Claudia Chan is a leadership expert, social entrepreneur, and founder of S.H.E. Summit, an annual conference that celebrates women’s leadership and gender equality. She’s also the author of the newly released book, This Is How We Rise.Read More
Do you ever rely on your intuition when you’re at a crossroads? Today’s guest has trusted in this power for most of her life, and it’s led her to where she is today. Joy Harjo is a poet, musician, and author, and an inspiring female figure among Native American artists and the broader poetry community.Read More
Jen Sincero is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of You Are a Badass, and most recently, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth. After being fed up with merely scraping by for years, Jen decided to focus on figuring money out. She took a leap of faith that led her down the path to fully embracing money and wealth, and her latest book uncovers the mental blocks she had to overcome to let the money flow.Read More
Today’s episode features Academy Award Winning film director, Brenda Chapman. She was the head of story for The Lion King, co-director of The Prince of Egypt, and the writer and co-director of Disney-Pixar’s Brave.Read More
Is there stuff you're not allowing yourself to know?
You know, the stuff you're most afraid to reveal about yourself.
You know, the stuff that's in the back of your head, or deep down in your gut, but you're not giving a chance to breathe or express.
You know, the stuff you just keep suppressing down and down...
Maybe it relates to your art. Or your job. Or your partner. Or where you live.
It's the stuff you know you must do, but you're not quite admitting to yourself. That stuff.
It's the stuff you're not allowing yourself to know.
At a recent workshop I attended with writers Liz Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed, Liz practically screamed at us, slicing her hand through the air.
"Start knowing," she kept saying, over and over again. "Cut the bullshit. And START F*CKING KNOWING."
What she meant is knowing is a choice we have and get to make. Right now.
These words were exactly what I needed to hear to wake up, and bring to the surface what I've been afraid to admit and share.
Here it is:
1. Lately, I've been feeling lonely. I haven't been alone, as I'm with people all the time. It's a feeling... a feeling of non-belonging that relates to my story of immigration and feeling displaced my entire life. Sometimes, I go into numbing behaviors around this loneliness, like reaching for social media, food, or texting a bunch of people as a way to feel reassured that I'm not lonely. I've been seeing this loneliness as fuel for my book, as fresh territory that's emerging to explore within myself. But it sure ain't comfortable.
2. I've been holding back my power. You may look at me and think that I seem very powerful: writing and blogging, podcasting, coaching... But this is only a toenail of the power I have stored up inside of me. I've been afraid of really letting it out all the way, because of the point I made above. I still believe that if I am truly powerful, I will alienate myself from others. I've been afraid to stand alone, but it's required of any great artist.
3. It's time to write my story. For a long time, I thought writing one's story was very selfish. My inner critic told me it was narcissistic and navel-gazing. But now I'm beginning to see it as the most powerful tool in the world, because like your worth, nobody can take it away from you. And nobody will have one exactly like yours. So, I've decided to include (and even highlight, maybe even centralize) my story in my upcoming book about good girl programming. I can't tell you how liberating this feels.
Dang, that was harder than I thought! Thanks for reading.
So, now your turn, what's the stuff you're not allowing yourself to know.
Is it time to leave that relationship? Is it time to commit to your calling? Is it time to change companies? Is it time to write the song? Is it time to write your story?
I'm here and listening.
Remember, shame can't live in the light.
"You think a storm happened to you. You're wrong. You are the f*ckin' storm." ~ Liz Gilbert to Cheryl Strayed.
Isabel Allende is a woman who fearlessly enters the imaginal realm and trusts where her instincts take her. The most widely read Spanish-speaking author in the world, her books have sold over 65 million copies worldwide. She received the Medal of Freedom from Obama and carried an Olympic flag with Sophia Loren. But that’s not all that makes her incredible.Read More
Today’s episode features author, speaker, and creative evangelist Denise Jacobs. She’s spoken at Creative Mornings, Adaptive Path, TEDx, and more, and is the author of Banish Your Inner Critic, which dives into some of the most important subjects for creative women leaders today.Read More
I have a confession to make: I'm addicted to getting things done. I get sweet satisfaction when I cross a "to-do" off my list. I love closing loops on projects. I have been one to use the hyper-masculine idiom of Silicon Valley: "ship it now."
