#8 MENTOR: Be a Front Porch Lady Featuring Esther Silver Parker

By Kathy Korman Frey

A dignified, beautiful, African-American woman stood at the podium during the Wake Forest Women’s Weekend. All eyes were on Esther Silver-Parker, one of the most senior former executives at Wal-Mart and now president of the Silver-Parker Group.  Would she talk about women’s advancement to the C-suite? Would she share her secrets to success? That, she did. And one of them was not at all what we expected.

Silver-Parker grew up in rural North Carolina, in a two-bedroom house, with her parents and many siblings.  She recounted a screenplay-like story about a group of women she called: The Front Porch Ladies. “The Front Porch Ladies were the women who sat on their front porches as we came home from school,” Silver-Parker said. “They would treat our business like it was their business.”

When Silver-Parker was accepted to college, imagine her surprise when the Front Porch Ladies showed up on her front porch. There they all stood, having brought with them a full set of blue luggage for her to take off to school. “From time to time at college, I would get letters from the Front Porch Ladies,” Silver-Parker told the audience. “They would write words of encouragement, and sometimes include a dollar or two.”

A group of women, probably over-looked and taken for granted, played a pivotal and memorable role in a young woman’s life. And, there, now, with her silver hair and power suit, Silver-Parker remembered the Front Porch Ladies.

Will YOU take it upon yourself to get involved in the life of a woman you know, to help aggressively and actively?

Are we evolving, as a society of women, to do what it take to be successful? Here, today, is our chance.

For instance, the below graph indicates a fascinating pattern: Search trends for “International Women’s Day” have been on the decline…until, that is, 2012. Is there something in the air? Will you be part of the upswing?

Be a Front Porch Lady.

Be part of the New Sisterhood. Stand on YOUR front porch, and call out. Get involved in the life of another woman. The time for pleasantries and being polite is over. The time for KNOWING that we can and will help one another is here.

Today…Who will you support?

Today…How will you do it?

Today…Who must know you’re there?

Will you send an email? Will you make a call?  Start with Ashley, and then move on to someone in YOUR life.

What will you do, today?


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