Thoughts on Leadership: Celebrating Women’s History Month

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, presenting about time management on Tuesday to our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices global franchisees. (We had about 60 attendees join the virtual session from Mexico, Italy, Germany, Dubai, Spain, Portugal and the U.K.) On Wednesday, I participated in the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices First Realty Awards Celebration and today, I presented and participated in the Prosperity Home Mortgage Sales Summit.

Monday marked the beginning of Women’s History Month, a celebration of extraordinary women who lead—and have led—the charge to positively transform our world. At HomeServices of America, we’re fortunate to have Teresa Palacios Smith, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, leading our initiatives to showcase and support women leaders across the globe. Outside of HomeServices of America, Teresa is very involved with women’s leadership programs and councils, and within our organization, has spearheaded Women Who Lead, which highlights the women leaders throughout HomeServices of America and beyond. (If you aren’t already connected to the Facebook page, follow it here and tune into Teresa’s Women Who Lead panel discussions every other Wednesday on Facebook and YouTube.)

Teresa told me Women Who Lead began from a desire to highlight all the phenomenal women leaders in different roles throughout the real estate industry, and to provide a platform for them to share their insights and stories.

And speaking of platforms to spotlight women leaders, here are 10 quotes to enlighten and inspire:

  1. “Rarely are opportunities presented to you in a perfect way. In a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. ‘Here, open it, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.’ Opportunities—the good ones—are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.” – Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube, who was hired as Google employee #16 and worked on important programs like AdSense, Google Analytics, Google Books and Google Images. (Fun fact: In 1998, she rented her carport in Menlo Park, California to two Stanford graduates named Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who used it as an office for a little startup they called Google.)
  2. “I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” – Ginni Rometty, Executive Chairman of IMB, and an advocate for education and job opportunities for disadvantaged populations around the world. In 2018, Rometty was honored with the Catalyst Award for advancing women and diversity in business.
  3. “A leader has two important characteristics: first that she is going somewhere; second she is able to persuade others to go with her.” – Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. who was named by Baylor University as the “Greatest Female Entrepreneur in American History.”
  4. “What I always say is, ‘Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership in it.”– Mary Barra, CEO and chairman of General Motors Company, the first woman to lead one of the big three automakers. Notably, in a 2020 report on gender equality practices by Equileap, GM was the only company surveyed with no gender pay gap.
  5. “No matter how senior you get in an organization, no matter how well you’re perceived to be doing, your job is never done. Every day, you get up and the world is changing; your customers are expecting more from you. Your competitors are putting pressure on you by doing more and trying to beat you here and beat you there.” -Abigail Johnson, CEO of Fidelity Investments since 2014, chairman since 2016 and named “Most Powerful in Finance” by American Banker in 2020.
  6. “I really think a champion is defined not by their wins, but by how they can recover when they fall.” – Serena Williams, professional tennis player and former No. 1 player in women’s tennis. At 23 Grand Slams, Williams has won the most titles by any player in the Open Era and the second-most titles of all time.
  7.  “People regret far more what they don’t do rather than what they do.” – Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithCline and the first woman to run a major pharmaceutical company.
  8. “Always work hard, never give up, and fight until the end because it’s never really over until the whistle blows.” – Alex Morgan, American professional soccer player and winner of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a key player on Team USA.
  9. “It’s the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a very clear path to happiness.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and the first woman to serve on the company’s board.
  10. “The media and the interviews are great, but that does not help me make a call on the field. To me, I’ve got to work the game and I’ve got to be great at it.” – Sarah Thomas, official for the National Football League and the first woman to officiate a major college football game as well as the first woman to officiate the Super Bowl. (In 2015, she was the first female hired as a full-time NFL official.)

So, what’s the message? While Women’s History Month is an amazing way to spotlight our women leaders, it’s also not just a month-long endeavor. Supporting and highlighting women leaders is something we should always do, no matter what month it is. Because like my mom says, women leaders aren’t just a part of history, they’re the ones making history every day.

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