Episode 115 | May 8, 2018

Build a Tribe and Leave Your Mark with Elisa Camahort Page


A Personal Note from Orion

The leaders of the past gathered people in the streets and in congregations to inspire their tribe to do what was good and just. These days, we lead and influence through social media as well as in person. It is especially important for women to be involved on social media, because our voices were suppressed for a long time. That’s why #metoo is so powerful.

You influence the world just as much when you keep quiet as when you speak up. If you turn a blind eye to injustice, it’s as if you are quietly saying “yes” and allowing it to go on and spread.  When you speak up for what is right, you are the spark for change.

This week, on Stellar Life podcast, I have the privilege of speaking with a co-founder of BlogHer, Elisa Camahort Page. BlogHer is a global women’s movement that reaches tens of millions of women.

 

About Today’s Show

‏‏Hi, welcome to Stellar Life podcast. Today I have with me Elisa Camahort Page. She’s known as the co-founder and COO of the scrappy startup turned global women’s media company called BlogHer. Elisa is now focused on consulting with entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, authors, executives in organizations in every size to make vision reality, to take big ideas and bring them to life, and help them reach the next level. She is a force to be reckoned with and you are going to be enjoying this conversation tremendously. Elisa’s debuted book, Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All is gonna be published this September. Go pre-order it, buy it, it’s gonna be fantastic. Now, without further ado, onto the show. Hello, Elisa. Welcome to Stellar Life Podcast.

‏‏Hi, Orion. Thank you so much for having me.

‏‏Thank you so much for being here. This is going to be a very interesting conversation I think because of who you are. I just love hearing you speak, you’re very eloquent and you’re a very good communicator.

‏‏Oh, thank you so much.

‏‏Yeah. Before we start, why don’t you just share a little bit about yourself, your background, and your mission in life?

‏‏Oh, absolutely. My name is Elisa Camahort Page. After being a marketing person and high tech in Silicon Valley and going through the boom and the bust, I ended up co-founding a company called BlogHer in 2005. We worked with women who were beginning to express themselves online through blogging and social media. We help them get exposure for their work but we also help them make money because we felt it was really important to know your worth and to attach the appropriate amount of value to what you are doing. BlogHer got acquired by a company called SheKnows in 2014. I stayed there and was Chief Community Officer until just 2017. I finally first transitioned into being a consulting basis with them. As of June 30th, I’m 100% a free agent. That was quite a big transition after 12 years of running that company and then being an executive at the acquired company. Now I’m working on other things. I’m working on my first book which is due out next fall. I’m also doing consulting in a couple of different areas. I like to joke that I was working with SheKnows still through the end of Q2 or June 30th, I knew we were going to have to write our book manuscript during Q3 so I scheduled an existential crisis for Q4. I guess that means I’m theoretically supposed to be out of it by now since we’re into the new year but I would say I’m still figuring out what’s the next thing I want to be when I grow up.

‏‏This is really exciting. It’s almost like now what? There’s so many opportunities, especially because you are a connector and you build a whole community from scratch. How was that in the beginning and how did you expand and grow so much?

‏‏In the beginning, there was this conventional wisdom that women were not born to be tech savvy and that therefore they weren’t going to adopt blogging and social media. Part of what drove my co-founders, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins, and I to even throw the first BlogHer Conference as a labor of love before we even started the company was that we just wanted to push back on this narrative about this making assumptions about what women do, what they’re capable of. We tapped into—it was very early days—a lot of different women who had been feeling like they were a little bit alone at their computer all over the country, all over the world. When they came together and figured out they were not alone, that is the essence of building a community is how do you show people they are not alone and that there is a community there to be joined and to grow together. That was what the first BlogHer Conference did. A lot of people don’t know that the BlogHer started with a conference meeting in real life even though what we all had in common was that we were digital citizens. But I think that was a really important thing because every year the conferences sort of bring people together and reinvigorate a core part of our community. We have this idea of we don’t want to be a centralized, everyone has to come to us to do anything. blogher.com was kind of a central hub but we spent most of our time sharing what everyone else was doing out on their part of the internet and their little corner of the internet. By encouraging everyone to know the full value of what was happening out there, we were giving people something. We weren’t just asking something from them, we were probably giving them more than we were asking for a very long time because that’s another real part of building community which is the everyone has to know why are they here. The answer to the question “What’s in it for me?” I don’t believe things like community and networking are—they’re not transactional, in my opinion. I know some would disagree with me. But they are about mutual value. Sometimes that value is much more experience in a pay it forward kind of way. I do all these things for other people not because I expect those people to necessarily repay me, but because doing those things is going to come back to me in some way, maybe not right now, maybe not through that exact person, but the pathways will come back. That’s another part of community which is how do you make people feel like anything they put in comes back tenfold.

‏‏I was talking with my friends in a mastermind yesterday and they talked about this book Giftology, how by giving you actually get so much more back. But what happens if you build a community and you give and you give and you give and you don’t see the fruits of your labor? How do you get it to a place where people feel satisfied and you give them but you also monetize it?

‏‏Right. I think that the main thing you need to give people—I think in any community—is respect and communication. In trying to build a community for really any woman online and any man who was interested in being an ally in a community of mostly women, we have a lot of different kinds of people, we had everyone on the ideological spectrum, we had people from all over the country, different income levels, all that kind of thing. That means we didn’t always make everybody happy. Sometimes the community asks for something and your answer is no. But the key is that you are answering. I think that that can keep people feeling very heard and seen and in addition to wanting to know will they get a return on what they’re contributing to the community. People want to feel seen and heard, responded to, and respected. That’s very important. By doing that—whenever people get a little cranky about some of the sponsorship that happened. We were super transparent about how much things cost versus how they get paid for and that this is a reality if we want some of these things, this is how we get them. Maybe not everybody liked every answer, but if they liked most of the answers, then that was fine. I think when we started, at the first BlogHer, the very concept of making money with your blogs was controversial like blogs were some sort of pure channel that was not to be sullied with advertising. That was very controversial. I think partly through our business and our efforts, we really changed the perspective to that, “Hey, not everybody wants to make money but those who do, it’s a rational and valid choice.” I always used to say there’s a big difference between something that’s truly unacceptable and something that’s just not my cup of tea. Learning the difference and acting and responding accordingly is something I think we all learn overtime.

‏‏Yeah, it’s almost like the idea that if someone is spiritual, they cannot make money.

‏‏Yeah.

‏‏Spirituality and money, they don’t work together, but it’s not true because money is energy and energy is a spiritual thing. When you have money, you can do a lot of good in the world.

‏‏Right. If I didn’t make money, I wouldn’t be donating the money I do. Not everybody does that so are there people who are monetizing and absolutely not adhering to a set of values that I would respect, yes that’s true. But it’s not inherently about whether you have money or not. I think you can stay really conscious of your values and act on your values. We think there’s empowerment and money for women. For too long, women—we already know there’s a pay gap, we already know there’s so many things that hurt women when it comes to economics and financially so we actually thought it was part of our mission to help women very unapologetically make money.

‏‏Also a part of your mission is you like stories. I checked out your TEDx talk about your own private history and how some of the stories were lost and it’s almost like a personal thing to help others share their stories because you see so much value in our history, especially because as you’ve said in the TEDx talk, in history, it was all written by men but in rarely we heard the female voice.

‏‏Yeah, or saw the female perspective. It’s true that history, up until now, when you look at the history books, it tends to focus on commerce, war, government, these are the big topics, and until quite recently those were very male dominated pursuit. History was about men, it was written by men. The thing that social media kind of highlighted was that we could hear from any person about their perspective on what was happening in their world. As I do point out on that talk, one of the most enduring voices about the World War II experience was Anne Frank. That was user-generated content, that was no different than a blog, really. I talked a little bit about my grandmother’s story and my mother’s story and all the things we don’t know about what they lived through and what they went through, this generation of younger people are going to have insights and awareness of their parents as humans in a way that previous generations didn’t get to. I actually think that’s of value.

‏‏Another thing that I’ve heard recommended was to take your parent and just use your iPhone, use a video camera and interview them. Ask them questions about their lives, ask them questions about what was it like when you were a child? How did you grew up? What did you like and what didn’t you like? Actually I did an interview with my mom, I’m thinking about doing a series of them and everytime—because my mom is from Israel, my family lives in Israel, I live here in the United States, but everytime I’m going to visit, I’m going to have a different interview and go deeper and deeper into the history and have that story because we are our history, we are our heritage. Sometimes we inherit things from our ancestors that we don’t even know. Now when I look back I can see that me and my grandma that I never knew, we have the same wild spirit of nomad and travelling the world and going everywhere and talking to everybody. We are very much alike and I would never know that if I haven’t spoken and shared that experience with my mom interviewing her.

‏‏That’s a great idea. We always meant to do that with my grandmother. We talked a lot about getting her history and we didn’t do it. I’m so glad you’re doing it because I think yes you will learn a lot but also if everybody did a little bit about, we get a lot more perspective, I think. I really feel sometimes people don’t value the fact that almost nothing we go through is unique or has never happened before. People look at social media, the good and the bad, to me, it’s taking whatever is good and bad in society and sort of yes it’s amplifying it more and it’s distributing it more widely. But social media isn’t creating the good or the bad, it’s just being a vehicle to amplify, distribute the good and the bad.

‏‏Yeah. There’s also an illusion there in social media where we desire to be like everybody else and a part of knowing our own origin story and connecting and owning it, it’s a part of our strength, not our weakness, and our own unique selves.

‏‏I agree.

‏‏Yeah. Looking back at all your endeavors, you’ve been through a lot. You’ve touched many lives which is incredible and you talk to some of the most amazing people in the world, interviewing them, rubbing shoulders with them. Looking back, what were your biggest lessons from building that blogging community?

‏‏Wow.

‏‏Let me throw you an easy one.

‏‏Yes, please. I think the biggest lesson that I’ve ever learned is to make that leap. If you have a big idea, if you have a medium size idea and you’re not sure if you should do it but you keep thinking about it, just do it, what’s the worst that could happen? I feel like people don’t ask themselves the question “What’s the worst that could happen,” and answer in detail because they’ll stop with “I could fail.” My next question is always, “So what? What happens then if you fail?” The truth is when we started BlogHer, I went through my entire life savings, I took up $50,000 in debt before we got our first round of funding because I’m in 2 years without a paycheck. The truth is if we had not gotten the funding, I’m sure we would have had to shut down at that point, none of the three of us could really afford to keep going forever. Let’s say my now spouse, I was living with at that time let’s say that was done and I didn’t even have that kind of safety net. What is the worst that would have happened? I have no money, I’m in debt, and everything’s falling apart. The truth is I would have moved back in with my mom for a while. I would have had to get a regular job. I’m like, “These are not tragedies.” That’s not what I wanted to happen, because I was over the age of 40 already. I didn’t want to start over but that would be appealing to me but it’s not a tragedy. You see tragedies happen everyday. I really feel like once you know that what is the worst that could happen and you answer the question, it frees you a little bit, say, “Okay. That kind of sucked but it wouldn’t be world ending.” I always say, “Take that risk.” Even right now I didn’t leave SheKnows with something else ready waiting to take its place from the point of view of what I was going to do with my time or how I was going to earn money. But I just felt like if I didn’t do it I would never find the next thing, I knew I wanted the next thing. Theoretically I could have been working on that and figuring that out but I needed to take the leap to figure it out because otherwise it was too comfortable. That’s probably the biggest thing, if you got something you’ve been dying to try, you should try it. The second thing I think is that never get too far removed from—you can say that going through all those years in BlogHer, I met some amazing people, I’ve just been making my own website for the first time in more than a decade, a website that’s just for me. I’ve had to pull out like, “Okay, what do I want to put on this website? Where have I’ve been published, where I have spoken, and who I have interviewed and all these things, I’m like, “Wow, what? Impressive.” But the thing is as you go on through your career, it’s really, really helpful to not forget what it was like when you weren’t there yet. When I think about managing people as an employee, employer-employee relationship, it’s good to remember what it was like to be a junior employee who was just trying to start their career and get ahead. If you can stay in touch with all these past versions of yourself so that you can have empathy for people in a way that I think it’s hard to hold onto. But that’s the second thing I would really say is try to hold on to that empathy, what it’s like for that person on the other end of whatever it is you’re dealing with. The third thing I would say is that I learned that don’t personalize everything. Not everyone’s going to like you, not everyone’s going to like what you choose to do, not everyone’s going to come back and offer you everything you deserve. It’s really, really easy to think that that’s personal. But again, it comes back to empathy. It’s almost never personal, it’s almost always about whatever they’re dealing with and trying to get what they want. They’re not thinking about you at all. I actually think empathy is like a secret weapon because most people aren’t thinking about you at all and if you come to the table having thought about them, it’s disarming. It’s really disarming to people to just be like, “Okay, let’s lay the cards on the table. Here’s what you want, here’s what I want, here’s where they come together. What did I get wrong?” People don’t know what to do with that, I think, in a lot of cases.

‏‏How come she’s not emotional?

‏‏Or how come she’s not hardass and yet she’s getting what she wants? How do you get what you want without acting like what the other person wants is wrong, that’s the thing. You don’t have to act like what the other person wants is wrong to try to get what you want even if it’s different. I think it just sets you up for better outcomes.

‏‏How do you prepare yourself to be in that situation?

‏‏The number one thing is to remove the emotional response to getting someone offering you or not offering you, what they bring to you when it isn’t what you wanted, the number one thing is to depersonalize it and say, “Okay, they didn’t do this to piss me off, they didn’t do this to disrespect me.” Why would they do this? What is it that they’re not seeing about what I asked for as right? What is it that they want that I didn’t offer? What is it that they need that I didn’t provide? You can try and identify like why wouldn’t they come and give me exactly what I want? What’s wrong with them? But instead of asking what’s wrong them or asking about what’s wrong with what we put out there that we are not like that they don’t want to deliver me exactly what I have in mind. I think that’s how I kind of go about it which is to figure that out.

‏‏Yeah, it sounds a lot like a person have responsibility and intention.

‏‏Very much about intention and not assuming you know everybody’s intention. I just always dealt with this a lot where I would be the person saying like, “I don’t think they’re trying to **** with us.” I don’t know if you swear on this podcast but—

‏‏You just did.

‏‏I just did. But you know I would say that I don’t think this is like purposely trying to—what other reason could there be? Because why would someone who theoretically wants to partner with you, why would they want to **** with you? Probably they wouldn’t so what are the other explanations that are rational? I think the other side of that though is that if you do push me past that point where I’ve decided you’re a bad actor, it’s done, I’m done. But it takes a lot to get me there, most people are safe.

‏‏That’s very impressive. The three things you talked about, I just want to recap, is to look back and to see our worth and count your blessings and see how much you achieved in the past. The second one, which I really love, is to keep in touch with old versions of yourself. You got to keep yourself humble and you got to keep yourself with empathy to know how people that are now where you were years ago feel so you can communicate and relate to them better. The third thing which was a third thing, plus, plus, plus, was that not always people are going to like you, unfortunately which was heartbreaking for me to get because I’m like, “But I’m so lovable, why don’t you love me? What’s going on? I don’t get it.”

‏‏I know it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard. The fourth thing is taking the risks, making the leap.

‏‏Yes. There is also the concept of failure that you talk about where there is no real failure because even if you end up moving in with your mom and getting a job, that would lead you to the next adventure.

