February 15, 2023
The Bluestockings Society dates back to an eighteenth-century literary group run by aristocratic and brilliant women of the time. They were known for their defiance of societal gender norms. The society is often characterized as radical for being the first female-led group to advocate for the careers of other women. Members of the society regarded themselves as virtuous supporters of the art of refined and intellectual conversation, typically over a cup of tea.
The members of the Bluestockings Society represented a different kind of modern, intellectual woman, who were accomplished and well-versed in many fields – arts, literature, and politics. Bluestock Advisors, as a women-owned business, has found inspiration from the Bluestockings Society as our carefully selected name and logo embodies these beliefs, and represents who we are.
To further engage with corporate and community leaders to spark valuable conversations, we
have decided to host quarterly Bluestockings Society Dinners (see more below).
As our team reviewed our company’s go-forward strategy and 2023 plans, one of our team members asked, quite simply, “Why are we doing this?” Such a simple, yet deep question. As a firm, what is our purpose? We love what we do, and we do it well, but is that truly our purpose?
Following one of our favorite frameworks, The Venn Diagram of Purpose, we explored our strategy and purpose further.
1. What do we love doing?
2. What are we good at?
3. What does the world need?
4. What can we get paid for?
Our focus quickly sharpened on Quality of Life. The purpose at Bluestock Advisors is to improve the quality of life of our clients, our employees, and their families. We have studied Dan Buettner’s study of longevity and have chosen to anchor our choices as a firm and as humans on its core concepts.
The Blue Zones study was led by anthropologists decades ago to understand what it takes to become a centenarian… and not just a centenarian, but a centenarian with a high quality of life.
Happy 100+ year olds! Researchers found 5 Blue Zones in the world and among them, they found nine core elements are always present. Now known as the Power 9, below are the components of longevity, according to BlueZones.com:
1. Move Naturally
The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.
The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” both translate to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. However, the world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap, and Sardinians do happy hour.
4. 80% Rule
“Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawan, 2500-year-old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the blue zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
5. Plant Slant
Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards.
6. Wine @ 5
People in all blue zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.
8. Loved Ones First
Successful centenarians in the blue zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes).
9. Right Tribe
The world’s longest-lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created "moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. The social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.
Now comes the hard part. How will we incorporate these elements into our firm, our client service, our employee relations? We are working hard to make it happen - - one choice, one decision at a time.
Beginning in 2023, we are hosting quarterly Bluestockings Society Dinners as a way to further engage with corporate and community leaders. These elegant events are modeled after Jeffersonian dinners.
The main elements of these dinners include:
Theme for the evening (a societal challenge the group may address)
Formal, coursed meal served by candlelight, just as Thomas Jefferson did
8 to 12 carefully selected participants of diverse areas of expertise
One table, one conversation with scripted questions yet free-flowing discussion
Depart with a bias for action
We held our inaugural Bluestockings Society in mid-January at the home of one of our co-founders, Jennifer Merritt, in Cartersville, Georgia, and it was a smashing success, if we do say so ourselves. The dinner participants included influential leaders and interesting perspectives. The dialogue was rich and impactful.
The theme of our first dinner was Longevity – What can we do to intentionally improve the length and quality of life of ourselves, our families, and our communities?
Attendee Ginger Yrabedra, a nurse practitioner at Dr. David Kim and a professor at Georgia State University, stated “Longevity is adaptability. Throughout your life and career, you must actively look for opportunities to change course when needed.”
Sharon McCoy, co-founder of McCoy Law Firm, believes “travel is the key to happiness”.
Attendees explored questions related to living with purpose, deliberately building our tribe, and finding ways to reduce or de-stress. These are three of the Power 9 elements of Blue Zones.
Rachel Walker, co-founder of Happy by Rachel, believes it is important to “Slow down to find your passion, find your purpose – and make it part of your life. Create happiness.”
Our guests included an impressive combination of influential leaders across many different domains including medicine, education, the arts, mental health, corporate, law, and small businesses. We’d like to share some thoughts each of these leaders brought to the dinner table.
Leah Phillips, co-founder of The Delos Company, finds “the hardest part of running a company is leading people. Invest in being great at that!”
Life Coach, Shavon Terrell-Camper, states “Although it is important to have a tribe, it is more important to be your own best friend.”
Frances Phillips, a marketing project manager at Shaw Contract, highlighted the importance of “always leaving a person or a place better than you find it.”
Michelle Gambill, Principal of Cartersville High School expressed the importance of education. “There are so many ways to connect the corporate world to education and it benefits all of us to do so.”
We laughed, we cried, we learned. And we built new, meaningful relationships.
About Bluestock Advisors
Bluestock Advisors provides C-Suite executives and board members within consumer industries with a powerful combination of financial analysis and strategic advisory services, aimed at creating long-term equity value. We offer a broad set of modern capabilities to creatively and thoughtfully deliver solutions and build capabilities to address high-stakes challenges and market opportunities. Our unique approach combines data science and proprietary tools with experience-driven insights and change management principles to grow total company value.
Our clients are typically CEOs and CCOs who need a step change in their value growth capabilities. They need to develop a deliberate plan to aggressively grow their organization’s market value because they are newly public, have a new CEO or CFO, see tremendous growth opportunity, or their stock is distressed.
We help our clients honestly assess how they are operating today relative to this framework, define their future state destination, and develop a roadmap to close gaps within the desired timeline.
Bluestock Advisors has assembled a rock star team of experts with decades of experience with the top retail and consumer packaged goods companies in the world.
Please be in touch if you’d like to connect and learn more.
By Jennifer Merritt and Shannon Doyle