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From California to the Streets of New York: Tory Johnson Sees Everything is Possible

November 2, 2009 2:18 PM

From LA…
What impressed me the most last week at Maria Shriver’s California Women’s Conference was not the star power—CBS anchor Katie Couric, White House advisor Valerie Jarrett and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, among others—but the positive and upbeat mood among the thousands of women who attended this estrogen expo.

These smart women are clearly looking forward—not back—and seem anything but depressed, despite their state’s hard hit economy. I could feel it in the room as I spoke to them about my own fired to hired story and then afterward in their thoughtful and probing questions about today’s job market. Ever gracious Shriver told the crowd that I used to work for her at NBC and then joked that someday she’ll be asking me for help in finding a job. I think not, but it was nice to get such a warm compliment from a woman I have always admired.

Jillian Michaels, who has guided so many people on NBC’s Biggest Loser, showed her very serious side when she told a hushed audience to stop playing by antiquated rules that tell them to put themselves last. Couric talked about resilience. When boss after boss told her she wasn’t good enough, instead of crawling into a hole, she worked harder and harder…always giving what she called her best. Shriver also spoke so lovingly about recently losing her best friend, her mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She said everyone should embrace being loved and nurtured by other people–and that when you lose someone it’s ok to grieve on your timeframe, not anyone else’s. Lisa Niemi—Patrick Swayze’s widow –eloquently revealed the cruelty of the gossip tabloids that tried to steal their hope after his devastating diagnosis.

Jarrett hammered home one of my favorite themes—that women must help women. And Albright had the 12,000 women roaring with her infamous line that there’s a special place in hell for those who don’t help one another.

Each of these women focused on perseverance. Instead of succumbing to any number of obstacles, they’ve carved their own paths and broken through challenges.

…to NYC
I was reminded again of the California Women’s Conference this past Sunday when I cheered my brother on the streets of Manhattan during the ING New York City Marathon. He and more than 40,000 others took to the streets in an awesome display of mind-blowing achievement. Runners of all ages, shapes and abilities shared one clear trait: They set their sights on a goal and their bodies delivered.

Each and every one of them reminded me that it’s too easy to make excuses about why we can’t do something, when in reality if you really want it, everything is indeed possible.

…and then to Houston
I’ll see that spirit on display in Houston next week at the Texas Governor’s Conference for Women.

What are you setting your sights on right now—and what are you doing to break through the challenges to make it happen? Share your experiences here.

Comments (6)

I am a registered nurse,for over 30 yrs. I started a part time business,it is a new industry to educate consumers to understand how money work.If anyone want to join and learn.just mail me.It is good for someone that want have a security career.Noone will fire or no need to hire anyone. The system is running.The qualification is be above 18yr old.

Tory...I think you are fabulous and the messages you share with women are right own. I was at your event yesterday...we have spoken before. I have a program on Public Television and a professional women's website http://www.womenworking.com. We have your group listed on the site and yesterday I said some terrific things about you on my blog. I also know Juju who referred me to you. Keep up the good work. Fondly, Helene Lerner

The job I had was extremely secure, against the typical reduction in forces, unfortunately there is no security from a car accident--especially when you're single and pregnant with a young child at home. The good news is this occurrence forced me to look inside myself and realize what I'm really made of. After making futile attempts in the workforce I was accustomed to for years, I observed my only choice was to go to school for something else which interested me, calmly working my way out of what most would consider a "hopeless situation." At the present time I am literally homeless with two children while I continue to anticipate Social Security, the lawsuit settlement, etc. while I attend school. What else can I do? Patience certainly is a virtue, and in this instance the welfare of my children depend on it, sort of like the oxygen mask on a plane--I need to be level-headed in order to provide for my kids.

When I am finished, my company will be called "Danicam Kids" and it will be on the internet again--but this time it will stay up!

It was a blessing that I was laid off on March 10,2006. My mom got out of the hospital a week later after a stroke and I took care of her for another year until she died. If I hadn't been laid off, she would have had to stay in a nursing home. I started school at Lindenwood LCIE in St. Louis, MO on Trade Act benefits and finished my BA in Business in 2008. After I couldn't find a good job, I applied for a graduate assistant job and am now in the Lindenwood MBA program-- for free. OK girls-- after 55 your tuition is half price here; so come on in and register. It's never to late to learn--and I might even become a professional student!

After 18 years in healthcare industry I lost my position due a reduction in force. Just months before that I got divorced. Over the past several years I have been going to school part time and received my associates degree in May. After losing my job I called a friend in the real estate industry and asked her if there were any classes starting yet. She said "yes Monday." I've been plugging away 7 days a week at it since June. It takes a lot of time to build your business and it's very scary because I have a mortgage and two teenage daughters. In the meantime I was able to secure financial aid to go to school full time this fall. I'm taking a chance right with the steps I'm taking but feel like this is one of those times where you have to take a leap into the unknown for something that means alot to you. It helps to hear inspiring stories from other women. I'm trying to think positive and hope I don't lose my home. I have another year and a half for school. Thank you for taking a moment to read my story.

Sincerely, Carolyn

My sister and I want to apply for grants to start a small business but we don't know where to start and there seems to be a lot of scams out there. Do you know where we should start and what we should do?

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