The Sexiness Syndrome: Redefining Innovation

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Sitting around a table at WIL (Women’s Initiative in Leadership) on Friday, I got to talking with some incredible undergraduate women about social innovation and impact here– and abroad. Our guest for the day was Ginny Hunt, an incredible female leader in her own right working on civic innovation over at Google. Not too long into our conversation, we landed on an interesting topic: Innovation.

Innovation is an interesting thing. China wants more of it. America wants to keep it. And just about everybody else wants to know how exactly you create it. Is it the engine of economic productivity? Is it the savior of democracy? Can you create a Silicon Valley just about anywhere? I’m not quite sure.

But tangential– and yet still incredibly important– to this conversation is a larger one. You see there’s an interesting gap between innovation and resources that I know Ishani and I have run up against time and time again. On Friday during this very conversation, I thought one of my peers addressed it really well.

You see, it’s really sexy to invent glasses that let you compute things and computers the size of your hand and wireless headphones that cancel out the noise. Cool gadgets, great market, definite profit. But as Harriet from Kenya put it– they try and put new computers and new iPads in schools where really all the students need is lamps. So that they can read.

It’s an interesting dilemma. Angel investors, start-up founders, people like you and me are all looking for those high-impact, highly innovative solutions to sometimes really simple problems. Problems that could be fixed with a lamp. Or a bottle of water. Or a vegetable crate. It’s not always the case but sometimes–and I’d endeavor, more often than we think– the solutions to big problems have already been created. A vegetable crate could save 30% of vegetables in Sri Lanka. A $2 solution and you drive down food prices, cut down on food wastage, and feed more people.

But tell me, what angel investor will tell you they invested in crates? Or proudly furnish their portfolio with an investment that in reality could probably service more people in the long term than a fancy mobile app or “e-service” meant to introduce new technologies and new devices to a society and context that doesn’t know or trust such interventions. My point is, innovation is not just a fancy new gadget. Sometimes its taking something that already really works very well in one place and implanting it in another. Sometimes problem solving requires understanding a context really well while you’re in it– not from a thousand miles away. And sometimes, investors and ‘changemakers’ need to think more realistically, sustainably, and innovatively about how we solve problems in the way that they need to be solved– and not in the way that we want to solve them.

Bottom line: It doesn’t have to be sexy after all. It just has to work.

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Avoiding FOMO

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When we come to a new place, FOMO is the last thing that we expect to experience. After all, rather than a Fear OMissing Out, we expect to experience the exact opposite–shall we call it, the Fear OBeing Counted In (too much)? Now, I realize that this phrase isn’t going to be in Urban Dictionary anytime soon, but what I mean to say is that a new place means a host of new experiences–to the point that we are more likely to be overwhelmed  by a multiplicity of new emotions, feelings, and experiences than to be worried about not being involved enough, or gasp–missing out on one experience or another.

And yet, when I first came to Harvard, I became familiar with this term. First, when it was tossed around in casual conversations in the dhall or among roommates on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Somehow, FOMO existed–even if I wasn’t feeling it, there was sense that it had the power to seep into me at any moment and that therefore, it somehow would.

So, how can you evade FOMO? Community. Now, of course “community” is one of those buzz words and definitely the go-to answer for a lot of questions. How do we combat loneliness? How do we find more meaning in an activity that we really love or within a passion that we’ve cultivated? What is the alternate way to express the idea of a support system? Who are the people that surround us that make us who we are in ways implicit and explicit? 

But here, I provide community as an answer because if we do indeed feel FOMO, then the logical way to combat it is to find solace in the multiplicity of experiences that fill a room at the same time and in the same way that your community of people fills it.

In other words,

Live vicariously. Do it. It’s not scary or “cheating” or a second-hand way to have an experience, its a way to expand your experiences.

In the first few months after I arrived at Harvard, I began hearing “FOMO” as a term associated with the feeling of deprivation and sadness that one feels because that are just so many opportunities that college has to offer and participating in one automatically means leaving behind another. But as I’ve found in this incredibly dynamic, engaged, and diverse community, everyone has “missed out” on something and therefore no one has to really miss out on anything. When my roommate who has worked on organizing an event for many months–all the while typing furiously at her computer and holding meetings and conferences while I stood on the periphery–finally holds that event, I can attend. Or at least ask her about it afterward. I didn’t miss out; in fact, I’ve experienced her experience in a way that was already made richer simply by the fact that she related it to me. Our friendship grew stronger and I learned yet another thing about a precious member of my community.

