ruckusmakers

project update #2: my e-book!

Back in April, I made a committment to publish an e-book by June 30th, which transpired from attending Seth Godin's Ruckusmaker Seminar.   As of this post, I'm on track to ship by my deadline as I feel this is a piece that will help inspire you, or at the very least, brighten your day.

The title is still a work in progress, but what is set in stone is the fact that I'll be sharing my own personal experiences and lessons learned on taking leaps, pursuing entrepreneurship and owning my identity, by tying it with people and things that inspire me on the daily (like CrossFit, J. Cole and #blacktwitter).

If this is something you'd be interested in reading and more importantly sharing, add your name below.

[contact-form-7 id="2051" title="Contact form 1"]

project update.

After Ruckusmakers, I had about 20 different ideas that following Monday. All of these ideas were related to fitness, to kids and specifically female middle school aged minorities in the Baltimore community. They were just grand ideas, with no business plan or concept on how this could generate money, or more importantly how this could impact change in the way that I’d like it to. 30 days later, my B.H.A.G. (big hairy audacious goal) hasn’t changed; however, what has was what I focused on immediately. After speaking and sharing my ideas to a few Ruckusmakers and very close friends of mine, one in particular mentioned for me to take a step back and focus on me for a second.

With all of my grand ideas, none of which focused on what would make an impact (monetary) immediately, and even if it didn’t, there was still something within me that has been blocking or preventing me from taking the bold steps to initiate said project.

So it started with a memoir or manifesto of sorts. After having a breakthrough (or breakdown) and feeling a bit emotionally overwhelmed one evening in front of my friend, the highlight of our conversation was when I was directed to write a 5-page manifesto of my life. This was my project. There needs to be an immense amount of time, focusing on myself and digging up any blocks or situations that happened in my life that would come to the surface to shed some light on why or what I’ve been hiding for so long.

So, I wrote and shipped this memoir one week later on April 2nd

From my initial post declaring what my project will be, I’ve declared that there’s no rush, and I can still incorporate my memoir to discover how to navigate to connect the dots to create this yoga movement/festival in Baltimore by August 2016.

Now, I’m focusing on creating and writing a set of e-books based on the common themes that kept coming up while writing this manifesto.

Fitness.

Commitments.

Identity.

My intention is to publish my first e-book on at least one of these themes by June 30th, 2015.

 

when was the last time you cried?

Three years ago I met one of the most fearless humans I know.  A friend of mine had a group of friends in town visiting Miami for the weekend, and we all decided to hang out together.  I instantly connected with one of them, and we started talking about each other's lives and sharing our stories. He was spinning off of a massive injury (broken rib cages) from a motorcycle accident (trying stunts mixed with going too fast), something that he was so proud to share, in addition to the time he got electrocuted while at work.  In my mind I kept thinking that this guy is absolutely insane!  It turns out he lives and breathes for this adrenaline rush.  He was intense and bold and not afraid of anything. I was completely at a loss for words on how this man is still alive today, but what attracted to me to him were our conversations and the fact that he was fearless. [Side note: That same weekend happened to be the weekend I met Ishita who's premise at the time was about getting over the fear of fear which I subtly wrote about here.]

He and I spent the weekend together just touring Miami and getting to know each other by way of me picking his brain and sharing with him my ambition for taking a leap/moving out of Florida/quitting my job. He stopped me in my tracks and asked me this question: when was the last time you cried? In that moment, I couldn't think of a time so I responded with something generic, "probably 3 years ago"as I literally could not pin point a moment or time. [In hindsight, this is an incredibly long time to shed tears considering now I feel I cry at least once a month :)].

The point he was getting across was that I hadn't done anything worth testing my limits or getting out my own box - things that compliment growth & expansion.  All the signs that weekend led me on this hunt to do things that scare me, that evoke an emotion that I've been hiding without even realizing it.

There was a moment where we were just sitting on my couch in silence, listening to Christian Scott's album and I remember the song that I kept on repeat long after this weekend passed was Litany Against Fear.

"I must not fear.Fear is the mind-killer.Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.I will face my fear.I will permit it to pass over me and through me.And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Frank Herbert, Dune

Three months later is when I resigned and moved away.

