Elle Luna: Your Story Is Your Power
Hey everybody, what's up? It's Chase, your friend here. I am very happy to welcome you to another episode of the ChaseJarvis Live Show here on CreativeLive I have a doozy for this show, now this show is where I sit down with the world's top creators, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and I do everything I can to unpack their brain with the goal of helping you live your dreams in career, and hobby, and in life. My guest today, this is her second time on the show. I am super, super honored to have her here, she's an artist, she's an author, she's the facilitator of the 100 day project. Which I know that most of you know what that is, we'll talk a little bit more about that. We're here to celebrate, she's the previous author of the Crossroads of Should and Must, which she was talking about a lot last time, but today we're here to talk about her new book, Your Story is Your Power. My guest is Elle Luna.
Hey. (upbeat music)
They love you. Hi, hi, hi, I'm so happy that you're here. It's nic...
e, 'cause sometimes like I shake their hand, like I can't just shake your hand.
Welcome to the show again.
Thank you for being here.
Thank you for having me.
Wow, we've got a whole lot of ground to cover.
A lot of ground to cover. So we haven't seen each other in a while.
Can I start off by thanking you for this. So this is a gardenia, which is the first flower from your plant this year.
It was on a table across the room for a second, and I could smell it. And now it's like.
Isn't that amazing?
It's amazing and if you're listening to this on a podcast right now and you can't see us smell this flower, just imagine the most potent gardenia you've ever smelled, it smells incredible. Thank you.
It was the very first bloom on the gardenia bush this year and I saw it, and I immediately thought, I think that's Chase's.
'Cause we're meeting today.
It's for you.
I'm so grateful. Thank you, and that's a beautiful, vase, I should say vase. We're gonna just leave that right there.
So gosh, you're back. It's been like maybe two years or so.
It has and the last time you were on the show, we were talking about your previous book which is right here, the Crossroads of Should and Must. And every time I share our work from the previous podcast that we did, there is innumerable, I'll just say innumerable people who comment about how much this particular book changed their life. And I think it's in part because people were supposed to be doing the things that they love and they're not supposed to be doing things that they don't love. But what about your personal journey, like how did you figure that out enough to write a book about it? Can you go back there for us?
Sure. I guess I got to a place in my life where I started to dream again. And specifically, I started having a recurring dream about a white room. Do you dream?
I do, I do, yeah. And I don't, I know there's a set of things, if I don't do them, like drink too much, or if, in a weird way, if I don't allow space to create something everyday, if I just drive straight through my day, then I find that I don't dream right, or I don't remember dreams. And if I create every day and I leave the right amount of space in my day for life, then I have crazy dreams. Vivid dreams that I remember. Sometimes I can steer in them, but.
Like lucid dreaming?
A little bit, yeah, not regularly but probably three or four different periods of my life I had pretty active lucid dreaming phases, I would say.
Well that's amazing.
Dreaming is, it can be a really powerful way in. And I was not really going in when I was awake, so I think my dreams started to kind of chip away and really find me when I was asleep. And I started having this recurring dream about a white room and it was pretty simple. It was cement floors, and really tall white walls, and warehouse windows and when I would go inside of this room, I was filled with the most unbelievable sense of peace and calm, and that was it. That was my dream.
Recurring. I had it again and again and one day, a friend of mine, who is my coauthor on my new book, on our new book, Susie Herrick. She asked me the question that just turned my life inside out. She said, have you ever thought about looking for this dream in real life? Now I don't know if you've ever had a dream and then thought, okay, I'm gonna look for this out in the real world, but I had never done anything like that. And at first it seemed a little ridiculous, and then I started thinking huh, I wonder if there might be some intelligence, something going on in my dreams. And so I decided to start looking for it. I ended up finding the white room on Craigslist. It was almost exactly the same white room. Have you ever had something like that? It's like a deja ju, oh my gosh like I've been here before.
It's powerful, isn't it?
It's so crazy powerful.
It was, there was a bit of oh my gosh and also, oh of course.
The universe provides, yes.
Like yeah this feeling of just as I'm looking for it, somehow it's looking for me too. And it was an apartment for rent here in San Francisco, I got the white room and on my very first night in the white room, I began to panic. The room said very specifically to me, that it was time to paint. And that one experience, I mean, that all happened in a matter of months.
The dreaming and the?
Yeah the dreaming and then the actually.
Looking for it. And believing that it might be possible, that's a big part of it, right? Imagination.
I think we'll hopefully talk a lot about that today. But yes, and then I got the white room and I started asking questions, I didn't have a lot of answers, I just felt like I was getting better questions. And ended up writing blog posts, which then was about the Crossroads of Should and Must. These two paths which are really kind of the same path, just depends on what you're calling it. I ended up writing the blog post which just went crazy.
I remember seeing the blog post, that was before I knew you.
Yeah. I saw the blog post and then I met you at Adam Gazzaley's party.
Oh that's right.
Wow, wow. And Medium is so beautiful, because you get to just, I basically got to paint the story. And then when the opportunity came to turn the post into a book, I said yes. And it has to be painted. It has to be full color, it needs to be a really beautifully designed object. And it actually, in the book itself, this is sort of a geeky design detail.
No, I love it.
So the binding is like pretty unique in that you can actually see the interior of the binding from the outside. And for me, I really love this idea that you could see the interior. Because that's ultimately what it was about, right? How do you expose the interior and see it?
And then you duplicated that on the next book.
And then we did it the same on Your Story is Your Power. Maybe all the books are gonna be about really looking inside, yeah.
So that is how the story, or the arc, of the book came into being. But give us the, for the folks who haven't heard the previous podcast, which if you wanna go deep on that subject, we need to be talking about it for a long time. And it's a very, a lot of people have remarked that that's one of their favorite episodes of all time on the show, in a nutshell, I'll let you give a summary of that book.
Okay. In a nutshell, the summary of the book is this. There are two paths in life, should and must. Should is what we feel are all of the expectations and obligations that culture, our family, our community put upon us. And when you choose should, you just can feel it, your body tenses up, you get small. Must is different. Must is oh so very different. Must is, it's who you are. It's what you believe, it's what you know to be true and you're really, really quiet with yourself. And must can be hard to find and some people feel really far from their must. Some people, especially right now, with everything that's been going on in the world. What is my must in the midst of everything that's happening? And how do I sort the shoulds from the musts. And also, a time like right now is a good sorting mechanism, right? It really shows us what's important. So those are the two paths and paradoxically, are you familiar with this man named Gurdjieff?
So Gurdjieff was a spiritual teacher around the turn of the century and a friend of mine, Soren, was telling me about this guy named Gurdjieff one day. And he said that this spiritual teacher posed a question to his students. And he said if a prisoner wants to be free from prison, what's the first thing they need to know? One student raises their hand and says the prisoner needs to get to know the guard. Okay. Another student says if a prisoner wants to be free from prison, they need to find the key. Okay. Gurdjieff looks at all the students and he says no. If a prisoner wants to be free from prison, the first thing they need to know is that they're in prison. Until they know that, no escape is possible, it doesn't even make sense. So ironically, should is the doorkeeper to must. Until we can really flip on the lightswitch, until we can really get to know our shoulds, you know the things that go in our head again and again, you should never, you should always, you should know better than to. Whatever those things are that continue to be the story that we're telling ourselves about ourselves who we should and shouldn't be, that's really the counterforce that stands in the way of must. So if I could redraw the crossroads, it's almost like shoulds, the more you get to know them, eventually turn into must.
That's a new development since last time.
That's a new development since last time we talked.
