Best Books (aka What's on My Nightstand): The Power of Onlyness

In the next few months I'm launching a new venture that wouldn't have happened had I not read Nilofer Merchant's The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough To Dent The World. She sent me an early copy to get my thoughts but her book didn't inspire me to think, it inspired me to act—over and over.

Since reading this book I've found myself sharing more of my truth in meetings and scheduling lunches with industry leaders to get feedback about my new ideas. I'm not sure what Nilofer did to shut up the voice in my head that says, "It'll never work," but Cynthia (my name for my hater voice) has been refreshingly quiet for weeks. The only thing I wanted more of from this book was Nilofer herself. She opens with a riveting story about defying her family's plan for her arranged marriage and I was dying to have her personal story woven through the very end. But for anyone who is aching to stand more firmly in their uniqueness, and to leverage their contributions for good, this book has earned its placed in the canon of innovation. 

A Peek Inside My Village: Binta Niambi Brown

One of the things I admire about Binta Niambi Brown is that she's a maverick. Her most recent maneuver is the perfect example: She left a prestigious law firm (where she was partner) to launch Big Mouth Records, an innovative label whose debut artist has already earned a Grammy.

When I asked Binta to share which balls she's dropped in order to follow her passion the list was long. "Oh, I’m all about dropping balls! I regularly drop the ball on managing personal business…I drop the ball on sleep, observing weekends...dating… and remembering to take mental and personal breaks…remembering to count to three and breathe before responding to something that’s upset me…but the biggest ball I drop, is remembering to forgive myself for past mistakes and allowing myself to learn from them and recover quickly. That last one is a shame, cause… I make a lot of mistakes!"

Binta reminds us all that being successful is not about being perfect, its about identifying and leveraging our unique contribution.

Binta_4211.jpg

Tiffany's Epiphanies: Pace Yourself

In the swirl of everything you do—running a household, running a Fortune 500 company—ask yourself, when was the last time you took a moment, stopped, and simply sat down? It wasn't until I had a friendly workaholic intervention that I realized this: The most successful people pace themselves. They don't burn out. They know that the to-do list will never end, and it's more important to take a moment for yourself. Try it. I promise you'll see the results. 

The Best Way to Get What You Want (Appreciate What You Have)

Of all of the values I've tried to instill in my children, gratitude has been the most difficult. It feels like they often want more (especially toys), without an appreciation for what they already have. But this week I got a lesson in practicing what I preach.

For a first-time author, my book Drop the Ball has received enormous attention, including a coveted New York Times book review. Publicly, I was over the moon. But in my most private moments I was disappointed because Drop the Ball hadn't gotten so much as a mention in the one media outlet I read religiously, Oprah Magazine. Sitting down with my monthly issue of O and a cup of tea is one of the happiness practices I write about in the book.

Earlier this summer I decided that I needed to stop acting like a spoiled child. I engaged in a series of exercises to demonstrate my appreciation to all of the journalists and thought leaders who have helped me make the book fly. And guess what? As soon as I finally got to the place where I truly felt awash with gratitude, my dream finally came true. This week, Oprah.com published an excerpt of Drop the Ball. It was a reminder of the words I always tell my children: Until your heart is open, you're not in a position to accept any more than you already have. And the only thing that opens your heart is gratitude.

Tiffany's Epiphanies: Take a Vacation—Your Work Ethic Will Thank You

Did you use your vacation days this summer? I know I did, and as a former workaholic, that's a big deal for me. Here's what my millennial friends have taught me: The amount of time you put into something isn't reflective of your effectiveness (hello, burnout). Not using your vacation days or working nonstop doesn't make you a better worker. It's not a work ethic, it's a work fallacy. 

 

The Fascinating Difference Between Self-Esteem and Confidence

I have the best day job ever as Chief Leadership Officer at Levo. This week I had the opportunity to moderate a panel on the power of presence for one of our partners, TRESemme. The panelists' answers to my questions were so thought provoking that I kept getting engrossed and then had to remind myself that it was my job to ask the next one. Dr. Lauren Hazzouri broke down the difference between self-esteem and confidence. Self-esteem is belief in your value. Confidence is belief in your abilities. We can have one without the other and we often conflate the two when we're trying to manage our anxiety.

