Easy Fix – The Conflicted African Violet

There is a pressure of emotions that I can’t quite figure out how to identify. I can feel an innate need to release because it all feels so incredibly heavy, but I’m not sure how to do that. I am in a bad mood, but can’t express why. I feel sad, but the tears don’t come. I feel incredibly bitter, but I can’t put words to the rationale behind it.

It’s not just the move, it’s unfinished projects. It’s saying yes to things I do not have any business agreeing to. It’s not stepping into what’s next for me and instead procrastinating with silly energy and time suckers. It’s looking around at my environment and being frustrated by the overwhelm of things not started, to-do lists not completed and tasks that feel like complicated fixes.

I lean over the island in the kitchen, pulling my hair up and back into a twisted and makeshift ponytail. It only stays that way for a second before my curls return to their wild and disheveled state. I realize I haven’t showered in two days, but it doesn’t matter so much since the only thing I’ve been focusing on these days is more purging and packing.

The African Violet sits – on the opposite counter with bright green leaves even though it’s not blooming. It hasn’t bloomed since I transplanted it into a lime green pot. A tiny pot, small enough it can sit on my counter and blend in with the others. The UPC code tag on the pot reads “Citronella”. I killed the citronella plant over 5 months ago. I bought it because I love the smell of citronella, and I loved the color of the pot. I put it outside with our deck furniture and very promptly killed it. So I transplanted the African violet … something I’d brought with me from the Virginia house, except during that move, I broke the pot that it lived in. Interesting that I was able to keep the African Violet alive but not the citronella plant.

Identity Crisis African Violet Naomi Hattaway

Every time I look at the African Violet in the pot with an identify crisis since it obviously calls for a citronella plant, I internally fret about the fact that I planted the damn plant facing the wrong way. The tag that labels it as “citronella” faces the same way that the plant leans … towards the sunshine that filters through the windows about 10 feet away.

I realized tonight that I could do away with the irritation that runs on auto-play by simply repotting the African Violet. The easy fix of shifting the dirt and the roots so that what faces the sunlight and the life giving properties is wholly aligned with the very identity of the plant itself. No label, no sticker claiming its identity. Just an African Violet – straining towards the light.

African Violet Easy Fix

 

What easy fixes are you ignoring? What consistently gets you down or frustrates you?

What could you do today to change your inner dialogue, or your physical surroundings?

Serendipity Conference

Guild F(o)Unders Lounge Recently I attended the Serendipity Conference in San Francisco, created by Anne Cocquyt and the team behind The Guild. Snippets of my takeaways are here for you to soak up! This photo was taken during the Founders Meet Funders session which was like speed dating, but with investors! We had an opportunity to share our pitch for our organization or business and then we received immensely valuable feedback and advice from each of the investors!

Lisa Wang, SheWorx

Meditation is great but you must also visualize. Until you can see exactly what you want to feel and who you want to be, there will always otherwise be a gap if you are only meditating. -Lisa Wang

Lisa Wang SheWorx

My all time favorite thing that Lisa said was in response to a question about how women should dress for a presentation, a pitch or for a meeting. Lisa quickly answered:

Wear what you want and what you feel comfortable and powerful in. You’re going to get judged regardless of what you wear, so make it something you love.

Some more of her nuggets and thoughts:

  • Not all great ideas will be funded. You need a great idea, a great team AND great metrics.
  • If you’re early to the market, you have to show that people want your service or idea.
  • It is always better to have 100 people adore you than 1,000 people KIND of like you.

Takeaways we can all learn from:

If you are pitching, or presenting, know which trigger words make you feel powerful and which trigger words make you feel lesser than. If you are in an interview scenario, be rock solid on your answers so that you can deliver the answer to the question YOU want to answer – regardless of what question they are asking.

Always do the research to find the human connection in those you are meeting with. What sports teams do they like? Did they recently post about a family trip to Bali? Discover how you can make a connection between your legacies, the impact you both desire, how your values and missions align.

