My She’s the First co-founder Christen Brandt shared this video with me last week — it’s in true, perfect alignment with our new Sweat for STF campaign. Although the fitness fundraising space is very crowded, one way that we believe She’s the First stands out is that we resonate with women (and men) who will be first-time marathoners, half marathoners, 10k and 5k runners, even first-time gym-goers.
I’ve seen people who never identified as an athlete (like myself) finally become one because they find powerful, selfless motivation in doing a fundraising challenge for She’s the First. They get to sponsor a girl’s education and see the direct impact they’ve made on her life.
We want Sweat for STF to be bigger than a campaign and more like a community in which everyone, no matter their current fitness level, feels like they belong. #ThisGirlCan, which originated in the UK, shows exactly what we envision Sweat for STF supporters to be in all their power and glory.
Here’s my personal Sweat for STF goal — to raise $2,000 by running a half marathon in the Utah desert. Please consider co-sponsoring Petronolia and Jane in the upcoming year with me!
“I should keep a journal.” Does that sound familiar? Have you ever wanted to commit yourself to writing every day, or at least once a week, about your life? I have, intermittently, over the years. I’ve had four journals–but I never actually filled a full book before starting a new one. They’ve always been broken resolutions.
This past summer, in my Welcome Remarks at the She’s the First Leadership Summit, I even shared a page from the journal I kept in college to our campus leaders. It was written when I was an accomplished journalism student but I was missing something in my life–the feeling of being connected to a cause that would change the world. I explained to them how I could have never known what life had in store for me just a few years later–and how much I admire, if not even envy a little, that they have the connection to a global community that I never did at their age.
I forgot that I had kept journals when I was in elementary school, too–until over the holiday break, I found three of them packed inside my deepest desk drawer, in my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house in New Jersey.
Discovering these journal entries was not only the most entertaining part of my holiday– I laughed so hard reading some of these pages, I cried — but it was also, as Oprah would say, an aha moment.
Allow me to share some samples to show you what I mean:
In this entry, written when I was nine, I was rocking self-confidence! I remember feeling bored, shy, untalented, and insecure for much of my teenage years. Think about it: Magazines like Seventeen, where I used to work, are all about helping girls to be confident–because we lose this feeling that we had when we were nine somewhere along the way, then usually find it again in our 20s. To reunite with it was pure joy.
Here was evidence that I was always an entrepreneur at heart. Adventure Path was a board game I made. Due to all the requests my friends have made to play it after seeing this image posted on my Facebook page, my mom says she’ll “look for it” in our storage…maybe in the next Snowpocalypse.
Then I found this, written a few days later, my extreme pride at solving what seemed like the world’s hardest multiplication problem at the time. My first reaction: “You mean I trained for a marathon for MONTHS and ran hundreds of miles to teach myself I could do anything I put my mind to, and I knew that all along from solving a MATH PROBLEM in 1995?” See what we forget?!
In February of 1995, I started practicing my cursive and my reasoning skills–trying to figure out why the Tooth Fairy hadn’t come.
I wanted to high five Little Tammy for this one:
In one of the earliest journal entries that exist, I learned I jumproaped for two and half hours straight and loved it so much, I emphatically declared I’d never forget it…which I did until I excavated this entry on December 24th, 2014. Oops. Here you see early undetected signs that I would crave running distances over two and a half hours (or more) 20 years later in life.
Fast-forward to 12-year-old Tammy, who sadly lost the determination she had in 4th grade math when it came to 7th grade wood shop. (I never actually failed — you can see teenage drama start to set in.)
Kicking it back to 1996, 10-year-old Tammy called into her favorite radio station, Radio AAHS, and got to tell a joke on the air. I can’t remember which one, but for those who know my favorite pun about scarecrows now, sharing cheesy jokes seems to be an innate penchant. That nervousness is something I am thankful I outgrew. How would I handle She’s the First media?!
There are so many other entries–including a page in 2001 that simply said, “My life is falling apart,” for a reason I’ll never remember, because clearly it was not. The point is, I remember my teen years as a time of such studiousness, shyness, and low self-confidence, that it took finding these endearing little journals to remind myself, sure, we grow wiser with the years, but maybe all we’re really doing is just resurfacing the wisdom we had inside us when we were nine.
