Thursday, May 7, 2015

Women in Presidential Politics: Leading from the Bottom Up

Earlier this week, Carly Fiorina declared that she was running for president as a GOP candidate.

Despite the fact that she’s campaigning on the fact that she has little-to-no political experience (save her advising John McCain in 2008 and running against Barbara Boxer for senator of California in 2010), what she has done tells us a lot about her and her philosophy: (Source)

Her Initiatives

Fiorina has been at the helm of the One Woman Initiative since 2008, and the Unlocking Potential Project (also known as the UP Project) since 2011.

One Woman Initiative is focused on supporting grassroots organizations that empower women in predominately Muslim countries. Says Fiorina, “Investments in women can lift entire families out of poverty, transform communities, and foster peace and prosperity, we are particularly sensitive to the potential of women in Muslim majority countries, at this watershed moment, when family and community stability can contribute to the peace and security we all seek.” (Source)

UP Project is itself a grassroots campaign aimed at organizing, educating, and exciting conservative women in battleground states to turn out the vote. Says Fiorina, “All the data says that people are most persuaded by people they know. We are going to engage people in the communities where they live and work, train them where they are, and measure the results so we know what's working... And that's what works. And it particularly works with women. They are persuaded by other women they know.” (Source)

The key word here? “Grassroots.”

How She Sees Her Career Story

Fiorina speaks often about her rise to CEO of HP as having started with a mentor seeing that she was capable of being more than a secretary. Having taken a meandering path to get her even to that first job as secretary – that involved obtaining a degree in medieval studies from Stanford, teaching English in Italy, and going to and then leaving law school – she highlights that “The truth is that most Americans get their start this way: in little businesses put together by entrepreneurs.” (Source)

"You can learn from every interaction. You can learn from absolutely everybody," she has said. (Source)


Here are our three initial takeaways:

  1. Individual accountability is important to our individual lives as well as the greater picture around us. Each person is responsible for their own future, as well as the future they want to see in the world around them. You can't underestimate the power of individuals to make a change for themselves and their communities around them. Learning can happen anywhere, as long as we're open to it, and how we can apply it.
  2. Mentors matter. As necessary as it is to hold ourselves individually accountable, mentors who can not only recognize, but nurture, potential are equally if not more important.
  3. Telling our stories is important. They matter to the people whose story it is, to the people who need to hear that that story is possible in their own lives, and to the people who can help other people achieve it but need the right push to get out there and do it. 
Are you similarly inspired?


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