The "big W," for me, is not just the Win, but Women winning, and after this week's performance at the historic US Women's Open, Michelle Wie. There seems to be a groundswell of empowerment opportunities and platforms to help women excel in every aspect of life. Women are front and center and yes, perhaps louder than a lion. You can hear them roar from sports to music, fashion, business and everything in-between. This was perhaps highlighted most prevalently this weekend when for the first time, the USGA held back-to-back US Open's for the men and women. Pinehurst played a very gracious host to this historic event. Women played the same course, Pinehurst No. 2, just a few days after the men. What was most remarkable is to see how far women have come and to appreciate those that have come before us to pave the way and make our journey a bit smoother. The evolution and examples are abundant from Catherine Lacoste, the only amateur to win the U.S. Women's Open in 1967, to Stephanie Meadow, a young woman from Northern Ireland making her first appearance as a professional on golf's biggest platform, the US Women's Open, and placing third to the long-awaited win my Michelle Wie.
Women have been taking chances and winning for a long while even against tougher odds and lesser opportunities. Catherine Lacoste is the daughter of French tennis player René Lacoste, the founder of the fashion brand named after him, and his wife Simone de la Chaume, winner of the 1927 British Ladies Amateur. Catherine Lacoste won the U.S. Women's Open in 1967 as a 22-year-old amateur. To date, she remains the only amateur to win the U.S. Women's Open. In 1969, Lacoste also won both the U.S. Women's Amateur and British Ladies Amateur, but she never turned professional. Catherine won the British Ladies Amateur 42 years after her mother and they are the only mother-daughter pair to do so. Her grandfather built the Chantaco Golf club in St Jean de Luz, France, that is still owned and run by the Lacoste family, most notably her daughter Veronique, who is the current president of the club.
Michelle Wei came on the scene at the very young age of 16 in 2005 and pushed the envelope by playing alongside the men. We all knew she was destined for greatness; it just took the time and maturity for her to fulfill what everyone else knew was inevitable, and she proved that with her US Open win.
Not only in sports but in business and every other area there is a groundswell of women moving and shaking. As if they all received a combined memo from Madeleine Albright and Katy Perry. Madeleine Albright famous quote; "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women," and Katy Perry's lyrics to the song "Roar,"
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire/ 'Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar. Louder, louder than a lion / 'Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar. Now I'm floating like a butterfly / Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes / I went from zero, to my own hero. You held me down, but I got up (HEY!) / Already brushing off the dust. You hear my voice, you hear that sound / Like thunder gonna shake the ground.
There are events constantly going on and organizations that have blossomed beyond big cosmopolitan cities to become nationwide organizations all with the goal of empowering and enhancing woman's lives and participation in every aspect of life. I am fortunate to be in NYC, where many of these events and organizations take root and expand. Within the past 60 days there have been events that more than amplify what both Madeleine Albright and Katy Perry have expressed.
WISE, Women in Sports and Events, with the mission to create and support programs that enhance the success and growth of women in the business of sports and events held their first ever symposium, WISE/R. This was in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the organization that is headquartered in New York City and has chapters in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, NYC Metro, Pittsburgh, San Francisco/Bay Area, Syracuse University (WISE on Campus) and Washington, D.C. Four amazing women of distinction were honored for their outstanding work; Val Ackerman- Commissioner Big East Conference; Christine Driessen- EVP and CFO of ESPN; Barbara Paddock- SVP JP Morgan Chase and Judy Sweet- Co-founder and Board of Directors President Alliance of Woman Coaches.
The recent Thrive event hosted by Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski was packed with discussions and panels from thought leaders spanning a variety of fields. Though largely geared towards women, there were still a number of men that participated as guest speakers and audience members adding tremendous value. The event proved to go far beyond the typical lecturing and networking, tapping into insights, tips and amazing inspirational stories and examples for living a Third Metric life of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.
The Executive Woman's Golf Association, EWGA, is another resource that enables women to network with other women using golf as the platform. Enabling beginners to advanced players to have a platform to engage in the sport from a social aspect to league play the EWAGA has helped countless women find a comfort zone in a sport that has been predominately male, important in business and networking and a game one can continue to play for a lifetime.
Ellevate Network, formerly 85 Broads, has undergone growth and transformation since Sallie Krawcheck took the helm in May, 2013. 85 Broads is a reference to the address of the former headquarters of Goldman Sachs on Broad Street in Manhattan where founder Janet Hanson, a former executive of Goldman Sachs, started the organization. In a symbolic almost baton passing business arrangement, Sallie L. Krawcheck, a former executive of Bank of America and Citigroup, purchased 85 Broads, now renamed Ellevate, with 34,000 members in 130 countries. The mission of Ellevate is the belief that networking and lifelong learning are keys to success. Believing women are still a largely untapped resource in the business world and in society at large -- and that it's time to change that. Ellevate is a global professional women's network dedicated to these beliefs and to the economic engagement of women worldwide.
It seems there is no better time to be a woman. There is a sense of untapped potential and platforms to assist any women to do whatever she dreams. As women of all ages take risks and live their dreams and passions with the roar of a lion it is always important to tip our hats to the remarkable women that came before, paved the way and continue to be a resource and encouragement for growth. At a time when reality TV is prevalent and come to mean scripted fantasy, the real reality and female role models can be seen in the achievements of these women who are quick to tell you while they learned to create balance and breathe they never took their foot of the petal or their eye off the road.