Friday, November 13, 2009

No.34 Bizjournals and SEW

Dear Followers,

Just thought I'd share the review of The Self-Empowered Woman that will run on the syndicated Bizjournals next week:

Book review: The Self-Empowered Woman

Connie Glaser

The New York Times ran an article recently about the love affair that Hollywood was having with "Famous Dead Women." Only one movie last year about a living woman made it into the Top 10 films, and that was the vampire teenage romance Twilight. What Hollywood has discovered does work are films about women who once led unusual lives, but are now deceased.

Recently, filmgoers watched Meryl Streep portray Julia Child and Marion Cotillard play Edith Piaf. Cate Blanchett won kudos for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I, and Nicole Kidman was applauded for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf. Now talk is circulating that Hilary Swank will win her third Oscar for her portrayal of Amelia Earhart. As film critic Manohla Dargis noted, "For actresses, it is no longer enough to be young and beautiful onscreen, they have to be dead and famous, too."

Like many moviegoers, I have a fascination with successful women, though having passed over to the "other side" is not a prerequisite. So when I was asked to contribute a blurb for a book about high-achieving women on the scene today, I was interested in the subject matter. And I'm pleased to say that the "how to succeed" message within the pages of The Self-Empowered Woman: 17 Characteristics of High Achievers by Marilyn Murray Willison is instructive and gender neutral.

At first glance, the book appears to be an investigative analysis of which factors contribute to the formation of high-achievers. Seventeen characteristics, each of which helps create a successful way of life, are analyzed and dissected. In each of the 17 chapters, four women who have reached the top of their fields are profiled, and then the reader is given exercises designed to help him or her learn how to focus and think the way high achievers automatically approach life.

Although the individuals described in the book are female, there are plenty of valuable life lessons for all readers, regardless of career goals, age or sex. Some of the characteristics are apparent; others are less obvious. For example, Chapter 9 discusses the important role of music in the lives of high-achievers. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, was in first grade when she began to play the violin. In her autobiography she recounts, "Practicing was a joy, not a chore. I could close my bedroom door, shut out the rest of the family and transport myself into a self-created world of beautiful sound."

Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, aspired to become a concert pianist. At age 15, she won a young artist competition and performed a Mozart concerto with the Denver Symphony. She has also performed on stage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Another characteristic of high achievers is risk-addiction. Insightful profiles of Harry Potter's J.K. Rowling and TV's Barbara Walters are included in this chapter. An unemployed single mother, Rowling turned down a secure teaching job for the uncertainty of writing. Her first editor told her that she needed to get a day job because she could never survive as a children's book author.

One of the most poignant chapters discusses the challenges of dreaming your own dream when loved ones or family members go out of their way to discourage your efforts. Anyone familiar with the history of entrepreneurial life in America knows that countless successful men and women chose to pay attention to their inner voices rather than the naysayers who told them what they were doing was crazy.

Other successful women profiled include heavy hitters such as Wall Street's Muriel Siebert, astronaut Shannon Lucid, cosmetics maven Mary Kay Ash, TV's Diane Sawyer and Ruth Simmons, the first female president of Brown University.

Through these pages, Willison leads the reader on a fascinating investigative journey along the path to success. The book provides an opportunity to pay tribute to those high-achieving women with us today who are making a difference.

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