Coach’s Corner: What Diana Nyad Shows Us All

23 Sep

After a break over our long, hot summer, it’s time to return to exchanging news and advice for our various entrepreneurial journeys.  This is a very exciting time for EWI, as we expand our horizons and programs.  So today, I am departing from my usual emphasis on specific do’s and don’ts to take a look at the big picture.

I’m sure that many of you were as taken as I was by Diana Nyad’s remarkable triumph earlier this month, when she completed her Cuba-to-Florida swim on her fifth attempt, at the tender age of 64.  Here is what she said upon reaching the shore:

Never, ever give up. You’re never too old to chase your dreams.  It looks like a solitary sport, but it’s really a team effort.”


Diana Nyad (photo credit: ABC News)

She wasn’t just exulting at her own success; she was deliberately telling all of us that our various challenges are within our power to overcome.  At EWI, that is precisely what we are about:  helping each other overcome doubts, naysayers, and obstacles to realize our dreams.  Our alumnae have traveled this road, and we are pledged to do whatever it takes to bring empowerment and business success to our new students as well.  Trust me:  everyone on our staff and board understands that we are not a business school, but rather a holistic community that deals with every aspect of our students’ lives, no matter how long that might take, until empowerment becomes a reality.

It has become a well-worn cliché that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but my experience at EWI has confirmed my belief that persistence in the face of adversity is the most important habit that our women can develop.  Take Diana Nyad herself:  her father died when she was an infant; she had to halt her swimming career at its peak, as a prospective Olympian, due to a severe heart ailment; she was expelled from college, eventually transferring and obtaining her degree; and she grew up at a time when opportunities for women were strictly limited, not to mention the legally unprotected status and overwhelming prejudice against gay individuals.

Examples abound, close to home.  Ask our executive director about her journey to America, and the daunting challenges she and her family faced.  Ask our board chair about her decision to start a business from scratch, and what she heard from doubters.  Ask the members of EWI’s new Writers Circle about the staggering personal travails they have surmounted, and how their persistence has been a key to their empowerment.  In the civil rights movement, we referred to this focus and determination against all odds as keeping our “Eyes on the Prize.”  (I could give you many personal examples, but you’ll have to wait for my upcoming memoir, a percentage of the royalties from which are pledged to EWI).

Finally, never forget that, as Diana Nyad noted, successful struggles are not solitary, but rather “team efforts.”  The EWI community — a lifelong sorority, growing with every new class — provides a ready-made team to help you every step of the way.  If one of us doesn’t have an answer to a specific problem, we will find someone who does.  We will handle all requests for assistance with confidentiality and discretion.  And it’s not a one-way street.  Some day, we will call on you to reach back and help your sister as well.

In the words of our founder, onward and upward.

By Howard Feinstein, EWI Board Member

A bi-weekly blog for the EWI community, passing along news, events, articles of interest, and tips on growing your business.  We are all on this journey together, and no one — certainly not yours truly — has all the answers.  Accordingly, I hope you will periodically contribute your ideas and news to this forum, c/o


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