A big thank you to Dr. Susan Blaustein of Womenstrong International for sharing her experiences and wisdom with us last week. We can’t imagine a better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than with an inspiring leader who has dedicated her life to improving the lives of women and girls throughout the world, including right home here in DC. And many thanks to StreetSense for partnering on this Chat and hosting us!  Check out our key takeaways below.

 

“Stories are everywhere you look, if you just open your eyes.” 
Susan’s career has varied from composing music, to reporting, and to improving the lives of women and children. While the above quote from Susan was in reference to her reporting, it’s clear that being open to where life took her – and not closing out opportunities as she found them – has been the hallmark to Susan’s professional and personal successes.

Maintain your anchor values
While Susan has been open and flexible throughout her life, she’s always remained grounded by her anchor values. Anchor values are part of what’s most important to you and can be added as you go through life. Susan stressed the importance of family – and it is clear the relationship with her daughter is incredible – as one anchor value that has kept her grounded. Define your anchor values, and let them guide you in tough decisions.

88 and 13 children’s books
From many of our speakers, we’ve heard don’t take no for an answer. Susan provided a twist on this, citing an anecdote involving her mother. Her mother has always been an artist and wanted to use her skills to illustrate children’s books. In an interview, her mother was asked if she does color separation. Susan’s mother had never heard of color separation – though said she could do it. Now, she’s 88 and has illustrated 13 children’s books.

“Empathy is the beginning, middle, and end”
Susan highlighted, especially in these times, the importance of empathy. To mobilize for yourself (or others), it’s key to understand what people’s true needs are through exercising empathy and then building from there. Once you understand their true needs, then you can work on scaling mobilization efforts and even raising capital to help scale the right solution.