I believe that empowerment is a personal AND collective strategy that aims to change a collective reality; empowerment is not when one exceptional women gets financially successful but a dehumanizing system stays in place (that’s empowermyth!).
Please note, however, that I’m 100% committed to building all of our livelihoods RIGHT NOW, because we deserve to thrive.
I am dreaming of a world where all bodies are cherished, so I enthusiastically support Black Lives Matter and social movements that promote liberation and human flourishing.
I believe that we are all culture makers and that we can use our culture making power deliberately, to create new realities for ourselves and our world.
Here are a few of the ways I try to do that in my own LIFE AND BUSINESS
Hiring + Money
- I have a LOT of financial responsibilities — children, elders, extended family — so I need to earn a lot of money. I do this unapologetically
- I believe in investing in our community which means I hire and contract from within our community, first, and prioritize the hiring of people with non-dominant identities
- If people are collaborating with me on a full-time basis to launch a program, I revenue-share with them
- In my business, I focus on contributing to economic justice, which means there are lots of strategies available to me (IMHO, "affordability" and "accessibility" are the wrong goals for individual practitioners and service businesses).
- My economic justice strategy does NOT include pricing my 1:1 services below what it takes me and my team to thrive. Instead, you will see a range of prices in my business, from very high-cost individual work to lower-self-study trainings & group work
- There are many low-cost options for working with me or learning from me, including live and recorded workshops that are $100 each (You might also get a lot out of my free weekly Love Letter)
- Once I've achieved my target sustainability revenue, then I offer 10-20% of the spots in my programs as scholarship, trade or pay-what-you-can arrangements (PWYC)
- In 2022 alone, I distributed $70,644 in scholarship & pro-bono spaces
- I sometimes run sales or special offers where I donate 50% or more of the revenue to an urgent cause
- I offer payment plans; I believe payment plans are a way to contribute to economic justice AND they’re good for my own personal income stability (h/t Bear Hebert, Toi Smith)
- I don’t charge any extra fees or interest for accessing payment plans
How (and When) I Offer Critique
When I’m critiquing, I strive to name patterns, not people, because
- This is about systemic change, not changing out individual "bad apples". I want to keep the focus on policies, practices, norms and institutions
- I’m not here to destroy anyone’s livelihood or build my brand by tearing other people down
- We are all in the water so we are all wet
If I do critique a person, I will do it in order to document a larger pattern; it will be because they are a mainstream cultural figure who wields significant power in the world; and my critique will take place in long-form (essays, newsletters, blog posts or future books).
Here my guidelines for Critiquing Live People:
- No gossip. I'm not repeating hearsay or wondering about their childhood wounds or interested in their personal lives (for example). I'm critiquing their public work, platforms, marketing strategies and their social impact
- I will NOT discuss off-the-record remarks, private correspondence or recordings of private conversations
- Must have more than 1,000,000 social media followers; have mainstream name recognition; or be the leader of an institution or company whose policies or messaging impact millions of people's lives
- I'm taking these as indicators of cultural impact. At this level of reach (and, presumably, revenue), this person is likely to be significant, culturally, and therefore an appropriate topic for cultural consideration
- I must disclose any apparent conflicts of interest
Because my focus is on patterns, not people, I will not comment on online controversies nor will I participate in "public humiliation spectacles"* on social media.