I became acutely aware of this possibility to experience the experiences of others as I was siting in one of the private dining rooms in my undergraduate house this afternoon, convening a meeting with a group of fabulously talented, motivated, and inspirational young women who will serve as the first class of Women’s Leadership Ambassadors at an inaugural women’s mentorship event that I am directing next Friday. We will bring together a community of upperclassmen with freshmen and sophomores to share their experiences and experience mentorship in a way that most of us don’t on this campus. We often look to that professional, that relative, that teacher who is 25 years older in experience and age because we assume that surely they must know something that we don’t. But we all know something that others who are our age don’t. While we are here–still undergraduates–we have learned things that we can pass on even if we are a just a year or two older than our mentees. Mentorship doesn’t have to be a protracted experience in the sense that decades must separate those who are seeking and delivering guidance, because truly I think mentorship ought to be a partnership and the relationship is as much about reciprocity as it is about paying it forward.

The Next Step is an event that seeks to connect female undergraduates from different class years, extracurricular groups, and academic concentrations in one room to not only look forward and reflect back, but also to develop a new understanding of the concept of “mentorship”–which can seem so amorphous to many–and ground it in a firmer understanding of how the group  and one-on-one mentorship models can be blended into something is truly  tangible. Everyone has something to learn and something that they can teach. You were there once and now she is.

When we don’t feel FOMO, we can appreciate just how valuable our community is–not only for the physical people who fill the room but also for their experiences, which are so much a part of who they are and can be a part of who you become.

If I had any piece of advice in my ripe old 19 years, it would be to be open to that sharing of experiences and the opportunity to live vicariously through someone else. You can’t experience it all, so why not share with the hundreds of people around you who do?

Lessons from Matt

The more time I spend at Harvard, the more I believe that conversation is one of the most incredible things in this world that also happens to be absolutely free.

Granted, I realize that the nature of this institution has granted me more opportunities than I have ever been so lucky to have previously to come across former Presidents, world-renowned scientists, and professionals in all areas of academic, cultural, political, and professional life.

The latest of whom is Matt Damon.

Matt Damon was honored yesterday afternoon with the 20th Harvard Arts Medal by Harvard President Drew Faust at an event that was moderated by actor John Lithgow in Sanders Theatre.

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I’ve seen the beautifully worn stage of Sanders many times before, and yesterday was no aberration from that description. It was aglow beneath the stage lights, though this time adorned with a rich, red rug and two chairs poised for the men who would soon occupy them to discuss the life and career of the 2013 Harvard Arts Medal winner.

He was nonchalant and personable as he approached his chair–but of course, Damon is an actor, and one would expect no less from a great entertainer.

He regaled us with stories about his childhood, like that time his house was about to catch on fire and his response to his mom’s cries for “water!” was to put on his fireman costume at age 5 or 6 and put the great powers of his plastic fire hose to use.

“It’s also a story about how useful actors are in emergencies,” Damon added.

That one got plenty of laughs.

He told us about the time he was in a play in his junior year of high school–that was also the first time he acted with Ben Affleck, who was a freshman at Cambridge Rindge and Latin at the time. “We were both about 4’11”…and he played my son,” Damon added with a chuckle.

Perhaps one of the most endearing aspects of Matt Damon in the eyes of the hundreds odd students, professors, and community members in the room was that this great actor, this world-renowned presence, was and always would be a Cambridge, MA native and a “Harvard man.” Even though Damon, at the ripe age of 42, was here at this university many years before myself and my peers, I know we all still felt an undeniable sense of commonality with him as he talked about walking around Matthews, his freshman dorm in the Yard, and then about living in Lowell House as an upperclassman.

John Lithgow was equally personable and had that iconic ‘talk show host’ demeanor. A famed actor himself, he was the perfect complement to Damon as they sat and shared lessons with the audience.

For many of us students–who are usually typecast as people in the “I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life” stage of development–Damon is a poignant example of  how it can  be beneficial to have foresight with one’s career goals. He shared with us that he had known what he wanted to do with his life since the the age of 13.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an actor.” Four years later, that was the first line of his application essay to Harvard.

After matriculating at the College, he became an English major and though (like so many other famous Harvard alums) he did not graduate, he was not shy about emphasizing the impact that this university had on his life.

“Tell us about your Harvard education,” said Lithgow midway through the conversation.

