American Masters // The Women's List

I had the privilege to preview the film The Women’s List before it premiered on 10/25/15 on PBS. At the event there was a special guest — Madeleine Albright! She spoke with the director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders before the screening in front of the audience.

Madeleine lives in DC so I guess this wasn’t a stretch for her to be a special guest as she’s one of the women interviewed in the film, but I had no idea she was going to be there so it was a treat. I’ve never had the opportunity to be in such small company with her. There were maybe 75 people there so it felt intimate.

My impression of her was WOW, what a badass. I mean she was the first female secretary of state so that qualifies her for immediate badass status. But at 78 years young, this women is WITH IT. Her voice does not match her age. She sounds so young and she is just so whip smart. I was taking notes when she was talking because I just felt like I was in the presence of such an amazing woman — I wanted to remember what she was saying.

Never having really delved into researching her I found out a few interesting things about her. First is that she’s Czechoslovakian. She came to the US at 11 years old. Her father was a diplomat. I’m part Czechoslovakian (my maiden name was Fialka, which means violet), so I felt a tinge of a heritage connection.

She said a few things I wanted to share.

+ She said she loves giving graduation commencement speeches and that her graduation robes are her favorite outfit to wear (she went to Wellesley College, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia).

+ When talking about the current Syrian refugee crisis and how the U.S. has only said we’d take 10,000 refugees, she was talking about how much space we have here in the U.S. and she said:

“We are the most generous people in the world with the shortest attention span.”

+ She also repeated one of her famous quotes when talking about women:

“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” 

Amen sister. I couldn’t agree more to this. Sometimes I think I help other women out to the possible detriment of my own business (spending more time on their business than my own) but I’m convinced it will come back to me at some point, and investing in relationships is sooooo important.

+ When talking about how she teaches at Georgetown, she said that she doesn’t want her students to raise their hands in her class. She wants them to interrupt each other, because interrupting is an active form of listening. If you just sit there and raise your hand, reciting what you want to say in your head, you aren’t actively listening. To have the guts to interrupt someone you really have to know and understand the concept of what you want to say and be confident enough to interrupt to say it.

A little detail I noticed is that she was wearing the same brown pant suit and cameo pin in person as she was wearing in the movie. I thought that was an thoughtful touch. I doubt many people noticed it, but it’s just something I picked up on.


Each of the 16 women in the film are truly remarkable. In the film they all shared the struggles and challenges of their journey. As a female entrepreneur I found it very inspirational, but I think any woman would enjoy it.

Featured in the film:

Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, 1997-2001
Gloria Allred, lawyer
Laurie Anderson, artist
Sara Blakely, entrepreneur
Margaret Cho, comedian
Edie Falco, actor
Elizabeth Holmes, scientist and entrepreneur
Betsey Johnson, fashion designer
Alicia Keys, singer-songwriter
Aimee Mullins, athlete and fashion model
Nancy Pelosi, politician
Rosie Perez, actor
Shonda Rhimes, writer-producer
Wendy Williams, talk show host
Nia Wordlaw, pilot

You should definitely watch the film — you can find it here


Photos by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders