Why America Needs the Women of Wakanda

This week was a roller coaster. I celebrated the anniversary of #droptheball and had an incredible Valentine's Day dinner with my husband, only to wake up the next day to the news of the tragic school shooting in Parkland. My heart was still aching as I walked into the Magic Johnson movie theater in Harlem to see Black Panther, but I left with a renewed sense of optimism about the kind of leadership required to heal our nation and the role that women will play in forging our future.

The females of Wakanda are not without adversity, but their conviction and fortitude is refreshing in a world that often casts us as vixens or damsels in distress. In one scene the newly crowned king, T'Challa, tells his love interest, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), "You would make a good queen if you weren't so stubborn." She immediately quips back, "I would make a good queen because I am so stubborn." Her self-assuredness made my own back straighter. As a black woman, it was especially breathtaking to see the diversity of thought, expression, and yes, even fighting techniques, of other black women on screen. But the most powerful moments were those in which the female characters found strength by crossing boundaries and asking for help. It was the women in Black Panther who showed us that: "The wise build bridges. The fools build barriers." I'm wishing for our nation as many bridge builders as possible.

Tiffany's Epiphanies: You Only Need Permission from Yourself

The phrase I hear time and time again from women who have read Drop the Ball is, "Thank you for giving me permission to..." and then they share something they have now felt the power to let go. And while I am filled with gratitude that my book is inspiring women to break themselves from unrealistic expectations, the truth is, the only permission you truly need is from yourself.

A Peek Inside My Village: Wednesday Martin

IMG_1823.jpg

I first experienced Wednesday Martin at TEDWomen. Our mutual literary agent e-introduced us before we arrived and we agreed to meet at a bar right before the opening reception, which we ended up ditching once our lychee martinis and sex conversation started flowing. Wednesday is a social researcher who writes about parenting and motherhood, gender and popular culture.

Her last book, Primates of Park Avenuewas an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Most recently, she's turned her anthropological lens on an elusive topic: female sexuality. All I can say is that the night I met Wednesday I learned that everything I knew about my libido was wrong.

Since that time her family has hosted mine for Thanksgivings and Christmas and one of the things I've observed about Wednesday is that she doesn't cook. She once had me in stitches recalling a time when she sent her oldest son into shock by making a pot of soup. She recently explained why she had to throw her culinary identity out the window. "I dropped the ball on cooking when my kids were really little because I didn’t enjoy it, and it disrupted my writing flow at a time when I had very little writing time. Plus everything about it, from the shopping to the chopping to the cooking to timing it so things were ready at the same time, stressed me out and made me grumpy." Wednesday's self-awareness as a new mom prompted her to release the unrealistic expectation that she prepare all of her family's meals and freed her up to focus on her work.

All of us will benefit from her decision when her forthcoming book, Untrue, is released this fall. You can pre-order her jaw-dropping insights here. I'll be reading with the book in one hand and a lychee martini in the other.

Best Books (aka What's on my Nightstand): Stalking God

"What are you reading???" I got this question a lot from my family, friends, and even strangers when I was reading Anjali Kumar's Stalking God because I'd frequently burst out laughing while my head was buried in it. Kumar's memoir chronicles her unconventional and hilarious journey to find God, in hopes of answering her young daughter's questions about life that Google can't help with. Questions like, "Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What happens when we die? Is there a God?"

In Kumar's recently published TED talk she doesn't even bother with a spoiler alert before announcing she failed at finding God. But her escapades along the way, from excessive perspiration at a Mexican Sweat Lodge and at SoulCycle in Manhattan to communing with real life witches, make Stalking God an entertaining and inspiring read. Plus in the end Kumar does make a beautiful discovery about the human condition and what unites all of us. As it turns out, there are multiple truths.

If You Want to Go Far, Go Together

Several years ago my dear friend Chloe Drew introduced me to the Council of Urban Professionals. CUP connects, empowers, and mobilizes the next generation of civic and business leaders. Their flagship program is a one-year fellowship for professionals of color and this week I was honored to serve as the speaker for their annual graduation celebration.

Attending the event was the perfect salve for the State of the (crazy) Union address I shouldn't have watched the night before. As a cherry on top, my discussion was moderated by another sister friend, Daisy Auger-Dominguez, who is a CUP Board member. We talked about everything from our superpowers (mine: helping others to achieve clarity) to making tough career decisions, and I was blown away by the thoughtful questions and comments from the fellows, who I have no doubt will continue to make a tremendous impact in their communities.

Throughout the night there were many references to the "CUP family" and it reminded me that behind every successful person is a village of support. There's an African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Congratulations to the CUP 2017 Fellows. I can't wait to see how far you take the nation, and our world.

CUP_2017FellowswithTiffanyandDaisy.jpg

Tiffany's Epiphanies: A Better Way to Introduce Yourself

When I meet new people, I always ask, "What's your story?" Most women ramble off their resume and talk about how they haven't "made it." Ladies, flip that script. If you only have a few minutes to introduce yourself and make an impression, lead with your biggest accomplishment and what matters most to you. Share what you have done, not what you haven't.

What the Flu Gave Me (Besides the Chills): A Moment to Reconnect With Myself

IMG_3933.JPG

I'm frequently saying that I should slow down, but I'm terrible at taking my own advice — until I have no other choice. The flu season caught up with me this week so I've been in bed with Kleenex, pressed juice (courtesy of my friend, Chloe), and my O magazine. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." It reads nicely on screen but actually getting clear about what lies within us is challenging when we're constantly in motion. Drifting in and out of sleep between Alka Seltzer doses became the perfect opportunity for me to reflect on my own unique purpose and the gifts I've been given to further it. What I know for sure is that planning can prevent you from living. I don't need a road map. I just need to listen to my own internal compass.

A Loss Worth Celebrating

IMG_8520.JPG

This week there was a lot of book buzz—and not the Michael Wolff kind. On Wednesday I was thrilled to attend the launch of Anjali Kumar's Stalking God, which chronicles her hilarious and inspirational journey to find meaning.

And last night was the annual Business Book Awards. Drop the Ball was longlisted in the Personal Development category, but the book that took home the prize was Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein. It was only the second time that a woman won the award, and it was well deserved. Goldstein is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has spent three decades at the Washington Post. I'll lose to her any day. Best moment was celebrating the night with Nilofer Merchant and Jennifer Romolini whose books The Power of Onlyness and Weird in a World That's Not were also nominated.