“Well…it went on a for a while.” (more laughs after that one). After all, Damon took time off multiple times in order to pursue auditions and professional acting opportunities.

From his younger days, with his mother being a teacher herself, Damon said he was influenced and incredibly blessed with teachers who pushed and encouraged him. At Harvard he enrolled in a screen writing class where he wrote the first act for Good Will Hunting. It wasn’t the assignment that the teacher had given him, Damon told the audience–and so he was sure he had failed–but instead of giving him a bad grade, his teacher encouraged him to pursue the script further because he felt that he had a good thing going. Indeed, he was right.

Ultimately, Matt Damon shared a bout of advice, not just in reflection of his successes, but also his failures and how he dealt with them.

He told us that his wife is his bedrock in many ways. She is the one who helps him put his professional failures into perspective and remember what is most important–his 4 daughters help him with that too :)

He told us about the time he was a freshman at Harvard and was sure he had gotten a golden opportunity to meet the head of Touchstone Pictures. He subsequently told everyone in the freshman class about the meeting. “I knew something was wrong when…” That statement, as you can imagine, was the beginning of Matt Damon’s tale of epic disappointment and embarrassment in which he did not, in fact, get the meeting that he was hoping for or the acting deal that he thought would come with it. He then had to come back to Harvard and answer plenty of questions from eager classmates. Moral of the story: never underestimate the power of humility.

For me, one of the most relatable pieces of advice–especially for those of us who are not aspiring actors–was the anecdote he related about actors who are unhappy with their jobs and no longer find excitement in getting ready to act in that next movie. “It’s an insecure profession,” Damon explained. People start making decisions and choosing roles after they get a little bit of positive feedback because they feel pressure to keep pleasing people. But then the consequence is that the job is no longer  exciting and these actors lose interest in what they were doing in the first place. Lesson: don’t ever let the audience  dictate what role you’re going to play. That certainly is a lesson that extends beyond the silver screen.

The ceremony honoring Matt Damon was one of the first events of the 21st annual Arts First Celebration at Harvard. It is one of my favorite times of year  not only because the weather is just beginning to become beautiful again, but also because there is excitement and surprise literally hanging from trees in the yard and magnificent displays of visual art, drama, dance,  film, and every other type of art one could possibly imagine filling every nook and cranny on campus. Tents have been erected with beautiful curtains and promises of lively music, lights, and of course (free food!) to come in the days and hours that  make up the Arts First Celebration.

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When John Lithgow first began introducing Matt Damon at the Harvard Arts Medal Award Presentation, he said something that really struck me.

“They called it the Year of the Impossible Dream,” said Lithgow.

He was talking about ’67, the year that he  graduated from Harvard College and also the year when the Boston Red Sox won the pennant for the first time in decades. Reflecting on the year he left Harvard, Lithgow was implicitly telling us about all the dreams that were born at this university and how they grew into something that really did seem impossible in the many years that would come after.

Even though I have no personal connection to the year 1967, the memory Lithgow shared touched me. If I had a wish each new year, it would be that the 365 days that followed would be a new “year of the impossible dream.” Because once you make one dream possible, you ought to have a next one to reach for.

But then again, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, I plan to revel in the beautiful spring of this spring semester and the celebration of the Arts that is literally dancing, singing, and drawing all around us.

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Happy Friday!

Surreality.

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2 days later and its still surreal. Pulling up the daily news and reading alerts that there were bombs in Boston, my mind front wheels through the motions of two days ago. Wait, Boston… that’s where I live. 

I was sitting in government class right around 2:30 PM and the professor was winding down into his conclusion. He was saying something about the implications of the Democratic Peace Theory on American foreign policy in China. It’s actually pretty incredible that I remember that. He was a good lecturer.

My friend nudged me. “There were bombs at the Boston Marathon.” Two seats over one of my classmates had the live camera feed up on his TV. And all I could think was please god, no.

2 days later and I’m thankful. The injuries, the deaths, the lines and tweets that stick out in my mind are too gruesome too recount. But there are moments of real strength in this story. Of how a community came together, of how the first question everyone asked was “How are you?”  and how that question– usually passed over with a shrug and hardly a glance– was asked for once in earnest.

Swiping into the dhall, the guy behind me shouted to the staffer on duty: “Hey Mike, you ok? Your family, everyone–ok?” His words brought a smile to my face.

In crisis mode, I have friends who got out, who left the scene quickly. They were so brave. Calm. Collected. They knew what they had to do.

