7.8.16

Hey, girl, hey, don’t forget: being a leader means much more than flexing our management muscles and building our own growth. Leadership also involves using our strength to carve out space for others to explore their own power. Many of us face pressure to dream within pre-set social boundaries – and sometimes those boundaries affect the way we think about ourselves as leaders.

In the documentary, Dream, Girl, we’re reminded that breaking out of these kinds of limiting ideas isn’t a one-gal kind of job; it’s a mission that requires all of us. Our very own girl-powerment guru, Katie Horwitch of Women Against Negative Talk, is sharing her take on the doc, being screened now across the country…

I’m a documentary junkie. I don’t care if it’s Anthony Bourdain traveling around the world eating hot dogs or an exposé of the 72 cutest animals in the world (Netflix it, it’s a thing), I absolutely love learning. Hearing about someone’s passion or watching them live out their dreams (or hearing about people who have in the past) is contagious – something I find riveting. The only problem? As much of a leader as I would like to think I am – it’s rare that I see myself in the mix.

It’s hard to be what you can’t see. And in my avid doc-watching, I’ve always craved one that shone a light on the kinds of women I longed to be like: ambitious, creative, purpose-driven people making a difference in the world. When Miss Representation was released five years ago, I sat and waited eagerly for more fem-centric docs to roll on in. They didn’t. Even as I watched documentaries on other subjects I was interested in, I started to notice a startling pattern: The majority of experts featured, talked about, talking, etc… were men. Mostly older. Mostly white. Mostly the same thing, over and over.

Where were the faces and voices of feminine strength, gusto, and diversity? Where were the examples of all ages being recognized for their talents and knowledge, not their demographic and linear path? Apparently, they were all filming Dream, Girl.

Dream, Girl is a new documentary that tells the inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs and CEOs in order to empower the next generation of girl bosses to dream bigger. The Kickstarter-funded film, directed by Erin Bagwell, follows five incredible female entrepreneurs of all ages, backgrounds and expertise, talking everything from self-care to discrimination to the little moments along their path that made the hugest differences. It’s the spotlight we’ve been searching for, the examples we’ve been craving and the stories we’ve longed for for far too long.

Watching the film at last month’s world premiere in New York City’s Paris Theater (yes, I was Sex-and-the-City geeking out, hardcore), I was struck by how incredibly relatable each one of these women were. From the high-powered, seasoned angel investor Joanne Wilson to 26 year-old Dream, Girl producer Komal Minhas to 84 year-old Clara Villarosa, who is currently on her third business, it didn’t matter what exactly they were doing or how long they’d done it. Dream, Girl shows us our fellow women, our fellow tribe-mates, our fellow leaders, all defining their own hustle and lifting other women up with them along the way.

Through investigating, interviewing and being inspired by women of all kinds for WANT, I’ve come to realize just how many women feel the call to make a difference. It could be our emotional awareness, our inherent feminine attributes, or simply the fact that the world we’re living in at times seems to be crying for help – but so many of us feel the need to change things for the better. How we make that difference might look different for us all, but at the end of the day, we’re all bound by a common thread of wanting to leave this world a little bit brighter than when we first got here. The more women we see paving their own pathways, whatever those may be, the more roads we’ll have for those who want to follow them, and the more encouragement we’ll have for those who want to pave their own.What would my life have looked like if I had seen the sorts of examples we see in Dream, Girl earlier on in life? What would I have thought, done, been, if I had been exposed to such possibility on such a large scale when I was younger? My heart aches for the girl who wanted to move mountains but didn’t internalize (or maybe even just realize) how many options she really had. My heart expands for the woman I am now, who sees that she can not only capture the moon, but dust off the rubble and make it glow… because she can see other women doing the same.

I’m not saying that we need an example to take action. Quite the opposite: It all starts with a dream. We need to be our own examples, our own role models. But in order to take action, we need to be our own examples and our own role models together. The more women we see paving their own pathways, whatever those may be, the more roads we’ll have for those who want to follow them, and the more encouragement we’ll have for those who want to pave their own. As Walt Disney famously said, “If we can dream it, we can do it” – but to add on to Mr. D’s words, if we can see it, we can most certainly be it.

Being a woman is like being a part of a collective. We’re not just forces to be reckoned with, we’re leaders in our own right who are able to shift the world by working in unison. We are inherently inclusive by nature, although the society we live in sometimes seems like it would rather us exclude others and compete for space.

And while being a leader is so often synonymous with strength, power and admiration/adoration – it also means being a leader when we’re out of steam. Being a leader means being a leader when the applause is faint and the familiar faces are few. Being a leader, more often than not, means plowing forward and forging a new path even when, especially when, it would be easier to stay the course.

Being a leader, in all cases, means envisioning what’s possible and taking action to make it happen. And in doing so, it means giving others a chance to see themselves in the mix.

Share your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear them!

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