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
- I pay everyone a living wage -- AT A MINIMUM --and strive to pay everyone as much as is sustainable for the whole organization
- 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-cost distance 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 the first quarter of 2022 alone, I distributed more than $70K in scholarship, pro-bono and PWYC arrangements
- 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)
- Currently I don’t charge any extra fees or interest for accessing payment plans to work with me; before 2019 I charged between 8-10%, which was a number based on the actual costs for software, time and processing fees it took for me to administer payment plan
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"
Here are my Guidelines for Commenting on Tragic Events:
- I am not a newspaper. I cannot publish or comment on all things and no one should be obliged to
- I strive to only comment on events where I have 'skin in the game'. I'm Canadian, so I don't have 'skin in the game' to comment on US politics -- and often, when Canadians comment on US culture/politics, we often end up acting smug and erasing our own failings from view
- 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 encouraged 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!)
- 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 value 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 via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- If we don't know each other and you feel compelled to discipline me or sabotage my work, 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.
Want to integrate more of your principles into your business practices?