Here’s the easiest way to grow your network: just follow up. How many people's business cards are just collecting dust in your drawer? Are you still waiting for the right opportunity to ask for coffee or needing a good hook to connect with the person? Waiting for a future perfect moment will hold you back from fostering new relationships. I've learned that following up immediately is better than waiting for the perfect moment. Here's how to do it.
This week I found much to celebrate. We wrapped up our final two Cru launches in DC and New York before I traveled to Simmons University in Boston, where I serve on the board. I was thrilled to visit the new Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts & Humanities, named after the trailblazing journalist who died two years ago after a year long battle with cancer. Her archives are held there, along with precious memorabilia like the jackets she wore to moderate two vice-presidential debates in 2004 and 2008. In February 2016, just months before her death, she moderated the Democratic national debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Ifill was born in 1955 in Queens, New York. She moved frequently during her childhood as her father was the pastor of various churches, which taught her the value and skill of engaging new people across boundaries. She graduated from Simmons in 1977 with a degree in communications and landed her first job at the Boston Herald-American. She had interned there the summer before and when she took a note someone left on her desk that read "nigger go home" to her manager, the editors at the paper were so horrified they offered her a job. She used the opportunity to build a career that earned her the esteem of everyone who understood her work. In 2008, John McCain, the Republican Presidential nominee, told an Ifill critic live on Fox news that, "She will do a totally objective job because she is a highly respected professional."
Ifill worked for the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Washington Post, and the New York Times before making her way into television. In 1999 she became the first black woman to host a national political talk show, Washington Week in Review on PBS. She went on to earn a Peabody Award and 41 honorary doctorates. Ifill left us a legacy of excellence, curiosity, and honoring everyone's humanity. Two years before her death she wrote that, "We can talk-and we can listen—if we only give each other a chance." That dialogue feels more difficult now than it ever has before, but I'm inspired to channel Gwen Ifill and try.
Courage can't exist without fear. We often have a difficult time turning our side hustle into a business because we are afraid of losing our regular pay check; we are nervous to ask for a promotion because we are not sure we can handle the job. Anxiety can be terrifying, but it's required for growth. The next time you're afraid, own it: Being brave means that you move forward in spite of fear.
One of my mentees was frustrated because she wasn't getting the promotion she believed she deserved. And she did deserve it—from her performance reviews I knew she was a total star at work. The problem was she was waiting for her boss to simply hand out the promotion. But reaching your goals won't happen until YOU decide to make them happen. Start taking matters into your own hands and move toward your goals. Here's how to do it.
Barbara Clark Ruiz has always marched to her own beat. A Pratt Institute alum, she skyrocketed early as an activewear designer. Her first job out of college was with Adidas, where her designs quickly became top-sellers. Eventually Barbara launched her own firm, designing for top brands that included Nike, Fila, Speedo, Hanes, Asics, and Disney. In 2011 she landed the coveted role as design director for tennis star Venus Williams' apparel collection, ELEVEN by Venus.
Most recently, Barbara has pivoted her talent for brand development to an entirely new industry: pets. She's the Founder and CEO of Lick You Silly, a line of dog food treats and products that includes a chicken-flavored dog food seasoning. Thanks to Barbara, now even Toto can have "hot sauce" in her bag. When I asked Barbara what she's had to #droptheball on in order to keep both her design and dog enterprises moving forward she mentioned a to-do that's been on her list for awhile: completing her registration for minority-owned business status. Part of her procrastination is due to unfamiliarity with the process, so if anyone reading this can help out please reply so that I can make the introduction. One of the best parts of dropping the ball is getting support from your community to pick some of them up.
The midterm elections are around the corner, and if any of you are interested in the most effective ways to ensure your voice is heard be sure to pick up Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner's latest book, Keep Marching: How Every Woman Can Take Action And Change Our World. I've been a fan of Kristin's every since she founded MomsRising, a community of moms (and people who love them) that want to build a more family-friendly world. This is her second book and it picks up where the 2017 Women's March left off, with a lot of people galvanized to advance women's rights but without a blueprint to show them how.
The book is organized into three sections: Our Money, Our Bodies, and Our Communities, and outlines key issues, along with various strategies for tackling them no matter who or where you are. For example, in the chapter Women against Violence, Kristin weaves together the painful barriers that compound women's victimhood like cynicism and blaming by authorities, economic slavery, and the lack of gun control. Then she outlines recommendations for battling violence against women at the local level. All of her tips are specific and actionable. She even provides scripts for phone calls to elected officials. But the most inspiring aspect of the book is Kristin's amplification of women across the country who are already doing the work. After finishing the last page I was reminded that we all have the capacity to create a sea change by throwing one tiny pebble. Keep Marching offers practical strategies for how we can make a difference without burning out, starting with the simple step of ordering the book, since 100% of the proceeds benefit MomsRising.
Tiffany's son Kofi is taking over Tiffany's Epiphanies! He was super excited to take the reins this week, but as soon as he went to write some notes, his mind went blank. Tiffany told him: Instead of writing out a script, just speak from the heart. He did, and realized even the most confident people ask for a little help sometimes.
For anyone who is an advocate for women's rights and who cares about the state of our union, the most significant event this week was the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford. All of us will remember where we were. I had just finished giving a talk at The New York Times New Rules Summit. Up next was a conversation with Samantha Bee and Cecile Richards. At the break, nearly half the attendees left the main ballroom to view the historic hearing, their eyes glued to the large monitor the Times had known to set up. Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, before flashing cameras, Dr. Blasey-Ford told the heartbreaking story of her alleged sexual assault at 15 years old at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh, who is inches away from earning a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. We held our breath. She spoke her truth. Maya Angelou said that "Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently." Dr. Blasey-Ford has more than enough virtue to be credible.
As I started interviewing women for The Cru, my new peer coaching venture, I was amazed by the large number of women who joined the video chat from their car or the bathroom. When I asked about it, I was told over and over again that it was the only quiet place they could find. I get it. I live in a two-bedroom apartment with three other people and it can be hard to find a place to simply think. But, what I have also realized, is that nurturing your well-being requires you to have your own space. We all need a physical space to center ourselves and manifest our own dreams. Here's how to find your own.
Sometimes in life we get frustrated when things don't unfold exactly the way we want them to. When that happens, the most important thing to do is explore the root of your intention. Is this goal really what you're working toward, or do you have an ulterior motive? The universe only delivers when you're ready for the right reasons. Ask yourself these three questions to find out.