A well-known speaker tried to humiliate this woman in front of everyone. She didn't let him.

My friend Tiphani is a young single mom of two, a successful entrepreneur, a best-selling author, and an all-around inspiration.

All hustle and heart, she coaches thousands of women just like her — single moms who others may have doubted and written off — to be entrepreneurial, financially secure, authentic, and, most of all, bold.

Last week, she traveled to an out-of-town women's empowerment conference.

It was a conference for professional women seeking high-level insights on career advancement, wealth building, developing fulfilling relationships, and networking.


On the last day of the event, Tiphani walked up to the audience microphone during a Q&A session to pose a question to a very successful, very well-known man (who shall remain nameless at her request) known for his humorous, practical, and inspirational advice geared toward women.

Not the real Tiphani, but we'll pretend. Photo via iStock.

When it was her turn, she stood at the mic, smiled, and did what most people at big networking conferences do: She identified herself.

With a fun, endearing little nod to the unique spelling of her name that she always includes, she stated her name and career:

“Hi, my name is Tiphani — T-i-P-H-a-n-i — and I'm a best-selling author and entrepreneur..."

Before she could ask her question, the male speaker interrupted her from the stage and said, dramatically, No one cares what your name is!" The audience burst into laughter. Stunned, she stood there as he proceeded to mock her, tell her never to do that again ("that" being both spell her name and mention her accomplishments), and give her a lesson in what he had apparently deemed to be her self-importance and arrogance.

Stunned, she stood there as he proceeded to mock her.

My friend stood there for what felt like an eternity as the reprimand continued, the laughter rolled on, and she fought to keep angry tears from falling.

This confident woman was humiliated for being confident. By a male "motivational" speaker. At a women's empowerment conference.

What happened to Tiphani at that mic may sound like just an ironic and obnoxious anomaly. But it's what happens to so many women every day when they dare to "step up to the mic" in their lives and be their full selves.

Just ask movie producer Effie Brown, who had a public back-and-forth with Matt Damon about diversity on his show "Project Greenlight." On this week's episode, she was portrayed as difficult and annoying for registering similar concerns.

Just ask model and author Amber Rose, who blasted GQ magazine this week for writing an introduction to their profile of her that described her only in relation to her famous exes (even calling her a "baby mama" despite the fact that she was married at the time). She was called sensitive for her objection.

Just ask my colleague Wagatwe Wanjuki, who was ultimately expelled from Tufts University after speaking up about being repeatedly assaulted on campus and receiving no support from the school.

Just ask Ellen Pao, who spent months in a sordid, public gender-discrimination case against the prominent venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

Every day, women deal with the consequences of boldly speaking up and "leaning in."

Tiphani's story isn't just anecdotal, either. Research shows that women are penalized for speaking too much, speaking too little, speaking with emotion, speaking with too high of a pitch, speaking with certain phrases, speaking while appearing either too sexual or not attractive enough, or speaking while being black or Latino.

“Well, I care what my name is. And I'm going to ask my question."

In an article written earlier this year, Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett, authors of the book “The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance Is Hurting Women, Men — and Our Economy," described the problem pretty succinctly:

"Good things happen for men when they talk, but for women, silence is golden."

So what's a girl to do?

Well, Tiphani refused to be silenced. She stood there and said, voice shaky but determined: “Well, I care what my name is. And I'm going to ask my question."

Women came up to her afterward to show their support and shock for what had happened. She of course turned the experience into a lesson to teach her clients and social media followers a few days later. Because that's what we women do.

We push through and pass on our best practices to other women.

A quick Google search finds no shortage of articles written by women, teaching other women how to speak up — safely, strategically, and, of course, confidently, despite the bias that may occur as a result.

But my question after this ordeal is simple and nagging: Who is teaching the men? And when will they learn?

Until then, we'll keep standing up and being exactly who we are. And as much as I want to humiliate this guy now by putting him on blast, we'll keep him anonymous. Because no one cares what his name is.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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