It's true, so in practical terms, what I heard is the way it makes you feel so can you do that a little bit more, 'cause to me that resonates.
You're very in touch with your feelings, Chase. I celebrate that in you, we talk about that a lot.
Well yeah, maybe we can talk about it with something, right?
So as you get to know your shoulds, you can almost fill them out like a list, right? That's one of the exercises in the book, you can just go through the list and just try not to think too much, you should never, you shouldn't have wide hips or you should never age or you should put on your face before you leave the house, you know, whatever it might be, depending on who you are. As you get to know those things, so one of my shoulds was you should not say you're a feminist. Isn't that interesting? And today it seems almost impossible that that could be someone's thought, right? In today's current climate, but growing up, I always had this feeling that to say you were a feminist was something like really bad. So whenever I was around people who were really outspoken and they're activists, you know. How would I feel? Going back to feelings, thank you. I would feel, kind of put up walls, or I would not for me, or for example in college, I never signed up for any women's studies classes. Not a one, and I always went to a liberal arts school. And that was largely rooted in this idea that ehh, not for me. You know, I'm doing something else, at the time I wanted to be a lawyer, but. I'm doing else. And I'm sure many lawyers need to take women's studies classes. But that was my should and that's how it felt in my body. And it feels a little bit like, a little yucky and a little scary and it feels a bit like (uncertain sound) where's something else? Or at least that's how I respond with my personality.
So versus must.
Yeah, right there, right?
That's how it feels, how it sounds right there.
Yeah. Like yum, yum. And like I don't know, do you have these things that you just love that you can't explain that are unique to you?
Oh that are unique to me.
Well, let's say that we were to take a dozen of the things that you love. That dozen's probably a pretty unique, rare collection, right?
I get it, if you take 'em all, you start sort of yeah building, even, is it more unique than a personality? Maybe not, but I get it. So it makes you say yum, makes you feel good. And is it as simple as that, are these feelings? Like I went to the feeling part, 'cause that's how I respond to those two words. One is almost sort of obvious and simple. Versus complex and I just, what is it, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication? And when I think of simple, I think of that's just obvious. You must do this.
I think must is unavoidable.
I think must is choiceless.
You know like you go buy eggs or lightbulbs, oh my gosh. Like what are you gonna do, right? Must isn't like that, must is like this just is. Like this is it.
And if it just is and if it is obvious and all these words we've just used over the last 30 seconds, why do we and why did you originally describe it as this, it's different, the must is different than all the things we end up doing. Because we do, we will our lives with mostly shoulds. Or not everyone, we use some. Aspirationally we wouldn't, but the reality is that we do buy eggs and we check our list and we put our face on before we leave, or whatever the thing is for us. Why do we do that?
Well that's a good question, why do you do you, why do I do each of those things. And one of the things that I talk about in the book is you can almost go through your shoulds and there's three questions. Usually things aren't so simple, but this one is, we've got it down. The first is where did I first hear this? Where did I first hear that I should never age? I mean that's pretty difficult to not age. You know and we see like women in their 50s, you know, and actresses or actors. I'm not sure what the correct term is. But we see women actors applying for the role of a 30 something woman and they're saying, no no. Or we see 30 year olds applying for 50 year old roles and them saying like no, you need to be younger. You know where in movies, we see a lot of the older characters getting killed off, right? Maybe some of those places might be where I pick these things up, right? And the second question is, are you true for me? So about the one you should never age, like so my hair's gonna change color, my skin's gonna change, everything about me's gonna change as I get older, is it true that I should never age? Well no, so how am I gonna navigate that? Let's bring it into consciousness. And then the third is do I wanna keep holding onto you? Do I really wanna keep carrying this idea about how I'm supposed to show up into every podcast, every meeting, every date, every day. Every time I look in the mirror? And this is a beautiful, tender moment. Because in my own experience, there were things that I was carrying around far too well and for far too long. I mean what does being a feminist really mean, it means you believe in equality.
Right, that radical notion that men and women are equal.
And what's so bad about that, nothing. It's great, and so this idea that I didn't wanna be a feminist like okay, I can finally like put that part of me down and let it go and I'm inviting something new into my life. And when that happens, oh, it's like this gardenia flower, it's just, things just begin to bloom. And they begin to just unfold and open in a way that feels good and smells good.
It's true, it feels good and it smells good. So can you tell me, like you just mentioned, Lawyer. I first knew you as a designer before an author. And at IDEO and other places, you've worked in a lot of the top brands of the world as a designer. But wasn't the should, was that the lawyer part of you? Or was that also driven appropriately and personally out of your desires to be a lawyer? You're holding your head sideways at me, you're sideeyeing me right now.
I come from a long line of really talented lawyers.
And I loved as a kid, getting to watch my dad, my mom would take me out of school, my brother and I, to go hear him give closing arguments at the courthouse.
Oh wow. That's like out of a show.
Wow that's great.
And he's so talented and to see the creativity and the skill and just to speak and to speak on behalf of something that he's really passionate about. For me, why wouldn't I wanna do that? It was so fun. And as I got older, I naturally just sort of thought, well I quite liked the lifestyle that I was generously given by my parents. I quite liked the world that I grew up in, I quite liked all of this, so there's a part of me that just thought it was safe. And I didn't really wanna be a lawyer, let's be honest, I can't even read the fine print on like an IKEA instructional table. There isn't even any fine print. Yeah, I thought maybe I'll be a lawyer so I can work with other artists. Like be an intellectual property lawyer. But I think my applications must have just said, please don't let me in, don't let me in. Because I was rejected from every school I applied to.
And if I'd gotten in to just one, Chase, I totally would've gone. You'd be meeting Attorney Elle.
I would've gone.
Well what is it in there, sorry to hijack that for just a second, but in there is was that your access to creativity? Because you thought you wanted to be an intellectual property lawyer so that you could work with creators? Did you not feel like you had creativity as part of you fundamental DNA and who you were?
I was sleeping at the art studio. I was like literally sleeping in a room that no one should ever be sleeping in. But for some reason it just never crossed my mind, that I could live a creative life. That I could somehow make a living being creative. And again, maybe I just didn't have my imagination dial totally all the way up, but I didn't know a lot of people, you know they call them starving artists for a reason. And of course the people around us, they want us to be safe, and they want us to be taken care of and be okay and not be a starving artist. So I had a lot of fear about that old myth. And of course, we have to, we're in San Francisco, like the most expensive city in the United States, and figuring out how are we gonna sing for our supper and do it in a way that's congruent, where we can continue to hold our head up high. It's a real trick, it's a real trick.
Well I don't know if I shared this in our last talk, I'm gonna share it again here, but your story and my story are very similar in that and that I, instead of being a lawyer, originally it was professional soccer. And I found out that I really didn't wanna do that based on doing it, went to college on a soccer scholarship, played it every single day, for five years, and then played it my whole teen life, but early on, I knew I was wildly creative and I basically wanted to fit in, I didn't wanna be the weird creative kid. I was like okay, I happened to be athletic, so I'm just gonna do this. And it was a means, as a six year old or an eight year old, to fit in, like okay cool. That's acceptable culturally, so I went around to that. And then I saw that really kick up again when it started being, having to think about college, and I ended up, as I mentioned, the soccer scholarship. But I was like what do you do? I asked my friends, my parents, the people who wanted me to be safe and looked after. They said oh, if you're smart and hardworking, you need to be a doctor or a lawyer or there was a couple other choices. And these were literally things that weren't prescribed to me, like you have to do this. But they were suggestions on what would be be safe and would be good and esteemed. And in the same breath that you just said earlier, like I didn't know that you could be an artist and not starving. Because of that moniker of the culture. I literally spent years and years of my life, hundreds of thousands of dollars in school debt, and basically paying, chasing the thing that everybody else wanted, the should. And I didn't know, I didn't remember that about you, the lawyer bit, so we're the same, we're the same. And what was it then, that allowed you to wake up in the art studio and say I wanna do this forever? Because right now, I'm just thinking about the people who are listening, there's a lot of folks for whom some have a side hustle, or a creative gift that they are curious about or they're at sort of level 1, they wanna go to or they're level zero and they wanna like embrace this and so I think you and your story are helpful for them, so with knowing who's listening right now, who's watching, what would you tell those people?
