September 23, 2020

Lessons from Ruth Bader Ginsberg

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I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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This is a special episode. Like many of you, I am mourning the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

There is a lot we can learn from RBG’s legacy. I’m sharing some ways you can follow her advice and way of working to be successful in your own career and life.

What You’ll Learn

My 3 Lessons from RBG’s legacy and how they can change your life

How to advocate for yourself and others

Why authenticity works and will help you reach any goal in your career

Featured in This Episode

Apply for coaching and schedule a free call to see if coaching is a good fit. Click here


On the Basis of Sex


My Own Words by RBG
Ruth Bader Ginsberg: A Life by Jane Sherron de Hart
The Story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Susan B. Katz
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley

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This is a special episode.

Like many of you, I am mourning the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Although it was to happen at some time, it was a bit shocking for it to happen now.  Especially in this political season we are in.  She was such an incredible person.

To be honest, I didn’t start really following her until a few years ago.  I knew that she is the reason we, as women, have many of the rights we do but I didn’t really start paying attention until I watched the movie On the Basis of Sex.

If you haven’t seen it is a legal drama based on the life and early cases of the late RBG.  I think it came out 2 or 3 years ago. 

RBG was the 2nd woman ever to serve on the US Supreme Court. It covers her early years at Harvard Law school and the challenges of her trying to find work and be treated equally back in the 50s as a mom, woman, and lawyer.

She becomes a professor of sex discrimination and law at the Rutgers Law School.  In the early 70s she works with her husband on a case that challenges the definition of sex in the tax code.   She ends up winning that argument.  

She was nominated and confirmed in 1993 and has fought for women’s rights, for equality for the LGBTQ+ community, and for everyone ever since.  

She has taught us so many lessons.  She wanted to erase the functional difference between men and women in society. She was asked once how many women would be enough for the US Supreme Court and she said 9 – which is all of the places. People are stunned by that but there were 100s of years with only men and no one batted an eye.

Think about that.  We are so accustomed to not being equal we don’t even notice things like that.

Some key decisions she was a part of include US v Virginia in 1996 that struck down Virginia’s Military Institute’s male only admission policy.

In 2015 she was part of the landmark case that granted same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states. She was even an officiant.  She was an advocate and supporter.

She has supported rights for people with mental disabilities.

She has helped us as women be able to make financial decisions, open accounts and get credit cards without our husbands.

She has protected a women’s right to choose what she does with her body.

I am so sad she is gone but so grateful for all she has done.  She is such a role model for me, my daughter, and all people.

Regardless of political views, you have to admire the tenacity, perseverance, and strength of this woman. The kindness and grace.

There are so many lessons we can learn, but I am going to focus on 3.

#1 Don’t be afraid to fight for what you believe in – you can accomplish your dreams if you work for them

After graduating from the top of her class at Cornell, she was 1 of 9 women in her class at Harvard Law School n 1956.  While at Harvard she was raising her 14-month-old daughter and dealing with a sexist Dean.  Imagine being asked how should could justify taking a spot from a qualified man?

She was rejected from the first 14 law firms she applied to because she was a woman. In 1970 she founded Women’s Rights law Reporter, the first law review in the US dedicated to legal issues around women’s rights.  2 years later, Ginsberg founded the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. She participated in over 300 gender discrimination cases by 1974.

She faced a lot of adversity and she always did right for us humans.  She fought on the side of the people.  She did it with more challenge than many of us will face today.

How can you apply this to your life? What goals do you have that are hard, that you think you don’t have time for?  What causes do you care about that you want to get in front of?

It is so common to normalize our external pressures, pressures by society of what women can do, what roles mother’s play, what is a reasonable about of effort to put into our own growth or the changes we are capable of making.

Don’t be afraid to stand in your truth and fight for what you believe in.  You can accomplish your dreams if you work for them.  When it comes to your thoughts, feelings, healing, the impact you have on your daily life and the world around you – that is all in your power to change.

#2 Leave the World a Better Place than it was when you found it

A famous quote is that she wanted to be remembered as “someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability and to repair tears in her society, to make thigs a little better through the use of whatever ability she has.”

Be kind.  Sitting as a judge she disagreed with her colleagues very regularly, but she was kind and eloquent in her words.

I think about this a lot. How can we use our talents to the best of our ability and to leave this world a better place?  How can we disagree without it being negative – especially during this highly political climate?

RBG is famous for saying “I dissent” when stating clearly, with power, evidence and her truth that she disagrees with her colleagues or others.

She has no doubt left this world a better place.  Whether it be her advocacy for others, the cases she has chosen to argue, her rulings or positions, her partnerships with the human race in general, the world is better because she was here.

How can you use your talents and your unique gifts to make this world a better place? To make those in your life better for knowing you?

If you’re thinking, you aren’t special. You’re wrong.  There is no one in this world like you. You have something to offer and you have the capability of making those around you better for knowing you.

#3 Be yourself – find the authentic you and embrace her

RBG fought against discrimination, against the men who said she couldn’t do it, she was the first Jewish female justice of the supreme court.  She maintained her beliefs and positions even when others who appeared stronger disagreed.

She found a way to strategically accomplish her agenda that was kind and aligned with her purpose and talents.  

She could have given up. She could have decided that women or Jewish women don’t have a place.  She could have decided it was too hard.  She could have changed.  But she didn’t.

So many of us think it would be easier to just change ourselves, make ourselves less loud, take up less space, be less visible and it would make our lives better.

It doesn’t though because you end up hurting your soul.   You end up diminishing your own light and that light is still there.  It may be less bright, but it keeps trying to burn leaving you feeling unfulfilled, sad or even depressed.

When you aren’t living in your own alignment and with your true purpose, when you are anything less than authentic, you are doing yourself and the world a disservice.

When you let your light shine, when you figure out that piece of you that is only belong to you and that you can share with those around you, you really open up your possibilities.

You wake up happy, you wake up in alignment.  You stand up against those that try to shut you down or feeling like you’re not good enough.

Take up your space my friend.

It was given to you for a reason.

Let your light shine.

No one can be you.

If you want to learn more about the incredible Ruth Bader Ginsberg I have some resources for you.

Movies – on the Basis of Sex was mentioned in this episode.

There is a more recent movie – RBG -which is a documentary about her exceptional life. This is streaming on various platforms.


My Own Words – published in 2016 is a book by RBG herself 

Right Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron de Hart is also a highly reviewed biography you can find on Amazon

There are a couple of children’s books as well.

The story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg – a biography for new readers by Susan B. Katz

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley

Thank you for tuning in to this special episode in honor of the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

If you want to learn more about the lessons we talked about in this episode, my website is – here you can get in contact with me and learn more about the work I do that enables women like you to build your purposeful life.

I will talk to you next week.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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