Once, I remember doing a little experiment with my coach. He asked me to prioritize my soul's work, like writing poems, playing music, going out into the woods, etc. before my "work work." I challenged him that if I actually did that, I would never get anything done. But he pushed back: "Try it."
I was surprised. It was really hard! I woke up every morning, wanting to jump out of bed, eat a quick breakfast, and cross off the endless to-do's from my list. I was so eager to make progress on my business and save my soulful creative work for "later in the day" (which means never going to happen!). The idea that I wasn’t going to get to my endless list of to-do’s right away, but complete my morning ritual, and then, maybe write a poem or go for a walk first, felt impossible if not totally absurd. It was like putting the brakes on this enormous amount of adrenaline.
But the experiment worked. When I prioritized my soul's work, I was more productive and focused for my business. And on a deeper level, when I prioritized my creative spirit, I was a better coach and mentor for other women. I also noticed time became a matter of perception, rather than reality. Time, after all, is in the mind.
But I want to be real with you all: I still struggle with my insane desire to achieve. This achievement energy can sometimes manifest as frazzled, non-stop, focused, adrenaline-pumped kind of action. Slowing down to lean my ear against my own soul has always helped me, yet I have such massive resistance to it. I think it's because deep down, I have internalized this weird idea that doing is better than being. Can you relate?
I think for us save-the-world types, we'll truly need to connect with our soul more often, and lead from there. As I continue to work on understanding what makes a truly beautiful life, I want to support women in sharing their gifts from a soulful place, not a place that is striving to prove or fulfill social expectations. The confidence to share our gifts comes from knowing, owning, and expressing who we are, the ugly and beautiful.
Anyway, in case you thought I had it all figured out, I'm here to tell you that I don't. Seriously. I'm still kind of addicted to doing, but getting better at catching myself when I am twirling in a fury of it. And thank Heavens for wonderful soul sisters, nature, and my rituals to remind me to ground and connect back to the heart.
What do you think? What's one, soulful thing you could prioritize into your day to enhance you work or creativity? Let me know by commenting below.
PS: If you haven't already done so, sign up here to receive my creative confidence playbook for women as well as the latest wisdom articles in your inbox (all free).
Photo by Richie Biluan
Purpose is something we all seek on the heroine’s journey, especially at breaking points when we may wonder where our lives are headed and what really matters. This is the central theme in today’s episode with Ruby Warrington, author of Material Girl, Mystical World and founder of The Numinous, a wonderful online resource that helps bridge the gap between mystical and mainstream.Read More
After grad school, I had an interview with one of the founders of a top tech company for a design research position. I was really nervous and excited about the interview. But when I walked into the office, I noticed the grey carpets and neon lights and felt a rock in my stomach.
My intuition was flagging me: no, no, no. But another side of me was saying: "Majo, this opportunity is AMAZING." You'll be able to tell your family, "I work for such and such" and you'll be able to write it on your Twitter bio "design researcher @swankystartup."
The interview went ok. Definitely not great. After the interview, I fell into a mini 2-day depression. At first I thought it was fear as I knew I wasn't going to get the position. I was afraid of the impending rejection. And I didn't feel the energy or motivation to fight for it.
But as I listened deeper and through the fear, there was another voice from the universe: "Majo, you're too free-spirited... carve your own path."
That freedom also felt very complicated and I felt a lot of resistance to it at first (that's why I started interviewing at companies after grad school). My thoughts:
- How am I going to support myself?
- What would I tell my family?
- What on Earth would I write in my Twitter bio (sounds pathetic, I know)?
- It seems like way too much work to launch my own business; I don't want to sacrifice my healthy lifestyle
All these voices were the voices of my inner critic by the way who hoped I would avoid the risk of what I was about to do.
