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To Celebrate International Women’s Day, Look No Further Than Cole Brauer

To Celebrate International Women’s Day, Look No Further Than Cole Brauer

March 08, 2024

I woke up yesterday to a picture of a woman on a boat holding flares in her hands, and I burst into tears. The woman was Cole Brauer, who became the first US woman to race solo around the world in a sailboat. The only woman in the Global Solo Challenge race, she was also the smallest and youngest. I can’t imagine many thought she would finish. Instead, she came in second in a 16-person race, crossing the finish line at first light on her boat, First Light.


Cole left land on October 29, just over 4 months ago. She navigated the three great Capes, and even brought the audience along live on Instagram as she rounded the Drake Passage, the notoriously deadly strait that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. (I cried then, too.)


Throughout my life, I have often wondered what it would be like to be in the presence of a person whose work becomes truly historic – and whether it’s even obvious at the time that it is game-changing. Did Amelia Earhart’s community know then that she would still be a household name a hundred years later? Through Instagram, hundreds of thousands of people have been “present” with Cole on this journey. Along the way, Cole talked about the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry, one that is significantly more male-dominated than finance even. She talked about people doubting her, and keeping her from opportunities – all of which, in the end, probably fueled her success. 


International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month are important not only to celebrate the women of the past but more importantly to inspire the women of the future. I speak often about supporting women as leaders in their careers, communities, families and financial lives. Leadership styles are unique to each person, and Cole’s journey makes it phenomenally clear that female leadership can look very different than male leadership - and should be embraced and amplified. If you want proof, drop into the comments on Cole’s near-daily posts while at sea. Her team captured her spirit and sprinkled it on her audience, generating comment after comment about how many people were rooting for her success and joining together as a chorus of onlookers eager to be inspired by her. This is what humanity looks like in its finest form.  


Cole is obviously a very unique and remarkable person. I have no idea how I first learned about her, but I was instantly captivated by her journey – her honesty, her lust for life, her bravery. Her remarkable achievement was supported by a team of subject matter experts and a throng of raving fans. Her story has now been documented in newspapers, magazines, and on the Today show. And six months ago she was just a woman with a dream.  


I wonder how many more women are out there with a dream. Women who may have been passed over for an opportunity, or who have been doubted, or who have doubted themselves about whether they were ready to step up to the next challenge. In the often-cited 2014 article in The Atlantic, “The Confidence Gap,” the authors talk about how many women don’t have confidence in their own abilities and therefore don’t take the kind of risks needed to succeed at the highest levels - much less the jaw-dropping I-can’t-believe-she-did-that levels. Cole, it seems, had no such confidence gap. 


There is no time like the present for female leadership. With $30T expected to be in the hands of women by 2030, women are going to have more influence in short order - whether the world is ready for it or not. My hope is that Cole’s heroic journey inspires more women to try something new, hard, brave, risky, and life-affirming. Imagine what it would look like if so many of us rooted for each other, turned our dreams into reality and inspired others. Imagine that.


We wish you all a happy International Women’s Day. For the greatest binge watch of all time – check out Cole’s Instagram feed starting in October and take the journey with her from launch to first light.

 

 

Debra Brennan Tagg is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and the creator of the DBT360 Financial Plan, a proprietary program that helps her clients prioritize their goals, leverage their resources, and address their risks. She is the president of BFS Advisory Group and teaches the public and the financial services industry about the importance of values-based financial planning and investor education.