I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life to meet some very charismatic and inspiring people of both sexes…but as it’s International Women’s Day I thought I’d share a couple of examples of women who have had a big impact on my life and thinking.
I’ve always been quite open and transparent in my approach to life. Fortunately, that seems to attract likeminded souls and deters other more ‘glass half empty’ types from sticking around!
I landed in New York City one very HOT Sunday afternoon last September ahead of meetings during the week. I’d met my host at an informal gathering in the summer, but had not spent significant time with her. So I was a little taken aback when she met me in my hotel at 4pm ahead of our scheduled dinner engagement to be asked whether I fancied a session of hot yoga!! Now those of you who know me well understand that I’m built for comfort not for speed and nothing would fill me with greater dread, not least as the street temperature was in the 90s. So I persuaded her that a catch up over a cold beer would be more productive – phew
We spent the next 48-hours in close company and I learned of her passion for transforming older people’s lives. Tammy started life as a nurse, moved in to specialise in elder care and has brought many Green House households to life across New York State. She is determined that daily life is decided by residents and not for the convenience of staff. And what an impact she has made. Not only did I meet truly delightful people in a small household – like 92-year old Colette who oversees an evening of very rich French cuisine on a weekly basis; but I listened to the transforming stories of the team who facilitated the running of the
household. They loved the flexibility of managing every aspect and relinquishing the strait jacket of task-based activity. And it’s Tammy that continues to deliver and drive innovation in New York for her older community…they’re building a 20-storey household community in the heart of Manhattan. Could we even contemplate that in this country?
Tammy is now a very close friend and part of my global family, just like Bill & Jude Thomas.
Let me tell you a bit about Jude. There is something completely spiritual about her that is hard to describe. The first time I met her, she opened her arms to me, enfolded me in a warm hug and it felt like I was home. The Thomas’s have welcomed me into their home and community in Ithaca and taught me a great deal about myself. Jude has worked tirelessly with Bill to bring the Eden Alternative principles to the world, to enrich older people’s lives and she lives them every day with her boys and girls.
Jude provides the ultimate safe environment where I don’t have to be a successful entrepreneur building an empire. I can be Sara. Like my wonderful extended family in Australia, I can feel completely relaxed, recharge and rethink in Jude’s company. There is no substitute for sitting on the dock atthe Lake House and watching the sun go down with a glass of wine to hand just talking. Jude exudes a level of peace and serenity that I’ve not experienced
in any other person, so it’s a joy to be in her company.
And finally, my Ma. She knows she’s the greatest woman in my life – unconditionally loving and believing in me – enough said.
I appreciate this doesn’t read like a blog calling for gender parity. What I’m trying to share is the value of real, charismatic, wise women in our lives. I’m lucky to have quite a few. Make sure you cherish the relationships you have like this.
Sara McKee, Evermore Founder & Director of Market Innovation
Follow Sara on Twitter @SaraMcKeeFRSA