Great Women: a personal list #1

To mark 100 years since (some) women were granted the right to vote, I thought I’d celebrate some of the women in my life who’ve made it substantially better. Kicking off: Nadine Dereza.

What can be said about Nadine that hasn’t already been said, quite often by me? Actually loads, because most my verbiage has been written to introduce her onto a stage, and the potted CV of my co-author on the very good and still available Insider Secrets of Public Speaking isn’t quite what I’m going for here.

How has Nadine made my life substantially better? By teaching me a very important lesson about the power of gratitude. I occasionally rib her that there at least seven Nadine Derezas: the conference host, the businesswoman, the mother, the daughter, the non-exec chair, the mentor … and a couple more for good measure. She does a lot, without apparently any doppelgänger to fall back on, or some sort of time machine to extend the standard 24 hour day into something that can account for her prodigious work load.

How the hell does she do it?

My father clued me up on it. He had her number the first time they met at our book launch. ‘I don’t know how she does it,’ I said, falling back on a cliché. ‘Would you crawl over hot coals for her?’ My dad asked.

‘No, but I’d pull out the stops to write a conference script on a tight deadline.’

‘It’s because she’s grateful,’ my dad mansplained. ‘If you want to achieve stuff, you need help. And help dries up if you don’t nurture it. Nadine doesn’t show gratitude for getting stuff done, she gets stuff done because she shows gratitude.’

‘That’s very profound,’ I said. ‘Anything else?’

‘Is there any food at this party?’

My mother hearing this, took my arm and reminded my that my father’s wisdom, like a stopped clock, is only ever right twice a day.

It is true that if I talk to someone who’s met Nadine, the memory is always positive. They’ve been helped out of a spot, she’s gone above and beyond for them, or they’ve done something for her and been invited by her to the same glitzy function that I have.

Nadine has the knack of creating a virtuous circle around her, and that, I think, is her superpower.


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