We are currently valuing disruption in our industries and not valuing true impact.

When creating a slide presentation or pitch deck, the most important things to remember (and no more than 12 slides!) are your values, your numbers, your view of service and background of the team.


Patti Sanchez, Duarte

Oh my goodness, how I loved Patti’s session! She co-wrote Illuminate which I think is THE Bible for change and leadership inside of organizational and community change. I brought my copy of the book for her to autograph and it is a prized possession and something I reference often. I adore their way of breaking down the concept of innovating the S Curve.

Duarte S Curve

Two key snippets:

  1. Leaders must create the map for the clan.
  2. Stories ALIGN two people and cut out the judgment opportunities.

 

 Patti Sanchez Duarte
One of the things Patti said that really struck me is when she said that leaders (visionaries) are often so focused on the goals, the what’s next and the dreams that they then drop the ball during the final stage. In order to combat that and keep it from happening, she suggests leaders stay focused on the overall mission, and make a point to draw the clan into the big picture goal (or if the recent attempt / mission failed, talk about the WHY with the clan).
Origin stories are critical –  leaders and founders MUST tell how it all began, and tell it often!
Takeaway / Action Tip I plan to implement: If you need buy in and a commitment from your clan, consider launching a challenge or share your story and Origin story in mini-vision versions. Tell your story as a scene, or a thread.

Andy Raskin, AndyRaskin.com

Andy delivered a powerful presentation on storytelling and the importance of the promised land (read on to the bullet points for more on that:
  • Story is a protocol for inserting beliefs into other people’s heads.
  • Create a quiver of stories that relate to adjectives you wish to impart.
  • Create a world where people are telling the right story about  you and your community or business.
  • Don’t have your pitch or story start with a problem (causes defensiveness and a reaction/exposure).
  • Describe the process – who is impacted, describe them.
  • Who can we demonize? What is the old world / past? What is OUR change in the world? What big stakes can we share?

 

When telling your story:

1) Name the undeniable, relevant change in the world
2) Show what’s at stake (define thriving in great detail, what does winning look like, what does losing look like
3) What does the promised land look like? Tease the promise … aim for the “Yes, that’s true” response
4) Position capabilities as “magic” for slaying monsters
5) present evidence so you can make the story come true (showcase success and tell the story of those who reached promised land)
6) Make sure that the promised land gives direction to the team AND provides benefit to the world
The story isn’t just about marketing. The story is the strategy. If you make your story better, you make your strategy better. Ben Horowitz

Mark Reistra and Carrie Kibler, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati

Mark and Carrie presented on “popular ways to screw up your business” – great presentation title! Here are the bullet point takeaways:

  • poorly written business plan
  • ignoring corporate formalities
  • forgetting the importance of vesting
  • screwing up on the assignment of IP rights
  • having a large and disorganized founding team

You need to have  a team that is willing to hold hands and jump in the pool. -Mark Reistra

If you are creating an advisory board, make sure you have a good mix of helpers and important people … but then make sure you load up and then rely on the helpers.

  1. When in doubt, go with a Delaware Corporation
  2. TEAM, TEAM, TEAM (and it doesn’t have to be an equal pie!)
  3. Know the regulations
  4. Be creative with compliance
  5. Know your terms
  6. Maintain employee and consultant documentation
  7. Write down your intentions for each and every person who interacts with your company
  8. IP is your secret sauce – protect it
  9. Surround yourself with an amazing set of cheerleaders
  10. File your paperwork – and on time

When you are asking someone to introduce you, PROVIDE the 1-2 paragraph introduction language / text to make it easy on them.

Expand your network and connections as often as you can and THEN fit the puzzle pieces together.

(Note from Naomi: their session was pretty heavy and deep – if you want to go more in depth on any of their bullet points, I can discuss in the comments …)


Serendipity Conference
Another photo from the conference I’m spotted in (my back!). What do you think after reading my notes? Are there any pieces of the presentations that stand out to you more than others? Which ones resonate with you?  (If you want to learn more about Serendipity, read their piece on Medium.)

