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The Secrets of Powerful Women Revealed!

February 22, 2010

“Power is never skin deep: Never let charm replace substance. The insistence that women have to be agreeable and likeable sometimes leads to the assumption that these superficial attributes are all you need.” - Carol Jenkins, Founding President of the Women’s Media Center

SecretsPowerfulInsights like this, and other voices from female leaders across the nation and the globe, inspired VOICE books to publish a woman-to-woman book called Secrets of Powerful Women. The collection is an act of intergenerational dialogue – life lessons and tips from 24 women in positions of political leadership to the women they hope will be the next generation of leaders. Even the production of the book was itself a process of intergenerational dialogue, between Barbara Jones, Editorial Director, and Nina Shield, editor.

For insight on this process, Nina and Barbara provided us with anecdotes from their experience as editors, and included some of their favorite secrets from the collection:

NINA: When Barbara asked me to edit Secrets of Powerful Women, I jumped at the chance to work on what seemed like such an important project: to encourage women of my generation to take their incredible academic and activist successes and bring those skills in the real world of politics and power. The contributors were alternately funny, inspirational and poignant, and during the editing process, I felt I wanted to give this book to all of my friends, younger and older, in the hopes that it would mean as much them as much as it has to me.

“When it comes to power, being safe never gets you where you want to be.  I want women to take  chances, to put themselves in positions where they will not be comfortable.”Kay Granger, Congresswoman (R), 12th District of Texas [caption id="attachment_3502" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Rosario Dawson, activist and co-founder of Voto Latino, speaking at the 2008 DNC Women’s Caucus"]Rosario Dawson, activist and co-founder of Voto Latino, speaking at the 2008 DNC Women’s Caucus[/caption]

BARBARA: Secrets of Powerful Women started as transcripts of real advice that women in positions of established leadership – Congresswomen, governors, activists, journalists – gave in private to a select group of younger women at the 2008 Democratic and Republican Conventions. The women who were at these closed-door sessions told us that they had been moved and inspired. But it wasn’t an easy task to translate what had been said in a conference room into a book that could also move and inspire women to action. Nina did that. I gave her the transcriptions and she gave me back a book, which I read in one weekend and from which I still take heart every day. I am encouraging women I know to buy this book and give it to younger women, but the wisdom flows both ways (as our friend Jess Weiner likes to say), and Nina worked with the 24 amazing contributors to make this a book for all generations to read.

“Don’t be afraid to sing your own praises and demand things when you’ve earned them.  Men do it every day with no apologies.”Beth Frerking, Assistant Managing Editor, POLITICO

[caption id="attachment_3532" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Nine winners of Lifetime’s Future Frontrunners contest at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado."]Nine winners of Lifetime’s Future Frontrunners contest at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.[/caption] NINA:  Our primary partner on this project was Lifetime TV, which has run their Every Woman Counts campaign during every election cycle since 1992. Every Woman Counts is the entertainment industry’s only public advocacy campaign dedicated to amplifying women’s voices in the political process, encouraging them to vote and speak out on the issues they care about, and to run for office. Lifetime hosted an essay contest to select the original Future Frontrunners, the young women at the conventions, to meet the women who became the book’s contributors. Another fantastic partner on this project has been Rosario Dawson and the nonpartisan political organization that she co-founded, Voto Latino, which has helped register tens of thousands of voters.

“Only when we get large numbers of women to lead will all women be able to be themselves when they lead.”Marie Wilson, President, The White House Project

BARBARA: Secrets of Powerful Women was a labor of love for everyone – for each of the amazing contributors, for us, and for the people at Lifetime. We believe in the lively, wry, hard-earned wisdom in this book and in the grassroots potential of women to keep moving each other. (I’m laughing, because Nina’s helping me write my part of the post.)

For some of the secrets in this book, check out this widget (below),which will reveal a new secret every day. Thanks very much to Nina and Barbara!  Click here to learn more about the book.

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