The Best of Badass Leadership - Without the List

I wrote this blog post, below about leadership before the new year. Then it sat in my drafts folder. I felt it wasn’t’ really done. I was writing about leadership but I have no leader. I don’t like to think I have one nor need one. But I do need to be inspired and if happens to be by someone who also leads me to becoming a better person, a better business woman, a better friend, a better listener, and better liver (someone who lives life abundantly, not the organ), then I’m in - and in this department, Miki Agrawal has gotten my attention lately, and she’s pretty badass.

If you got to this blog post as a result of my Instagram post, the next paragraph is redundant. If not:


Miki Agrawal speaks with a strong voice, and with her businesses (plural) she’s making CHANGE in this world. She’s determined to break taboos, build businesses that everybody told her she can’t, plus have FUN while doing it. Her resume is killer: companies valued at a collective $150 million, filmmaker (for the likes of Justin Timberlake), soccer player through college, several amazing books under her belt, speaker, restaurant owner, dancer - I mean come ON. This woman is exactly what we need more of in this world. And in fact I believe there ARE a lot of women like her out there, we’re just still finding our voices. If you want to find yours via some incredible inspiration, check her out. Below, I’ve linked to one of her talks that got me filled with all the good fire. But prepare yourself - she touches on topics so pointedly and directly that the ideas have the potential to make some uncomfortable - and then she holds your discomfort in your face and shows why it’s time to get rid it.

The link you’re looking for is, here (scroll to the video below the huge block of logos). This talk is 16 minutes, and heads up her message only gets better as it goes on so give yourself the whole 16 minutes.

A couple good reasons to watch:

  • Building business around taboo topics requires 3 processes to ensure success

  • What’s the 1 for 1 model, what’s its flaw and the solution (hint Tom’s Shoes, and Warby Parker use it)

I couldn’t let the topic of leadership go to the wayside, so the rest of my post is below. There’s a few additional links to some other really cool people doing really cool things in both business, marketing and changing the world. So please check out if you have time!

Original Post:

I’ve been thinking about leadership - a lot. And thinking about next year. It’s coming fast. 2019 is coming fast, that is. Leadership it seems is a slow, steady, persistent tortoise race won as a result of many things - and moving too fast would not be one of them.

When I began this work - that is starting my own little company just over a year ago, it felt right. Not only that, a number of life-events lined up simultaneously allowing me to work for myself with clients I like and trust. I felt and still do that I was able to provide valuable insight and tools to a group of various companies who were so busy with their really good ideas that they just couldn’t find room to enjoy promoting their business - and mostly they don’t really know how. They have so much to say, too little time, and experience real confusion about why whatever they try isn’t really getting them exactly where they want to go. The initiation of this work - my work, solving these problems - began, admittedly with some trepidation. I had ideas, too, but why would my ideas work for others, and were my ideas valuable?

Today, I have plenty of clients to keep me busy and they pay me for my ideas! My rate has gone up, the quality of my work has gone up and my commitment to this work has been defined. My work is working and I want more of it. Enter a bit more of trepidation, mixed with impatience, mixed with ambition, curiosity, a lot of unknowns, plus a solid dash of excitement.

And enter thoughts on leadership. Enter a new year approaching. Enter all the opportunity I could ever need to take the next big step and go deeper into the commitment of this work. To keep me motivated rather than stuck in fear, I allow the daydreaming to begin and the opportunities to enter. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that day dreaming leads to showing not only what you want, but what you can achieve. And remaining open and awake to the possibilities breeds discovery. And the thoughts aren’t just a dream impossibly out of reach without tangibility, the thoughts are the process of creating ideas which are entirely desirable and possible. Kinda like: if you can see it, you can build it.

And in every daydream, I’m responsible for big ideas that require bigs groups of people to help the ideas come to life:

  • an independent firm filled with the outlier creatives who have the ideas which convention typically shuns. Yeah, I want those people.

  • the success of said firm funnels resources (i.e cash, mission and values) into an organization that participates in civil society. Said organization is run by people who have ‘giving’ running through their very DNA. They can’t help but….help.

So these two recurring ideas remain a bit loose, but the overarching themes and concepts are there. And they’ll require: leadership.

Seth Godin, an all time favorite, reflects: “Leaders…know where they’d like to go, but understand that they can’t get there without their tribe, without giving those they lead the tools to make something happen…Leaders take responsibility.”

That’s a big bite. Taking responsibility. Taking responsibility for the notion that where you’re headed is great enough to bring along others - to bring in their time, resources and ideas in order to achieve what you believe will affect change. I added that last bit about affecting change. Because I want to affect change. I want to do things differently and affect people differently. I want to run a business that shows people that marketing isn’t gimmicky - that everyone uses marketing every day and when used correctly this small tool can help amazing people achieve phenomenal things.

I want to grow an organization (foundation? collective?) which will approach issues that move me: food waste, diversity in schools, girls and STEM, pollution/recycling and getting kids on board, nutrition and food integrity + education…the list goes on and could include an initiative to plant more trees because we need them and why not? All this could be done in non traditional ways. Rather than getting a group of volunteers together to plant trees, why not work within a city’s structural system to penetrate the schools so the health of our forests and clean air is a lesson across all classrooms? Then, donate the resources for each child to plant 1 tree every spring until they are 18? Simultaneously work with (an) artist(s) or arts institutions, like Laurene Powell Jobs did, to create gorilla art which boldly communicates the importance of climate change and preservation? Talk about leadership.

What would it take? At this point, the only thing I can think of is leadership. Leadership to be daring, to take the next step and do the damn thing. Starting is achieving and achieving can last forever if you just take one step at a time.

I began this post wanting to write about the poor leadership I’ve experienced in the past year, purely as a result of circumstance. I was going to list all the things I’ve learned that are required in leadership, with a smattering of what not to do, but the internet is already slathered with millions of lists. And I wanted to explain my take on leadership…differently.