By Linda Mullins
Back row from left: Kim Ziomek, Olga Longan, Susan Brennan, Maureen Martin, Kathleen Ligocki. Front row from left: Denise Mahnick, Shelley Washburn, Maria Walker, Linda Mullins The YaYas, Established 2001
In a recent interview with Thrive Global and Authority Magazine, I was asked: None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
This article offers an amended and much enhanced reply to that question after enjoying the company of awe-inspiring women and recent gatherings
There are so many people in my 'life family' that have encouraged me along the way even though up until recent years, I arrogantly believed I was self-made, a survivor and a lone wolf. Thank God for personal growth right?! My father, Major Mullins drove us hard and encouraged me that 'you can be whatever you want'. He was certainly instrumental in forming my can do attitude, determination and drive, also fueled by a less than stellar childhood.
Oh, but the women 'influencers' along the way, many teachers and professors heavily influenced, edified and inspired me, guiding me toward excellence, albeit in very different ways. Tough teachers like Sharon Baron at Lake Brantley High School. Or the lovely, soulful Ruth Senterfitt, my professor in Creative Writing in college, one of my favorites.
Because much of my career has been spent in the automotive financial services industry, I did not have the opportunity to work among many women leaders (at the time). But I was very fortunate to have a mentor at Southeast Toyota, Dianne Hankerson. She is an amazing woman, filled with wisdom, savvy and sass. Thanks Dianne! I also count it as joy to have been able to recruit and mentor women leaders in automotive, helping to raise up the next generation. Women like Heather Haynes, Julian Kinney, Dana Galietta and Brandi Mason to name a few. The truth is, mentoring is often a two way street, iron sharpening iron. Thank you for the privilege to know you and grow with you.
As fate would have it, I was lucky enough to meet a dynamic group of women spanning all segments of the automotive industry that, to this day continue to influence me. The YaYas are near and dear to my heart and epitomize the term, Women of Influence. The group came together when we shared the common thread of the automotive industry. With all members among the C-Suite, whether large corporations or head of growth for their own companies, they are truly a force to be reckoned with and have greatly impacted my life. Kathleen Ligocki, Olga Longan, Susan Brennan, Maureen Martin, Kim Ziomek, Denise Mahnick, Shelley Washburn, Maria Walker and me. To the YaYas I raise a glass of fine Cabernet Sauvignon and say; Cheers to you my friends, thanks for 20 years of amazing trips, laughter and empowerment!
Hundreds of women touched my heart and my life when I owned a live-in wellness retreat. Haleh Damavandi, Gay Poe, Cheryl Champagne and Anny Mendez were among the team of women who were instrumental in revitalizing weary bodies and minds, including my own. And the clients that honored us by entrusting their lives to us, changed us all. Thank you to the mighty women of the Core Crew.
A recent group of influencers is The Butterfly, created a few years ago by businesswoman extraordinaire, Joanne Moretti. A gathering replete with budding career women and driven entrepreneurs linking arms with the some of the highest ranking corporate executives gracing the halls of DFW, all moving in concert to elevate and encourage.
By now you may be wondering where my mother is in all this. I love my mother dearly. I call her 'golden' to this day, like in The Outsiders, 'stay gold Ponyboy', referring to the Robert Frost poem Nothing Gold Can Stay. Though my mom has long since gone to be with the Lord, she will always be gold to me. But because she did not raise me, up until now, I had wrongly dismissed the influence she had on the person I've become. I see now that is very wrong indeed. It was the very absence of exposure to her tender, lovingkindness in my life that contributed to my tough exterior, a formidable presence for so many years that hid my own tenderness and vulnerability from the world. I could of used much more of her grace and unwavering feminine strength to shape me with softer edges. Alas, my armor has served me well through decades of tough industries, and life's trials. And now, the chinked armor has come off, helmet and shield, sword and chainmail suit, bit by bit, plate by plate, exposing more of the tender, vulnerable woman that is woven into the fabric of my being because of my beautiful mother. Thank you, mom! I look forward to spending more time with you when I get there.
Albert & Marie Mullins, aka Dad & Mom, before my history on earth began. . .
Recently, during a time of reflection, I concluded that my closest girlfriends, my 'sisters', posse and tribe, have served as some of my greatest influencers. They have always been there to support me, encourage me, lift me up and oftentimes - call me on my stuff (much needed.) Some old friends like Maria Walker, Brenda Oliver, Caprice Mackemer, Tammy Dutremble, and Noelle Norvell and Justina Davis. And some newer friends like MaryElaine Cline, Lisa Perry, Pastor Tracy Eckert, Jordi Bostock, Kelli Calabrese, Robin Perry Braun, Kip Watson, Yvette Grove, Denise Lubaway and an ever growing list too long to post in this blog. What a blessing it is to do life with so many powerful, supportive women. I owe each of them, and so many others a debt of gratitude. Thank you, I'm honored to be called your friend.
Jordi Bostock, Linda Mullins and Kelli Calabrese
As a greater number of years are in my rearview now than my windshield view, I realize more and more how instrumental these women have been and are in not only bringing joy, laughter, wisdom, wit, but correction, support, edification and encouragement in business and in life. Most of them I've granted access to the deepest recesses of my heart, while only a very few know the persona I bring to work. Some have been catalysts in my faith walk, leading me and encouraging me to discover my true identity in Christ, not who the world says I should be, or the skewed lens from which I had seen myself. All have been influential in shaping, refining and encouraging me to grow and change and be a gentler, more evolved person who sees the world through enlightened eyes.
I could be here all day remembering the women who have touched my life in a myriad of ways. Some for a moment, others for a lifetime.
For so many years I strutted about considering myself to be a self-made, independent woman. What a farce. Now more than ever, and what better time than Women's History Month, I truly cherish the amazing women that add so much richness, depth and joy to this journey we call life. I don't know where I would be without them! What women in your history need to know how they have influenced and inspired you?