The idea for The Red Boot WayTM started quite by accident. In 2010, Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run International, gave a TEDx presentation (included below) where she began the speech with an innocent-enough story about a pair of red boots.
Molly, a self-proclaimed “bad dresser” and “fashion nightmare”, would have never considered wearing something so bold as red boots. “Fifty-year-old women do not wear red boots,” she recounts the story in her speech. Molly’s daughter, Helen, disagreed; and so she purchased a pair of the “youthful” boots and presented them to her mom for her 50th birthday.
Even though they pushed her outside her comfort zone, it didn’t take long though for Molly to fall in love with those darn boots. Why? They were natural conversation starters and for Molly, who is not the shy type, they opened the door to many a heartfelt conversation.
In 2013, Molly retired from Girls on the Run and spent time on Capitol Hill working on a two-year leadership project. Over the course of this experience, she became deeply distressed by how people were communicating there.
Molly recounts, “As someone who has told thousands of young girls that empathy, listening, and compassion matter in how we communicate with others, I became very frustrated by what I witnessed in our nation’s capital.”
Molly decided to venture off on her own to discover what was at the root of all the discontent, name-calling, and mean-spiritedness. In August of 2014, Molly put on those conversation-starting red boots and set off on a cross-country journey talking with hundreds of Americans about our nation’s toughest topics . . . politics, religion, race, sexuality, gender, parenting, and economics.
Molly came back with a renewed sense of hope and a patented way of communicating. She had experienced the heart-driven, open dialogue she had longed for with all those she encountered. After several weeks of soul-searching, she wrote The Red Boot Way 11 Steps.
Soon after The Red Boot Way 11 Steps were born, Ann Davant Crehore entered the picture. Molly and Ann had known each other for a long time. When Ann heard about the work Molly was doing, she was intrigued. The two met in a coffee shop and realized together, they could grow the program. One morning after a Red Boot meeting, Molly asked Ann if she would be up to the challenge of serving as the Executive Director of the program. Ann said yes; and since then, thanks to the efforts of literally hundreds of people, the program is what it is today—a resource that teaches people an intentional form of communication where self-awareness, trust, and connections happen.