‏‏Yes, absolutely. I guess it’s not even that there is no failure, it’s that there’s failure but that’s okay. But when did we decide failure was to be avoided at all cost and that it meant something about you, that it defined your worth as a person to whether you have failed or not at something? I like Sarah Michelle Gellar who is one of the amazing people I’ve interviewed and probably my favorite one because I’m huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. She said that in her family, she and her husband Freddie Prinze Jr., they use the exercise or fitness model to think about failure. In that you work your muscles to failure so that they will repair themselves and become stronger. Without failure, you can’t develop that greater strength and build on what you know and you’ve done. I think that’s very well put.

‏‏I collect magnets. Everywhere I go in the world, I get a magnet. I have a whole wall of my refrigerator full of magnets from different places I visited. One of them said—I remember organizing them on my refrigerator the other day and I couldn’t get this one off because it’s peeled the color of the refrigerator so I just kept it there—what would you attempt to do if you knew you could never fail? Then there is the concept of actually you cannot really fail because that failure builds your muscles, helps you grow. The most successful people in the world just fail over and over and over again until they succeed.

‏‏Yup, yup, yup. Exactly.

‏‏What are some of the secrets and challenges to women collaborating together?

‏‏I think that I have had really nothing but excellent experiences collaborating with women in the same way that I had mostly excellent experiences collaborating with men. If you’re not collaborating well with someone, that’s probably on you most of the time. At least thinking about how to be on you is more useful than always blaming the other party. But the thing is I think that a lot of times women are asked to represent their gender in a way men don’t have to. I have heard people say, “I don’t want to work for a woman boss.” This is women saying it too. Sexism can be internalized and not just externalized. I’ll say, “Oh, how many women bosses have you had?” They’re like, “One, she was real bitch.” I’m like, “Okay, how many male bosses have you had?” They’ll list a few. I’m like, “Were all of them awesome?” He’ll be like, “No. This one guy was a real jerk.” I’m like, “Why do you want a male boss? It sounds like you’ve had bad male bosses too?” It’s just not thought of in same way. We are not allowed to be in individualized yet when it comes to the workplace and working together, we are still expected to be a monolift. It’s a lot of pressure, it’s not just on women, this is true for people of color, this is true for all LGBT people. Any kind of marginalized group or group that hasn’t yet achieved proportional parity that when someone works, or someone from one of those groups, that person is not an individual, that person is a representative. I think if we could get away from that, it would be awesome. I think it would be great if women could get away from thinking that way about women. If we can’t do it, how do we expect men to do it? I suppose. I think that I just try to walk in and I actually find collaborating with women to be pretty awesome. There’s a lot less interrupting, there’s a lot less just being [00:28:29]. I came from male, very male dominated environments before BlogHer. There was a lot of chest beating and, “I could do that?” I could adopt that tribal behavior to get what I needed and communicate and be understood and be respected but it does get tiresome. Even if you’re working with mostly women, I think the key is you want diverse perspective even within—if you’re already talking about like for instance with BlogHer with the speaking roster. Our speaking roster was 99% women. But even within all women, which were some conferences would be unheard of for them to be able to even get to 50/50, but even within that we wanted diversity across many, many dimensions; race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, age, geography, class, and it wasn’t until you could have a ton of different kinds of women that you have the best conversations. What I also really didn’t want to do is have people come speak about being who they were as opposed to just be who they were but talk about what they were experts at. In other words, yes, it’s fine to have panels about women in tech but if the only women who ever speak at your event were the ones who come to speak about being women in tech, that’s a failing, that’s not okay. I would love to see an end to any conference that solves its woman speaker problem by simply throwing a woman in tech panel up there and thinking they’ve addressed the issue.

‏‏There is the #girlpower, there is no #boypower.

‏‏I have a conflicted relationship with the word girl when it refers to adult women.

‏‏Let me know.

‏‏I know great organizations with the word girl in their name that’s not referring to actual girls but referring to adult women. It’s just not my thing. Like you said there’s no boys, there’s no equivalent where men call themselves boys. I don’t even like the whole girl boss hashtag, it’s not one that I would use. I don’t think we need to help people along in diminishing us, or not even diminishment but diminutive, girl is a diminutive. It just is. That’s not personally what I would probably do. But then again I’m still the person who without thinking about it says “You guys,” when I’m talking to a bunch of women.

‏‏I say, “Man, that was just—”

‏‏Yeah. I have partly achieved the nirvana of perfect language usage.

‏‏But it’s about awareness and it’s about setting your boundaries. Let’s talk a little bit about your upcoming book. I know you already sent it to the publisher and people can pre-order it and it’s gonna come out next when?

‏‏It actually will be physically available September 18th, it’s available for pre-order now on Amazon, it’s called Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All. I’m co-writing it with two other writers, Carolyn Gerin and Jamia Wilson. It’s really a guide book because since the November ’16 election, I personally observed so many people I knew who had never been activated before, never been political. But not even political, never engaged in how things work and how policies or how systems work in this country particularly. All of the sudden they were really thinking about these things. I think there was a lot lead up to that like I think the Black Lives Matter movement help start to wake some people up about systems in this country. Now we’ve got B2 movement which is just another thinking about the systems in this country and how they don’t serve us. But I think a lot of people didn’t know where to direct their energy, were afraid of how will they know what to do and how will they do it the right way. What I was afraid of is that people will burn out. The 2018 election isn’t going to fix or reverse everything people may not have liked about the 2016 election. How do you keep people engaged? How do you keep people participating in their community? We got this idea to create something that’s sort of designed for the regular person who is busy, has kids, has a job, or is going to school, all these things are on their plate. How can we integrate a little bit of community, engagement, and activism into an already impactful life and have impact? If you got a limited amount of time and money, how do you have the maximum amount of impact? That’s what the book is really designed to help people figure out. Part of that of course is figuring out what are the issues you really care about the most. It doesn’t just have to be, in fact I would urge it not to be just Federal government. It’s not just about congress, it’s not just about the president, it’s about your city council, your planning commission, or your company’s policies, or your school board policies, all of these things just ladder up into everything else we see ultimately at the national level.

‏‏I was activated too where I had a green card for years and years and it I could have become a citizen but it was never a big deal for me. Now because our president does not like immigrants, I went and I applied, I just got my citizenship two weeks ago.

‏‏Oh, congratulations.

‏‏Thank you. Now I have dual citizenship. But I had to do it because of what’s going on. You are right because this time people get really polarized and very, like you say, activated.

‏‏Yeah. But I also think if people got engaged more in their own communities, I think it would help address some of the polarization because it’s not that everyone agrees down at a city council meeting but you start to see that people care about the same thing. Sometimes the way they would fix things is different from one another but essentially at the local and community level, people are trying to solve the same problems, they are looking for answers. I think on the one hand sometimes getting to know more about how your neighbors think isn’t so fun when you find out, “Oh, there’s a closet racist down the street, I did not know that.” But a lot of times it’s kind of humanizing. Not everything is about flipping the presidency every four years. There’s stuff that’s going on every day.

‏‏What are some of the tips or issues that you touch on in the book? Because I obviously haven’t read it yet.

‏‏We have a chapter on protest and civil disobedience. First of all, we have some information about how protest and civil disobedience have really made a difference, that it does mean something to get out there and hold your sign and join the crowd. We have some very practical tips about how to take care of yourself if you’re going to go on protest, how to deal with it if you get arrested, even a little guideline about what to do if you get tear gassed. We have to think from the really innocuous to the very extreme. We have a whole chapter which I think is really something people don’t really think about. We have a whole chapter about digital privacy and security and democracy and how to really protect yourself. We are increasingly a surveilled country under surveillance by our government but also for profit companies have so much access to you data. We have a whole section about how to secure your communications, how to be more aware of what companies are doing with your data and how to push back on that if you want to, about how to cross the border and have less chance of problems. We have a chapter about applying economic pressure. There’s boycotts which is when people don’t buy something to make a point. But there’s also what we call buycotts, which is when you do buy from someone to make a point. Also that applies to how to influence your own company to change their policies if they are at outdated or out moded, if you’re shareholder—for instance, most people don’t know that to get a shareholder resolution on the ballot, you only need to own about $2,000 or $3,000 worth of stock in any company to have the right to put forward a resolution—there’s things you can do and they are sometimes about exposure for ideas and sort of starting to propagate ideas. But then we do have a whole section about government and it’s very focused on how you can get involved with government but at the local and community and state levels and sort of that ladders up to eventually national level. But we’re not telling people that the first step has to be the one for congress. But they can get really involved. If you live where I lived in Clarke County, this county has tons of these commissions that report to the board of supervisors. They’re volunteer, they’re appointed, most of the media have to run to be on you, you have to be participating and get appointed and they do real stuff, these are working commissions that make a real difference in lives and they are on every topic you can imagine. If you are activated by whether it’s children or women or LGBT community or housing or the homeless, there is a commission that’s trying to figure out problems and help the governing bodies of the county deal with issues in the county. It’s very much about just try and start at the most fundamental level and get more involved. Every chapter has information like how does stuff really work. I was really surprised during the election, how people didn’t understand what happens at state level versus the national level, what happens in the political parties versus in the government. There’s a lot of information, there’s a lot of advice and guidelines, but there’s also interviews with people who are working, who are doing the work. We have an interview with Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, we have an interview with Senator Gillibrand focused on campus sexual assault and what she’s doing to try to improve college campus policies. We have just a variety, we have an interview with the doctor I know who was at Standing Rock and was the position onsite, the only doctor onsite for several weeks and what that experience was like because she had never done anything like that before. Your skills are needed and your talent is needed and there are so many different ways to contribute from every level.

‏‏Yeah. That sounds amazing and thank you for encouraging people to get involved because it’s so easy to just hide behind their screens and just live our lives and whatever happens happens because we all have the power to influence the world and influence a cause that is close to our hearts.

‏‏Oh, I really believe that, that we all do have that kind of power. What I also believe is that we cannot be happy if we are not activating on behalf of the things we believe in, that I think a lot about the difference between satisfaction and happiness because I once had a boss say to me, he was taking over this department and I was trying to explain to him how big our role was supposed to be but how few people we have. I said, “It’s very hard for people to come into work and be happy when they know they’re not going to get the job done because they simply cannot, they do not have the resources.” He goes, “Why don’t you just lower expectations of what they’re supposed to get done because the happiness is the delta between expectations and reality so just lower expectations.” I said, “If you would be happy to go talk to the C-Suite and make sure they are happy with us having lower expectations, great. Bring it.” But of course that was not going to be the case. I started thinking about it and I’m like, “The difference between reality and expectation is your level of satisfaction.” People say no one else can make you happy or not happy. I said, “Sure, they can’t, but you can be dissatisfied with people because they are not behaving to what you expected and hoped for. You can be satisfied with the relationship because they are in it’s different from happiness.” But to me, happiness is the delta between your values and how closely you act on them because if you don’t act on your values, that creates just a dissonance that makes it very hard to be happy.

‏‏Yeah. I also know that you are very passionate about speaking up and creating boundaries.

‏‏Yes. Everybody has different boundaries. Let’s take online, plenty of people I know will not talk about things like religion, politics, or any of those things but they will like talk about their kids lives or their sex lives or whatever it is. I very rarely actually talk about my real world personal life but I will tell you everything I think about my political beliefs or religion or any of those hot topics that you’re not supposed to touch. We’re just drawing boundaries in different places and I’ve had people say to me aren’t you afraid you’ll lose clients or people won’t want to work with you because the country is so polarized. I’m like, “If they would really make that decision that they couldn’t work with me because of what I believe then we are best not working together.” I understand that that could be coming from a place of privilege to be so cavalier about that. But I was saying this even I wasn’t making any money and I was really thinking about am I going to have move back in with my mom because I just feel like people have a right to have their beliefs and articulate their beliefs and stand up for them and I think it leads to more internal satisfaction and happiness to do so.

‏‏Yes. That’s a big one. This is also something that I work on being the most authentic and the most genuine that I can because coming from Israel, we are a very direct culture where if I speak the way I spoke there, it will come across as very rude. Sometimes I do come across as rude but I don’t mean to, it’s just my form of direct communication because it just makes sense to me not to sugar coat everything that happens where like my sister in her workplace, she works with an American company in Tel Aviv, they actually had to have training about sending emails in English where like in Israeli will send one line, “Hey, did you get the job done?” American will say, “Hey, how are you, Joe? How was your new year? Are you feeling great? How’s your this and this and that. By the way, maybe can we please do it by this and this date? Thank you very much. It was so lovely to talk to you,” signed.

‏‏That’s so funny you should say that. The two high tech companies I worked for before founding BlogHer were both founded by Israelis, I worked with a lot of Israelis. I know exactly what you mean. Although I did definitely work with some Israeli guys who were more kind of soft spoken and not all about the in your face kind of directness all that time. There’s variations.

‏‏Yeah. I’m exaggerating, I’m exaggerating.

‏‏But the thing is when we started doing BlogHer, I have that style of email very much where I will send like five words. Jory actually kind of have that too maybe because she grew up in Chicago and lived in New York so she’s very from urban environments. But anyway at one point Lisa who was our third co-founder and whose mother is Southern, although Lisa’s from Montana, but her mother’s Southern, she does a different way. At one point she said, “You guys, I just need some humanity in these emails, can we just take a moment to say, ‘Hi Lisa, thank you,’ can we do that?’ It really made me conscious. Now almost every time I write an email, I write the email in my clipped kind of boom right to the point and then I go back and I like to say I go back and add humanity into it. Then you’ll figure out someone else is the same like Jory and I can still send short emails to each other because we know that the both of us are like that and it’s fine. But until you figure that out with someone, I really am quite conscious of adding back the humanity. It’s so funny you should say that because that is exactly something I have encountered directly in my life.

‏‏Yeah. But there is a balance where sometimes in order to fit in, I overcompensate, too nice, I’m too, too nice, and I don’t like it, I just like to be me. Right now in everything that I post, I’m like, “Am I being genuine enough? How can I be even more? What is my voice?” You can’t please everyone but I still want to be me.

‏‏Right, right. Absolutely. I think that I definitely err on the side of being pretty straightforward and forthright. Before we founded BlogHer, I was super involved with party politics on one particular side and I blogged for my local party in fact during the 2004 election. I was very partisan. Then when we founded BlogHer we decided that it was going to be on the partisan that we wanted to hear from people across the ideological spectrum and I knew I could never authentically ask people from the other side of the spectrum to come speak and share their respective if I was being super partisan still. I really learned how to have conversations where I didn’t ever give up what I believed but I learned how to articulate things in a different way and be more open to hearing other people and having civil discourse with people in a way that help me be able to communicate with people who have very different beliefs from me. Now that I’m not there anymore, it’s not my problem anymore really to have to build an omni-partisan organization more partisan again, but I’ve never gone that all the way, I’ve definitely learned how to have conversations in a different way. I’m going to cut off communicating with the troll no matter what their ideology. By the way, there are trolls all the way from left to right, it doesn’t matter. I’m just never going to try to have conversation with someone like that. But I can have a conversation, in fact tomorrow I’m supposed to record a video for both TV that talks about one person from the other side of the aisle that I really respect and admire. I’m trying to decide between a couple of folks to record this video. I don’t know about 15 years ago, I would have been able to do that because I’ve been like, “Nobody, nothing.”

‏‏There is light in everybody.

‏‏Yes, exactly.

‏‏It’s a part of maturity and that’s why we need more voices like yours because it will bring world peace, eventually.

‏‏That’s a toll order.

‏‏No expectations. Thank you so much. Before we finish, what are your three quick tips to living a stellar life and where can people find you and where can they order your book?

