What it Takes to Make History—with Dr. Jane Goodall

“I think an awful lot of what I’ve done is dependent on the amazing mother I had. I mean, she supported this crazy dream I had when I was 10 of going to Africa. When everybody else laughed at me, there was never any question that, because I was a girl, I couldn’t do these things, which is what everybody else said.”—Dr. Jane Goodall

With strength, determination, purpose and passion, iconic scientist, conservationist and humanitarian Jane Goodall followed her dreams to an unconventional career, despite gender stereotypes.

Just in time for Women’s History Month, we will hear from this remarkable pioneer who has been making history for over six decades. To lead this conversation, Dr. Goodall is joined by author and MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez, who will explore her journey—from chimpanzees to wildlife to environmentalism—and her commitment to anti-poverty and education for women and girls.

Offering important lessons on leadership and messages of hope, you will walk away inspired and ready to make history in your own way!

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One Small Word that Can Help You Advance Equity at Work

How can you speak up for equity in a way that brings other people along rather than risks an unproductive battle?

Nina Shaw, the entertainment lawyer who The New York Times has called “The Hollywood Power Behind Those Seeking a Voice,” has one simple magic word: “We.”

More broadly, she calls it “We Speak.”

“It’s where I talk less about the personal situation and more about the organization,” Shaw says. For example, she might say:

  • “I’m concerned that we’re not sending the right message.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not living up to the things that we believe in.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not running the business in the way that we want.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not getting the best from all of us, that all of us are not allowed to do our best.”

Shaw says she often couches equity in “We Speak”—and works hard to set a tone and standard that values everyone, even those she is in disagreement with.

Applying “We Speak” to Working Parent Issues

Over this past year, Shaw said fostering inclusivity around working parents was a big issue where “we speak” helped.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions during the pandemic about people whose attention is split—primarily working parents, who are trying to oversee their children’s education and trying to do their work within the workday. And, it’s impossible when it comes down to it. They can’t do two things at once. And the time that they have to give to overseeing their children’s education is very specific.

“So, there’s been a lot of discussion about how to help those people, how to cover the work that they’re not often able to do. And, there have been people, especially people who don’t have children who have, I don’t want to use the word “resentful” because that’s too strong, but a kind of lack of empathy.”

How did she use “We Speak” to break through this?

“I find myself saying, ‘What kind of people do we want to be? We all care about children. Most of us have been parents or guardians or caregivers. How would we want to be treated in this particular situation and how can we be leaders? How can we be the firm that’s different?'”

Shaw discusses this and other issues in the March episode of Women Amplified, where she also shares a woman from history who she would most like to have lunch with during this Women’s History Month.

What Woman from History Would You Have Lunch With?

“I would pick Ida B. Wells for any number of reasons,” Shaw says. But the main reason?

“She had a life that spanned the Civil War to World War I. And, she was such an outlier. How do you, as a woman born during that time who is both a wife and a mother, become such a crusader—so much so that you’re willing to endanger your own life? I mean, where do you get the courage from?”

“I would love to hear what it was that made her just say, “No more, no more lynching, and I will do everything humanly possible towards that end.”

What woman from history would you most want to meet, and why? Send your answer to Newsletter@conferencesforwomen.org. We will share highlights in next month’s newsletter.

Nina Shaw is a founding partner in Los Angeles-based entertainment law firm, Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano. She spoke at the 2021 California Conference for Women.


More from the March 2021 Newsletter

What One of the Highest-Ranking Women in the Military Learned about Leadership

It seems fitting that Michelle Howard—famous not only for being the first woman to become a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy but for facing down Somali pirates to rescue Captain Philips—has this as one of her favorite quotes:

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

So, how do you cross the sea—or, more to the point, lead in challenging times?

Here is one of the experiences Howard had early in her career that she says taught her some important things about leadership.

She was a junior officer, largely working below deck, when some female officers began complaining about a new captain they said was biased. Then one of them stepped up to her and said:

“Michelle, it’s time someone talks to the captain, and we voted that you should be the one.”

“I was stunned,” Howard recalls. “I wasn’t sure I was up to it.”

But she thought about it. “Then I realized the problem was mine. I was afraid. And then I was disappointed in myself.” She was afraid that if she spoke to the captain about her colleagues’ perception of bias, she might sink her career.

Her next thought was: “I need to get the courage up. If I can’t talk to my skipper about something hard, how will I ever get the courage to lead sailors in combat?”

So, she got an appointment, put on a clean uniform, and went to see him. She talked for 15 minutes while he listened without interruption.

