Women’s History Month: a rousing panel of powerful women and a couple of takeaways

Two Rivers Partners, Barbara Spitzer

This article is dedicated to Dani Zeller, the fabulous Accenture Senior Analyst who made this year’s International Women’s Day celebration at Accenture’s 1MW office a moving, meaningful, and enriching experience. She reminded me of my younger self – tenacious, bold, and unafraid. 

As Women’s History Month winds down, let me offer a little inspiration from Maya Angelou. “If one is lucky,” Angelou once said, “a solitary fantasy can transform one million realities.”

Indeed. While luck is never a sustainable strategy, luck coupled with transformative vision will make the ordinary quite extraordinary. For example, Justices Sotomayer, Kagan, Barrett, and Brown-Jackson of the United States Supreme Court probably didn’t envision seats on the high court when they started their law studies. Still, they all expected a meaningful life, a life of purpose. So it is with all the exceptional women in our circles. Extraordinary things happen when passionate people create a vision and nourish it with blood, sweat, and tears.  

I recently led an Accenture International Women’s Day panel discussion on women’s achievements and influence on our shared history. I was joined by  Kristen PowersLiz McGee, and Tracey Weber. As I listened to this fantastic group of women share their stories, I discerned some common threads among all the vignettes offered. For starters, and unsurprisingly, I was reminded that women’s journeys are marked by challenges that male colleagues do not encounter, challenges that draw upon resilience and strength of character. During the discussion, I heard depictions of the strategies women deploy to actualize mental and physical health. I was also moved by conversations highlighting the power of mentorships and the influence of strong role models. What linked all these threads together was a compelling vision nourished by women intent on “transforming one million realities.”

The Broad Strokes

Our panel talked about chapters – as in life’s chapters. For example, one panelist described starting her working life as an accountant before quickly becoming disillusioned by the monotony of the work. “Hey, when do the accountants get to go onstage?” Um, April 15th? This hilarious panelist then described her move to marketing, where she thrives. The takeaway? Pivoting is one thing we women do best, and it’s OK. As for me, I have made four pivots in four years in my most recent chapter (that’s a story for another day).

A bit of our conversation focused on self-care in the post-Covid-era and how it’s inundated with positives and challenges. Sometimes the positives and challenges are wrapped into one. As some of our panelists noted, the pandemic ushered in new opportunities to work from home while making personal connections with coworkers more of a challenge. Speaking of connection, we delved into the topic of networking. Even for the shy, introverted types, networking is vital, the throughline of all chapters of one’s career. So, don’t tell yourself you are not good at it. Go for it. Give others your time, and others will give you theirs.

Some great advice about investing in yourself arose from the conversation. Focus on strategy – your professional strategy. Invest 10% of your income in continuing education, enriching experiences, meaningful travel, and wellness ventures if possible. You’ll never regret investing in yourself.


Let me offer more thought on personal investment related to self-care. First, a pet peeve: I loathe the “imposter syndrome” language that permeates many discussions on women in leadership. I recently attended a networking event hosted by 50/50 Women on Boards. Randi Braun, the effervescent author of Something Major: The Playbook for Women at Work, told us to eradicate the term from our vocabularies. She said the term implies something is wrong – nothing is wrong, and I agree. The negative self-talk, especially when we try to convince ourselves we do not belong in the position we occupy, is both personally corrosive and an affront to the movement to empower women in leadership. As many on the panel noted, it’s already a tough world for women in leadership without adding pressure from within. We must engage in proactive and kind self-care. Speak well of yourself. Trust your ability.

Indeed, several panel participants discussed the importance of practicing self-compassion and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. In addition to this life-giving headwork, moving the body, doubling down on good nutrition, and obtaining decent rest is essential. As noted earlier, some of the most intriguing comments from panelists connected self-care with solid networks. All women need accountability partners, those willing to hold up the mirror to faces when priorities push self-care to a lower rung.

Modeling and Mentorship

Yes, deep, meaningful connection matters. Everyone on the panel understood the value of creating a community of women who lift each other, offer sound counsel and guidance, and celebrate each other’s successes. Networking is a crucial component of any successful career journey. Great networking with great mentors opens doors for personal growth and advancement. Collaboration enhances projects, troubleshoots the tough stuff, and leads to meaningful relationships. In a career journey inundated with twists, turns, and lateral moves, insights from those who’ve “been there and done that” make the tough professional seasons more manageable. Those participating in the panel discussion recognized that they already served as mentors in their contexts, leading by example. My best days are those when my calendar is filled with women and men, earlier in their careers than me, who want to hear my story.

Final Thoughts

Angelou is right, “a solitary fantasy can transform one million realities.” The beauty of “vision” is fantasy seeking what’s genuine, noble, and authentic. As Women’s History Month 2023 concludes, I thank a panel of gifted women who succeed in bringing vision – glorious fantasy – into the world of reality. They overcome challenges. They take good care of the mind, body, and soul. They call upon us all to stay connected as women, partners, parents, and business leaders. They invite us to serve as models to those just beginning their journey in the leadership space. They pivot when it’s time to pivot.

Take good care, sisters. Your gifts inspire us. Your example lifts us.

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