I have friends who were a block away from the explosion. Rattled and shaken up, they came home and in the dhall sat on their facebook and phones waiting to hear from all of their friends.

Together, in those moments, we became a community.

———————

Sometimes I think community at Harvard is a vague and nebulous thing. It’s not always readily perceived or felt. But on Monday, you couldn’t deny it. You could see it in our school newspaper’s coverage. How they weren’t just covering the news but actively checking to make sure that everyone was ok. And when we found out that it wasn’t– that one of the three killed had been one of our own and was the sister of a staffer in one of our own residential houses– people rallied.  Her story was written.

And just like that words have become a vehicle of sorts for this community that often becomes a whirlwind of busyness wrapped up in academic endeavors and extracurriculars. Words, hugs, honest how are YOU’s have reverberated around me as I’ve watched the news. They’ve been the stuff of a horrible Monday and its aftermath. They’re the things that the news can’t quite capture for you.

The fact that… Boston… We’re ok. 

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Words of Wisdom from CNN’s John King

“It’s John. Mr. King was my dad… or maybe Larry King, so whenever people call me that it makes me feel way older than I am.” Laughter filled the Adams House common room in response to that one.

John King is CNN’s chief national correspondent and an award-winning journalist whose career spans more than three decades. In his work for CNN and The Associated Press, King has reported from all 50 states and from more than 70 international locations. He is also currently a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics. (Source: http://www.iop.harvard.edu/john-king)

John had a casual atmosphere, a charming wit, and a sense of humor peppered with the swear words that he used without inhibition throughout the hour and half that he spent with students.

“If it’s bullshit, then call it bullshit. Just be able to prove your case.” That was John’s caveat to his advice to aspiring journalists that they should always be unbiased, because ultimately personal credibility is the most valuable thing in this business, as he put it.

The small gathering over Otto’s pizza was truly a conversation, which was made to come alive by the smattering of stories, witticisms, and advice that John threw in for good measure.

I’ve broken my summary of the dinner discussion into three rough categories in the hopes that it will allow you to glean the information that will be most helpful to you.

Appreciation

  • “There was a time when I was living on food stamps and I had never left New England. Now I’ve been to over 80 countries in the world,” said John. That was a moment when you felt inspired individually even though you knew that every single person in the room felt the same way. Sometimes we experience things personally, but being able to see, learn, and be a part of the larger world around us was what John expressed appreciation for the most, and it was clearly evident in this one detail from his life.
  • As 1 of 7 children, John is thankful for his family, a value that many of us can certainly share
  • “I feel like the luckiest man in the world–I get paid to learn, travel, and hear people’s stories.”

The Job

  • “It’s not my job to advocate. I try to be an objective journalist.” (but if something is bullshit, call it bullshit–ex. the Birther movement)
  • They use to say that we should cover both sides of the story–but there can be 8, 10, 12 sides of any story
  • He shared how he learned (and saw) the sheer power of water for his own eyes. While covering the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia, he said he was absolutely astounded by the devastation around him. People would show him a map and point to where a town had once been, and then it was just gone. He was in Banda Aceh, Indonesia at the time.
  • John started out as a print writer and worked for the Associated Press. He used to think that the TV news reporters were mostly just figureheads, reading the words that people like him had written while in front of a camera. But when he transitioned to TV news, he realized just how hard it is. “Yes, there are people that fake it, but there are good reporters out there, a lot of them.”
  • On TV reporting–for most people watching TV, it’s actually a radio. It’s on, but they’re only listening; they’re also making breakfast or talking to their friend or trying to clean the house. But I need people to watch, the pictures help me tell the story. Unlike with a newspaper that people can hold in their hands and flip pages back and forth until they’ve understood the story, the TV news reporter only has one chance to “get” the viewer. You can’t go back in time.
  • While standing on a TV set, there are times when you have people from the control room speaking in your ear, John told us. And when you’re on camera, sometimes they say things that are clearly meant only for people in the control room…long story short, it’s a chaotic business, so be ready!

