I went all Facebook fan girl the other day. One of my pals posted a video of a live number from the smash Broadway musical, "Come From Away," and I saw a name on his thread that was irresistible.
The woman responding to his post was Beverley Bass. She has the distinction of being the first woman to helm a jet cockpit for American Airlines. And a piece of her tenacious life story is paid tribute in this post-9-11 play set in Gander, Newfoundland (The Rock), where she's brilliantly portrayed by Tony nominee Jenn Collela.
"You inspire me," I typed. And she replied that I was too kind. Squeal. Beverley Bass wrote me back!
I love her narrative. If not for Beverley holding fast to her dream of becoming a commercial pilot, she would never have gotten so far. In fact, as the story and song goes, she fell in love with flying when she was a little girl. She later earned her wings. She then tried to get a job, as a commercial pilot, only to be told by a cadre of older male pilots that women should be serving drinks on planes, not flying them.
But Beverley was entrepreneurial. Determination was in her DNA. When someone told her no, she just dug deeper, got better prepared and when the time was right, launched right into her dreams. She was among dozens of pilots flying aircrafts from Europe over the Atlantic during a U.S. ground stop on 9-11 that forced her to land for five days in Canada, where both she — and thousands of passengers and generous locals — persevered.
Can this moxie be taught — a singular vision of achievement? That's a hard question. But I think it bears discussion about the value of teaching entrepreneurship to young women. In fact, I vote we begin in high school, or even earlier, planting the seed that women can absolutely run the show. And teaching them skills and tactics as teens that will serve as strong lessons to help them get there.
Already one group is paving this pathway — the National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education. This organization, which you can read about here http://www.entre-ed.org/become-entrepreneurial-school/, is focused on "fostering innovation and a culture of self-startership."
The group offers some strong core beliefs:
- "Anyone can be an entrepreneur — and the pathway is always available."
- "Young people can build confidence in their abilities to be entrepreneurs thought education and encouragement."
- "Entrepreneurship education is important at all levels, from elementary school students to existing entrepreneurs."
- "Entrepreneurial ventures are the major source of new jobs."
What if we initiated a culture starting in elementary school that said you are capable of creating the very dream job that you've always wanted. Of starting a small business, inventing things and selling them, of running your own company and helping others to become successful? What if we boldly told all kids that they were in charge of their future?
Such self-reliance, goal-focused, believe-in-me training would likely be invaluable for future generations who should know that their only limitations in life are simply those that are self-imposed.
We hope to invest in that, partnering with NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and through our own Be Brilliant Foundation.
We're using our own hashtags to blaze the trail, much like the one Beverley Bass blazed for herself in the skies.
#SheLeads. #SheInspires. #SheAchieves
Join us as we spearhead this broad conversation.
Andrea Billups is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of Be Brilliant Bags. All of her frequent flyer miles are on American.