"I don't know where I am going from here but I promise it won't be boring"
David Bowie. I have forever associated the quote above with him. It has come to mind a lot in the last few month as people learn that I am embarking on new entrepreneurial adventures. The truth is, I don't have it all figured out. Actually, I don't have much figured out yet. I've toyed with the idea of developing a side business for about four years, and am now ready to make that a reality. I have several ideas of what my business could be, but they are not concrete enough to run with just yet. I am also interested in collaborating with some of my favorite entrepreneurs, but only a few of those partnerships currently have legs. Most importantly, I want to somehow do all of this on top of my leadership role at Microsoft Yammer.
I don't know where I am going from here, but I do know that as I figure it out, I am going to share a lot of my knowledge and expertise here. And in the words of Bowie, I promise it won't be boring.
Before I tell you about my plans for the blog, let me back up and tell you more about who I am and how I got here.
I was born in...just kidding. I'm not going to tell you my entire life story. I'll save some things to come out over the course of this blog. But to start, I will tell you that I was a shy, quiet, and introverted only child of two professors who spent a lot of my younger years happily playing (mostly basketball) alone. My parents worried about my social abilities, so much so that every time they needed to call a business, they had me pick up the phone instead "as practice." To this day, I still don't like calling businesses - thank goodness for chat bots and email! On top of my shy nature, I spent a lot of my childhood feeling different. I preferred boys clothing, wearing every form of basketball shorts and sweat pants I could get my hands on. I was the only girl on my elementary school basketball team, and the boys I played with made sure I knew it. I found it hard to relate to other girls as they started crushing on boys and painting their nails. I desperately wanted to fit in, and for the bullying and nasty comments to stop. I spent a lot of time and energy observing other girls and trying to change myself to be more like them. I became a social chameleon who tried to deny any aspect of myself that did not conform to social norms.
I can imagine those of you know that know me personally reading this and thinking how far these childhood traits seem from the me I am today. Shy and quiet? Not even remotely. Though I still lean towards the introverted part of the spectrum, I am a quintessential social butterfly. I can talk to pretty much anyone about pretty much any thing. Desperately wanting to fit in? Well, I have to admit, even though many tell me they appreciate how authentically "me" I am, I still fight the urge to blend in. But despite the internal struggle, being an unapologetically out and proud non-binary gender human married to a woman makes "fitting in" a pipe dream. Unless you live in San Francisco (which I do) and not fitting in is the way to fit in.
So what changed to take me from shy social chameleon to a social butterfly...or perhaps even social unicorn? Perhaps part of it was just that I grew up. Everyone knows how awkward those teen years can be. Perhaps it was being part of a wonderfully eccentric crew of people in college that helped me recognize and celebrate some of my "me-ness". (Someday I'll share about the bright orange scrub pants I wore around my college campus). But mostly what changed was my psychology.
Some of my psychological change wasn't conscious. For the last 15 years, I have unknowingly applied principles that I learned during my undergrad and PhD training in psychology to myself. But some of my psychological change *was* conscious. In the past 5 years, I have invested in numerous personal development courses, worked with a coach both one-on-one and in her group programs, joined a mastermind group and found an accountability buddy (more on that in a later post), and pushed myself in to learn and grow in specific ways during my last two roles at Facebook and Microsoft.
My journey of psychological transformation is not finished. It will never be. I am excited to share my experiences - both past and present - and my expertise so that others might also benefit. Thus, this blog. And perhaps that side business I mentioned earlier.
Topics you can expect to read about here
I already have more ideas about what to write about than I have time for. Whether it's drawing on psychological science, my experiences as a leader at Facebook and Microsoft, or my own personal journey of physical (more on that later too) and psychological transformation, you can expect to find a wealth of information that you can put into practice in your personal and professional life. A few upcoming topics will be:
- The science behind why criticism hurts so much and what you can do to soften the blow
- A special Mother's Day blog on how my mother's mindset saved her life
- Why I'll never say "I'm smart" again. And why I'll also never say "I'm dumb."
- Pop psychology has it wrong: why willpower is not a not a "limited resource" that you use up
- Accountability partners: who they are and why you should probably have one
- How building features at Facebook reshaped my approach to life
Feedback from you
One of my primary motivations for writing this blog - beyond having some fun with the knowledge I have - is to learn what resonates with people and with whom it resonates. Please consider subscribing to my blog (sign up at the bottom of this page) and commenting on posts with questions, feedback, and ideas for future topics.
Much love, Erin