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In the pause: Me too. And other things on my mind related to the rampant problems of sexual assault and harassment.

Me too.

If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

And here are some other things that are on my mind as I watch my social media feeds fill up with this very sad realization that we have been harmed for far too long:

– As someone who has had to call people out for poor behavior (publicly, loudly, and repeatedly), we must have each other’s backs. It is an extremely sad fact that I have experienced even more bullying from other women than I have from men. Even though bullying is not assault, it is certainly harassment. And ladies, we just cannot tolerate this anymore, collectively or individually. Women who treat people badly, whether those people are male or female, must also be called on the carpet and stopped.

– This is not a male versus female problem. This is a human problem. I am incredibly fortunate that the men in my life are upstanding, respectful, and kind. (As one friend recently pointed out, a**holes don’t last long in my world.) Ladies, if someone mistreats you, promptly get rid of him. And if there are reasons you can’t get rid of him, then get help immediately from friends, family members, support groups, co-workers, or public services. This kind of man is not good enough for you. Either he treats you well, or he gets his walking papers. Period. I have seen far too many of my amazing female friends waste their time and energy in relationships with men who do not deserve them. It’s far better to not be in a relationship than to be in one with a man who isn’t good for you. I have learned this the hard way.

– Do not suffer in silence. Intimidation is one of the prime ways that sexual harassment and assault is perpetuated, and perpetrators count on the fact that you won’t say something to someone. Stand up, speak out, and get support. If you don’t know who to call, then call me. I’ll help. I’ll always help.

In the pause: You have to ask to receive

Ask. For help. For a promotion. For a raise. For advice. For a date. The power of the ask can’t be underestimated. Hoping for better days and success is a fine thing to do though if we really want something to manifest, I only know one way to make it happen: we must put ourselves out there. Way out there. Pitch yourself to anyone and everyone whom you’d like to meet and know and work with. Find the win-win. Have confidence. Have faith that the more often you raise your voice, the more likely you are to find your tribe.

In the pause: A wish for you on Valentine’s Day

“You deserve to be in spaces and relationships that make you happy; that feed your soul and help you grow.” ~Alex Elle

This Valentine’s Day, I hope that this feeling of love and respect for yourself shines through in all of your activities, all of your relationships, and all of your choices. I hope you find work that inspires you, a home that is filled with warmth and comfort, and relationships, be they platonic or romantic, that make you feel alive. I hope every day you have many moments of gratitude, and that you find a way to share your good fortune with others. I hope you find an energetic peace in your purpose, and that this purpose helps you wake up to the miracles, great and small, that surround us and are within us. And if there comes a time when things look lost, or sad, or hopeless, I hope you know that there are people who care and people who will help. I’m one of them.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

In the pause: Mr. Trump, let me use my design thinking experience to help with Mexico

I wrote this letter to Donald Trump. And then I sent it to every senator and congress person I admire and respect since I don’t have any voting representation as a D.C. resident. I figured it can’t hurt and it might help. I understand that this will likely fall on deaf ears. I write it not for any recognition but because I think we can and must do better than a wall and a 20% tax. Mexico is our dear friend, neighbor, and second largest trading partner. If this relationship falls apart, it could very well be a lynchpin to our economy and society. The consequences are literally painful to me, and I can’t just watch it happen without saying something, without trying to do something right now. I have too many friends living in Mexico and living here in the U.S. who are from Mexican descent. I posted this on Facebook and was roundly criticized for writing this letter by a few people. I stand by the suggestion that design thinking can save this relationship before it’s too late.

“Dear Mr. Trump,
As a fellow Penn alum, I’m hoping that I can help with the U.S. relationship with Mexico. I know that there are people who want you to build a wall, but I have a cheaper, more effective solution. I hope you’ll be open to hearing it.

What we need to do in Mexico, as in many areas of policy, is to discover root causes and treat them. Building a wall on the border with Mexico, while it may look like progress, is not. It is a bandaid that treats the symptom; what we need to do is work with Mexico to treat what’s ailing that nation and its economy.

As a business woman, product developer, and someone who believes and works in the design thinking space, what we need is a discovery process. Why are people from Mexico coming to the U.S. illegally? And then to go a step further, what would it take for them to want to stay in Mexico? That latter question is the difficult one to answer, but I promise you that it holds rich rewards. While we may assume that we know all of the answers to why people come to the U.S. illegally, I have often found that a design thinking project uncovers reasons we never even imagined were possible. The only way to get that learning is to sit down and listen to people. Ask open-ended and high-quality questions, and then let them tell you about their lives and what’s painful for them. Then, heal those pain points through collaborative efforts.

In this case with Mexico, we’d not only save money and develop a better solution, we’d also improve the lives of countless people. And isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we all want a world that’s peaceful and prosperous? Don’t we all want to leave this planet a better place than we found it? Isn’t that the very basis of humanity and the purpose of life? I’d like to think that you share this belief, and that your advisors do as well. I can help.