What I've found over the course of the years is that whenever I feel that I'm on the verge of flipping to the next chapter of my life, I cry. Not because I'm sad or afraid, but because I know that it's in these exact moments where I'm facing my fears....and it's okay.

on adherence - #ruckusmakerschallenge day 8

Declaring to others what you say you’ll do speaks volumes. Today is the final day of the challenge, and it although it went by quickly, it wasn't easy.  Writing consistently and publishing is more uncomfortable than not.  There were moments when I tried to justify why I shouldn't share certain things, but I knew that in those moments were the exact reason why I should continue to write.  What I've realized is that eight days isn't enough to describe the feeling that happens when you sense your mind shifting focus. Like most things, I started off with a plan. I brainstormed and outlined what transpired during ruckus, and now nearly 10 days later, I find myself unraveling what I’ve learned and immediately putting it into action even after we all departed ways.  Sticking to the vision, what I know to be true and share with the world was the key to this challenge.

There’s a feeling of accomplishment that runs through me, but at the same time I know this is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation and project.

Thank you to Luis for the spark, and to all the other Ruckusmakers who joined to shared their stories.

This was fun :)

I see you - #ruckusmakerschallenge day 7

This past Tuesday I spent an hour creating a vision board alongside four other middle school-aged girls. As part of our showroom’s spring break initiatives, Tuesday’s workshop was to create your 10 year vision board. The other girls who attended actually ended up inspiring me! “Live your dream, inspire, lead, dream big” were a few words listed on each of their boards, including mine. Nailing the fact that inspiration can come from anywhere. At the workshop, each of us received name badges with a quote underneath. “I push you to be better” was listed under my name and it couldn’t be anymore accurate. At the time, I didn’t quite get what it meant, but when others saw it and read it out loud, I pieced together a bit of my bio that was shared prior to all of us physically meeting & the general consensus was that I was a trainer or coach that was somehow tied into fitness. How the world sees me. Interesting. There are so many other things that I do, but this is the message that I’m sharing with the world and I'm owning it.

This quote could’ve been under anyone else’s name as the depths of each conversation I’ve had over the course of those three days, and the ones that continue through our private Facebook group, all inspire each other to keep on pushing.

Today is day 7 of this challenge and over the course of this week I’ve been blessed to read the experiences of others.  I feel like I’ve entered an underground world of amazing humans who were DYING to share their ideas that they didn’t even know they had.  The best part of my day and where I get my daily dose of inspiration is in this private group. A platform that’s safe for us to create space for our thoughts, to those who understand us, who push us. Although not everyone is truly interacting in the sense of likes and comments, we see each other. “I see You.” Is something Seth phrased so subtly, yet powerfully.

Seth's simplicity in his message propels us to take action and truly believe in our capabilities. He pushes us to be better.

lessons learned.

When people discuss privilege, I think it’s important to understand what they actually mean. Growing up I knew my family was different and not the “typical black family” you’d think would be residing in Baltimore. We're Haitian, living in the suburbs and most of my family went to private schools. I was always reminded how good we had it, compared to where we came from.  “Always finish your plate because there are kids your age who don’t have anything to eat” was a common phrase to make sure we knew we were making out okay.  Growing up, I always hated the question - what do your parents do? Because without hesitation, once I answered, the common response was “oh you must be rich!”  No, not quite the way you see it, but whatever.  To some, yes, we’re privileged, but understand that it came (and can come) from much sacrifice. So what do my parents do? It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that for my dad, he didn’t have much of a choice.  More on his story, later. We’re all privileged in the sense that we share the same breath, the same air and have the same amount of time.  I recently attended an event for the launch of Abernathy Magazine which centered around eleven speakers sharing their stories on race, privilege, identity & lessons learned from those experiences and how they intertwined with each other.  What struck a chord with me the most is that everyone who spoke had a different sense of what privilege meant to them.

Hearing each person speak invoked a story or time where I felt something similar – a time where I felt different - but couldn’t articulate at the time.  I wrote a post the other day about how I noticed I was the only black woman that was part of a seminar, yet what kept me grounded was the fact that I was surrounded by people who think like me. Looks didn’t matter then and the irony now is that at this event, looks did matter, but not for the sake of being excluded or ridiculed.

