I didn’t expect to love Kathy Ireland.

In fact, when I first looked at the promotional materials for the conference I attended last weekend, I expressed frustration about the way the materials promoted her appearance.

She’s amazingly beautiful. Amazingly successful in business.

The promo materials for the conference highlighted both of these factors, but I only saw the photos. The inclusion of  so many photos seemed superficial to me.

So I didn’t expect to love Kathy Ireland.

But I did.

From the moment she began her presentation, it became very clear to me that I had seriously underestimated Kathy Ireland’s beauty.

I’m not talking about her outward appearance, though she is stunning.

I am talking about the inner beauty that radiated as she talked about her life and experiences, her priorities, her faith, and her family.

Even more impressive to me: her humility and focus on others.

Here are a few things I loved about Kathy Ireland:

  • She spoke boldly about her faith from the platform, to a group of over one thousand people. She did so without excuses, with sensitivity to differing viewpoints, completely unashamedly.
  • She gave credit to others. She emphasized the importance of her team and their contributions. She downplayed her own fame, talent, ability, and accomplishments.
  • She engaged and valued others. During her talk, during the question and answer time, and while interacting casually with people, Kathy listened, called people by name, asked questions. In fact, during the photo opportunity, her staff needed to remind people NOT to talk with her to keep the line moving. I heard later that this was less about people wanting to talk to Kathy (although I am sure they wanted to) and more about the fact that Kathy wanted to take time to get to know each person.
  • She is just like me. Well, not really.  She’s really tall. She’s a supermodel. She owns a 1.5 billion dollar company. AND… she’s a mom who juggles work and family. A mom who starts the day with her children, who sees them off to school, who makes difficult choices about how to spend her time each day, who loves her work and looks for ways to add value to others.

She is just like me and not much like me, all at once.

Tell me something! Have you ever found a role model in an unexpected place? Who inspires you? Who do you admire? Why?