‏‏Let’s see, three quick tips for leading a stellar life. I think the first is absolutely in that behaving in alignment with your values, that’s the true to me path to happiness; if you can’t be happy with yourself, you can’t be happy in general. Figure out what your values are and figure out how to live more closely to them. It’s a work in progress, it’s not about perfection but it’s about getting closer to living your values. The second is to appreciate your own boundaries and they don’t have to be like anybody else’s. You can set them where and when you want. I think the third is to respect your own. It’s very much all these are about really getting to know yourself and respecting yourself. Respect what drives you and what doesn’t drive you. A lot of times, people are motivated by very different things and I once had a boss who told me that for each of his employees he figured out what was the one saying that really made them tick and then they tried to build their goals and incentives around that. For some people it was money, for some people it was a nicer office, for some people it was praise. A good boss is going to be trying to game you and figure out what really makes you tick, why don’t you figure it out first so that you can go out and get it? If what makes you tick isn’t what the conventional wisdom says, you make it tick that you’re still can own it and respect it. They are all kind of related and that’s all about authenticity. I don’t know how you lead a stellar life if you’re not leading an authentic life. You can find me at elisacp.com. I did it myself, I haven’t made a website in like 12 years but I was like, “I could do this.” I went and got the Squarespace site. I’ve made it myself so I’d love feedback. It’s brand new.

‏‏Congratulations.

‏‏Thank you. It’s good to exercise your brain and I just thought it would be a nice challenge for me to do that again, to figure out how to make something for myself again. Then you can find the book Road Map for Revolutionaries on Amazon.

‏‏Wonderful. Elisa, it was really fun talking to you and very enlightening. Thank you so much.

‏‏You too. You are so welcome.

‏‏Hi, welcome to Stellar Life podcast. Today I have with me Elisa Camahort Page. She’s known as the co-founder and COO of the scrappy startup turned global women’s media company called BlogHer. Elisa is now focused on consulting with entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, authors, executives in organizations in every size to make vision reality, to take big ideas and bring them to life, and help them reach the next level. She is a force to be reckoned with and you are going to be enjoying this conversation tremendously. Elisa’s debuted book, Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All is gonna be published this September. Go pre-order it, buy it, it’s gonna be fantastic. Now, without further ado, onto the show. Hello, Elisa. Welcome to Stellar Life Podcast.

‏‏Hi, Orion. Thank you so much for having me.

‏‏Thank you so much for being here. This is going to be a very interesting conversation I think because of who you are. I just love hearing you speak, you’re very eloquent and you’re a very good communicator.

‏‏Oh, thank you so much.

‏‏Yeah. Before we start, why don’t you just share a little bit about yourself, your background, and your mission in life?

‏‏Oh, absolutely. My name is Elisa Camahort Page. After being a marketing person and high tech in Silicon Valley and going through the boom and the bust, I ended up co-founding a company called BlogHer in 2005. We worked with women who were beginning to express themselves online through blogging and social media. We help them get exposure for their work but we also help them make money because we felt it was really important to know your worth and to attach the appropriate amount of value to what you are doing. BlogHer got acquired by a company called SheKnows in 2014. I stayed there and was Chief Community Officer until just 2017. I finally first transitioned into being a consulting basis with them. As of June 30th, I’m 100% a free agent. That was quite a big transition after 12 years of running that company and then being an executive at the acquired company. Now I’m working on other things. I’m working on my first book which is due out next fall. I’m also doing consulting in a couple of different areas. I like to joke that I was working with SheKnows still through the end of Q2 or June 30th, I knew we were going to have to write our book manuscript during Q3 so I scheduled an existential crisis for Q4. I guess that means I’m theoretically supposed to be out of it by now since we’re into the new year but I would say I’m still figuring out what’s the next thing I want to be when I grow up.

‏‏This is really exciting. It’s almost like now what? There’s so many opportunities, especially because you are a connector and you build a whole community from scratch. How was that in the beginning and how did you expand and grow so much?

‏‏In the beginning, there was this conventional wisdom that women were not born to be tech savvy and that therefore they weren’t going to adopt blogging and social media. Part of what drove my co-founders, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins, and I to even throw the first BlogHer Conference as a labor of love before we even started the company was that we just wanted to push back on this narrative about this making assumptions about what women do, what they’re capable of. We tapped into—it was very early days—a lot of different women who had been feeling like they were a little bit alone at their computer all over the country, all over the world. When they came together and figured out they were not alone, that is the essence of building a community is how do you show people they are not alone and that there is a community there to be joined and to grow together. That was what the first BlogHer Conference did. A lot of people don’t know that the BlogHer started with a conference meeting in real life even though what we all had in common was that we were digital citizens. But I think that was a really important thing because every year the conferences sort of bring people together and reinvigorate a core part of our community. We have this idea of we don’t want to be a centralized, everyone has to come to us to do anything. blogher.com was kind of a central hub but we spent most of our time sharing what everyone else was doing out on their part of the internet and their little corner of the internet. By encouraging everyone to know the full value of what was happening out there, we were giving people something. We weren’t just asking something from them, we were probably giving them more than we were asking for a very long time because that’s another real part of building community which is the everyone has to know why are they here. The answer to the question “What’s in it for me?” I don’t believe things like community and networking are—they’re not transactional, in my opinion. I know some would disagree with me. But they are about mutual value. Sometimes that value is much more experience in a pay it forward kind of way. I do all these things for other people not because I expect those people to necessarily repay me, but because doing those things is going to come back to me in some way, maybe not right now, maybe not through that exact person, but the pathways will come back. That’s another part of community which is how do you make people feel like anything they put in comes back tenfold.

The essence of building a community is how do you show people they are not alone and that there is a community there to be joined and to grow together. Click To Tweet

‏‏I was talking with my friends in a mastermind yesterday and they talked about this book Giftology, how by giving you actually get so much more back. But what happens if you build a community and you give and you give and you give and you don’t see the fruits of your labor? How do you get it to a place where people feel satisfied and you give them but you also monetize it?

‏‏Right. I think that the main thing you need to give people—I think in any community—is respect and communication. In trying to build a community for really any woman online and any man who was interested in being an ally in a community of mostly women, we have a lot of different kinds of people, we had everyone on the ideological spectrum, we had people from all over the country, different income levels, all that kind of thing. That means we didn’t always make everybody happy. Sometimes the community asks for something and your answer is no. But the key is that you are answering. I think that that can keep people feeling very heard and seen and in addition to wanting to know will they get a return on what they’re contributing to the community. People want to feel seen and heard, responded to, and respected. That’s very important. By doing that—whenever people get a little cranky about some of the sponsorship that happened. We were super transparent about how much things cost versus how they get paid for and that this is a reality if we want some of these things, this is how we get them. Maybe not everybody liked every answer, but if they liked most of the answers, then that was fine. I think when we started, at the first BlogHer, the very concept of making money with your blogs was controversial like blogs were some sort of pure channel that was not to be sullied with advertising. That was very controversial. I think partly through our business and our efforts, we really changed the perspective to that, “Hey, not everybody wants to make money but those who do, it’s a rational and valid choice.” I always used to say there’s a big difference between something that’s truly unacceptable and something that’s just not my cup of tea. Learning the difference and acting and responding accordingly is something I think we all learn overtime.

‏‏Yeah, it’s almost like the idea that if someone is spiritual, they cannot make money.

‏‏Yeah.

‏‏Spirituality and money, they don’t work together, but it’s not true because money is energy and energy is a spiritual thing. When you have money, you can do a lot of good in the world.

‏‏Right. If I didn’t make money, I wouldn’t be donating the money I do. Not everybody does that so are there people who are monetizing and absolutely not adhering to a set of values that I would respect, yes that’s true. But it’s not inherently about whether you have money or not. I think you can stay really conscious of your values and act on your values. We think there’s empowerment and money for women. For too long, women—we already know there’s a pay gap, we already know there’s so many things that hurt women when it comes to economics and financially so we actually thought it was part of our mission to help women very unapologetically make money.

‏‏Also a part of your mission is you like stories. I checked out your TEDx talk about your own private history and how some of the stories were lost and it’s almost like a personal thing to help others share their stories because you see so much value in our history, especially because as you’ve said in the TEDx talk, in history, it was all written by men but in rarely we heard the female voice.

‏‏Yeah, or saw the female perspective. It’s true that history, up until now, when you look at the history books, it tends to focus on commerce, war, government, these are the big topics, and until quite recently those were very male dominated pursuit. History was about men, it was written by men. The thing that social media kind of highlighted was that we could hear from any person about their perspective on what was happening in their world. As I do point out on that talk, one of the most enduring voices about the World War II experience was Anne Frank. That was user-generated content, that was no different than a blog, really. I talked a little bit about my grandmother’s story and my mother’s story and all the things we don’t know about what they lived through and what they went through, this generation of younger people are going to have insights and awareness of their parents as humans in a way that previous generations didn’t get to. I actually think that’s of value.

‏‏Another thing that I’ve heard recommended was to take your parent and just use your iPhone, use a video camera and interview them. Ask them questions about their lives, ask them questions about what was it like when you were a child? How did you grew up? What did you like and what didn’t you like? Actually I did an interview with my mom, I’m thinking about doing a series of them and everytime—because my mom is from Israel, my family lives in Israel, I live here in the United States, but everytime I’m going to visit, I’m going to have a different interview and go deeper and deeper into the history and have that story because we are our history, we are our heritage. Sometimes we inherit things from our ancestors that we don’t even know. Now when I look back I can see that me and my grandma that I never knew, we have the same wild spirit of nomad and travelling the world and going everywhere and talking to everybody. We are very much alike and I would never know that if I haven’t spoken and shared that experience with my mom interviewing her.

‏‏That’s a great idea. We always meant to do that with my grandmother. We talked a lot about getting her history and we didn’t do it. I’m so glad you’re doing it because I think yes you will learn a lot but also if everybody did a little bit about, we get a lot more perspective, I think. I really feel sometimes people don’t value the fact that almost nothing we go through is unique or has never happened before. People look at social media, the good and the bad, to me, it’s taking whatever is good and bad in society and sort of yes it’s amplifying it more and it’s distributing it more widely. But social media isn’t creating the good or the bad, it’s just being a vehicle to amplify, distribute the good and the bad.

Social media isn’t creating the good or the bad, it’s just being a vehicle to amplify, distribute the good and the bad.

‏‏Yeah. There’s also an illusion there in social media where we desire to be like everybody else and a part of knowing our own origin story and connecting and owning it, it’s a part of our strength, not our weakness, and our own unique selves.

‏‏I agree.

‏‏Yeah. Looking back at all your endeavors, you’ve been through a lot. You’ve touched many lives which is incredible and you talk to some of the most amazing people in the world, interviewing them, rubbing shoulders with them. Looking back, what were your biggest lessons from building that blogging community?

‏‏Wow.

‏‏Let me throw you an easy one.

‏‏Yes, please. I think the biggest lesson that I’ve ever learned is to make that leap. If you have a big idea, if you have a medium size idea and you’re not sure if you should do it but you keep thinking about it, just do it, what’s the worst that could happen? I feel like people don’t ask themselves the question “What’s the worst that could happen,” and answer in detail because they’ll stop with “I could fail.” My next question is always, “So what? What happens then if you fail?” The truth is when we started BlogHer, I went through my entire life savings, I took up $50,000 in debt before we got our first round of funding because I’m in 2 years without a paycheck. The truth is if we had not gotten the funding, I’m sure we would have had to shut down at that point, none of the three of us could really afford to keep going forever. Let’s say my now spouse, I was living with at that time let’s say that was done and I didn’t even have that kind of safety net. What is the worst that would have happened? I have no money, I’m in debt, and everything’s falling apart. The truth is I would have moved back in with my mom for a while. I would have had to get a regular job. I’m like, “These are not tragedies.” That’s not what I wanted to happen, because I was over the age of 40 already. I didn’t want to start over but that would be appealing to me but it’s not a tragedy. You see tragedies happen everyday. I really feel like once you know that what is the worst that could happen and you answer the question, it frees you a little bit, say, “Okay. That kind of sucked but it wouldn’t be world ending.” I always say, “Take that risk.” Even right now I didn’t leave SheKnows with something else ready waiting to take its place from the point of view of what I was going to do with my time or how I was going to earn money. But I just felt like if I didn’t do it I would never find the next thing, I knew I wanted the next thing. Theoretically I could have been working on that and figuring that out but I needed to take the leap to figure it out because otherwise it was too comfortable. That’s probably the biggest thing, if you got something you’ve been dying to try, you should try it. The second thing I think is that never get too far removed from—you can say that going through all those years in BlogHer, I met some amazing people, I’ve just been making my own website for the first time in more than a decade, a website that’s just for me. I’ve had to pull out like, “Okay, what do I want to put on this website? Where have I’ve been published, where I have spoken, and who I have interviewed and all these things, I’m like, “Wow, what? Impressive.” But the thing is as you go on through your career, it’s really, really helpful to not forget what it was like when you weren’t there yet. When I think about managing people as an employee, employer-employee relationship, it’s good to remember what it was like to be a junior employee who was just trying to start their career and get ahead. If you can stay in touch with all these past versions of yourself so that you can have empathy for people in a way that I think it’s hard to hold onto. But that’s the second thing I would really say is try to hold on to that empathy, what it’s like for that person on the other end of whatever it is you’re dealing with. The third thing I would say is that I learned that don’t personalize everything. Not everyone’s going to like you, not everyone’s going to like what you choose to do, not everyone’s going to come back and offer you everything you deserve. It’s really, really easy to think that that’s personal. But again, it comes back to empathy. It’s almost never personal, it’s almost always about whatever they’re dealing with and trying to get what they want. They’re not thinking about you at all. I actually think empathy is like a secret weapon because most people aren’t thinking about you at all and if you come to the table having thought about them, it’s disarming. It’s really disarming to people to just be like, “Okay, let’s lay the cards on the table. Here’s what you want, here’s what I want, here’s where they come together. What did I get wrong?” People don’t know what to do with that, I think, in a lot of cases.

‏‏How come she’s not emotional?

‏‏Or how come she’s not hardass and yet she’s getting what she wants? How do you get what you want without acting like what the other person wants is wrong, that’s the thing. You don’t have to act like what the other person wants is wrong to try to get what you want even if it’s different. I think it just sets you up for better outcomes.

‏‏How do you prepare yourself to be in that situation?

‏‏The number one thing is to remove the emotional response to getting someone offering you or not offering you, what they bring to you when it isn’t what you wanted, the number one thing is to depersonalize it and say, “Okay, they didn’t do this to piss me off, they didn’t do this to disrespect me.” Why would they do this? What is it that they’re not seeing about what I asked for as right? What is it that they want that I didn’t offer? What is it that they need that I didn’t provide? You can try and identify like why wouldn’t they come and give me exactly what I want? What’s wrong with them? But instead of asking what’s wrong them or asking about what’s wrong with what we put out there that we are not like that they don’t want to deliver me exactly what I have in mind. I think that’s how I kind of go about it which is to figure that out.

‏‏Yeah, it sounds a lot like a person have responsibility and intention.

‏‏Very much about intention and not assuming you know everybody’s intention. I just always dealt with this a lot where I would be the person saying like, “I don’t think they’re trying to **** with us.” I don’t know if you swear on this podcast but—

‏‏You just did.

‏‏I just did. But you know I would say that I don’t think this is like purposely trying to—what other reason could there be? Because why would someone who theoretically wants to partner with you, why would they want to **** with you? Probably they wouldn’t so what are the other explanations that are rational? I think the other side of that though is that if you do push me past that point where I’ve decided you’re a bad actor, it’s done, I’m done. But it takes a lot to get me there, most people are safe.