Every time I think about what transpired at the event, I get more inspired to share my story and keep the conversations going, because it’s that important.

Even though we’re all different, we share the same identity, the same common thread: individuals who stand their ground for what they believe in, no matter what.  Close to 50 people attended this event and what shows is that there’s a tribe that supports this movement:  the idea that our identity matters, that what we stand for matters. The beauty behind this event is that even though these stories were shared once, it left an opportunity for deeper conversations - those worth spreading.

So, the lessons learned for me? Define who you are, know and understand your roots – for these are what keep you grounded.  Believe in your truths. Keep the conversations going.  Because of this, the momentum keeps building that will make a difference on how the world sees you.

what's my project? - #ruckusmakerschallenge day 6

The long version of my story that will take you about 2 minutes to read can be found here. As much as I haven’t scratched the surface with what I know is possible for myself, what I will say that I’ve accomplished is an interesting body of work that connects me to where I am today. Using my past as a guide, to a certain degree, I understand that I’m in control of what lies ahead. However, what I do know is that everything that I’ve done can be used to propel myself to create the change I want to see, focusing on what I’m great at and building a team that supports and shares this idea. Prior to attending the seminar, I battled writing out a business proposal to “be prepared” which after a few hours I immediately scratched because I had no idea what the hell I wanted to propose. The first day of the workshop, after we all got a general idea of what we’d be up to over the next 48 hours, I had one idea and project that stood out, but still didn’t know if it was substantial enough to make a difference and ultimately, be worth it. The beauty behind sharing my story with others – the nitty gritty, as in what I’m currently up to (because there wasn’t much time to dive into what you previously did) - was that it revealed why I feel that there’s still a missing piece in my community and questioning/digging deep into what change can I help to make to bridge the gap.

So, I’ll share my story on what I’m doing now. I work with amazing, inspirational and fearless girls mainly between the ages of 10-14 who aspire to be Olympians, Scholars and Doctors among other brilliant things. At this age, they’re battling with fitting in with what’s cool, and my team and I create a safe space for them to share their biggest dreams with us, through facilitating dreams & goals workshops, and encourage them to know that whatever they dream, they can achieve. I love what I do. What I love even more is the opportunity that presents itself whenever I hear from girls, who think their dreams are too ambitious, and I notice there’s still something missing. In this space where my team and I facilitate these workshops, I don’t see my 10-year-old self amongst this group. I often think of what and where I’d be had I had been given this type of guideline to write down who I want to be and I realize that there are thousands of girls who could absolutely need this, especially in the Baltimore community that I work and reside in.

Throughout the course of the seminar, we engaged in small brainstorming sessions with others to share what our big project is. In an intimate setting, with, I shared how I want to reach out and connect with minorities in the Baltimore community who aren’t active, don’t have a support system and host these workshops with them, similar to what I do now in my current role. My past work involved having a hand in event planning, coordinating and working with kids which seems to be the common theme.

So, what’s my big project? Facilitate and coordinate a free movement festival (think yoga + arts + goal setting workshop for kids) for 100+ girls in Baltimore by August 31st 2016. This is pretty ambitious, but the beauty is that it ties with my current work, my passions and what I want to change in my community. Having this vision in mind helps me break it down to smaller projects (these #ruckusmakerschallenge posts to start) that will be equally ambitious and important, just on a smaller scale.

On the final day of the workshop, Seth gave each of us a ShipIt journal which helps breakdown our big project. From the basics of when you’ll start, who needs to be involved (and who doesn’t) and when you’ll actually ship this project, precisely to the date and time. The fact that I declared this out loud, to you, means that I have to work on it, and it’s scary #af. But, in the end, I know it’ll be worth it.

