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What Are You Hopeful For?

One rainy day during the holiday break I learned in quick succession that (1) my daughter and her boyfriend’s entire family in New York were sick with COVID; (2) the dear friends coming to Mexico with us in January were canceling because of COVID; and (3) a guest at a friend’s birthday dinner just before Christmas was sick with COVID, which sent seven of us scrambling for tests…which of course were unavailable in a 50 mile radius. That afternoon I curled up on the couch, pulled a blanket over my head, and promptly fell asleep for two hours. Nothing special about my story, but still—get me outta here!

To keep myself sane, or at least upright, I needed to make a special effort to find things to be hopeful about in 2022. I didn’t have to look farther than the Watermark community for answers. Here are a few things on my list – I hope you’ll write and tell me yours.

 

  • I’m hopeful because mental health is now a business priority. I have never heard so many executives talk openly about their own vulnerability or about the importance of their teams’ mental health. There’s a lot we still need to do to battle stress and burnout at the organizational level. But we are having the necessary conversations. (And think about what Simone Biles has done to advance this issue!)

 

  • I’m hopeful because we’re finally learning to cherish diversity. Conversations about racism and inequality can be painful, and many White executives haven’t gone beyond one-and-done expressions of support. But I’m seeing diffidence give way to compassion and engagement. Watch our latest “Leading with Inclusion” session and get inspired about the culture change that’s happening. If you only have a few minutes, tune in at 14:56 to hear Solomon Wilkins, the new DEI leader at Synopsys, talk about transformative conversations.

 

  • I’m hopeful because we are not helpless in the face of climate change. I’m as guilty as anyone of doom-scrolling for dire news about our weather, water and food supply. But as one of my favorite coaches says, “Worry isn’t work.” I snap out of it by rewatching our session with activist and investor Hunter Lovins, who insists, “We have the technology to solve these problems right now, and we can do it at a profit.”

 

I’m hopeful because women are lifting each other up. I started working in an era when only one woman at a time could hope to make it to the C-suite. (A beloved coach who’s about 15 years older than I am once admitted frankly, “I knew there was only one seat at the table, and it was going to be mine.”) We still don’t have parity in the C-suite or the boardroom, but we have a secret weapon  – each other. Listen to our recent session with Mona Sabet, founder of HiPower and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer at UserTesting, and Eleanor Lacey, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Asana, for more proof of how effective our collaboration can be. Or just join us at an upcoming event and experience it live. I’m convinced there’s nothing we can’t do together!

Peggy Northrop

Peggy Northrop is CEO of Watermark, a nonprofit membership organization focused on redefining leadership. Peggy joined Watermark in February 2020. A media consultant, communications expert, advisor and entrepreneur, Peggy spent the first two decades of her career as an award-winning editor in New York City, where she held senior editorial positions at some of the most iconic names in women’s media, including Vogue, Glamour and Real Simple, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of More and Global Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest. She returned to the Bay Area in 2013 to serve as Editor-in-Chief of Sunset Publishing, and in the same year co-founded Shebooks, an e-book company devoted to publishing stories by and for women. Peggy is an advisor and investor with Portfolia, which creates investment funds designed for women to back the companies they want to see in the world. She is also a mentor with SHE-CAN, the educational organization that trains the next generation of female leaders in post-genocide countries. She currently serves on the board of directors of Washington & Jefferson College.

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