I so enjoyed having lunch with Eileen Fisher yesterday at the Pierre Hotel in NYC. She’s been a role model for me for the past 15 years, so seeing her again was a joyful experience.
I did have to share her with about 300 other working women, but I didn’t mind. We had all signed up to attend the WCBS Radio Working Women’s Luncheon. Eileen graciously stood by the entrance greeting the audience as we filed into the dining area. I was thrilled to shake her hand again and thank her for allowing me to share her beautiful stores with my Remarkable Women’s Network attendees.
As you can see from the photo on the right, it was a packed house. Eileen was the first to be interviewed by Pat Carroll, WCBS-AM Morning Anchor. Waiters circulating and latecomers getting seated made for a rather chaotic atmosphere. Eileen did what I’ve come to admire her for. She recognized what was going on, her own comfort (or lack of) level with the ambiance, and made a request.
“This is what I do before meetings in my company. Can we all get quiet and take three breaths?” It took a moment for everyone to even hear her ask for this. She led the group in getting quieter. “Breathe and say to yourself, ‘Let go.'”
“Take a breath, and say ‘Be still.'”
“Breathe and say, ‘Now what?'”
It got much quieter and the interview continued. I was impressed with Eileen’s courage, in the exact moment of discomfort and disconnect with the space we were in, to step beyond the expected–just go along to get along–to ask for what she needed. We needed it too, but someone had to name it, and she did.
When asked about bouncing back from failures, Eileen openly shared about a disaster for her company in the early days. It involved a fabric–French terry–that unexpectedly stretched and contorted the garments her company was producing. It forced her to take a keener look at her offerings, re-evaluate and extend her line. Although it was a ‘crushing blow,’ from it came her greatest success–a diversified line in a variety of fabrics.
Another audience member said to Eileen, “You look pretty unbruised. [She’s quite beautiful and serene in person.]. How do you do that?” To which Eileen candidly shared, “Oh, I’m bruised. But I get up again.”
“I always went to therapy,” she added. It proved a means for helping her understand her own intentions.
What a courageous, generous and soulful woman Eileen Fisher is! She continues to inspire me, and I hope you, too, as I share this.