In the first section of “Wonder Women”, Katy and I tell 40 stories of how women had contributed to the success of brands old and new, Over 50% of the stories features American women so we’re delighted that the book has just been launched in USA. In the book we grouped the stories into four categories – A Woman’s Intuition, Girl Power, A women’s Work and A woman’s place.

Today’s taster is an edited form of one of the stories from A woman’s work

A Woman’s Work

Women have an extraordinary ability to work hard. What’s more, women don’t just work hard, they work well. They are committed and conscientious.

The now widely used term side-hustle could have been invented to describe Sandy Lerner, who throughout her early career kept many plates spinning before founding Cisco.

Sandy Lerner

Sandy Lerner’s entrepreneurial spirit first came to the fore to help her fund her education. Prior to going to college, she had spent some time at Clipper Gap ranch, and she bought a steer. A couple years later, she sold it for a healthy profit. She reinvested earnings, buying two more head of cattle. By the time she left for college, she had a herd of 30. Slowly selling them off provided an income stream that paid her college tuition.

She gained her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1975. While she considered a career in academia, she felt her opportunities, especially financially, would be limited.

She therefore went on to study for a master’s degree in econometrics in 1977. It was while completing these studies that she learnt all about and discovered her interest in computer science.

She was made manager of the computer lab and began to use the computers there to perform the data analysis she required for her degree.

She took her growing passion to Stanford. She gained her master’s degree in statistics and computer science in 1981 and became the Director of Computer Facilities at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

While working there, she met Leonard Bosack, who would later become her husband.

Sandy and Leonard’s offices were pretty close, but they knew it would be much more convenient if they could share software and databases between them, other systems and other independent computers rather than relying on the time-consuming disk transfers that were the order of the day.

Her next side hustle began, using a router that Leonard had designed, they, together with a group of faculty members and some students, built and adapted it so that it was capable of connecting the computer systems between their offices. They built it further until the network spread across all of the systems throughout the school.

It was then that Sandy and Leonard realized that they were onto something big, and that something was Cisco Systems, Inc.

So they both quit their jobs and their side hustle became their focus.

She left the business when she and Leonard separated but an early retirement wasn’t for Sandy,

She has gone onto to work on and start an array of philanthropic, creative and business ventures.

These have included investing in the refurbishment of Chawton House, which was once owned by Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, and where Austen wrote some of her books.

She wrote and published a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice titled Second Impressions, using the pen name of Ava Farmer.

In 1990s she co-founded  Urban Decay, which was launched in January 1996. Their first ad had a headline that asked provocatively,

“Does Pink Make You Puke?”

A line that sets up the final section perfectly as you’ll see tomorrow.

You can read all the stories and interviews in the Wonder Women book, available via amazon USA , amazon UK, or The Book Depository

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