Today marks National Inventors’ Day, which we celebrate annually on February 11 in honor of the anniversary of the birthday of Thomas Alva Edison, one of the brightest minds and most well-known inventors in the United States.
The 1983 presidential proclamation for the day states, “Individual ingenuity and perseverance, spurred by the incentives of the patent system, begin the process that results in improved standards of living, increased public and private productivity, creation of new industries, improved public services, and enhanced competitiveness of American products in world markets.” In other words, innovative thinking makes up the fabric of our daily lives and moves our society forward.
As an entrepreneur and inventor myself, I highly value creative problem-solving. There is nothing more exciting to me than that lightbulb moment when you realize that you’ve found a different, better way. I find inspiration everywhere, but in honor of National Inventors’ Day, I’d like to highlight three women who have changed the world for the better and inspire me and many others.
Though she started from humble beginnings, today we know Coco Chanel as the woman who redefined women’s fashion and started an empire. A firm believer that “luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury,” Coco Chanel’s designs were made from jersey fabric which provided a comfortable alternative for influential, wealthy women in Paris who had only known corsets. She stood true to herself and created simple, beautiful, now classic designs that revolutionized the fashion industry. If it weren’t for Coco Chanel, women might never have started to wear pants and for that alone, I feel inspired!
Even as I write this, Beyoncé has been dominating headlines as the new record holder for the most awarded individual at the Grammys. There’s a reason the maxim “You have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyoncé” exists. Beyoncé is a powerhouse who defines pop music for the industry, excels at her craft, and uses her influence for good: she started her own charity (BEYGood) and was awarded the BET Humanitarian Award 2020. She is considered the inventor of modern visual albums (music albums that include a feature film or individual music videos) and she is pioneering new music experiences that tap into virtual reality and the metaverse with Spatial Labs, backed by her husband Jay-Z. This is a true inventor to me: she never stops innovating and pushing the envelope.
Oprah’s entry in the National Women’s Hall of Fame puts it beautifully: “At the heart of everything Oprah Winfrey does, there is a consistent message – that individuals should take personal responsibility for their lives, and to improve the world.” Oprah has stayed true to this while breaking barriers for women and women of color. In 2018, Oprah became the first Black female entrepreneur to rank on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index – a groundbreaking accomplishment born out of her strategic risk-taking and trust in herself from the earliest beginnings of her career. After a brief stint in news reporting as the first female co-anchor and first Black co-anchor in Nashville, Oprah decided to play to her strengths by showcasing her sincere, engaging personality on daytime TV. With The Oprah Winfrey Show, she became the first woman to produce and own her own talk show, which would go on to be the highest-rated television talk show in the United States. Then, with the creation of Harpo Studios, Oprah became the first African American, male or female, to own her own entertainment production company, all the while using her platform and influence to be a staunch advocate for human rights. In the August 2011 issue of O Magazine she shared how trusting her gut has made all the difference for her career: “I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen.”
My takeaways from these dynamic, inventive women? Be true to yourself, harness your own power, and never stop evolving or creating.
You got this!