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Q&A with Maxine Benson MBE

Posted: by Jo Wednesday, 16 May 2018 @ 13:18

Inspired to be my best self: role models and heroes

This year, in our quest to step up and be our best selves, we wanted to learn from truly remarkable women, to use them as role models to inspire us.Maxine Benson MBE

We are absolutely thrilled to talk to Maxine Benson MBE, for our series of talks with truly inspiring women.

Maxine Benson, together with her friend Karen Gill, are the founders of the international women’s membership community, everywoman. They launched everywoman in 1999 out of personal need: they were starting their own small business and the business support at that time was dire. There were no significant networks or events where women could meet, share stories and get advice and guidance from each other. Recognising the need to change the landscape for women in business, they launched everywoman as the UK’s first community website for women in the UK.

Before long, they realised that the challenges that women starting businesses were encountering, were not so different from the challenges faced by women in the workplace; and that was the beginning of everywoman becoming the community it is today, providing learning and development for women in over 100 countries, working with some of the world’s biggest companies to help develop and support their women to achieve their career ambitions. Max and Karen were appointed MBEs in 2009 for their services to women’s enterprise.

They are also the Founders and Trustees of the charity Modern Muse (www.modernmuse.org) which they set up to inspire girls about the world of work.

I must here admit a personal interest: I was honoured to be the recipient of an everywoman Award in December 2017 for an inspirational woman running a business for 10 years or more, which is how I met Max and Karen.

So – we were very keen to find out from Max about what motivates her, and who she admires.

What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?

When I was at school, from the age of 12, I always had weekend work – waitressing at the local golf club, great tips when you are so young! I learned early on that the harder I worked, the more money I made. I got a real sense of achievement going home with cash in my pocket, it motivated me.

How important have role models been to you?

They have been vitally important, I believe they are for everyone. By nature of what we do at everywoman, I meet so many incredibly talented, generous, successful, inspiring women, it’s the greatest privilege. I am very lucky to spend so much time meeting women from a wide range of backgrounds, with differing life experiences, working in a wide range of businesses.  It exposes me to a very diverse range of qualities, attitudes, values, behaviours…. I love seeing or hearing something that I am motivated to try and emulate. It’s very energizing.

When you were young, who were your role models or people you truly admired?

When I was a teenager it was strong, smart women I would see on TV, in movies, in magazine, books. Women with a voice, an opinion, who spoke out, who would rather walk away before they would compromise their values. Those were the women I aspired to be like.

And as your entrepreneurial career has progressed - who inspires you now?

Women who have never compromised their values to achieve the success they have. Like Dame Mary Perkins, the founder of Specsavers.

Dame Mary Perkins, Specsavers
Dame Mary Perkins, Specsavers_image courtesy of Bristol Post

Women who never limit themselves and not only believe they can achieve anything, but do achieve it. Like Oprah.

So many women I have met who started a business because they needed financial freedom, or had to make money to get out of a bad situation – abusive relationships, victims of fraud, the only bread winner in the family. So many women who find something in themselves to take the leap and work and work and work until they achieve because they didn’t have a choice.

I like Estee Lauder’s quote, “Whatever you do, do it well and work hard at it, and with hard work will come success.”

And who, now, would you say is an inspiring figure on the world stage?

There are so many to choose from, which is wonderful. And they are diverse, and have access to a variety of media to empower women and young girls. Whether that’s on the world stage of music: Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga. Or film: Emma Watson, Angelina Jolie. Or women like Michele Obama, or the Queen.

Do you have a mantra you live your life by?

Be Bold…… it can be applied to everything.

Be bold - in your thinking, your ideas and dreams

Be bold – with the decisions you make

Be bold – with the things you say

Max’s Mantra

We have picked the Mantra necklace that best represents what inspires and motivates Max.

It is our Plume Feather necklace, representing freedom and bravery, with the mantra, ‘She who is brave is free’.

This month, buy this Mantra necklace at 15% off.

15 % off Plume Feather Necklace

 

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