Really proud to be a finalist for the Public Voices Fellowship on the Climate Crisis with The OpEd Project at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. They had 445 applications this year and though I didn’t get one of the 20 fellowship slots, as a finalist I will have some incredible opportunities this coming year to sharpen and hone my climate change storytelling. Please join me in congratulating this year’s fellows.
In the pause: Sign up to get updates about my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters
I’m so thrilled that my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, will be published this Fall by Thumbkin Prints, a new children’s and young adult imprint of Possibilities Publishing Company. I’ve recently updated the name of the Facebook Page for the book and I’d love for you to sign up for giveaways, special offers, and updates. Just go to https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChrista/ and click the blue “Sign up” button on the right side of the page. I can’t wait to share the progress on the book and Emerson Page’s story with you. Cheers to dreams fulfilled!
Wonder: Ladies, we’re being judged. And that’s a good thing. Here’s why.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re single: “When are you going to find someone?” In a relationship: “When are you getting married?” Married: “When are you having kids?” Divorced: “Just couldn’t make it work, huh?” Have a child: “When are you having a second?” Have multiple kids: “Well, forget about ever doing anything fun for the next 10 years.” I know this happens to women all the time. Maybe it happens to men, too. I can only speak from personal experience that this constantly happens to me.
Here’s what I know to be true: people are judging you every second of every day and it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. If you choose to live your life differently than others, if you make different choices, they assume that your life is somehow a judgement on theirs.
But here is the good news: you are being judged, many times unfairly, so you might as well live exactly the life that you want. Somewhere along the way in the development of our social norms, commenting on someone’s politics or religion became off-limits and commenting on someone’s love life remained hopelessly free game.
My advice to you (and to myself): if they are asking a respectful, tastefully worded question based in true curiosity, fabulous. Let’s have a conversation. You know someone I should meet, great. Please connect us.
However, if they are rudely passing judgement and making you feel small because of your circumstances and choices, then please, in no uncertain terms, walk away. They are not your work to do. I’m serious. You are a gorgeous, talented, stunning human being, and anyone who tries to belittle you because of your life choices doesn’t deserve your time.
Smile, get up, and walk away. You have better things to do and better people to do them with. Insults and rude behavior are never acceptable. In 2017, I hope we can all experience a greater sense of decorum in all of our interactions. In the meantime, go live your best life and leave those judgements right where they belong—with the people who make them.
Wonder: Leaders, you must lead
We are now in the societal version of the financial crisis that reared its head in 2008. I was working at American Express in 2008 and with a front row seat to the recession, the picture was bleak. And here’s what CEO Ken Chenault and his senior staff did: they talked to us, and kept talking to us. All the time. Every week. They told us what they were afraid of. They told us what kept them up at night. They shared data with us. They didn’t give up. They urged us to do whatever we could with whatever we had from wherever we were in the company. And so I did. I’m going to write him a letter and thank him for his example that I carry to this day.
I realize that my expectations of leadership are very high, and I have no intention of lowering them. I didn’t always agree with Ken’s decisions while I was at Amex (and sometimes I adamantly and publicly disagreed), but I certainly always respected him. I always believed he was trying to do the right thing given extenuating and complex circumstances. I know that no matter how hard I was working, he was working harder.
My boss at Toys R Us, Bob G., was the same way. He was always invested in who I was as a human being first, and as an employee second. And he would often tell me that in addition to showing it through his world-class mentoring and advice.
I recognize that I have been tremendously fortunate to have had many great leaders during my career. (Some god-awful ones, too, but we’ll save that for another post.) CEOs, don’t throw away an opportunity to exercise leadership and to inspire your people, especially during these trying and difficult times. That’s when your people need leaders the most—not when the sailing is smooth but when the water is choppy and the direction unclear. Your people need you. Don’t fail them.
Wonder: Honesty and transparency are necessary leadership traits
“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” ~Rita Mae Brown
This morning I had to send a brutally honest note to someone. It wasn’t rude, but it was direct, clear, and concise. Someone has been trying to push me into doing something I absolutely don’t want to do. I thought about just going along with it for a while, to save any drama and to avoid making anyone else uncomfortable despite my extreme discomfort with the situation for the past few months.
Then my friend, Amanda, posted the quote above and I realized I couldn’t conform against my own authenticity. So I sent the note, and never looked back. I have no idea how it will be received, and that’s not my concern. I can only do things and go places with my whole heart. Anything else is just phony.
And here’s what I learned in writing that note: it’s always possible to be both professional and honest, respectful and strong, dignified and clear. You can’t be worried about burning a bridge that isn’t even there. Sometimes you’ve got to disappoint others to be true to yourself.