#YouDo: Why I decided to spend November thanking the women who've inspired me.
Image collage by Good Media Group/Original Images via Sally Susman/LinkedIn

When the #MeToo movement broke just over a year ago, I was gutted.

It was startling to see men I’d admired revealed as predators and heartbreaking to learn of so many women who had suffered unwanted sexual advances and endured harassment in the workplace. I knew how important it was to shine a light on these atrocious acts.

To borrow a phrase, time was up. Kudos to those who stood up and spoke out.


A year on, with stories still unfolding, I decided to test an idea — examine another way to look at the world.

Rather than think about what some men had done to women, I decided to focus on what women have done for themselves, and more specifically, how they have helped me.  

So, for the month of November, I committed to a daily posting under the hashtag #YouDo. I’ve honored women who shined a beacon of goodness, challenged a status quo, inspired us and led by example.  

My first honoree was Susan Desmond-Hellmann whom I know through her previous work in biopharmaceutical research and now as CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I applauded Sue for her commitment to eradicating disease around the world.

Later in the month, I saluted the poet Mary Oliver. I’ve never met Mary, however, I hear her words every morning as I read one of her poems to remind me of nature’s power to heal and inspire.

The day after the mid-term elections I congratulated Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo on her reelection. Governor Raimondo is a pragmatic solution seeker, a strong and caring elected official and someone I truly admire.

Every day for the month, I posted a woman’s image with the hashtag #YouDo and referenced her specific acts.

There was no celebrity spokesperson. No advertising support. No public relations blitz. Just a lot of heart and homespun gratefulness.

The results surprised me. Compared to the previous month, viewership of my LinkedIn profile increased by nearly 350% and I gained more than 1,000 new followers. It was a thrill for me to see Billie Jean King and other women I admire engage with #YouDo.  

The effect on my mindset was even greater. My anger and discouragement have tempered. More importantly, I feel a connection to a community at a time when people feel more at odds than ever. In a world where insults dominate, I found the power of gratitude.  

I encourage you to try it. Give kindness a go. Whether under #YouDo, or in your own creative voice, express your thankfulness. #YouDo feel better when you shed a positive light on others.

Sally Susman is the Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pfizer where she leads reputation management and directs the company’s communications, public affairs and philanthropic activities around the world. Her work takes her from the offices of Pfizer to remote villages in Africa to the corridors of Capitol Hill, and she is motivated by the many different hats she wears – business leader, engaged citizen, and influencer. Sally can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Editor's Note: GOOD Media Group is a paid consultant of Pfizer. This op-ed was produced independent of that partnership.

The difference between a politician and a public servant may be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to getting legislation passed that actually helps people, the contrast is stark.

Texas Representative James Talarico is on a mission to get his constituents the life-saving medicine they need. The 31-year-old lawmaker has just introduced legislation that would cap the price of insulin—a medicine people with type 1 diabetes need to live, which has become unaffordable for many—at $50 a month.

The mission is personal for Talarico, as he nearly died three years ago when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He shared his story on Twitter:

"In May 2018, I was a healthy 28-year-old running for the Texas House. I decided to walk the entire length of my district and hold town halls along the way. I hike Big Bend every year, so I wasn't concerned about a 25 mile walk...

But halfway through the walk, I began feeling nauseous and fatigued. Before the town hall in Hutto, I vomited in the bathroom."

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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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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