‏‏That’s very impressive. The three things you talked about, I just want to recap, is to look back and to see our worth and count your blessings and see how much you achieved in the past. The second one, which I really love, is to keep in touch with old versions of yourself. You got to keep yourself humble and you got to keep yourself with empathy to know how people that are now where you were years ago feel so you can communicate and relate to them better. The third thing which was a third thing, plus, plus, plus, was that not always people are going to like you, unfortunately which was heartbreaking for me to get because I’m like, “But I’m so lovable, why don’t you love me? What’s going on? I don’t get it.”

‏‏I know it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard. The fourth thing is taking the risks, making the leap.

‏‏Yes. There is also the concept of failure that you talk about where there is no real failure because even if you end up moving in with your mom and getting a job, that would lead you to the next adventure.

‏‏Yes, absolutely. I guess it’s not even that there is no failure, it’s that there’s failure but that’s okay. But when did we decide failure was to be avoided at all cost and that it meant something about you, that it defined your worth as a person to whether you have failed or not at something? I like Sarah Michelle Gellar who is one of the amazing people I’ve interviewed and probably my favorite one because I’m huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. She said that in her family, she and her husband Freddie Prinze Jr., they use the exercise or fitness model to think about failure. In that you work your muscles to failure so that they will repair themselves and become stronger. Without failure, you can’t develop that greater strength and build on what you know and you’ve done. I think that’s very well put.

Without failure, you can’t develop that greater strength and build on what you know and you’ve done. Click To Tweet

‏‏I collect magnets. Everywhere I go in the world, I get a magnet. I have a whole wall of my refrigerator full of magnets from different places I visited. One of them said—I remember organizing them on my refrigerator the other day and I couldn’t get this one off because it’s peeled the color of the refrigerator so I just kept it there—what would you attempt to do if you knew you could never fail? Then there is the concept of actually you cannot really fail because that failure builds your muscles, helps you grow. The most successful people in the world just fail over and over and over again until they succeed.

‏‏Yup, yup, yup. Exactly.

‏‏What are some of the secrets and challenges to women collaborating together?

‏‏I think that I have had really nothing but excellent experiences collaborating with women in the same way that I had mostly excellent experiences collaborating with men. If you’re not collaborating well with someone, that’s probably on you most of the time. At least thinking about how to be on you is more useful than always blaming the other party. But the thing is I think that a lot of times women are asked to represent their gender in a way men don’t have to. I have heard people say, “I don’t want to work for a woman boss.” This is women saying it too. Sexism can be internalized and not just externalized. I’ll say, “Oh, how many women bosses have you had?” They’re like, “One, she was real bitch.” I’m like, “Okay, how many male bosses have you had?” They’ll list a few. I’m like, “Were all of them awesome?” He’ll be like, “No. This one guy was a real jerk.” I’m like, “Why do you want a male boss? It sounds like you’ve had bad male bosses too?” It’s just not thought of in same way. We are not allowed to be in individualized yet when it comes to the workplace and working together, we are still expected to be a monolift. It’s a lot of pressure, it’s not just on women, this is true for people of color, this is true for all LGBT people. Any kind of marginalized group or group that hasn’t yet achieved proportional parity that when someone works, or someone from one of those groups, that person is not an individual, that person is a representative. I think if we could get away from that, it would be awesome. I think it would be great if women could get away from thinking that way about women. If we can’t do it, how do we expect men to do it? I suppose. I think that I just try to walk in and I actually find collaborating with women to be pretty awesome. There’s a lot less interrupting, there’s a lot less just being [00:28:29]. I came from male, very male dominated environments before BlogHer. There was a lot of chest beating and, “I could do that?” I could adopt that tribal behavior to get what I needed and communicate and be understood and be respected but it does get tiresome. Even if you’re working with mostly women, I think the key is you want diverse perspective even within—if you’re already talking about like for instance with BlogHer with the speaking roster. Our speaking roster was 99% women. But even within all women, which were some conferences would be unheard of for them to be able to even get to 50/50, but even within that we wanted diversity across many, many dimensions; race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, age, geography, class, and it wasn’t until you could have a ton of different kinds of women that you have the best conversations. What I also really didn’t want to do is have people come speak about being who they were as opposed to just be who they were but talk about what they were experts at. In other words, yes, it’s fine to have panels about women in tech but if the only women who ever speak at your event were the ones who come to speak about being women in tech, that’s a failing, that’s not okay. I would love to see an end to any conference that solves its woman speaker problem by simply throwing a woman in tech panel up there and thinking they’ve addressed the issue.

‏‏There is the #girlpower, there is no #boypower.

‏‏I have a conflicted relationship with the word girl when it refers to adult women.

‏‏Let me know.

‏‏I know great organizations with the word girl in their name that’s not referring to actual girls but referring to adult women. It’s just not my thing. Like you said there’s no boys, there’s no equivalent where men call themselves boys. I don’t even like the whole girl boss hashtag, it’s not one that I would use. I don’t think we need to help people along in diminishing us, or not even diminishment but diminutive, girl is a diminutive. It just is. That’s not personally what I would probably do. But then again I’m still the person who without thinking about it says “You guys,” when I’m talking to a bunch of women.

‏‏I say, “Man, that was just—”

‏‏Yeah. I have partly achieved the nirvana of perfect language usage.

‏‏But it’s about awareness and it’s about setting your boundaries. Let’s talk a little bit about your upcoming book. I know you already sent it to the publisher and people can pre-order it and it’s gonna come out next when?

‏‏It actually will be physically available September 18th, it’s available for pre-order now on Amazon, it’s called Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All. I’m co-writing it with two other writers, Carolyn Gerin and Jamia Wilson. It’s really a guide book because since the November ’16 election, I personally observed so many people I knew who had never been activated before, never been political. But not even political, never engaged in how things work and how policies or how systems work in this country particularly. All of the sudden they were really thinking about these things. I think there was a lot lead up to that like I think the Black Lives Matter movement help start to wake some people up about systems in this country. Now we’ve got B2 movement which is just another thinking about the systems in this country and how they don’t serve us. But I think a lot of people didn’t know where to direct their energy, were afraid of how will they know what to do and how will they do it the right way. What I was afraid of is that people will burn out. The 2018 election isn’t going to fix or reverse everything people may not have liked about the 2016 election. How do you keep people engaged? How do you keep people participating in their community? We got this idea to create something that’s sort of designed for the regular person who is busy, has kids, has a job, or is going to school, all these things are on their plate. How can we integrate a little bit of community, engagement, and activism into an already impactful life and have impact? If you got a limited amount of time and money, how do you have the maximum amount of impact? That’s what the book is really designed to help people figure out. Part of that of course is figuring out what are the issues you really care about the most. It doesn’t just have to be, in fact I would urge it not to be just Federal government. It’s not just about congress, it’s not just about the president, it’s about your city council, your planning commission, or your company’s policies, or your school board policies, all of these things just ladder up into everything else we see ultimately at the national level.

‏‏I was activated too where I had a green card for years and years and it I could have become a citizen but it was never a big deal for me. Now because our president does not like immigrants, I went and I applied, I just got my citizenship two weeks ago.

‏‏Oh, congratulations.

‏‏Thank you. Now I have dual citizenship. But I had to do it because of what’s going on. You are right because this time people get really polarized and very, like you say, activated.

‏‏Yeah. But I also think if people got engaged more in their own communities, I think it would help address some of the polarization because it’s not that everyone agrees down at a city council meeting but you start to see that people care about the same thing. Sometimes the way they would fix things is different from one another but essentially at the local and community level, people are trying to solve the same problems, they are looking for answers. I think on the one hand sometimes getting to know more about how your neighbors think isn’t so fun when you find out, “Oh, there’s a closet racist down the street, I did not know that.” But a lot of times it’s kind of humanizing. Not everything is about flipping the presidency every four years. There’s stuff that’s going on every day.

‏‏What are some of the tips or issues that you touch on in the book? Because I obviously haven’t read it yet.

‏‏We have a chapter on protest and civil disobedience. First of all, we have some information about how protest and civil disobedience have really made a difference, that it does mean something to get out there and hold your sign and join the crowd. We have some very practical tips about how to take care of yourself if you’re going to go on protest, how to deal with it if you get arrested, even a little guideline about what to do if you get tear gassed. We have to think from the really innocuous to the very extreme. We have a whole chapter which I think is really something people don’t really think about. We have a whole chapter about digital privacy and security and democracy and how to really protect yourself. We are increasingly a surveilled country under surveillance by our government but also for profit companies have so much access to you data. We have a whole section about how to secure your communications, how to be more aware of what companies are doing with your data and how to push back on that if you want to, about how to cross the border and have less chance of problems. We have a chapter about applying economic pressure. There’s boycotts which is when people don’t buy something to make a point. But there’s also what we call buycotts, which is when you do buy from someone to make a point. Also that applies to how to influence your own company to change their policies if they are at outdated or out moded, if you’re shareholder—for instance, most people don’t know that to get a shareholder resolution on the ballot, you only need to own about $2,000 or $3,000 worth of stock in any company to have the right to put forward a resolution—there’s things you can do and they are sometimes about exposure for ideas and sort of starting to propagate ideas. But then we do have a whole section about government and it’s very focused on how you can get involved with government but at the local and community and state levels and sort of that ladders up to eventually national level. But we’re not telling people that the first step has to be the one for congress. But they can get really involved. If you live where I lived in Clarke County, this county has tons of these commissions that report to the board of supervisors. They’re volunteer, they’re appointed, most of the media have to run to be on you, you have to be participating and get appointed and they do real stuff, these are working commissions that make a real difference in lives and they are on every topic you can imagine. If you are activated by whether it’s children or women or LGBT community or housing or the homeless, there is a commission that’s trying to figure out problems and help the governing bodies of the county deal with issues in the county. It’s very much about just try and start at the most fundamental level and get more involved. Every chapter has information like how does stuff really work. I was really surprised during the election, how people didn’t understand what happens at state level versus the national level, what happens in the political parties versus in the government. There’s a lot of information, there’s a lot of advice and guidelines, but there’s also interviews with people who are working, who are doing the work. We have an interview with Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, we have an interview with Senator Gillibrand focused on campus sexual assault and what she’s doing to try to improve college campus policies. We have just a variety, we have an interview with the doctor I know who was at Standing Rock and was the position onsite, the only doctor onsite for several weeks and what that experience was like because she had never done anything like that before. Your skills are needed and your talent is needed and there are so many different ways to contribute from every level.

‏‏Yeah. That sounds amazing and thank you for encouraging people to get involved because it’s so easy to just hide behind their screens and just live our lives and whatever happens happens because we all have the power to influence the world and influence a cause that is close to our hearts.

‏‏Oh, I really believe that, that we all do have that kind of power. What I also believe is that we cannot be happy if we are not activating on behalf of the things we believe in, that I think a lot about the difference between satisfaction and happiness because I once had a boss say to me, he was taking over this department and I was trying to explain to him how big our role was supposed to be but how few people we have. I said, “It’s very hard for people to come into work and be happy when they know they’re not going to get the job done because they simply cannot, they do not have the resources.” He goes, “Why don’t you just lower expectations of what they’re supposed to get done because the happiness is the delta between expectations and reality so just lower expectations.” I said, “If you would be happy to go talk to the C-Suite and make sure they are happy with us having lower expectations, great. Bring it.” But of course that was not going to be the case. I started thinking about it and I’m like, “The difference between reality and expectation is your level of satisfaction.” People say no one else can make you happy or not happy. I said, “Sure, they can’t, but you can be dissatisfied with people because they are not behaving to what you expected and hoped for. You can be satisfied with the relationship because they are in it’s different from happiness.” But to me, happiness is the delta between your values and how closely you act on them because if you don’t act on your values, that creates just a dissonance that makes it very hard to be happy.

“The difference between reality and expectation is your level of satisfaction.”

‏‏Yeah. I also know that you are very passionate about speaking up and creating boundaries.

‏‏Yes. Everybody has different boundaries. Let’s take online, plenty of people I know will not talk about things like religion, politics, or any of those things but they will like talk about their kids lives or their sex lives or whatever it is. I very rarely actually talk about my real world personal life but I will tell you everything I think about my political beliefs or religion or any of those hot topics that you’re not supposed to touch. We’re just drawing boundaries in different places and I’ve had people say to me aren’t you afraid you’ll lose clients or people won’t want to work with you because the country is so polarized. I’m like, “If they would really make that decision that they couldn’t work with me because of what I believe then we are best not working together.” I understand that that could be coming from a place of privilege to be so cavalier about that. But I was saying this even I wasn’t making any money and I was really thinking about am I going to have move back in with my mom because I just feel like people have a right to have their beliefs and articulate their beliefs and stand up for them and I think it leads to more internal satisfaction and happiness to do so.

‏‏Yes. That’s a big one. This is also something that I work on being the most authentic and the most genuine that I can because coming from Israel, we are a very direct culture where if I speak the way I spoke there, it will come across as very rude. Sometimes I do come across as rude but I don’t mean to, it’s just my form of direct communication because it just makes sense to me not to sugar coat everything that happens where like my sister in her workplace, she works with an American company in Tel Aviv, they actually had to have training about sending emails in English where like in Israeli will send one line, “Hey, did you get the job done?” American will say, “Hey, how are you, Joe? How was your new year? Are you feeling great? How’s your this and this and that. By the way, maybe can we please do it by this and this date? Thank you very much. It was so lovely to talk to you,” signed.

‏‏That’s so funny you should say that. The two high tech companies I worked for before founding BlogHer were both founded by Israelis, I worked with a lot of Israelis. I know exactly what you mean. Although I did definitely work with some Israeli guys who were more kind of soft spoken and not all about the in your face kind of directness all that time. There’s variations.

‏‏Yeah. I’m exaggerating, I’m exaggerating.

‏‏But the thing is when we started doing BlogHer, I have that style of email very much where I will send like five words. Jory actually kind of have that too maybe because she grew up in Chicago and lived in New York so she’s very from urban environments. But anyway at one point Lisa who was our third co-founder and whose mother is Southern, although Lisa’s from Montana, but her mother’s Southern, she does a different way. At one point she said, “You guys, I just need some humanity in these emails, can we just take a moment to say, ‘Hi Lisa, thank you,’ can we do that?’ It really made me conscious. Now almost every time I write an email, I write the email in my clipped kind of boom right to the point and then I go back and I like to say I go back and add humanity into it. Then you’ll figure out someone else is the same like Jory and I can still send short emails to each other because we know that the both of us are like that and it’s fine. But until you figure that out with someone, I really am quite conscious of adding back the humanity. It’s so funny you should say that because that is exactly something I have encountered directly in my life.

‏‏Yeah. But there is a balance where sometimes in order to fit in, I overcompensate, too nice, I’m too, too nice, and I don’t like it, I just like to be me. Right now in everything that I post, I’m like, “Am I being genuine enough? How can I be even more? What is my voice?” You can’t please everyone but I still want to be me.

‏‏Right, right. Absolutely. I think that I definitely err on the side of being pretty straightforward and forthright. Before we founded BlogHer, I was super involved with party politics on one particular side and I blogged for my local party in fact during the 2004 election. I was very partisan. Then when we founded BlogHer we decided that it was going to be on the partisan that we wanted to hear from people across the ideological spectrum and I knew I could never authentically ask people from the other side of the spectrum to come speak and share their respective if I was being super partisan still. I really learned how to have conversations where I didn’t ever give up what I believed but I learned how to articulate things in a different way and be more open to hearing other people and having civil discourse with people in a way that help me be able to communicate with people who have very different beliefs from me. Now that I’m not there anymore, it’s not my problem anymore really to have to build an omni-partisan organization more partisan again, but I’ve never gone that all the way, I’ve definitely learned how to have conversations in a different way. I’m going to cut off communicating with the troll no matter what their ideology. By the way, there are trolls all the way from left to right, it doesn’t matter. I’m just never going to try to have conversation with someone like that. But I can have a conversation, in fact tomorrow I’m supposed to record a video for both TV that talks about one person from the other side of the aisle that I really respect and admire. I’m trying to decide between a couple of folks to record this video. I don’t know about 15 years ago, I would have been able to do that because I’ve been like, “Nobody, nothing.”

