To the women who raised me

March 3, 2021 | 4 minute read
Lisa Joy Rosner
Senior Vice President, Brand & Content Marketing
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A handful of decades ago, it was considered a radical thought if you actually believed women could be entrepreneurs or C-suite executives, let alone leaders of entire countries. And you’d most certainly be laughed out of most boardrooms if you dared to speak that thought. In fact, limiting a girl’s imagination of her own potential and suppressing what women could accomplish was very much the way of the world when I was growing up.

But I am lucky. I wouldn’t be where I am now, well into a career helping companies find their voices in the global marketplace and raising four incredible children if it weren’t for many of the outstanding women in my life. And that includes women I didn’t know personally.

I grew up in a family of strong women. Some of them held important jobs, or did important work in the community, and all while raising a family. Their example taught this little girl growing up in the 1970’s in Passaic, NJ that she could have a meaningful, professional life outside the home. I didn’t realize it then, but we were a handful of radicals! I owe so much of my success to the love, support, and example of all those remarkable ladies.

There was also a female role model who wasn’t part of my immediate family, and her example led me to understand that women could aspire to even greater things – that the world is literally our stage. For me, but especially for little girls who don’t necessarily have strong female role models in their families, having public female heroes to emulate makes all the difference in the world.

For me, that woman was former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. Her incredible story inspired me, not only because she was the female leader of a country, which in 1973 was fighting for its very right to exist, but because I could relate to her in many ways: we are both Jewish, have strong family values, and we share humble beginnings. I did a hero project about Golda in the third grade, and learned more about her journey from Russia, to working in her parents’ grocery store in Milwaukee, WI, all the way to the Knesset in Jerusalem.

Thanks to Prime Minister Meir’s example, I absolutely knew that women could rise to the greatest heights and assume the world’s most awesome responsibilities.

And thanks to the women in my family, I understood the nuts and bolts of how I could achieve that kind of success. I saw how hard they had to work, how they had to be diligent and detail-oriented, and how they had to be not “just as good as,” but better than men they were competing against for opportunities. They were true groundbreakers in their own ways, and they showed me how to make my path in a world that wasn’t always designed for women to succeed.

Another woman who inspired me and gave me an incredible example to follow was my cousin Sharon Begley, who tragically passed away recently. Around the same time Golda was stepping off the world stage, Sharon became one of the first women to write for Newsweek, at a time when women weren’t often being hired to write about “complicated” subjects like science. She tackled the topic with award-winning skill and wrote about complex scientific topics in ways that were digestible to lay readers. Seeing the name Sharon Begley in print and reading her masterfully written articles, made an important and inspiring impression on me.

In Sharon’s era, women not only had to be better than their male counterparts to be considered for a promotion, they often had to be better than the other women vying for the same position. In those years, there was usually only one executive position per company available to the “weaker sex.” The blatant sexism was real, cut-throat, and not at all good for business. What kind of success can you have if you artificially limit the talent available to your organization?

As we come to International Women’s Day and I reflect on my own experiences, I felt compelled to share how important examples can come from anywhere – and that you can never have too many role models and they are all around us. It’s as important for a little girl to look up at Vice President Kamala Harris as it is for her to look up to her own grandmother, mother, aunts, cousins, and friends. The role models in our daily lives show us how to succeed, and the public role models we look up to show us how high we can go.

Today, the world is different. Of the eight executives reporting to me, six are women. No one has to clamber over anyone else’s shoulder pads to get ahead on my team.

I am also raising four very precious and thoughtful children, including three young women and a very sweet young man, thanks to a husband who completely supports my career. My children can’t imagine a world where women can’t dream big and achieve bigger. They’re a handful (of treasure) every day! In fact, because my husband is a stay-at-home dad, when they started school and met other kids, it shocked them to learn that there are actually men out there in the workforce.

Now that’s radical thinking!

Lisa Joy Rosner

Senior Vice President, Brand & Content Marketing

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