All strength is not loud (or wearing red)

The news isn’t officially banned in our household, but it might as well be. There are very few sources that offer bipartisan information, so I choose to leave it turned off.

I only visit my Twitter account these days to share something impactful I’ve heard or read lately (via a book, song lyrics or on a podcast) to give the author / artist a shout out that the art they have painstakingly put out into the world has found its way to a soul that appreciates the work.

The moments that my resolve cracks momentarily and I find myself scrolling through the 160 character spew fests, I immediately feel my heart beat faster and I know my blood pressure is rising. I can tell, because of my physical reaction, but yet I hold my phone, and continue to scroll, with my left hand thumb flicking upwards.

Attacking. Spewing. Anger flying. Hurting feelings. Speaking too quickly. 

No fact checking. No regard for the other’s opinions.

Maybe they aren’t opinions at all, but simply words they heard someone else say?

Name calling. Hashtagging.

Judging because they marched. Judging because they didn’t march.

Changing their minds. Wavering between stated positions. Retreating, then lashing.

How dare you? Who are you? Why are you even here? Did you even vote? 

Go back where you came from. You don’t deserve a passport. You disgust me.

Keyboard warriors. Laptop Activists. Movement obsessed.

I’ve removed the Facebook app from my phone, and have long utilized the Newsfeed Eradicator Chrome Extension (which literally means I cannot see my news feed when I log onto Facebook from my laptop). I didn’t want to unfriend those who view life differently than me, but I needed to slow down the speed at which their opinions entered my psyche.

When someone near me is talking about politics, I set my jaw hard on the left side. I tap my tongue against the inside of my mouth … on the smooth part of my teeth and listen. I listen to whether they have something new for me to learn. I want to use every opportunity to add value to the time we are given together. It isn’t easy. My blood sometimes boils and my the hair on the back of my neck stands up often … but we must first listen.

Our staunch beliefs are rooted in so many things. Our opinions are the culmination of how you were raised and how you were not raised. Whether you spoke openly at the dinner table about the White House or barely knew what a voting precinct meant. What we think about the climate of our world is colored by where we’ve lived and how you view government’s control over a place. It is determined by whether you were bullied or supported, loved or abandoned. We even allow our experiences with religion, cultural events and education eek into the way we feel about those running our countries.

I have maintained a “head down” and “stay in my lane” mantra since well before the election. I grew increasingly saddened by the campaigns from both parties as we went into the election — and that feeling hasn’t changed since. Not because he won and she lost, but because the behavior I am witnessing amongst my fellow human race is defeating and disheartening.

It’s a weird place to be, this in the middle lane that I find myself in. It’s a location I sit squarely in on matters of race, and on matters of feminism and religion as well. I bite my tongue more than I speak, which is slightly ironic because otherwise, my mouth rants and rages on most topics.

What happens when the silent majority of those in the middle isn’t loud enough? I recently watched the remake of Beaches with our 10 year old daughter and one of the recurring themes, said by CC to Hillary, is:

Not all strength is loud.


I have given myself permission to live in a “not all strength is loud” way of being.

By checking out of social media, you are not irresponsible

By refusing to watch the news, you are not ignorant

By choosing to get a pedicure and watch The Voice recordings in the afternoons, you are not anti-feminist

By marching or by NOT marching, you are likely still not doing enough

By reading personal or business development books instead of the latest op-ed or Medium article on the most recent EO, you are not turning a blind eye

By asking someone a question on why they believe the way they do, you are dropping a small ripple of goodness on its way towards change

By listening to that person while they answer your question, you are furthering the cause of progression

By insisting that kindness and hopefulness still reign supreme, you are not being ridiculous

By reminding each other that we can impact our local climate, we are supporting each other in healthy ways.


I wrote all of those words a few weeks ago, but was reminded today, on International Women’s Day, as I’m being asked from my friends – the world over – if I’m participating in the #ADayWithoutAWoman movement, that I never hit submit.