If you're an independently minded woman like me, it can be hard to ask others for help when you transition into what you truly want to do. Often we feel like we don't deserve it, it's too much to ask or we hate the idea of depending on others for our progress.
If you have high-achieving or perfectionist tendencies, swallowing your pride to ask for financial support as you follow your calling can feel like crap.
But the most important key to transitioning into your most meaningful work is managing the negative emotions around asking for support.
Because if this is your dream and you believe in the work you want to do, feelings of pride, guilt, and shame must not get in your way.
When transitioning out of a full-time job or school and into carving your own path, here are 3 "safety nets" or "anchors" that can support you as you leap.
*Important note: This post assumes you have little to no savings or runway from a former job to help bridge you over. If you do, congrats! You may still want to consider the possibilities below for supplemental support if needed.
1. A part-time "bridge job"
What's a bridge job? A bridge job is a part-time employment that doesn't take up brain cycles and has a predictable schedule. The tiny problem with them is that they can often feel like you're regressing. It's the job at Starbucks, the local spa or bookstore.
It isn't great, but it pays the bills! That's the key. It's the job on the side that supports you as you do what you really want to do. If you don't have a partner, family, or savings to support you, a bridge job may be the best investment you make into your new path. Here are a few requirements of a good bridge job:
- It does not take up brain cycles
- It is part-time
- It has a regular rhythm and set schedule
- It is relaxed, low pressure, and even boring
2. A romantic partner
I know, how 1950s right? The feminist in you cringes. You think of all the generations of women who suffered so that you could play with the big "boys," not depend on them all over again.
Turn down all the feminist narratives running through your mind, and listen to the calling of your dream.
Remember that this support isn't necessarily forever. Make a commitment to yourself to utilize the support from your partner as a way for you to become economically viable.
Don't question the blessing and be grateful!
I can hear the moans from here. But you've depended on your parents for so long and you're ready to take flight and "unburden them" so to speak.
I have friends and clients out of undergrad and grad school who are more than capable of becoming entrepreneurial changemakers TODAY I know it with every bone in my body. But, they have to move in with their parents for a period of time and they can't stand the idea of it being for too long. Instead of taking the time to start their business while they live with their parents, they're looking for any way out of the house.
I highly encourage you to reframe the move in as another opportunity to springboard into your business. Often when you communicate to parents openly about your direction and are specific about how they can support you, they agree.
What do you need to manage? Your sadness of their "disappointment" that you're not working for McKinsey. But they'll come around.
The problem is keeping them in the dark or making them feel like you are completely lost (even if that's true, present some game plan to them to quell their little worried hearts).
In the end, the key is to swallow your pride and feelings of "shame" about moving back in (especially if you are a child of immigrants) because again from an objective viewpoint, it's quite the blessing and advantage.
Conclusion: swallow that pride
All in all, these safety nets may make you feel like you are regressing, either back to high school or to your grandmother's epoch...but you will get through it and it won't last forever.
Swallow your pride and go for it.
The people you will serve one day will be so grateful that you managed your negative feelings around "not being good enough" or "having failed" by society's standards to follow your heart.
P.S. If you haven't already done so, sign up here to receive my creative confidence playbook for women as well as the latest wisdom articles in your inbox (all free).
Photo by Jaclyn Le
Margaret Stewart has spent her career focusing on designing user experiences that change the world in fundamental ways. As the VP of Product Design at Facebook, and formerly at YouTube and Google, Margaret sees design as creativity in the service of others.Read More
Elena Brower is an internationally recognized author, yoga teacher, and speaker. She wrote The Art of Attention, and most recently, Practice You, a gorgeous journal for self-reflection. Elena has contributed to The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen, and has been featured in Yoga Journal and The New York Times. She’s a true pioneer in the world of yoga.Read More
Hi lady! Hope you're well. Do you have a dream of starting a side business or project? Jessica, for example, was obsessed with making kombucha, a delicious fermented, pro-biotic tea that was good for your gut. She really wanted launch a line of her own kombucha, but could never seem to prioritize it in her life. Work, relationships, and family would get in the way. When we started working together, we created a timeline and certain steps for her getting it out into the world.