‏‏There is light in everybody.

‏‏Yes, exactly.

‏‏It’s a part of maturity and that’s why we need more voices like yours because it will bring world peace, eventually.

‏‏That’s a toll order.

‏‏No expectations. Thank you so much. Before we finish, what are your three quick tips to living a stellar life and where can people find you and where can they order your book?

‏‏Let’s see, three quick tips for leading a stellar life. I think the first is absolutely in that behaving in alignment with your values, that’s the true to me path to happiness; if you can’t be happy with yourself, you can’t be happy in general. Figure out what your values are and figure out how to live more closely to them. It’s a work in progress, it’s not about perfection but it’s about getting closer to living your values. The second is to appreciate your own boundaries and they don’t have to be like anybody else’s. You can set them where and when you want. I think the third is to respect your own. It’s very much all these are about really getting to know yourself and respecting yourself. Respect what drives you and what doesn’t drive you. A lot of times, people are motivated by very different things and I once had a boss who told me that for each of his employees he figured out what was the one saying that really made them tick and then they tried to build their goals and incentives around that. For some people it was money, for some people it was a nicer office, for some people it was praise. A good boss is going to be trying to game you and figure out what really makes you tick, why don’t you figure it out first so that you can go out and get it? If what makes you tick isn’t what the conventional wisdom says, you make it tick that you’re still can own it and respect it. They are all kind of related and that’s all about authenticity. I don’t know how you lead a stellar life if you’re not leading an authentic life. You can find me at elisacp.com. I did it myself, I haven’t made a website in like 12 years but I was like, “I could do this.” I went and got the Squarespace site. I’ve made it myself so I’d love feedback. It’s brand new.

‏‏Congratulations.

‏‏Thank you. It’s good to exercise your brain and I just thought it would be a nice challenge for me to do that again, to figure out how to make something for myself again. Then you can find the book Road Map for Revolutionaries on Amazon.

‏‏Wonderful. Elisa, it was really fun talking to you and very enlightening. Thank you so much.

‏‏You too. You are so welcome.

‏‏Hi, welcome to Stellar Life podcast. Today I have with me Elisa Camahort Page. She’s known as the co-founder and COO of the scrappy startup turned global women’s media company called BlogHer. Elisa is now focused on consulting with entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, authors, executives in organizations in every size to make vision reality, to take big ideas and bring them to life, and help them reach the next level. She is a force to be reckoned with and you are going to be enjoying this conversation tremendously. Elisa’s debuted book, Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All is gonna be published this September. Go pre-order it, buy it, it’s gonna be fantastic. Now, without further ado, onto the show. Hello, Elisa. Welcome to Stellar Life Podcast.

‏‏Hi, Orion. Thank you so much for having me.

‏‏Thank you so much for being here. This is going to be a very interesting conversation I think because of who you are. I just love hearing you speak, you’re very eloquent and you’re a very good communicator.

‏‏Oh, thank you so much.

‏‏Yeah. Before we start, why don’t you just share a little bit about yourself, your background, and your mission in life?

‏‏Oh, absolutely. My name is Elisa Camahort Page. After being a marketing person and high tech in Silicon Valley and going through the boom and the bust, I ended up co-founding a company called BlogHer in 2005. We worked with women who were beginning to express themselves online through blogging and social media. We help them get exposure for their work but we also help them make money because we felt it was really important to know your worth and to attach the appropriate amount of value to what you are doing. BlogHer got acquired by a company called SheKnows in 2014. I stayed there and was Chief Community Officer until just 2017. I finally first transitioned into being a consulting basis with them. As of June 30th, I’m 100% a free agent. That was quite a big transition after 12 years of running that company and then being an executive at the acquired company. Now I’m working on other things. I’m working on my first book which is due out next fall. I’m also doing consulting in a couple of different areas. I like to joke that I was working with SheKnows still through the end of Q2 or June 30th, I knew we were going to have to write our book manuscript during Q3 so I scheduled an existential crisis for Q4. I guess that means I’m theoretically supposed to be out of it by now since we’re into the new year but I would say I’m still figuring out what’s the next thing I want to be when I grow up.

‏‏This is really exciting. It’s almost like now what? There’s so many opportunities, especially because you are a connector and you build a whole community from scratch. How was that in the beginning and how did you expand and grow so much?

‏‏In the beginning, there was this conventional wisdom that women were not born to be tech savvy and that therefore they weren’t going to adopt blogging and social media. Part of what drove my co-founders, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins, and I to even throw the first BlogHer Conference as a labor of love before we even started the company was that we just wanted to push back on this narrative about this making assumptions about what women do, what they’re capable of. We tapped into—it was very early days—a lot of different women who had been feeling like they were a little bit alone at their computer all over the country, all over the world. When they came together and figured out they were not alone, that is the essence of building a community is how do you show people they are not alone and that there is a community there to be joined and to grow together. That was what the first BlogHer Conference did. A lot of people don’t know that the BlogHer started with a conference meeting in real life even though what we all had in common was that we were digital citizens. But I think that was a really important thing because every year the conferences sort of bring people together and reinvigorate a core part of our community. We have this idea of we don’t want to be a centralized, everyone has to come to us to do anything. blogher.com was kind of a central hub but we spent most of our time sharing what everyone else was doing out on their part of the internet and their little corner of the internet. By encouraging everyone to know the full value of what was happening out there, we were giving people something. We weren’t just asking something from them, we were probably giving them more than we were asking for a very long time because that’s another real part of building community which is the everyone has to know why are they here. The answer to the question “What’s in it for me?” I don’t believe things like community and networking are—they’re not transactional, in my opinion. I know some would disagree with me. But they are about mutual value. Sometimes that value is much more experience in a pay it forward kind of way. I do all these things for other people not because I expect those people to necessarily repay me, but because doing those things is going to come back to me in some way, maybe not right now, maybe not through that exact person, but the pathways will come back. That’s another part of community which is how do you make people feel like anything they put in comes back tenfold.

‏‏I was talking with my friends in a mastermind yesterday and they talked about this book Giftology, how by giving you actually get so much more back. But what happens if you build a community and you give and you give and you give and you don’t see the fruits of your labor? How do you get it to a place where people feel satisfied and you give them but you also monetize it?

‏‏Right. I think that the main thing you need to give people—I think in any community—is respect and communication. In trying to build a community for really any woman online and any man who was interested in being an ally in a community of mostly women, we have a lot of different kinds of people, we had everyone on the ideological spectrum, we had people from all over the country, different income levels, all that kind of thing. That means we didn’t always make everybody happy. Sometimes the community asks for something and your answer is no. But the key is that you are answering. I think that that can keep people feeling very heard and seen and in addition to wanting to know will they get a return on what they’re contributing to the community. People want to feel seen and heard, responded to, and respected. That’s very important. By doing that—whenever people get a little cranky about some of the sponsorship that happened. We were super transparent about how much things cost versus how they get paid for and that this is a reality if we want some of these things, this is how we get them. Maybe not everybody liked every answer, but if they liked most of the answers, then that was fine. I think when we started, at the first BlogHer, the very concept of making money with your blogs was controversial like blogs were some sort of pure channel that was not to be sullied with advertising. That was very controversial. I think partly through our business and our efforts, we really changed the perspective to that, “Hey, not everybody wants to make money but those who do, it’s a rational and valid choice.” I always used to say there’s a big difference between something that’s truly unacceptable and something that’s just not my cup of tea. Learning the difference and acting and responding accordingly is something I think we all learn overtime.

‏‏Yeah, it’s almost like the idea that if someone is spiritual, they cannot make money.

‏‏Yeah.

‏‏Spirituality and money, they don’t work together, but it’s not true because money is energy and energy is a spiritual thing. When you have money, you can do a lot of good in the world.

‏‏Right. If I didn’t make money, I wouldn’t be donating the money I do. Not everybody does that so are there people who are monetizing and absolutely not adhering to a set of values that I would respect, yes that’s true. But it’s not inherently about whether you have money or not. I think you can stay really conscious of your values and act on your values. We think there’s empowerment and money for women. For too long, women—we already know there’s a pay gap, we already know there’s so many things that hurt women when it comes to economics and financially so we actually thought it was part of our mission to help women very unapologetically make money.

‏‏Also a part of your mission is you like stories. I checked out your TEDx talk about your own private history and how some of the stories were lost and it’s almost like a personal thing to help others share their stories because you see so much value in our history, especially because as you’ve said in the TEDx talk, in history, it was all written by men but in rarely we heard the female voice.

‏‏Yeah, or saw the female perspective. It’s true that history, up until now, when you look at the history books, it tends to focus on commerce, war, government, these are the big topics, and until quite recently those were very male dominated pursuit. History was about men, it was written by men. The thing that social media kind of highlighted was that we could hear from any person about their perspective on what was happening in their world. As I do point out on that talk, one of the most enduring voices about the World War II experience was Anne Frank. That was user-generated content, that was no different than a blog, really. I talked a little bit about my grandmother’s story and my mother’s story and all the things we don’t know about what they lived through and what they went through, this generation of younger people are going to have insights and awareness of their parents as humans in a way that previous generations didn’t get to. I actually think that’s of value.

‏‏Another thing that I’ve heard recommended was to take your parent and just use your iPhone, use a video camera and interview them. Ask them questions about their lives, ask them questions about what was it like when you were a child? How did you grew up? What did you like and what didn’t you like? Actually I did an interview with my mom, I’m thinking about doing a series of them and everytime—because my mom is from Israel, my family lives in Israel, I live here in the United States, but everytime I’m going to visit, I’m going to have a different interview and go deeper and deeper into the history and have that story because we are our history, we are our heritage. Sometimes we inherit things from our ancestors that we don’t even know. Now when I look back I can see that me and my grandma that I never knew, we have the same wild spirit of nomad and travelling the world and going everywhere and talking to everybody. We are very much alike and I would never know that if I haven’t spoken and shared that experience with my mom interviewing her.

‏‏That’s a great idea. We always meant to do that with my grandmother. We talked a lot about getting her history and we didn’t do it. I’m so glad you’re doing it because I think yes you will learn a lot but also if everybody did a little bit about, we get a lot more perspective, I think. I really feel sometimes people don’t value the fact that almost nothing we go through is unique or has never happened before. People look at social media, the good and the bad, to me, it’s taking whatever is good and bad in society and sort of yes it’s amplifying it more and it’s distributing it more widely. But social media isn’t creating the good or the bad, it’s just being a vehicle to amplify, distribute the good and the bad.

‏‏Yeah. There’s also an illusion there in social media where we desire to be like everybody else and a part of knowing our own origin story and connecting and owning it, it’s a part of our strength, not our weakness, and our own unique selves.

‏‏I agree.

‏‏Yeah. Looking back at all your endeavors, you’ve been through a lot. You’ve touched many lives which is incredible and you talk to some of the most amazing people in the world, interviewing them, rubbing shoulders with them. Looking back, what were your biggest lessons from building that blogging community?

‏‏Wow.

‏‏Let me throw you an easy one.

‏‏Yes, please. I think the biggest lesson that I’ve ever learned is to make that leap. If you have a big idea, if you have a medium size idea and you’re not sure if you should do it but you keep thinking about it, just do it, what’s the worst that could happen? I feel like people don’t ask themselves the question “What’s the worst that could happen,” and answer in detail because they’ll stop with “I could fail.” My next question is always, “So what? What happens then if you fail?” The truth is when we started BlogHer, I went through my entire life savings, I took up $50,000 in debt before we got our first round of funding because I’m in 2 years without a paycheck. The truth is if we had not gotten the funding, I’m sure we would have had to shut down at that point, none of the three of us could really afford to keep going forever. Let’s say my now spouse, I was living with at that time let’s say that was done and I didn’t even have that kind of safety net. What is the worst that would have happened? I have no money, I’m in debt, and everything’s falling apart. The truth is I would have moved back in with my mom for a while. I would have had to get a regular job. I’m like, “These are not tragedies.” That’s not what I wanted to happen, because I was over the age of 40 already. I didn’t want to start over but that would be appealing to me but it’s not a tragedy. You see tragedies happen everyday. I really feel like once you know that what is the worst that could happen and you answer the question, it frees you a little bit, say, “Okay. That kind of sucked but it wouldn’t be world ending.” I always say, “Take that risk.” Even right now I didn’t leave SheKnows with something else ready waiting to take its place from the point of view of what I was going to do with my time or how I was going to earn money. But I just felt like if I didn’t do it I would never find the next thing, I knew I wanted the next thing. Theoretically I could have been working on that and figuring that out but I needed to take the leap to figure it out because otherwise it was too comfortable. That’s probably the biggest thing, if you got something you’ve been dying to try, you should try it. The second thing I think is that never get too far removed from—you can say that going through all those years in BlogHer, I met some amazing people, I’ve just been making my own website for the first time in more than a decade, a website that’s just for me. I’ve had to pull out like, “Okay, what do I want to put on this website? Where have I’ve been published, where I have spoken, and who I have interviewed and all these things, I’m like, “Wow, what? Impressive.” But the thing is as you go on through your career, it’s really, really helpful to not forget what it was like when you weren’t there yet. When I think about managing people as an employee, employer-employee relationship, it’s good to remember what it was like to be a junior employee who was just trying to start their career and get ahead. If you can stay in touch with all these past versions of yourself so that you can have empathy for people in a way that I think it’s hard to hold onto. But that’s the second thing I would really say is try to hold on to that empathy, what it’s like for that person on the other end of whatever it is you’re dealing with. The third thing I would say is that I learned that don’t personalize everything. Not everyone’s going to like you, not everyone’s going to like what you choose to do, not everyone’s going to come back and offer you everything you deserve. It’s really, really easy to think that that’s personal. But again, it comes back to empathy. It’s almost never personal, it’s almost always about whatever they’re dealing with and trying to get what they want. They’re not thinking about you at all. I actually think empathy is like a secret weapon because most people aren’t thinking about you at all and if you come to the table having thought about them, it’s disarming. It’s really disarming to people to just be like, “Okay, let’s lay the cards on the table. Here’s what you want, here’s what I want, here’s where they come together. What did I get wrong?” People don’t know what to do with that, I think, in a lot of cases.

‏‏How come she’s not emotional?

‏‏Or how come she’s not hardass and yet she’s getting what she wants? How do you get what you want without acting like what the other person wants is wrong, that’s the thing. You don’t have to act like what the other person wants is wrong to try to get what you want even if it’s different. I think it just sets you up for better outcomes.

‏‏How do you prepare yourself to be in that situation?

‏‏The number one thing is to remove the emotional response to getting someone offering you or not offering you, what they bring to you when it isn’t what you wanted, the number one thing is to depersonalize it and say, “Okay, they didn’t do this to piss me off, they didn’t do this to disrespect me.” Why would they do this? What is it that they’re not seeing about what I asked for as right? What is it that they want that I didn’t offer? What is it that they need that I didn’t provide? You can try and identify like why wouldn’t they come and give me exactly what I want? What’s wrong with them? But instead of asking what’s wrong them or asking about what’s wrong with what we put out there that we are not like that they don’t want to deliver me exactly what I have in mind. I think that’s how I kind of go about it which is to figure that out.

‏‏Yeah, it sounds a lot like a person have responsibility and intention.

