This week, our choices are:
Becoming Heroines: Unleashing Our Power for Revolution and Rebirth by Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, Portfolio
Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, founder of The Gaia Project for Women's Leadership, shares her and her company's values in the empowering new book, Becoming Heroines. I was instantly engrossed in the book, intrigued by the variety of directions at which Cronise McLaughlin attacks the issues holding back women and then traces the cyclical path from Recognition to Reconciliation to Revolution to Rebirth, allowing readers to drop in anywhere they feel is most relevant to them. She shares her own experiences with stunning unprofessionalism and discrimination in professional spaces, as well as short examples of other women who have been hurt and are healing, often with the help of their community. Cronise McLaughlin shares her retrospective realizations in poetic, almost spiritual sentences.
We fail not because we aren’t good enough.
We fail because our failure preserves the status quo.
And perhaps even more importantly, we fail because we were meant for something better.
Cronise McLaughlin has effectively compiled her experience as CEO of Gaia Project Consulting, LLC, with personal traumas and accomplishments throughout her life, crafting a book that perfectly balances vulnerability and instruction. I'm very excited for others to read and re-read this book as they continue in their career journeys. (GMC)
The Cult of We: Wework, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion by Eliot Brown & Maureen Farrell, Crown
Reading The Cult of We, I found an experience in Adam Neumann’s childhood that presaged his company WeWork. At age eleven, he moved with his mother and sister to a kibbutz in Israel. As the community’s finances faltered, they closed the free cafeteria that served everyone who lived there and turned it into a co-working space. Co-working space (office space subleasing, to be more precise) was, years later, what Neumann would get rich offering, but his company’s finances were more than faltering. It bordered on fraud, even as the investment environment it existed within encouraged the extravagance and unbridled (and unfounded) optimism that lurked behind it. As many were touting it as the best thing since sliced bread, and pouring in almost unfathomable amounts of money into WeWork:
It was losing more than $3,000 a minute, on average, and had lost more than $1.6 billion the prior year.
But somehow, investors kept pouring more money into the company. Which leads Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell to ask:
How did capitalism contort to view something so inherently simple—real estate—as a disruptive tech company valued higher than Fortune 500 companies like FedEx? Was the WeWork story an outlier, or was it simply the most vivid example of a cultural rot that had formed within twenty-first-century entrepreneurial and investment culture?
Judging from the proliferation of such stories—and books like Bad Blood about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, and The Key Man about Arif Naqvi and Abraaj—I believe it is undoubtedly the latter. Each story had a charismatic leader at its head, espousing ideals and claims of benefiting the wider world, who in the end only enriched themselves. With the many billions squandered, it’s hard not to feel that the money would have been better spent simply feeding people in communal kitchens. $3,000 a minute, or $1.6 billion a year being poured into that would have at least led to actual, literal human growth, rather than vanishing into thin, rarified air. (DJJS)
The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion by Dr. Gwen Adshead & Eileen Horne, Scribner
The Devil You Know will completely transform your experience of watching and reading true crime stories–unraveling a murder mystery plot pales in comparison to unraveling the experiences and thought processes of a human being. By beginning with Gwen Adshead’s earliest days learning and practicing psychotherapy in the UK, the reader will likely see their own qualms and questions mirrored in her storytelling as she eases into the experience of speaking to and treating criminals.
Over the years, I've come to think of my patients as survivors of a disaster, where they are the disaster and my colleagues and I are the first responders.
We learn about the often traumatic pasts of a handful of Adshead’s patients including a depressed and insomniac man named Tony, an East African man with paranoia and PTSD named Gabriel, and a suicidal Muslim woman named Zahra as we see Adshead lead them towards hopeful futures. While it may be correct to say these people are serial killers, murderers, arsonists, stalkers, and otherwise, these criminals are much more than their crimes, and I'm thankful that Dr. Adshead shares their and her own vulnerabilities with us.
Adshead offers an honest and profound look at what it takes to unpack violence in individual situations rather than from statistics, and how the work she puts into it teaches her about her own mind and emotions too. Pick up The Devil You Know the same way we should strive to approach anyone no matter their background–with curiosity rather than contentiousness. (GMC)
New Women in the Old West: From Settlers to Suffragists, an Untold American Story by Winifred Gallagher, Penguin Press
In the late 1800s and early 1900s the great migration to the West lured individuals hungry to find opportunity and experiences. Gallagher paints a picture of a hostile migration landscape with women—settlers who were White, Black and Asian—coming into their own, laying down the foundation for equal rights for generations to come—while uprooting the lives of Native Americans and Hispanic peoples. We learn about the significant women who paved the way for women’s rights in a time when their voices were hushed or silenced.
Through rough terrain and an underdeveloped landscape, families and couples realized the work of each partner was equally valued in order to survive and create a life in these uncharted territories (to the White protestants that migrated there). As couples who were once stuck in the Victorian gender roles noticed both partners' work was just as important to survive, roles began shifting and women started running their own businesses and taking on new roles. When arriving to the West, the population was mostly men who yearned for the comforts of home. This gave the sparse women of the community a chance to cook, provide amenities and launder, all while earning money for their families for the first time in their lives. Even before having equal rights, women began to build the communities of the West–creating schools, churches, community venues, and other infrastructure, pining for the communities they were forced to leave back East. This would lead to alternate careers other than the obligatory marriage for women, which was a first.
Migration increased women’s sense of competence as well as their economic status, but it also encouraged them to see themselves as patriotic pioneers—a uniquely western identity that powerfully reinforced their later claim to full citizenship.
Many women who started the movement to women’s equal rights, including the right to vote, were lost to history or barely known, as they would not be allowed to put their names on paper and sometimes men would even fully take credit for founding towns, clubs and other community binding matters.
...much like the larger history of the West, which is often dismissed as flyover country short on figures such as the founding fathers and events to match the Revolution, its women’s record of double-barreled achievement has been neglected.
As women continue to fight for our rights in modern day America, Annie Oakley, Sojourner Truth, Abigail Scott Duniway, among others, set the path by fighting for our rights in the West. These Women of the West, largely unknown to history, helped move women’s rights into the forefront which eventually gave us the full citizenship we carry with us today. (EPP)