Have you seen Shonda Rhimes hugely powerful acceptance speech for the Elle Luminary Award? If you haven’t, you really need to – particularly if you are a woman, a person of colour or from any other under-represented group that struggles to gain recognition for what you have achieved.
I watched the speech for the first time today. And then I went back and watched it two more times. It’s brilliant. It’s inspiring. It made me think. It made me act (I’ll get to this shortly).
First, I want to tell you a little about what she said (although I implore you to watch the whole thing because it’s totally worth the eight minutes and 47 seconds of your time).
Shonda was receiving her award for inspiring other women. Something that was all very well and good, except – in her words – she keeps hiding away. And how can she be an inspiration to other women, if she doesn’t shout about her success?
Referencing how men rarely receive the same kind of backlash that women get when talking about their work and how much they earn, she said:
“Ryan Murphy — who is amazingly talented and someone I admire – when Ryan made his big deal with Netflix, he shouted his salary to the world and did a gorgeous photo shoot for the cover of the Hollywood Reporter. Ryan deserved every moment of it. I applaud him.
“When I made a deal with Netflix, I let them report my salary wrong in the press and then did as few interviews as possible. I put my head down and worked. In other words, I hid.”
How many times have you hidden your successes? How many times have you been brilliant but then not let your light shine for fear of being viewed as big-headed, a show-off, or that annoying woman who thinks she knows everything?
How many times have you taken a lower salary or fee – or no payment at all (Iain Dale from LBC will know what I am referencing here) because you’ve had imposter syndrome and felt that you didn’t deserve any better? Or because you didn’t have the confidence to negotiate harder?
I know I have. Even after a 20-year career in the media and comms, even after some brilliant successes where I know I’ve made a massive difference, I still often feel like I don’t know as much as that person over there (whoever they may be).
As Shonda said in her speech:
“Demanding what you deserve can feel like a radical act.”
“We live in a world in which only men are allowed scream and cry and demand. Even in places like Senate hearings. Women who cry or scream or demand or deserve are not sympathetic. Women who do that are deemed difficult. They are called crazy. They are labelled the bitches who need to go,” she said, adding that “we need to ALL agree to be difficult crazy bitches who need to go.”
Did you hear that?
“We need to ALL agree to be difficult crazy bitches who need to go.”
Not only that but Shonda also called on everyone to support the incredible powerful women around us.
“We need to encourage that power. We need to delight in it. We need make sure the power of other women is enjoyed and celebrated.”
So, Shonda, I am doing as you ask. I am responding to your call to action.
I work with and know a tonne of awesome women who I think deserve to be celebrated. How to choose who to include on here? That’s a tough call so I’m going with the women that I’ve had the pleasure of working with so far this week – and it is only Tuesday! How lucky am I?!
Julie Creffield – Julie is my coach, a client and a friend. On Sunday, she achieved her dream of running in the New York Marathon. She’s also a bad-ass, tell-it-how-it-is, transformational life coach and founder of the Too Fat to Run movement, which has encouraged thousands of plus-size women around the world to don their trainers and pound the streets, despite what others may think of them.
Lucy Gower – Lucy is a shit hot, super smart, business consultant who works with individuals and organisations to help them think more clearly and get better results. She’s also created a brilliant resource called the Lucidity Network, which brings people together and gives them access to a range of online and offline practical tools, advice and support. She’s awesome, so is her Network. You should check it out. Definitely.
Emma Shenton – I first met Emma via Julie Creffield’s coaching programme. Since then she’s attended my creative writing workshop in France and we’ve just started working together on a project to showcase her business, Oakwood Management Consulting. Today we had a long conversation about her career history, what motivates and inspires her, and what she can deliver for others. I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s great fun to be around and is a major force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to start shouting about her work as there is so much good stuff to share!
And what about me? It’s soooo tempting not to include anything about me for fear of seeming like I’m giving you the big sell. But seeing as though that’s precisely why Shonda gave the speech she did, here goes…
I’m freaking awesome. And here’s why…
I can write, I can talk, I can teach. I love doing all three. I’m good at doing all three. I know this because my clients tell me so, and because I achieve really good results for them. You see some of the feedback around our website, like on this page here.
I turn people’s words into persuasive copy that changes the world. I put awesome people onto platforms that raise their profile, so others know who they are. I tell their brilliant, awe-inspiring stories so that everyone can learn from their experiences. I’ve secured my clients exposure locally, nationally and globally, via major international broadcasters and publishers, niche media and mainstream magazines. And I teach them the skills needed so they can do this themselves if they want to, without having to rely on me.
I’ve created and I’m now growing a platform that aims to make the workplace more diverse, inclusive and equal. It’s called LEAD: Leadership for Equality and Diversity. It’s pretty cool. Check it out.
And I’m really good at bringing people together. I’ve done it in partnership with others – with the Women’s Equality Party for example, I brought together 1,500 people for a weekend of debate, workshops and laughter at their first party conference. I’ve done it online – via my Transform your Facebook Marketing programme and now with my Writing to Get Noticed training package. I’ve done it in person – the creative writing retreat being a prime example among many.
I’ve done all this, and more, and I’m going to keep on doing it.
So that’s me. That’s three amazing women I work with. That’s Shonda Rhimes. We’re all awesome. Now, how about you?