#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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."