International Women’s Day is an annual event that celebrates the remarkable achievements of women.
Held every March 8, the annual event often comes and goes without much fanfare. This year, however, it was different. Everyone from corporate brands, small businesses and nonprofits to celebrities and media personalities recognized Women’s Day. They took to social media and the airwaves to honor the strong women who have shaped their lives, businesses and communities.
I had the pleasure of participating in an inspiring panel discussion at Gulf Coast Village, joining three distinguished women: Gloria Tate, Cheryl Leftwich and Margaret Djerf. It turned out to be an enlightening conversation for panelists as well as two dozen in-person attendees and a livestreamed audience.
After each question, it became clear that our responses kept gravitating toward three areas: faith, family and friends. That’s what got us to this point in our lives, and you need all three to be successful.
WATCH: Women’s Day panel discussion
Below are some of the life lessons shared during the Women’s Day discussion:
Draw inspirations from what’s around you
Moderator Andrea Sieradzki asked who and what are our inspirations. For me, my parents are my greatest source of inspiration. My father, now 90, is the most generous individual you’ll ever meet. My 80-year-old mother has an extremely high work ethic. Together, they modeled faith in Christ, generosity and the value of hard work, commitment and loyalty. They provided an unbelievable legacy to me, my children and my grandchildren.
Another source of inspiration is the sky. As a creative professional, the sky is an ultimate representation of creativity by the ultimate creator, God. Every day, there is a new piece of artwork for us to admire, reminding us that it’s a new day filled with promise.
Accept guidance from mentors
No one has all the answers. However, surrounding yourself with smart, caring people can help find the answers. Personally, my husband, Chris, has been a mentor and coach who is my biggest fan and cheerleader. Professionally, I credit PR pro Amy Gravina for taking me under her wing and offering advice as I launched Priority Marketing. Another mentor is former business executive Steve Shimp, a client who gave me perspective on what it takes to run a successful company.
Help and guidance are always available… if you ask.
Live one day at a time
When I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2001, doctors gave me a 30% chance of survival. They outlined a rigorous 15-month treatment plan that certainly tested my fortitude. Not knowing what the future would hold, I couldn’t let my mind skip forward a week, month or year. Instead, I put all of my energy, focus and determination into that day, and only that day.
Thanks to my faith in God, lots of prayer and amazing physicians, I recently celebrated the 20-year anniversary of that diagnosis with a clean bill of health!
Be willing to help others
Despite our differences, we’re all part of one larger community. For us to be successful, we need others around us to be successful.
Many years ago, I dreamed of giving away money to help others. Priority Marketing recently surpassed $3 million in donations of in-kind and discounted professional services to nonprofits in Southwest Florida. Generosity with time is just as important as generosity with money. That means helping employees grow professionally and helping businesses or organizations achieve their goals.
Identify and overcome challenges
There are no problems, just challenges. The solution might not appear immediately, but eventually, you’ll find the answer. That’s part of being an optimist.
No matter the challenge, creative thinking and teamwork will lead to a solution.
Don’t be afraid to change direction
In my 20s, I worked night and day to be successful and fit the description of a “career woman.” To become a working mother, though, I stepped away from the corporate world and reset my priorities from work, work, work to family, faith and work. Today, the majority of Priority Marketing’s 40-plus employees are women. Some are new moms, some are experienced mothers and others may become a mom someday. I want to make sure all working parents, females and males, have a strong, supportive environment to succeed at being both amazing parents and dedicated professionals.
My hope is that young women just starting their careers today will see me, Gloria, Cheryl and Margaret as role models. There are no limits on what women can accomplish.
– By Teri Hansen