I’ll make you a deal. I’ll do this project for free. I don’t need a dime. I’ll donate all my time, efforts, and talents. I’ll quit my job tomorrow and do this if given the chance.

Thanks for your consideration,
Christa Avampato”

Wonder: How to know what someone’s like

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ~J.K. Rowling

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we really get to know who someone is. A few of my friends have recently come to terms with discovering that people they thought they knew they actually don’t know at all. When you are authentic and straightforward, you think everyone else is, too. And sadly, that’s not always the case. So how do you get an accurate read? How can you tell, as early as possible, if someone is actually presenting themselves honestly? JKR gives us some very solid advice in this quote. Don’t look at how they treat their friends or their boss. Pay attention to how they treat people on the street. How do they talk to children? What are they like with animals? And especially pay attention to how they treat people in customer service – at a store, restaurant, or bar. Good or bad, those observations speak volumes about someone’s character that they will never tell you themselves.

This just in: The reason for your crappy experiences has nothing to do with you

Community

Community

When something doesn’t go your way, do you spend any time wondering “why on Earth did I have to go through THAT?” Consider this explanation:

Let’s say you’re in a relationship with someone who turns out to not be the person he represented himself to be when you first met him. It’s highly likely you’ll wonder what his purpose was in your life because now you’re really confused and hurt by the end of it all. Why didn’t the Universe just keep that guy away from you to begin with?

Take a step back because maybe it’s not all about you. Consider this: the Universe wants all of us to rise up and become our best selves, that jerk of a guy included. So you were a gift to him from the Universe. A valuable, precious, amazing gift. And, yes, you could have helped him a lot. You would have been the best thing for him. But he didn’t want the gift of you. Maybe he didn’t know how to appreciate the gift. Maybe he didn’t feel worthy of it. Maybe he didn’t think enough of himself to feel that he deserved it. Or maybe, and this is the saddest reason in my opinion, he actually doesn’t want to be happy. He’s comfortable being miserable.

Your gifts and your light are too valuable to be wasted. He didn’t appreciate the gift of you so he doesn’t get to keep it. The Universe puts an end to it all, and that’s how it has to be for your sake. This whole thing wasn’t about you at all. It was about him. The Universe would have loved nothing better than for him to evolve, but he chose not to so away you go, one way or another.

This duality of what’s in it for you and what’s in it for the system as a whole is always in play. It applies to every interaction we have in every setting. Something for you and something for someone else that together leads to something for the system of which you’re both a part. Apply it to jobs, friendships, romantic relationships, creative projects. The same principles apply.

It really isn’t all about you. It’s about all of us, together.

This just in: Why I heart Ryan Adams and loving the crap out of everything

Why I love Ryan Adams

Why I love Ryan Adams

I love Ryan Adams, and all the more so for quotes like this: “There is nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything. Negative people find their walls. So never apologize for your enthusiasm. Never ever.”

The negative people I meet—and sadly there are so many of them out there—often think I’m overly enthusiastic, that I’m just too excited about life. And to that I say, “Someday, I hope you realize what you’re missing.”

I do love the crap out of everything—my friends, Phineas, my city, my writing, my creative projects, music, art, books, animals, nature, my home, travel. You name it and I can find something I love about it. Negative people will knock us down; that’s their choice and we can’t control it.Whether we stay down or eventually rise up is our choice and we do control that. Their behavior has nothing to do with us and everything to do with them. Their negativity is a direct reflection about how they feel about themselves, not how they feel about us.

So here’s my advice: take every wall that a negative person throws in front of you and carve a window into it. Crawl through that window and leave those negative people behind.You are not responsible for them. They don’t have anything to offer you and they don’t want the gifts you have to give. That’s their loss, not yours. You deserve to be surrounded by love; don’t settle for anything less.

This just in: The truth about criticism

Truth!

Truth!

My friend, Sara, posted this yesterday and it really helped me. Some people who will tell you what you can’t do. And once they realize you’re resourceful, they resort to criticism of anything in sight. I had that happen to me a few months back, and to be honest it’s been bugging me ever since. I couldn’t figure out why everything I did, said, had, or thought left him at least mildly dissatisfied. He is the kind of person that has a problem for every solution. And then, Sara shared this quote with me and something clicked.

His unhappiness had nothing to do with me. It never did. I was just in the unfortunate line of fire. It was him. It was always him. And with that realization, I stopped feeling badly for myself and actually felt badly for him. All the hurt I felt just melted, and I sent him a silent wish for happiness. I know my story better than anyone. He was telling me his story, not mine, and I hope that for his sake he finds a way to change what happens next rather than continuing down his current path. I know how a path like his ends, and it’s not pretty.

You can’t rescue someone from his own decision to be unhappy, but you can certainly rescue yourself from someone who just wants to bring you down. And by forging on, unhindered, you set the kindest example for that person—you show them that there’s a better way to live. Showing them what’s possible in your own strength is the greatest act of love there is.

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