complete without having to ask permission. It was so liberating.
Louise Green: My first running coach, Chris, was instrumental in changing my perspective on what it means to be an athlete and a woman. She was a larger woman who wasn’t trying to conform her body to the unrealistic standards set before us, she was simply unleashing her physical power as an athlete in the body she had. This was the first time I had seen a woman with a body like mine in fitness leadership. I had battled my weight for years upon years and solely look at exercise as a tool for expenditure. I started to realize that my measurements could be derived from how deep I could dig, how fast I could go, or how much power I could exert. Athletic goals became my new benchmark, and endorphins over weigh-ins was my new jam. This built a body confidence that became unshakeable. I’ve since left my career to pursue a full-time business in fitness and now coach women around the world. To say Chris changed my life is an understatement.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Heather Moyse: My advice to anyone is—Don’t ever sell yourself short! We are all capable of way more than we give ourselves credit for.
Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Louisa Jewell: I would have to say Gloria Steinem and Jane Goodall. My mother was never happy in her marriage, but she felt trapped with no other place to go, so she stayed in an unhappy marriage her entire life. I knew then that I had to be a strong woman if I wanted to create the life I wanted for myself. Steinem’s courage, creativity, intelligence, and perseverance are admirable. I heard her speak recently and she said, “I met this man who told me that a woman took his job. And I asked him, ‘Who said it was your job?’” Just brilliant. About the same time Steinem was rising, Jane Goodall was also becoming popular. Passionate about the chimps she is researching and supporting, she continues to help the world understand the importance of taking care of our precious wildlife. What I love about both of these women is that they make no apologies for showing up as women in untraditional ways. Almost as if they don’t care about what anyone else thinks—we should all be so brave!
Kimberley Record: Ellen Degeneres is a pioneer for authenticity, in the very public eye, which sets the example for our future generations! She’s adored everywhere for her humanity, kindness, generosity, and of course her humour—rather than for her appearance, accolades, or celebrity. Ellen’s a beautiful role model, not just for the LGBTQ community, but for anyone who desires to live a life of purpose, joy, abundance, fulfillment, and full of laughter. She’s taken risks, built a life true to her strengths, and never compromising for the sake of popularity. Princess Diana is also a shining example of a woman following her truth, even though the risks were high. Seeing how [royalty] transformed her life and set her on a path to truly making a difference—is one of the most inspirational and beautiful examples of a woman’s self-empowerment journey.
Rumeet Billan, Ph.D. is the learning architect at Viewpoint Leadership Inc.
Patricia Hetherington is the author of The Winter Gardener and Under the Covers: A Life of Gumption, Passion, Gifts, and Secrets.
Louisa Jewell is a well-being expert, the founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, and the author of Wire Your Brain for Confidence: The Science of Conquering Self-Doubt.
Heather Moyse is a multi-sport athlete, two-time Olympic gold medalist, motivational speaker, and the author of Redefining Realistic: Shift Your Perspective. Seize Your Potential. Own Your Story.
Kimberley Record is a body-love coach, holistic nutritionist, and the author of Finding Your Forever Body: A 10-Step Guide to Breaking the Diet Cycle for Good.
Komal Singh works at Google and is writing a Google-themed children’s book to be released this fall.#entrepreneurship #reading