Highlights from the Women in Technology Regatta in Amsterdam

Last week, I had the privilege of moderating and speaking on a few panels for the Women in Technology conference in Amsterdam. Friday's panel on "Allyship" was really good, moderated by Nathalie Hennequin with my new wonder friends Apoorva Mathur, Heidi Hasz, and Charles Cassar.

What does it mean to be a good ally? Does everyone know what an ally is? Is it a transactional relationship? Is it a lifelong commitment? Are we all entitled to them?

My main takeaway from this conversation is that we have different definitions. I believe that in order to attract the right allies, one must be an ally. Having a sense of entitlement to "the unquestioning support of another" is delusional - especially when there is nothing else holding that relationship in place. I made the point that an ally is NOT your ride or die. Some of the greatest allies I have had in my career, have been the ones who did not take any of my BS and respectfully held me accountable. They grew me and were committed to my growth. We also discussed the difference of personal allyship and how a company can be a better ally to its employees. Main conversational takeaway there - if you are not going to support them, why are you hiring them? Are you having conversations about allyship? Have you had them in your career? Are you an ally?

The panel I moderated was on "Strategic Storytelling". And my oh my - what a conversation. 
Main takeaways there:
1. Marketers who use storytelling are finding it backfire on them if the story does not come from an authentic place. Younger generations have a much improved BS meter. 
2. Storytelling as a way to market yourself is a great thing, as long as you are willing to be honest and vulnerable. 
3. Most people don't even realize what their story is.

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Book of the Month - Finding Your Way in A Brave New World by Martha Beck

This book, recommended to me by my coach, is such a brilliant display of finding your way in this time of ascension. To adapt to a new way of thinking. To open the doors to your heart and find your way home - to yourself and your own heart. To blaze new trails and re-define yourself. To creating new lanes. To exploring the depths of your soul. To learning the ways of magic. This book was everything to me and still is. I highly recommend it to learn how to drop into wordlessness and oneness. It helped me understand myself in a different way than I had before and I know it could help you too.

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Sadhguru - Mad Respect

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I have more to say about this topic of Spirituality being for rich people later. For now, let me honor Sadhguru. His book Inner Engineering is such a beautiful work of common sense that explores his life and his relationship to it.

There is so much to be learned and done and he is a great wayfinder.

The Women in Tech Regatta is coming to Amsterdam!

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I’ll be speaking at this event! Join me October 29th – November 2nd in the Zuidas district of Amsterdam!

The Regatta is a curated collection of events, workshops and conversations designed to connect women in tech to mentors, peers, resources and to the power of community that help drive careers forward.

 

There will be panel discussions followed by breakouts and additional workshops to provide a more intimate experience with leaders across the industry; including CEOs, female founders, engineers and more. Their mission is to have no one leave without making at least 1 lasting connection! At the end of the week, there’s a closing party celebration where you can reconnect with all the people you met throughout the week and take advantage of pop-up events including; one-on-one LinkedIn reviews, headshots, candlelight meditation, interactive VR and more!

 

Use code: ‘regattaspeakerfriend’ for 35% off!

http://womenintechregatta.com/amsterdam/


My Thoughts after Sitting in the Presence of the Dalai Lama

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I had the distinct privilege to sit in the energetic presence of the Dalai Lama yesterday in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and it triggered a line of thought on suffering, empathy and compassion that I wish to share here. They were a-ha moments for me and maybe they will inspire expanded thought in you too. The chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet Richard Gere and His Holiness the Dalai Lama began the session with a conversation and his public talk was about love and compassion. My biggest takeaway was about suffering and our relationship with it.

Suffering, in truth, is felt by all and it is through our suffering that we live. We find peace on the other side of suffering. And we must realize that THAT is where our power lies. We must be willing to traverse the hard stuff in order to access that strength. It is the strength of Gods. It is the source for our selves. The emotional, mental, physical and spiritual selves. And it connects us to each other. It is the thread that ties us together because it is palpable across all language. One does not have to hear a persons words to understand that the other person is in pain. You simply feel that that other person is suffering. You recognize yourself in that other person’s suffering and further recognize humanity.

