Honoring Women Mentors

They say you become the average of the five people you hang out with the most. While that may be true, I have noticed that a small handful of people have had an outsized influence on my growth and development as a leader – as a person – no matter how much time I have spent with them.  I want to tell you about some of the women mentors I’ve had in my life and how they have influenced me, and invite you to reflect and do the same. At the end of this blog, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a public art project as a way of honoring your women mentors. We’ll share this on our facebook page after you’ve had a chance to add in yours. 


Mimi Finch

CPT Finch was my TAC officer for my company during my “cow” (junior) and “firstie” (senior) years at West Point. As I was coming to understand my own sexual orientation, in the homophobic environment of the United States Military Academy, Mimi Finch would speak openly about how stupid it was to fire gay people. She was the only person at West Point that I ever heard speak about treating gay people right. We have stayed in touch over the years. Recently I saw on my facebook feed that this retired Lieutenant Colonel knelt Colin-Kaepernick-style when her instructor – inexplicably, might I add, – had her Zumba class recite the pledge of allegiance. Mimi never spoke to me about how to be fearless, she just does it. FEARLESS.

Judy Bramlett 

I met Judy the first day of my firstie (senior) year at West Point. Her husband was the newly instated Commandant of Cadets. She jokingly referred to herself as the “Comtessa.” For those of you who are civilians, the Commandant is #2 in command of the entire post. A friend and I were walking past the Comm’s house on our way back from taking the cadet physical fitness test when Judy beckoned from her porch with a friendly, “Yoohoo, cadets….” We were in our gym clothes and we knew we should not be in the Comm’s house dressed like that, but we also knew that we should be polite to the Comm’s wife, so we obliged. Over a glass of lemonade, Judy initiated a friendship that would last until the day she died, way too early back in 2008. Everything you need to know about Judy – and what I learned from her – is captured in her invitation to lemonade. Every inch of her refrigerator was covered with photographs of friends near and far. On one visit many years later, she was excited to show me that I had “made the fridge!” And that was the day she pulled me aside and said, “I’ll never accomplish anything like David (her husband who was a four star general at the time). But here’s what I do contribute: presence. I am present with people. And that is more than enough.” Judy didn’t teach me how to be present. She just did it. I miss my friend. PRESENCE.

Jan Hicks

I had received so many messages at West Point that leadership required “military bearing” and hiding your true self. Enter LTC Jan Hicks. Jan was my Battalion Commander when I was a Lieutenant stationed at Helemano Military Reservation – part of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Jan defied everything I had been (mis)led to believe about what it takes to be a successful leader. Jan was authentic to the core. If Jan was angry, she’d let you know. If she was sad, she’d let you know that, too. And if she thought something was funny, she would howl with laughter. Jan was this larger-than-life figure in my young adulthood who had an extraordinarily successful career by being true to herself. She went on to attain the rank of Major General. Jan never sat me down for a conversation about authenticity. It’s just who she was – and who she is to this day. AUTHENTICITY

Rosanne Haggerty

I was minding my own business as a stock broker when my college professor, Jay Parker, called me. “Cease work on whatever it is you’re doing and call Rosanne Haggerty right away,” he said. So I did just that. I ended up working for Rosanne from 2003 – 2014. Rosanne is a relentless entrepreneur, single-minded in her determination to disrupt the systems that create homelessness. She and her team are finalists right now for the MacArthur $100 Million & Change award. If they win, they will get $100M to make their big dent in the Universe. What strikes me the most about Rosanne, though, is that there wasn’t anybody she wouldn’t meet for coffee. I’ll be honest – I thought some of those coffee meetings were a waste of her time. But years later, when faced with a new challenge, she’d say, “Remember so and so – I met him for coffee back in Camden? I think he’d be great for this project.” I was always like, “Who is so and so? And how on earth do you remember him and what he’d be great at doing?” But Rosanne never forgets anybody’s genius. She’s just waiting for the opening to appear and she makes the match. She’s never spoken about this with me – I just observed it over the years and benefited tremendously from her willingness to support me in finding my way into my genius, too. Rosanne is the embodiment of endless possibilities. POSSIBILITIES

