A New Approach to Writing
Lisa Witter is the chief operating officer of Fenton Communications, the largest public interest communications firm in the country. She heads the firm's practice in women's issues and global affairs for clients including Women for Women International, MoveOn.org, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association and many others. She is a co-founder of the award-winning website SheSource.org, an online brain trust of women experts to help close the gender gap among commentators in the news media. She was honored as an outstanding activist and expert on women's issues by Oxygen.com for her work on a national campaign against privatizing Social Security during the 2000 presidential election. Lisa is a blogger and political commentator with her work appearing on MSNBC, Fox News, The Huffington Post, AlterNet and Anderson Cooper 360. In 2004, she was a contestant on the Showtime reality show American Candidate. Witter is co-author of The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World and How to Reach Them.
She is on the advisory board for Indianapolis University's Women and Philanthropy Institute, Pop!Tech, Momsrising.org, Women for Women International and Climate Counts.
Question: What inspired you to write your book?
Lisa Witter: There were two very distinct moments that I was inspired by to write this book, one I do a lot of work in the women’s and politics space, so I got a call from an organization to come up with a website for a women’s get out the vote day and I said “Great” and I sent it out to the designer and it came back pink, full of flowers and I said “There’s really something missing here, this is not why I’m involved in politics is because I’m, you know, want everything pink, this is very, very weird” and they said “No, no, this is what we want, we wanna really be upbeat and sort of girly” and I said “I like being upbeat and girly but it doesn’t have to be pink and frivolous,” I mean I think about being a woman as being very strong, I think Hillary Clinton has definitely cemented that into all of our minds and the next part of our conversation was “Oh we’re having a women’s get out the vote day, a Latino get out the vote day, a disabled people get out the vote day” and I was thinking, women are the gender gap in the last-- from every election since 1960, we have decided every president more women have voted the men. We are not a niche audience, we are not a special interest, we are the interest that needs to be catered to, so okay how do you communicate differently with women than you do men, so that was the first story. The second story is I was up on the upper east side of New York at a large donor event for a gentleman who is running for president. I’m not a large donor myself but I was invited to be in this very exclusive room, mostly with Wall Street guys and I said, you know, Mr. Wannabe President “What do you think issues are important to me?” and he looked me right in the eye and he said “I know that protecting, you know, the women’s right to choose and families, that’s what’s really important to you” and I thought, you know, yeah it’s really important to me but it’s like 14th on my list, like I want us to get out of Iraq, I wanna have a stronger economy, I want universal health care. So these assumptions that A all women are pink and B that we only care about abortion, just like blew my mind. So I started doing some research on what the private sector had been doing because, you know, in the political and non-profit world, we often are looking at trends and there’s a bunch of really seminal information out there about how corporations have really changed how they market. Women make 83% of the consumer decisions, we are 59% of the primary voters, we volunteer more than men do, we have 51% of the wealth, we’re really the ones who have the power to change the world, yet I think we and men are sort of stuck in this old paradigm that it’s a man’s world, it’s not. And it’s not that women want it to be a women’s world, we want it to be a man and women’s world together. So I started doing research for the book and I said it has to be written and I want it to be the first book ever that really addresses this from a political and a non-profit section and my coauthor, Lisa Chen and I have been in this non-profit work for over 25 years, so we’re able to get case studies from, you know, the NRDC and Code Pink and Women for Women International. So we’re to highlight our expertise and really give concrete advice about how to communicate differently with women than man.
Lisa Witter talks about her novel approach to writing nonfiction.
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.