The problem? The label. Jessica wondered: What color would the label be? What size? What wording would it have on it? What was the logo? She was paralyzed with the infinite number of decisions she had to make about her new line. The deeper problem? She was terrified of getting it wrong.
This is a major obstacle to being a badass: overthinking and being precious. We all do it.
I have often been trapped in cycles of over-thinking my options. My strategies for gaining more clarity have been talking about it with people, asking for advice, researching zealously on the internet and in academic databases, and watching others as they do today what I want to do in the near future.
Though these are all forms of preparation, it slips into the unhealthy side: paralysis, procrastination, and distraction.
Just like Jessica, I would get so precious about what I was putting out into the world, as if it couldn't change, or evolve. As if it was the only way to do it. And this preciousness would stall me. Would stall me for days, weeks, and months.
But we don't get genuine clarity from sitting at home and seeking information from second-hand sources. We get clarity from putting something out there, seeing whether it resonates, and iterating.
It was helpful for Jessica and I to frame this initial launch as a kind of "beta" or "prototype" that would change in the future, so she didn't have to feel so much pressure to get it right this first time. The beautiful magic of timelines and deadlines is they invite us to make it happen whether we feel ready or not. They invite us to be brave.
In earning my Masters in Design, I had the opportunity to experience design thinking at the Stanford Design School — which has hugely informed my work with women today. Design thinking is a methodology that helps us get outside of our minds and actually test whether an idea will work. I love to encourage my clients to test and experiment their idea.
Here's what we wonder together:
- How can we experiment and test your idea (or belief) in small ways?
- How can we get real data from our environment, instead of spinning these ideas in our head?
- How can we be less precious about this project in general?
This kind of thinking is golden when you are testing the waters of entrepreneurship, a new role at work, or trying to grow a side project.
But our tendency is to want to act in a big, perfect way when it's better to dream in a big way and act in a small one.
Then we begin to build our creative confidence. When we have an experimental attitude, we're less attached to the results.
So even if you're at your full time job, how might you be less precious about what you want to put out into the world? Comment below in this post.
Photo by Helena Price
I am a window
on my glassy face.
When you look at first
you see no effort
as the light pours in
but when you look again
you see an old woman
who walks in with a washcloth
and wipes streaks of dust
off my cheeks.
She is the relentless, unsexy
part of myself
who begins again.
Photo by Billy Huynh
Today’s episode features writer, artist, and designer Ash Huang. Her essays have appeared in FastCompany, Offscreen Mag, and Lean Out. Her novel, The Firesteel, won first place in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. An early designer at Twitter and Pinterest, and currently at Adobe, Ash has also been her own boss over the years, giving her unique career insights to shareRead More
I’ve interviewed some serious badass creative leaders for Heroine: design educator Debbie Millman, fashion icon Eileen Fisher, world-renowned author Isabel Allende, and Academy Award winner Brenda Chapman.
A year and a half ago, I didn’t know many of my show’s guests. So you might be wondering how I get such incredible women to agree to come onto the show, especially since I did not have direct connections with many of them.
It turns out I reached out to most of them via email, cold. And I get it. It’s easy to feel intimidated. It’s easy to let the anticipation of rejection deter you from going and getting what you want. But I’m here to tell you it is possible to connect with someone who seems beyond your reach. Here are my 7 tips:
1. Start with them, not you
Whenever we reach out to a potential guest, we don’t begin with ourselves. We don’t say “Heroine is a blah blah…,” or “I’m the Executive Producer of blah blah…,” we actually start with their work: “Your article, talk, book, perspective… really caught our eye.”
And then we follow up and let them know who we are.
Take the time to connect what’s most interesting about their work with the reason you’re reaching out.
