Every Friday, I write this newsletter, which shares what I’m doing personally and what I’m doing professionally.
I offer a Tuesday newsletter, which is more business.
I added this Friday edition, because honestly, like the photo from the balloon museum yesterday, it gives me so much joy.
read time 6 minutes
Today at a Glance:
- Story: On Forgiveness
- Observation: On Traveling Solo
- Framework: 6 Conversation Starters Since I Don’t Know Anyone Tonight
- Adventure: Barcelona in 25 days
- Article: 40% of women are whiskey drinkers today
This week, I spent some time thinking about Halloween and my dad.
He and I were estranged for the last 15 years before he died. The cultural gap, him being from Myanmar, and me being a 1st generation American-born child, just became too far a gap to bridge.
We couldn’t meet in the middle.
I wanted to be a journalist. He blurted out to a friendly farmer once that I was going to be a gynecologist. Being a doctor is like getting a tattoo on your face.
You kind of have to be committed.
A tender moment we had in common involved Halloween.
My dad grew up in extreme poverty in his country and happened to be a fantastic sewer. One Halloween, he asked me what I wanted to be for the annual parade. It was a gay lunchtime affair at school, where all the kids walked in a big circle to show off how clever a costume he or she could conjure up.
I blurted out, “I want to be a little Indian girl.”
Feather. Not dot.
Biologically, I was already was the latter.
He promptly trotted off to the local fabric store, filled with purpose. When he returned later that evening, he had a bolt of suede fabric in a light velvet brown tucked under his arm. I laid in bed that night, bubbling over with excitement at the prospect of a home made costume. How would I wear my hair? Braids, maybe? I twirled a lock of hair as I drifted off to sleep in my cotton candy pink bed.
When finished, my dad clumsily pulled it over my head. It featured a headband fit snug around my forehead. A teeny yellow feather stood at attention. He whipstitched it in, in case of a stiff wind. The tunic had two holes on the sides for me to slip my arms through. The long fringes that girded the entire bottom of the dress, went to my knees. My mom admonished me:
“Wear a sweater underneath. It will be cold.”
“But it will ruin my look,” I said precociously. So fashion-conscious at all of 8 years old.
He shoved a little shallow basket in my hand—bottom face forward. In permanent black marker, it read “Joya Dass, 6th grade, Native American girl.” In case, anyone had any confusion about which kind of Indian I was that day.
I was so proud of my dress.
But if you knew what a contentious relationship my pop and I had you would know:
I was so proud of him.
Even more powerful. I forgave him.
Ryan Holliday, of the Daily Stoic writes in Good Leaders Give This “a Stoic is very strict. They have high standards. It’s part and parcel of being a leader. But they must complement this strictness with grace and tolerance. Remember, one of Seneca’s great essays is on the topic of clementia–or clemency. Marcus Aurelius was famous for his ability to work with and make use of flawed people. He admonished himself in Meditations to be more forgiving and think the best of others. He also spoke glowingly of the way that Antoninus, who he revered above all others, was so good at making people around him feel at ease.
Very few people need you to yell at them. Your best employees, your best allies–they have high standards for themselves too. They know when they screw up. They feel bad enough already. What they need is grace. What they need is help. What they need is a pick-me up.
Are you strong enough–strict enough with yourself–to give it?
When you become a leader, you are responsible for other people’s behavior in addition to your own. And it’s tempting to try to hold them to the very same standards to which you hold yourself.
But this is not only unfair (they didn’t sign up for that), it’s often counterproductive. It burns people out, and it sets you up for disappointment. Or worse, disillusionment.
Now on to this week’s newsletter
Saturday. Sunday. Home. Resting after last week.
Monday. Photos released from “the Revolutionary South Asian Woman Photo Project” [see post]
Wednesday. I bought myself a ticket to visit to connect to some midday joy at the Balloon Museum.
On Traveling Solo
I pulled this excerpt from an article this week from Conde Nast on a woman who prefers to travel solo: “My tips for traveling solo is to make a list of what you want to get out of it, because there’s different ways of traveling! For me, solo traveling is a time to read, a time to discover new music, a time to explore the niches of art—[as it’s when] I can’t really find anyone else who might want to visit that particular museum with me. It really can be a time of self-indulgence and introspection. One of my favorite things about traveling solo is it pushes you to meet people. I made lifelong friends with the person eating noodles next to me at a hostel in Japan, and then we ended up traveling and meeting somewhere else. It really opens you up to new friendships and new connections, because you’re not just focused on who you came with.”
Friday. I have been generously invited to a table at the Blackstar Summit & Awards Gala, honoring exceptional African-American leaders. The truth is, I won’t know anybody else. But I’m no wilting flower. Preparation is my superpower.
6 Conversation Starters Since I Don’t Know Anyone Tonight
From “The Essential Skills for Being Human” by David Brooks
Where did you grow up? People are at their best when talking about their childhoods.
Where does your name come from? That gets them talking about their families and ethnic backgrounds
What are you most excited about right now, personally or professionally?
What was the most interesting thing you’ve read or learned recently?
What was the best movie or show you’ve watched recently? What characteristics made it so compelling to you?
What’s been making you smile recently?
What I’m looking forward to
The 2023 Class of my Samita Lab Mastermind is 14 days from giving their TEDx style talks on a NYC stage. Would you like this opportunity? A few ideas.
- RSVP here for November 16th to see it in action. It will be professionally filmed.
I’m currently enrolling candidates for the 2024 Class of my Mastermind. Apply here.
- I drive leadership programming with a big element of adventure. I talk about why in this video.
- Next year’s retreat is in Nice, France. Imagine taking a power yacht from Nice to Cannes to snorkel in the underwater eco museum, with large installations from James Cairne Taylor.
Women and Whiskey, and other musings
Map of the Best filters only “the best” restaurants near you based on stars, awards and reviews
Hotel rooms with fireplaces (oh my god to Storfjord Hotel, Scandinavia)
Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women said the 15% of whiskey drinkers were women in the 1990s. As of 2021, almost 40% of women are whiskey drinkers.6 Conversation Starters Since I Don’t Know Anyone Tonight