Inspiration Month concludes with three of my four favourite, most inspirational businesswomen on the UK telly. Why not all four? Well, the fourth is so special she gets a blog all to herself next month.
Some home truths about me, resident UnRuley businesswoman in training. I’m one of those Californian touchy-feely, loves to connect with nature and other humans, types. Being an all sensory person I’m deeply inspired by external source such as music, film, dance, literature and, yes even television. Show me a great story about bravery, skill, humour, beauty, intelligence, creativity and I’m charged. My brain is switched on, my creative juices bubble and squeaking. I’m ready to start something involving self expression, craft (of the slightly posh James Lipton, Inside the Actors Studio variety, because I like a bit of drama don’t you know) and as much cleverness as can be mustered. Watch out world, I’m thinking. About stuff!
At this point my touchy-feely self kicks in and I’ve moved from thinking to feeling. To wit, watching a superb performance by a dancer or singer may, on certain occasions, reduce me to tears. They’re appreciation tears. That’s what I tell my husband when he looks at me quizzically as I quietly sniffle over a breathtaking rendition of a song he’s never heard by a person he’s never met on a television that, if I’m honest, is switched on more often than I care to admit. But I digress. The skill and beauty of the song sends my heart aching with joy. I am an inspirational softie, I become overwhelmed with appreciation and the tears, they fall.
So it may come as a surprise to you that the three women who have been the biggest inspiration for me during my first few years in the UK are tough-love businesswomen who don’t go in for all that touchy-feely nonsense. Long before I decided to fiddle with jewellery or the concept of starting my own business I was taken in, smitten really, by three very different, very shrewed, and very business minded women.
The first to enter my inner inspiration world is Ruth Watson. Write, editor, hotelier, restaurateur, and reality television host of first the Hotel Inspector and then Country House Rescue (UK Channel 4, US BBC America). Ruth is a powerhouse of practicality and business mindedness with stunning charm. I took one look at her and I was in love. Not that kind of love, dear reader. As Edmond said, in Mansfield Park, of his love for Fanny Price, ‘… there are as many kinds of love as there are moments in time.’ Of course, he was completely in love with her. But I digress, again. I am in love with Ruth Watson’s masterful use of diplomacy as she dishes out concise criticism coupled with genuine encouragement. She understands both the passion and weakness inherent in her advisees, deftly providing solutions for both in the face of high emotions, stubborn refusal to face reality, heals-dug-in idealism, and everyone’s favourite, resistance to change. The end goal, of course, is to generate business and increase income when the alternative is losing ones family home and way of life. Ruth Watson tends to get pretty good results when people listen and take her advice. Livelihoods are saved. It gives me goosebumps just writing about it. Passion tempered with a keen business sense. Now that is something to emulate.
Next on the scene is Alex Polizzi, the second and current host of Hotel Inspector. An experienced hotelier in her own right, Alex has her fingers in many professional pies. She can even add baking to her impressive list of talents (something we have in common). The thing about Alex is that she’s not only an excellent business woman, she’s funny. Not comedian, dry humor, get one over on the other guy funny. She’s warmly, acutely, point out the obvious because it needs to be said kind of funny. Despite an amusing tendency for swear words (something else we have in common) Alex is not crass, nor does she skirt the issue. She speaks to what is, rather eloquently I might add, and doesn’t dither about. It is what it is, so let’s get to solving things and be about the business of running a great business. A woman after my own heart. Alex Polizzi is an intelligent, shrewed business woman. She’s also sensitive to and encouraging of people’s passion and isn’t afraid to be honest. If you can’t tell by now, I adore her. She is my role model, my business muse. We’re weeks apart in age and miles apart in business experience. I watch Alex deftly maneuver her way through difficult, frustrating conversations with her diplomatic and at times incredulous tact, laced with humor and the odd swear word, and I take notice.
Last, but certainly not least, on my list of inspirational uk business woman is Mary Portus. Also known on BBC2 as Mary Queen of Shops. Forthright and forward thinking, Mary Portus is one part writer, one part TV personality, two parts retail communications expert, and three parts hard hitting businesswoman force of nature. On her show and in her writing, Mary is unapologetically firm about what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs to be done about it. She intimidates the heck out of me and I lover her for it. When watching her shows or reading her blogs or articles I pay attention to what she says. I take her advice seriously. This is a woman at the top of her game. Calling her shrewed seems a bit soft-core, an understatement. Mary’s business sense is so sharp one is tempted to compare it with the extrasensory. But let’s give credit where credit is due, she’s driven, hard working, focused, and as I said above, forward thinking. I appreciate and admire everything she shares with the public. You have my attention, Mary. I hope I can be a fraction as wise, hard working and successful as you have proven yourself to be.
Touchy-feely I may be, but I’m no wuss when it comes to being a strong, creative, out side of the box thinking business woman. While I may be a late starter, I am a fast learner. And I’m ready for my next lesson. Ruth, Alex and Mary, you’re the stuff of legends in this house. I’ll be watching you. And taking notes!
Let me end by saying thank you. To the three women featured in this blog and to all the wise, diverse, hard working women out there who deftly run businesses, families and lives with incredible heart and determination. I salute you. May you be as successful as your desire and creativity can take you! May we all be.
p.s. I’d love to hear about who and what inspires you. please share your stories with us!
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