I wanted to write a quick FB post thanking (some of!) the women in my life for International Women’s Day. Then it got longer and longer. And longer. And hatched into a blog post. So I’m here! (Probably a sign I should blog more :))
Shout out to the incredible, strong, smart, funny, powerful women in my life. You guys are so much more than friends (and mentors and clients and collaborators). I don’t think there’s a big enough word for what you guys do. I’m just stunned at who i get to spend time with. These are women who have more balls in the air (and in their pants?!) than I have even picked up yet, but make time and energy to support and advise me, take me under their wings, into their gangs, and to the top of the world! Competitiveness is out, collaboration is in.
And also? When I’m at women’s networking events, I’ve noticed that when a woman stands up to speak, women at my table will whisper. And the whispers go; “She’s so lovely!” “I’ve worked with her!” “She is the best” “Ooh, she’s super on-to-it!” “I must call her!” There is genuine and total admiration and respect, across ages and industries. Women are supporting each other. It is a warm and healing thing to be part of, and I’m sad at how much it surprised me at first.
The BDO Business Expo:
A day breathing the same air as some of NZ’s most successful and influential people. Carmel Fisher (a billionaire investor in killer red lipstick), Debbie Humphrey (coming to us live from The Matrix). I love that our kids grow up in a world where many of these industry leaders and influencers are women – and that their gender is the least of the reasons that they are rocking the world!
I am blessed to be part of a school filled with strong, open, generous women. From the staff and teachers to the parents and children, I am inspired to be a better person simply from sharing time with every one of them. There are the talented teachers with passion, sensitivity, and a way of being in the world that is as sweet and magical as the children they teach. Women who light up just talking about education, who are on fire for supporting and enriching the lives of our children. On fire!
Then there are the parents, who are phenomenal people in their own lives, yet so quick to grin and let me know I’m not alone in my parenting anxieties. Women who are incredibly diverse and epically clever (artists! Engineers! Volunteers!) but who come together with shared values and love for our children. A community of women who, speak their truth and lead from the heart – and not just when things are easy.
I am so grateful to my school communtiy. I get to learn from them new ways of parenting, speaking, and being. For me and for my children. Thank you to the school’s quietly heroic little women: performing a thousand small kindnesses every day to improve the lives of the people around them. They tie aprons, make jokes, offer friendship, and make a difference to the children around them. And this is what five looks like. Generous little girls brimming with joy and confidence. Sweet and powerful in pigtails. These are our future grown-ups, and yay for that.
Public Speaking Life:
Getting to speak to a group is always a privilege, but there’s something about a room full of small people that feels particularly special. I am blown away by the kids that I have spoken to – the writers, the entrepreneurs, the brains and the hearts that will be running this planet sooner than we can imagine. The questions they ask, the work they do, the plans they have. These guys make me want to squeeze out every sparkle I have so that I can speed up their travels and shoot them to the stars.
Bring it on!
There is no one way to be a woman, and all of the women in my life prove that. Yes, you can be powerful and shy. Yes, you can be confident and a crier. Yes, you can have your weird habits, your wicked resume, your epic schedule, and your occasional meltdowns. You can be sweet, and kick-ass, and quiet, and cautious – whatever your talent, passion, or level, there is a place for you. And more than that, there are established women who will see you in all of your awesomeness, and little women who will follow your path and hack out their own. We’re all in this together, and looking around my corner of the world, it truly feels like it.
Jolene is an autistic writer, speaker, and parent.
Since her 2018 TEDx Talk going public with her diagnosis, Jolene has been inspiring corporates, communities, and global giant IBM with her fresh and exciting perspective on autism.
Ultra-enthusiastic author and TEDx speaker Jolene Stockman is tangata whaitakiwatanga (autistic). This fast-talking, big thinking Kiwi is excited to empower autistics – and the neurotypicals who love them – with her vision of the world. Jolene lives in Aotearoa, New Zealand.