I spend a lot of time cultivating my ecosystem (aka network). But the person who blows me out of the water is the "Consummate Connector" Susan McPherson. This week she graciously hosted a #droptheball book party on her Brooklyn rooftop. Here are three things I learned while observing her working the room: 1) Greet every guest personally, then immediately connect them to an individual nearby so that they're not alone. 2) Use storytelling to introduce guests to one another. People will forget names, but they never forget stories. 3) Recommend ways guests can support each other. By the time I left the party I had an action plan and several new contacts, including an executive at Burda Media who is going to help amplify the German release of #droptheball in October. We are all the cumulative investment of people who believe in us. If we believe in ourselves, it makes their job that much easier.
Do you become defensive or are ready to launch into lecture, even when the situation doesn't warrant it? I have to admit, it's something I've had to work on, but here's what I've learned: Don't gear up for the fight, gear up for the growth. Here's how.
One of the things I love about serving on the board of Girls Who Code are the board meetings where we interact with the girls. During a board meeting lunch this week I sat with a group of girls who were listening to fellow board member Craig Newmark share his experience about founding Craigslist. One of the things I noticed about Craig's story was how often he commented, "I didn't know what I was doing," but how that fact never prevented him from moving forward. I immediately thought of all of the women I connect with who tell me that they'll be able to take the next step on their leadership journey...as soon as they gain the skills, network, or credentials to feel like they know what they're doing. The next time I hear this (especially if it's my own voice in my head) I'm going to remind them (or myself) that the feeling of knowing what you're doing is not a pre-requisite for success. What's more important is that we're learning, growing, moving forward, and encouraging the next generation of women to follow suit.
If perfect is the enemy of good, I was my own worst enemy. It took dropping the ball to make me realize that sometimes it's just important to get things done. And more often than not, I now get it done at the 11th hour. And you know what? That's okay. It gets done! Watch and learn.
I read Debrena Jackson Gandy's first book, Sacred Pampering Principles, over 20 years ago when I was in college. So reading her latest, The Love Lies, was like a Sage Mentor whispering in my ear, though the truth telling she does is far from faint. In fact, the book begins with a bold warning: "This book could be hazardous to the insane love relationship beliefs you've come to hold as true." And it does just that. The Love Lie that most hit home for me was #6: "Having Expectations Gets Me What I Want from a Man," because you could replace "a Man" with "People" and most of the chapter still holds. She beautifully describes the "spiraling downward" of a relationship plagued by women's unrealistic unmet expectations, which I had to admit I have at the office, too. This book is highly interactive. You'll need to #droptheball on multitasking in order to fully experience all of the exercises. But if you do, it will, as the subtitle suggests, transform your relationships and enrich your love life.
I have a deep affection for applesauce (as in, I eat an entire jar with a spoon in one sitting). So I was over the moon when I discovered that one of my Peer Mentors, Keisha Smith-Jeremie, makes the best ever with exotic flavors. I've been picking up jars from her doorman for months and am thrilled to announce that with the launch of her new company, sanaía, you can indulge, too. When I asked Keisha how she was able to launch her applesauce empire while simultaneously slaying as Chief Human Resources Officer at News Corp, she let me in on her ball dropping strategy: "I elevated members of my team to manage several projects that I had seen to fruition over the years. If it wasn't a new or complex project, I placed them in the drivers seat with me providing critical advice and insight along the way. It would never have been possible to launch sanaía in 6 months had I not given myself permission to do this." Our tastebuds are loving you, Keisha.
Good wife, good mom, good worker—these roles often come with an already defined set of expectations. To live your true story, break out. Here's how to redefine those roles and figure out what "good" really means to you.
I sat at my laptop for half an hour trying to come up with an insightful response to the President's latest misogynistic Twitter rant, but there truly are no words. So I'm turning my attention to what has most energized me this week: Lin Manuel's release of an incredibly moving video for "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)," a track from The Hamilton Mixtape. In the same week that the President executes a partial travel ban against our Muslim brothers and sisters, this video and its accompanying campaign is a reminder of the importance of our vigilance and activism in advancing social justice. My favorite lines are delivered by the female lyricist Snow tha Product: "We're America's ghost writers, the credit's only borrowed." Let's cash America's check on our next election day.
I know we're all busy and have days filled with meetings and never-ending to-do lists. But if you don't send the elevator back down, it's going to get lonely at the top. Here's why you need to carve out time for mentorship.
When I was in the second grade, a bully named Lionel put a tack in my desk chair...and I sat on it. As Mrs. Tonema was pulling the tack out of me I caught Lionel snickering from the corner of my eye. My embarrassment turned to fury as I looked at him and mustered up the biggest threat I could imagine: "I'm gonna go get my daddy!" During recess I left the school grounds and ran a mile to the church where my father worked as the pastor. He used the handkerchief from his suit pocket to wipe my tears, then he walked me back to school.
In the end, I was disappointed that I only got to see my father talk to Lionel's parents and a bit miffed that he scolded me for running away (he said it was dangerous). I would have much rather seen him kick Lionel's butt. But the point is that for my entire life, whenever I'm threatened, my first impulse is to run to daddy. Of course, I don't anymore. He taught me how to kick butt myself. But the fact that his devotion and protection of me has helped me be brave in the world is why I'm forever indebted to Harrison Gaston. It's also an important reason for women to drop the ball, so that men can meaningfully engage in their children's lives. This week I was thrilled to wish all of them a Happy Father's Day.