Here is why you need to stop being nice and start being loud

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To: Ambitious Young Women

From: Gretchen Carlson

Charity: Lift Our Voices

Sponsor: Alan B. Brill & Associates will donate $100 to Lift Our Voices in the honor of the first 100 shares of Gretchen's letter

To Ambitious Young Women,

My life has worked in mysterious ways. It’s zigzagged all over the place. I was supposed to be a violinist and then I wasn’t. I was supposed to go to law school, and I didn’t. Then, to my own shock, I became Miss America, which led me to television. But for goodness sake, there was nowhere in my mind that I ever thought that I would jump off of a cliff and become one of the poster women for sexual harassment in the workplace.

Through all the twists and turns, the one constant in my life has been that fire in my belly. You know what I am talking about – that feeling deep down, that drives you to do the right thing, compete and make the most of your life.

Gretchen remembers standing up for herself as early as five years old.

I never lost that ambition, that determination and I don’t want you to lose it either because I promise you, no matter what you do, life will test you.

As early as five years old, I had to advocate for myself. When I started kindergarten, the teacher divided the children up into two groups: kids who could read and kids who could not read. My teacher wrongly placed me in the group with kids who couldn’t read. I can still feel myself running home from school, slamming the back door and screaming for my mom.

“Mom! They say I don’t know how to read and I do,” I cried.

She called the school and the next day, I was in the right group.

If I hadn’t spoken up, it could have changed my entire educational trajectory, my self-confidence, my self-worth and my ability to stand up for right versus wrong.

Little did I know that there would be much tougher battles ahead. Luckily, along my journey, different lessons and experiences prepared me for my career.

I never lost that ambition, that determination and I don’t want you to lose it either because I promise you, no matter what you do, life will test you.

When I was six years old, I started playing the violin. It automatically clicked and became my life. I dedicated most of my childhood to practicing four to five hours a day, learning immense discipline. Seeing myself grow and get better allowed me to build my self-esteem from the inside out. Also, developing and owning a talent was something no one could take away from me.

Gretchen says her success as a violinist helped her build self-esteem.

Through the violin, I learned how to value myself for who I was, not what I looked like.

In 10th grade, I auditioned for the school play, Oklahoma, as well as for this singing and dancing group called The Whirlwinds. Also, I ran for class president. In one day, I lost all of them. I remember going to my grandfather, completely upset.

He said, “Do you know how many elections Abraham Lincoln lost before he became president?”

I said, “No.”

He responded, “A lot.”

He said, “Do you know how many times it took Thomas Edison to invent the light bulb?”

And I said, “No.”

He said, “More than 2,000 tries.”

I realized that most people who find success in their lives have done so because they failed.

I know now when and if I fail, I might have to take two steps backward to get back into the game, but eventually, I’m going to move one step forward.

Ultimately, my ambition led me to Stanford and Oxford before becoming Miss America.

Gretchen was crowned Miss America in 1989.

When I started my career, I began to realize how many women enter the working world with fire in their bellies but leave burned by their bosses. During my reign as Miss America, I met with television executives, trying to get a leg up in the business. Before my year was over, two executives sexually assaulted me.

My first TV job was in Richmond, Virginia.

Ironically, one of the first stories I covered was the Anita Hill hearings about harassment and Justice Clarence Thomas.

I remember watching and thinking, “I don’t know why these men don’t believe her.”

Right after I covered the story, I was promptly sexually harassed on the job. If that wasn’t enough, I was earning $18,000 and soon realized the male reporters were making more than me.

Much of my young age of 22 to 23 was filled with coming to realize that there was massive gender discrimination and abuse toward women. But as women, we’re taught to put our nose to the grindstone, work harder, don’t tell anyone and stuff the hurt somewhere deep in your soul.

Do I regret speaking up? Become a member of The Unsealed and watch an episode of Unsealed Thoughts to find out.

At the time, I focused on becoming the best reporter at the shop and ascending through the television ranks. Years later, I was offered the opportunity to be a host of a morning show at Fox, and I jumped at it. A national morning show gave me the opportunity to showcase my smarts, my journalistic credentials and my personality.

Gretchen spent a majority of her career working as a television journalist.

When I realized after a decade at Fox, it was all coming to an end, and it wasn’t my choice, I was devastated. I had killed myself for 25 years in a career.

That’s what when I used my confidence, my ability to bounce back from failure and my work ethic to take a leap of faith and speak up for myself and everyone else. If I didn’t do it, who would? That’s when I sued Roger Ailes, who at the time was the CEO and chairman of Fox News and one of the most powerful men in television.

Now, I am advocating for my kids and all of you, so you can work in safe and fair environments.

The two major ways sexual harassment has thrived in the workplace is through forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts, which means you can’t go to open court, allowing companies to cover up their dirty laundry and secondly, through nondisclosure agreements. For the last three years, I have been walking the halls of Congress trying to pass legislation to eradicate forced arbitration clauses in contracts with regard to gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

Also, I recently started a nonprofit called Lift Our Voices. We are galvanizing an army of women and men across the world, trying to get rid of nondisclosure agreements for sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Gretchen started a nonprofit called Lift Our Voices to bring issues of workplace toxicity to the forefront.

But while I fight for you, I need you to make sure whatever path your life follows, straight or zigzagged, your fire not only continues to burn but turns into a collective blaze.

Whether you are five and in kindergarten or you are forty and on television, use your voice. Women are socialized to be quiet and nice. Stop being so nice.

Men have no problem asking for a raise when they only deserve it 10 percent of the time. Women don’t ask for a raise or a promotion until they’re 90 percent sure that they’re ready for it. I want you to go for it.

Stand up and say, “I’m worth it and I’m going to ask for what I want.”

Take risks. I’m not saying to be irresponsible, I’m saying to go outside of your boundaries and color outside the lines every once in a while because it’s going to help you gain more self-confidence.

Lastly, and most importantly, band together. Include young boys and men in this effort to fix problems for women in the workplace. Men are still running 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies and in charge of most of the hiring and pay equity or lack thereof. We need them to help us.

My hope is that the fire that still burns in my belly will burn down the old ways in the workforce, so that the fires in your bellies, whatever it is you decide to do, can be the flames that light up the world with your brilliance.

We got this,

Gretchen Carlson

written with Lauren Brill

Respond to my letter. I want to hear from you. Tell me your story or react to mine.

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[…] enough, in the email was your letter to your late father, former NBA basketball star Anthony Mason, talking about your struggles after his death. You wrote […]

Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.

Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine

You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)

[…] Here is why you need to stop being nice and start being loud […]

Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?

So nice Roger <3

Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain

Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.