Avaya StaffMarch 20, 2019

A Letter to My Daughter During Women’s History Month

To my daughter,

When you’re a teenager, you might see this and think: “Dad this is so embarrassing, please stop.”

But just like every other time I will embarrass you in the future—arranging your food to look like an animal or cheering too loudly in the crowd—I can’t and won’t stop. I always say, it’s only embarrassing if you care what people think.

Right now, you’re four years old. Your brain is rapidly developing to help you better understand certain concepts and the world around you. You are already a force of nature and your personality is blossoming every day.  You can now clearly use more complex sentences. You correctly know your name and can count and do basic math. You have a greater attention span and recognize familiar words and signs like “STOP.”

This last one is pretty important and will stay with you for the rest of your life. My wish for you is that as you get older and discover new aspirations, you’ll learn to recognize certain words without letting them define you. That you’ll understand the value they bring without letting them dictate your dreams and decisions.

History’s most successful women were able to do so. As Avaya’s SVP for Solutions & Technology, I can’t help but think of influential women in the technology sector: Grace Hopper, who invented one of the first compilers or Radia Perlman, who invented the spanning-tree algorithm for modern networking systems. I know, I know, boring (or maybe not and, if so, awesome!).

There’s a lot of focus on women in today’s day and age to rise up and control their own destinies. My hope for you is that you do so on your own terms. Whatever growth, leadership and success looks like to you…that’s what I want. I want you to embrace your own purposeful path, understanding the importance of every step. Twenty years from now, you might rank on Fortune’s list of most powerful women. Or you might not. You may be tempted to compare your journey to others. Remember that comparison is the thief of joy.

When I think about what Women’s History Month means to me, I can’t help but think of you. So many women have gone before you, choosing to clear a path for future generations to innovate and grow. Not just women like Ms. Hopper and Perlman, but your mother, grandmothers, and your aunt. Those we encounter in everyday life whose actions have a silent but profound power. You are no different. Whichever path you take, you have unspeakable power. You can create real impact and lasting change.

You have the brightest future ahead of you. I have hopes for what this future looks like. One where…

  • Women are celebrated for their strengths, power, grace and energy
  • You feel comfortable with yourself for the unique person you are and find a community that celebrates this
  • You can trust yourself and your instincts
  • You don’t have to explain yourself or your decision-making to anyone for any reason
  • You know exactly what you’re doing, even if the world tries to make you think otherwise
  • You don’t have to try to earn respect but rather unapologetically seize it
  • There is an understanding of and respect for the unique values of both men and women
  • You have all the space in the world for self-determination

Above all, I hope the future is a place where you don’t have to try to prove yourself but can simply just be. Though you’re too young to fully understand the significance of Women’s History Month, my message during this important time is clear: be bold, be brave, be you.