Sue Fulton

Sue was in the first class of women to graduate from West Point – the famous class of 1980 – so you already know she has ovaries of steel. I was in the 11th year to graduate, so our paths never would have crossed had she not continued to remain involved in the community. Sue was one of the first people that I came out to as I was reckoning with my sexual orientation and we have remained friends for over 30 years. Along with a handful of other amazing people, Sue and I co-founded Knights Out, a nonprofit organization that advocated for the end of the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the military. In the early days of getting this organization up and running, we learned that West Point was holding a diversity conference. We looked at each other, said, “We’re diverse!” took the day off from work and crashed the conference. We thought FOR SURE that as out LGBT people we would be skunks at the party, but we were greeted with enthusiastic, open arms by many people all the way up to the highest ranking General Officers in attendance. Never in 100 years would I have done this alone. Sue has gone on to work on transdender rights and was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Board of Visitors of West Point. Sue didn’t sit me down and talk to me about showing up for one another, she lives it through her example. SOLIDARITY

This list is woefully incomplete. There are so many more women who deserve to be mentioned here – my mom (PRESENCE), my Aunt Sharon Kanis (COMMUNITY), Kathlyn Hendricks (LOVE- WITH-A-SPINE), Jane Holl Lute (HUMILITY), Marie Connor (JOY), and many more – not to mention the many fabulous men who have influenced my life for the better, too. I’d love to continue – and I want to turn my attention back to you, my reader friend. 

I’m hoping these stories get your gears going about the women who have mentored you and how they did it. Did you ask them to mentor you? I never asked these fabulous women to mentor me, I just kind of tagged along and they seemed to tolerate it. I’ve stayed in touch with them over several decades, sometimes going hundreds of miles out of my way to stop in for a visit whenever our paths might cross. Likewise – you might be considered a mentor to someone and not even know it. Our actions speak louder than words. And they’re watching! 

Reminder Of Open House And Three Feet Of Influence

Hi there –

I’d like to interrupt another week of shitty and heart breaking news to remind you that next week we’re launching our new course called Three Feet of Influence. This is for leaders who are ready and willing to work through your biggest fears and challenges. In four weeks. We’re going to get ‘er done. Together.

We’re going up our game because the world needs us right now.

And it’s really ok for you to do something just for you.

Now is the time to enroll because we only meet four times and then it’s over. The first live coaching session is September 2nd at 10:30 AM Pacific Time. Then the next three Wednesdays, same time, same place (zoom). You’ll get access to the self-paced course materials immediately upon enrolling so you can get started right away.

If this has been calling to you, you know what to do.

Let’s do this!

p.s. Congratulations to Deborah O’Nyons and Rezwan Razani who received the Barbara and Bill Packard Scholarship. And huge thank you to Barbara & Bill for your generosity in enabling them to attend!

Announcing Three Feet Of Influence Scholarship

Barbara and Bill Packard with Full Circle Charities are generously offering two full scholarships  for our Three Feet of Influence course which starts on September 2nd. 

While their preference is for this scholarship to create an opportunity for someone in a volunteer role or someone working for a small non-profit, we encourage everyone who wants to take this course but can’t afford it right now to apply here.

The deadline to apply is Monday August 24th.

We will announce the winners next Friday on August 28th.

To learn more about our new course, Three Feet of Influence, come on over to our Teachable site.

Thank you, Barbara and Bill!

Announcing Open House

I have to tell you about a phone call I had yesterday.

I was speaking with Jane Holl Lute. Jane taught me international relations 30 years ago when I was a cadet at West Point. She was a fireball of a professor known for throwing chalk at students who weren’t paying attention. She went on to serve as #2 at the United Nations, leading peacekeeping efforts there. Jane brings the courage of a warrior to the delicate and complex work of international peacemaking. I admire the heck out of this woman and when I see her name splash across my phone, you better believe I pick up.

In the course of our conversation yesterday, Jane mentioned some of the leaders she was working with on a project. Recognizing all the names, I nodded and said, “yeah…the adults in the room…” to signal that I was paying attention (aka avoiding chalk being thrown at me) and had a sense of who she was talking about.

