by Ebonie Johnson Cooper
This morning- yes, I get up at the crack of dawn- I ran across Advice for Millennials from Power Women on Forbes.com. Sherene Joseph writes, “These women serve as perfect guides to undertaking those untraditional paths that so many of my fellow millennials have embarked on…The key is to stay inspired and motivated by the work you do and the change you are creating.” I couldn’t agree more.
In my early twenties, I remember looking at various ‘power women’ and wondering- perhaps even dreaming- if one day I could really be like them? To be forty (plus), fabulous, influential and well-respected in corporate America just seemed so far fetched. Yet, the strong images of those women walking on stage towards the podium to address a room of hundred, even thousands of people has never left me. They commanded the room. When they opened their mouths everyone listened. I’ve come to learn that it wasn’t just the professional challenges that make these women influential, it is also their personal ones as well. A combination of both personal and professional triumphs and failures makes for one heck of a woman.
Inspired by Sherene’s list, I thought of a few African-American power women who have inspired me along my professional and personal journeys. Here are a few:
Carla Harris, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley
“Always be your authentic self”
I remember seeing Ms. Harris speak for the first time while I attended a prospective students weekend at Ross Business School at The University of Michigan. She was a graceful woman. I just had to meet her afterwards. I ran up as she hurried through the crowd, trying not to miss her flight. By the time I got to her she said, “come on walk with me so I don’t miss my flight.” I don’t remember our conversation but I do remember how I felt. Even as she was rushing, she thought enough of me to listen. That was authentic. Every time I’ve seen her since, she’s always been the same, humble and genuine person.
Amy Dubois Barnett, Editor-In-Chief, EBONY Magazine
“Stop comparing yourself to others. What she’s got, that’s fine for her. But you, girlfriend, are unparalleled. Your life and your path are your own. Learn from others’ successes and failures, but do you!”
Amy is just awesome. While I’ve only met her in passing, her energy is simply infectious. She has a joyful spirit about her that you cannot miss. I received an autographed copy of her book, Get Yours: How To Have Everything You Ever Dreamed of and More and it really helped to bring perspective to that time in my life. Her struggles. Her pain. Her career journey. Her happiness. It was all in that book and was truly inspired by it all.
Tonya Johnson-Cooper, Social Worker, Thornton High School
“Ebonie, always remember who you are and whose you are”
You know those sayings your parents always say to you growing up that don’t make sense until you are an adult. Yep, this is one of them. And yes, this is my mother. My mom, who I affectionately refer to as TJC on social media, would often say this to me and I’d think, ‘Yeah ok. No clue what you even mean, lady.’ It wasn’t until I was faced with tests of my moral integrity and circumstances that questioned my ethical standards as an adult that this really hit home for me. Now, whenever I’m faced with choices, I always think to this so that the choice I make reflects me and the God I serve.
Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States of America
“Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful.”
Mrs. Obama is just everything in general. Finding a quote from her that has inspired me…well it really didn’t matter because whatever she says inspires me. Yet, this one struck a chord. If you’ve ever read my relationship articles on EBONY.com, you know I’ve been through it. However, in personal relationships and in my professional relationships, this quote holds true. I no longer allow people in my life that hurt me. I refuse to allow myself to be mistreated because I value who I am as a person.
Who has inspired you?