‏‏Very much about intention and not assuming you know everybody’s intention. I just always dealt with this a lot where I would be the person saying like, “I don’t think they’re trying to **** with us.” I don’t know if you swear on this podcast but—

‏‏You just did.

‏‏I just did. But you know I would say that I don’t think this is like purposely trying to—what other reason could there be? Because why would someone who theoretically wants to partner with you, why would they want to **** with you? Probably they wouldn’t so what are the other explanations that are rational? I think the other side of that though is that if you do push me past that point where I’ve decided you’re a bad actor, it’s done, I’m done. But it takes a lot to get me there, most people are safe.

‏‏That’s very impressive. The three things you talked about, I just want to recap, is to look back and to see our worth and count your blessings and see how much you achieved in the past. The second one, which I really love, is to keep in touch with old versions of yourself. You got to keep yourself humble and you got to keep yourself with empathy to know how people that are now where you were years ago feel so you can communicate and relate to them better. The third thing which was a third thing, plus, plus, plus, was that not always people are going to like you, unfortunately which was heartbreaking for me to get because I’m like, “But I’m so lovable, why don’t you love me? What’s going on? I don’t get it.”

‏‏I know it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard. The fourth thing is taking the risks, making the leap.

‏‏Yes. There is also the concept of failure that you talk about where there is no real failure because even if you end up moving in with your mom and getting a job, that would lead you to the next adventure.

‏‏Yes, absolutely. I guess it’s not even that there is no failure, it’s that there’s failure but that’s okay. But when did we decide failure was to be avoided at all cost and that it meant something about you, that it defined your worth as a person to whether you have failed or not at something? I like Sarah Michelle Gellar who is one of the amazing people I’ve interviewed and probably my favorite one because I’m huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. She said that in her family, she and her husband Freddie Prinze Jr., they use the exercise or fitness model to think about failure. In that you work your muscles to failure so that they will repair themselves and become stronger. Without failure, you can’t develop that greater strength and build on what you know and you’ve done. I think that’s very well put.

‏‏I collect magnets. Everywhere I go in the world, I get a magnet. I have a whole wall of my refrigerator full of magnets from different places I visited. One of them said—I remember organizing them on my refrigerator the other day and I couldn’t get this one off because it’s peeled the color of the refrigerator so I just kept it there—what would you attempt to do if you knew you could never fail? Then there is the concept of actually you cannot really fail because that failure builds your muscles, helps you grow. The most successful people in the world just fail over and over and over again until they succeed.

‏‏Yup, yup, yup. Exactly.

‏‏What are some of the secrets and challenges to women collaborating together?

‏‏I think that I have had really nothing but excellent experiences collaborating with women in the same way that I had mostly excellent experiences collaborating with men. If you’re not collaborating well with someone, that’s probably on you most of the time. At least thinking about how to be on you is more useful than always blaming the other party. But the thing is I think that a lot of times women are asked to represent their gender in a way men don’t have to. I have heard people say, “I don’t want to work for a woman boss.” This is women saying it too. Sexism can be internalized and not just externalized. I’ll say, “Oh, how many women bosses have you had?” They’re like, “One, she was real bitch.” I’m like, “Okay, how many male bosses have you had?” They’ll list a few. I’m like, “Were all of them awesome?” He’ll be like, “No. This one guy was a real jerk.” I’m like, “Why do you want a male boss? It sounds like you’ve had bad male bosses too?” It’s just not thought of in same way. We are not allowed to be in individualized yet when it comes to the workplace and working together, we are still expected to be a monolift. It’s a lot of pressure, it’s not just on women, this is true for people of color, this is true for all LGBT people. Any kind of marginalized group or group that hasn’t yet achieved proportional parity that when someone works, or someone from one of those groups, that person is not an individual, that person is a representative. I think if we could get away from that, it would be awesome. I think it would be great if women could get away from thinking that way about women. If we can’t do it, how do we expect men to do it? I suppose. I think that I just try to walk in and I actually find collaborating with women to be pretty awesome. There’s a lot less interrupting, there’s a lot less just being [00:28:29]. I came from male, very male dominated environments before BlogHer. There was a lot of chest beating and, “I could do that?” I could adopt that tribal behavior to get what I needed and communicate and be understood and be respected but it does get tiresome. Even if you’re working with mostly women, I think the key is you want diverse perspective even within—if you’re already talking about like for instance with BlogHer with the speaking roster. Our speaking roster was 99% women. But even within all women, which were some conferences would be unheard of for them to be able to even get to 50/50, but even within that we wanted diversity across many, many dimensions; race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, age, geography, class, and it wasn’t until you could have a ton of different kinds of women that you have the best conversations. What I also really didn’t want to do is have people come speak about being who they were as opposed to just be who they were but talk about what they were experts at. In other words, yes, it’s fine to have panels about women in tech but if the only women who ever speak at your event were the ones who come to speak about being women in tech, that’s a failing, that’s not okay. I would love to see an end to any conference that solves its woman speaker problem by simply throwing a woman in tech panel up there and thinking they’ve addressed the issue.

‏‏There is the #girlpower, there is no #boypower.

‏‏I have a conflicted relationship with the word girl when it refers to adult women.

‏‏Let me know.

‏‏I know great organizations with the word girl in their name that’s not referring to actual girls but referring to adult women. It’s just not my thing. Like you said there’s no boys, there’s no equivalent where men call themselves boys. I don’t even like the whole girl boss hashtag, it’s not one that I would use. I don’t think we need to help people along in diminishing us, or not even diminishment but diminutive, girl is a diminutive. It just is. That’s not personally what I would probably do. But then again I’m still the person who without thinking about it says “You guys,” when I’m talking to a bunch of women.

‏‏I say, “Man, that was just—”

‏‏Yeah. I have partly achieved the nirvana of perfect language usage.

‏‏But it’s about awareness and it’s about setting your boundaries. Let’s talk a little bit about your upcoming book. I know you already sent it to the publisher and people can pre-order it and it’s gonna come out next when?

‏‏It actually will be physically available September 18th, it’s available for pre-order now on Amazon, it’s called Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All. I’m co-writing it with two other writers, Carolyn Gerin and Jamia Wilson. It’s really a guide book because since the November ’16 election, I personally observed so many people I knew who had never been activated before, never been political. But not even political, never engaged in how things work and how policies or how systems work in this country particularly. All of the sudden they were really thinking about these things. I think there was a lot lead up to that like I think the Black Lives Matter movement help start to wake some people up about systems in this country. Now we’ve got B2 movement which is just another thinking about the systems in this country and how they don’t serve us. But I think a lot of people didn’t know where to direct their energy, were afraid of how will they know what to do and how will they do it the right way. What I was afraid of is that people will burn out. The 2018 election isn’t going to fix or reverse everything people may not have liked about the 2016 election. How do you keep people engaged? How do you keep people participating in their community? We got this idea to create something that’s sort of designed for the regular person who is busy, has kids, has a job, or is going to school, all these things are on their plate. How can we integrate a little bit of community, engagement, and activism into an already impactful life and have impact? If you got a limited amount of time and money, how do you have the maximum amount of impact? That’s what the book is really designed to help people figure out. Part of that of course is figuring out what are the issues you really care about the most. It doesn’t just have to be, in fact I would urge it not to be just Federal government. It’s not just about congress, it’s not just about the president, it’s about your city council, your planning commission, or your company’s policies, or your school board policies, all of these things just ladder up into everything else we see ultimately at the national level.

‏‏I was activated too where I had a green card for years and years and it I could have become a citizen but it was never a big deal for me. Now because our president does not like immigrants, I went and I applied, I just got my citizenship two weeks ago.

‏‏Oh, congratulations.

‏‏Thank you. Now I have dual citizenship. But I had to do it because of what’s going on. You are right because this time people get really polarized and very, like you say, activated.

‏‏Yeah. But I also think if people got engaged more in their own communities, I think it would help address some of the polarization because it’s not that everyone agrees down at a city council meeting but you start to see that people care about the same thing. Sometimes the way they would fix things is different from one another but essentially at the local and community level, people are trying to solve the same problems, they are looking for answers. I think on the one hand sometimes getting to know more about how your neighbors think isn’t so fun when you find out, “Oh, there’s a closet racist down the street, I did not know that.” But a lot of times it’s kind of humanizing. Not everything is about flipping the presidency every four years. There’s stuff that’s going on every day.

‏‏What are some of the tips or issues that you touch on in the book? Because I obviously haven’t read it yet.

‏‏We have a chapter on protest and civil disobedience. First of all, we have some information about how protest and civil disobedience have really made a difference, that it does mean something to get out there and hold your sign and join the crowd. We have some very practical tips about how to take care of yourself if you’re going to go on protest, how to deal with it if you get arrested, even a little guideline about what to do if you get tear gassed. We have to think from the really innocuous to the very extreme. We have a whole chapter which I think is really something people don’t really think about. We have a whole chapter about digital privacy and security and democracy and how to really protect yourself. We are increasingly a surveilled country under surveillance by our government but also for profit companies have so much access to you data. We have a whole section about how to secure your communications, how to be more aware of what companies are doing with your data and how to push back on that if you want to, about how to cross the border and have less chance of problems. We have a chapter about applying economic pressure. There’s boycotts which is when people don’t buy something to make a point. But there’s also what we call buycotts, which is when you do buy from someone to make a point. Also that applies to how to influence your own company to change their policies if they are at outdated or out moded, if you’re shareholder—for instance, most people don’t know that to get a shareholder resolution on the ballot, you only need to own about $2,000 or $3,000 worth of stock in any company to have the right to put forward a resolution—there’s things you can do and they are sometimes about exposure for ideas and sort of starting to propagate ideas. But then we do have a whole section about government and it’s very focused on how you can get involved with government but at the local and community and state levels and sort of that ladders up to eventually national level. But we’re not telling people that the first step has to be the one for congress. But they can get really involved. If you live where I lived in Clarke County, this county has tons of these commissions that report to the board of supervisors. They’re volunteer, they’re appointed, most of the media have to run to be on you, you have to be participating and get appointed and they do real stuff, these are working commissions that make a real difference in lives and they are on every topic you can imagine. If you are activated by whether it’s children or women or LGBT community or housing or the homeless, there is a commission that’s trying to figure out problems and help the governing bodies of the county deal with issues in the county. It’s very much about just try and start at the most fundamental level and get more involved. Every chapter has information like how does stuff really work. I was really surprised during the election, how people didn’t understand what happens at state level versus the national level, what happens in the political parties versus in the government. There’s a lot of information, there’s a lot of advice and guidelines, but there’s also interviews with people who are working, who are doing the work. We have an interview with Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, we have an interview with Senator Gillibrand focused on campus sexual assault and what she’s doing to try to improve college campus policies. We have just a variety, we have an interview with the doctor I know who was at Standing Rock and was the position onsite, the only doctor onsite for several weeks and what that experience was like because she had never done anything like that before. Your skills are needed and your talent is needed and there are so many different ways to contribute from every level.

Your skills are needed and your talent is needed and there are so many different ways to contribute from every level. Click To Tweet

‏‏Yeah. That sounds amazing and thank you for encouraging people to get involved because it’s so easy to just hide behind their screens and just live our lives and whatever happens happens because we all have the power to influence the world and influence a cause that is close to our hearts.

‏‏Oh, I really believe that, that we all do have that kind of power. What I also believe is that we cannot be happy if we are not activating on behalf of the things we believe in, that I think a lot about the difference between satisfaction and happiness because I once had a boss say to me, he was taking over this department and I was trying to explain to him how big our role was supposed to be but how few people we have. I said, “It’s very hard for people to come into work and be happy when they know they’re not going to get the job done because they simply cannot, they do not have the resources.” He goes, “Why don’t you just lower expectations of what they’re supposed to get done because the happiness is the delta between expectations and reality so just lower expectations.” I said, “If you would be happy to go talk to the C-Suite and make sure they are happy with us having lower expectations, great. Bring it.” But of course that was not going to be the case. I started thinking about it and I’m like, “The difference between reality and expectation is your level of satisfaction.” People say no one else can make you happy or not happy. I said, “Sure, they can’t, but you can be dissatisfied with people because they are not behaving to what you expected and hoped for. You can be satisfied with the relationship because they are in it’s different from happiness.” But to me, happiness is the delta between your values and how closely you act on them because if you don’t act on your values, that creates just a dissonance that makes it very hard to be happy.

‏‏Yeah. I also know that you are very passionate about speaking up and creating boundaries.

‏‏Yes. Everybody has different boundaries. Let’s take online, plenty of people I know will not talk about things like religion, politics, or any of those things but they will like talk about their kids lives or their sex lives or whatever it is. I very rarely actually talk about my real world personal life but I will tell you everything I think about my political beliefs or religion or any of those hot topics that you’re not supposed to touch. We’re just drawing boundaries in different places and I’ve had people say to me aren’t you afraid you’ll lose clients or people won’t want to work with you because the country is so polarized. I’m like, “If they would really make that decision that they couldn’t work with me because of what I believe then we are best not working together.” I understand that that could be coming from a place of privilege to be so cavalier about that. But I was saying this even I wasn’t making any money and I was really thinking about am I going to have move back in with my mom because I just feel like people have a right to have their beliefs and articulate their beliefs and stand up for them and I think it leads to more internal satisfaction and happiness to do so.

‏‏Yes. That’s a big one. This is also something that I work on being the most authentic and the most genuine that I can because coming from Israel, we are a very direct culture where if I speak the way I spoke there, it will come across as very rude. Sometimes I do come across as rude but I don’t mean to, it’s just my form of direct communication because it just makes sense to me not to sugar coat everything that happens where like my sister in her workplace, she works with an American company in Tel Aviv, they actually had to have training about sending emails in English where like in Israeli will send one line, “Hey, did you get the job done?” American will say, “Hey, how are you, Joe? How was your new year? Are you feeling great? How’s your this and this and that. By the way, maybe can we please do it by this and this date? Thank you very much. It was so lovely to talk to you,” signed.

‏‏That’s so funny you should say that. The two high tech companies I worked for before founding BlogHer were both founded by Israelis, I worked with a lot of Israelis. I know exactly what you mean. Although I did definitely work with some Israeli guys who were more kind of soft spoken and not all about the in your face kind of directness all that time. There’s variations.

‏‏Yeah. I’m exaggerating, I’m exaggerating.

‏‏But the thing is when we started doing BlogHer, I have that style of email very much where I will send like five words. Jory actually kind of have that too maybe because she grew up in Chicago and lived in New York so she’s very from urban environments. But anyway at one point Lisa who was our third co-founder and whose mother is Southern, although Lisa’s from Montana, but her mother’s Southern, she does a different way. At one point she said, “You guys, I just need some humanity in these emails, can we just take a moment to say, ‘Hi Lisa, thank you,’ can we do that?’ It really made me conscious. Now almost every time I write an email, I write the email in my clipped kind of boom right to the point and then I go back and I like to say I go back and add humanity into it. Then you’ll figure out someone else is the same like Jory and I can still send short emails to each other because we know that the both of us are like that and it’s fine. But until you figure that out with someone, I really am quite conscious of adding back the humanity. It’s so funny you should say that because that is exactly something I have encountered directly in my life.

‏‏Yeah. But there is a balance where sometimes in order to fit in, I overcompensate, too nice, I’m too, too nice, and I don’t like it, I just like to be me. Right now in everything that I post, I’m like, “Am I being genuine enough? How can I be even more? What is my voice?” You can’t please everyone but I still want to be me.