I could easily get blasted for speaking “from a place of privilege”.  I’ll be honest that the fear of speaking my mind (on topics of racism, feminism, equality, etc.) and then being subjected to that “place of privilege” being thrown in my face has kept me from saying much on the topics until now. I’ve never been one to shy away from sharing my opinion and my truth, so I’m not sure why I’ve let it hush me for so long. I do speak from a place of privilege – I will say that out loud, and acknowledge it. Whether it’s white privilege (even though I’m biracial), socio-economic privilege, religious, sexual preference, citizenship, you name it — I have it.  I have cringed when reading one article (from a “privileged” author) be lambasted and challenged by someone without the same privilege in a “how dare you” tone of voice. I have winced when listening to someone who feels oppressed share their stories, and have felt sad, helpless and hurt for them, only to then hear that someone (“privileged”) supported their plight, but was shunned for pretending to know what it felt like.

We cannot continue to — in a sweeping manner — call people out on their privilege as IF it automatically negates their activism, waters down their voice, their power or their truth.

 
Whether you are oppressed or have every privilege afforded to you, no matter who you voted for, why you voted for them, or what you’re now doing about the world you live in, I am so happy to see SO many rising up, showing up and speaking up. I honestly have been encouraged by the increased discussions taking place around what is happening in our world.

International Women’s Day was designed to:
… reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” – United Nations website
Then there is the #DayWithoutAWoman, designed to encourage these actions:
Do not engage in paid and unpaid work. Wear red in solidarity. Avoid spending money (unless it’s at an establishment owned by women or minorities).
If we are celebrating those acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, it seems like the DWAW only takes us a step back. Let’s all “stay home” and for some, risk losing our jobs. Let’s not spend the money WE worked hard to earn. I still haven’t figured out why we are encouraged to only spend money at establishments owned by women OR minorities. Confused, but whatever.
So … in answer to the questions I have fielded today:

I am not wearing red today.

I am showing up and getting work done.

I am spending money that I earned today.

I wonder what it would look like if we encouraged:
  • Wear a color that is any hue you choose, but be sure it’s BOLD (and then when someone sees that boldness, own it and say “thank you!” with the same fervor our male counterpart would).
  • Go to work and teach someone else a new skill or talent that will empower their future paid and recognized work.
  • Spend your hard earned money in a way that empowers the true progress of women in this world, whether philanthropically, buying to support local makers, etc. or in any other manner of empowering and lifting up.

 

Worth a ponder, don’t you think?

On another similar, but separate topic. I have a question (a real question, that I’m looking for the answers to): What IS the feminist movement, as it’s currently being used in 2017?

 

Danielle Laporte says:
In terms of leadership, I’m not that interested in someone’s gender. I’m interested in their wholeness. Just because someone identifies as a female doesn’t mean they’re working on behalf of the “Divine Feminine.” If more females move into positions of so-called power, but they’re operating on the patriarchal mindset, then it’s hardly progress. It’s only adding to the illusions and confusion around what power and equality really mean. (Side Note: used on its own, the term patriarchy can trigger brushstroke judgments that anyone with a penis is a patriarchal asshole. The patriarchal mindset is not gender-specific, it’s a paradigm that can corrupt anyone, at any age, from almost any culture. There are MANY men out there who are “heart-led, with spines of direction and ambition, and with profoundly tender attentiveness, who embody wholeness.”
What does feminism mean to you? What does it mean for the way you go about your every day?

I am getting up on this Wednesday, March 8th and I am going to work. As a very dear friend said to me, “I am going to work today to lead. I am going to work today to learn. I am going to work today because my family depends on my income, and because it makes me a better woman than I was yesterday.”  I have been on a long journey to get to where I am with “my work” and not showing up for it today feels … not right for me.

I am going to spend my money today and do something that makes a difference in the lives of those around me (my “do something good” scale heavily  leans towards things like Ripple Effect Images or my continuing Kiva contribution or by simply adding some of my hard earned money to my Ellevest investment account.)

