I’ve been lucky enough to have seen many great speakers during my years. I loved Levi Roots, was wowed by Sir Clive Woodward and surprised by how superb Deborah Searle was. But I have to say I think Mary Portas is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Hearing her talk about her past, her present and her brilliant approach to business, you couldn’t help but be moved, motivated, entertained, and inspired. Mary’s such a powerful advocate of empowering women in society to soar to heights unimaginable in less enlightened times.
Mary’s background was an interesting one. Her story started in the tough streets of Belfast during the times of the troubles. Sectarian violence was a daily occurrence. Mary’s parents were of that often targeted narrative. A cross-sectarian relationship between a Catholic and a Protestant.
To escape the troubles, her family moved to England. It was a toss up between Watford and Dagenham. Watford won. But the stability of her family life was shattered when her mum died, Mary was only 16 years old. And when her father died just two years later, Mary unexpectedly became the head of the family. Rather than shrink, she grew quickly into the challenge. The rest, as they say, is history.
A super successful career, massively popular TV show, a respected figurehead and champion of independent businesses, a mum, partner and loyal friend. It’s fair to say this wonder woman had done well.
There were four powerful Portas ‘Power Pointers’:
Come to the edge, we might fall, come to the edge, it’s too high.
Come to the edge, and they came, and he pushed, and they flew.
Christopher Logue, 1926-2011