There is so much I want to learn and accomplish in 2015. So much I don’t yet know that I’m trying to figure out. To be my compass in 2015, I’ve saved a bunch of photos of these journal entries from the ’90s to my phone, so wherever I am–on the grimy subway platform or inside of a glistening skyscraper–my inner voice is always ready to give me a pep talk. Lucky is great. And that Adventure Path game that’s hidden somewhere inside the eaves of the home I was born and raised in? (Take your time digging it up, Mom, really!) I’m pretty sure I’m living the real version of it.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Make that resolution to keep a journal and stick to it.
Presenting my first annual Friends Gift Guide — things to buy your favorite people, made with love by my friends!
1. Catrinka x She’s the First tote ($20)
I’m a little biased here, but this tote tops my list! Catrinka is donating 100% of the profits to sponsor girls with She’s the First. The bag is 100% woman-made.
2. Carrie Hammer Custom Dress ($395)
If you can splurge, get the woman you admire the ultimate power dress! I wear my customized red Elizabeth dress to my most important meetings. Gift cards available.
3. Asha Patel Designs (starting at $20)
My favorite is obviously the nameplate bracelet that benefits She’s the First, but you have lots to choose from! Handmade in Atlanta, Georgia by Asha Patel.
4. If You Find This Letter ($17.71 for hardcover, $10.67 for Kindle)
Hannah is the friend whom I share the best New Years tradition with: Running the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park and writing letters to ourselves at New Years Day breakfast. I cannot wait to celebrate her memoir’s release in March, but for now, the perfect last-minute gift is pre-ordering it for a loved one.
In 2014, rather than continue to be overwhelmed by what I don’t how to do, I started to refocus on what I know really well — and I resolved to use those skills to unlock the rest of my potential. I am a journalist at my core. Being a non-profit entrepreneur was not part of my original plan, so I had to learn certain business protocol from scratch, like how to set up payroll, ask for big money, and navigate the IRS.
I understood it would take more than mentors for my professional development to stay on the fast track alongside She’s the First, which grows more rapidly by the month.
In 2013, Ruth Ann Harnisch–who among many achievements is the founding funder of the Institute of Coaching at Harvard–was the first person to explain to me the difference between mentoring and coaching. She gave me my first coaching session and from that point on, I put it on my goal list to work with a coach formally.
I have this theory that if you genuinely need something and tell enough people about it, eventually it will find you. Sure enough, earlier this year, I mentioned to our Board Secretary, Leslie Zaikis, that I hoped to find an executive coach in 2014. Shortly thereafter, she heard about The Coaching Fellowship and forwarded the application to me.
Founded by Jane Finette, Coaching Fellowship is an international community of coaches dedicated to helping young women who are transforming the planet reach their full potential. Watch this before we continue:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” was the Nelson Mandela quote I printed on the back of my NYC Marathon shirt. Before crossing the finish line at 3:49pm this past Sunday, 5 hours and 18 minutes after starting, “done” felt a long way off. But here we are — this fundraising page and the 2014 NYC Marathon are officially DONE!
Now, our connection to our She’s the First Scholars begins, and that is the best part.
This past week, I had the opportunity to visit our scholars and partner organization Starfish One by One in Guatemala, and then I returned to NYC just 48 hours before the marathon. I feared all that could go wrong — getting sick, twisting my ankle on a cobble stone, bad weather — but I knew no matter what, we had raised more than $10,000 to support 10 girls in school. That was comforting. Our grand total is in fact almost $13,000 now!
Marathon Sunday was, as cheesy as it sounds, magical. Seeing my friends and family cheering at miles 8, 18, and 23 in their STF tshirts was electrifying and unforgettable! Though she was still in Guatemala, my co-founder and Director of International Operations, Christen Brandt, surprised me by commissioning posters that pictured the girls we all sponsored together. (Last week, I got to meet Petronila in Guatemala – pictured on the poster I am touching below – and thinking of her carried me through many parts of the race.)
Any of you who are runners know that even when you train properly and work hard, you don’t always get a good race, so I feel incredibly lucky that all the stars aligned. Believe it or not, even when I crossed the finish line, the song blasting from the big Central Park speakers was exactly the same one I used as my “power song” all throughout training season on my Nike app. (That’s the song that plays every time you finish your goal distance. Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” if you must know.) I just lost it. Don’t let these smiley photos deceive you. I was bawling at the finish, though fortunately with uncontrollable happiness and not excruciating pain.
