Inspiration

British Vogue Makes History

Edward Enninful, the talented and progressive new editor in chief of British Vogue continues to make great strides. This time, it's with the prestigious September issue of the magazine. The new cover features Rihanna, making her the first black woman to grace the cover of British Vogue in its history.  Why did it take so long? That's for another post. For now, I'm just glad it finally happened. Representation matters. 

Rihanna Vogue

Inspiring Women Who Overcome The Odds

Forbes Self Made Women

Today, Forbes published its annual list of America’s richest self-made women. It featured many of the usual subjects, some welcome reminders, a few surprises and a plethora of inspiring stories about some of the smartest and most tenacious women in the world.

Highlights include the self-made originator Oprah Winfrey, who transcended poverty and abuse to become the most powerful woman in media; Jin Sook Chang, the co-founder of Forever 21 who emigrated to California penniless, with little education and scant English; Carolyn Rafaelian who was inspired by her Armenian grandfather’s journey through Ellis Island to found Alex and Ani; Spanx’s Sara Blakely who went from selling fax machines door to door to starting her own company with $5000; Theresa Gouw Of Aspect Ventures who emigrated from Indonesia age three and was one of the few in her high school to go on to higher education and Sheila Johnson, a violin teacher who went on to co-found BET. 

Whenever I’m tempted to give up, reading their stories reminds me that anything is possible.

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Gen Z Will Change The World

Speaking at Cannes Lions

There’s a new generation coming up who are already fighting to defend their rights and redefine the workplace and who have no interest in brands who don’t share their values. I loved talking the power of millennial and Gen Z voices on a panel at the Girls Lounge, with designer Rebecca Minkoff, Berlin Cameron President Jennifer DaSilva and Girlboss founder Sophia Amoruso

 Rebecca Minkoff, Dee Poku, Jennifer DaSilva, Sophia Amoruso

Rebecca Minkoff, Dee Poku, Jennifer DaSilva, Sophia Amoruso

 Girls Lounge

Girls Lounge

Stepping Outside The Bubble At The TED Conference

I'm feeling unstoppable today, having spent the week hearing about the heights of human achievement and the depths of human loss at my first TED conference in Vancouver. Before going, I asked TED veterans advice on how best to navigate the 2500 person event. Don't overthink it, they said. Be open. Talk to anyone and everyone.  And they were right. There were brilliant biochemists in the coffee line and eminent economists at coat check, Ryan Coogler casually sitting on the steps and Steven Spielberg hidden in plain site. Impressive thinkers and doers at every turn.

On stage, speakers such as Jaron Lanier (the use of our data), Tracee Ellis Ross (sexual harassment), Kate Raworth (rethinking our economy), Yasmin Green & Dylan Marron (combatting online hate), Frances Frei (company culture), Morgan Dixon/Vanessa Garrison (black women driving movements), Robin Steinberg (mass incarceration) and Chetna Sinha (authentic social entrepreneurship) amazed, informed and inspired.

And I made some good friends. Friends I want to change the world with. This was my first time at Ted but hopefully not my last. Thank you for the unforgettable experience.

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Misty Copeland Inspires Again

Naturally, human beings are sensitive to criticism. Our initial reaction when someone is less than complimentary is to get defensive and/or hide away, none of which helps us grow or deal with the issue.

This week, my favorite dancer and all round inspirational human being, Misty Copeland was a study in class, grace and self reflection as she dealt with an online troll who criticized a recent performance of Swan Lake. Rather than clap back, she acknowledged the criticism, posted about it publicly and used it as opportunity to not only reflect on her mission and strengths but also areas of potential growth. I've shared part of statement below.

"I’m happy this has been shared because I will forever be a work in progress and will never stop learning. I learn from seeing myself on film and rarely get to. So thank you. I will always reiterate that I am by no means the best in ballet. I understand my position and what I represent. I know that I’m in a very unique position and have been given a rare platform. All I’ve ever wanted is to bring ballet to more people and to help to diversify it."

"A ballerina's career is not, nor should be defined by how many fouettés she executes. I’m happy to have this dialogue because it’s something I believe in whole heartedly. The history of ballet and it’s origin of pure freedom and expression is what we need to hold onto. Not to come into the theatre as a critic armed with judgement."

So much to be inspired by.

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Stacey Abrams is poised to make history

It was such an honor to co-host this event for the amazing Stacey Abrams. As the leading candidate for Governor of Georgia, she is set to make history as America’s first ever black female governor. Meeting her reminded me of Oprah Winfrey's recent Golden Globes speech where she referenced all the little black girls watching who'd be uplifted by her success. Well Stacey Abrams will do the same for a whole new generation of girls who will believe that one day, they too could be in positions of power. Learn more about Stacey and donate to her campaign here.

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Glamour's Women of the Year

Every year Glamour Magazine's Cindi Leive brings together the most inspiring change-makers, to shine a light on the important work they do to move the needle on key issues for women and for all marginalized communities. For her last awards as Editor in Chief of the magazine, Cindi assembled a veritable roll call of the most powerful activists, artists and advocates of our time. They included Maxine Waters, Solange, astronaut Peggy Whitson, Sarah Weddington (Roe v Wade), Ruby Bridges, Samantha Bee, Zendaya, Anita Hill, Chimamanda Adichie, Serena Williams, and the list goes on. The event reaffirmed my faith in the power of the women's movement and that women will be the ones to lead us forward to a better future. The future is female!

 Cindi Leive, Dee Poku

Cindi Leive, Dee Poku

 Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

 Solange

Solange

The Women's Convention Gave Me Life

The movement created by the Women's March organizers continues to go from strength to strength. Last weekend I spoke at their first convention in Detroit, which brought together 4000 women from across the country to discuss everything from running for office to immigration reform. I personally spoke on three panels - exploring the role of cultural influencers which featured Ibtihaj Muhammed, Piper Perabo, Yandy Smith and Jackie Cruz;  the status of women in film with Alia Shawkat, Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker and Amber Tamblyn and and the importance of entrepreneurship with Piera Gelardi, Jennifer DaSilva, Tracy Reese and Arian Simone

Being at the convention was like being with family.  I was so inspired and moved by all the women I met and their powerful stories. From the mothers who travelled in from Flint to learn how to best to use their voices as activists, to the budding young filmmaker being sexually harassed by a supposed mentor, everyone was there to share, support and learn. A huge thank you to all the amazing speakers and participants who shared such great wisdom.

 Yandy Smith, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Piper Perabo, Dee Poku, Jackie Cruz

Yandy Smith, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Piper Perabo, Dee Poku, Jackie Cruz

 Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Dee Poku, Amber Tamblyn, Alia Shawkat

Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Dee Poku, Amber Tamblyn, Alia Shawkat