Leading a team? Preparing a presentation? Think different. Think SUSAN ANTHONY

Few women in history have done more than Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906) to uplift other women politically. Her pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement is well known. She found her calling early in life. “I must concentrate all of my energies on the enfranchisement of my own sex!


When recently rereading about her, this Churchill thought crossed my mind: Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. Yes, gender inequality—as does all inequality—certainly qualifies as human conflict.

In his excellent book, Great Work of Your Life, author Stephen Cope writes: Women were in insidious bondage, with no escape from a social and political imprisonment. They had only two choices: marriage or spinsterhood. Even though Susan B. Anthony was born into this world, she was also born into a Quaker family that believed in the absolute equality of the sexes. By the age of twenty-five she rejected both choices—get married or become an old maid—and made a conscious choice to remain single. The routine wife beatings she observed in her small community infuriated her and she became involved in the Women’s Temperance Movement.

It was at this time that she found her Mission, her Life-Purpose, her Life-Calling, her Raison D’être; what author Stephen Cope (& yoga traditions) call her Dharma. “I must concentrate all of my energies on the enfranchisement of my own sex!”

Here Cope makes an intriguing connection:
If you bring forth what is within you, then what you bring forth will save you.
If you don’t bring forth what is within you, then what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.

As soon as Susan Anthony began her life of action, she was presented with a challenge. How to bring forth what was within her? How to marshal all of her life energy in support of her calling? How to win this battle? One thing was perfectly clear: in order to fulfill her dharma, she would have to master the art of public speaking. She would have to learn how to unleash her power in full view of halls of angry men and skeptical women. This was a daunting challenge. It was almost unheard of for women to speak in public. It was considered an act of defiance—an unseemly betrayal of women’s proper role.

After a few successful acts of public defiance, Susan B. Anthony decided that she could not be content to be a good-enough public speaker. She would have to be a great public speaker. Nothing else would fulfill her dharma. She took on a coach and a partner, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was also a masterful speechwriter. Together they became a team, a force to be reckoned with … and together they made history.

She so totally mastered the art of public speaking, that even those who opposed her were moved. One detractor went on to write; While we differ widely with Miss Anthony, both as regards the propriety of the calling she has assumed, and the notions of which she is advocate, we cheerfully accord to her credit, as a public speaker, much above mediocrity, expressing herself with clearness and many times with elegance and force.


I have to wonder—and so should you—had Susan Anthony not made a commitment to acquiring expertise in public speaking, to getting a coach; would the world be a different place today? Would our world be a less equal place today? Susan Anthony, after submitting to her dharma, harnessed the formidable power of oratory and took it to battle. Oratory was the enabler.

Dear Reader, this story is common. On any number of occasions when reading about successful leaders, I come across a similar story. Indeed in my book Necessary Bridges: Public Speaking and Storytelling for Project Managers and Engineers, I devote an entire chapter to similar observations. Please accept a gift pdf version of this chapter.

If you are amongst the more fortunate, and have discovered your mission, your raison d’être, your dharma, then committing anew to becoming a superb speaker has to be one of the best decisions you will ever make. It will enable you to bring forth what is within you. A reminder: If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is within you, it will destroy you.

If you are amongst the less fortunate, and have yet to discover your mission, your dharma, then it may be worth reflecting on statements like these:
If you don’t know where you’re going—all roads lead there.
If you don’t know where you’re going—you’re already there.

As we come to the end of 2015 and the time to make resolutions is upon us again, consider committing anew to acquiring world-class expertise in oratory. It may well be the tonic to bring forth the very best within you. This may be your opportunity to harness the formidable power of oratory and take it to the battles that surely await you. Good Luck!

As a speaker with an engineering background, I observe that both very good speeches, and engineering formulas are characterized by clarity and brevity. So here is my message to you expressed as a formula:

M + (e1 + e2 + e3 + …) + (bp1 + bp2 + bp3 +…) = MA

M = mission = life-purpose = life-calling = raison d’être = dharma etc.
e1 = enabler 1 = domain expertise (both knowledge & skill)
e2 = enabler 2 = relationships expertise
e3 = enabler 3 = PS&ST = Public Speaking & Storytelling expertise
bp1 = best practice 1 = regular exercising and sound sleeping habits
bp2 = best practice 2 = healthy diet and excellent eating habits
bp3 = best practice 3 = singular focus to your dharma
MA = Mission Accomplished

Ignore the best practices component of this formula at your own peril. Here is coach Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s early advice to Susan Anthony:
Susan, take a great deal of exercise, be particular about your diet, and sleep sound enough. The body has a great effect on the mind.

I’ll close out by strongly recommending Stephen Cope’s book The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. It is a marvelous book!

With best wishes and warm regards for the New Year.
May 2016 be the year in which you discover or rediscover your own dharma,
and you commit or recommit to it once more.


A biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton says that during the early years of their relationship,

  • Stanton provided the ideas, rhetoric, and strategy;
  • Anthony delivered the speeches, circulated petitions, and rented the halls.
  • Anthony prodded and Stanton produced.
  • Stanton’s husband said, “Susan stirred the puddings, Elizabeth stirred up Susan, and then Susan stirs up the world!
  • Stanton herself said, “I forged the thunderbolts, she fired them.”

By 1854, Anthony and Stanton “had perfected a collaboration that made the New York State movement the most sophisticated in the country”, according to Ann D. Gordon, a professor of women’s history.


Every engineer can be a better engineer
by being a better pubic speaker and storyteller

Every professional can be a better professional
by being a better pubic speaker and storyteller

Every citizen can be a better citizen
by being a better pubic speaker and storyteller

I help citizens, professionals, and engineers become better public speakers and storytellers. www.NecessaryBridges.com

Book Description
Necessary Bridges: Public Speaking & Storytelling for Project Managers & Engineers

Every engineer & STEM professional can articulate an engineering & STEM challenge as eloquently and inspirationally as the speaker does in the audio of this clip. At the very least, every engineer and STEM professional can aspire to do so.

STEM = Science Technology Engineering Mathematics
Audio = JFK/moon speech segment/Rice University Sept 12, 1962