Last week, I received over 500 emails from members of the network. The support and the great advice I got was an awesome example of “co-mentoring” at its best.
I would like to share Andrea Miller’s letter to the editor which so eloquently makes the case for 85 Broads. I hope the editors of the FT will publish it.
Dear Ms. Kellaway,
I recently read your article entitled Let’s stand on our own feet – not other women’s shoulders and am compelled to share my dismay as you totally got it wrong. Neither your characterization of Ms. Hanson nor 85 Broads is correct.
I am especially dismayed as I would expect a journalist with your experience writing for a periodical as sound and upstanding as The Financial Times to have taken the trouble to do some substantive research and write something accurate and fair rather than projecting from your own biased perspective.
I am a member of 85 Broads. I joined the organization after attending an event that featured Senator John Kerry and a host of other incredibly accomplished men and women. The speakers offered much wisdom, insight, wit, and candor. Plus, I met a number of talented, confident, interesting and friendly women. The day was uplifting, informative and fun — nothing like the witches’ coven experience you portrayed in your article.
The next 85 Broads event I attended was even more galvanizing. Bethany McClean spoke about how she broke the Enron story. (Note: Ms. Hanson and 85 Broads went on to actively support the launch of Ms. McClean’s book and subsequent documentary). Another speaker, Alison Levine, told a spellbinding story of how she led a group of amateur middle-age women climbers to within a couple hundred yards of the summit of Mt. Everest to their great peril. A handful of other accomplished, fascinating women also spoke. Again, it was an informative, entertaining, fun-filled, enjoyable event (you might even say fresh and truthful) attended by many successful, confident women.
Through my participation in 85 Broads, I have gotten to know Ms. Hanson. I could write a 10,000 word essay extolling how generous, committed, tenacious, wise, thoughtful, and brilliant she is. She is an exceptional woman who has made a tremendously positive impact on untold lives, including my own. It was largely through 85 Broads and Ms. Hanson’s philosophy of women helping other women succeed that I was able to launch my media venture. She was a key catalyst in my raising the capital I required in part because she facilitated a few key introductions to investors but also because she gave me some extremely useful advice. I turned to dozens and dozen of other people for help but it was by standing on Ms. Hanson’s shoulders that enabled me to fulfill my dream and launch a successful venture.
I believe if you would have bothered talking with any active 85 Broads members, you would have heard sentiments similar to mine in regard to what an incredible visionary and role model Ms. Hanson is. She touts her philosophy passionately but she doesn’t just talk the talk. She walks the walk. And thousands of women are walking the walk as a result. By talking with a cross section of 85 Broads members would have heard just how committed she is to the personal and professional success of other women. Moreover, you would have heard why so many other accomplished, busy professional women participate in this organization, which is far from “tense and dull.” Now don’t get me wrong. The women that I have met in 85 Broads are absolutely competitive – who doesn’t want to win – but for most of us in 85 Broads, it’s not a zero sum game. By helping each other, creating bonds, having fun, exchanging stories, insights and laughs, the prevailing view is that we can all benefit and become more successful. Why is that a contradiction?
I find it irresponsible of you to project and generalize from your own experiences of other women’s organizations onto 85 Broads specifically and to disparage Ms. Hanson without talking to her directly and speaking with other sources who have intimate knowledge of your subjects. I just do not get it. Maybe you were having a bad day. You can’t take the article back but perhaps you’ll consider taking the high road and at least offer Ms. Hanson an apology.
Founder & CEO