‏‏Right, right. Absolutely. I think that I definitely err on the side of being pretty straightforward and forthright. Before we founded BlogHer, I was super involved with party politics on one particular side and I blogged for my local party in fact during the 2004 election. I was very partisan. Then when we founded BlogHer we decided that it was going to be on the partisan that we wanted to hear from people across the ideological spectrum and I knew I could never authentically ask people from the other side of the spectrum to come speak and share their respective if I was being super partisan still. I really learned how to have conversations where I didn’t ever give up what I believed but I learned how to articulate things in a different way and be more open to hearing other people and having civil discourse with people in a way that help me be able to communicate with people who have very different beliefs from me. Now that I’m not there anymore, it’s not my problem anymore really to have to build an omni-partisan organization more partisan again, but I’ve never gone that all the way, I’ve definitely learned how to have conversations in a different way. I’m going to cut off communicating with the troll no matter what their ideology. By the way, there are trolls all the way from left to right, it doesn’t matter. I’m just never going to try to have conversation with someone like that. But I can have a conversation, in fact tomorrow I’m supposed to record a video for both TV that talks about one person from the other side of the aisle that I really respect and admire. I’m trying to decide between a couple of folks to record this video. I don’t know about 15 years ago, I would have been able to do that because I’ve been like, “Nobody, nothing.”

‏‏There is light in everybody.

‏‏Yes, exactly.

‏‏It’s a part of maturity and that’s why we need more voices like yours because it will bring world peace, eventually.

‏‏That’s a toll order.

‏‏No expectations. Thank you so much. Before we finish, what are your three quick tips to living a stellar life and where can people find you and where can they order your book?

‏‏Let’s see, three quick tips for leading a stellar life. I think the first is absolutely in that behaving in alignment with your values, that’s the true to me path to happiness; if you can’t be happy with yourself, you can’t be happy in general. Figure out what your values are and figure out how to live more closely to them. It’s a work in progress, it’s not about perfection but it’s about getting closer to living your values. The second is to appreciate your own boundaries and they don’t have to be like anybody else’s. You can set them where and when you want. I think the third is to respect your own. It’s very much all these are about really getting to know yourself and respecting yourself. Respect what drives you and what doesn’t drive you. A lot of times, people are motivated by very different things and I once had a boss who told me that for each of his employees he figured out what was the one saying that really made them tick and then they tried to build their goals and incentives around that. For some people it was money, for some people it was a nicer office, for some people it was praise. A good boss is going to be trying to game you and figure out what really makes you tick, why don’t you figure it out first so that you can go out and get it? If what makes you tick isn’t what the conventional wisdom says, you make it tick that you’re still can own it and respect it. They are all kind of related and that’s all about authenticity. I don’t know how you lead a stellar life if you’re not leading an authentic life. You can find me at elisacp.com. I did it myself, I haven’t made a website in like 12 years but I was like, “I could do this.” I went and got the Squarespace site. I’ve made it myself so I’d love feedback. It’s brand new.

‏‏Congratulations.

‏‏Thank you. It’s good to exercise your brain and I just thought it would be a nice challenge for me to do that again, to figure out how to make something for myself again. Then you can find the book Road Map for Revolutionaries on Amazon.

‏‏Wonderful. Elisa, it was really fun talking to you and very enlightening. Thank you so much.

‏‏You too. You are so welcome.

‏‏Hi, welcome to Stellar Life podcast. Today I have with me Elisa Camahort Page. She’s known as the co-founder and COO of the scrappy startup turned global women’s media company called BlogHer. Elisa is now focused on consulting with entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, authors, executives in organizations in every size to make vision reality, to take big ideas and bring them to life, and help them reach the next level. She is a force to be reckoned with and you are going to be enjoying this conversation tremendously. Elisa’s debuted book, Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All is gonna be published this September. Go pre-order it, buy it, it’s gonna be fantastic. Now, without further ado, onto the show. Hello, Elisa. Welcome to Stellar Life Podcast.

‏‏Hi, Orion. Thank you so much for having me.

‏‏Thank you so much for being here. This is going to be a very interesting conversation I think because of who you are. I just love hearing you speak, you’re very eloquent and you’re a very good communicator.

‏‏Oh, thank you so much.

‏‏Yeah. Before we start, why don’t you just share a little bit about yourself, your background, and your mission in life?

‏‏Oh, absolutely. My name is Elisa Camahort Page. After being a marketing person and high tech in Silicon Valley and going through the boom and the bust, I ended up co-founding a company called BlogHer in 2005. We worked with women who were beginning to express themselves online through blogging and social media. We help them get exposure for their work but we also help them make money because we felt it was really important to know your worth and to attach the appropriate amount of value to what you are doing. BlogHer got acquired by a company called SheKnows in 2014. I stayed there and was Chief Community Officer until just 2017. I finally first transitioned into being a consulting basis with them. As of June 30th, I’m 100% a free agent. That was quite a big transition after 12 years of running that company and then being an executive at the acquired company. Now I’m working on other things. I’m working on my first book which is due out next fall. I’m also doing consulting in a couple of different areas. I like to joke that I was working with SheKnows still through the end of Q2 or June 30th, I knew we were going to have to write our book manuscript during Q3 so I scheduled an existential crisis for Q4. I guess that means I’m theoretically supposed to be out of it by now since we’re into the new year but I would say I’m still figuring out what’s the next thing I want to be when I grow up.

‏‏This is really exciting. It’s almost like now what? There’s so many opportunities, especially because you are a connector and you build a whole community from scratch. How was that in the beginning and how did you expand and grow so much?

‏‏In the beginning, there was this conventional wisdom that women were not born to be tech savvy and that therefore they weren’t going to adopt blogging and social media. Part of what drove my co-founders, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins, and I to even throw the first BlogHer Conference as a labor of love before we even started the company was that we just wanted to push back on this narrative about this making assumptions about what women do, what they’re capable of. We tapped into—it was very early days—a lot of different women who had been feeling like they were a little bit alone at their computer all over the country, all over the world. When they came together and figured out they were not alone, that is the essence of building a community is how do you show people they are not alone and that there is a community there to be joined and to grow together. That was what the first BlogHer Conference did. A lot of people don’t know that the BlogHer started with a conference meeting in real life even though what we all had in common was that we were digital citizens. But I think that was a really important thing because every year the conferences sort of bring people together and reinvigorate a core part of our community. We have this idea of we don’t want to be a centralized, everyone has to come to us to do anything. blogher.com was kind of a central hub but we spent most of our time sharing what everyone else was doing out on their part of the internet and their little corner of the internet. By encouraging everyone to know the full value of what was happening out there, we were giving people something. We weren’t just asking something from them, we were probably giving them more than we were asking for a very long time because that’s another real part of building community which is the everyone has to know why are they here. The answer to the question “What’s in it for me?” I don’t believe things like community and networking are—they’re not transactional, in my opinion. I know some would disagree with me. But they are about mutual value. Sometimes that value is much more experience in a pay it forward kind of way. I do all these things for other people not because I expect those people to necessarily repay me, but because doing those things is going to come back to me in some way, maybe not right now, maybe not through that exact person, but the pathways will come back. That’s another part of community which is how do you make people feel like anything they put in comes back tenfold.

‏‏I was talking with my friends in a mastermind yesterday and they talked about this book Giftology, how by giving you actually get so much more back. But what happens if you build a community and you give and you give and you give and you don’t see the fruits of your labor? How do you get it to a place where people feel satisfied and you give them but you also monetize it?

‏‏Right. I think that the main thing you need to give people—I think in any community—is respect and communication. In trying to build a community for really any woman online and any man who was interested in being an ally in a community of mostly women, we have a lot of different kinds of people, we had everyone on the ideological spectrum, we had people from all over the country, different income levels, all that kind of thing. That means we didn’t always make everybody happy. Sometimes the community asks for something and your answer is no. But the key is that you are answering. I think that that can keep people feeling very heard and seen and in addition to wanting to know will they get a return on what they’re contributing to the community. People want to feel seen and heard, responded to, and respected. That’s very important. By doing that—whenever people get a little cranky about some of the sponsorship that happened. We were super transparent about how much things cost versus how they get paid for and that this is a reality if we want some of these things, this is how we get them. Maybe not everybody liked every answer, but if they liked most of the answers, then that was fine. I think when we started, at the first BlogHer, the very concept of making money with your blogs was controversial like blogs were some sort of pure channel that was not to be sullied with advertising. That was very controversial. I think partly through our business and our efforts, we really changed the perspective to that, “Hey, not everybody wants to make money but those who do, it’s a rational and valid choice.” I always used to say there’s a big difference between something that’s truly unacceptable and something that’s just not my cup of tea. Learning the difference and acting and responding accordingly is something I think we all learn overtime.

‏‏Yeah, it’s almost like the idea that if someone is spiritual, they cannot make money.

‏‏Yeah.

‏‏Spirituality and money, they don’t work together, but it’s not true because money is energy and energy is a spiritual thing. When you have money, you can do a lot of good in the world.

‏‏Right. If I didn’t make money, I wouldn’t be donating the money I do. Not everybody does that so are there people who are monetizing and absolutely not adhering to a set of values that I would respect, yes that’s true. But it’s not inherently about whether you have money or not. I think you can stay really conscious of your values and act on your values. We think there’s empowerment and money for women. For too long, women—we already know there’s a pay gap, we already know there’s so many things that hurt women when it comes to economics and financially so we actually thought it was part of our mission to help women very unapologetically make money.

‏‏Also a part of your mission is you like stories. I checked out your TEDx talk about your own private history and how some of the stories were lost and it’s almost like a personal thing to help others share their stories because you see so much value in our history, especially because as you’ve said in the TEDx talk, in history, it was all written by men but in rarely we heard the female voice.

‏‏Yeah, or saw the female perspective. It’s true that history, up until now, when you look at the history books, it tends to focus on commerce, war, government, these are the big topics, and until quite recently those were very male dominated pursuit. History was about men, it was written by men. The thing that social media kind of highlighted was that we could hear from any person about their perspective on what was happening in their world. As I do point out on that talk, one of the most enduring voices about the World War II experience was Anne Frank. That was user-generated content, that was no different than a blog, really. I talked a little bit about my grandmother’s story and my mother’s story and all the things we don’t know about what they lived through and what they went through, this generation of younger people are going to have insights and awareness of their parents as humans in a way that previous generations didn’t get to. I actually think that’s of value.

‏‏Another thing that I’ve heard recommended was to take your parent and just use your iPhone, use a video camera and interview them. Ask them questions about their lives, ask them questions about what was it like when you were a child? How did you grew up? What did you like and what didn’t you like? Actually I did an interview with my mom, I’m thinking about doing a series of them and everytime—because my mom is from Israel, my family lives in Israel, I live here in the United States, but everytime I’m going to visit, I’m going to have a different interview and go deeper and deeper into the history and have that story because we are our history, we are our heritage. Sometimes we inherit things from our ancestors that we don’t even know. Now when I look back I can see that me and my grandma that I never knew, we have the same wild spirit of nomad and travelling the world and going everywhere and talking to everybody. We are very much alike and I would never know that if I haven’t spoken and shared that experience with my mom interviewing her.

‏‏That’s a great idea. We always meant to do that with my grandmother. We talked a lot about getting her history and we didn’t do it. I’m so glad you’re doing it because I think yes you will learn a lot but also if everybody did a little bit about, we get a lot more perspective, I think. I really feel sometimes people don’t value the fact that almost nothing we go through is unique or has never happened before. People look at social media, the good and the bad, to me, it’s taking whatever is good and bad in society and sort of yes it’s amplifying it more and it’s distributing it more widely. But social media isn’t creating the good or the bad, it’s just being a vehicle to amplify, distribute the good and the bad.

‏‏Yeah. There’s also an illusion there in social media where we desire to be like everybody else and a part of knowing our own origin story and connecting and owning it, it’s a part of our strength, not our weakness, and our own unique selves.

‏‏I agree.

‏‏Yeah. Looking back at all your endeavors, you’ve been through a lot. You’ve touched many lives which is incredible and you talk to some of the most amazing people in the world, interviewing them, rubbing shoulders with them. Looking back, what were your biggest lessons from building that blogging community?

‏‏Wow.

‏‏Let me throw you an easy one.

‏‏Yes, please. I think the biggest lesson that I’ve ever learned is to make that leap. If you have a big idea, if you have a medium size idea and you’re not sure if you should do it but you keep thinking about it, just do it, what’s the worst that could happen? I feel like people don’t ask themselves the question “What’s the worst that could happen,” and answer in detail because they’ll stop with “I could fail.” My next question is always, “So what? What happens then if you fail?” The truth is when we started BlogHer, I went through my entire life savings, I took up $50,000 in debt before we got our first round of funding because I’m in 2 years without a paycheck. The truth is if we had not gotten the funding, I’m sure we would have had to shut down at that point, none of the three of us could really afford to keep going forever. Let’s say my now spouse, I was living with at that time let’s say that was done and I didn’t even have that kind of safety net. What is the worst that would have happened? I have no money, I’m in debt, and everything’s falling apart. The truth is I would have moved back in with my mom for a while. I would have had to get a regular job. I’m like, “These are not tragedies.” That’s not what I wanted to happen, because I was over the age of 40 already. I didn’t want to start over but that would be appealing to me but it’s not a tragedy. You see tragedies happen everyday. I really feel like once you know that what is the worst that could happen and you answer the question, it frees you a little bit, say, “Okay. That kind of sucked but it wouldn’t be world ending.” I always say, “Take that risk.” Even right now I didn’t leave SheKnows with something else ready waiting to take its place from the point of view of what I was going to do with my time or how I was going to earn money. But I just felt like if I didn’t do it I would never find the next thing, I knew I wanted the next thing. Theoretically I could have been working on that and figuring that out but I needed to take the leap to figure it out because otherwise it was too comfortable. That’s probably the biggest thing, if you got something you’ve been dying to try, you should try it. The second thing I think is that never get too far removed from—you can say that going through all those years in BlogHer, I met some amazing people, I’ve just been making my own website for the first time in more than a decade, a website that’s just for me. I’ve had to pull out like, “Okay, what do I want to put on this website? Where have I’ve been published, where I have spoken, and who I have interviewed and all these things, I’m like, “Wow, what? Impressive.” But the thing is as you go on through your career, it’s really, really helpful to not forget what it was like when you weren’t there yet. When I think about managing people as an employee, employer-employee relationship, it’s good to remember what it was like to be a junior employee who was just trying to start their career and get ahead. If you can stay in touch with all these past versions of yourself so that you can have empathy for people in a way that I think it’s hard to hold onto. But that’s the second thing I would really say is try to hold on to that empathy, what it’s like for that person on the other end of whatever it is you’re dealing with. The third thing I would say is that I learned that don’t personalize everything. Not everyone’s going to like you, not everyone’s going to like what you choose to do, not everyone’s going to come back and offer you everything you deserve. It’s really, really easy to think that that’s personal. But again, it comes back to empathy. It’s almost never personal, it’s almost always about whatever they’re dealing with and trying to get what they want. They’re not thinking about you at all. I actually think empathy is like a secret weapon because most people aren’t thinking about you at all and if you come to the table having thought about them, it’s disarming. It’s really disarming to people to just be like, “Okay, let’s lay the cards on the table. Here’s what you want, here’s what I want, here’s where they come together. What did I get wrong?” People don’t know what to do with that, I think, in a lot of cases.

‏‏How come she’s not emotional?

‏‏Or how come she’s not hardass and yet she’s getting what she wants? How do you get what you want without acting like what the other person wants is wrong, that’s the thing. You don’t have to act like what the other person wants is wrong to try to get what you want even if it’s different. I think it just sets you up for better outcomes.

‏‏How do you prepare yourself to be in that situation?

