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…)
On Friday night, I attended the DVF Awards at the United Nations, marking one year exactly since friends, family, and She’s the First supporters rallied the votes for me to win the People’s Voice Award, a $50,000 grant from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation. We’ve grown tremendously in the last year. Diane even blogged about it on The Huffington Post!
I wanted to share three personal details from the DVF Awards with you, because in them I see the unstoppable power of She’s the First.
When you look at these photos, you might think those three are: Alicia, Diane, Gloria (!!!) Being up close with such legendary women and telling them about She’s the First again was absolutely remarkable. But let’s go even deeper than that.
In the photo below, you see 13 people who look pretty happy to be around each other, like they’re old friends. In truth, they only met that night, all willing to be part of a social experiment: A Jeffersonian Dinner.
Is there a new group of stakeholders that you’re trying to bring your message to, but you aren’t sure how? Are you trying to open new streams of funding, but find that it’s hard to initiate those relationships via cold emailing? If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are you said YES to both these questions. I would bet a Jeffersonian Dinner is a solution that can help you.
What is it?
A Jeffersonian Dinner is a dinner party with a twist, based on a historic tradition of Thomas Jefferson, who would invite fascinating individuals to his home to stimulate important conversation. He knew the intimate setting could spark these engaged citizens to collaborate with one another. Jeffersonian Dinners have been revitalized lately by philanthropist Jeffrey Walker, who wrote one of my favorite books on fundraising (The Generosity Network, co-authored with Jennifer McCrea) and gave a TED Talk on the subject. (I’ll embed it at the bottom)
How do I host one?
When I signed up for the authors’ newsletter on thegenerositynetwork.com, I received a guide to hosting a Jeffersonian Dinner by email. Go ahead, do it right now.
Ok, are you back? These were my obstacles: (1) Where do I find an elegant but affordable private room to host this dinner, and (2) how can I reach a crowd, older than I am, looking to invest in girls’ education but unsure exactly how to do it? I knew I had a great relationship-building idea in my hands, but clearly I couldn’t do this alone–I needed a co-host to get She’s the First in front of game-changers.
How our Jeffersonian Dinner came to be:
I am a huge advocate for bringing your social media connections to life offline. So I turned to a new LinkedIn contact of mine, Peter McCrea, who works at the American Endowment Foundation. I forwarded him my guide on Jeffersonian Dinners and asked if he’d help bring the right people to the table to talk about the power of education.
Peter said yes! This idea was aligned with his goals to build community around transformational giving. He knew the perfect restaurant to host, Fiorini, and generously covered the down payment for us. He even used his industry cred to email Jeff Walker and tell him we planned to answer his call to action, and he invited him to our dinner. While Jeff couldn’t attend, he recommended a non-profit leader in NYC very aligned with She’s the First — Kara Nicholas of Connect To Learn, whom I hadn’t known. Another connection was born.
Read on to see how this all unfolded:
When I was a kid, my mom would remind me, “Did you write Aunt Marion a thank you note yet?” Aunt Marion was my great aunt who lived in Maine. She sent my sister and I cards for our birthdays each year with $5 tucked inside. Even though it was the smallest birthday gift I received, my parents taught me to acknowledge it in the same way I did the bigger gifts.
Whether they intended to or not, my parents and Aunt Marion taught me what I believe is one of the greatest secrets to success:
Recognize small supportive gestures as much as you do the great ones.
One of my mentors, Susan McPherson, sent me a tweet that reminded me of how this factors into my fundraising career now:
To think of it another way: When you get a job interview, let’s assume you know well enough to write your interviewer a thank you note after. Did you also write a note to the person who got your foot in the door? If you’re fundraising and you score a new sponsorship, did you send a note to, or call, the person who was the catalyst for it all? (more…)
The editors at Fast Company invited me to be part of their Most Creative People in Business 1000, which just launched online and is inside this month’s issue. I’m pumped! Here’s why:
The “MCP 1000,” as they call it, gives me the tremendous opportunity to channel our messages and insights straight up to the magazine editors. I’ll also be crowdsourced for trend and news pieces, a chance to show how young leaders are advancing girls’ access to education every day.
What I love most about the MCP 1000 is our common belief that change happens through community. That’s why Fast Company didn’t just publish a list of leaders they think are creative–they are also creating events to bring us together. (more…)
You may have heard the expression: You have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak. I used to live by this.
As a shy student reporter from 2001-2007, I felt I had no story of my own worth sharing so all I did was ask others to tell me theirs. I listened all the time. I was co-editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper and went on to major in journalism at college. There is a cabinet stuffed with my clips at the Tibbetts home in NJ.
A few years later, once She’s the First was born, the tables turned and people started asking me about my story. I talked all the time. That wasn’t a bad thing: I was able to attract a lot of people to She’s the First. I love teaching others how to get involved.
Now, as I look to plug She’s the First into new networks and industries that are unfamiliar to me, I find myself craving so much insider knowledge. Questions swirling through my head include: Who should I be talking to? How do I effectively pitch them? How does philanthropy fit into the company culture?
Then, after speaking with a couple key advisors, it clicked. While those are smart questions to have in mind, might it be questions of the heart that matter more? (more…)
Months before she (or he) sits down in your office to tell you she’s moving on, to go to grad school or work for a non-profit or start-up, she tells me her job just isn’t fulfilling enough. Her time spent volunteering is what challenges and fulfills her more than anything. She looks to me for advice on how to transition her career into a cause. And while that is what I did unexpectedly (I really did love my previous corporate job, too), it’s not always my immediate recommendation to others.
First, I try to challenge her to think whether she can do anything to leverage where she is right now, at her company, for impact. In contributing to the profitability of her employer, how could she influence the company to give back more effectively?
I similarly want to challenge you: Are you providing your employees–especially your Millennial talent–with enough outlets to develop new skills and make a meaningful difference on the world?
Think about it…because I have an idea for you.
This blog is a personal project that I decided to tackle this year. The more I’m learning, the more I’m wanting to share insights, look at what succeeds and fails, and pull out the lessons you and I can both apply to our growth. (more…)