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"Be ambitious": Advice for High Schoolers from the Massachusetts Conference for Women

by Samantha Libraty

At the Ninth Annual Massachusetts Conference for Women, speakers, which included both men and women, gave advice on how to succeed in the business world and in everyday life. Four esteemed presenters gave their advice for high school students to create change, chase after a dream, and use the education they are given. These are excerpts of speeches and personal interviews from Thursday, Dec. 5.

Holly Gordon

“I think the most important thing for anyone who is trying to create change is understanding how much you can take on in your life, so setting reasonable goals for yourself and really allocating the time. If you set yourself a goal that’s too lofty, you’re just going to disappoint yourself. So the first thing is find what you’re inspired by and then figure out what you can do given your bandwidth and the resources that you have available and how much time you have, how much money you have, etc. Then create a plan for yourself, and then it’s always good to look around you  to see if there are other people who you can bring in who can help, so you can do more in less time.”

Gordon is executive director of Girl Rising: Educate Girls, Change the World, a global movement for girls’ education. She is an executive producer for the film of same name, “Girl Rising.” Prior to launching the campaign, Gordon was director of content for the Tribeca Film Festival. She worked for “ABC News” for 12 years as a producer and booker for the major news broadcasts.

Blake Mycoskie

Creator of Tom's shoes Blake gives a speech on his experience in starting his own business and his advice for people who would like to do the same.
Creator of Tom’s shoes Blake Mycoskie gives a speech on his experience in starting his own business and his advice for people who would like to do the same. Photo by Leah Budson.

“Remember the power of a single idea. But there is an even greater power of acting on an idea. TOMS was founded on the single idea of helping kids who needed shoes over a longer period of time. Even though I had no idea what would become of the idea, I acted and sold 10,000 pairs over one summer when our office was my tiny apartment in Venice, CA.”

Mycoskie is the founder and chief shoe giver of TOMS, and the person behind the idea of One for One, which has turned into a global movement. Since it began in 2006, TOMS has given more than ten million pairs of new shoes to children in need. In the fall of 2011, Mycoskie released his first book, “Start Something That Matters,” which became a New York Times bestseller.

Cathie Black

Renowned writer Cathie Black (left) gives the Newtonite her advice for high school students during an interview last Thursday. Photo by Leah Budson.
Renowned businesswoman Cathie Black (left) gives the Newtonite her advice for high school students during an interview last Thursday. Photo by Leah Budson.

“Be ambitious, be bold, and go for it! I mean what’s to lose. Whatever it is that you want, go for it, there is nothing to lose. Have a big dream!”

Black was president, then chairman of Hearst Magazines, one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines for 15 years, and oversaw such titles as Cosmopolitan, Food Network Magazine, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, O, The Oprah Magazine, Town & Country and nearly 200 international editions. Black served on the boards of IBM and the Coca-Cola Company for 20 years, before becoming Chancellor of New York City Schools in 2010. She is the author of New York Times bestseller “Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (And in Life).”

Linda Cliatt-Wayman

Photo by Leah Budson.
Strawberry Mansion High School principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman presented a speech concerning the importance of education last Thursday. Photo by Leah Budson.

“Remember the transformational power of education. Every morning during the announcements, I say, ‘Education can save your life.’ All of you hold the power that this country needs to invest in the education of all children, and all children, whether they are poor, homeless, or have special needs, deserves to have a great education.”

Cliatt-Wayman is the principal of Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 2010 to 2012, Wayman served as assistant superintendent for all 52 high schools in Philadelphia. In 2013, Wayman decided to return to the neighborhood where she grew up to lead the merger of three area high schools. Her efforts to establish SMHS as a safe and academic institute for learning have been featured on ABC’s “Nightline” and “World News Report.”

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