KANSAS CITY MEDIA MIXER | KNOWING YOUR WHY
Happy end of October; I hope yours have been as action packed and fulfilling as mine. This autumn marks a truly exciting time for me. Between relaunching this blog after a much need three year hiatus (more to come on this subject whenever I can drag myself away from Grey’s Anatomy) and a somewhat impulsive trip to Paris, I feel like I’ve been constantly on the go while trying to juggle a thousand commitments. But things are finally winding down and I have more time to focus on projects closest to my heart: my book, this space, and meeting the wonderful creative women of Kansas City through the collective known as Kansas City Media Mixer.
I was honored when Bria reached out a few months ago and asked if I’d be interested in being their guest speaker for this season’s event at the Creamery Rooftop. She was interested in hearing about how I got started in my career and what I’ve been up to in the most recent chapters of my life. Additionally, we both agreed that the speech should be less about me personally and what “wisdoms” I can offer to the women there. For the record: prior to our meeting, I ate cereal out of my $7 oversized wine glass because I still hadn’t unpacked my kitchen supplies. Yeah, I’m the person who Bria thought would inspire 80+ women to greatness.
But the event was all sorts of amazing and I was so touched by every single person who shared a piece of their lives with me. I caught up with my first fashion friend, Annie Austen, and hogged the bar with Ashley White. I’ve always been a firm believer that women should see each other as collaborators over competition and it was so moving to see everyone lift each other up. Here are the workshop material that I made specifically for the event:
For those of you too lazy to download the actual template (no judgment, it is a Monday), I’ll summarize the three main points of my presentation:
RULE NUMBER ONE: DO THE WORK.
The number question I get from people who have somehow stumbled across my portfolio is, “How do you do it?” I’ve spent the last six years or so debating the answer in my head. It ultimately boils down to this: I just did. For every “right” thing I’ve done, I’ve also left behind a hundred failures. Ashley and I went to Parlor after the event to talk (read: gossip and drink) and something that we both agreed on was is, you can’t cheat your way up. You just have to. do. the. work. Whether that’s putting in hours of laborious, grunt work or applying for an annoying entry level internship, there comes a point when you have to let go of whatever entitlement you think the world owns you and just start making moves. It may not look pretty, it may not be easy, and it definitely won’t yield immediate results, but that’s how it’s done. And that’s how I got it done: a million and one baby steps that seem to go nowhere at all until you’re at the finish line.
2. RULE NUMBER TWO: KNOW THE WHY.
When I left MTV my sophomore year of college, I took an unexpected, but necessary, break from writing. I felt burnt out and unfocused. Similarly, I started delegating more and more of my responsibilities as CEO of Project Consent to my colleagues. I remember being nineteen and and thinking, “Is this what I really want to be doing?” I didn’t have answers then. I was so caught up in the details – “Was I at the right job? Am I meeting the right people? Where will this take me in 5 years? – that I forgot the bigger picture. Which brings me to this point: if you ever do feel lost, look at why you started the journey in the first place. Knowing what inspires you is just as important, if not more so, as what you’re doing now.
For me, I’ve always gravitated towards storytelling (journaling, songwriting, podcasting) because I like connecting with people. I’m an optimist at heart and ultimately believe the world is, and wants to remain, a good place. Using Cheryl Strayed’s approach of radical empathy in my writing gives me the opportunity to spread that idea. I found solid ground again when I started rationalizing my career choices on the simple question of: Is this optimistic? I accepted my job at the Financial Diet because the company inspires people to find financial freedom for a better life. I continued my work with the United Nations because in the face of war and tragedy, they’re still building towards a more united global community. You don’t have to know every stop in your journey to move forward; you just have to remember what’s driving you there in the first place.
3. RULE NUMBER THREE: TIP YOUR SERVERS.
Look, I get it; we’re human and sometimes we have bad days, weeks, or even months and we don’t want to think about other people. But checking in on yourself to see if you’re the kindest version of yourself possible is such a vital reality check. Are you treating strangers with the same respect you’re giving your friends? Are the words coming out of your mouth more positive than negative? Don’t let your kindness be motivated by greediness or insecurity; let it fuel your work and accept it earnestly when it returns it back to you. Lastly, I talked about being kind to yourself. To quote (my girl) Taylor Swift’s 1989 Clean Speech: “It’s hard enough to live with what other people have to say. Please let the voices in your head be nice to you.”
Thank you to everyone involved at Kansas City Media Mixer for making it happen, including the wonderful sponsors: Bumble BFF, Zocalo Kansas City, Kansas City Power & Light District, Lily Does Flowers, Hand & Land, Westside Storey, Somnium, McLain's Bakery, Tom's Town Distilling Co., and Betty Rae's. Photographs by Jefferson May Photography and Olivia Rehberger.