Suffering can be conquered through the action of compassion, for compassion is an action. To feel compassion, one must be moved there through the empathy felt for another. When we empathize, we can access our center for compassion - the heart. When we access the heart, we connect with each other. Compassion can simply be the acknowledgement of another person’s suffering. And in that genuine acknowledgement, you are changed. Your view has been shifted. You can think of it as going up the stairs - you have gone up a level in the home of your being and are able to see more - just as the ability to see more from the top of a building the higher you go. This leads to an extension of empathy in other areas of life, and in turn for more people.

Emotions left unchecked can cause harm to the self. It is okay to sit with your emotions and you should feel your feelings but you should strive to not wear them as if they are your skin and cannot be transmuted. They are a signal. They are a compass. They are not your journey. Emotions are meant to be fleeting - to indicate where you need to be conscious and pay attention - where you must investigate and do a bit of excavation. And in this fact finding mission, you are looking for the root of the emotion. Once found, it can be removed from the system to cause no further harm. Remember, do no harm also applies to the self.

You can exit from suffering at any time. You do not have to use it as a currency to receive love. That is not necessary, for love is all around you if you would only be open to it.

Book of the Month - The Red Pyramid

Rick Riordan! Sir, just take my heart, my wallet and my time.  The story you wove together in Percy Jackson was epic enough.  Then, I find out you tackled EGYPT and in such an accurate fashion.  Sir!  I salute you.  

The first in a series of 3 and 1 supplemental text, The Red Pyramid (Audible version, narrated by  Kevin R. FreeKatherine Kellgren) captured my attention quickly and has refused to give my idle thoughts back to me.  I mean I am seriously enthralled.  Katherine Kellgren is MASTERFUL, you hear me.  Her chapters make my heart pump twice over.  

I could care less that it's marketed as a children's book.  So was HP and look where we are.

Here's the low down on the content:

Publisher's Summary

Since his mother’s death six years ago, Carter Kane has been living out of a suitcase, traveling the globe with his father, the brilliant Egyptologist Dr. Julius Kane. But while Carter’s been homeschooled, his younger sister, Sadie, has been living with their grandparents in London. Sadie has just what Carter wants — school friends and a chance at a “normal” life. But Carter has just what Sadie longs for — time with their father. After six years of living apart, the siblings have almost nothing in common. Until now.

On Christmas Eve, Sadie and Carter are reunited when their father brings them to the British Museum, with a promise that he’s going to “make things right.” But all does not go according to plan: Carter and Sadie watch as Julius summons a mysterious figure, who quickly banishes their father and causes a fiery explosion.

Soon Carter and Sadie discover that the gods of Ancient Egypt are waking, and the worst of them — Set — has a frightening scheme. To save their father, they must embark on a dangerous journey — a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and its links to the House of Life, a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

Spirituality and the Spirit of Manipulation

Manipulation in spirituality is not new.  It is as old as the New Testament.  And it does not feel good.  It does not feel good to be manipulated. To feel as if my soul is missing out on its spiritual mission and savior if I don't respond to THAT email, if I don't sign up for THAT class with THAT teacher - who by the way isn't that qualified to teach - I will be lost, that I will not be smart.  That I will somehow be not enough or whole.  Really??? You are intentionally wishing for me to feel bad so that I can make you feel good - with money. 

I find this to be a disgusting practice.  It creates panic and fear in people unnecessarily, in people who can be more vulnerable to this manipulation.  When one goes through some sort of spiritual crisis and ends up in a dark night, that person needs help - honest, real help.  Not for more fear to be created and lodged into their system.  