Oh, well I don't have any advice, necessarily, but I can tell what worked for me.
Okay, do that.
I started doing a 100 day project.
Amazing. Let's give a little backstory on 100 day projects.
So the 100 day project is this project that Michael Beirut, the amazing brilliant designer, lecturer, author, everything-er, Michael Beirut, started at Yale. And it was a part, he was a faculty in the MFA program.
Masters of Fine Arts, for those who don't know the lingo.
And it was to make something every day for 100 days, but you have to repeat the same thing. So one guy danced in public for 10 seconds every day, somebody else drew a doodle a day, another person made a poster in five minutes every day. So you do one thing repeatedly. And he did this class at Yale, I applied to Yale so that I could take his class. And I didn't get into Yale, it's a really, really top, top school. And I didn't get into Yale, and I thought oh my gosh. I'm never gonna be able to do the 100 day project. Seven years later, I'm walking down a dusty road in Mexico and it dawned on me. I could just do the 100 day project. Who knows what I was even thinking, I probably just had a delicious meal and a margarita, and I was like I can do the 100 day project.
I don't have to go to Yale.
I don't have to go to Yale to do it. So at dinner that night, I was with some friends, I said would anyone want to do a 100 days of making as a practice, I mean we can do it together, in community, because you know, to do it by yourself is hard. And to do it in community, and have some accountability and people cheering each other on and doing it together. Wow, wouldn't that be great? And the answer was yes, everybody there at the dinner wanted to do it, so we all posted on our Instagrams, we're gonna start in one week, here are the rules, if you wanna play, you can start. And now we are in our fifth year.
So you do it for 100 days, and you've done that, this is your fifth time, and we're in the middle of it right now.
Yes, we're on day 38.
Okay, day 38.
This is about when I'm thoroughly out of good ideas. And I like to say the project actually starts.
That's when it gets real.
Yeah, yeah. So we're in our fifth 100 day project, it's a free and open project, I think of it as one of the greatest, kind of mischievous projects. Because basically people, instead of being on all of their social media accounts, there's like the mindless flipping that we all do, that I do, it gives you a chance to reclaim your time.
Reclaiming my time, I love that.
Reclaiming my time, yes. And it allows you also to see what's going on in here, what's happening, do I wanna meet a new stranger every day for 100 days, do I wanna learn how to cook vegan food for my daughters who are suddenly vegan, what do I wanna do? And it gives you a chance to begin slightly seeing the world in a new way. And some of my favorite stories are, there's this one woman in St. Louis, her Instagram bio said wannabe artist for real mom of two. Her name's Hillary. She started the 100 day project, and her Instagram account went from photos of her at soccer games with her two really cute boys, to these amazing subversive cross stitch pieces. One a day for 100 days.
And at the end of 100 days, I wrote her and I was like, Hillary, you can update your Instagram bio. You're no longer a wannabe artist. And it's this amazing thing, how scary it is to say I'm an artist, I make art. Have you ever said I'm an artist?
All the time.
Yeah, and to me that was a huge piece of actually shifting gears and embracing the side of me that I was mentioning earlier I had repressed, and maybe it was for a good reason, maybe it was for a terrible reason. I do look at that, I think regret is a horrible thing, and I do look at that time in my life as something that is very powerful for me now, because I never wanna regret, and I do regret sort of not doing it, when not calling myself creative or not calling myself an artist. Ironically it was skateboard culture that allowed me to see that there can be a fusion between sort of action and activity, and being athletic and being wildly creative, because I think that community was where I first really saw it exemplified, but early on when I decided to shift gears and call myself an artist, it was one of the things that I now prescribe, because words matter. Naming is a powerful thing, and even just thinking about that humans are hardwired for language and that's why brands and advertising words matter, because we have an emotional connection to this thing that we all speak, this language. And calling yourself an artist, there's something that clicks in your brain, and when you call yourself a creator, call yourself whatever the moniker that you choose is, so yes, I call myself an artist and I prescribe it as a step in the process. Your 100 day project is absolutely incredible, the fact that you're five years in is amazing.
500 days of making is crazy.
I know, people in over 65 countries.
Yeah, so if people wanna check it out, what's the coordinates that we would give them for that?
Got it. And it's just making and the hashtag is the community?
And you can...
And we just pick a day, every year. Nobody owns it, there's splinter groups, there's people who are against the 100 day project, so they have their own 100 days of project, I don't know. But cool, like it's an art project. It gets to be whatever it wants to be.
So the act of making, I think we'll talk about that in a second, but the act of making is, the science is clear that creativity creates creativity. So in the act, yeah, I knew a guy by the name of Mark Rankin in the University of Georgia, maybe? And I was giving some talk somewhere and I was like ,where is that, I found this really interesting piece of research, but creativity creates more creativity. Do you have a desired outcome from signing up to do this, mean, you're not really signing up, you just start to do it.
You start to do it, we do it annually, we do it once a year, but you can start a 100 day project any time you want with your friends. So there is a desired outcome and the outcome is the process.
To realize that the process is the product?
The process is it, and it's about letting go of this idea of creating like fetishized objects and it's about getting beyond the object itself and just continuing to get your butt in that seat. Every day. To sit down, like yesterday was really brutal. Yesterday, I had all these other things going on, I had a million reasons to not do it and also, I'm kind of out of some of the ideas that I had before I started it and I'm doing 100 days of animation, so I'm learning.
I'm noticing that from your feed. It's beautiful and it looks hard.
It's so, I have no idea what I'm doing. I have no idea, I've never done this before. And so I'm learning on the fly, and yesterday I decided to go from charcoal to watercolor. I don't know how to animate watercolor and I was getting really frustrated and but the 100 day project is about just do something. Just do it and get it done, and get it out there. And because you have to do it every day, it really what is the saying, done is better than perfect.
You know, you just get it done, and you're answering a little question here, or a little question there and I think so often with the Crossroads of Should and Must, sometimes people think that they need to like quit their job in order to find their calling. Or that their job has to be their calling, right? And no, not at all. Just because you wanna find your calling, does not mean that you need to quit your job. Sometimes a job is a great thing to have while you pursue your calling on nights and weekends. Right, like Keith Haring bused tables and Melissa Gilbert was a bartender.
Ansel Adams put his photographs in menus for 25 cents.
(laughs) I love it. And then you have other people who make a great career, like T.S. Eliot, he was a banker. He was an amazing financial mind. Even look at composer Philip Glass, he was like renewing his taxi medallion even as his work was debuting at the Met, like just in case, right. And he was a plumber and an electrician. So you know, there's a lot of ways to figure out your job and your career and your calling and there's so many ways to get creative with how you make money, and it's really important to have a conversation with your art. Like with my animations, do I want my animations to pay the rent? No, I need my animations to have a sandbox where they can just explore and I can learn and I can have a safe space. So have a dialogue with your practice, and figure out what does my art wanna be in my life, does it wanna be responsible for health insurance, like maybe. Maybe not, right. And then with the 100 day project, what begins to happen is you begin to find these little loves, they start just growing and sprouting like seeds and suddenly this little thing that you just kind of were itching to do, has now really grown and again, back to the flower. It's really blossomed in your life. And that's the way must is, it makes its own space. But you have to start somewhere. And the 100 day project invites you into that process, into that practice.