She stopped our conversation short and said, “let’s talk about this ‘adults in the room’ thing. I’ve heard some people proudly claim that other people have to earn their respect. You know what? No one needs to earn my respect. You get my respect. You have to earn my admiration – that’s another thing entirely.  But

You don’t have to earn my respect, you just get it. 

Touché, Jane Holl Lute. Touché.

Here we are 30 years later and Jane is still my teacher. I instantly got the lesson and decided I’m not going to make snarky comments about “the adults in the room” or “any functioning adult” anymore. I’m with Jane: you don’t have to earn my respect, either. You just get it.

Later in the conversation Jane said, “The main difference between World War I and World War II was generosity. Winners must be generous.”

I wanted to pass these two pearls of wisdom from a lifelong peacemaker along in case it might be useful to you in the weeks and months ahead.

It is so important to have people in your life who will stop you mid-sentence to remind you of your best self and invite you into a more expansive vision of what’s possible. Just like Jane Holl Lute did for me yesterday.

That is exactly what we’re going to be doing with folks in our Coaching Community launching this October.

I want to invite you to a sneak-peak Open House on September 15th at 10:30 PT. 

Joe McCannon and Susan X. Jane and I will give you a taste of what this whole coaching community is gonna be. Or you can get a basic sense here.

I hope to see many of you there.


p.s. if that RSVP link didn’t work for you, try this link here.

Announcing Three Feet Of Influence

Friends – 

We’ve been working behind the scenes for months to bring our life-changing seminars online and I’m delighted to share that we’ve done it!

Today we are launching a new course called “Three Feet of Influence.”

Here’s how it works: you bring anything – anything – that’s holding you back as a social change leader – time scarcity, money worries, people problems, difficult decisions – you name it – anything – and over four weeks we will help you sort that out and get back to making your big dent in the universe.

To celebrate the occasion, we also want to give you this free course:

“How Will You Use Your Three Feet of Influence?”

Think of the free course as an appetizer sampler to get your gears turning about how using your full Three Feet of Influence might support you in advancing your purpose. A friend of mine took the free course last week and said she was completely captivated for the entire 18 minutes. It’s short and sweet and gets right to the point.

We hope you will enjoy this free gift and we hope to see many of you in the full course.

Happy Thursday my friends!


Friends –

I hope this finds you healthy and well.

Selena and I are in the midst of pivoting what we do to be able to help you social change leaders make your big dent in the universe since it’s probably going to be quite some time before we can get together in person again.

Based on what we hear from you, we will be re-configuring some of our offerings to be more affordable, more accessible and most importantly more relevant for exactly what you need to survive and thrive this unique moment in our history.

Thank you to everyone who has completed our survey that just went out.  

With tremendous love and affection,

Becky & Selena

Updates from our Alumni:

  • Nicole Taylor, author and wellness teacher, as well as one of the faculty member for our fellowship program, has created a podcast exploring how your spiritual practice is helping you meet this present moment. It’s called A Joyful Pause Podcast, named after her book with the same title. If you are yearning for making spiritual meaning of what is happening in the world right now, check this out.
  • Eunice Lin Nichols wants you to know about two Encore.org fellowship opportunities, one of which the deadline is in two days! Yikes! Get it soon!
  • The Gen2Gen Innovation Fellowship is the new initiative I’ve been working on for the last 6 months. We’re accepting applications now through July 15. I would love to have a truly multigenerational, multicultural cohort of fellows dedicated to bridging generational divides in our pilot year! Plus, each fellow gets $10k to support their work and a chance to win another $5k at a virtual pitch event in front of an audience of expert judges. (Any chance I could twist your arm to be part of our judging audience next spring—it’ll be an hour or two max of your time!)
  • The Encore Public Voices Fellowship is another fellowship in partnership with the OpEd Project that we’re offering at the same time, — if you’re thinking about doing more writing, in particular about the responsibility we have to make the world a better place for our kids, YOU might want to think about applying for that fellowship yourself. 🙂
  • Finally, if now is finally the time to get around to making your elevator pitch video, we want tell you about Tony Wise Founder of 307 Films. He did all the videos we used for the 100,000 Homes Campaign and he also created all the videos we use for The Billions Institute. He is lovely to work with and he’s really good at what he does. For a sample of what he can do, check out this short video he produced about Eunice Lin Nichols’ experience with our fellowship.