The story of Brave is one of my favorite Disney-Pixar movies, which does such a beautiful job of showing the growth that takes place between mother and daughter. It would be an honor to explore some of those themes with you on Heroine, our podcast featuring the journeys of top women in design, arts, tech, and business.
2. Quickly establish credibility
At the end of the day, an influencer (or their assistant) is trying to quickly determine whether you’re legit. They’re getting hundreds if not thousands of emails per day, so they need a quick way to filter. Most of them filter by social proof. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people fail to put their strongest foot forward. They go into a long ramble, gushing about what they admire about the person.
No! Why are you legit? And the great news is that social proof comes in various forms:
- Years of experience
- Brand-name company
- Brand-name school
- Number of followers/audience
- Noteworthy collaborators/side projects
- Results you've gotten others
- Media appearances
You don’t want to list them in bullet form, but you do want to come out of the gate with them—so have it high up and embedded in your intro when you reach out.
Chelsea came to mind as we feature high caliber women: guests who have landed in headlines at Forbes, TechCrunch, TED, Fast Company, GigaOm, The Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, Refinery29, CreativeMornings, and The Great Discontent.
Since launching, we’ve been consistently featured as one of the top podcasts in the Design category alongside Roman Mars and Debbie Millman.
3. Make it very easy and convenient for them to speak with you
Whenever you’re asking anyone with more power or influence to do something for you, it’s important that you make it extremely easy for them to give you their time and attention. When scheduling, make sure to offer 2 or 3 options a few weeks out, but also let them know that you are more than happy to work around their schedule and convenience. Make it super easy to plug yourself into their lives, not the other way around.
4. Be super cordial to assistants
Assistants and interns are gatekeepers who hold the magical keys to everything else. Take the time and care to be friendly and acknowledge these people who are helping you make an interview happen. We always thank the folks who help us organize interviews, because without them, they literally wouldn’t happen.
5. Anticipate rejection
I like to mention how many amazing women have come onto the show, but you should see my spreadsheet of rejections. We aim ludicrously high. As a result, there’s a great possibility of rejection—in fact, I anticipate a high degree of it. Otherwise, I’m not aiming high enough. Every time we reach out to a celebrity, we toss our heads back and think, mmm… wonder what will happen this time! And then we press send.
6. Send smart follow-ups (for as long as you need to)
My husband, who’s an investor, once told me how he’d followed up with another investor for eight months. Eight months! Every few weeks he would send some kind of correspondence, keeping the conversation going, until finally the guy was able to meet.
This anecdote put things into perspective for me. Here I was afraid to seem “pushy” and “annoying” for one measly follow-up (which is totally a good girl complex issue). Now, the Heroine team follows up with prospects with passion. But we do so intelligently. We don’t just keep following up with the same spiel, hoping for a different response this time.
My advice for every follow-up is: (1) share something valuable, (2) share an exciting update/accomplishment about how badass you continue to be, and/or (3) re-iterate your ask in different words, or from a different angle on why it’s so important that you speak with them. And of course, follow up over multiple months. It took 11 months before we landed an interview with Isabel Allende, and it’s one of the best, most tear-jerking interviews I’ve done to date (coming out this fall as the new season started last week).
7. See them as your peer
So many of us err on the side of politeness, not wanting to “bother” or “burden” other badasses. And it’s completely the wrong mentality.
Instead of creating an automatic power differential between you and influencer, see this badass as a mirror of yourself—yes, as your equal, no matter how large her scope of influence or how incredible her accomplishments. You must see her as a peer, and as a colleague. That’s the only way she’ll respond to you as such.
Isabel’s book House of Spirits in both English and Spanish (I’m originally from Argentina) inspires me on so many levels.
I would love to ask Isabel about the power of women’s collaboration and sisterhood on her own creative work. Intuitively, I feel there’s a lot of alignment, which is why we reached out and continue to persist months later.
