Carolyn Hoyt’s interviews of four women gurus: Marianne Williamson, Charlene Li, Renée Mauborgne and Louise Hay
Here is an extension of an article that appeared in the February/March (2010) issue of PINK magazine. Carolyn Hoyt interviews four women gurus: I have selected one Q&A for each. To read the complete article, please click here. You can also sign up for a free subscription to PINK’s e-Newsletter.
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Women are upending the whole idea of a “business guru” by transcending business as usual. These four sages deliver wisdom and wit to millions – and impact every corner of women’s lives.
By Carolyn Hoyt
Our exclusive interviews with four of the most interesting, provocative and inspirational women gurus today – Marianne Williamson, Charlene Li, Renée Mauborgne and Louise Hay – were just too good to go partly unpublished. So in addition to their conversations with us that appear in the February.March issue of PINK here are the rest of their words of wisdom.
Marianne Williamson’s legendary success includes a first book, A Return to Love, that spent 35 weeks as America’s No. 1 favorite read, and her most recent, The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife, which hit No. 2 on The New York Times best-seller list in its first week. Last fall she spoke to packed houses in Boston, Phoenix, London, Los Angeles and New York, to name just a few. With only a single employee, Williamson’s business is basically self-run and, reflecting the beliefs she preaches, pursues a spiritual path. She has been named by major publications as one of the 50 most influential baby boomers.
Hoyt: How is your own spirituality reflected in your work?
Williamson: In many ways. I have always taken my nonprofit work as seriously as my work within the profit-making sector. In 1989, I founded an organization in Los Angeles called Project Angel Food, which basically was meals on wheels for homebound people with AIDS. More recently, I am pushing an agenda of peace, with the founding of the Peace Alliance, which supports legislation to establish a United States Department of Peace. I have always wanted to play to an audience that is like me. I want to write books or give talks which, if I were in the audience or I were the reader, I would appreciate. And there have definitely been times in my life when I knew that what I wanted to talk about was not popular in the moment. For instance, in 1998, I wrote a book about healing the soul of America at a time when my primary readership, the spiritual and metaphysical community, didn’t want to hear about politics. Today, of course, that’s changed. With issues of social activism, sacred activism, a whole new conversation has emerged, where virtue is its own reward and the ultimate high is feeling, at the end of the day, like I contributed to my community or my society, whether or not it’s popular. I think that while this decision may have been, at times, to my detriment financially, it has contributed to my stature. I have a voice in society. And I have lived enough to know that, ultimately, abundance flows from your name as well as your product.
Charlene Li’s breathtaking rise as an authority on emerging technologies has garnered her a long list of accolades, including “one of the most influential people in Silicon Valley.” In October, she was keynote speaker for an event that drew more than 300 attendees, and early this year she will headline a conference that draws more than 5000. But her biggest audiences are – where else? – online. She writes several popular and influential blogs found at altimetergroup.com, charleneli.com and svmoms.com. With two young children and a new office in her home (where she has yet to purchase bookshelves), Li has a lot to say about women professionals in the 21st century.
[Note: I highly recommend her recently published book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead.]
Hoyt: What’s next for women of your generation?
Li: I see women going anywhere they want to. And I do mean want to. Because a lot of people measure success merely by position, title and salary. I think women feel comfortable enough in their own skin to put that secondary to what they want. They don’t have to define success by the measure of society. People often say to me, “How come you don’t want to be CEO of a company?” And I tell them, “I don’t want to.” I know I can do it, but I don’t enjoy it. Why does that have to be the definition of success?
I also think that women no longer have to set up a boundary between work life and home life. One of the hallmarks of my thinking is that I bring a lot of my personal life into my work. That’s a huge advantage I have over men, who may feel they have to separate the two.
Along with her co-author, W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne has been called “the No. 1 guru of the future” by L/Expansion, France ‘s leading business magazine. Their book, Blue Ocean Strategy (Harvard Business School Press, 2005), ranks as the fastest-selling title in its publisher’s history. So it comes as no surprise that Mauborgne’s speaking skills are in high demand. She gave the keynote address to an audience of 5,000 at the World Business Forum in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, an event that also included speakers Bill Clinton, Jack Welch and Malcolm Gladwell. And she is a fellow of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the annual gathering of CEOs, political leaders and thought leaders from across the world. Mauborgne is a professor at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and is also co-founder and co-director of the Blue Ocean Strategy Institute.
Hoyt: What exactly is the “blue ocean”?
Mauborgne: As new global players enter the world stage from all corners of the globe, be it China, India, Brazil or Eastern Europe, companies in most industries are finding themselves stuck in what I call a “red ocean” of bloody competition. This environment is characterized by intense competition, market-share battles, declining price points and commodization of offerings. The question is, “What will it take to thrive in this new world economy?”
My answer is to create what I call “blue oceans” of uncontested market space. Here, the aim is not to compete, but to make the competition irrelevant and create a larger economic pie. It is worth noting that historically, the focus on beating rivals fundamentally traces back to military strategy. Under military strategy, because the land on the Earth is limited and given, the only way to expand territory or market share is at the expense of another. Hence, someone’s gain can only be achieved at another’s loss. To win, you must make another lose. What the world has shown us, however, is that while the land on Earth may be limited, the ‘blue ocean’ of new market space that can be created and captured is unlimited. Just think of how many multimillion- and multibillion-dollar businesses exist today that did not exist even 30 years ago: cell phones, biotechnology, snowboards, ring tones, social networking sites, search engines … tooth whitening!”
Louise Hay’s first book, Heal Your Body, started as a 12-page pamphlet but has since been translated into 25 languages. That kind of meteoric rise is the story of her entire career – which started in counseling in the early 1970s before growing into a veritable self-help empire, anchored by her publishing company, Hay House. Hay’s charitable offshoots – the Hay Foundation and the Louise L. Hay Charitable Fund – channel millions to people living with AIDS, battered women and other “challenged individuals” in society. Her monthly column, “Dear Louise,” appears in more than 50 worldwide publications. And she’s been dubbed the “Mother of the New Age,” the “Queen of Affirmation” and, in the Australian media, “the closest thing to a living saint.”
Hoyt: What are we forgetting as we focus more than ever on advancement?
Hay: Ourselves. How to fulfill ourselves. How to make ourselves happy. We get too caught up in the moneymaking part of life. My own biggest concerns are to stay healthy and happy. I think the business will take care of itself and, when I put that thought out into the world, it happens. My company is absolutely growing and growing and growing. We do seminars, sometimes, for 7,000 people. These are people, predominantly women, who are seeking, who want to know more, who want to improve the quality of their lives, who want to find themselves.”
I like to think about legacies. In this life, we all should leave a legacy. I didn’t enter this whole world until I was in my 50s, when my first book was published. Now I’m 81 and having an absolutely wonderful time in life. Recently a rose was named after me – an apricot hybrid. It is so beautiful, and long after I’m gone this rose will be around bringing beauty to the world. I like that idea very much.
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“It’s tempting to think that decisions that are not life-and-death are therefore unimportant, and that the little compromises we make don’t matter to our bottom line or our spiritual selves. How many of us are tempted, in business, to make a less-than-ethical decision? To appropriate someone else’s idea or fudge some numbers? We have to remember that maintaining our ethical and spiritual selves is absolutely linked with achieving the degree of success we’re working toward.” Marianne Williamson
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To read the complete article, please click here. You can also sign up for a free subscription to PINK’s e-Newsletter.