Now it’s time to build, connect and make it happen.

problem solve - #ruckusmakerschallenge day 5

We’ve been so engrained that putting in years worth of work equates to a promotion, a raise, or an added bonus. We’re given more vacation or maternity leave based on the amount of time we've been employed. The systems unfortunately haven’t changed much, and those implementing these “rules” are missing the point. What impact is your work actually making? Your effort has to be more productive than anyone else and solve a problem worth people engaging in. (H/T: Geoff Welch)

The goal isn’t to crank out hours when the work that you’re doing doesn’t mean anything, which is where some people get confused and upset. Just because you worked your ass off doesn’t mean you should automatically be rewarded.

My post from yesterday was definitely not my best, but the point was that I needed to get something out. Even though what you’re working on may take you a ton of time to write or do, it may not be that good. And that’s okay. The opposite is also true: if it took you two minutes, it can be completely worth it. Be okay with good enough, move on and make something better.

I’ve had a battle with understanding what or what isn’t good enough. There was an entire season at the HEAT where the tag line was “good enough, ain’t enough.” In this context – playing a sport for a chance at a championship, you strive to be the best, because good enough won’t get you a trophy. However, there are times throughout the season/year where you don’t put in all of your effort, you lose games, you get injured, what feels like one step towards progress, you take 3 steps back. Yet, each step back is your chance to learn and improve.

While I was managing a gym, I remember posting what I thought was an inspiring quote - “strive for progress not perfection” - and I received backlash from this because some people felt that in a gym setting, you have to perfect a technique before advancing to the next. To each his own, but progress is the whole point and perfection is subjective, unless you’re the universe… which is a post for another day.

Understand that the effort that you put in to your work is enough. The added reward and bonus is that those who engage in your content choose to connect with you.

on storytelling - #ruckusmakerschallenge day 4

If these walls could talk. The seminar was held at The Purple Crayon which is a beautifully re-designed space for connection and creativity. Many ideas were started here as people like us: impresarios, ruckusmakers, entrepreneurs and ultimately artists have stepped foot and shared their story in some capacity….which I take is why the name is extended to “The Center for Learning and Innovation.”

Seth shared with us astounding stories that helped define the questions we were all seeking. For most of our topics discussed, he related and compared it in a sense to a real life situation that had happened before.  People don’t care or purchase what you have to offer purely on the sole factor that you’re the cheapest or most convenient option for them. People purchase from you based off of the story behind what you’re selling is. Story over substance, always.

Throughout the weekend Seth intertwined his belief in connecting others and sharing their story with the fact that he was teaching us something different once we were enrolled and engaged in the conversation. This was shown in every fashion from the snacks and food that were provided to us, to the special guests that were local artists - musicians to be exact - who shared their stories and talents with us. The first evening consisted of a chocolate and wine tasting, all from samples of each from local stores that were near to the venue and each day felt as if the food and snacks were carefully curated to match the day's discussion.

Creating a culture of feedback, and continuing the conversation from yesterdays post, Seth made it appoint to not necessarily answer a question with a specific answer, but to tie it to a story that’s similar that we could relate to that was within the context of the topic at hand. He’s an expert at this, amongst other things, but story telling seems to come first and naturally to him.  One aspect that he's realized he's mastered and it shows.

why am I here - #ruckusmakerschallenge day 3

The Ruckusmakers consisted of  observers, listeners and speakers from all over the world in very diverse fields.  From marketing directors, to entrepreneurs, freelancers and CEOs every single person in attendance was here to speak up. We received shirts with all the names of Ruckusmakers - people from Charles Darwin to Rosa Parks, to the volunteers that helped to make this seminar run smoothly. Everyone listed on the back of the shirt stood up for something in their life and initiated a conversation, and ultimately chose themselves to be the ones to speak up for what they’re passionate about, especially if their idea isn’t well received because it was “different.” The point of me being at the seminar wasn’t for me to learn about Seth. I could read all of his books and blogs to understand what he thinks. The point of me being here was to start a conversation and connect. To surround myself with people who are like me who encourage and push me away from my comfort zone.

While Seth was feeding us gems related to marketing, music, fear and everything in between, I had questions in my head that I didn’t know how to articulate. Why am I here if I’m not going to speak up? That’s the entire message – to push through your fear of being afraid and not being understood. The irony of this is that I was afraid to ask. The thoughts that were going through my mind, others asked and questioned.

