A few weeks ago I had the privilege of being both a panelist and a moderator for a few events at Advertising Week in NYC. One of the perks of being on the speaker roster was that I was chosen among a few other women to be interviewed by Katie Kempner for her video series: “Perspectives with Katie Kempner.” As Katie describes it on her site, this video series is a way to: “To inspire and empower working women who are attempting to live meaningful, happy, healthy lives as some combination of wives and partners, mothers, friends, sisters, daughters and successful professionals while retaining a sense of self and navigating the crazy 24/7 always-on life that is today’s reality.”
So what did we speak about? Prior to the interview — I’m talking minutes prior — she asked me what am I known for and what I do at Google. When I answered her, she looked at me nonplussed. But when I told her that I live nine lives and try to integrate them all, then she got excited. And that topic became the main subject of our interview.
And, thus, this interview became the first real forum for me to discuss my next adventure: to share my story on how to live a meaningful (successful? happy? — still not sure of the exact description yet) life. Here goes: so many of us are an amalgamation of seemingly contradictory aspects. When it comes to me, I’m part tech maven, part beauty/fashion commentator, part spiritual animal, part athlete, and part mother. But we don’t necessarily celebrate or push those sides to their fullest, and certainly don’t always weave them together. For years, I’ve been excited and energized, but also conflicted and challenged by the many nuances of myself. On the one hand, I’ve been enriched by these many sides, they have opened up new opportunities for me. I realized it’s time to fully buy my own seemingly random but fruitful, fun, expansive approach to life and inspire others with it.
On the other hand, I’ve been accused of giving people a mind fuck. People often ask me, “wait, what, you work in tech and sit at the front row at fashion shows?” Or, “huh, your speaking on big stages about creativity all over the world and are raising three kids?” Or “you combine anthropology with technology?” And this is my favorite: “you dress like that and strictly observe the Jewish sabbath?” Yep. And what’s more, it’s BECAUSE of these different sides that I can be as fulfilled as I am. Don’t get me wrong, I bitch and moan like the rest of us, so I’m not saying I’m fulfilled ALL the time. But when I take a step back I can say I have lived, and know I will continue to live, a pretty badass life. I believe I’ve found my success because I’ve embraced — versus compartmentalized or rejected– these different sides. What’s more, I have found ways to interconnect them.
In the video, I give an early life example of this. I studied in small, yeshiva high school. This meant I endured intense days filled with secular and Jewish studies. Needless to say, college was not just a breeze compared to that but definitely eye opening. I was exposed to many different types of people and subject matters. Did I reject all that despite having slightly different upbringing or lifestyle? No way! Moreover, I took my treasure trove of judaic studies and applied them to almost every subject! By combining my two different worlds I realized I could stand out, and ultimately, succeed.
Another example: when I transitioned from my advertising life to Google, I felt like the biggest fish out of water, a total charlatan. What did I REALLY know about tech anyway? But I was an expert on how to uncover human insight. I studied social anthropology in college and then spent 20 years partnering with anthropologists to help me uncover those insights. Aha! That was my special sauce. Leverage the study of anthropology to uncover what drives our deep relationship to the digital space. That sparked an industry-first thought leadership series of studies, Humanizing Digital. These insights not only drove digital campaign after digital campaign for my client, but also elevated my team within and outside of the company.
Of course the subject of beauty made its way into the video. Like I have done in this blog for years, I encourage us to embrace it. So many people I know see the subject as frivolous and therefore, unsuitable for intelligent business women or men to discuss. Bull shit. There is no reason to not to weave beauty into our daily lives and let it inspire and empower us. Yes, we can embrace beauty AND brains!
Ok, I think you get the gist. I realized it’s time to fully buy my own seemingly random but fruitful, fun, expansive approach to life and inspire others with it. I’m still spinning this concept around so I would LOVE your feedback. Or at the very least have fun watching the video :). Click the image below to watch.