This year, I so badly wanted to add the next chapter to our She’s the First “Run the World” fundraising campaign and teach myself that I, the kid who couldn’t run a mile in gym class, could do something that was once “impossible” to me. It was good fate from the start that I got in via lottery on the first try, which any New Yorker will tell you is virtually unheard of. Last year, Erin Leigh Patterson ran the first NYC Marathon for She’s the First, and next year, I hope more women (and how about a man!) will also run the world’s largest marathon to send more girls to school. If you do, I promise to be an outrageous cheerleader.
I will forever be in awe of this group of names that you are a part of below. I met each of you through such different avenues of my life and a few of you, I actually never met in person. My heart is tingling to see you all here together for the same purpose.
THANK YOU Adam, Adrianna, Ale, Alison, Ally, Amanda C., Amanda K., Ami, Amy S., Andrea, Angel, Becky, Belma, Brianne, Brittany, Brooke, Callie, Carrie H., Carrie M., Cassandra, Catherine, Chanelle, Chelsea, Cheryl, Christen, Christian, Craig, Crystal, Dan, Daniela, David, Denise, Donna, Emily B., Emily D., Emma, Erin, Gemma, George, Gina, Glenda, Grandma, Holly, Irene, Jamie, Jan, Jane, Jayne, Jenn, Jenna, Joan, Judy, Julie K., Julie P., Kate, Katie, Keds & Seventeen, Kelli, Kim, Kristen, Kristen & Greg, Lauren Horn, Lauren Hurwitz, Lianna, Linda, Liriel, Lisa, Long, Maggie, Marc, Marci & Marty, Marcia, Mariam, Mariko, Matthew, Michael, Michelle, Mike, Mom & Dad, Nadia, Nicole, Nina, Lady Project, Opal, Partha, Rachel Simmons, Rachel Sklar, Rachel & Lorne, Rethink Gainesville, Rob, Rose, Roseanne, Ruth Ann, Samantha, Sammy, Shelley, Sierra, Simtec, Stephanie F., Stephanie S, Therese & Casey & Gianna, United Way, Uyen, and Yamile.
And to Elly in Tanzania, a graduated She’s the First Scholar – You wished me all the lucky in the world, right here on my fundraising page, and I got it. Nakupenda, dada!
Like a boss’s order, I insist you add this book to your shelf or Kindle app, stat!
Lindsey Pollak’s Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leadership is a manual for millennials who are looking to unlock their full power and potential in the workplace. I’m proud to say when she’s not busy being a best-selling author, Lindsey is the Board Chair of She’s the First!
Lindsey has been my mentor since 2006. My senior year of college, I made a cameo in her first book, Getting from College to Career. (We have a great “how we met” story – it was a fun twist of fate in my JANE magazine internship.)
Lindsey was one of the very first people to hear my idea for She’s the First (on a Central Park bench — I remember it like it was yesterday.) That makes it even more surreal to see us in print in her book.
Lindsey’s books are special to me because personally, they mark big chapters of my own life — but more importantly, they tell a story of my generation through the eyes of an expert who genuinely wants to help us succeed.
Join me on the front lines:
- Order a copy for yourself or a millennial you mentor.
- Leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, etc.
- Tune into this free teleconference Lindsey is moderating for The Hartford on Thursday, September 18th at noon EST. I’m one of the speakers.
- Tweet, Facebook, and Instagram – tag #BecomingtheBoss and @lindseypollak to join a powerful community
I am so proud to represent She’s the First (especially our 400 Scholars and 100 campus chapters!) in Marie Claire’s “20 Women Changing the World” September issue, out now!
You may know I started my career in magazines. I distinctly remember sitting in Professor Pearson’s office in Bliss Hall, at The College of New Jersey, telling her in my final semester, “I want to write the kind of stories you’d read in Marie Claire magazine.” She gave me an assignment that put me on the path to discover the passion that would spark She’s the First two years later. I never planned to literally create the story told in Marie Claire. My point is, when you graduate, anything is possible. Whether it’s me, Maheshwari, Mayra, Becca, Lindsey, Christen, Cierra, Katie or YOU — we are all the living proof of what power education can unlock, and we all need to keep pushing, keep paying it forward.