When they asked questions related to the topics at hand and their fears, I noticed the incredible outpouring of feedback from others and the push back from Seth, to help clarify everything. The beauty of speaking up is that there would be no other absolute opportune time to receive this instant feedback and connection. Two factors that play a major role in growth and progress.

Once I noticed this, I forgave myself for being afraid, and spoke up.

learning how to see - ruckusmakers challenge day 2

The theme of the seminar was to think about what project are you going to make that will create a dent in the universe, cause a ruckus, and ultimately change the scope of the people you care about…then ship it. Seth made it clear that we must first understand how we want to see the world - our world -  and what we’re willing to work on, how much effort we’re willing to put in, to create change. At first, it almost felt as if he was teaching me how to describe yellow to a blind man. The challenge with the project that I want to work on wasn’t whom I want to change, but how. How do you get someone who’s never had something you know they need, to trust you and your decision to helping them understand, and eventually helping them overall? Seth’s solution: attach it to what you know by starting to build a foundation of trust & how you want to see. Introducing 80 people for the first time in an intimate setting requires a lot of trust. He’s perfected the art of building a tribe and in turn, being a leader, all stemming from that basic concept.

When I was a kid I was always active. I found my tribe through sports. People who did things like me were fun & inspiring to be around. I never worried about fitting in, or the fact that I was [more than likely] the only black person on my team, more specifically Haitian…or any other race for that matter. I always fit in because of physical activity, as this was something that I was familiar with, something I trusted.

This time around, what do I see? In a room full of people like me, they don’t look like me. I’m the minority and am wondering where is everyone else that looks like me. In an unfamiliar area, I couldn’t tell if I would be accepted the way I felt when I stepped on a basketball court or soccer field. As much as I fit in, there’s still a piece of me that is completely different than everyone else in the room: the only black female. This wasn't the point, but I embraced the difference. Not many people can say that.

Learn how you want to see, and in turn who you are working to change by getting specific. The point is not to focus so much about demographics; that I’m a 30-year-old black female, but about the psychographics – who people are. I’m a 30 year old black female that picked herself to be immersed in a weekend geared to feed my soul, aspiring to create a dent in the universe.

Clarity transpired almost instantly.

Once you learn how to see, you can recognize and care about who you want to help.

how I got here - ruckusmakers challenge day 1.

Everything comes full circle when you pay attention to the signs. Three years ago, I was introduced to Seth by way of a stranger who I met at the absolute perfect time. I was on the verge of quitting my full-time job at the HEAT, and shared with her my story and fears of what would happen if I left. Long story short, fear is the exact topic that her business stemmed from and as I dug deep into her site and stalked her Facebook [smile], I stumbled across Seth’s work.

Fast forward to 2015. Laying in bed scrolling through my twitter feed on my phone, I read a post that said apply to Seth’s Ruckusmakers seminar. Not even thinking twice about it, I clicked the link, answered the questions in the application and hit send. Seth doesn’t facilitate these types of workshops often, and I knew hundreds of people would apply so after I submitted my application, I didn’t even think that I’d be accepted. Why would I be picked?

The next day I received an email saying that I was accepted and had less than 24 hours to purchase a spot for this. Wait – what!? The same weekend that the workshop was going to be held, I was planning a girl’s trip to Jamaica. At one point I didn’t want to let my friends down, on the other, I knew I couldn’t turn this offer down. Jamaica will always be there. This seminar? Once in a lifetime. Thankfully my friends knew this was a no-brainer and supported my decision 100%.

The feeling of excitement mixed with nervousness still fills me to this day. The ticket wasn’t inexpensive but I knew this experience would be invaluable. Every decision that I’ve made where I’ve had the feelings of this isn’t going to work, the butterflies that seem to fly in every direction in my stomach, the holy-crap-what-am-I-doing has helped me transform and grow. Every. Single. Time.

The first evening when I walked into the venue, I knew I made the right decision. The room was filled with people who think like me, who shared similar fears and who were curious and decided to take a leap.  People like me, do things like this.

Over the course of the next week, I’ll be submitting pieces on how this seminar transformed the way I see the world, how sharing my story will create the change I want to make and how everything is connected.

