Caroline shares her birthday thoughts, current work, and an exciting step forward.
Hello friends, I hope you are managing to have fun while staying safe this summer.
This month, I celebrated my birthday. I’m truly not that far from turning 50, and that’s just nuts to me and my mother. Haha. After the year and a half we’ve had, I desperately needed to feel some positive emotions. So instead of waiting around for a lovely birthday to happen to me, I took the reign this year (I NEVER do this) and planned my own birthday week, requesting the presence of family and friends I wanted to see every day of the week. In turn, it never even occurred to me to passive-aggressively wish for someone to give me a birthday I wanted and I was genuinely delighted when my family manifested little treasures for me, including this movie poster birthday card my son made of a Korean action-comedy we all loved watching together. (stay tuned for another mention of this movie later in this note. Ha.)
my kind of birthday card
So, I guess I’m starting to not wait for things to happen to me anymore. Koreans might call this kind of energy: “power of ajumma,” a Korean word for a middle-aged, often married, lady. You might see a Korean ajumma squeezing her whole body into a tiny spot on the subway where there’s only enough space for one butt cheek or wearing a giant visor to keep the sun from damaging her skin while power walking a trail and moving about her arms to burn off extra calories. Basically, ajummas no longer care what others think and they do what they want. Young women live in fear of being called one, but doesn’t it sound glorious?
raceAhead with Stacy-Marie Ishmael
So, this ajumma was profiled in Fortune magazine’s raceAhead newsletter a couple of weeks ago.
First, let me explain to you how this even happened. Basically, it was a choo choo train of powerful, generous women who intentionally amplify other women. A while back, Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact, and her team profiled me in a blog post in celebration of Women’s History Month. Then Rachel Feintzeig of The Wall Street Journal read that piece and reached out to me to introduce herself and her Work and Life column. (Check out her latest piece called, These People Who Work From Home Have a Secret: They Have Two Jobs, a wild story and employers' nightmare!) Last month, Rachel included my quotes in her piece about meetings during the pandemic, which was read by Stacy-Marie Ishmael, who most recently served as the editorial director of The Texas Tribune, and took over the raceAhead newsletter during its regular writer, Ellen McGirt's, short break.
I met Stacy-Marie by Zoom during the pandemic through Veronica Chambers, a prolific author and journalist whose newest book, Call and Response: Black Lives Matter, is making a splash this week. Stacy-Marie gave me an opportunity to be highlighted in her 3 questions profile. The three questions were:
What would you do if you had more power?
What do you find yourself recommending to everyone right now?
Who’s someone whose work more people should know about?
It was hard for me to provide my thoughts for such a wide audience. But again, it was the ajumma energy that pushed me to write out my answers and dared to hit send. Stacy-Marie, a gifted editor, took my sprawling thoughts and shaped them into three answers I feel proud to say originated from my brain.
I was especially excited that I got to highlight Taika Barrett, the new CEO of Girls Who Code in the piece. My kids were also tickled to see that the movie we all watched while laughing so hard, “Midnight Runners” (a more accurate translation of the Korean title would be “Young Men Cops”), was recommended to all the respectable business people who read Fortune.
Caroline’s Back (In-Person)!
Recently, one of my clients came back to her high-power job from maternity leave and we called this phase “(insert name) is back!” This month, I also staged my in-person comeback, starting with my first in-person facilitation since 2020 with the executive leadership team at Girls Who Code.
It was SO nice to see the Girls Who Code team, even meeting one new member for the first time face-to-face, as she started her role during the pandemic. For the first few minutes, we literally stood around in a circle like middle school kids at a school dance as we greeted each other. So awkward and funny. I basically thanked everyone for staying alive all this time.
Right now, I have three in-person retreats and workshops on my calendar in September. I also plan on reaching out to several of you to consider catching up in person if we can do so safely this fall. I don’t know where the Delta variant is taking us, but I am fully vaccinated and I am happy to double mask if needed. If doing things in-person becomes an irresponsible thing to do for public health and these things must turn to Zoom, I will know what to do this time around. Ha.
There’s a lot more I’ve been working on this summer that I will want to share with you in September. Let’s keep this one short so we can all squeeze the last bit of juice from the summer. Please take great care of yourself and your loved ones.
P.S. If you are having trouble opening the mentioned articles above, let me know and I can send you a pdf.