Five Amazing Women

“Each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”

― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Are you ever amazed by the lasting impact certain relationships have on your life? Or, how meeting certain people at the right time can change the course of your life?

I recently reflected on my life journey and realized there were five very important women who helped shape who I am today. I met them at various stages in my life and each one has shared and/or taught me valuable lessons on how to go after my dreams and achieve success. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am that I have had the opportunity meet and get to know the five following women.

  1. Lynda Utterback
    Owner, National Dipper Magazine
    Executive Director, National Ice Cream Retailer’s Association (NICRA)
    And most importantly, my mother!
    First met: October 19, (year confidential!)My mother, Lynda Utterback, is a true pillar of strength, courage, and perseverance. A single mother for too many years to count, she singlehandedly took on the dual role of caregiver and entrepreneur.One of many memorable acts of courage my mom exhibited was when she was laid off from The National Dipper, a magazine she helped start. Not one to sit back and let her dreams disappear, my mother decided that if she no longer worked for the National Dipper, she would own it. Through sheer determination, she scraped together funds and bought the organization. To this day she is the successful owner of The National Dipper Magazine.As her daughter, I was lucky to witness and benefit from her strength, courage, and perseverance. My mother shaped who I am today because she believed in me and supported me through every decision, good or bad. She showed me how to be strong, take risks, and to not be afraid of going after my dreams. I would not be the strong, confident, and independent woman I am today if it weren’t for her.In fact, I’m happy to say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Because my mother was such a great role model, I was able to feel confident in my true potential and start my own business. When I was laid off from a job just after maternity leave, I had the courage and determination to start Lotsa Luck Design! I only hope that I can be as successful at being a mother and an entrepreneur as my mother.What I learned from my mother: Stay strong and persevere. Be courageous and take risks. If you want something in life, work hard for it.
  2. Alexandra Eidenberg
    President, The Insurance People
    Democratic Congressional Candidate for the Illinois 4th District
    Soon to be mother of twins!
    First met: October, 2011Having been laid off from my job, I begrudgingly decided to attend a networking event at Big Ooga. Networking wasn’t something I had to do on a regular basis when I was employed. However, it was mandatory if I wanted to start my own business and be successful.As it turned out, attending the event was one of the best decisions I ever made. If I hadn’t, I would never have met Alexandra. Alexandra is a “connector”. If you ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” you know what I mean. According to Gladwell, connectors are people who “link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together.”As a true “connector”, Alexandra took me under her wing and brought me into the circle of eWomenNetwork. Because of her I met many amazing women and learned how empowering networking can be. She also taught me how to be assertive and not to be afraid to ask for what I want.Alexandra has been the driving force in changing my life and many others. She is currently running for congress (Illinois 4th district), and I’m hoping through this endeavor she gets the opportunity to touch many more people’s lives. She certainly gets my vote!What I learned from Alexandra: Anyone you meet can provide endless possibilities. Networking can be empowering. Be assertive and ask for what you want.
  3. Gia Claire
    Professional, Motivational Speaker/Trainer on Sales, Leadership, and Women’s Empowerment
    First met: October, 2011Thanks to Alexandra introducing me to the circle of eWomenNetwork, I had the great pleasure of meeting Gia Claire. I had seen Gia a few times at networking events and was always curious to know who that stylishly wild woman was.I finally introduced myself to her and found that she was looking to rebrand her business. A connection was made and we set up a meeting to talk about branding.The funny thing about our meeting was that I was supposed to be helping her. However, I left the meeting feeling like I could conquer the world – she’s just that good at what she does! Gia has the unique ability to inspire and motivate people. She has a way of helping people feel empowered with the idea that they can do anything they set their mind to. Her words empowered me to take charge of my career and ensure that I never miss opportunities. Additionally, by sharing her gift of patience and positivity, she taught me that innate talents and practiced skills can truly add value to others’ lives.What I learned from my Gia: Be positive. Be patient. Share your gifts with others.
  4. Debra Fleischman Vilchis
    Chief Operating Officer, Fishman PR & Marketing
    First met: January, 1991Debbie’s contribution to my life is deeply personal. I met Debbie when I was in college working as an intern at the American Academy of Pediatrics. We kept in touch after college and one night while preparing to go out, I mentioned to Debbi that I couldn’t get a date to save my life. You know how it is, you graduate college, you are out in the working world, life gets busy, and it is hard to meet people.She promptly set me up on a blind date with John Jackson. I knew almost immediately he was “the one”. How can I ever repay this woman?What I learned from Debbie: The right man/person/opportunity is just around the corner.
  5. Pat Allen
    Owner, Rock the Boat Marketing
    Digital Marketing Strategy Consulting for Financial Services
    First met: October, 2006Pat has been my partner in crime on a variety of amazing projects for companies large and small in the financial industry. She has a deep understanding of how the financial space uses online marketing and creates multi-faceted digital campaigns that build brand awareness.Pat has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and is continually educating herself on new marketing tactics and audience trends. Every project she works on she gives 110%. Lucky for me, I have the privilege to learn something new from her during every project we work on together.Recently we worked on a project for a large international bank where we re-organized content for multiple web sites. I worked closely with Pat to determine the user experience which gave me the ability to develop a great design that helped enhance the user experience.What I learned from Pat: Never stop learning. Always do your best work.

Do you have any mentors or role models in your life that you feel helped shape who you are today? I consider myself lucky to have grown up with such an amazing role model like my mother. However, I had to work to find the other four amazing women.

Meeting a great mentor or role model can take work. Maybe networking isn’t your thing. In the beginning I didn’t think it was my thing. However, if you don’t put yourself out there you could be missing out. Think of all the great things you could learn from others’ experiences and think of everyone who could benefit from yours.