Ally Love defined presence as energy and spoke about how to take responsibility for setting the tone in a room so that you're not constantly having to adapt to other people's energy, which can be exhausting. One way that you set the tone is by being what Lauren Maillian calls "unapologetically you." We are now in an era when being unique is valued and one of the most strategic skillsets is knowing how to leverage your difference. It's not easy, but that's part of why Dawn Hedgepeth told the audience that "presence is a choice." At the end of the day, embracing who you are and harnessing self-love to give others permission to be comfortable with themselves is a decision. You can learn more about how your presence changes everything by taking Amy Cuddy's course on Presence at Levo.

P1090320.jpg

Love Trumps Pots (aka Why Passive-Aggressive Behavior Never Wins)

Inspired by my girl Minda Harts, founder of The Memo, I've taken a 24-hour media break from the turmoil of our nation as an act of well-being. So this post is about dishes—more specifically, a pot. In my book Drop the Ball, I chronicle my struggle to create an all-in partnership with my husband, Kojo. In one of my weaker phases, I'd partially complete chores, like washing only my clothes and leaving his in the hamper, to protest our domestic labor imbalance and try to get him to do more (note: that doesn't work, ladies). Over time I figured out how to meaningfully engage him and he now does everything from managing our kids' social calendar to dealing with all of our snail mail. But every once in a while I regress back to this resentment behavior when I'm pissed about something totally unrelated. This week I washed a pot I used to cook my morning oats and intentionally left one of his dirty pots in the sink. I returned home from work to find this note. The lesson: Not only is passive-aggressive behavior ineffective in altering other people's behavior, it makes you look silly. Oh how I wish our President understood this.

IMG_2840.JPG

Tiffany's Epiphanies: If You're Struggling With Your View, Widen Your Lens

One of the things that's been fascinating to me about the turmoil in our nation is how two people can witness the same event, yet interpret it so differently. Perspective is everything. So why is it so hard for us to change ours? Here's how to adjust the aperture on your own lens to positively impact your world view. Watch this if anyone has ever told you that you're "stubborn."

In Memory of Heather Heyer

The weekend images from Charlottesville remain haunting. Young men emboldened with tiki torches reminiscent of the Klan, their facial expressions riddled with anger, claiming to be agents of justice for oppressed white people. Fortunately, America saw through their ridiculous rhetoric. And critical evidence that their agenda had nothing to do with freedom or justice was the lack of women among them. Though too often erased from the narrative, women have been at the forefront of every legitimate movement to advance civil rights.

One of the latest, #BlackLivesMatter, was founded by three: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. And the Women's March on Washington earlier this year was the largest single day demonstration in U.S. history. Women have also been the catalyst for the most fundamental ideals governing our society. The Greek philosopher Socrates, whose writings laid the foundation for ethics, was taught by a priestess, Diotema. 

Qualities often associated with femininity, like caring and giving, are seen as weak by totalitarians and extremists because they are obsessed with systems of domination and destruction. Central to their perversion is the fake news that the most powerful person takes life instead of giving it. Which is why they must trivialize, demean, and deny the reproductive rights of the half of the population that births our nation. Fortunately, their "right" cannot unite. It only divides.

Americans who stand for justice are stronger than ever. The most resounding response from responsible leadership to the Charlottesville tragedy invoked one word more than any other: love. And the fact that renouncement of hate came from across the political spectrum is important progress. So, too, is the importance of women's voices and leadership. We honor Heather Heyer, who lost her life advocating for all of our liberty. I believe in our democratic right to assemble. I have even taken my children to marches to teach them the importance of civic engagement through peaceful protest. Believe me when I tell you: when there are no women at a rally supposedly promoting someone's rights, it's about anything but.

Once you've taken care of your own well being (I personally had to scream at my television for an hour), prayed for our country, and hugged your loved ones, one of the most important ways you can take action against the bigotry and violence that we saw in Charlottesville is to engage with the organizations that already do. The Southern Poverty Law Center is the leading organization that monitors hate groups and seeks justice for the most vulnerable people in our society, and the NAACP has a long legacy of fighting for civil rights. Let's support them and each other as our nation moves forward, despite those trying to take us back.