One thing that I will share now and what I learned from Seth is that you should always, always, pick yourself. Good shit happens when you do.

ruckusmakers challenge.

Starting on March 12th, I’ll be publishing one post a day for the next 8 days on what I learned, witnessed, felt, thought and overall experienced at the Ruckusmakers Seminar I attended this past weekend, led by Seth Godin. This is a challenge that a fellow Ruckusmaker brought on to each of the attendees, and I gladly & nervously accepted.

As I’ve been digesting everything that transpired in the course of those 3 days, reading over the pages of notes I wrote, and hearing what the others experienced, I’m still in awe that I was a part of this event.

I’m incredibly humbled and grateful to be connected with a group of brilliant humans that inspire me to dig deep and take action.

This challenge will be exciting and emotional for me, and my hopes are to share and teach you what I’ve learned to propel you to create the change you wish to seek in this world.

when in doubt, follow how you want to feel.

I don’t think I realized how bad everything was until I got a phone call that jump started this next chapter in my life. The message: “You are not happy.”

Having someone actually say this out loud – to me – was a slap in the face, in the best way possible.

The first three months of 2014 were hellacious. Then the months that followed up until the day I left just felt as if I were playing catch up. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything meaningful, I wasn’t showing up fully, and my mood and energy levels were the pits. I had been going through the motions, not realizing that my actions (or lack there of) were affecting how others see me, and ultimately, how I felt.

Rewind to last year. I had a choice between two jobs. One that sounded fun, cool and all the things you should totally go for, but also very unfamiliar to me. The other? Completely familiar and fell in line with what I had already had some experience in – plus – it was more financially stable. I deferred to the familiar (read: comfortable) territory. In hindsight, the irony of my decision is that I’m always mentioning to friends, and constantly reminding myself to do things that scare you and make you uncomfortable – and I didn’t even take my own advice!

This time around when I knew and felt that I had to get out of this environment, I also had a choice between two jobs. This time, I trusted my gut and made the decision based on the sole factor that every fiber of my being wanted to feel free. The minute I received the offer, I literally felt lighter. I had dug myself a hole and fought with my own thoughts thinking that I’m just having a bad day or a bad few weeks, but that phone call changed the game. I shifted my pieces and made moves to launch me in a different direction.

So, I quit. Again.

Sidenote: Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map has been extremely beneficial this past year, and I owe a lot to her for helping me get some clarity on how I want to feel in my life.

I’m in full swing of my new job, new position and entirely new field.  Now, I’m:

  • Free to make decisions based on helping others.
  • Free to plan my off days however I want, without being paranoid on missing out on important emails.
  • Free to take ownership in leadership, development and actual things that matter that will help my team.
  • Free to share my ideas with those who are like me.

Before I knew any better, I would‘ve said that I feel more balanced today than ever before. Instead, I feel free. I’ve learned that “finding balance” is a never-ending battle that I'll never win. On some days, yes, I feel balanced – everything is in flow, my to-do list is crossed off, I took a yoga and CrossFit class that day(!), birds are singing, I made the best coffee ever, etc. – but I know that there will be days or weeks on end when shit just does not add up. I no longer strive for balance, because when one thing goes off kilter, I’ve found myself fighting too hard or wasting energy in that one thing to make sure everything else doesn’t fall off the scale. That shit does not work, at least for me.

Freedom. Agility. Action.

This is what my life is like right now. Having the freedom to decide, to implement, to work around my schedule and my team’s schedule, and the ability to take action on each item.

A few days after I quit, I received a text from a friend that read: “They relied on you to carry their sinking ship.”

And that same day, I came across this article that quoted Warren Buffett:

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”

Amen, universe.

delicious ambiguity.

"Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”― Gilda Radner

If there is one thing I can take away from my experiences in 2012, it's that nothing is ever set in stone.

Everyone has the ability to create their own path, set their own rules and cause a ruckus that can help shape the future of their lives.  Defining what I want in my life isn't easy, it's not always clear, and at times it isn't fun, but it's the beauty of having the power to be the pilot in every move I make that makes my life fruitful.