Today is the first day of Women’s History Month. And I simply MUST kick it off my paying homage to some of the amazing Women that have invested in me both personally and professionally. If I named ALL the women who have affected my life, I would have you here for hours…after all there are tons. I could start with my Mother and aunts that made countless sacrifices and spent endless days grooming me for greatness. I could easily crank out a list of dozens of roommates and sister-friends that lent shoulders and ears to my tears and my causes. I could also point to numerous co-workers and counterparts that guided me through professional obstacle courses. But I think I will settle telling you about just 5 of those amazing women.
When I hear women speaking of not having support from other women. And how ladies simply just can’t get along, I’m always puzzled, because that has not been my life. I have had women from all walks of life, races and social standing invest in me and my success. I’m not quite sure why I was blessed in so many ways by other women…I’ve been told it is because they saw untapped potential. Others said that it was because I had a, and some said they simply felt an overwhelming desire to help me. I’d like to think it was God sending me these glorious angels to touch my life. And now is my chance to thank them.
Brenda McClendon Daniel
I still call Brenda my Fairy God Mother, because I swear she was floated into my life on fairy wings. As an insecure teenager she found the best in me and polished it until it shone brightly enough for the world to see. It would be decades before I understood what she saw in me, and to this day I’m grateful. I’m over 40 now, and one of my greatest accomplishments is to know that I have lived up to her expectations and done her proud.
16 years ago, while visiting Atlanta on vacation, I confided in Crystal about my desires to be a graphic designer. But I had no way to afford the $500 Photoshop program I needed to get started. She listened as I vented and then calmly remarked, “God will make a way”. A week later I received a package, and to my shock and dismay it contained a brand new copy of Photoshop. Upon further inspection I found there were 7 other professional graphic design programs. Crystal had sent me THOUSANDS of dollars in software, and she refused to accept any payment. I taught myself graphics which led to a career in branding and marketing. She will never take credit for my career, she always says “you always took my advice and did the work”, but without her investment in my dream, my path might have been very different.
Working for a Fortune 500 company was no small feat for a cocky 20 something year old. I had brains and balls and I was out to prove it…That was until I met Sharon Saperstein. She always referred to herself as a “Jewish Mother” and back then I had no idea what the hell that meant, but boy did I learn. She took my brash communication style and taught me the power of diplomacy. She managed each employee individually based on their specific needs. She once told me ” In order to get the best out of you, I have to allow you to be the BEST YOU.” 12 years later, I will still only work in situations that allow me to be the BEST ME!! Thank you SHARON!!!
Sometimes society takes a gander at you and attempts to assign value based on what you look like. Rosemary Jones taught me one of my most valuable lessons to date… “never let them tell you what you’re worth”. Since then, she has become my champion, my mentor, adviser and my friend. I will pass on a piece of her best fashion advice “invest in your jewelry honey, cause us big girls gotta represent”!
When I think back to being a fledgling Entrepreneur I remember feeling so incredibly out of place. Marlene Kelly made it her business to help me fit in and find my way. She invested in me both emotionally and financially. She is also the person that introduced me to Rosemary Jones (above), she kept saying.. “you remind me of Rosemary, I think yall should meet!” One of the greatest lessons that I learned from her is —she is not humble in spite of her success, she is successful BECAUSE of her humility. I just LOVE that about her!!
Over the years, I’ve done my level best to invest in other women, after all I’ve had it paid forward to me many times over. So now its your turn. I would love to hear about women who have paved the way for you. Looking forward to your stories… I might even post some of them on here on the site.
Follow me on Twitter at @JaiStone
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