When women support and inspire each other, incredible things happen.
That was the takeaway from Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski's recent discussions with seven successful women, including NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford, MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez, activist Jodie Patterson and more.
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8, Brzezinski asked the Know Your Value guests to share their role models and explain how they helped them realize their value.
Here’s what they said:
“TODAY” and NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford
In order to succeed, it’s important for women to treat other women well. And according to Radford, “TODAY” co-host Hoda Kotb does just that.
When Radford first started at “TODAY,” she was incredibly nervous. But Kotb made her feel at ease in the makeup room, telling Morgan in front of several women, “I hear you do really good work.”
“Just her endorsement of me made everyone else feel at ease,” said Radford. “And once I wrote her a letter and I thanked her … and she picked up the phone and I'd never given her my phone number. Cold called me and just said, ‘Hey, that was really meaningful.’ … To take the time off-camera to do that to a woman who is your colleague and your junior is something.”
MSNBC political strategist Adrienne Elrod
Elrod said her mother, an attorney in Arkansas, has been a major influence in her life. That’s because “she never let being a woman define her” in her male-dominated industry.
“She knew that she was going to have to work extra hard. She knew that she was going to have to combat several stereotypes, but she didn't let that define her. She put her head down and she did the job,” said Elrod.
Elrod’s other role model is her former boss, Hillary Clinton. Elrod, who served as Clinton’s senior adviser, said the former Secretary of State and presidential candidate handled the ups and downs of her career with grace.
“She has not handled every situation perfectly, but she's always bounced back. And I think that's something that we can all admire as women,” said Elrod.
MSNBC political strategist Susan del Percio
When Republican strategist Susan Del Percio was 12 years old, she read a book about Clara Barton who founded the American Red Cross. Now, looking at Barton as an adult, she appreciates how Barton always went above and beyond to reach her goals.
“She (Barton) saw a problem and solved it and didn't wait for someone to get the approval,” Del Percio said. “She sought the approval of the funding after. I mean, that's how she founded the American Red Cross.”
As a teenager, Percio’s political role model was Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister of Britain. She remembers watching her come into power and working with Ronald Reagan. “What it left me with was, ‘Oh, women are just qualified to do this.’ … I was very fortunate that I could look at women like Margaret Thatcher and be like, ‘Oh yeah, she's up the job. I can be too.’”
CNBC senior personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson
Epperson’s inspiration to become a journalist stemmed from her high school English teacher, who taught a journalism class on Saturdays.
“It changed my life,” said Epperson. The bylines that I read were people who were speaking in front of me. The people that I saw on TV would come on Saturdays and would help to teach the class. And that kind of mentoring was so important. And so having a teacher…giving me an opportunity outside of the classroom, that exposure, that opportunity changed my life.”
MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez
Menendez said one woman who influenced her was her grandmother, who came to the U.S. after having two children.
“She left everything she knew, moved to a country where she didn't know the language … And the bravery and courage it takes to leave everything … because you want to give your children a better life. Those are the women I think of all the time.”
“TODAY” financial editor Jean Chatzky
Chatzky said she has always looked up to her mother because she was always reinventing herself.
“My mother was a substitute teacher, she ran a gifted and talented program for high school students (and) she taught college statistics,” Chatzky said. “She took a look at the environment wherever we were living and she figured out how she could plug herself in and make some money for the family. And she was just brilliant at it.”
Another role model of Chatzky’s is financial journalist Jane Bryant Quinn who taught her how money could be understandable. When Chatzky came into the world of personal finance, she said there weren’t many women to look up to, aside from Quinn.
Author and activist Jodie Patterson
Patterson said her biggest role model is civil rights activist Dr. Gloria Blackwell, who happens to be Patterson’s grandmother.
Blackwell was recognized by Dr. Martin Luther King for her work toward desegregating the laws in the south. She also fought and won school board and hospital cases.
“She had a master's and a Ph.D. at a time when America wasn't even sure who she was,” explained Patterson. “So women in our families have been changing laws and making a difference from the beginning of time.”