Well there's a lot about you that I feel like comes out when you realize like what your blockers are, I'm not doing this, you start to realize that because I want it to be perfect or I want it to be good, or I want it to be fast or I want it to be so many things and then that is a great reflection about you. And turns out that's actually part of your next book is that Your Story is Your Power.
And I thought it would be interesting if, so you are the author, you're co-author of this book, called Your Story is Your Power, and the subtitle is for your feminine voice. Your coauthor is Susie Herrick and I thought it would be cool if we called Susie.
I love that idea.
Would you be up to that?
I would love that.
Okay, so while, we're gonna keep talking, but we're gonna bring Susie into our show here and I don't even know, do you know where is Susie right now? The team, you didn't ask her, but we're gonna call her right now, and while the team is setting that up, I just thought it'd be cool since she is your coauthor.
We'll do a little background on Susie when we bring her to the show, but I loved knowing you personally and knowing the Crossroads book well. I thought it was a really beautiful transition into Your Story is Your Power. Can you draw me a picture, was it the 100 day project that helped you navigate your way here, or what part of?
Well the Crossroads of Should and Must came out and then Susie was working on her memoir, which she can tell you more about when she comes on. But I got to help her a little bit with the editing of her memoir and provide some illustrations for the text and you'll get a sense when we get her on the Skype, Susie's someone who's really been in the cave of her own life. And dug her way through with a spoon so to speak to find her inner treasures, she's the real deal. And in getting to work on her book with her, I learned so much from someone who has done decades of work.
Actually we have her book here too.
Aphrodite Emerges, yes. And the more I started really learning about her experience and her story, the more I began to look and be invited into my shoulds as a woman. Nw whether you're a woman, a man, Latino, African American, are there certain shoulds that keep you in your prison of such, and how do we begin to flip on the lights and figure out what those stories are. So for me, going into those shoulds of my own femininity, blocks to my own femininity, largely. And figure out why was I keeping myself from myself? That then unleashed a lot of positive impact in my life and so we had to write this new book. We had Susie's book out the door and then we had our 45th president elected, and the Women's March and there was an opportunity to really write a book about what is it like to be a woman right now, during such crazy times.
Yeah, so to me that opens up an amazing opportunity for us to have a conversation. And you and Susie can do a little bit more talking and me do a little bit more listening. But what, if that was in part the motivation, just culturally the timing was appropriate. What are some of the things that you discovered, first of all, and second of all, freeing your feminine voice. Now as a man, I have a feminine voice inside of me.
This is why we love you, Chase.
So I would like you to first talk about your experience with finding your feminine voice and then for the 50 percent who may be listening who are not feminine, paint a really good picture for us of how important and why that is not just for women. And regardless of the term feminism being about men and women being equal, but just I think the feminine voice is something that's really important and I would like to hear you talk about it.
Wow, I'm feeling a little sheepish right now, 'cause I like wanna pass the mic to Susie.
Yep is she here? Hello, Susie.
How's it going.
Hey hey, howdy Chase, hey Elle.
I love this, this is amazing, thanks team, for putting that together. I love it. Welcome to the show.
Thank you, thank you Chase, it's nice to see you and meet you.
The timing is perfect, we were talking abuot a couple of other things before but we've just shifted gears to Your Story is Your Power, so a, congratulations.
And b, just the question that as we were connecting with you, or the crew was connecting us, technologically, I had sort of just asked Elle the question of what was her journey toward finding that this was not just culturally well timed, but personally important to her and then given that the subtitle is free your feminine voice, like how does that apply? After you all talk about it from the perspective of a woman, can you help explain how that's also relevant to the other gender?
And I was just telling Chase, Susie, it's so nice to see you.
It's nice to see you.
I was just telling Chase this is the moment when I wanted to pass the mic to Susie to talk about what is the feminine voice and how do men experience it, because Chase just beautifully said, he said I'm a man and I also have a feminine voice. Which was really lovely to hear But this has come up quite a bit, as we've just finished a book tour at a lot of cities, from coast to coast. And a lot of our groups were both men and women. So can I pass Susie, Susie can I pass it to you?
Thank you. This is one of my favorite topics. Partly because when we do our talks, the men will stand and say amazing things. A man stood up the first talk we gave with 2. and just cried, 'cause he was so moved by the material and realized his own perspective. That he saw the women's lives getting discriminated against and that was painful and also the feminine in him was getting discriminated against. And so really the question is how to find the feminine voice, I found my feminine voice by looking at the things that I shut down when I felt that shame. And the sound is not so great, by the way. Are you getting reverberation?
We've got a little feedback yeah, let's try to play through it if it's possible. I'll do anything I can to troubleshoot, just 'cause having you here is totally incredible it's like, and where are you right now, by the way? Physically.
I'm in Menlow Park, California. Where are you guys?
We're in San Francisco, so saved you an hour drive down the 101 in brutal traffic. You sound great now, just we'll go ahead and you said you'd heard from some men in the audience when you were on your book tour that some sort of interesting points of view and some openness.
Yeah, the talks really brought up a lot of emotion, and a lot of the men that I've experienced who go into this material feel a lot of grief at the loss of this part of themselves, at the loss that they feel that women have not been part of the conversation. And also their own feminine, so the way that I discovered it was the parts of myself that repressed, what was that? Like if someone put me down, what would I just take off and that's what my (audio cuts out).
What about you, Elle? How did you did you discover yours?
Well someone asked, I guess recently for an interview, what is the feminine voice. And we talked about it in a lot of different ways in the book, but my own experience of it is have you seen this movie Pleasantville?
So in this movie Pleasantville, the movie goes from black and white to full color. And I think my own feeling, my own experience of the feminine coming online in my life felt like things going into full color. That there was space, there was a full spectrum available, and I started just feeling better. I started feeling better and better and what Susie's talking about, a little bit about how to figure out, it's a bit like the shoulds are keeping you from the must, right? You know what is it that's keeping you from the feminine voice, whether you're a man or a woman, right? And so one of the things that we talk about in the book is we use the symbol of the labyrinth. And the labyrinth is the organizing structure for the book and the labyrinth has two symbols in it. The first is a spiral, which is really about going internal, going inside, and the second is the meander, which we see all through nature, we see it in the digestive tract in our own bodies, and these two symbols together are about going internal and that things just take time. And so the book is organized in that way and it's about how do you get to the center of your story, how do you find the things that are keeping you from what you really want. From the type of work you really wanna be doing or the types of relationships that you crave or the type of person you long to be. And in our own experience, it was really looking, first looking out at the cultural stories that we were telling ourselves about ourselves as women, looking at music, looking at fairytales, you know, looking at all these different things that we tell young girls, right? You know, if you wanna get the prince, you need to be beautiful, be slim, be demure, yeah, be beautiful, be a great housekeeper, right? And then you get the prince and become queen. And we started really looking at the ways, the storytelling that's been going on for generations. And asking is this really our collective happily ever after as women? Is this really the world that we dream of and the answer is no, so what's that all about? So if you go in deeper, then we looked at our family stories and also looked at personality, and ultimately, really at the center of your story, realizing that only you can be at the center of you. At the center of the labyrinth, it's just you. And at that quiet, centered place, there might be some insight that comes forward and Susie and I both had a unique experience. I'm wondering if you could share the story about the placemat.
