Intentions for 2018

In January 2005 I had quit my marketing/business development job to pursue an inkling.

BlogHer Founders, The San Jose Mercury News, 2006. Post-Inkling.

In January 2005 I had quit my marketing/business development job to pursue an inkling.

Perhaps it was slightly more than an inkling: I had started blogging the year before and was spending every second of my discretionary time reading blogs, connecting with like-minded community and writing. By the end of 2004, I knew I needed to leave my job and devote myself full-time to something. Problem was, I didn’t know to exactly what.

I started the year 2005 waking up at the crack of dawn (something I didn’t do previously even when I had a job I needed to wake up for) and hit the closest coffee shop to do my “work”, which consisted of reading articles that captured my interest and sputtering out blog posts. Some days I only read and other days found me typing furiously for hours. In those hours I couldn’t type the thoughts that came to me fast enough.

I told people I was working on a book, which may have been true. More accurately, I was following threads. One of those threads led me to two other women who, like me, had altered their work lives to explore the world of blogging and who became my business partners. Despite there not being a defined market for monetizing blogging, I was called to build something in spite of not knowing where the next paycheck would come from.

BlogHer erupted from a perfect storm of being in a place of professionally having nothing to lose — I’d already made a choice to leave my previous career behind — no one to answer to, and faith in pursuing something regardless of outcome that I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever feel again.

What I have felt again, now 13 years later, is a renewal, if not quite yet blind faith. I still don’t know where it will lead. But I do know that I must engage in a process of teasing out threads.

I’ve been noticing things:

I’ve woken up to anger I didn’t acknowledge when I was being harassed, dismissed, or taken advantage of professionally.

I figured all this would, too, pass in the wake of my future professional successes, and much of it did. And some of it won’t.

I have been galvanized by the opening floodgates of women who are outing and identifying not just their victimizers but the many nuanced forms of victimization.

They are not doing it for the backhanded press generated by being the 10th or 100th woman to speak up, but because now, in a moment of collective bravery, we are seeing that it’s our imperative to detoxify the environment for us all; and to show ourselves that, once and for all, we can acknowledge and release shame.

I’ve woken up to the need to do this in order NOT to be a victim and to get about with what I need to do to move effectively in the world.

I’ve woken up to my true strengths and weaknesses, and grappling with strengths that confine me because they have led to previous success but are not currently meaningful.

I’ve woken up to my desire to change narratives of what it means to be a successful entrepreneur, having seen people “kill it” at the expense of their families, well-being, and/or integrity; and I’ve seen people explore new models of work, business building, and integrating meaning into what they do for a living.

I’ve woken up to my motherhood, and values I didn’t know I had.

My dear friend and coach (and personal astrologer) Britt Bravo has told me for years now that professionally I am a nurturer, which conflicted with my self-perception as breadwinner/hunter gatherer/revenue generator. I’m finding joy building others’ companies, encouraging other entrepreneurs, and raising my daughters to be curious, kind, courageous, compassionate, and aware of their value and impact on Earth.

I’ve woken up to where I am fearful, and where I bump against needs for acceptance and security. I used to call this acknowledgement “being practical,” or “being realistic”.

I saw my strength in being a voice of reason and bringing disparate sides together, often at the price of what was most meaningful to me.

While empathy and flexibility are important, sometimes there are non-negotiables, and sometimes the only viable solution is not equidistantly located between two sides. Sometimes it’s closer to you.

I’ve explained this to probably hundreds of people who have asked how BlogHer was born: There’s the official version, of course, defined by first meetings, a major conference, and venture funding. But there’s also my personal version, which for me started much earlier, with a few words inelegantly composed and published on a blog no one was reading or yet knew existed. In that post intention was born.

Just start. Read, interact, ask questions. Find threads. And then piece together.

And don’t set goals or define it until you are pulled. There’s a velocity I’ve experienced, in the midst of repeated acts of inquiry or pursuit, when an aspect calls out — the thread. And I need to follow it. But when I’m forced to follow a thread that doesn’t call to me (we’ve all been there, like when we have to dial for dollars, pursue outreach quotas, write empty press releases, create manufactured meaning) things fall flat.

The truth is: Even if you are pulled somewhere, you could still fail. I do it regularly. But failing this way, while painful, doesn’t feel wasteful. And somehow the actions I took while in pursuit of something that called to me manifest. People you meet, insights that were shared, relationships that were made, they stick. They become useful in different ways than you imagined. They become part of your foundation.

I don’t know exactly why I am writing and reaching out to my community, only that I have been called to act and realized that I have not been following my own advice. I forgot what I told others to do: Just start.

And don’t stop.