A Call for Joy

“Nothing gets done if we’re not brave enough to take the first step.”

This quote – paraphrased from Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani – was all I could think of when COVID-19 forced me to pause operations on #movethedial. It had taken a single brave step to get started, and it would require a brave step to do the right thing – stop operating – as the world was shutting down.  

We had bold plans for 2020, including hosting over 75 events around the world. Instead of executing on those events, the global pandemic had me calling everyone in my network to help my 20+ team members find new jobs within weeks.

Suffice it to say, while I did what I had to do, I wasn’t feeling all that brave and couldn’t believe what was happening in the world, and to the organization my team and I had built from the ground up with great passion.

I thought about my empty days, previously filled with back-to-back meetings, long plane rides and speaking engagements. I felt lost. But despite being overwhelmed by my own grief and fear of uncertainty, and need to heal, I knew that my daughter deeply needed me to be hopeful and find joy. To create a life for us during the pandemic that would become our new normal.

And so, we made art. And baked cakes. And meditated. And did yoga. And walked. And listened, more deeply to each other. I quickly started to notice the power of the play. The impact on each of us of our presence to each other. The richness of the space and time to think, sleep and connect with the person that matters most to me in my life. The rituals that we built into our life that gave it not only structure but meaning. The joy. 

As Lily and I settled into our new norm, with all of the privileges we have, despite our own joy, I constantly thought deeply about how the pandemic was exacerbating and deepening pre-existing inequities and magnifying systems of oppression. The millions of people around the world without equitable access to food, health care, wifi, homes and the list goes on. And the reality of these inequities broke my heart. 

There has never been a more important time to reflect on what matters most. What we value. Who we are at our cores. And how we want to reflect those North Star values in how we emerge, creating a future filled with great intentionality. Make new choices. Dream new visions. Live differently.

To that end, I found myself listening deeply to how others were thinking about this. Asking questions, sharing ideas.  That’s when the concept of Joyful Sundays came to me – a podcast to share inspiration and provide the actionable stories, inspiration and tools to live a more conscious and connected intentionally meaningful life. 

I started recording my podcast episodes a month ago, and was set to release my first episode several weeks ago. And just when I thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, it did. Horrific acts of anti-black racism including George Floyd’s recent brutal murder woke up the world up to the pervasive overt and covert racism that still exists, which we can no longer afford to ignore.  And as Michelle Obama put it, “it is up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.”

I delayed the launch of my podcast to stand in solidarity with the black community. To listen and push myself to go deeper with an open heart. A conversation at a time, so that I can be part of the solution, to lend my many privileges in ways that are meaningful and can have impact. 

I am launching Joyful Sundays with a heavy heart. But I am going ahead, because I believe that we need joy in the world. And I have the opportunity to use my platform to share the powerful stories and ideas of incredible leaders like Arlan Hamilton, my first guest. 

I had recorded this incredible conversation with my friend Arlan, an incredible woman, venture capitalist, speaker and now author – several weeks prior to George Floyd’s death. I was inspired by her tenacity and resiliency when I met her several years ago, and was fuelled by her mission to invest in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT.

It felt appropriate to launch highlighting Arlan’s story. Not only is she a human I admire deeply in her tenacity, grit, and how she approaches creating joy, but I admire her impact.

Arlan has changed the lives and trajectory of so many individual people. By investing in and believing in black founders, she has created massive economic opportunities for founders typically overlooked, building profitable businesses and solving big world problems. She also shifted the entire VC industry, enabling funders to recognize that it is “about damn time” (her words) to see the talent and invest in, believe in and support the ideas of typically underestimated founders.

Structuring Joyful Sundays

I’m a big believer in the power of mindset and firmly believe you can always choose to see the glass half full or half empty. However, it’s not easy to see your glass as half-full when your community is being attacked or opportunities you’ve worked tirelessly for are taken from you in the blink of an eye. I saw this firsthand from my own journey and from hearing the journeys of others. But I also learned that the people who make it through are the ones that hold onto to the most positive attitude they possibly can. 

When I thought about what Joyful Sundays (at the time unnamed) could be, I knew it had to be about mindset and living a conscious life. I wanted to create the content I needed in my life – inspiring stories of how people cultivated their resilience and bravery mindsets to build their lives and recover from setbacks or failures. 

That became the tone of Joyful Sundays: amplifying the stories of others to offer listeners a practical guide on cultivating a positive mindset with actionable insights on what to do next. 

Next came the challenge of structure. I wanted to honour the mission of #movethedial to uplift all women – and that meant it couldn’t just be about me or my immediate network. Combine that with my desire to learn from others and the importance of amplifying authentic and underrepresented stories, and it was clear this podcast needed to be honest conversations with inspiring changemakers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. 

I thought about who inspires me when it came to choosing guests. Inviting the people who embody the spirit of a positive mindset and who have built amazing things. People who could share real experiences around:

  • Being brave when the odds were against you. 
  • Pivoting and never giving up.
  • Resilience in the face of loss. 
  • Questioning the status quo. 
  • Personal growth and learning. 
  • … And more.

I also wanted to be intentional about sharing different lived experiences. No project is interesting when every story has the same substance. I focused on finding unique, inspiring stories told by unique, inspiring humans. And for that to happen, we had to be willing to have deep, real, and sometimes painful conversations. It wasn’t enough to share only the good parts – guests needed to be willing to dig into the nasty bits as well, shining a light on what happened and not shying away from the discomfort. 

An invitation

Joyful Sundays is more than just a podcast. It’s a reincarnation of a movement. There is a lot of darkness in the world, and my hope is to engage with that darkness by shining a light on it. The topics must be engaged with – they simply cannot be ignored. However, my hope is to approach those topics with joy and passion, sharing authentic stories from people who are on the frontlines of every fight. 

With that, I invite you to join me for Joyful Sundays. Whether that’s listening to the podcast, joining the newsletter, reading our blogs, or chiming in with your own stories of resilience and bravery, we want to see and hear you. 

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