Oh yeah, one of the things that I discovered was that when I was in the the middle of a breakup, that I have this internal voice that's really critical. And so I sat down with a friend of mine and I said let's write everything down that we can think of that comes up from our center about women. And so we wrote it down on a placemat and it was disturbing. It was really disturbing. So I started getting a real sense that these themes that showed up in my unconscious were themes that show up misogyny in history. And that was the real clue to me that I had to do a lot of internal work. So I started talking to this internal misogynist and changed it's occupation from critical to supportive which enabled me eventually to really confront my father and my father's life completely changed, (muffled speech). And it was one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had in my life and to me it really showed that when you're doing the internal work, that's when you have the most impact on the world and so when Elle and I got together to do this book, we wanted to set up a roadmap of how to do that to really talk to that peace in us. Those disparate voices that get lost and the feminine voice is such a disparate voice in our culture. And yet it's such a needed voice. I'm a psychotherapist and I've been reading lots of articles lately about how depressed our youth are and in college and also in tech companies and I think a lot of it is the loss of connection to the emotion and the physical body. And so a lot of this is actually wrapped up, I believe in the feminine.
Super powerful, could I ask you one question on that? Sorry, one question on that Susie, if I can. So I brought a conversation that I had with my wife into the conversation I was having with Brene Brown. And you know Dr. Brene Brown, she's incredible. Friend, friend of my wife, Kate and I and I was talking about oh wow, I feel like a huge part of the future is feminine. There's an understanding that is coming into popular culture which has been a voice that's been highly absent and talked about the misogyny that's embedded in all that. And I think it was Brene, and I don't wanna misattribute it, but talking about and it's also not just male female, it's just things that are besides just male. 'Cause if we were talking, it's like how do you wrap not being gender specific into this conversation, I was wondering if you guys could address that? Susie is that something you can tackle?
That's a great question and it's really topical I think, because what would our language look like, what would our interactions look like if it wasn't gender specific. Like what kind of dialogues could we have and so I think it's a really good question. We talk about the feminine because that's the disparate voice that we were focusing on.
Absolutely understand yeah.
Which would lead into that dialogue, which is what happens when you take out the imperative to be strong or to be masculine or to be goal oriented or to have strategic planning, that kind of thing. What happens if you take that out and allow for things like meandering and someone to take time with their emotions and what happens when we can just sit with that?
Yeah, I think your all approach, I'm trying to listen and learn here, but I'm also trying to navigate for our audience, I mean this is an incredibly powerful topic, too. It is the feminine voice that we have to talk about, I think it's interesting that there is or potentially are innumerable number of voices and the fact that without the gender part, the gender free restroom, to me that's a fsacinating topic that I'm watching unfold in real time but it doesn't address the fact that you've got 1,000 miles to go with the feminine. And so if there's another group of people, or I don't even actually have the right words for it, because we have our language, we're limited by language in sort of the duality of gender. So let's park that sort of third piece just for a second and let's go back into the feminine and is there a way to talk about I think what I've heard so far is if the masculine is goal oriented and you just used four or five terms to describe it.
What the culture currently describes it as.
Yeah that's, I'm trying to choose my words here like that's a really important and powerful distinction. Would you do the same for the feminine right now for us? You talked about taking time and being in touch with feelings and give us four or five other terms that we can sort of help to understand that through.
Did you want me to do that, Elle?
One of y'all, I kinda wanna hold you all here so I can get a bunch of knowledge in a small amount of time.
Appreciate that, really. Well for me, when I started looking at the things that I had shaved off, the things that I thought were bad about me, like the number one thing was that I wanted relationships. That was a big one. And I had been teased in my early childhood about that, wanting to be engaged with people and doing things and having romantic relationships, that was really important to me. And that was often, you know, poo pooed and said why are you focusing on that? And I realized later, is that was the part of me that knew, the intelligence in me that knew that relationship was really important. And there's a lot of evidence now about how humans evolve via good relationships. And the feminine part of us gets that and women tend to be very good at that. Engaging in good relationships and know how to have relationships that are really healthy and engaging. And it's actually best for our brain chemistry to have those good relationships.
Yeah that's incredibly powerful. What about you, some of your experiences?
We also talk in the book about we saw something in the Obama administration that was really cool. Women were seeing that in meetings, during his first term, that when one of the women would share an idea, sometimes other people would take the idea, sometimes men would claim it as their own and just talk over the women. And they started to see this happen. And the women did something really wise which is the same thing we saw happen last week, before last week, but with the Bill Cosby conviction. Right, what we saw was women, instead of being isolated in their meeting room, or instead of being isolated in this court case, women started coming together. And they started sharing intelligence with one another and what they decided to do is they called it an amplification strategy. And whenever a woman had an idea, during one of these big board meetings, the other women would all, oh good idea, Jane. Thank you, Jane, what are then next steps on that, Jane. Everyone just amplified her voice. And Obama took note. And during his second, and he actively said that he saw the women doing this and he started calling on women more. And during his second administration, he actively made it a point to put 50% women in leadership positions, which wasn't the case in his first term. And so that's an amazing example of women coming together and we see with the Cosby conviction, and with the #MeToo movement, right. We see women coming together and saying I don't want to be isolated. I don't wanna be alone, I wanna share my story and I wanna be heard, and I wanna be believed. And when we see these brave women, 60 women coming together and really sharing their story and dissolving this idea that women are alone and crazy, right? We were just talking about this last week. So women are really good at community, women are really good at relationships, they're good at community, we can come together and so there's this quote in the book, you know. How might war and capitalism and 1,000 other things have been different, how might they all have been different had they not been designed with half of humanity locked outside the door. And that's Ganan Ninidas, I can't say his name. But we'll have to include it, yes, yes. You know, how might things be different had women not been locked outside the door? What type of a world might we be in now. I was, I guess when I first started, this is a really tactical story, when I first started doing this work, so I got to work on Susie's memoir, Aphrodite Emerges, and Susie's been doing this work for decades. And, yes.
(laughs) Wow. Thank you.
When I first got to work on her book, I was going out on a date. And on this date, we went and had tea and it was just like an afternoon tea, I was kind of like 20-30 minutes. If there's something there, we'll go out again. And it was nice, but I probably wasn't gonna go out with him on another date and at the end he offered to pay for my tea, which was really nice. And I thanked him and we got up to leave the teashop. And he cranked his arm back and slapped me on the butt.
Way. And I'm thinking, well at first I'm like, ouch and seriously? Like this is Northern California, like these things aren't supposed to happen in Northern California. And just a few years ago, like not that long ago.
I've gotta close my mouth right now. I'm like.
Right? That's how I was. (Susie laughs) So first I was shocked, and then I was angry, and then I'm thinking like just get out of here, like your car is right there. This guy, don't waste your time. What is the voice that says don't say anything? What is the voice that says oh just smile and nod and thank him for the tea and don't make a big deal. Don't rock the boat. This is one of the biggest things that I've learned from Susie and her work and that hopefully is in this book, is that the more you get sorted out in here and you stop taking the shit in here, excuse me. That's what it is. You get sorted out out here. And I knew in this moment that actually the most loving thing I could do was to just not be okay with what he had just done. And that was a new thing for me, because my personality type, which we talk about the personality types in the book, is to put a smile and oh it's fine. It's fine, don't rock the boat. It's fine, just be okay, just make everything okay. And I decided to not make things okay. And I turned and I looked at this guy and I said, mustered all the courage in my body, it was really, really hard and I think I put my hands on my hips and said. I think you're here because you wanna meet a nice girl and you wanna go on a second date and just so you know, if you slap her on the butt, she's not gonna wanna go out with you. So there and I like ran to my car and that's such a tender moment for me, because that's how it kind of starts working its way out. Once the internal misogyny is seen, it's like why do I think it's okay for someone to hit me? That's so violent and inappropriate, why wouldn't I say something? And the more I began to realize how inappropriate that was, and have incredible love for myself, the more I began practicing, in little ways, with this guy or in another situation or if I had been in the amplification meeting, that would've been cool. It's like you begin to find moments when you can try on your feminine voice, you can try on this voice that says I wanna go on a date where this doesn't happen. You know, I wnana be in relationship, I wanna.
