Madam Walker's legacy lives in her philanthropy as well as in an amazing line of hair care products.
Penicillin and plastic bags help a lot, fridges and hot water make manliness more comfortable and Tom Ford's fragrance range makes it smell better, but the idea that has pushed our lives into the light more than any other -ism or -ology is feminism.
Gifts are an important and necessary part of our collective lives. We need to give and we need to allow others to give.
And this is one of the major questions of our lives: how we keep boundaries, what permission we have to cross boundaries, and how we do so.
Brain power improves by brain use, just as our bodily strength grows with exercise. And there is no doubt that a large proportion of the female population, from school days to late middle age, now have very complicated lives indeed.
The Royal Family are not like you and me. They live in houses so big that you can walk round all day and never need to meet your spouse. The Queen and Prince Philip have never shared a bedroom in their lives. They don't even have breakfast together.
When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives.
Almost half of the population of the world lives in rural regions and mostly in a state of poverty. Such inequalities in human development have been one of the primary reasons for unrest and, in some parts of the world, even violence.
My mother's belief in spiritual healers grew stronger after our family went through a rough patch following my father's death. Sufi saint Karimullah Shah Kadri changed our lives, and all of us converted to Sufism. But it wasn't an instantaneous decision - it took us 10 years to convert. The change in religion was like washing away the past.
I think a biography is only as interesting as the lives and times it illuminates.