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One of the most inspirational people I have ever met is Wanda Ferragamo. At 92, she still goes to work every single day. And loves it. Wanda is matriarch of the Ferragamo family and guardian of the famous company in the name of her late husband Salvatore, makers of Italian luxury goods. Very few women would not know of their shoes, bags and clothing. Wanda has just been awarded the prestigious Marisa Bellisario prize for her career, which in Italy is a significant honor.

I was sent an article featuring her recently in Corriere della Sera, the Milan daily, and in it she talked of the challenges she faced following the death of her husband in 1960. She was, at that time, raising six children. The youngest was two. She stepped up to head the company in Florence, which at that time was focused on shoes, and developed entire new lines of products for which it is famous today. She thrived in what was then a man’s world, and in many ways still is.

One of the stories Wanda tells of her husband is really touching. She says she often told him off for being overly generous.

So I once bought a tile, with a notice on, which said “Do not act badly because it is a sin. Do not act right because it is wasted”, I left it in the bathroom so that he would have found it. He cancelled some words with a pen transforming its meaning to “Do right / do good even if it is wasted”.

It was something she never forgot, and sought to enshrine in her company. An astounding woman with an astounding career. Brava Wanda. Brava.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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