PEOPLE ARE MORE SIMILAR THAN WE THINK, ACROSS RELIGIOUS GROUPS, ETHNIC GROUPS AND RACIAL GROUPS. I BELIEVE AT THE END OF THE DAY; WE ARE ALL JUST PEOPLE.”
—KRISTIN HARMEL, NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR
I am more convinced than ever before, that as women age, the best is yet to come. Reflecting upon over six and a half years of interviews, I now recognize why. Women hold the uncanny ability to adapt, adjust and compromise. They are forced to “bend or blend” to avoid breaking. However, as families and careers mature, so too, do women. Over time, women “individuate” and self-actualize, creating an unusual juxtaposition. While on the one hand, they understand the skills of compromise and adaptation, on the other hand, age creates self-awareness and authenticity that allows differentiation. For women, age is a “rite of passage.”
ELYSIAN was the result of a personal quest to see what constituted “exceptional” women. Was it timing, luck, innovation, funding, perseverance, faith, endurance, or passion? Why did some succeed while others did not? In each interview, I asked the same litany of questions. I explained the process to each Inspiring Woman, that a portion of the interview was to acquire data, which was to be mined for empirical trends, quantifiable patterns, and findings. The data shows that there really is no “secret sauce” to success and there is not one roadmap to achievement. But as Kristin Harmel suggests, we are all just people. With age and time, the Inspiring Women recognize and identify their “gift.” They all share one universal goal: making the second half of their lives more meaningful and purposeful with all their acquired life experiences.
I wanted to investigate the finding further and decided to dedicate this issue to “Thought Leadership.” Four separate verticals; faith, finance, literature, and politics were selected. At the core of the interviews, I was looking to see how each woman used her experiences and understanding to propel herself forward to new heights personally and as inspiration for others.
This issue is therefore dedicated to “Thought Leadership” which is defined here as an authority in a specific field, recognized as experts, who ultimately earn the trust of their followers. They inspire, innovate and influence others with their suffering, successes, wisdom, and worldly impact.
So, what do the following thought leaders share—Alveda King (Faith), Bea Sibblies (Finance), Kristin Harmel (Literature), Nikki Haley (Political). On the offset, they all recognize their heritage and family of origin as key to shaping who they are today. Each of these women went against the odds and defied expectations set by others. In their own way, each experienced some form of “ism” whether racism, sexism, or ageism . . . and they all persevered and overcame. They pushed through their apprehensions, doubt, and fear of failure. They remained on course and stayed true to themselves. Each woman recognized the value of every human being, no matter race, religion, or standing and each took positions to support that finding. Each had the courage to “stand against the wind.” Whether you agree or disagree with their respective positions, these women defied the odds and had the fortitude and courage that can only come from a self-awareness and inner strength that is fueled by passion. “Follow your passions, follow your heart, and the things you need will come,” said one of the most inspiring women and thought leaders of all, Elizabeth Taylor. In honor of the tenth anniversary of her death—and for the first time in this history of our publication—Elysian features a true ICON on our cover.
Over the past 6 years, the ELYSIAN brand has continued to evolve. We have refined our focus to women over the age of 40. For these women who have “crested the top of life’s hill,” creating a meaningful second chapter of life is paramount. What connects us, brings us peace . . . the interviews reinforced that life is fleeting, today is a gift and compassion makes injustice intolerable.
Journey with us as we support our differences, steadfastly encouraging lifelong learning and the unique paths to finding our individual and collective purpose.