Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel to follow along the 8-week Leading Like a Lady leadership program! This post is heavily related to the video content available there, and will make the most sense after you’ve viewed this week’s conversation.

In the Week 1 video, I mentioned a list of women who were historically first to do what they achieved in their specific fields. Here’s just a select few in the list below (in no particular order):

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberian)

Shirley Chisholm (American/Bajan)

Kamala Harris (American/Indian/Jamaican)

Sarah Breedlove Walker (American – also known as Madame CJ Walker)

Ilhan Omar (American/Somalian)

Cori Bush (American)

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (Nigerian)

Jeanne-Marie Ruth-Rolland (Central African)

Sojourner Truth (American*)

Ibukun Awosika (Nigerian)

Wangari Maathai (Kenyan)

With this list, and based on the discussion presented in the week’s video, what do you think helped these women the most to become first in their area of achievement?

Was it:

  1. Money she had access to – BEFORE becoming famous or successful (getting money after the fact doesn’t count);
  2. The people she knew and the access to privilege or power they gave her (for example, was she born into an elite family, married to a powerful husband, etc.);
  3. Her academic background (for example, a college and/or master’s degree or PhD);
  4. Her integrity – by this I mean did she become beloved and famous only after making an extraordinary sacrifice on behalf of powerless people, even without money, a formal education, or the help of others?

Create a chart like the one below and put each woman’s name under the category you think describes her success the best:


When adding women to the chart, you may find that there was more than one factor to their success. What I want you to do is pick the one you think was most important, most crucial, and then put their name under that column. When you’re done, look at your chart and reflect on this:

Which column has the most names? How does this make me think about what being a leader means? Does this change my definition, or support it?

And let me hear your thoughts! Write your reflections in the comments section of my YouTube videos so we can start a public discussion about this.

Invite more women who you think should be a part of this conversation to also watch the videos, and do the same reflection exercise.

After this, you may want to read more books about these women, especially those who may stand out as potential role models. Use this free 30-day trial of Audible to download audiobooks that you can listen to. I highly recommend this and this book to get started (click those links to read my reviews of the books).

We’ll be back for Week 2, where the topic of discussion will be “What is a ‘good’ risk?”

*Sojourner Truth’s parents were slaves taken directly from Ghana and Guinea.

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