Be in a meeting.
I wanna be in a meeting where it doesn't happen, and so how do I begin to create that change and one of the things that Susie said many years ago to me, and it's so beautiful. Is love doesn't always mean making things okay. Sometimes love means making things not okay. And that was like, my brain exploded when she shared that with me. Because that's what she did and that's what we began to talk about in the book is how to realize what's not okay inside. Do you really wanna look in the mirror every day and hear that same, it's sort of like the cultural misogyny gets internalized and it sort of becomes the story that you tell yourself about yourself everyday, I mean that's how it was for me. And as I began to wake up to it and realize I realized that not only did it impact the story that I told myself about just existing as a woman, but also in women I encountered. I was in San Francisco crossing the street one day and I saw a woman and the inner misogynist came out and said something about the woman. And in that moment, I basically did what we talk about in the book, which is you have to, I got to have an intervention with myself on the sidewalk. And go through a process of intervening and saying, like we've gotta say something nice, this is not working. I don't wanna live in this world. And right then and there, the woman sneezed. And I got to say to the woman, bless you. And it was like this intimate, immense moment. Where it just, it's like the saying where when you take one step towards the gods, the gods take 10 steps towards you. And this feeling like the more I began to heal this part of me, the more it felt like it began to reflect externally in the world around me and it continues, it's ongoing work, it's a labyrinth. We continue to go inside, go inside and it continues to reflect externally with what we see happening, I guess economically but environmentally, politically, with everything we see happening in the news. It's a really scary time.
Is it also potentially a very profound time? Is it just scary or is the other side of scary potentially something really powerful. And I ask that because y'all are going through this. I think we are all culturally, but I can't take a piece of that like I have to understand. Is the place that we're going because of this moment, clearly, it's better, on the other side is it more full, is there promise, like help, I think you get there in the book. Help us understand it in this conversation. Where are we going?
Can I respond to that?
Yeah, I'm sorry. You probably can't see, I'm looking at you right now.
Okay, great, great. You're a bit blurry, but I can see you, thanks.
I feel a little bit blurry.
I think that, to answer your question directly, and I think you alluded to this earlier, which is I think that when we get this, that I think we can have a real impact on the planet and I think that we are at a crossroads right now that we are in a real dire place and I've been concerned about this for a long time, Elle and I had this dialogue for a long time about how the Earth is called Mother Earth and yet she's is treated horribly as well and I wanna say what Elle is showing you is that all the work that she has done to get to this point where she can step out in moments where she never did before, is a practice of, and we went back to many generations around geology charts and found really interesting things along the way that would keep women from speaking. Like I found out that I have all these relatives in the Salem witch trials. And what we learned is that the more that we stepped out of that and spoke, from this place, because we had to do it first inside, the more impact we have. And so if everyone could get a sense of how they diminished this part of them, that gives them much more energy, much more gravitas to actually make these statements so when she did these things, she had a huge impact. And I think that's one of the things that I think will really have an impact on the planet and my hat is off to Tarana Burke for the #MeToo hashtag. And she talked about when it started coming up and the #MeToo hashtag became very visible, she thought that she would be pushed aside and that she would be forgotten like a lot of African American women are but actually she got recognized for it, which was a huge step and I think that as a culture, this culture in particular, we're starting to wake up. There's been a lot of negativity coming at us from the powers that be, but I think that actually people are coming to the plate because of it, so I think we are in this amazing moment in time that can potentially have huge impact on the planet and maybe get to the point where we have a society where we can have these kind of dialogues everyhwere. Which would be my dream, to have this really shift everything.
I think both of you are putting your finger on it, it's a really scary time. We've never been, just right now as we are even talking, our ice caps are melting, we're seeing unprecedented temperatures, we're seeing incredible war, displacement, refugee crisis. And one of the kind of thesis of the book is that the loss of the feminine at an individual level, as that continues to get reclaimed, and reclaimed and reclaimed, a lot of individual change creates a lot of collective change. And what's it gonna be like when there's women really using their voice and men, using their feminine parts of themselves, that really yearn for maybe a different world.
What's that gonna be like? I mean talk about like the ultimate, I believe it was Dr. King who talked about being creatively maladjusted. Right, like when we can really get to this place where we no longer go along with the status quo, I mean I think this is what so many of the people here in the Bay Area have talked about for so long, being a round peg in a square hole, thinking different. I think this is really, how do you say, actually what's going on? The status quo isn't working for me. And get that sorted out in here, because then what begins to happen is things get incredibly creative and imagination comes online and what kind of a world do we wanna be living in and even just looking at Susie's beautiful house with all the colors and the beautiful art and textiles and this is really what it's all about. What do you wanna wear, what do you wanna do with your hair? What kind of shoes, you know? Like everything becomes designable or creatable, because anything is possible if you can imagine it.
If you can imagine it. And it's also, at the same time, a really really scary time. And so both of those things are true, but Susie and I have a lot of hope. And our hope is not just in women but in men as well, seeing the men at the events come forward and share. There was a guy in Atlanta, who really wanted to be in musical theater in high school, he loved to sing. So in high school, he applied for musical theater. And he got in and then he went into the locker room and a bunch of his friends said you know, who are you a girl? Being in musical theater, and they meant that in a derogatory way and he unsubscribed from musical theater. And then I met him at one of our events and he stood up and he began to cry. And he said now I work in the music industry, but how much different would my life have been had I just pursued this thing that I loved? And I think people are really getting that and they're realizing that by reclaiming that, it's giving them access to, I guess, life in full color, so to speak.
One of the things that I got to watch was my father shift his life from this experience and so he started treating my mother differently, which shifted her, his friends started wanting to talk to their wives, the communication between me and my father then serendipitously, my brother ended up having two daughters, and so he got to help raise them and he felt really capable of doing that. Because of all this work and he died now two years ago, and when he died he felt very at peace. And very fulfilled and so I think there is a lot of possibility, and I know it's in Elle's and my work. We've had impact on our families, and impact on our friends, and the audiences that we've been in and also the people in the audiences, they get touched and they respond to us on Facebook and things like that, sharing the impact that it's had and it's just an extraordinary experience. And it doesn't surprise me, because when we get together and connect with each other, people have more fulfilling lives.
I was just gonna remark on that, as I was listening to both of you talk, a handful of things came to mind, which probably have their, not even probably, have their identity roots in the feminine and you've mentioned things like creativity, like community. I mean I preach about this thing that I call the other 50%, which is you can make something, you can create, and you can even promote the thing that you've created. But without community, it's very hard for your idea to travel and so there's this part of us that needs to be consistently making community for our ideas to be able to go beyond just the four walls in which they were created. And when you think of that, for the folks at home that are trying to wrap their mind around a rather complex topic, culturally, it actually can be pretty simple, 'cause if you look at creating community, as you talk about it. That is something that is aligned with the feminine, how powerful that is, how required it is for culture to not just survive, but to thrive. And if you bring it back to your daily practice of being a person, in Idaho, in your underwear at home, trying to make a go as a designer. Creating community is actually, it's not just nice to have, it's required. At that risk, I kinda wanna, I don't wanna overclaim or I don't wanna tread too heavily in a world that I'm trying to put together. You know, on a piece by piece, day by day basis, as someone who has grown up with a ton of privilege, white, male, middle class, born in America, born in this time, all these things. But I can't help but think of things like community, when you talked earlier, Susie, about that fundamental sort of aspect of the feminine being really good at that. Like it's just so easy to identify and you put it so beautifully in that context, and there's so many others. Even the ability to create, the fact that women can give birth to children, that's foundation of creativity, right? It's Creating, maybe the biggest, with a capital c. But just an observation, how powerful those vehicles are, culturally and how watering them, and growing them can be changing, like the concept of community. How important is that?
