As many of you know, I’m a big believer in the power of sharing stories about our personal journeys to inspire others, and even to offer guideposts and lessons to others making their life journeys.
So it should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of MAKERS, AOL's platform for sharing the stories of women whose personal accomplishments inspire and create role models for making a difference across all sectors of life and work. This big idea came to AOL from the awesomely talented and connected Dyllan McGee, is led now Samantha Liebovitz, was championed by Nancy Armstrong and others within AOL, and CEO Tim Armstrong saw the potential for a women-focused brand with a strong mission and plans to grow reach and impact.
As a member of AOL’s board of directors, I was a champion and advocate for MAKERS from the beginning (and was honored to be profiled on MAKERS.com). And I'm proud to be part of a new GLOBAL MAKERS initiative to tell more women's stories internationally — with the AOL and MAKERS marketing teams, and in partnership with Ronda Carnegie and Leah Fischman at TNgLE (a unit of Group SJR, which is owned by WPP) — one region at a time.
Our latest launch: MAKERS UK. Subscribe to the MAKERS newsletter for updates on further expansions.
Our first step in a new country is to identify a GLOBAL MAKERS partner, someone whose personal story and success inspires, and we were fortunate that Jude Kelly, the artistic director of Southbank Arts Center and founder of the excellent WOW (Women of the World) festival, accepted our invitation. Earlier this month, I interviewed Jude for her MAKERS profile and in consultation with the MAKERS team, Jude selected ten other UK women whose stories will join her as the first UK MAKERS.
We went live on April 20th with a launch event that AOL's London team staged during the UK's Advertising Week. Imagine this scene: It's 8am in a popular jazz club in London's Soho neighborhood, and the place is packed with the city's top advertising executives and press. We served strong coffee and the promise of a powerful new platform for showcasing some of the UK's most admired women.
One of AOL's most admired women, Allie Kline, a dynamic marketing guru, kicked things off, introducing me, Jude and a new MAKER we announced: Sandi Toksvig. Sandi is one of the UK's most well-known and loved media leaders and funny ladies, as well as a broadcast host and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party. It may have been 8am, but Sandi, Jude and I had a lively interchange on subjects ranging from personal risk to political parity. We reminded this crowd of tea drinkers of the famous quote, sometimes attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: "A woman is like a tea bag — you never know how strong she is until she's in hot water."
Check out MAKERS UK to see Jude’s story, along with those of songwriter and campaigner Annie Lennox; Everyday Sexism Project founder Laura Bates; and Baroness Amos, the first woman of African descent to serve in the British cabinet (among other career highlights).
And there are even more stories and surprises to come — from the UK and far beyond. As AOL's Tim Armstrong likes to say, we have told 300+ MAKERS stories so far, but that leaves 3 billion or so more stories about women still to be shared on MAKERS.com. I highly encourage you to spend some time exploring the website. I guarantee you’ll be inspired; I know I always am.
With gratitude for the difference you're making in this world -