On a rainy Tuesday morning, I ventured out into the streets of NYC to attend my first networking event as a bi-coastal citizen. I was filled with excitement and a yearning to find my tribe here on the east coast. The talk I was to attend was being held at NeueHouse and lead by the people who created Summit, an organization that curates conferences, gatherings and experiences to bring together thought leaders and up and comers from all disciplines. I attended the 3-day long Summit conference held in LA this past October and it was magical for me. I have never experienced or witnessed such kindnesses and generosity towards strangers in my life, and as I brave a new city, I feel like I could use a few extra kindnesses.
“Hi,” I said to the smiling man that was working the checking desk. “I am here for the Summit breakfast.” I continued removing my hat and unzipping my coat. He looked at me quizzically and then typed a few keys on his computer before responding.
“Do you mean the talk we are hosting?” he asked pointing to a brochure with Anne Pasternak’s name and likeness on the cover.
“No,” I replied with a slight sound of frustration in my voice. “I am here for the Summit breakfast.”
I then took out my phone to show him the ticket I had purchased for the talk.
“Oh my God,” I said, “It’s tomorrow.” I am an idiot! I thought to myself.
What happened next both surprised and delighted me. The man at the front desk smiled again, and taking the brochure he had pointed to earlier in his hand he said, “You are welcome to stay for this.”
I knew then that this might have not been the talk I came to hear, but it would be the talk I needed to hear, and as I looked through the brochure I become more grounded and excited about what was to come.
For those of you who don’t know, Anne Pasternak is the Director of the Brooklyn Museum, a museum that holds a special place in my heart. It is located in the borough where I was made. It showed me the power of art, the effects it could have on the politic climate of NY and it made me curious about artists such Andres Serrano who I met and formed a friendship with in my 20’s. Needless to say, it is an encyclopedic museum that is controversial and innovative, just like it’s Director.
Before joining the Brooklyn Museum, Pasternak served as the President and Artistic Director of Creative Time, a NY based non-profit that commissions and presents adventurous public art projects. Anne is known as a field innovator giving voice to artists to comment on the issues currently facing our society. One of those projects was TRIBUTE IN LIGHT, the memorial to the former World Trade Center after 9/11.
As I heard Anne speak about her past work, current role as Museum Director, and her views on how to manage a team, it became clear that she is a boundary breaker. So I wanted to know where does her courage and confidence come from? How does she cultivate the strength to combat the harsh voices of the status quo as well as her own voices of doubt?
Her answer was as follows:
Well I am glad that I had you fooled. I mean aren’t we all just basket cases? But in all seriousness, it’s not about confidence. It’s about PURPOSE. It’s about LISTENING, and LEARNING and BELIEVING and LEADING. For me PURPOSE is defined through LEADING and LEADERSHIP means standing on the tallest ladder in the room, looking out to the future and carving out the path. I believe in the path we are carving even though I get criticized for it everyday, but I try not to listen to the criticism too closely unless I feel like I can learn something from it. If the criticism is blind, I ignore it and keep moving forward carving the path with PURPOSE.
I love this answer and it got me thinking about my own PURPOSE, which made me think about a poem I wrote a few years ago.
Who will miss you?
Who will miss you?
when you are gone
years from now
when coming across your picture
in some old magazine
She did work that mattered.
Ultimately this is my purpose, to make enough of a difference in the lives of women, my employees, my clients, and their businesses to be missed when I am gone.
What is your PURPOSE?