Angelina Jolie – Consummate Make It Better Woman

Brad Pitt says, “Angie works on something outside our own home, our own world, our own orbit, every day. Every day she’s working on something, dealing with some effort to give some people a hand.” (USA Weekend, June 21-23)

Jolie is a consummate Make It Better woman.  It’s in her DNA, nature, heart to pay it forward to others, just as it is for most happy, affluent mothers.    Do you know of other Make It Better women for me to feature?

Lang Lang and Mom

If you read Lang Lang’s autobiography, Journey of A Thousand Miles, My Story, which I highly recommend, you will learn that he spent most of the years of his youth living away from his loving mother, to be with a tyrant father who pushed him relentlessly.

So I love that as a superstar, he now travels with her. She accompanied him to the Music Institute of Chicago’s gala last night where he received the Dushkin Award. And I love that he treated my mom with great kindness there too.

Lang Lang and my mom, Virginia Blankenbaker, at the Music Institute of Chicago gala last night. My CoChair, Katherine Daniels is seated in the foreground in front of them.

Me at the Podium.


Lang Lang, me, Hamilton Chang

Lang Lang, me, Hamilton Chang

Lang Lang electrified the audience with his words. He loves Chicago because he got his first major performance breaks here. He loves educating as many children as possible musically. And he loved the performances by the children of the Music Institute of Chicago for him.

“Musicians and teachers are important. But the donors who support them are just as important too.”

Lang Lang made thousands of lives better last night by agreeing to receive this award– starting with mine, but also including the audience, the Music Institute of Chicago faculty and the over 10,000 students supported by the school’s diverse programs. The gala raised almost $1.3 million for those programs.

Thank you Lang Lang!

Lives Made Better 92,901 and counting

All That I Am I Owe To My Angel Mother

“All that I am I owe to my angel mother”
– Abraham Lincoln

Much that I am I owe to my mother too – but she was so much more than just an angel. Her playful, determined spirit is devilishly disarming. And that’s allowed her to be a wonderful change agent for the better for women, children, and society.

Much that I am I owe to my own children too. Being their mom keeps making me better.

Photo courtesy of Earth Heart Foundation, whose mission is to honor and empower mothers in the United States as change leaders and peace builders.
Happy Mothers Day.

Lives Made Better 92,901 and counting

Smart With Heart Women, Like Kate Attea and You

Harvard MBA and venture philanthropy expert Kate Attea is perfectly poised to do the most good in the Chicago while juggling all the balls of a mother with 4 young children.

She’s a “smart with heart” Wilmette woman working part time for the venture philanthropy nonprofit, A Better Chicago.

Kate Attea

See the Make It Better article here.

Kate describes her work at A Better Chicago as “supporting cradle to career best practices.”

Cradle to career best practices — isn’t that what every mother works hard to accomplish for her own kids and others too?

We can all learn from Kate, and we would love to do so because she is just as lovely to talk to and be with as she looks in this photo.

Go Kate! Go mothers!

Your Mother’s Fix-It Gene

Wharton Professor Adam Grant has built a fantastic career by being as helpful to others as he can. His work demonstrates that the most successful businesses do this too. According to yesterday’s New York Times magazine cover story, Grant attributes his work and his success to his “mother’s fix-it gene.”

Image courtesy of New York Times magazine

I recommend that you read the article here.

Most mothers have fix-it genes, right? It develops soon after giving birth. We want to create a better world for our children.

My mother not only wanted to fix-it for her kids, other family members and friends, but also for society. That drive led her to great success as an Indiana State Senator and AG Edwards Investment Advisor.

The psychology of a mother’s fix-it gene is deeply embedded in Make It Better Media too. We believe deeply in the power of mamma and built our company to do well as we do good and help moms.

Do you have examples of what your own mother’s fix-it gene has influenced? If so, please share them with me.

Thank you.

First Day Of School, New Trier vs Haiti, & Aaron Freeman

My mom, Virginia Blankenbaker, on the right below, made sure that I got a good education. Today, she helped send off my darling daughter, Emma, for her first day of school this year at New Trier High School too.

A good education is easy in New Trier Township. A good education in Haiti – not so.

However, thanks to Laura Pincus Hartman, who grew up in the New Trier community and is now the Vincent de Paul Professor of Business Ethics at DePaul University, 183 kids in Mirebalais, Haiti will get a good trilingual education and essential life needs met at the school she founded – The School of Choice.

You will be able to be entertained by superb Chicago comedian, actor & commentator, Aaron Freeman, and support The School Of Choice by attending a fundraiser for it on October 20th at Francis Parker School.

In Memory of My Naval Pilot Father, John Bauerle

This Memorial Day, I’m proud to honor my father, John Bauerle, a “Right Stuff” naval pilot who died in service to our country on March 4, 1957, when I was six months old.

Isn’t he handsome! I inherited his chin, skin, and love of adventure and classical music.

Neil Armstrong and his wife and my godparents, Loren & Pat Graham, also a naval family, were some of the first to comfort and help my mother after the plane crash. And Loren has been a wonderful surrogate for John.

My deepest admiration though, goes to my mother, Virginia Murphy Bauerle Blankenbaker, for picking herself up from that excruciating loss and building an amazing life for herself, me and her later loves/husbands and children.

Marian Tompson & La Leche League Prove Margaret Meade’s Point

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed that’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Meade.

Evanston’s Marian Tompson, a shy mother of 7 who never expected to become an international hero to the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco and mothers across Africa, and six others founded the La Leche League,, to help educate the medical profession and mothers around the world of the benefits of breastfeeding. Now its the norm. It never occured to me not to nurse my 6 kids.

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