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Women breaking barriers

February 17, 2016


I love to read news about females doing things that are truly different and have folks saying, “She made how much money?” OR “She did that!” OR “Wow, that’s a real breakthrough!”

I call this SHOCK NEWS because it makes everyone sit up and realize that we really are in a new era. Take a look.

PIONEERS IN THREE AREAS: Because I read and research so much, I’m quoting from write-ups in three different publications about exceptional women in three entirely different areas. They are: (1) a business-oriented actress with a company valued at $1.7 billion, (2) the world’s most successful female poker player, and (3) the NFL’s first female coach, aka “The only woman in the huddle”.


A big break came in 1998 for Jessica Alba, now 34, when director James Cameron cast her in the TV series Dark Angel. According to an article written by Derek Blasberg in Vanity Fair’s Holiday 2015/2016 issue, Alba was chosen out of 1,000 actresses who auditioned for the part.

Jessica Alba, actress and entrepreneur

Photo: Courtesy of Vanity Fair

She set out to approach her career “like my own Hollywood business. People doubted me as an actress and that’s something that drove me”.

When Alba was pregnant with her first daughter her friends threw a baby shower and she received a closetful of baby clothes. When she washed her unborn baby’s onesies with a detergent she broke out in hives.

Thus began Alba’s search for safe and effective consumer products. In 2012, her company, named Honest was launched with 17 products. Sales reached $10 million in one year. Now, it has more than 135 products and is sold both online and in 4,000 retail stores. Sales have passed $150 million.

Alba’s confidence has now replaced her insecurity about never having attended college.


According to a terrific Lunch with the FT interview by Stephen Foley that appeared in the Financial Times on 12/12-13/15, the 31-year-old Selbst has taken home more than $11 million from live tournaments. This math whiz is a gay woman, who is not your typical poker star, but has wowed TV viewers with her aggressive play and apparently reckless betting on weak hands.

She took a break from poker to complete a law degree from Yale in 2009 and in 2015 she passed the New York bar exam. Selbst says she feels like an outsider on poker tours where players spend days on end playing for prizes that can reach into millions of dollars. But it’s all worth it because Selbst makes a point of using her money wisely. She has established Venture Justice, a foundation that funnels her poker winnings to young entrepreneurs starting nonprofits aimed at tackling inequality.


    According to an insightful article by Rachel Sturtz in Marie Claire magazine (12/15) Dr. Jen Welter, 38, made history when the Arizona Cardinals hired her as the first female coach in the NFL. Asked how she felt Welter replied, “For me, it was important to be great. Not good, great”. She follows this with, “I earned the respect of the players when they realized I knew what I was doing. They also know that I have a doctorate in psychology, so they find me and say, ‘Can I borrow you for a sec?’”

    Dr. Jen Welter, the first female coach in the National Football League

    Photo: Courtesy of Marie Claire


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    Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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