Michele Norris, host of NPR’s All Things Considered, addressed over 1,500 motivated leaders and supporters of the YWCA of the Hartford Region today at the Connecticut Convention Center. As the keynote speaker for the YWCA’s 15th annual In the Company of Women luncheon, Ms. Norris advised the people in the room to take their vitamin C.
Take your Vitamin C
C = Cooperation. Work with others. You can’t do it alone. Ask for help. There’s strength in that.
C = Be a Copycat. Most successful leaders emulate what works for other people. Don’t reinvent the wheel when there’s a proven system immediately available to you. Remember, imitation is the highest form of flattery. (I call this Modeling Excellence.)
C = Cut out certain things in your life. Learn to say “no” which will free you up to say “yes” to the things that really matter in your life. Think about how often you actually do raise your hand and say “yes” and look at what it is costing you in energy and time. Ms. Norris’ colleague, Cokie Roberts advised her on multiple occasions about the importance of learning to say “no.” In one humorous moment, Cokie told Michele “If you have trouble saying “no”, then try this phrase: ‘I couldn’t possibly….’ Add a certain facial expression and a strategic pause after saying it and amazing things happen. People leave you alone. Michele suggested that we all try this out, but cautioned the men in the room that this phrase may not work for them. They may need to find their own alternative phrase to just saying ‘no.’
C = Companionship. Friendships can do amazing things for you, personally and professionally. Friends are a great resource. Take care of your friends and your friendships and they will last you a lifetime.
C = Calm. Find some calm in your day, so that you can hear the quiet inner voice. We are all tethered to our cell phones, IPhones, and Blackberrys (or Crackberrys as she called them). We must have time to disconnect in order to re-connect with ourselves.
C = Comfortable shoes. Wear comfortable shoes. High heels may look good, but on the stage, they simply don’t make sense.
C = Conversations. Learn to continue the tradition of oral history in your family. Search and encourage the hidden stories to be shared. Find out more about the people who raised you, what they did and what they endured before they were sucked into mortgages and marriages. Encourage them to talk about what they never talk about. Ask the question: “Tell me something about yourself. Where did you come from? Who are you? What have you experienced in your long life?”
This last C lead Michele to share more about her upcoming book to be released this September. The title of the book has recently been changed to “The Grace of Silence.” She expressed that there are many stories that go untold and many heros that never make the history books. This new book was inspired by a series of radio interviews that she conducted in the run-up to the 2008 US presidential election.
Does Race Matter?
In 2008, Michele Norris and her NPR colleague Steve Inskeep conducted a series of conversations with voters in York, Pa., about race and its role in the 2008 presidential election. Steve and Michele met with a group of 13 voters — a mix of whites, blacks and Latinos — from this swing state several times this fall to dig a little bit deeper than election polls. You can listen to the audio recordings of this enlightening conversation about race on NPR’s web site.
Listen to the tales
Michele Norris closed her inspiring keynote speech by inviting each of us to have a conversation with our family members about their stories and their experiences.
Who in your family has extraordinary tale to tell? Encourage them to share that story with you. Be patient and gentle with them. Food will help that conversation. With each forkful, with each question, listen to ‘grace of silence’ but put the power back by breaking the silence.
Want to hear more?
- You can pre-order a copy of Michele Norris’ new book “The Grace of Silence: A Memoir” in audiobook format (gotta love that voice) or in hardcover book format. Due out September 2010.
- You can participate in the YWCA Stand Against Racism nation-wide event being held at locations around the United States on Friday, April 30, 2010.
- Follow Stand Against Racism on Facebook
- Learn more about the vital programs of the YWCA of the Hartford Region and its mission to empower women, eliminate racism and promote peace, freedom, justice and dignity for all.