Entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators — both men and women — have been making history for centuries. It was just 31 years ago that President Jimmy Carter issued the first-ever Presidential Proclamation in recognition of Women’s History to recognize, honor, and celebrate the achievements of American women. In that Proclamation he stated, “Too often the women [in our history] were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
So three decades on, with the benefits of that recognition and so many strides made for women, how do we continue to make history? While we rarely set out to “make history” with our ideas, we peruse those ideas out of the desire to make valuable change. And like everything else you want to succeed at, making change requires commitment, focus, and discipline, and begins with pure imagination.
For example, I didn’t start out thinking Take Our Daughters to Work Day would make history. The idea came to me while attending a retirement dinner for my father. I sat there looking around at all the people he had worked with over the course of his career, and thought about how meeting all those people and watching them build careers doing work that they love had influenced the choices in my own life. Those choices included going to college. In fact, my sister Claire and I were the first women in our family to graduate college. It occurred to me that every girl could benefit and grow through the same kinds of experiences and that a change was needed in how we thought about preparing young women for the future.
In 1995, when Arianna Huffington announced the launch of The Huffington Post, then a bold new concept in news delivery, many in the media world thought her idea was crazy. But she stuck with her vision and as the awards came and her company’s reputation grew, so did its value. Last month, AOL bought the Huffington Post, instantly creating one of the biggest media companies in the world. The price: $315 million. In my lifetime, I don’t know of any other singular woman selling a company for more than $300 million.
So, what is your vision? If you could be known for something, what would it be? Here are my ideas on building a path to making your own history:
- Know your own history — Are you the first in your family to own a business or attend college? Whatever it is, you are paving new ground and it’s so important to record all of these firsts for our children. Do some research on websites like Ancestry.com to see what firsts you might claim in your family history.
- Discover the history makers in your community — Are there women in your field that were firsts in that industry? In your community, did your town elect its first woman mayor or chamber of commerce member in your lifetime? Reach out to these leaders and learn from their path to history and it might inspire your own.
- Look for opportunities to make history — Chances are, opportunities are within your reach to make history. Could introducing an innovation in your company change the way business is done in your field? That’s what happened to Dr. Nancy Tranchel, an entrepreneur in Vienna, Viriginia, and a member of our Make Mine a Million $ Business community. She is one of the only women performing refractive surgeries in the country and the first woman in the world to have the femtosecond laser in her center. Her business — her history!
In addition, by pitching your business at our upcoming Make Mine a Million event in Denver on April 4, you — or your wife, sister, or daughter — can become part of history as we gather the largest group of women ever to pitch their businesses at a single event. Learn more at www.makemineamillion.org/events or follow us on Twitter @M3Award.
March is Women’s History Month. Take some time to remember those who have worked so hard to make it possible for women in business to succeed today, and how you can be a party to making women’s history in the future!