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A Year of Yes: Give a damn

“It’s business, not personal” is BS. Businesses are made of people; they’re inherently personal. I recently got very emotional over a business issue because I care. Some people took issue with that. I’d do it again. Leaders need to see their team members as people first, employees second.

Being a heart-centered, empathic leader is what helps teams grow healthy and strong. Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers who will take care of your investors and shareholders. It’s that simple—give a damn and show it through your actions and words.

 

A Year of Yes: Opportunity takes work

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~Thomas Edison

Look deeper. See what’s possible. Work like hell to make it a reality. Opportunity is not always bright, shiny, and finished with a bow. Many times, most times, it’s messy, chaotic, and murky. But look. Really look. Can your gifts and talents be of use, and if so could they create an environment that meets your standards? Don’t take yourself out of the equation just because it’s not perfect at this moment. It the potential is possible, go for it!

A Year of Yes: Equity and equality are everyone’s responsibility

It’s a terrible thing to have someone work with you under the guise of collaboration, smile, and then swoop in and take credit for your team’s work. That recently happened to me, and I was in the unfortunate position of being the only one to sound the alarm about it. Very often it’s a lonely path to be the truth, to call out poor behavior and misinformation. And, it has to be done. If we don’t stand against injustice, if we remain silent, we become complicit. For all of you who stand strong, raise your voice, and take action in the name of equity and equality, I see you, I hear you, and I’m with you. And I’ll continue to be with you until we all have equal opportunities.

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: The difference between a boss and a leader

Let me be clear about my philosophy on leadership. I’ve had two kinds of bosses: amazing ones who fight for their people and truly awful ones who fight against their people. Those of you who have worked with me and for me know this: I fight for my people. I block and tackle for them. I listen (rather than just waiting for my turn to talk). I can’t always get them what they want, but I will always get them what they need and won’t rest until that happens. Everyone gets a seat at the table and gets to have their say without sugar-coating. Everyone gets clarity and transparency. The hinges are off the door, or better yet there’s never a door at all. I am there to serve, support, and encourage, not to criticize or dictate. This is what it takes to have a team. Until you do that, you may be someone’s boss but you’ll never be someone’s leader. And there’s a world of difference between those two roles. Let’s always be mindful of that distinction and push ourselves to be the latter. Not surprisingly, if you take care of your team, the team will take care of customers, and customers will take care of investors. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

In the pause: I love my job

I started my new full-time job this week, and I have to say that after just a few days it has exceeded all of my expectations. I recognize that I am still in the early days of this role with this company, and I think it’s worth detailing exactly what I love about it and why:

1.) I love artists. I mean, I really love them. All shapes, sizes, and genres. All of my colleagues are artists in some way. Musicians, writers, actors, dancers, directors, designers, producers, singers, visual artists, bakers, and improvisers. They literally bleed creativity. And then, we add to that the fact that we are an organization whose clients are all performing arts and cultural organizations. I am surrounded by art, and everything I’m doing and learning is helping to further art in all its forms. How cool is that?

2.) Artists are an accepting, helpful, and collaborative breed of folks. The doors are open, the hinges are off, and everyone is encouraged to grab a glass to toast to creativity. This is by far the most welcome I have ever felt at any job in my career. It’s also the most diverse and the organization of my training schedule is just stellar.

3.) We have lots and lots and lots of interesting, thorny problems to solve. There will never be a dull day at this place. Never. We work inside of Salesforce and the platform is POWERFUL. I mean, I’ll be learning something new about it every single day. It’s mammoth and nearly every organization in every sector is using Salesforce is some way. Getting that experience of working in Salesforce, customized for nonprofits, is a skill I will be able to utilize over the course of my entire career.

4.) I use every part of my brain and every part of my experience every day. My job combines all of my experience as an artist, and in business, technology, and product. In many ways, everything I’ve done up to this point has helped me to land right where I am.

5.) New York City is my muse. My office is near Carnegie Hall and I also have the flexibility to regularly work from my home. I love that I can walk to work and that when I step out of my office, I am smack dab in the middle of Manhattan.

I am under no illusions that I will never have a tough day. I’m sure I will. And even on the tough days, what I will most appreciate about this company and our incredible product is that there is a higher purpose and everyone here is on-board with that higher purpose. That’s the crux of it all: everyone here is driven to make the world a better place through the combination of technology and business to support and foster the arts. I couldn’t think of a better place to be right now.

In the pause: You need a minute

“Pause, breathe, repair your universe, proceed.” ~Anonymous

Yesterday I had a moment when I felt overwhelmed. My new job has a lot of systems, passwords, procedures, opportunities, possibilities, and many people in many places. This is the vertical learning curve I was looking for.

On my way home, I went through my mental checklist of what I’d done in a day, what I’d do the next day, and how I’d get through the rest of it to fully get up-to-speed. (Pause.) It’s going to take some time and a lot of effort, and that’s all okay. (Breathe.) When I got home, I went into my Trello board and organized what I would do when, brought some sanity to my inbox, reconfigured the wiring in my apartment for my home workstation, and lassoed by calendar. (Repair my universe.) And today is a brand new day. I’ll proceed.

In the pause: Starting a new chapter today

“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” ~Jim Carrey

Today I’m beginning a new full-time job. Success is never guaranteed to any of us though I fully believe that our odds of success increase dramatically when we do something we love. In that case, even if we fail, at least we have spent our time on something of value.

That’s how I feel about my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. It’s also how I feel about my work as a journalist, product leader, and theater manager. My new job utilizes all of my experience in the arts and business, and I feel fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity.

I’m sure there will be many learnings in the coming months. Today, I’m enjoying the thrill of the new and the unknown, the excitement that comes from putting my whole heart into something that makes the world a better place.

 

In the pause: It’s time for happiness

“I stopped waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel and lit that bitch up myself.” ~Anonymous

“Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment
you are in now.” ~Unknown

“Never have a job that makes you wish for Friday and dread Monday.” ~Doc (Charlie) Rodgers, my former cowoker at Rollins College

My friend, Ria, sent me this first quote. It first made me laugh out loud, which I sorely needed. Then it quickly gave me more energy to keep going on my path. Why do we wait, or worse, think we’re undeserving? Of happiness. Of love. Of our dreams. Of living the most magical life we can imagine? Why do we settle for less than we want? Why do we accept and strive for patience instead of progress?

Too many of us get stuck in the trap of thinking a job is a job and happiness is something different, something we do somewhere else. It’s not. We should be happy and proud of the way we spend our time everywhere that time is spent. I refuse to compromise on that ideal. Our time is far too precious to do anything but.

I hope that today your life and work are touched with love and light, and that you will be able to give that to those around you everywhere you go—at work and at home, in your neighborhood, in a store, and on the subway or bus. Just imagine what kind of world we would live in if that were our guiding principle every day. There would be so much light that our tunnels couldn’t even contain all of it.

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