This year, International Women’s Day and the Oscars are within two days of each other. Which is a happy accident, since 2023 saw the release of many films featuring incredible actresses in strong female lead roles. Among the nominees for Best Actress is a movie that speaks directly to IWD’s 2024 theme, #InspireInclusion. In fact, I think it speaks to all women of the channel. I’m talking about Nyad, the account of long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad’s successful 2013 swim from Cuba to Florida.

Some back story. Nyad was a champion swimmer her whole life. She set impressive records in her 20s, then didn’t swim at all for thirty years. At 60, she resurrected her dream of swimming from Havana to Key West. She trained intensively to get back in shape, then made four harrowing, unsuccessful attempts over several years. In 2013, at 64 years old, she finally achieved her goal. She swam nonstop for 110 miles. For 53 hours—that’s more than two days straight! She is still the first and only person in the world to have performed this feat without a shark cage.

Nyad is about adversity, adventure, and triumph. It’s about inspiring inclusion: what you can accomplish regardless of your age, your gender, or your sexuality (Nyad came out when she was 21). But more than anything, it’s about a triumph of mindset, of vision, of a belief in yourself. As Nyad (played by Annette Bening) puts it, “I don’t believe in imposed limitations. I don’t believe in any limitations.”

That’s why Nyad’s story is so important for women, especially in our industry. We’ve all got obstacles and challenges, some smaller and some bigger. Our work in the channel is intense and fast-paced. It’s perpetually changing and evolving, as inevitably as the ocean currents and storms continually disrupted Nyad’s course. Not to mention the challenges we may carry in our personal lives. So we can use some inspiration!

Though I recommend the whole movie, let’s fast-forward to the end. (No worries about spoilers—the event was captured on video and widely covered by the press.) Nyad stumbles onto the shore after those 53 hours of swimming and is led to the recovery gurney. Before she lies down, she shares some powerful words through swollen lips: “I want to say three things. One, never, ever give up. Two, you’re never too old to chase your dreams. And three, it may look like a solitary sport…but it takes a team.”

These are straightforward statements; their meaning is clear. But when you know what she had just gone through, it gets really inspirational. Here’s what I mean:

Never give up

Nyad’s historic swim was years in the making—35 years if you count her first attempt when she was younger. But “never give up” is about more than endurance over time. It’s about overcoming serious obstacles too. Hers came in the form of sharks, toxic jellyfish and serious storms. But we’ve all got them, and they can feel every bit as large and overwhelming: market forces that force big changes or layoffs, impossible deadlines or revenue goals, a health scare, a child’s troubles in school.

You’re never too old to chase your dreams

Age gives you an important new asset: wisdom. Nyad understood that her wisdom more than made up for any athletic prowess she’d lost over the decades. Age is another important element of diversity in the workplace and all our communities: women of all ages have so much to offer each other in terms of expertise, mentoring, and experience. (For more on this, I recommend Arthur Brooks’ From Strength to Strength, an exploration of the specific strengths of different ages.)

It takes a team

Nyad was far from alone in her journey. She did all the swimming, yes, but she had a team of 40 experts keeping her safe, fed, and on course. Most of us know that community is central to success and fulfillment throughout our multi-faceted lives. No one woman can do it alone, professionally or personally. We rely on each other for expertise, validation, resources, and sometimes a good laugh or cry.

Speaking of teams, I have an announcement. It’s a concept I’ve been noodling on for some time, and this blog is its official launch.

Welcome to #ChannelHER!

It’s a platform for you, for us, for the women of the channel! It’s a space to celebrate and inspire.

A bit about the name #ChannelHER. At its core, it refers to our workscape: this virtual thoroughfare where vendors, distributors and partners connect to serve our customers’ IT needs. But there’s so much more! In essence, a channel is a passageway, a way to get from here to there. It’s a body of water connecting two seas (Nyad makes even more sense now, right?). As a verb, we “channel” when we direct resources, energy or attention into something specific, as in supporting other women. And when we’re guided by or inspired by someone, as in “wow, you’re so unstoppable it’s like you’re channeling Diana Nyad!”

But let’s not stop there. To truly support each other, we also need to be real. To connect the dots between inspiration and application, between vision and reality. We need to get down and dirty with our own sharks and jellyfish, our own turbulent waters. Because we all have them—none of us is alone.

So look for more from #ChannelHER in the months ahead! You’ll find my hand-picked stories, resources, and advice for navigating life as women of the channel.

I began this piece by mentioning the Oscars. In the spirit of recognizing women’s achievements, I want to give a shout out to Nyad actress Annette Bening, nominated for Best Actress! At 64, she’s the same age as Nyad was when she completed the swim. The swimming in this movie is all her—they used no body doubles. During filming, she regularly swam for 3-6 hours per day.

Like Nyad, Bening truly went the distance. Let’s #ChannelHER!


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Alexandra Zagury

Vice President, Partner Managed Services and aaS Sales

Global Partner Organization