It is 20 years ago since I had one of my proudest moments in my career. I had just started working at BMG a year earlier and was about to work on TLC’s album ‘Fanmail’. I was a big TLC fan and grew up listening to their songs so I was really incredibly fortunate to be able to do the marketing of their album in The Netherlands. ‘Unpretty’ was the 3rd single we released of that album. To me the song represents giving your power away. It talks about someone making her feel unpretty. So I decided to share with you one of my favorite poets, also in honor of today being the last day of Black History Month (which is celebrated in the US), by Maya Angelou. I love empowering women and this poem does just that!

I wrote down the version she once recited at the Oprah show:

“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them, 
They think I’m telling lies. 

I say, 
It’s in the reach of my arms, 
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman 

I walk into a room 
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man, 
The fellows stand or 
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me, 

A hive of honey bees.   

I say, 
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman 

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me. 
They try so much 
But they can’t touch 
My inner mystery. 
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   

I say, 
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile, 
The ride of my breasts, 
The grace of my style. 
I’m a woman 

Now you understand 
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about 
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing, 
It ought to make you proud. 

I say, 
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman 

Phenomenal woman, all you women and me!

“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou

When Oprah asked her what the best piece of advice was that she has ever given she replied here and I quote: In order to get a friend you have to be a friend. And she said: There is a place in you that you have to keep pristine clean so that nobody has the right to curse you or treat you terribly. 

So ladies don’t let anybody make you feel unpretty. 


P.S. Just 6 more days till the International Women’s Day summit and we are almost sold out, so get your tickets ASAP!

Ain’t no mountain high enough!

So on Sunday, February 10th, Diana Ross will celebrate her 75th birthday with a special performance at the Grammy Awards. 

You know she inspired me to have a career in music right?! I LOVE HER SO MUCH! 

I mean this woman has done it all before doing it all was a thing. She was in the first female supergroup The SurpremesShe went solo successfullyShe had an acting career with The Wiz and Lady sings the blues.Her performances where over the top which made her an icon (the gay community stills sings “I am coming out” and loves her!)

But what I never realized is how great of a mom she is. I read this bit from an interview in W magazine by her famous actress daughter Tracee Ellis Ross and I had to share it with you.

“I was raised by a woman who lived out her dreams. So she’s not living them out through me, or her children. She really gave us space and the courage to live the lives that we want to be living, and to have time to dream and conjure up the life that I wanted to be living. I could really curate or design the world I wanted to be living in. And one of the biggest things that I took from that, for myself, that my mom didn’t necessarily share with me, is the best way to design my life around me is actually to know who I am and not live according to what other people think I should be doing, but to have a curiosity that pushes up against the status quo. To say, “Does that work for me? Is that something I want?” So I got to have the example of my parent really being her full self. It’s given me a lot in my life.”


Because this is what I have been saying for the last 5 years, this is the essence of BrandedU. Empowering more women to design their own lives. To authentically live out your dreams.  

If you do that you not only inspire your kids like Diana Ross did but also other women to follow this path.


P.S. Are you joining us for the International Women’s Day Summit next month?
Check out the speakers we got confirmed below!

Anika de GrootDirector Fundraising & Communications Dance4Life
Annelies ValkSenior Global Brand Strategy Manager Vodafone
Dr. Yvonne Thompson CBEEntrepreneur and author
Elske Doets MD and Owner Jan Doets America Tours
Enny van de VeldenChair of the board of Directors and CCO CCV Group B.V.
Eva HukshornStrategy Advisor Re-Born
Hajir HajjiCommercial Director Action
Heena JethwaDigital Workplace Services Leader IBM
Hendrikje CrebolderDirector Development & Media Rijksmuseum
Jackie ReardonAuthor, entrepreneur, speaker and life coach
Jane TurnerHead of the Rijksprentenkabinet Rijksmuseum
Khadija AribPresident House of Representatives
Laura ViscoExecutive Creative Director 72andSunny

“She works hard for the money
So hard for it, honey
She works hard for the money
So you better treat her right”

She works hard for her money (part 2)

This is a song I have drawn inspiration from before (back in May 2017). But guess what, it is just a multifaceted song and it inspired me again this week.

“She works hard for the money 
So hard for it, honey 
She works hard for the money 
So you better treat her right”

So many women work hard and are loyal to the company where they are at. They do their jobs and then some, yeah they give a lot. But why is it that only men still rise to the top? We have more women studying and getting the degrees so it is not that we are not capable. I know there is a missing link. 

Want to know what that is?

We focus too much on short term results. It’s not the harder you work, the faster you reach the top. It’s all about how you make the hard work that you do matter. Women need to stop only focussing on their jobs (I can’t join you for that network event Nancy because I have to finish my presentation or I can’t start this course because my boss needs me to …..) and let their careers matter. Without visibility, hard work will only carry you so far. And I started BrandedU because your hard work should count. I have seen so many women who are amazing at their jobs not get the credits they deserve. It works the same with music artists. Artists work hard and are just as good at what they do like women.The only difference is that they use a stage to perform and make their talents visible to the world.

Look at Donna Summer. She has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Her work will not be forgotten. I am still singing her song 36 years after it was released!

With BrandedU I want women to finally realize this : your hard work matters and so do you! So I want to help more women to perform their expertise on the right stage and to make their hard work count not only now but also in the future when that promotion you’ve always wanted opens up!  

Does this feel like something you want to do? Well, then you can start now by joining me and other like-minded women for the International Women’s Day Summit on the 6th of March. We will be sharing more stories so you will leave inspired but not just that you will leave with more sisters in your network who want to work smarter and not harder just like you! 

XOXO, Nancy