What Does It Mean To Be Human?

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on February 16th, 2018.

I’m not exactly what you would call an early adopter of technology. I love it, but I don’t always take to new technologies right away. That being said, once I figure it out, I usually become a ferocious consumer, which is a pretty accurate way to describe my initiation into the world of podcasts. I may have been late to the podcast party, but now that I’m here, I can’t get enough. Whether it’s in the car, on the elliptical, or taking my dogs for a walk, there’s never a bad time to catch up on my podcasts. While there are literally hundreds of thousands of podcasts to choose from, there’s one that is heads and tails above the rest as far as I’m concerned, and if you’re not listening to On Being, I’m not going to lie, I may be judging you right now. Just a bit.

Hosted by Krista Tippett, On Being is a weekly podcast that discusses some of the most basic, and most profound, questions in life. What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live our lives? You know, the easy questions. Except that they’re not easy at all, and in fact are incredibly complicated questions that require extraordinarily sensitive and respectful discussions in order to get anywhere close to an answer, and this is where Krista excels. Guests on the show range from scientists and religious leaders, to artists and teachers, and while you may have heard of some of her guests, such as Maya Angelou, Desmond Tutu, Sheryl Sandberg, Yo-Yo Ma, Martin Sheen, Eve Ensler, and the Dali Lama, I know I hadn’t heard of the majority of her guests before listening to their episodes. However, after hearing what they had to say, I’m happy that On Being provided the introduction, as their discussions with Krista are always thoughtful, insightful, illuminating, and just downright incredible. With episodes dating all the way back to 2001, there are hundreds to choose from, but if you’re looking for recommendations, please check out 5 of my favorite episodes below.

1) Brene Brown – Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart

I just listened to this podcast yesterday and it is so, so, so good. If you do not know Brene’s work, I’m judging you again. Check out her many books and TED talks HERE. Together, Brene and Krista take on the issue of belonging. It’s a big one and it’s an important one, and it goes to the core of who we are as human beings. Such a great episode. Go. Listen.

2) Parker Palmer and Courtney E. Martin – The Inner Life of Rebellion

I am blessed to personally know these two amazing people, and I cannot get enough of either of them. You may know Courtney from her many books and TED talks, and Parker, well, he is a legend, and one of his many books, Let Your Life Speak, was a game-changer for me when I read it almost 20 years ago. I have listened to this episode over and over again.

3) Sheryl Sandburg and Adam Grant – Resilience After Unimaginable Loss

Sheryl suffered an unimaginable loss when her husband, Dave Goldberg, passed away suddenly in 2015. In this touching podcast she opens up about her loss together with her dear friend Adam Grant. I learned so much from listening, including how to support a friend who had recently also suffered an unimaginable loss.

4) Maria Popova – Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age

Before On Being I had not heard of Maria and Brain Pickings. Now I know and I am the better for it.

5) Lyndsey Stonebridge – Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now

There were so many great lines and incredible observations in this podcast that I found myself pausing it, hitting replay, and then pausing it again to process. Here is one of them. “Thinking,” she says, “is not the same as judgment, but it creates the right conditions for judgment.” Since last year was the year I was committed to thinking about my thinking, this podcast was a perfect fit.

Beyond her incredible podcasts, there are many other reasons to jump over to the On Beingwebsite. In 2013, Krista expanded her operations by starting her own production company, Krista Tippett Public Productions, in order to produce future episodes of On Being. Since then, this company has gone on to launch several additional podcasts, conversational and writing projects, and 2016’s Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, a book that once again tackles the ever simple question of how to live a life of wisdom, and where exactly that wisdom can be found. Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite books and I can’t stop recommending it to everyone I meet.

This weekend, Krista is further expanding her enterprise once more by hosting the first ever On Being Gathering in California at the 1440 Multiversity, and I couldn’t be more excited to be one of the inaugural attendees along with my husband and daughter. Billed as three days of “conversation, poetry, and community with Krista Tippett, beloved teachers from the show and the blog, and the entire On Being team”, I can’t wait for the retreat to get started later today.

In today’s divided and fractured times, I look forward to my weekly appointment with On Being, because every time I finish an episode, I’m reminded that civil, respectful, and productive conversations are possible, even between those who couldn’t be farther apart in their opinions, and this is something that our world desperately needs right now. And in case you were wondering why I’ve been referring to Krista in the informal first name basis for this article, it’s because I’ve been lucky enough to get to know her over this past year and to call her a friend. I can assure you, she’s just as incredible in person as she is on the podcast, so go subscribe now. You’re welcome.

