Posted: by Jo Wednesday, 16 May 2018 @ 13:18
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.
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
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
When you were young, who were your role models or people you
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_image courtesy of Bristol Post
Women who never limit
themselves and not only believe they can achieve anything, but do achieve it.
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
And who, now, would you say is an inspiring figure on the
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
Be bold - in your thinking,
your ideas and dreams
Be bold – with the decisions
Be bold – with the things
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
month, buy this Mantra necklace at 15% off.