It's International Women's Day, and we have many inspiring women to celebrate from the REALITY community. This month, Israel will host the first Forbes Under 30 Global Women's Summit, a global gathering for top young women leaders to connect and learn, sponsored by Schusterman and other philanthropic partners.
Along with this unique experience, REALITY is leading a special journey, REALITY Women: Under 30. In the spirit of this upcoming journey, we are leaning into the wisdom of our incredible journey facilitators, and learning how they shift REALITY every day.
Want to follow along? Keep an eye on the following hashtags: #InternationalWomensDay (March 8), #REALITYIsrael (March 26 - 31) and #UNDER30SUMMIT (March 31 - April 4).
From left to right: Joy Basu, Gayatri Datar, Rachel Gogel, Christine Souffrant-Ntim
What wisdom would you share for women who are aspiring changemakers?
Joy Basu (Women '17): Be compassionate—with yourself, with your team and even those whom you seek to challenge. Growth rarely unfolds in a linear way, so you'll have to find your own balance between patience, empathy and "the fierce urgency of now.” You will make mistakes, as will the people around you, but try to remember that we are usually doing the best we can with the tools we have. When things don't progress as you had planned or hoped (which believe me, is most things!) lead with curiosity and discernment on how your own expectations may have varied from reality. Accept help. Learn to forgive yourself and others for failing to act perfectly, while holding a high bar for the better world you know we can build together. And as we arc toward that vision (even when it feels like we are moving backwards), ground yourself in this present moment: the joy is in the journey.
Gayatri Datar (Impact '17): For the risk-averse women out there, always remember that the downside risk of trying to do something big and bold is nothing compared to the upside risk of even getting close to achieving your vision.
Rachel Gogel (Storytellers '16): Invest in relationships (especially in dynamic duos): the essential element in doing our best work is having great partners (both at work/at home) and assuming positive intent. A duo is the relationship between two people—the basic atomic unit of trust. A team's foundation is based on the strength of the duos within it. Identify your superpower (and recognize its shadow side): identify your natural proclivities, skills and ways of thinking—the things that come effortlessly and joyfully to you. Amplifying your natural strengths often leads to better results than trying to overcome your weaknesses. Practice reflective self-awareness: take time to reflect, seek to understand yourself and open up to vulnerability by letting go of ego and continuing to embrace your own personal potential.
Christine Souffrant-Ntim (Under 30 '17): Remember the 3 Ps of influence: perseverance, pressure and passion. Don't personalize rejection because your mission is bigger than you, and real change takes perseverance. Do embrace the hard times because diamonds are only made out of pressure. Do embark on paths that inspire you the most because when they can't understand your vision, your passion will inspire them to follow your mission.
How has your experience with REALITY impacted your leadership journey?
Joy: My REALITY journey introduced me to an inspiring cohort of women from around the world who displayed beautiful differences in expression and bore diverse strengths. I believe we were able to experience something special together by openly sharing our personal stories and respectfully challenging our own assumptions. I feel my experience with REALITY expanded both my comfort zone and my sense of self. I am grateful to have met these women, most of whom come from different backgrounds and careers, who have shown me how to be more freely me in what I chose to do, making me a more authentic and courageous leader.
Gayatri: On my REALITY journey, I forged connections and bonds that will last a lifetime, many of whom have helped me along my way.
Rachel: I always associate my REALITY Storytellers journey in August 2016 with a critical point in my life. I was looking for a new job at the time and everyone on the trip contributed to my decision by being great listeners, powerful voices and genuine souls, ultimately impacting my next adventure as a woman leader in the tech space. I'm excited to pay it forward as a facilitator on the upcoming REALITY Women: Under 30 trip in a few weeks!
Christine: My experience with REALITY has impacted my leadership journey in a unique way—by showing me the power of storytelling. As leaders we are trained to prove our role to others or inspire people to believe in our agendas but never taught to empower others with our stories. As humans, we live by the stories we tell, and it is our ability to share them that inspires people to follow those who have a story that inspires purpose.
As a woman leader, how do you shift your everyday reality?
Joy: I shift everyday reality by trying to see and treat people as people. We so readily put labels on ourselves and others that construct barriers between us. I believe this enables many of the challenges around us, from addiction and suicide to poverty or war. Meanwhile, we've also created a society that measures so much of our worth by what we do, which can prevent us from connecting with each other in very basic and beautiful ways. I want to push myself to do awesome work and help repair our world. An important way to further that is by being more mindful of how my daily interactions can bring delight and dignity to others.
Gayatri: I don't shift it, but I embrace it. I see it as a major strength to be a woman leader and have truly leaned in to my authentic leadership style. It's not always easy running a construction company of mostly men, but I've found that the best way is to be genuine and true, and every person has respected that.
Rachel: I believe in the importance of empowering other creatives, especially women, and have contributed to this work by participating in speaking engagements, founding a newsletter for creative jobseekers and teaching. I also frequently support women-led causes—like walking the runway for Carrie Hammer’s “Role Models Not Runway Models” fashion show in 2015. Now that I'm (a creative person) in tech, it's still evident at times that women don't always have a voice or seat at the table. While I realize that progress has been made, I know that we are still behind regarding equal pay in most industries, and I want to see the number of women creative directors and leaders in the design industry increase. Women in executive or leadership positions need to be advocates for younger women aspiring to move up and I still think women don't tend to negotiate enough when it comes to salaries, promotions or raises. Basically, I'm just very passionate about expanding my network, inspiring women (of all ages) and hope that the facilitation experience through REALITY can be another way to create change in women's lives.
Christine: As a woman leader, I shift my everyday reality watching my two daughters. As women, we are bogged down by the mainstream constantly reminding us about the statistics stacked against us. My daughters don't have a social construct of the world yet and thus move freely and boldly in their endeavors. I hope they keep that relentless spirit. Seeing it daily reminds me that your reality is what you make of it. So dream with intent.
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.