I am not participating in it any longer.  I will not react to your manipulatively written emails.  I will not respond to your fake prompts.  I will not raise my blood pressure for your imaginary time application.  I will not stress myself into your fake pressures and I hope others will unplug from it too.  If you read something that makes you feel lack in yourself, that makes you feel inadequate or like you are not enough as you are, if an advertisement makes you feel bad about yourself in any way, turn it off and know that there is nothing wrong with you.  

Not all teachers teach and not all spirituality is based in Spirit.  Wake up to the fear and control mechanisms and take your power back. 

 

Today.  

I am amazed at how much difference a day makes.  I feel renewed. I feel like there is possibility.  I feel like there is so much available to me. I feel like there is a shift whereas I am making/co-creating my life instead of life just happening to me.

And then I called KLM and want to burn down this capitalist system of oppression.  

It comes and goes.  Be kind to yourselves.

Potato, Patato.

 

To The Black Woman

I am an American woman.  Of African descent.  Of the diaspora.  I am proud of my melanin.  I am proud of where I came from and proud of who I am.  It took a long time to be able to say that.  A. Long. Time. 

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It took a long time to understand who I am and I did it in spite of what I was given.  A lot of opportunities, I found on my own through hustling through research and being willing to talk.  My path has not been given to me and quite a bit of the encouragement has been my own.  I have been my own cheerleader.  I have been my own friend.  I have been my own lover.  I have had to do a lot alone and I am comfortable in that space now.  It has become my default space to be in because there was nothing else.  I understand that it was necessary for my path to experience life in that way to help others in the highest way possible.

However, I know that my experience is not unique.

As black women, we have done a lot for ourselves but the pain is so great.  And healing can look crazy sometimes, especially to people who "have it all together" (this is in quotes because there is no such person).  When you are not afforded the grace to move through your pain, it tends to (will) compile it.  It gets bigger and bigger until you can't hide it anymore.  Your triggers are more easily reached.  Your pain is worn on your sleeve.  You begin to not care for yourself in basic ways because your are IN trauma.  Actively.  IN TRAUMA.  There is no time to get to PTSD because it doesn't stop.  It is all re-occuring.  Whether you are on the front lines of it or reading the story of the trauma experienced by a fellow black woman - you feel it.  At least I do.  

And the latest story of Chikesia Clemons.  My heart aches. Literally.  It aches. That could have been me and my best friend at age 25, at the Waffle House. Throat chakra open.  

Her only weapon was her mouth and that got her thrown on the floor and sexually assaulted.  My weapon is my gift of oration.  How am I different than Chikesia?  I'm not.  Would my fancy degree have saved me? No. Would my job title? No. Anything? No. 

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The fact that the actions of the officer were deemed justified was the green mucus that came after the proverbial spit in the face. 

With that said, #1 - FUCK YOUR WAFFLE.  

#2 - Sister, make the care of yourself, your priority. This is a "put your own oxygen mask on first" time. We need you healthy and strong for this is a marathon and not a sprint. We have our children's children to think of. This shit ends now, the ripples take time to reach every vibration.

And #3 - Forgive your sisterhood. Is whatever you are beefing about really that deep? If so, carry on. If not, squash it and move on. You don't need your energy taken by stupid shit. Focus it. We have each other to lean on when the chips are down. Create a sisterhood circle and commit to helping each other. Be your sister and not your sister's keeper. Heal first. I love you.

 

The Ceiling

Today is International Women's Day.  I was sent this article and had seen it in my social media feeds.

After reading it, which I highly recommend:

http://fortune.com/2017/09/27/black-female-ceos-fortune-500-companies/

I have to admit the closeness to my front door of this article.

I see it in the eyes. Each time. There is an assumption of who I am, how I will speak, how I will be - and I am approached with that assumption.

Then when there is genuine interaction - there is a dawning in the eyes. Sometimes subtle, sometimes overt. It's a realization that they didn't have all the facts. "Wait, she's different. But I don't know how to deal with different, so I won't deal with her at all. Or, hmmmm, I can use her. 
She knows a lot more than I thought. She speaks well."

