Breathe. Then Push.

Breathe. Then Push.

A beautiful poem from my friend Valarie Kaur on how to see and respond to this moment in America: 

"This future is dark.
But what is this darkness is not the darkness of a tomb, 
but the darkness of the womb.
What if our America is not dead
But a country still waiting to be born?
What if the story of American is one long labor?
What if all the mothers who came before us, who survived genocide
and occupation, slavery, and jim crow, political oppression and sexual assault are standing behind us now?
What if this is the time of our great transition?
Remember the wisdom of the midwife: breathe. Then: push.
Because if we don’t push, we die. If we don’t push, our nation will die. 
There is a warrior in each of us, and whether on the birthing table or the battleground, we need each other.
Together we are brave, and together, our #revolutionarylove
yours and mine, is our greatest moral resistance."

The poem is modified from a portion of her powerful remarks at an event for the National Moral Revival Poor People's Campaign . If you've got 6 minutes, the entire thing is worth a watch. She is brilliant. 

 

5 Lessons for YouTube Creators for Change

5 Lessons for YouTube Creators for Change

Today You Tube launched an amazing new program called Creators for Change. It's a global initiative to support creators who are tackling social issues and promoting awareness, tolerance and empathy on their YouTube channels. 

They selected a handful of prolific and very successful YouTubers including my friend and forever girlcrush Franchesca Ramsey (Chescaleigh) as their first class of Ambassadors. These ambassadors will be given money by YouTube to produce a video of their choice on an issue that matters to them. 

In addition, the Creators for Change program wants to help other creators who may not yet have ventured into the social good category, not be afraid to do so. And that's where I come in!

I was privileged enough to work with Upworthy to develop 5 key lessons of social change video that will help newbies tackle tough topics authentically and effectively. The lessons went live on the site today and I'm so proud to have been a part of a project that is going to put more meaningful content into the world. Take a look: 

 

 

Sometimes, the key is just to listen.

Sometimes, the key is just to listen.

This week, I spent a lot of time talking to brands and organizations about how to engage younger, more diverse audiences. I spoke on panels, gave keynotes with fancy decks, and had several in depth, 1-on-1 conversations, all within the span of a few days. 

Over and over again, I found myself coming back to one key lesson. Sure there are a lot of tricks to the trade that I've developed over the years. And as a creative, I had countless ideas and strategies that could help people do the work that they so deeply want to do with the audiences that they so deeply what to do it with. But ultimately, the foundation of all of my knowledge begin with a simple principle: 

Listen. 

Listen to the people that you are trying to reach. Don't just listen to what others say about them, or 5 year old data that someone else collected, or even what you think you know from a previous experience. If you are truly committed to connecting with people you must be just as committed to listening to them (and acting on what you hear). 

If you're not willing to do that, no amount of strategy or big ideas will magically produce the kind of authentic relationship that you are yearning for. Because at the end of the day, markets and audiences and constituents and demographic groups and [insert other jargony word] are really just people. And the only way to truly have real people open their hearts to you is to make them feel heard, to understand their passions and motivations and fears. It's basic inter-personal relationship advice and it translates to good business, campaign and organizational advice as well. 

If you're willing to do that, then we can talk. 

 

 

My Peoples

My Peoples

A few months ago a group of friends were sitting in a living room talking about the current state of our world. It was clear to many of us that even though watching mainstream news will have you feeling like all hope is lost, like everything is getting worse and nothing can be done or is being done to fix it, we know the truth: That there is an awakening happening. A resistance. A movement of activists and artists and creators from all walks of life who are using their voices and their work to disrupt the status quo and make the world better - right this very moment. 

And we wanted to show it. 

Those friends - Rosario Dawson, dream hampton, Sean Carrasso, Wendy Carrillo, myself and so many others, came together with a simple idea: Let's sit down together every Sunday and talk to some of our "peoples" - the ones who may not be on mainstream news every day, who may not have household names (or if they do, they probably don't get to talk about their politics much), the ones who are on the front lines of changing America. 

The result was My Peoples.  

What started off as a little experiment among friends - a live event in the historic Mack Sennet Studios in Los Angeles that we decided to livestream - turned into an underground talk show that I had the pleasure of hosting for its first six episodes (Season 1). People from all walks of life from various parts of the world tuned in and something magical began...

 

When I shared with people in other parts of my life that I would be hosting a political talk show, their first thought was "Wait! I thought you didn't "do" politics anymore! Isn't that your old life? What about your brand???

Well here's the truth. 

If you follow my work or connected with me not because of my social critique but because you are interested in the art and power of storytelling, generational analysis, or passionate, inspirational talk about faith, identity, purpose and growth - this show may not be for you. And that's ok. It pushes boundaries. It says things that you may not have heard before. It gives voice to people who have been so marginalized for so long that seeing them center stage, speaking their truth (as powerfully and beautifully as they have always done), about justice and freedom and economics and protest may be a new experience for you. 

But we are living in a historic moment. And, it is my belief, that the only way we will really change the world is to tear down the walls that separate the different parts of who we are and access our full power. Whether we acknowledge it at all times and in all space or not, we truly are spiritual, creative, sexual, social, cultural, and political beings. And if we spend our time talking about love and purpose and story and growth in our individual lives (as I do so much with my clients and internet family) why not also talk about what those things look like in our communities and world? 

Why not really, fully use our wishbone, our jawbone and our backbone? And why not now? 

Don't know what I'm talking about when I reference those three bones? Check out two of my favorite clips from the show below. And be inspired to push your own personal boundaries, wherever or whatever they may be, to speak up and stand up for what you believe in. The time is now.