Hello SOTGC community,
What does it feel like to write your personal story and read it to a roomful of friends, colleagues, and complete strangers? For me, the night I celebrated the launch of Empower: Women’s Stories of Breakthrough, Discovery and Triumph, I felt completely NAKED. That feeling surprised me, quite frankly. After all, I had given presentations to rooms full of people for more than 20 years. A few years ago I even testified before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee which was broadcast over and over on C-SPAN.
But that night, I truly feared speaking in public. My story was so personal that even though it was only one chapter of 25 in a book written by other female co-authors, I had not even allowed my own husband to read it. I was scared. Perhaps he would think I was too critical of my mother. Maybe he would think it was boastful to talk about my financial success. What if he thought it was bad prose and boring?
Two days before the book was published, I asked my husband to read my chapter, “An Allowance to Last a Lifetime.” But before he read it, I gave myself a pep talk. I realized that this story was MY story. This was ME. If my husband didn’t know this about me, it was about time that he did.
After he read it, he gazed at me from his chair and gave me a warm, loving smile. That gave me the confidence to share the story with my mother’s closest relatives and friends. (She passed away five years ago.) My mother’s best friend wrote me a long email about how she remembered those times from 30 years ago and said I pegged it. My mother’s closest cousin called me on the phone and cried. They remember how difficult that time in my mother’s life was for her and for me. My mother’s favorite uncle told me that I was doing such a great service by using my experience to educate other women on how they can avoid falling into my mother’s trap of financial dependence.
During the book launch party, I read passages from my chapter. At one point I cried. I cried in front of more than 40 people and the video camera that recorded my speech. As I was wiping my tears away, I looked at the faces in the audience and they GOT me. They saw the REAL me.
I explained why I donate half of my book profits to Women’s Empowerment International, which provides micro- loans to poor women so they can start businesses and become financially self-sufficient. I explained why I became an investment advisor and founded The Options Lady. But they already knew why. After hearing my story, what other career could possibly be more in line with my authentic self?
Most of the women who attended that night bought books for themselves or to share with special girls and women in their lives. Several of the women are now my clients. They listened to my story about how diligently I worked over 15 years to grow a $1,600 inheritance into a million dollar portfolio. They learned my philosophy of saving, investing, prioritizing, and sticking with it. They know that I will treat their nest egg as well as I have treated mine. They know I will look out for them because I don’t want to see another woman end up like my mother…eternally dependent on a man for money.
I began the night feeling cold and naked, and ended the night feeling warm, honorable, and proud.