In my current service, I am the only black female in leadership, on the leadership team and a part of managing the operations of the institution. It has been a masterclass for me in managing my emotions, maintaining my self worth without validation or approval and without seeking those things in a way that would further damage who I am and know myself to be. I have learned a great deal in these 20 years of employment. And ultimately, I am grateful. It has helped me make more sense of my life, of people and of the game we are all playing together - whether we like it, know it or not. 

What's your experience? Can you relate?  

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Karen Clark - I love you.

Growing up in the Jehovah's Witnesses, gospel music was not allowed. Highly frowned upon. Any secular music really. Depending on the congregation you came from, some were more strict than others. Of course, I listened in secret when I got older. Music speaks to me. I see colors in the notes. I feel the underscore. I hear entire arrangements when I close my eyes to go to sleep to this day. I felt powerful singing along to Karen Clark especially, who I only learned of from a friend I went to college with. (Sorry I stole your CD T!)

When I sing along to Holy, Thou Art Holy - I weep every single time.  Every single time. I cannot explain what happens to me.  It hits a chord DEEEEEP within me.  So thank you Karen. I love you. 

I do not consider myself a religious person. Religion corrupts the hearts of good people under the guise of making them believe they are better, smarter, more favored than others and do so by mechanisms of control that kill a person's Spirit. The very thing they are meant to protect. I do consider myself a person who leads with love, is not afraid to look at her own shadow and believes in the greatness of our collective good together.

 

All Will Be Ok

The women are rising and the children are awake.  There will be rough seas ahead, but all will be well.  I know this.  I feel it in my bones and deep within my Spirit. 

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With each generation, the world's children have been born brighter, more alert and with more inner knowing. They see very clearly what needs to be done and do not carry the baggage that older generations do, where compliance with the herd was required. It is no longer required, simply put and they know it. The women of the world are rising day by day.  Their inner intuition activating on a primal level.  More and more are recognizing their "sisters" across the rooms and standing with them, speaking for them and holding space for them.  This revolution will NOT be televised.  Did we forget what Gil said?  Let's have another listen.

The children know. Let's try to listen to them more. 

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The women know. Support them as they wake.  As they realize who they really are and take their rightful place in society.  It may look completely crazy for a while - remember this is the reckoning. The full rising will be so glorious, special and on divine time. Do what you can each day to support each other. Hug. Smile. Love. Eat. Dance. Play. Feed. 

You've got this. All of you. 

“What we know matters but who we are matters more.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Book of the Month - The Girl Who Drank the Moon

I LOVE BOOKS. Always have, always will.  

I also love a great narrator - so audiobooks are my jam too.  It can not replace the smell of paper and the action of turning pages but a great narrator can take a story to the next level. See previous post mentioning the audio performance of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

 The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill was a fantastic read.  A beautifully woven story with quite a bit of depth.  Christina Moore's narration was lovely as well. I quite appreciated the overall experience of this production.  It's ultimately a story of magic, motherhood, letting go and suffering.

Thank you Audible.com for making audiobooks so accessible.  My library was slippin' selection wise. 

What are you reading this month?

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The Art of Discernment

I am learning this very fine art.  Discernment. Knowing what deserves my time, energy and effort and what does not.  Previously, I had no idea idea how I was spending it all and was constantly exhausted and overwhelmed.  

With this realization, I have been setting clearer and cleaner boundaries and am much happier because I haven't been frazzled. This, however at times has lead to conflicts, where some have a problem with this newfound esteem of sorts.  Pietersite helps with this for me with increased will and energy.  The enabler has left the building. 

The more I connect with myself, the more I understand myself.  The more I understand myself the clearer I am with where I would like to be.  And ultimately, what does not serve that end, had to and must go. 

Are you discerning?  What do you spend your time on?  Are clear with your boundaries?

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