Double Debbies

Martha’s Vineyard, MA — If your name is Nancy Brown, Jim Smith or Jennifer Jones, you are quite likely used to sharing your name with others.

Not so much so if you are Blue Cullen, Kim DeYoung or Debbie Phillips!

In fact, I’d never heard of a single other Debbie Phillips until I went to college.

After leaving Montpelier, Ohio, population 4,300, to attend The Ohio State University with its 55,000 students, I was in awe to learn at least five others on campus were named Debbie Phillips.  (To avoid confusion with all of them, I became more identified by my Social Security number. My name became:  “Ends in -0003.”

I never met any of the other Debbie P’s at school even though I was hoping to.  (There was no Google or Facebook back then to track them down…who am I kidding? The Internet was not even invented yet. Seriously!)

Over the years, people would tell me they knew others with my exact name but I never did.

Then, a few years ago, I learned that Debbie Phillips was running for elected office to the Ohio Legislature.  When she won, I received congratulations (nice!) …and bewilderment from an old friend who wondered if I had moved back to Ohio and gone into politics.

Then, one day it happened:

I got to meet my first Debbie Phillips!!!!

Debbie Phillips meets Debbie Phillips

The state legislator Debbie Phillips came to the Metropolitan Club in Columbus, Ohio where Ginny Barney, Patricia Wynn Brown and I were speaking on the Women on Fire book tour.  I felt so honored to meet her. My twin namesake Debbie and I had only a few minutes together that day… but I wanted hours.

I felt a remarkable kinship to this other Debbie Phillips…and I had a million questions.  In school, was she, too, called Little Debbie cakes?  Phebbie Dillips? Debra, when her mother was mad?  We agreed to meet up again someday for lunch.  (And, it won’t matter which of us makes the reservation!)

Over the years, I’ve spoken to other friends about this.  (My former colleague John Meekins once invited every Meekins in the city phone book to a party at his house so he could get to know these same-name people he wasn’t related to…and yet he was!)

I’d love to hear about your own experiences meeting …or not meeting… your namesake.

Summer joy on Martha’s Vineyard


Summer is vibrantly under way here on Martha’s Vineyard.
Normally, the population on our island is about 15,000 but in the summer the crowds swell with the heat (along with everything else!) to more than 100,000.

I love it.
Planes and ferries bring visitors to the Vineyard I may not have normally seen or known.

This morning I met Kim DeYoung, a dynamic coach and the brilliant founder of an organization called MetroMom at Black Dog for breakfast. We have travelled in the same information marketing circles and knew many of the same phenomenal women – Rochelle Togo-Figa, Carolyn Ellis, Jane Button, Ali Brown, Lisa Crisalle, Alexis Martin Neely — but we had never met. She was vacationing for the 10th year in a row on Martha’s Vineyard and I was honored she called and we could meet.

Many of you know how strongly I feel that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Kim and I chatted about the powerful force of “mompreneurs” — women who start businesses from their homes to earn additional income and provide a better quality of life and balance for their families.

And, how exciting it is that so many groups and organizations are sprouting to serve and inspire this dynamic population of women.

Part of the joy for me in meeting women like Kim DeYoung is that she embodies Women on Fire Aspiration #20: “I believe there is plenty in this world for me.”

Rather than fearing others who are doing similar work, she has embraced other groups serving “mompreneurs” and is growing her organization with joint ventures and collaborations.

I couldn’t find statistics on “mompreneurs” but there are more than 83 million mothers in the United States alone. What a force! And, joining forces with others strengthens what is possible. So, congratulations to the Kim DeYoungs of this world and the many others I know supporting “mompreneurs” including Shannon Davis of BeyondMotherhood who matches stay-at-home Moms with part-time work.

You are true Women on Fire in the way you embrace and empower women. I am proud to know and refer you!