It is not enough to wear pink pussy hats or red tshirts with a raised fist in the air. It is not enough to watch important documentaries, but fail to discuss them after you leave the theater. It’s also not enough to open your checkbook and give $200 to the refugees. It’s not enough to pen thought provoking blog posts or share the most recent Upworthy video all over your social.

Perhaps you’ll want to say I’m not “feminist enough”, or am naive to today’s world, but but I simply support the fight to — every single day —  be a better person than you were when you went to sleep last night. Show up for people who are creating opportunities for themselves and their families. Stand behind those who see their leadership quotient and raise the bar for those they were called to lead. Share and elevate of the stories and goals of those who strive to learn and expand their consciousness and awareness.

I will however, bolster my strong spine, clear my throat, work my ass off today to be better than I was yesterday, give some of my hard earned money to impact someone else’s life, and will do my part to raise children who are empowered to do the same.

The Divine Feminine sure ain’t about being the first female president, dean or CEO of anything. Ranking high in a broken system doesn’t necessarily make you a heroine of feminism – tho’ it very well could, and women’s history is abundant with those true pioneers. The Divine Feminine is the warrior and the healer … it is justice and mercy, carried out with grace. It’s economics and the arts … that nurture the entire community. Being direct and loving the hunt of opportunities – these are characteristically masculine qualities. I am deeply intuitive and nurturing — innately feminine qualities. When I’m at my best, I express all of these qualities in my ALL-WOMAN ways. My delivery is compassionate and often softly spoken; my business operates on a triple bottom line, so that we can ALL be well fed, even if it means I share my own food. I am BEING the Divine Feminine.  – Danielle LaPorte
 (P.S. / Side Note / This is where you come in —–> What you’ve just read is a LOT of unedited free-flowing thoughts from my brain. It’s rambling and quite possibly messy in how well it reads BUT I welcome a conversation around this. I want to learn more from each of you, and understand more than I did when I hit submit.)

Let's Go To Work Chris Brogan

 

 

 

Lessons from Gpa

gpa-1

Each time our family finds ourselves in a new location, we take notice of the driving habits of the residents of our new city or town. In Singapore, the kiasu syndrome was laughable, driving in India was a little nuts (I didn’t personally drive in Delhi) and Northern Virginia – well, everyone has somewhere to go and fast!

Here in Columbus, I am finding that folks stay at stop signs longer, and wave their free hand to indicate a willingness to let someone else go first. I am noticing that my natural tendency to drive just over the speed limit (with a bit of aggressiveness) is starting to dwindle and I’m more relaxed when I drive.

(Interstate driving in Ohio however, is a different situation. Watch your six, keep both hands on the wheel and mind your blind spot are all important things to remember!)

Each and every time I get behind the wheel of my vehicle, which currently happens to be a bright red Jeep, I think of my grandfather. We called him grandpa (Gpa) and he was, and still is, everything to me.

From an early age, I remember him allowing us to sit on his lap and get behind the wheel of his car. We would be in a big, open (and empty) parking lot early in the morning. He would show us where to put our hands on the steering wheel. He would explain what each pedal did, and how much pressure to put on the gas pedal in order to slowly ease forward (we were young enough that we couldn’t reach the pedals, so he would do that work, but he wanted us to learn).

He would always ask “are you focusing?” and we would excitedly nod our head up and down, repeatedly with a wild smile on our faces. Let’s go, I would always think to myself, I can do this! Let’s go!

Inevitably, he would slow us down and repeat earlier instructions: make sure your hands are in the right place, and your stocking cap is out of your eyes, and you’re sitting straight.

Ok, ok, Gpa. Can we go?

He would withhold forward motion, by not depressing that gas pedal, and would teach us how to use the rearview mirror. Check it regularly and make it a habit to know what’s going on behind you, at the same time you’re staying eyes forward. Use your side view mirrors for what they were intended, to check on the situation alongside you and … keep those hands in the right place.