Finally, he thanked her for coming to see him and added: “I don’t necessarily agree with what you said. But I’ll be the first to say, let’s get an equal opportunity team out here. Let’s assess the crew. Let’s have some training, and I promise you I’ll sit in the front row.”

It was an important experience Howard says, that taught her that leaders listen and have confidence in themselves. They also, she learned, have to self-motivate.

It’s not always easy, of course. “But some days, you’ve just got to get your warrior on and take that first step,” she says.

“And when you do, bring everybody behind you and don’t care what they look like –because the diversity of the team is what will allow you to lead through change and surprises. They’ll get you to the right place and the right ideas that will allow you to be successful, allow the team to be successful, and allow the organization to be successful.”

Michelle Howard spoke at the 2020 Massachusetts Conference for Women. This article is based on her talk.


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The Iconic Jane Goodall Shares Her Winning Strategies for Creating Change

Jane Goodall’s unique style—which has been described as “genteel but impossibly difficult”—has served her well over six decades of groundbreaking work.

From revolutionizing the world of science at the age of 26, despite having only attended a secretarial school, to continuing to teach a new generation of conservation leaders across the globe at the age of 86, Goodall is a legendary powerhouse.

So, how does she do it?

Here are highlights of what the U.N. Messenger of Peace, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and co-founder of the Roots & Shoots Program shared at the 2021 California Conference for Women.

Three Ways to Create Change

  1. Avoid confrontation. “I don’t see that there’s very much value in actually confronting people—especially if you are a tiny bit aggressive, you know ‘I’m right and you’re wrong and you’ve got to change.’ Because as soon as you start in that way, you see a wall come up. You see people slightly withdrawing. They are now thinking, I’ve got to refute this woman.”
  1. Tell stories. “I have to reach the heart not the head, and the way you do that is very sneaky. You tell stories. You try and find out a little bit about the person that you are talking to and then you find the stories that will reach their heart, that will touch them—because I truly believe that people must change from within.”
  1. Listen to people with opposing views. “My mother taught me what I think is a very wise lesson. When you meet somebody who has an opposing view, listen to them—because maybe they’ve thought of things that you haven’t. And to try and affect the change you need to understand where the other person is coming from.”

How to Stay Hopeful

Asked how she stays hopeful—and thinks others can too, Goodall had this to say:

  • “Find out what you are passionate about or concerned about and get involved in some program—something that will help you to feel ‘I am doing something to try and make a difference.’ That’s what takes us out of despair and despondency.”
  • “Once you see that you are making a difference, and you know that more and more people are waking up and making a difference, then you can have hope.”

Goodall also said she believes in an indomitable human spirit that says “we are going to tackle things and we won’t give up.” And that, she added, is what gives our lives meaning.

Tackling the Root Cause of Issues, From the Environment to Equity

Speaking about some of the pressing issues of the day—from climate change to racism to the mistreatment of animals—Goodall suggested that there is a common denominator: “It’s all based on lack of respect,” she said.

But she emphasized that there is so much that can be done, including by individuals.

“Every single one of us on the planet, we make some impact on the planet every single day,” said Goodall. So, when you shop, she suggested, ask yourself did the creation of the product:

  • Harm the environment?
  • Cause cruelty to animals?
  • Depend on inequitable wages, or child or slave labor?

“And if the answer to those things is yes, don’t buy it. And this will put consumer pressure on big businesses. But the big but here, we need everybody to make these ethical choices to make a difference.”

It’s even more important that economically privileged people make ethical choices, she said, because people living in poverty don’t have the luxury. “They can’t afford to ask those questions,” she said, “because they have to stay alive.”

Jane Goodall recently launched a new podcast: appropriately enough, called the Jane Goodall Hopecast.


More from the March 2021 Newsletter

Women Making History: with Time’s Up Co-Founder Nina Shaw

Show Notes:

It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re talking to a woman who’s been making history for decades: renowned entertainment attorney and co-founding organizer of Time’s Up, Nina Shaw.

As one of Hollywood’s most powerful dealmakers, Nina has been elevating the voices of women everywhere. This special, candid conversation explores the past, present and future of gender equality in the workplace.

Part inspiration and part actionable takeaways, learn how to break the unique barriers you face, have influence with impact, and pave the path forward for generations of women to come.

“I remember one day I walked into a conference room and there was a older gentleman I had been negotiating with [over the phone] for an extended period of time. I walked over to him and he looked at me and he said, ‘I’ll have my coffee with two sugars.’ And I called the receptionist and said, ‘Mr. So-And-So would like a coffee with two sugars.’ And then I sat down at the head of the table.”—Nina Shaw

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