CONTRIBUTING WRITER, LEIGH ELMORE. LEIGH SERVES AS THE EDITOR -AT-LARGE FOR ABWA’S WOMEN IN BUSINESS MAGAZINE AND ACHIEVE NEWSLETTERS.
Pioneering Astronomer Nancy G. Roman was “Mother of the Hubble Space Telescope. Nancy Roman knew from a very early age that she wanted to be an astronomer. Her greatest challenge was convincing the world that she could be a very good one. Overcoming traditional gender roles in the scientific community was almost as daunting a challenge as paving the way for the Hubble Space Telescope, an achievement for which she is most remembered. Roman, known as the “Mother of Hubble,” passed away on Christmas Day 2018 at the age of 93. She was NASA’s first chief of astronomy and one of the first women executives for the agency. Her achievements will live on
Her family moved around the country frequently when she was growing up. Roman cited both of her parents’ interest in the natural world—and her time beneath the clear night skies of Reno, Nevada—as an inspiration for her early interest in astronomy. Fueled by a fascination for the stars, she began her own astronomy club with a group of neighborhood girls when she was 11 years old. Though she knew she wanted to be an astronomer by the time she entered high school, her guidance counselor, who belittled her desire to take mathematics instead of Latin, discouraged her.
A promising student at Swarthmore College, Roman still had to ignore warnings from the Dean of Women and other teachers about studying science, ultimately earning her B.A. in Astronomy in 1946. She later recalled that the only encouragement she was given during her undergraduate years was by a teacher who told her, “I usually try to dissuade girls from majoring in physics but I think maybe you might make it,” National Geographic has reported
Roman went on to receive her Ph.D. in Astronomy at the University of Chicago in 1949, where she worked for six more years at the Yerkes Observatory as an instructor and assistant professor.
Seeing little chance for tenure as a woman, Roman took a position at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. where she eventually won the trust of her peers and began to work in radio astronomy, geodetics, and microwave spectroscopy.
She attended a lecture on the origin of the moon given at the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the late 1950s where she was presented with the opportunity to work for NASA and set up a program in space astronomy.
As she told National Geographic, “The idea of coming in with an absolutely clean slate to set up a program I thought was likely to influence astronomy for 50 years was just a challenge that I couldn’t turn down. That’s all there is to it.”
She dedicated her time at NASA to promoting, initiating and supporting in-space observation, from satellites to the Scout probe. In 1964, her name was even given to a newly discovered asteroid, 2516 Roman.
But Roman’s crowning achievement at NASA was perhaps the greatest gift ever given to astrophysics: the Hubble Space Telescope, the groundbreaking satellite observatory that has generated more than 1.2 million observations and 14,000 scientific papers. Roman tirelessly laid the foundation that eventually made NASA’s space-based observatory a reality.
She retired from NASA in 1979 having prepared the way for Hubble’s eventual launch in 1990. “My work helped others explore the evolution of the galaxy,” she told National Geographic. “I did not let the fact that I was a woman deter me.”
Source: National Geographic, Dec. 31, 2018
The life of an entrepreneur – or at least the idea behind that life – can seem enticing to just about everyone. You launch a new enterprise that makes millions – and maybe even changes the way people lead their lives. But why do some people follow through on such visions with great fanfare and success, while others fail miserably – or never follow through at all?
“There’s just this mindset that the very best entrepreneurs have that positions them for success when others around them are struggling and unable to stay the course,” says Peter J. Strauss (www.peterjstrauss.com), an attorney, entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book The Accidental Life.
Strauss says that anyone who is feeling the entrepreneurial tug, and wants to mimic the most successful entrepreneurs, would do well to consider these three points:
- Remember that fortune favors the bold. On the outside entrepreneurs may appear confident and assured in their actions, ready to take the steps needed to achieve success without hesitation. In reality, Strauss says, most successful entrepreneurs have a voice inside them imploring them to wait, to not take that chance. The difference between them and others is they ignore that inner voice. “In my career, I tried to prepare myself as best I could for my next step, but I always had to take a leap of faith to some degree,” Strauss says. “There’s never going to be perfect time or situation that is a guaranteed win. For any significant opportunity, there is always a risk.”
- Take the “life gives you lemons” approach. Things don’t always work out the way we hope, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept defeat. Strauss points out that Steve Jobs was once fired by the board of the company he founded. “Steve Jobs easily could have decided that his life as an entrepreneur was not meant to be,” Strauss says. “Instead, he built another company and eventually found himself back at the helm of Apple. Jobs knew that whatever happened, his was not going to be a story of failure.” It’s inevitable that life will throw you curveballs, he says, so learn to hit them. “The good news is that adaptability can be learned,” Strauss says. “The more you train yourself to see possibility in the curveballs, the more you will adapt to hitting singles, doubles and even home runs.”
- Understand the “family” connection. Businesses often describe their organizations as “family.” Sometimes that’s just lip service, Strauss says, but in the best corporate cultures the team respects one another and holds each other accountable – much like a family. “If you are in a leadership position, it’s up to you to instill this mindset and to be the role model for it in your company,” he says. He even discovered that the business family he created as an entrepreneur helped make him a better parent. “If I don’t set clear goals and expectations at work, I can’t be disappointed or surprised when my team falls short,” he says. “The same holds true at home. Framing expectations as a dialogue will make your family and your team feel valued.”
“Ultimately, no matter the obstacles, entrepreneurs just find a way to persevere and get the job done,” Strauss says. “But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. There are real risks involved. People rarely see all the ins and outs and ups and downs of what it takes to reach a place where you feel real success.”
About Peter J. Strauss
Peter J. Strauss (www.peterjstrauss.com) is an attorney, entrepreneur and author of several books, including the soon-to-be-released The Accidental Life. He is the founder and managing member of The Strauss Law Firm, LLC, on Hilton Head Island, S.C, and also the founder and CEO of Hamilton Captive Management, LLC. He is a graduate of the New England School of Law and of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program.