Dr David was in London in January 2014. He spoke at a special evening on feminine leadership. The conversation with Gina Lazenby was recorded and edited into four parts. This is the first video in the series, with a transcript of the conversation. The dialogue was about …….

  • how will women use their power when they do get to the top?
  • how do we challenge the norm and change the game?
  • what the age of disruption means
  • how big movements start with small actions, the power of the dedicated few


Gina Lazenby opens: Lots of our conversations at the Brooklyn Institute in Sydney have been about women getting in to leadership positions. One of the measurements for that has been the number of women on boards (this is the case for many countries). We are there in such few numbers, and it is the same for women CEOs.

Research shows that women on boards do have an impact. Research from Credit Suisse highlighted in The Athena Doctrine book says that large companies (with a market valuation over $10 billion) with women on their Boards outperformed companies with men-only Boards by 26% over five years.
that is a great statistic to show what women can do ….

But that is not really the game …

what you have said before is being there is not enough … what do we do with the power when we are there? One of the things you talked about is challenging and changing the norms … changing and upsetting the status quo. Is that enough for us to aim to get on to boards? … and are we going to change the game when we get there?

ALSO …..This week in the newspapers .. commentary from the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, this newspaper report referred to the Age of Disruption. Brilliant new gadgets are coming on stream that will change the way we raise money, the way we monitor our health, our home security .. all these new technologies are exciting and game-changing and it says they are a “stark challenge to established ways of doing business… the major trends at the show have major potential to upset the status quo challenging the business models of large companies and raising big questions about how government runs public services and seek to control the economy”.  This is a great metaphor for this conversation about women needing to challenge the status quo.

It’s time for women to challenge the norms
Dr David Paul responds:  You asked some very interesting questions, big questions. Changing the norm does not happen on a global scale. It happens at the level of one-to-one. And it is the power of the collective that makes the difference. So my conversation with you, as a result of what we are talking about tonight, and then your conversation with somebody else… and then their conversation … etc …… is the one that makes the biggest change. But more often than not we tend to have conversations that have no purpose apart from a discussion.

I think one of the things we need to do is rather than discussing in 2014 we need to say what can we do? What is the outcome of this discussion and every discussion then becomes a game-changer.

So that article you are talking about is where they have gone beyond discussion … they are now into Apps. So what are the Apps doing? They are actually creating moments of action, moments of Let’s Change the Game. So, for us to go forward this year I think is about breaking some of those rules. Norms are there to hold us to those rules but they have been invented a long time ago ….. It’s about breaking the rules and changing the game.

GL: One of the things that you have said to me was a wonderful phrase Radical Revolutionary Reform. I was struck by you saying that since Women got the vote, and we got together to do that, we haven’t come together as a movement of women. What I do notice when I travel is the huge number of women’s networks, organisations and communities who are gathering. There are so many more opportunities for women to congregate and connect. The woman who runs the Global PA network said that in the 1990s there were 8 to 10 women’s networks in London. Now there are more like 800+ just in London. Women are connecting globally and the Feminine Power network have had as many as 100,000 women on phone calls. in about 2010, Maria Shriver had a women’s event that was sold out to over 30,000 women in LA. There is a lot happening in this rise of the feminine. How do we create a second movement, a coordinated movement?

It’s time for a holistic movement of women (and men) all connecting together
DP: I would say a holistic movement. Some of the discussions we had tonight, each one has said we need both (men and women) …. Part of that is harnessing the energy of both and a movement is always created by a small handful of dedicated individuals. It has never happened any other way. So as impressive as 30,000 women gathering in one place is, my question would be what have they done?

GL: That is a great question!

The importance of the Dedicated Few
DP: And you don’t need 30,000. In fact, stats show. We only need 12 ½% of committed individuals to bring about a change. In this room that would be 2 ½ people. But imagine if ALL of us did it? That would make a difference. It’s not about the great movements and the great numbers, it’s about the commitment of the dedicated few. And massive change has happened because of that. Mahatma Gandhi in 1947, when the British were taxing the salt in India. He said, well let’s make our own salt. It didn’t take millions of individuals, all it took was a handful of people to say I can make my own salt. Break down the big goal into smaller pieces… the book you have to write, just start with one chapter so that it does not feel like a mountain to climb.

The key is to break it down into something small … then it is achievable.
GL: Something that stuck with me last year as a game changer was hearing the news about the government shutdown in America. It was because the Senate could not come to an agreement. Then three weeks later there was a breakthrough. Sen Mark Pryor was speaking on television news crediting a small group of women senators who had come together to create a small working group to open up negotiations and help break the deadlock. These women were from a cross party group of 20 women senators, who regularly met for pizza supper and baby showers. They had developed relationships and formed community. This is what they were able to leverage at that moment of need when all the dialogue between the male senators had stopped. Because the men couldn’t agree their communication had degraded down to insults. Nobody was able to move forward.

Women are already changing the game
So the women asked, what would it take to move forward? What are we each prepared to give, be flexible with, in these negotiations? The women Senators led this new conversation. It was great that the male senators took time to publicly acknowledge the role of the women senators. The men said they just stood back and watched the women at work, and learned from them. We women need to do more of that. It was great that the men championed this and so publicly acknowledged the role the women played.

What are the qualities that women are bringing to achieve better results?
DP: Perhaps we should ask:  What are the qualities that will take us forward from 2014 for the next six years until 2020?   What other qualities we need to bring about the global change?

Group Discussions:  What are the leadership qualities of women that will help build robust structures? It is clear that when we are in positions of power, and in quantity, we are making a difference. Recent research highlighted by the Athena Doctrine book showed that over a nine year period, hedge funds run by women outperformed those run by only men.  What are the qualities that women are bringing to achieve these kind of results?

end of Video 1 …