The 20 women profiled in this story don’t need congratulations — I am motivated like crazy by the honor, but I’m not ready to celebrate yet. My work isn’t done. What I need is your help creating a major call to action, to create lasting change.
There are two ways you can share this issue to make a bigger impact with me:
1) Inspire people to contribute to a girl’s education & mentorship at shesthefirst.org. (A personal effort of mine is at http://runtheworld.shesthefirst.org/tammy)
2) Urge people you know at companies and foundations to invest in She’s the First. We greatly need general operating funds for 2015.
Please pick up the issue so that you can read about women who inspire me, including Nancy Lublin, Melinda Gates, Christy Turlington Burns, Rachel Lloyd, Olivia Wilde, Alicia Keys, and my “spreadmates” Kimberly Bryant, Dina Powell, and Taylor Swift. I’m especially thrilled to see one of my favorite college students, Emily Raleigh, on page 71.
I will always be grateful to my first love, the magazine industry, for shaping me into who I am as a leader and coming along with me to shape the future.
For the first time in a long time, I contributed a post to another website–Forbes.com! The title: “Forget Everything You Know About Ice Breakers-Because This Activity Works Better,” and it’s about my experience at the Forbes “Redefine Power” Women’s Summit. What do you think? I really appreciate the twitter feedback and shares so far (thanks, @vmati, @sierrabarter, @deniserestauri, @MMCTweets, @4020Vision, @StephFlo, @DawnMurr, @MsAmandaKennedy, and of course, @MoiraForbes)
Here’s the quote that seemed to resonate with most people:
“There is a type of power that comes from how much money you earn and that will never change. But that isn’t the power that gives life purpose or meaning. Power redefined is finding what you have in common with others and it isn’t discerning of age, gender, race, income, or religion.”
When I lived with my best friend, Rachel, we had a weekly ritual of emailing each other with the subject line “me this week.” The message was a fast rundown of our schedules that Monday-Sunday. At one point we realized we could just share Google calendars, but this had already become a habit.
If I was to send a “me this week,” the next 5 days are pretty exciting!
Monday: I’m heading to Orlando for the SAPPHIRE NOW conference, to which the giant software company SAP invites their customers and influencers to discover ways their technology can be used to make the world run better and improve people’s lives.
Tuesday: I’m speaking on the Millennial Entrepreneurs panel at SAPPHIRE and attending meetings and discussions with SAP leaders to experience their CSR and partnership with universities and educators firsthand.
Wednesday: I come back to New York and in the evening, attend a dinner that kicks off the American Express Emerging Innovators Boot Camp! I am one of 15 social entrepreneurs who were selected for the program in the United States. Here’s the official announcement.
Thursday and Friday: Boot Camp all day! We will collaborate with American Express executives, Ashoka Fellows and other thought leaders in the field of social innovation. The agenda is still a surprise.
I’ll report back to you on the impact both experiences have on me and She’s the First.
What’s on your “me this week” in this first week of June?
I’m still new to the sport of running. I got hooked through the experience of my first half marathon in Atlanta last year. I expected my second half marathon, today in Boston, to be just as exhilarating, and that by the end of 13.1 miles, I’d think, “That was easy!” and be confident to take on the NYC Marathon in November.
Well, that didn’t happen. Despite my pleasant long runs leading up to the race, plenty of yoga, and a strong start, by mile 6, discomfort in the side of my right knee was hard to ignore.
I pulled over to the sidewalk and started stretching and then walking. Resuming a jog, I wasn’t getting any better. So only halfway in, I asked myself, “What will it take to finish?” Self said, “Walking the rest of the way.” Self replied, “Then you have to walk.” (I’m very conversational with myself.)
If you’re not into running, the fact that this would dishearten me so much would seem silly, and I could see why–I should be thankful instead for so great many things, and I am. But if you’re a runner, you get it. It’s not good enough if it’s not your goal. You know how hard it is to watch everyone pass you, when you know you’re usually capable of keeping up, or how frustrating it is when well-meaning strangers cheer “you’re doing amazing!” when you are not. All the training miles you logged, and all you paid in registration fees so you could run with the pack on race day, feel like they were stolen from you.
So the next question I asked myself was, “What are you going to learn today so that all of that was worth every minute and every penny?” (more…)