Advice

  • If you’ve got that degree or great reputation, it may get you to the head of a line somewhere. But then, what you want to do is get out there, take a risk, and go learn something
  • If you want to be a journalist, go to a small market–cover the hurricanes, the fires, the junk and make a name for yourself
  • I’ve traveled with Presidents before, but it’s tiring because everyone’s eyes are always on him. “Now, if you really want a break, travel with the Vice President. Then you really get to have fun .” John had a twinkle in his eye but I know he was completely serious when he said it.
  • Think Fast: the first time I was in the White House, I was promised a two month training. I was on TV my second day. Learn how to learn quickly.
  • Wear white shirts until you learn not to sweat in front of the camera. After that you can switch to blue.
  • You will fail. I’ve had my show cancelled before…but you’ve got to learn from those experiences and move on.
  • RESPECT
  • I write stories everyday and I go back the next day because I want to do it better. Never be too confident to be willing to learn something.
  • In this business, your personal credibility is the most important thing you have
  • “I always say, you know a politician has the gift when you can feel his presence when your back is turned–that’s Nelson Mandela.” John preceded this with an incredible story about meeting Mandela before he formally accepted his election as President.
  • Be a duck. Let the water hit you and then let it roll off. Don’t let criticism get in the way of your having successes and making more mistakes that you can learn from.

Parting Words

“I’ve met people at the highest point of their life and at the lowest point, and they share their stories with me.”

It’s great to be first, but it’s better to be second than wrong.”

When you have success at something, people are going to put pressure on you to do it again. But if you need those 2-3 sources for your next story, then go and get them.” Don’t sell yourself short; don’t be overconfident.

And for all those aspiring journalists out there, John King has a movie suggestion: Broadcast News. “It’s before your time, but it’s a must-see.”

——–

If I had to sum it up, I would say John’s message was something like one of those motivational quotes you find on a fridge magnet, save the unbearable cliché.

“Get it,” he said.

You don’t need the family pedigree or the billion dollar fortune–I’m living proof of that, he said–but you do need the hands-on experience. So go get it.

The day I dropped my phone and learned how to bury my dreams

The 4th annual Women in the World Summit in the Lincoln Center Theater, NYC was the scene. It was an indiscriminate Friday morning, except for the tangible excitement and unfettered star power in the room that is :)

Reflecting on that day, I can’t believe now that something like dropping my iPhone four meters down into the pit beneath the stage could seem like such a blimp in time. My two-day experience at the Women in the World Summit succeeded not only in putting my “problems” into perspective, but also reminded me that no technological device (or anything else for that matter) can provide more human connection than can the ability to meaningfully inspire another individual (cheesy sounding, I know, but it’s true). Long story short, I was horrified in the moment, realizing that the chance that my phone had fallen to an abysmal in-a-million-pieces kind of death was pretty high, but as I sat in that theater and watched fearless leader after inspirational activist walk across the stage, I found myself beginning to wonder why I had worried about my phone in the first place.

One particular conversation stands out in my mind. Sitting there, feet away from Oprah and the woman she calls her hero–Dr. Tererai Trent–I certainly felt flashes of shock at times, but mostly I was feeling an unbelievable sense of commonality. As strange as that might sound, the celebrities, activists, CEOs, and women founders who had traversed the stage seemed to have so much in common with you or I, though we might seem initially to be worlds apart. And that was the beauty of it.

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Thoughts of a falling phone were quickly drifting far below the ground, and I felt awe rising up in its place. It was the feeling of superficial connection being replaced by the real thing–more tangible than an iPhone, more meaningful than a flash of understanding–this was learning, understanding, and feeling what burying one’s dreams feels like.

Why? Because Tererai did just that, and sitting there on that stage and talking with Oprah, she told us how.

Born into poverty in rural Zimbabwe, Tererai was one of many children in her family, but her mother knew from the day she was born that she would be different from her siblings. She believed that her young daughter would be the one to break their family’s cycle of poverty. Drawing on an old Zimbabwean tradition where a piece of the umbilical cord is cut and buried in the ground so that the child will always be called back home, Tererai’s mother told her to remember that her dreams would be more meaningful if they were connected to her community. And so, she advised her daughter to write down her dreams and bury them in the ground. And Tererai did.

I want to go to America and get a bachelor’s degree she wrote. And she did it.

She then came back to her home in Zimbabwe and returned to the same rock under which she had buried her first dream. She took out another piece of paper and wrote a second one down. I want to get my Master’s degree. And once more, she did it.

Then, she came back a third time to the rock where her dreams were buried and took out a third sheet of paper. I want to get my PhD she wrote. She slipped the paper into the ground, pushed the warm dirt around it and went back to America to make her dream come true.

Finally, the now Doctor Tererai Trent returned to her homeland and began work to build a school so that the children in her community could fulfill their dreams and gain an education, too.

Tererai had buried her dreams and then come home to set them free.

