“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…)
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 1Z0-599 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…)