PLEASE share your favorite episodes in the comment section if you are already a listener to On Being, or if you have other favorite podcasts, please share those too. Have a great day.

The Golden Moment

As published in LinkedIn Influencers on January 8th, 2018.

Hollywood is a big business. Film, television, content creation, and distribution are all big business. We are talking hundreds of billions of dollars. The Golden Globes is the annual kick off to awards season, where Hollywood repeatedly celebrates the best of the year, and make no mistake, it is a big deal. I, like many others, was watching last night with curiosity and hope that it would be different this year. That the personal would turn political. And not in a little way, but in a big way. I was not disappointed.

Before going into some of the highlights of the evening, imagine this. Imagine the biggest event possible in YOUR industry. Imagine all of the CEOs of all the major companies are present, imagine the best performers in each of those companies are also present, and imagine a room that is full of people deemed to be the most powerful in the entire industry. I will do it for my old industry; finance.

Front row would be the CEOS of all the major financial institutions; men like Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, and Michael Corbat of Citigroup. And of course the hedge fund managers would be there; Ray Dalio of Bridgewater, Emmanual Roman of Pimco, and Stephen A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group. And finally, we would have to imagine that women and people of color where there too. In large numbers. Let’s imagine all the categories; Woman bond trade of the year. Male bond trader of the year. Best overall hedge fund manager. Best overall firm. You get the picture. And imagine that on this night, presenter after presenter, award winner after award winner, took a moment, or in last night’s case, many moments, to speak about the desperate need for the industry to change. Imagine that time and time again the culture of exclusion and harassment was acknowledged, and then it was demanded that this was the moment for it all to change. That is how big last night was for the entertainment industry.

“Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen.”

The evening kicked off with Seth Meyers acknowledging the events of the past several months in his opening line. In a nearly note perfect opening monologue, he set the stage for what ultimately became a simultaneously powerful and entertaining evening, all while acknowledging the difficult balancing act the evening would, and rightly should be. But most importantly, he proved that the night would not be one where people would skirt around the problem, but rather that they were going to face it head on. People like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Woody Allen were all name checked, and it was made perfectly clear that they no longer had a place at the table.

This continued with the award winners. Nicole Kidman won the first award of the night for her role in HBO’s Big Little Lies, which she also produced, and she used to her time at the podium to herald her female co-stars, pay tribute to her mom, and give a nod to the power of women. And it went on from there. Laura DernElisabeth MossAllison Janney, and Frances McDormand all used their time at the microphone to denounce a culture and society that marginalizes groups of people, and history was made when Sterling K. Brown became the first black man to win the Best Actor in a TV Drama award. He acknowledged creator Dan Fogelman in his acceptance speech, thanking him for writing a role that could only be played by a black man, and for allowing him to be recognized and seen as he is. It was a powerful night all around.

This trend was continued in the non-acting categories, as time and time again, films and television shows that celebrate women, empowerment, and complex female characters were rewarded. From films like Lady BirdI, Tonya, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and series like The Handmaid’s TaleBig Little Lies, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won the major awards of the night, the theme of the evening was very much that women’s stories are important, profitable, and here to stay.

But it wasn’t just the winners. Presenters throughout the night used their time on stage to joke about, yes, but also to bring attention to the many issues of inequality that still plague the entertainment industry. From the wage gap (Jessica Chastain), to the lack of female directors (Natalie Portman with one of the best zingers of the night), the women of Hollywood made it very clear that the culture of discrimination no longer has any place in this industry. In particular, my heart did a little happy dance when Thelma and Louise themselves, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, took to the stage to present, and they did not disappoint.

There are so many things to talk about from last night, from the sea of all black as both women and men eschewed the usual rainbow explosion that is often Golden Globe fashion, and instead wore black in solidarity with the victims of sexual harassment and abuse, to several of Hollywood’s biggest stars bringing well known activists as their guests, including Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement. More importantly, many speakers, presenters, and award winners took the time to acknowledge that this is not just a problem that plagues Hollywood. This is a problem that spans all industries and cultures, and it is time for this problem to end. Earlier this year, a new initiative that was inspired by #MeToo was announced called Times Up. This initiative is a call to action to end the culture of shame and silence across all industries, and is an advocacy group calling for the end of sexual harassment and abuse. Finally, The Times Up Legal Defense Fund will provide financial assistance to women and men who have experienced sexual harassment and/or abuse in the workplace. To visit their GoFundMe page, please click HERE.