- I especially do not enter a live fray when I don't possess a highly specific, detailed understanding of the events (I'm looking for timelines and facts, not editorializing or rhetoric). I'm not going to allow myself to be co-opted or weaponized because I lack full information
* My thanks to Dr.Christine Marie for the language of "public humiliation spectacle" and "media misinformation/misrepresentation campaigns"
How I Respond to Tragedies, Wars & World Events
- When there are mass tragedies, my first efforts are direct and relational, which means they're often publicly invisible. I strive to offer my time, support, care and resources behind the scenes the people in my spaces who are most impacted by events. Just because something isn't visible on social media doesn't mean it is not happening
- When there is a crisis that is outside my zone of leadership & expertise -- which means I don't have useful analysis to contribute -- I deliberately get quiet so that I do not contribute noise that can obscure valuable signals from actual experts. In cases like this, my form of contribution is to signal-boost those experts rather than strive to overlay my voice or platform onto the situation (I'm not here to build clout off tragedy)
- I strive to only comment on events where I have leadership to offer AND, importantly, 'skin in the game'. To me, skin in the game is RISK. Is there a risk to me for getting involved? That's when I SHOULD get involved. If not, there's a risk of posturing, performing, or virtue-signalling and generating noise that obscures the voices we actually need to hear from
- I'm Canadian, so I usually don't have 'skin in the game' to comment on US politics. By that I mean there's no risk to me for comment and only reputational upside (clout). Armchair commentary on something where I have no analysis or risk, I get the reputational benefits of looking virtuous and righteous at no actual cost to me. And often, when Canadians comment on US culture/politics, we often end up acting smug and erasing our own failings from view. And, no. Once again, I'm not here to build clout off tragedies, signal the appearance of change or simulate change; I'm here to be effective in the places where I can actually be effective
- I am not a newspaper. I do not have the expertise, resources, bandwidth, or team to publish regular updates and commentary on the ever-intensifying crises impacting our world and communities
- I do not issue statements or position papers on international events or wars because (a) that is outside my zone of expertise & analysis and (b) because I am not an institution, Prime Minister, President or an elected government representative. I don't have the ability to directly intervene in world events -- but they do and it is literally their job to represent our will. That's the most effective place to direct our change-making energy: Let's call them. Email them. Write letters to them. They have a responsibility to legislate in our interests. Let's make sure they do that
- I do NOT stop selling during social crises because bills don't stop coming. It is not reasonable to expect indie providers with the least access to capital to stop their livelihoods in times when we need them most
- I specifically don't comment on mass shootings in the US because
- Again, I have no skin in the game
- Because I'm not a citizen, I have no ability to influence US legislators
- Research shows that the more media attention the massacre gets, the higher the likelihood that there will be a copycat shooting within 7 days. My silence is an attempt at harm-reduction
- I have pledged not to speak at events or on podcasts where the speakers are or have been disproportionately white and encourage other leaders to do the same
- I believe in signal-boosting and sharing the work of the people influencing me (Citation is a culture-making practice; I’ve even footnoted a sales page!). There is so much brilliance in our community and it’s a joy to be part of it
- I strive to use apps and software that are made by companies founded by feminists and women and BIPOC (and, and, and)
- I do not to use mental/social triggers in high-risk sales situations
- I do not engage in money-shaming as a marketing tactic (or any kind of tactic!)
- If I cite or mention someone's work, it does not mean we know each other. It doesn't mean they even know I exist nor does it mean that they like me or approve of my work. Nor does it mean I endorse them unequivocally or that they endorse me. It means that there's a particular cultural thing that I'm trying to talk about and an idea or project of their's is relevant and I want to give credit where credit is due
- If I quote an idea from someone you object to, I am not obliged to respond to attempts to discipline me or silence me. If your concern is that there's been a call-out of this person, or you are responding to generalized claims of harm and are worried that I don't know about it: I probably do. I may have access to different information than you have or have come to a different conclusion than you have. We need to be able to tolerate differences in perspective rather than aiming for homogeneity and purity (neither of which have ever been liberatory)
- Please never substitute my judgement for your own. We don't have to agree or even like each other to respect each other's work.
- I do value good-faith critique and feedback from my co-travellers and will take the time to process it, learn from it, and integrate it (thank you!!!)
- If we know each other, I welcome your critique, feedback and correction. Call me! Email me! Text me! (If we know each other, you have my deets)
- If we don't know each other and you feel compelled to discipline me or sabotage my work, that's weird. I reserve the right to treat that as the unwelcome behaviour of an intrusive stranger and take protective measures. Instead, if my work is not for you, I invite you to unfollow me
- I won’t tolerate attempts to erase me or my work nor will I accept intellectually dishonest or personally malicious “arguments”. I believe in my body of work and I will protect it, and myself. That’s part of being a culture-maker.