Caroline Clarke, an award-winning journalist, is the editorial director of the Women of Power Summit at Black Enterprise, and she currently hosts the “Women of Power TV” show. She’s a writer whose experience spans print, digital and television. At Black Enterprise, she has served in a number of key roles including general manager, interactive media; editor-at-large, Black Enterprise magazine; and editorial director, Black Enterprise Books. Clarke led the team that created the Women of Power Summit in 2005, and its latest outgrowth is the nationally syndicated weekly show, “Women of Power TV.” The annual summit draws more than 1K registrants and is the nation’s largest annual conference targeting women-of-color executives.
The native New Yorker has authored two books, Take a Lesson: Today’s Black Achievers on How They Made It and What They Learned Along the Way, as well as a highly acclaimed memoir, Postcards from Cookie. She has earned a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a master’s degree with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The mother of two is a passionate advocate for adoption and public education and she serves as an advisor or director for several nonprofit organizations.
Rolling out spoke with this woman of power to glean some nuggets of wisdom and inspiration. This history maker in the making spoke about her superpowers, her thoughts on taking risks and making mistakes, and also the inspirational advice she would have given to her younger self. Check out the inspiring interview below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
This year’s 13th annual Women of Power Summit starts on Wednesday, March 7 and runs through Saturday, March 10. It will be held at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort in Orlando, Florida.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower to be?
Empathy. It’s underrated but truly powerful. We all have it, I wish we used it more.
What skills or qualities make you unique as an African American female leader?
I’m not sure it’s our specific skills or qualities that make us unique. We all strive to gain similar leadership skills and develop those qualities that will help us succeed. They’re accessible from countless sources, and not that difficult to cultivate. It’s the particular mix of these things that make each person unique — that fingerprint that doesn’t seem all that different from the rest but is truly the only one of its kind.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid. Don’t hold back. Trust yourself, treat yourself, and be quick to forgive yourself.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision making capacities?
First and foremost, it’s important for women of color to lead and work in decision making roles to show ourselves and the world that we can. Second, because we are so needed. Our voices, our experiences, our perspectives, our values — they are essential to our progress, not just as a people, but as a nation and a world. Everyone’s are. #RepresentationMatters
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
Any Black woman? I would thank every Black woman — because, historically, we have been among the most valuable and least appreciated; the most underestimated and lowest paid; the least supported and most marginalized. The list goes on. So much content today is declaring that Black women are having “a moment.” We may be, but we deserve so much more than a moment. If reparations were paid for the “moments” we have been denied, this so-called moment would go on, continually, for decades. Hidden Figures was not just three black women scientists at NASA, we are generations deep of hidden figures — brilliant, glorious, history makers who deserve to have their names called with honor and deepest gratitude.
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?
How else do we learn, if not from those who’ve already walked the path we’re starting down? And what’s the point of gaining wisdom and experience if it goes unshared?
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition?
I think collaboration is important, but competition is too. Look at Venus and Serena. Women — and Black women in particular — have so much to learn from them. They grew up training side-by-side, pushing each other, encouraging each other, no doubt fighting at times. But they have always been an unbreakable force together. They have mastered the art of being each other’s fiercest competitors, and biggest fans. The rest of us need to take a lesson from them. We need to do that more with each other. Collaboration is not necessarily peace, and competition does not have to mean war.
What are your thoughts on taking risks? Making mistakes?
I’m horrible at taking risks but always pushing myself to do it more because it’s necessary. You’re in the box or out of it. Getting out is a risk. Staying in is a waste. Take the risk. Making mistakes, I’m great at! With that, it’s all about the recovery. Admit it, forgive yourself (and seek forgiveness, if necessary), learn from it and let it go.
What are three success habits you implement into your daily routine to maintain your success, sanity, peace of mind, etc.?
#Goals: quiet time, walking, water. Some days, it’s harder than it looks.
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
Professionally, I’m very proud to be an author and to have played a central role in creating the Women of Power brand. In both cases, the pride comes from knowing that both my books and the brand have really made a positive difference in people’s lives. They mean something that is far bigger than me and that, I hope, will far outlast me.