This is beautiful, and thank you for sharing, 'cause Chase's vulnerability just makes my whole body just relax and it's just really lovely to hear, thank you.
One of the stories in the book, that we talk about is maybe Susie, you can tell it briefly, 'cause she knows it better, but the story about community and how a Star Trek actress ended up changing a whole community.
Oh do tell.
There's a character on the original Star Trek named Lieutenant Ohura and she's an African character, a black woman, who plays a communications officer. And when she started, the woman who played her is named Michelle Nichols and when she was in Star Trek I think for about a year, she went to Roddenberry, who was the guy that had directed it, produced it, written it, and said I wanna leave. And he said you don't wanna leave. (laughs) 'Cause you're having such a huge impact. He said think about it over the weekend, I'm gonna hang on to your resignation letter, I'm not gonna accept it until you have time to think about it.
And I wanna interject, Susie, that at this time, to cast her as a lieutenant was a really big deal as opposed to the housekeeper or something else on the show.
Right, in fact, there is, one of the things that Michelle Nichols talked about was that she was at a convention and a woman came up to her and said, you know. Who's black and she said, you know when I saw you on TV, as Lieutenant Ohura, I yelled to my mom saying, hey Ma look, it's a black lady on TV and she's not playing a maid. And then this woman said that I knew I could do anything, after that, and that was Whoopi Goldberg.
Yeah. And so anyway, in the meantime, so during this weekend that Roddenberry gave Michelle Nichols to think about it, she went to a party and one of the people at the party said, oh there's someone that really wants to meet you. A fan, so she goes and talks to this fan and the fan says, oh you can't leave Star Trek, it's amazing, it's having such a huge impact on the African American culture, in this country, it's just so empowering. And that was Martin Luther King.
Yeah, I mean that was one character in a TV show that broke a precedent, right, communicated so many things to so many people and gave an optimistic thought that hey, I could do that, I could do something different.
Isn't that amazing?
We met a woman in Seattle who went for a casting audition. It was gonna be an advertisement, a commercial, where a Red Cross helicopter descended to save someone who's drowning. And she walked out onto the stage and she said I'm here to apply for the pilot role. And they said oh no no, the pilot is a man. The helicopter pilot is a man, you're the drowning woman. And she said, no I would really like to audition for the pilot role. And they said, well not only do you need to audition for the female role who's drowning, but also she's a blonde woman, and this woman was an African American woman. And she said, I brought a whole bag of blonde wigs. And she put it on and they said no, you don't understand, you don't fit the part. And she leaned forward and she said this in our group in Seattle and I'll never forget it. She said I know I don't fit the part, but can you imagine it? And she got the part.
And I think this is where the imagination and creativity comes on, right? He dreamed of a world where Lieutenant Ohura was a Lieutenant, right? This woman said imagine it, just imagine this possibility that's different, imagine how things may differ, imagine how the world might be different were it not designed with half of humanity outside the door, what might that world look like?
I think there's an interesting point to be made or maybe it's juxtaposition, that we're here in San Francisco recording this. And that the tech scene has historically wildly underrepresented women, women have been historically underrepresented in engineering roles, in tech leadership and we could probably name half a dozen other burgles, but specifically here. Is that a genesis that you are both from here, is that a thing that has really played an impact in motivating this work out of you? Is that part of how it came to be?
You mean in terms of the tech, in the tech world, women being underrepresented?
Yeah, it's just like, of course women are underrepresented almost everywhere in roles that would typically in that old world mentality, be associated with that, in engineering for example. That we are in this place, where that is the narrative, was it the environment that helped push you all to do this work, I'm kinda trying to figure out, like we're all a product of our environment. But was it something like we have to do this work. Was it a call to action and was it being in a place like Silicon Valley, where there is maybe even a disproportionately large problem in that arena, I don't know. I'm asking.
I'm not sure that was part of the genesis for me, particularly, other than generally that women are very discriminated against, period. There's a book that we've used a lot called Misogyny, World's Oldest Prejudice. Written by a man, and it's an extraordinary book, 'cause he says it just in the title. Where I see it in technology, is that I see not only that women are not there, but also the discrimination against emotion. The discrimination against anything that's colorful, feminine, relationship-oriented. That's all like the that's not good, right? And I think that's the part that I find really a concern, and part of the thing that really concerns me is that these companies now are developing AI, and the AI is being developed based on this kind of culture and what does that mean? I think that's a part where I would like to really be a part of that conversation because the human body responds to each other kinesthetically, biologically, right? We are more fulfilled when we have contact with one another and so they're developing AI now that acts like, to listen to people and stuff without really saying let's get everybody to listen to everybody. So that's the part that I'm concerned about now and I think the loss of women in that culture, the women that are there are holding up a lot trying to hold this peace, but there's a huge counterforce against it and that's a concern. I think Elle can say more to this, she's had more work in tech.
You lived in that environment, right?
Yeah, so one of the things that happened last year was when we began to see venture capitalists being called out for their treatment of women and we saw some folks handle it unskillfully and we saw others handle it in really beautiful ways and there was one venture capitalist in particular, who came out on Twitter and he said I owe every woman I've ever worked with or not worked with an apology. And he wrote a Medium post about it and he went through his entire career as venture capitalist and talked about inappropriate places that he had meetings, he talked about inappropriate topics of conversation, he talked about not taking meetings from women CEO startups. He put it all out there and I read this apology and my heart just opened for this man who was doing a really brave, beautiful thing to say this is me and this is where I am. And he has an amazing family and he said you know I have the support of my family, I'm reading more, I'm getting help and I want you to help me get better. And this is essentially what happened with Susie's dad, when she confronted him and it was this beautiful moment, we talk about this in our book. How when somebody comes forward, when somebody says wow, look how I've been a part of this paradigm that has hurt so many people, look how I've participated in it. Unwittingly maybe, right, we train people really well. And for him to come out and say that, is such an incredible moment to empower and rush in with support and love and it's a huge transformational moment, where they're letting all of their guards down, right? And it's not a moment to attack, or to point fingers at or to shame and of course this being the internet, there was a lot of that happening online which was so heartbreaking and I guess for anyone listening if you see someone who just really opens up and says this is where I am, this is really what's going on inside of me and I wanna do better, 'cause I wanna feel better, I wanna be better. When you see that, to me that vulnerability and Brene talks a lot about this, to meet that and to celebrate it. And I think that's where we are now with a lot of the #MeToo conversations happening, and a lot of people beginning to dialogue. We're coming together and people are starting to talk. There's a quote in the book. By Mandela, Nelson Mandela, he says oh I'm not going to say it quite right, but it's about hate and love, and basically about we're not born hating someone based on the color of their skin or their gender or where they're from and if someone can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than it's opposite. And I think that's where we are, and it is a great turning point and for the startups who are finding a lot of misogyny and sexism within their culture, it can be well there's lots of paths, but one of them is to say let's be an amazing example of what it looks like to accept that we have a problem and to really ask the women to come forward and share what it feels like to be a woman in our organization. What does it feel like with some of our policies. And how do we begin to shift our culture, how do we begin to then shift actually what we're building or even how we're building it, right? Maybe what we're even building and putting into the world may be different. And I guess it is an invitation, especially for the companies who are really getting a lot of finger pointing right now, if those folks were to say we wanna be a shining light for what it looks like to shift the misogyny within our culture, everyone else would follow suit, because it's everywhere, it's everywhere. And I think if Silicon Valley can invent all the things that we have, they can certainly be leading the charge on this as well. And it's gonna take a really courageously vulnerable leader to raise their hand and sign up for that.