As the lights dimmed and Dr. Tererai and Oprah left the stage, I couldn’t help but think about what a beautiful message and even more beautiful story they had left us with: bury your dreams and never forget your home.

It is true that my phone feels vital to my day-to-day life, because of course it enables me to communicate in seconds and provides me with the kind of virtual connection that myriad digital platforms simultaneously attempt to create. But somehow, in managing to drop my phone into the depths of the Lincoln Center during the 2013 Women in the World Summit, I was forced to recognize the true purpose of this mass meeting of female leaders. Yes, it was meant to inspire people around the world, to solve world problems, and to motivate young leaders, but mostly, I realized that it was designed to remind us what real connection feels like. When I heard the story of a 9 year old Ugandan girl who went from being a primary school dropout to a national chess champion, I felt connected. When I heard the story of a young orphan girl with vitiligo who, after being adopted, was able to fulfill her dream of becoming a dancer, I felt connected.

Connections come from stories, something our ancestors realized millennia ago. After all, it is story telling which leads to understanding, empathy, and ultimately, reciprocation. We are truly connected to those around us when we experience this full cycle, and certainly no text message can achieve that.

I left the Women in the World Summit feeling rejuvenated and thankful for all that I have and all that I have the opportunity to be–both for me and the many other amazing individuals who I am surrounded by daily.

I couldn’t help but think though that throughout that day, silently buzzing and pinging meters below my feet, my phone couldn’t possibly have known just how little I missed it. :)

(to put fears to rest, I should say that luckily I am no longer iPhone-less, thanks to a kind young man who was able to retrieve it for me)

A few pictures from the Summit:

Girls Who _______

“Code.” That’s how Reshma Saujani  filled in the blank in 2012 when the former NYC deputy public advocate announced a new initiative to introduce girls to the power of the tech space and their potential within it.

Increasingly, the modern day women’s movement has gained momentum with a speed that is remarkable even for the lightning fast pace at which we live ensconced within our own technology-driven worlds. Perhaps in a few years, it will be equally probable that it is a woman who is developing the products and programs that make it so.

After all, the statistics are staggering. Visit the Girls Who Code website and you’ll learn that the number of computer science graduates from American institutions of higher education has decreased by 25% since 1984. Women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but hold only 25% of jobs in the technical and computing fields. 74% of girls express interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) while in middle school, but a paltry 0.3% of girls select computer science when high school comes around.

When Saujani saw firsthand the paucity of girls in technology classrooms in schools across the nation while she was on the campaign trail, she decided to work to close the gap. And that was the inception of an idea that has turned into a an initiative designed to educate, inspire, and motivate girls to pursue STEM fields. 

Recently launched in Spring 2012, Girls Who Code offers summer immersion programs in New York City, Detroit, MI, San Francisco, San Jose, and Davis, CA. Free of charge, the program provides intensive instruction in computer science, robotics, algorithms, web design and mobile development as well as exposure to leading women in the field and mentorship opportunities.

Launched with a veritable army of corporate sponsors, including Twitter, eBay, Intel, Goldman Sachs, AT&T and IAC, the Girls Who Code program will no doubt continue to grow in the future.

I chose to feature Saujani’s initiative in this post because, well, it is inspiring–she took initiative and turned idealism into impact (to borrow from friend and Harvard graduate Nina Vasan’s Do Good Well). By the same token, Saujani is in good company and joins a cohort of many other leaders who are joining the burgeoning “women’s movement” to empower women all around the world. From Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In to Frida Giannini’s Chime for Change, there is no shortage of initiatives in the ‘women’s empowerment space.’ I for one am heartened by the enthusiasm, idealism, and inspiration with which these initiatives were born and am eager to see what kind of impact will come of them in the years to come. It very well may be the case that our daughters live in a very different world than we do, even if that seems nearly impossible for us to imagine now. Because, after all, we already do live in the age of limitless possibility, don’t we? That means that it can only be up from here—it also means that we will have to take the initiative to fill in the blank ourselves.

And, one last thing, :)

Ladies, amidst all of the powerful rumblings of the women’s movement, let’s not forget the men that will always be a vital part of our home and work environments. Progress is not purely about women’s empowerment, but about empowerment that uplifts people of all genders so that productivity may always be considered the inseparable twin of togetherness.

Tomorrow, Inesha and I are off to the Women in the World Summit in NYC! (where, coincidentally, Reshma Saujani will be speaking) More updates soon!

xoxo

Ishani