I looked up at the panel of powerful women in front of me. It was one of my favorite days of the year at work – International Women’s Day (IWD). I sat watching four inspiring women describe what it was like to make it to the top of the corporate ladder. My dear friend and powerhouse colleague Sky facilitated the session by asking thought provoking questions and incorporating her own experience as a researcher and practitioner of mindful leadership.
I was immediately drawn to one of the managing directors in particular – her name was Ella. She was full of life, humor and a message that resonated strongly with my values (plus she wore a hot pink blazer). When asked her biggest piece of leadership advice, Ella looked at the group of young women in the audience and encouraged the behavior of authenticity. “I finally found a place where both my work and personal life were congruent, and I highly recommend you find where you can truly be yourself in both places,” she said. “That’s where real leadership lives.” When Ella shared a text message from her sister the night before saying that she had big shoes to fill and was ready to make her own custom heels, I knew I had to introduce myself.
When I think of women’s heels, I think of the words refinement, balance, poise, clean and sharp. Then, when I add the word ‘custom’ in front of ‘heel,’ new words emerge – slight variation, detail orientation, and a thoughtful nuance that lingers. I realized then that her sisters custom heels equated to my pinterest board of color block outfits (to offset the proper suit, of course).