Ok, ok, Gpa. I got it. Time to go!

 

Now listen, he would say. This is important. Do you see how the seatbelt works? We would then get a short tutorial on how seatbelts function against the force of an anticipated impact. Let’s also talk about the dashboard. Do you see this button? It lets you reset the trip odometer. When you fill up your gas tank, it’s good to know how your vehicle is using the fuel you’re putting in it. While filling up, he would pull out his small notepad where he kept track of each and every trip to the gas station. Mileage noted, number of gallons noted. Then, quick calculations would be made to discover his current miles per gallon numbers. Each and every trip.

Ok, ok, Gpa. I wish we could just GO.

Then, quite suddenly, we would start to inch forward. Oh, the excitement surging. Go, go, go! Turn the wheel too fast, then self-correct in the opposite direction, but with too much force. His hands would envelop mine and stop the chaos. Naomi, he would say with a bit of sternness in his voice: keep your hands in the right place and slow down.

Ok, ok, Gpa. I’m listening. Now, can we go?

Dodge Park was my favorite place to practice driving. When Gpa took us driving, there was never anyone else around. It was just time for us. Time for us to be together, to have someone paying attention to JUST us. I don’t remember the frequency of how often we went individually vs. with all of us siblings together, but it never mattered with Gpa. His patience and willingness to always teach made us feel like we were the only thing on his agenda for the day.

~

After we mastered slow turns on the steering wheel, and how to shift from park to drive and into reverse, we graduated to learning about the other people on the road and heading in the same direction as us. Always remember that you are in charge of 3,000 lbs of metal. That’s a big deal, he would say. If you can’t make sure to focus, slow down and always keep your hands in the right place, you shouldn’t be driving.

When you take that 3,000 lbs onto the road, other people are making the same decision. They might not be focusing, or willing to slow down, or keeping their hands in the right place. Always be aware of what the other vehicles are doing, and if you pay close enough attention, he would drill into us, you can predict what those drivers plan to do.

Soon after our lesson, he would scootch us onto our side of the seat, refasten the seatbelt and we’d head back to Gma and Gpa’s house. While we drove, he would continue teaching by nodding his chin towards the road and say things like, “See that car? He’s probably going to turn left soon” or explain why it is important to always use your blinkers.

~

This week marks the ten year anniversary of the Gpa’s passing and I think about him every day. He was an amazing pillar of strength and a role model for what the life of a balanced man, father and husband looks like. He was a brilliant mind who turned every experience into a teaching lesson, and every moment spent with us into a forever lasting memory. He wasn’t perfect, but he was as close as anyone I’ve ever known (well, besides Gma, whose response to the quip “It’s not easy to be perfect” has always been “YES it is!”).

My oldest had a wonderful relationship with Gpa and was given some really great years with Gpa as his number one fan and his sidekick. Spending time with Gpa was always the highlight of Terran’s week, and I am so grateful for that. While Gpa’s literal heart failed his body before any of us were ready, the big-ness of the life he lived and the massive “heart” he instilled in all of us lives on. Even though the youngest of his great grand-children didn’t have the opportunity to sit in his lap, and learn from his wisdom directly from his mouth, the beauty of living a life worth remembering is that we have the opportunity every day to teach our children (and remind myself) of the lessons from Gpa.

Gpa, wishing you didn’t go.

Lessons from Gpa:

Slow down. Slow down. Slow down.

Look behind you, but only briefly. Keep your main focus on your life ahead.

Keep your hands in the right place. Mind your own business. Do what you know you need to do, on repeat.

Know how everything works and why. Always be learning. Share your knowledge with those you love.

Be aware of your blind spots. Know what foods, triggers, sleep patterns, personality types will trip you up, and keep your eyes open for those moments so you can more easily proactively react.

Reset your trip. Find something that refuels you. Enjoy your life.

Keep track of what you’re grateful for and write it down, keep a log.

You’re in charge of this big, heavy, beautiful life. When you take it out for a spin, treat it with respect.

lessons-from-gpa