One of the things, one of the quotes in the book is about how fish in water can't really describe the water because it's all around them and when an air bubble goes by for the inquisitive fish, they start to wonder what the water's about, and that's what the sexism and misogyny is like. And I think that once we start to be able to describe the water to each other. Like for example, one of the things I notice often in talking with men in athletics is that they often insult each other and call each other girls. And that's a common practice in TV, common practice everywhere, so it's like when you say thing like had you noticed that, and someone goes oh I guess. Then you help them say oh it's fine, we just wanted to start describing these little things that reflect this cultural phenomena that half of the human race is discriminated against and let's work together so that doesn't have to continue that way.
Amazing, thank you both for doing this book. How long did it take you? Did it just fly off the page or was it a 10 year overnight success? How did you all think about it?
Well Susie had been working on her memoir for a long time and doing decades of research specifically on this topic and I was the fortunate one who met Susie, we met through a mutual friend, one of her students. She was a teacher at a graduate program in counseling psychology, he introduced us and thought we would be kindred spirits, which we are. And I created Crossroads, and so those both kind of existed and then there was an opportunity to create a third book that really took all of that experience and wisdom and storytelling and to put it into a new book and to specifically try to get it out there before midterm elections.
So it was pretty quick. It was, I dunno, maybe six to nine months? It was pretty quick.
And it really was built on the two books that we both wrote and just the concept of the Must, it was our must. That Elle put so eloquently, it's a crossroad between should and must and this is the must.
Thank you so much for making the book. Thank you so much for calling in from down south.
Really really grateful to have you on the show, congratulations again on your earlier book, Aphrodite Emerges.
Oh beautiful painting.
Yeah, I was gonna say, I recognize some of this beautiful artwork.
Elle did all the artwork and designed the book.
It's beautiful. And then congratulations again on Your Story is Your Power. Thank you so much for joining us, we'll sign off from the Skype call with you, Susie. Thank you for being you and I haven't read Aphrodite Emerges yet, but I have it in my hands now, so I'm grateful and thanks for highlighting all the stuff that you did to bring this book to life, so thank you.
Well thanks for hearing our voices, thank you.
Oh so happy, so grateful and I wish you were in the room with us. Next time we'll have a reunion, thank you.
Well thanks for being part of the dream. And I'll sign off now.
Okay, ciao, good bye.
Ciao, bye Elle, too.
Bye. That was awesome. Well thanks again, tech crew for making that happen.
Yes that was amazing.
That was perfect.
Isn't Susie incredible?
Wow. She's a partner you wanna have. Did you have another book in mind or was this just serendipity when you two met and this was just a thing that had to happen?
This was just a thing that had to happen.
It's a must?
So my dream, with this book, with this new book is I wanted to, with the visuals, just with the art and the design. I just wanted something that's really hard to talk about to be almost a little fun and digestible, and not so scary. Like the book that she was talking about, Jack Holland's book, Misogyny. It just says in giant pink letters, Misogyny with like an old sculpture of Venus de Milo on the cover and I was getting on an airplane and I was carrying this book, reading it with, you know, it's such a hard book to read. Every chapter I had to bribe myself with a glass of champagne. I mean the history is horrible, it's just horrible. And it's also the history and it was good to read it. But I was getting on the airplane and I had the title facing out and I thought, yeek, I'm gonna turn this inward, and I think there was something about, I don't know, there was something about that that I felt like, you know. So I think with this book, it's sort of like the Trojan horse of books, like how do we talk about patriarchy and privilege and misogyny and how it gets internalized and all these really big things that are so important in a way where someone can walk on a plane and oh yeah of course, give it to a friend. Like my 15 year old self growing up in Dallas, Texas. I really would've benefited from a book like this, I would have loved to have known as a young girl that it was actually a great thing to be a feminist. And maybe I would've taken different classes in college, who knows how much would have been different even in my own life and I'm a woman, right? So I think our hope in getting it out there is how to really guide people to the center of their story. And it feels a little bit like a workbook in that way. Because everyone's journey is gonna be different. But ultimately, I think it's a book about love and I, selfishly, would really love more people to read it and for there to be more love at every level.
It's pretty hard to top that as the last line. If I could just turn the cameras off right there, I would turn them off, but I wanna say thank you so much. Super courageous, wildly creative, incredibly powerful project and yeah, congratulations.
Also, cannot leave without plugging the 100 day project one more time, because that is a force of nature. I forgot to ask, is there a you start every year and is there, is it just following you is probably the best way if you wanna follow along with Elle and the tribe that you've built that does this together? They should probably just follow you online and you're just @ElleLuna, right?
Mm-hmm, or there's a website, we finally have a website, it's www.the100dayproject.org. So you can just check that out in February or March.
So cool, and I would like to do something.
You'd do that?
Yeah. We've had a couple little things called 28 to Make, we've got 30 Days of Genius, which you were a part of where you get a thing every day. Like maybe we do a thing where...
My toes are twitching, that's a good sign.
Yeah, I mean I know you've had 10s of 1,000s of people who were doing that with you. I think that we've got a pretty good community here that would be interested in, 100 days is so hardcore. It's so hardcore.
It's enough to make a big shift. And if it's around something that you really want more of in your life, you're signing up for it.
And I love, you're E-L-L-E-L-U-N-A on Instagram and Twitter, on everything right?
You should follow, if you don't already follow Elle. Her animations are awesome.
Thank you, I'm learning every day. I've never done animations, so.
But that's the point, right? You're learning in public.
Yeah, can I have a thank you for you, too?
I'll take it, I'll take whatever you're giving. I've already got a flower.
You've got a flower, and thank you for just creating this space. For creating this forum, and we talked about a wide range and amount of things. Bringing in Susie and your generous, kind heart, thank you.
Having you talk about creating space with a book to have conversations or inviting just acknowledging, for example, I'm gonna say that when Susie brought up the sports athletic, like oh you did that like a girl, for example. And when she said just to bring awareness to that. Like from the position that I'm in, I felt like that's the thing I'd like to do which is provide a place to have a conversation about it. And I'm on an interesting journey there too, I feel like I'm learning every day and to have you two on the show is a great privilege.
Well and there's one thing that Susie, you could feel, but she didn't say it, but it was everything. When she said that, the way that she pretended to say oh did you hear how you just said that? Did you realize there was absolutely no judgment in her voice. It was this kind, gentle awareness. And I think that so much of it, that somebody said, truth without heart is cruelty. Just because we have a sword of truth, doesn't mean we should swing it with all we've got, right? If you really really want to keep people in the conversation if you really want to stay in relationship, you've gotta marry truth and kindness. You've gotta marry it with heart. And in that way, which the way that she just shifted that, just oh, we're still on the same team, I'm just helping you see. It's a beautiful dance.
She's a good partner. Well thank you again, so much.
Signing off for another show, I'll be back in your ears hopefully again. (light techno music)