Once upon a time, there was a poor little girl, named Ursula. She was raised by her single mother in a New York City housing project. Because she received the lessons of love from her mother, the gift of maths and has never been afraid to speak her mind, she worked her way courageously to the top, overcoming gender, social class, color barriers.


  • This little girl has grown into a 51 year old powerful woman : Ursula Burns.

    She took over the helm of Xerox in june 2009,
    replacing retired CEO Anne M. Mulcahy and becoming the first African-American
    woman to be chief executive of a
    Fortune 500 company.

  •   Now she has become a role model for future

“When I was that little girl growing up, my story seemed
unimaginable,” she said. “I had class against me, gender against me and race
against me.”

During the same time, I can't help noticing that Disney introduced First Black Princess, Tiana, in "The Princess and the Frog". Read the Washington Post Article here.


All the ingredients of a fairy tale are there, in Ursula Burns's story

The initial situation the dark forest of the poorest areas of New York

The obstacles: gender, class, color

The quest : "To Be Good, to Give and To Be Successful"

The values of a pure heart: Hard work, Generosity and Humility

The Fairy God Mother: Ursula Burns' Mother

Ursula Burns’ mother died 25 years ago. "But she  is perched on my shoulder whispering encouragement and keeping me honest,
keeping me humble."

She would say "You have to give more than you take away from the world. You have to learn and you have to be curious.You have to perform at your best. You have to worry about the things you can
control. Don’t become a victim.”

The Education of the Hero : Ursula Burns earned a bachelor’s degree from Polytechnic Institute of New
York and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from
Columbia University.

The First Trials : she almost left the company and disagreed many times

The Magical Potion: she Speaks her Mind, from her True Voice

The Wiser Women, the mentors among which the charismatic Anne Mulcahy

The Happy Ending : First African American Woman CEO , same year as Barak Obama is elected first African American president

Her message is simply beautiful:

“Believe That
There Are No Limitations, No Barriers to Your Success – You Will Be Empowered
and You Will Achieve.”

"Where You Are is not Who Your Are"


I have been reading articles about this awesome woman, watching videos, hearing her speeches and "I fell under her spell".

What first started with another article about women speakers, illustrating one of the 12 dimensions of the SPM profile, became an adventure into a "wondercorporateland".

I also relate to her mother/ daughter relationship. My mother died 23 years ago, and her message to us, her 3 daughters, was to find our own voice and express it no matter what. The voice that she couldn't find herself, and died from that.

I am also grateful for all the wonderful wise women I've found on my way who played key roles in my life, helping me find my own voice and share what I had to say.

So I decided to write a three part post.

  • First: the Fairy Tale and the Heroine's Journey
  • Second: The 6 lessons of Leadership
  • Third:  Finding Your Voice: Ursula Burns's Speaking Style

Your turn…Take a moment to reflect:

What does this story inspire you?

How could you be transforming your life, right now, if you really believed in yourself, believe that there are no limitations.

What would you achieve?

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