Stylist Life Lessons: an evening with Miriam Gonázlez Durántez, Nicola Mendelsohn and Charlie Webster

A few weeks ago I went to Stylist magazine’s ‘Life Lessons’ event at the Ham Yard Hotel in London. The speakers that evening were Miriam Gonázlez Durántez, campaigner for Inspiring Women, international trade lawyer and wife of the Deputy Prime Minister; Nicola Mendelsohn, VP of Facebook EMEA and previous CEO of Karmarama; and Charlie Webster, sports and television presenter, and campaigner for sexual abuse in sport.

The venue for the evening: London’s fancy Ham Yard Hotel
Each speaker was given 15 minutes to share their one ‘life lesson’ and then there was a Q&A session. I thought it would be nice to share some of the really valuable advice these 3 women gave us, and of course, some photos as well!

Charlie Webster: “Everyone has a responsibility to shape the world”

Most of you will have heard of Charlie when she spoke out against the Ched Evans rape case and resigned as patron of Sheffield United Football Club as a result of Ched being re-signed to the club.
Until she spoke out, only two people knew about the abuse Charlie suffered from one of her coaches when she was a young athlete. And, sadly, when she did speak out, she then received death threats over social media. But she also received over 4000 emails of support of women thanking her for speaking out.
Charlie said “we are conditioned to accepting what goes on around us” and so when the Evans case came to light Charlie felt compelled to use her public position to speak out and stand up for herself and all the women who suffer abuse.
Charlie challenged us to take responsibility to stand up for the things we believe are wrong in the world and fight to make them better.
All in all, from the speaker I knew least about, an incredibly brave and powerful lesson.

Nicola Mendelsohn: “Build your own board”

Nicola, a self-confessed “serial networker” took to the stage after Charlie to speak about making sure you build a solid support network, or ‘board’.
As the first ever female head of the IPA, the most senior female leader at Facebook after Sheryl Sandberg, and with a successful career in the advertising industry, I was really excited to hear Nicola speak.
Her life lesson was to make sure that you always have a board of advisors to guide you in life. These can be anyone from family, friends and colleagues, and the make up of the board may change throughout your life. She advised to make sure your board is made up of people who will challenge, push and support you and she talked through the various advisors and mentors she’s had.
Nicola also spoke against asking someone ‘will you be my mentor’ and suggested that the mentor/mentee relationship often develops organically without the need for structure or labels.
Her 5 pieces of advice for building the best board are:
1. Make it diverse
2. Seek honesty and disagreement
3. Be prepared to give and take
4. Don’t just seek out famous people
5. Don’t be afraid to change your board
And her final piece of advice, probably the best I’ve ever heard… “When it all gets too much, just remember it’s impossible to cry and whistle at the same time!”

Miriam González Durántez: “Every woman has a role model inside of her”

Last but definitely not least was Miriam González Durántez who started by saying she didn’t believe in ‘life lessons’ and instead argued that each and every one of us is a role model and we learn as we go along.
Miriam was really inspiring, she seemed to just have it, whatever it is! After having us all in stitches by telling us to please not tweet ‘naughty things’ otherwise she may be pulled off the election campaign and put into ‘political quarantine’ she then spoke about how she just does not understand how the Daily Mail are so fascinated with her shoes and outfits, again with such wit and humour it was impossible not to warm to her.
Miraim’s main point though, was about her Inspiring Women campaign, an initiative to get 15000 working women to go into schools and colleges and talk to girls about their careers, the aim being to open up the imaginations of girls on what jobs they could do, and work to dispel gender stereotypes.
Mentioning the Daily Mail again, she said that to her, the comments on women’s outfits, weight, hair, appearance is all “background noise” but it is these type of magazine and content that is the backdrop for young girls everywhere – “there is still residual sexism in our society”.
“No matter where you are from, you can be a role model”
The quote of the night, had to be one of Miriam’s concluding remarks: recently, David Cameron in speaking about his wife Sam, said “behind every man there is a great woman”. Miriam commented on this saying, “I don’t know if I am a great woman, but I am definitely not behind my husband, I am beside him.”
The Q&A session afterwards


Freebies! Tea, beauty products, biscuits and of course Stylist mag

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