But even with all of the above, last night truly belonged to one woman. Oprah. In receiving the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille award, the first black woman to do so, Oprah delivered a fiery and impassioned speech that some have interpreted as her opening bid for the White House in 2020. It was a beautiful, big, and bold, and I simply cannot do it justice. Please take a moment and watch it below.

Wow. Can we all just agree that Oprah should be President of the World?

In my end of year post, I wrote about a power shift. I wrote about the crumbling of the patriarchal matrix that is the world we live in today, and last night on the Golden Globes, we witnessed that happening in front of our eyes. This shift is about power with, not power over. It is about the idea of the we being bigger than the me. It is about talent, about inclusion, about fairness, about justice, and it is about respect. And if you are not happy about all that happened last night, if you are not feeling joyful and hopeful and excited that change is finally happening, then perhaps this quote applies to you. “When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” Well, to quote Oprah, “A new day is on the horizon”, and for once, it doesn’t feel like the dawning of this new day is an unattainable goal. It is within sight, and it is glorious to behold.

Big thanks to Laura Moore for partnering with me on this piece.

March On!

img_5675As published in LinkedIn Influencers on January 19th, 2017.

In the hours following November’s election, a Facebook event was created for a rally in Washington, DC. The date? January 21st. The day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. Within hours, similar event pages had been created and thousands had indicated that they would be going. By Day 1, many of these pages had been merged, and the Women’s March on Washington went from being an idea to reality. By Day 2, leaders from diverse backgrounds were brought in to ensure that as wide a range of voices as possible would be heard. Within a month, over 100 organizations had lent their support and resources to the organization of the event. And on January 12th, organizers released their official policy program, which outlined an aggressively progressive proposal that was lauded for its unapologetic stance on many of this nation’s most pressing and crucial political and social issues. It is estimated that up to 250,000 people will attend the march in Washington, with sister marches planned in all 50 states. Potentially millions more will march in over 150 cities in 60 countries across all six continents worldwide. It will be the largest demonstration on the first day of a new administration in the history of the United States, and it all started with a simple Facebook event group.

It will likely be generations before the full ramifications of technology’s swift and massive influence over so many aspects of our lives will be fully understood, and while there has been much hand wringing over the relentless pace of technological advancements, I myself can only marvel at the resources that we now have at our fingertips. With just a few clicks or taps, an idea can go viral and a movement can be born, and although movement building is nothing new, the sheer scope and speed at which people can come together due to today’s communication tools is staggering to behold. Not only are people coming together, but they are sharing ideas, perspectives, and stories, and when criticisms are raised, people are listening and engaging. In its earliest incarnation, the Women’s March on Washington was quite rightly criticized for its all white leadership and for appropriating the name Million Women March from the historic 1997 march in Philadelphia. Organizers moved quickly to correct these early errors, bringing in respected leaders from diverse backgrounds and renaming the event. Today, on the eve of the march, it promises to be one of the most inclusive and diverse rallies in the history of this country, and it has come together in just a fraction of the time an event of this scope would normally need. That’s the power of technology, and its potential for the future is truly inspiring.

The Women’s March on Washington promises to be a historic event, and while I hope you will all come out and join us on January 21st, my bigger hope is that this Saturday is merely the beginning of a new age of positive and peaceful activism. If one Facebook event page can lead to an event of this size, imagine what we can accomplish going forward. I have made it my life’s work to advocate on behalf of women and girls around the world for gender parity, so I will be proudly marching this Saturday in Park City (#marchonmain) alongside my incredible daughter and many dear friends for many causes that I hold dear. Organizers have repeatedly stressed that this rally should not be seen as anti-Trump, but rather an event for all defenders of human rights, so regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, I hope you will join us, either in Washington, or across the US and the world at large. As the policy platform of the march states, we are all in this together.

The Women’s March on Washington is a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination. 

Recognizing that women have intersecting identities and are therefore impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues, we have outlined a representative vision for a government that is based on the principles of liberty and justice for all. As Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”