After rushing out the door for years, and after reading some ridiculous research about the impact of one’s beauty on her career growth, I came to realize this: Fewer decisions create faster routines. One of my drop the ball strategies is to decrease the number of choices I have to make in the morning: I have the same hairstyle, I wear the same earrings, and have a closet filled with lots of dresses. Ask yourself: Are there any steps I can take to reduce the amount of work in the morning? Watch for my most recent hack to make the mornings even easier.
Today's special guest is my son Kofi! Watch and listen to his story about how a free bottle of Gatorade at basketball camp helped him realize that hard work gets good results.
A few years ago I got an email from Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, asking me if I'd meet with a woman named Minda Harts. I'm forever grateful that I said "yes." Minda is the CEO of The Memo, a career-development community platform for women of color. Her new book bears the same name as her organization with the subtitle What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table.
Minda doesn't mince words about the frustration of being marginalized, underrepresented, underestimated, and invisible in the workplace. In one story, a white male boss commented on her burnt orange mani: "You people love your bright colors." She describes the humiliation and anger that she felt in that moment. Stories like these resonate deeply and are accompanied with practical tips like knowing when to speak up, finding your squad, or clarifying your purpose.
As a woman of color myself, I have to say that it's one of the most affirming books I've read. This is because Minda unapologetically writes the book exclusively for us. She doesn't even attempt to play to a "broad audience." In fact, she relegates her white readers to one chapter entitled "No More Passes: For My White Readers." I'd encourage any white ally who is heartfelt about advancing women of color in the workplace to complete the following exercise: read every word of The Memo, except for your chapter. I'm sure you will experience confusion, frustration, and even feel blindsided at times because this book is definitely not designed for you. Now imagine that every day you had to wake up and go to a workplace that was like this book—totally not designed for you! That will give you a tiny window into what it feels like to be a woman of color at your company. With every page turn, I felt like the sister in the front row at church waving her cardboard fan and shouting out "amen!" I'm hoping that all of us can join Minda's choir.
Seven years ago when I was devastated over closing a non-profit I ran, I sought counsel from Vanessa Valenti. She reminded me that my passion for advancing women and girls couldn't be shuttered and helped me draft the copy for my very first website. It was a huge gesture coming from someone who is a master word curator and storyteller.
In 2004 Vanessa co-founded Feministing.com, which started as a tiny blog and grew into one of the largest online feminist communities in the world. She's also a TED Speaker and coach. Most recently she co-founded and serves as CEO of FRESH Speakers. I'm a proud member of their portfolio and wouldn't have the incredible public speaking practice I do without their representation and guidance.
When I asked Vanessa what she's had to drop the ball on to be a writer, entrepreneur, wife, and mom of two small children (and a cat), her response really resonated with me: "I've had to start declining small gigs." She explained that it takes the same amount of time and effort to negotiate a $5,000 deal as it does a $25,000 deal, but she'd often say yes to the smaller ones because she didn't feel she could turn down a paying client. She decided that she had to prioritize her value and her time and it's made a world of difference. I'm thankful that she's made a difference in mine.
I have a big announcement: We just raised a million dollars for The Cru! As many of you know, I recently started a company called The Cru, a peer mentorship platform that matches you with a group of women to set intentions and reach your goals. Raising money is no easy feat, and the biggest lesson I have learned this year is that behind every successful women is her Cru. Here is a shoutout to all the people who helped us hit this milestone—and to all of you who continue to inspire me every day.
Recently I was speaking with a woman who was stressed out about a new job because she wouldn't have time to make it to the gym. We need to take the exercise pressure off. The stress that comes after beating yourself up for not working out is far worse than than not exercising. Watch and learn three easy strategies to add fitness to your life when you can't make it to the gym.
So much of my life is centered around my womanness and my blackness, areas where I experience less privilege, but it wasn't until a woman came and spoke to me after one of my talks that I realized there are actually far more parts of my identity that I experience enormous privilege: I'm straight, I'm able-bodied, I was born an American, and I have fertility privilege. Watch to hear the feedback I received that I will never forget.
Sometimes our kids teach us the biggest lessons. My 10-year-old daughter and I were on a very crowded New York City subway, when a seat opened up around 3 seats up from us. I was very surprised when my daughter squeezed her way to grab that seat. When we got off the train, I told my daughter that that was rude, and she turned around to say, "Seriously mom, if you want something you have to go for it." It was a profound moment, and I realized that many of us can learn from Ekua's advice. Here's how.
What's the difference between a professional and personal brand? That's the discussion I had recently with one woman I know. At work, she said she was known as being relentless, but she views her personal brand as more fun. I soon came to this epiphany: There is no brand without consistency. While our brands can be expressed differently, what we stand for can never change. Here's how to develop a consistent brand.
I recently attended the launch party for the book Alpha Girls, which chronicles the journeys of a few successful and prominent female VCs. As a founder and entrepreneur, I was excited to meet these women, but as an introvert, I was anxious to attend an event like this. To combat this, I came up with this networking hack: Watch to find out the question I asked.