There you have it—my 7 tips for reaching out to top influencers you admire. Start with their work but establish your credibility, too. Make it simple, be polite, and don’t be afraid of rejection. Follow up intelligently, and remember: you’re a badass reaching out to another badass.
Does this work every time? Absolutely not, but you would be surprised how far these tips can get you (and you have to start somewhere). Connecting with more “reachable” influencers at first can help you build up your network and credibility, making it easier for you to reach higher influencers and heavier hitters later on.
But don’t be afraid to put yourself on the line and reach out cold to your biggest creative idols. The worst that can happen is a polite rejection, while the best that can happen is more than worth the effort.
If you’re interested in hearing fresh interviews with top creative leaders, subscribe to the new season of Heroine on iTunes.
[This article was originally featured on the InVision blog, which you can find here]
The new fall season kicks off with Aminatou Sow, host of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast where she discusses all things pop culture, politics, and feminism with her long-distance best friend. A fierce boss lady, digital powerhouse, and writer, Aminatou has been named in Forbes 30 Under 30 in Tech and amongst Women to Watch by KQED Arts.Read More
If I'm deeply honest with myself, truly truly honest, though it's scary to even say out loud: I would love to be covering, composing, sharing, and performing music. There. I said it. It's been one of my deepest creative dreams, rediscovered only a few years ago.
There's something about creating music that is very vulnerable. First of all, it involves sharing your voice. As women, we've been trained *not* to share our voices. Second, it involves conveying emotion. Performing music is deeply emotional because you're sharing the underlying mood and tone of the song through your voice, body, and facial expressions. It's raw. And like any creative pursuit, it asks us to let go of our high standards and idealism, and embrace where we are now.
One morning, I wondered, what would be the most badass thing I could do? If I were to overcome my Inner Good Girl in a big way, and not worry about any resources or what anyone else would think of me, what would it be? My intuition whispered: You'd make a music video, of course.
That exact day, I asked a friend if she knew any videographers. She said that she didn't but really wanted to connect me with Richie Biluan – a photographer who focuses on capturing vulnerable, beautiful black-and-white film portraits. So Richie came over to my home in the Redwoods to take some casual portraits of me. After a while, she started taking some video footage... one thing lead to another, I picked up my guitar and then fiddled on the piano, and then boom – we were making a music video (WHAT?!). My dream was coming true...
What struck me about this is how naturally it all unfolded. I had the thought one week, and the next week it was happening! I was also lucky because Richie is extremely multi-talented, as an SF-based photographer with both a music and movement background, she just got it. Hours flew by and we had so much fun.
The result? My first music video ever, in which I sing a partial cover of Kate Wolf's song Redtail Hawk (1976).
"The redtail hawk writes songs across the sky,
There's music in the waters flowing by,
And you can hear a song each time the wind sighs,
In the golden rolling hills of California."
And you're the first to see it.
It shows you my fully artistic, fairy side – the side you might not see on the Heroine podcast or if you're working with me in a professional context as a coach. It's a side of me that I barely show, because it feels too vulnerable.
But I'm owning it. Watch the music video here.
When we let go of the desire to be perfect, the best, or even good, something beautiful emerges – the raw reality of where we are right now, in this moment... learning, growing, stretching, and living at the edge of our vulnerability.
What's the most creatively badass thing you could do? If you were truly honest with yourself and it didn't need to be perfect? Reply and let me know. If you don't know where to look, follow your vulnerability and that will give you a strong clue.
P.S. I'm also hosting a free live Q&A this Thursday at 5pm PT... I haven't done one of these in a while, so if you want to connect off the screen, ask questions, or just listen in, find out more info and register here.
In today’s bonus episode, Majo speaks with Kim Chambers, one of the world’s best marathon swimmers and the sixth person to complete the ultimate open water challenge “Oceans Seven.” She also set a world record as the first woman to swim thirty miles to the Farallon Islands through one of the largest concentration of great white sharks. Surprisingly, Kim only discovered swimming a few years ago.Read More