‏‏The number one thing is to remove the emotional response to getting someone offering you or not offering you, what they bring to you when it isn’t what you wanted, the number one thing is to depersonalize it and say, “Okay, they didn’t do this to piss me off, they didn’t do this to disrespect me.” Why would they do this? What is it that they’re not seeing about what I asked for as right? What is it that they want that I didn’t offer? What is it that they need that I didn’t provide? You can try and identify like why wouldn’t they come and give me exactly what I want? What’s wrong with them? But instead of asking what’s wrong them or asking about what’s wrong with what we put out there that we are not like that they don’t want to deliver me exactly what I have in mind. I think that’s how I kind of go about it which is to figure that out.

‏‏Yeah, it sounds a lot like a person have responsibility and intention.

‏‏Very much about intention and not assuming you know everybody’s intention. I just always dealt with this a lot where I would be the person saying like, “I don’t think they’re trying to **** with us.” I don’t know if you swear on this podcast but—

‏‏You just did.

‏‏I just did. But you know I would say that I don’t think this is like purposely trying to—what other reason could there be? Because why would someone who theoretically wants to partner with you, why would they want to **** with you? Probably they wouldn’t so what are the other explanations that are rational? I think the other side of that though is that if you do push me past that point where I’ve decided you’re a bad actor, it’s done, I’m done. But it takes a lot to get me there, most people are safe.

‏‏That’s very impressive. The three things you talked about, I just want to recap, is to look back and to see our worth and count your blessings and see how much you achieved in the past. The second one, which I really love, is to keep in touch with old versions of yourself. You got to keep yourself humble and you got to keep yourself with empathy to know how people that are now where you were years ago feel so you can communicate and relate to them better. The third thing which was a third thing, plus, plus, plus, was that not always people are going to like you, unfortunately which was heartbreaking for me to get because I’m like, “But I’m so lovable, why don’t you love me? What’s going on? I don’t get it.”

‏‏I know it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard. The fourth thing is taking the risks, making the leap.

‏‏Yes. There is also the concept of failure that you talk about where there is no real failure because even if you end up moving in with your mom and getting a job, that would lead you to the next adventure.

‏‏Yes, absolutely. I guess it’s not even that there is no failure, it’s that there’s failure but that’s okay. But when did we decide failure was to be avoided at all cost and that it meant something about you, that it defined your worth as a person to whether you have failed or not at something? I like Sarah Michelle Gellar who is one of the amazing people I’ve interviewed and probably my favorite one because I’m huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. She said that in her family, she and her husband Freddie Prinze Jr., they use the exercise or fitness model to think about failure. In that you work your muscles to failure so that they will repair themselves and become stronger. Without failure, you can’t develop that greater strength and build on what you know and you’ve done. I think that’s very well put.

‏‏I collect magnets. Everywhere I go in the world, I get a magnet. I have a whole wall of my refrigerator full of magnets from different places I visited. One of them said—I remember organizing them on my refrigerator the other day and I couldn’t get this one off because it’s peeled the color of the refrigerator so I just kept it there—what would you attempt to do if you knew you could never fail? Then there is the concept of actually you cannot really fail because that failure builds your muscles, helps you grow. The most successful people in the world just fail over and over and over again until they succeed.

‏‏Yup, yup, yup. Exactly.

‏‏What are some of the secrets and challenges to women collaborating together?

‏‏I think that I have had really nothing but excellent experiences collaborating with women in the same way that I had mostly excellent experiences collaborating with men. If you’re not collaborating well with someone, that’s probably on you most of the time. At least thinking about how to be on you is more useful than always blaming the other party. But the thing is I think that a lot of times women are asked to represent their gender in a way men don’t have to. I have heard people say, “I don’t want to work for a woman boss.” This is women saying it too. Sexism can be internalized and not just externalized. I’ll say, “Oh, how many women bosses have you had?” They’re like, “One, she was real bitch.” I’m like, “Okay, how many male bosses have you had?” They’ll list a few. I’m like, “Were all of them awesome?” He’ll be like, “No. This one guy was a real jerk.” I’m like, “Why do you want a male boss? It sounds like you’ve had bad male bosses too?” It’s just not thought of in same way. We are not allowed to be in individualized yet when it comes to the workplace and working together, we are still expected to be a monolift. It’s a lot of pressure, it’s not just on women, this is true for people of color, this is true for all LGBT people. Any kind of marginalized group or group that hasn’t yet achieved proportional parity that when someone works, or someone from one of those groups, that person is not an individual, that person is a representative. I think if we could get away from that, it would be awesome. I think it would be great if women could get away from thinking that way about women. If we can’t do it, how do we expect men to do it? I suppose. I think that I just try to walk in and I actually find collaborating with women to be pretty awesome. There’s a lot less interrupting, there’s a lot less just being [00:28:29]. I came from male, very male dominated environments before BlogHer. There was a lot of chest beating and, “I could do that?” I could adopt that tribal behavior to get what I needed and communicate and be understood and be respected but it does get tiresome. Even if you’re working with mostly women, I think the key is you want diverse perspective even within—if you’re already talking about like for instance with BlogHer with the speaking roster. Our speaking roster was 99% women. But even within all women, which were some conferences would be unheard of for them to be able to even get to 50/50, but even within that we wanted diversity across many, many dimensions; race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, age, geography, class, and it wasn’t until you could have a ton of different kinds of women that you have the best conversations. What I also really didn’t want to do is have people come speak about being who they were as opposed to just be who they were but talk about what they were experts at. In other words, yes, it’s fine to have panels about women in tech but if the only women who ever speak at your event were the ones who come to speak about being women in tech, that’s a failing, that’s not okay. I would love to see an end to any conference that solves its woman speaker problem by simply throwing a woman in tech panel up there and thinking they’ve addressed the issue.

‏‏There is the #girlpower, there is no #boypower.

‏‏I have a conflicted relationship with the word girl when it refers to adult women.

‏‏Let me know.

‏‏I know great organizations with the word girl in their name that’s not referring to actual girls but referring to adult women. It’s just not my thing. Like you said there’s no boys, there’s no equivalent where men call themselves boys. I don’t even like the whole girl boss hashtag, it’s not one that I would use. I don’t think we need to help people along in diminishing us, or not even diminishment but diminutive, girl is a diminutive. It just is. That’s not personally what I would probably do. But then again I’m still the person who without thinking about it says “You guys,” when I’m talking to a bunch of women.

‏‏I say, “Man, that was just—”

‏‏Yeah. I have partly achieved the nirvana of perfect language usage.

‏‏But it’s about awareness and it’s about setting your boundaries. Let’s talk a little bit about your upcoming book. I know you already sent it to the publisher and people can pre-order it and it’s gonna come out next when?

‏‏It actually will be physically available September 18th, it’s available for pre-order now on Amazon, it’s called Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All. I’m co-writing it with two other writers, Carolyn Gerin and Jamia Wilson. It’s really a guide book because since the November ’16 election, I personally observed so many people I knew who had never been activated before, never been political. But not even political, never engaged in how things work and how policies or how systems work in this country particularly. All of the sudden they were really thinking about these things. I think there was a lot lead up to that like I think the Black Lives Matter movement help start to wake some people up about systems in this country. Now we’ve got B2 movement which is just another thinking about the systems in this country and how they don’t serve us. But I think a lot of people didn’t know where to direct their energy, were afraid of how will they know what to do and how will they do it the right way. What I was afraid of is that people will burn out. The 2018 election isn’t going to fix or reverse everything people may not have liked about the 2016 election. How do you keep people engaged? How do you keep people participating in their community? We got this idea to create something that’s sort of designed for the regular person who is busy, has kids, has a job, or is going to school, all these things are on their plate. How can we integrate a little bit of community, engagement, and activism into an already impactful life and have impact? If you got a limited amount of time and money, how do you have the maximum amount of impact? That’s what the book is really designed to help people figure out. Part of that of course is figuring out what are the issues you really care about the most. It doesn’t just have to be, in fact I would urge it not to be just Federal government. It’s not just about congress, it’s not just about the president, it’s about your city council, your planning commission, or your company’s policies, or your school board policies, all of these things just ladder up into everything else we see ultimately at the national level.

‏‏I was activated too where I had a green card for years and years and it I could have become a citizen but it was never a big deal for me. Now because our president does not like immigrants, I went and I applied, I just got my citizenship two weeks ago.

‏‏Oh, congratulations.

‏‏Thank you. Now I have dual citizenship. But I had to do it because of what’s going on. You are right because this time people get really polarized and very, like you say, activated.

‏‏Yeah. But I also think if people got engaged more in their own communities, I think it would help address some of the polarization because it’s not that everyone agrees down at a city council meeting but you start to see that people care about the same thing. Sometimes the way they would fix things is different from one another but essentially at the local and community level, people are trying to solve the same problems, they are looking for answers. I think on the one hand sometimes getting to know more about how your neighbors think isn’t so fun when you find out, “Oh, there’s a closet racist down the street, I did not know that.” But a lot of times it’s kind of humanizing. Not everything is about flipping the presidency every four years. There’s stuff that’s going on every day.

‏‏What are some of the tips or issues that you touch on in the book? Because I obviously haven’t read it yet.

‏‏We have a chapter on protest and civil disobedience. First of all, we have some information about how protest and civil disobedience have really made a difference, that it does mean something to get out there and hold your sign and join the crowd. We have some very practical tips about how to take care of yourself if you’re going to go on protest, how to deal with it if you get arrested, even a little guideline about what to do if you get tear gassed. We have to think from the really innocuous to the very extreme. We have a whole chapter which I think is really something people don’t really think about. We have a whole chapter about digital privacy and security and democracy and how to really protect yourself. We are increasingly a surveilled country under surveillance by our government but also for profit companies have so much access to you data. We have a whole section about how to secure your communications, how to be more aware of what companies are doing with your data and how to push back on that if you want to, about how to cross the border and have less chance of problems. We have a chapter about applying economic pressure. There’s boycotts which is when people don’t buy something to make a point. But there’s also what we call buycotts, which is when you do buy from someone to make a point. Also that applies to how to influence your own company to change their policies if they are at outdated or out moded, if you’re shareholder—for instance, most people don’t know that to get a shareholder resolution on the ballot, you only need to own about $2,000 or $3,000 worth of stock in any company to have the right to put forward a resolution—there’s things you can do and they are sometimes about exposure for ideas and sort of starting to propagate ideas. But then we do have a whole section about government and it’s very focused on how you can get involved with government but at the local and community and state levels and sort of that ladders up to eventually national level. But we’re not telling people that the first step has to be the one for congress. But they can get really involved. If you live where I lived in Clarke County, this county has tons of these commissions that report to the board of supervisors. They’re volunteer, they’re appointed, most of the media have to run to be on you, you have to be participating and get appointed and they do real stuff, these are working commissions that make a real difference in lives and they are on every topic you can imagine. If you are activated by whether it’s children or women or LGBT community or housing or the homeless, there is a commission that’s trying to figure out problems and help the governing bodies of the county deal with issues in the county. It’s very much about just try and start at the most fundamental level and get more involved. Every chapter has information like how does stuff really work. I was really surprised during the election, how people didn’t understand what happens at state level versus the national level, what happens in the political parties versus in the government. There’s a lot of information, there’s a lot of advice and guidelines, but there’s also interviews with people who are working, who are doing the work. We have an interview with Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, we have an interview with Senator Gillibrand focused on campus sexual assault and what she’s doing to try to improve college campus policies. We have just a variety, we have an interview with the doctor I know who was at Standing Rock and was the position onsite, the only doctor onsite for several weeks and what that experience was like because she had never done anything like that before. Your skills are needed and your talent is needed and there are so many different ways to contribute from every level.

‏‏Yeah. That sounds amazing and thank you for encouraging people to get involved because it’s so easy to just hide behind their screens and just live our lives and whatever happens happens because we all have the power to influence the world and influence a cause that is close to our hearts.

‏‏Oh, I really believe that, that we all do have that kind of power. What I also believe is that we cannot be happy if we are not activating on behalf of the things we believe in, that I think a lot about the difference between satisfaction and happiness because I once had a boss say to me, he was taking over this department and I was trying to explain to him how big our role was supposed to be but how few people we have. I said, “It’s very hard for people to come into work and be happy when they know they’re not going to get the job done because they simply cannot, they do not have the resources.” He goes, “Why don’t you just lower expectations of what they’re supposed to get done because the happiness is the delta between expectations and reality so just lower expectations.” I said, “If you would be happy to go talk to the C-Suite and make sure they are happy with us having lower expectations, great. Bring it.” But of course that was not going to be the case. I started thinking about it and I’m like, “The difference between reality and expectation is your level of satisfaction.” People say no one else can make you happy or not happy. I said, “Sure, they can’t, but you can be dissatisfied with people because they are not behaving to what you expected and hoped for. You can be satisfied with the relationship because they are in it’s different from happiness.” But to me, happiness is the delta between your values and how closely you act on them because if you don’t act on your values, that creates just a dissonance that makes it very hard to be happy.

‏‏Yeah. I also know that you are very passionate about speaking up and creating boundaries.

‏‏Yes. Everybody has different boundaries. Let’s take online, plenty of people I know will not talk about things like religion, politics, or any of those things but they will like talk about their kids lives or their sex lives or whatever it is. I very rarely actually talk about my real world personal life but I will tell you everything I think about my political beliefs or religion or any of those hot topics that you’re not supposed to touch. We’re just drawing boundaries in different places and I’ve had people say to me aren’t you afraid you’ll lose clients or people won’t want to work with you because the country is so polarized. I’m like, “If they would really make that decision that they couldn’t work with me because of what I believe then we are best not working together.” I understand that that could be coming from a place of privilege to be so cavalier about that. But I was saying this even I wasn’t making any money and I was really thinking about am I going to have move back in with my mom because I just feel like people have a right to have their beliefs and articulate their beliefs and stand up for them and I think it leads to more internal satisfaction and happiness to do so.

‏‏Yes. That’s a big one. This is also something that I work on being the most authentic and the most genuine that I can because coming from Israel, we are a very direct culture where if I speak the way I spoke there, it will come across as very rude. Sometimes I do come across as rude but I don’t mean to, it’s just my form of direct communication because it just makes sense to me not to sugar coat everything that happens where like my sister in her workplace, she works with an American company in Tel Aviv, they actually had to have training about sending emails in English where like in Israeli will send one line, “Hey, did you get the job done?” American will say, “Hey, how are you, Joe? How was your new year? Are you feeling great? How’s your this and this and that. By the way, maybe can we please do it by this and this date? Thank you very much. It was so lovely to talk to you,” signed.

‏‏That’s so funny you should say that. The two high tech companies I worked for before founding BlogHer were both founded by Israelis, I worked with a lot of Israelis. I know exactly what you mean. Although I did definitely work with some Israeli guys who were more kind of soft spoken and not all about the in your face kind of directness all that time. There’s variations.

‏‏Yeah. I’m exaggerating, I’m exaggerating.

‏‏But the thing is when we started doing BlogHer, I have that style of email very much where I will send like five words. Jory actually kind of have that too maybe because she grew up in Chicago and lived in New York so she’s very from urban environments. But anyway at one point Lisa who was our third co-founder and whose mother is Southern, although Lisa’s from Montana, but her mother’s Southern, she does a different way. At one point she said, “You guys, I just need some humanity in these emails, can we just take a moment to say, ‘Hi Lisa, thank you,’ can we do that?’ It really made me conscious. Now almost every time I write an email, I write the email in my clipped kind of boom right to the point and then I go back and I like to say I go back and add humanity into it. Then you’ll figure out someone else is the same like Jory and I can still send short emails to each other because we know that the both of us are like that and it’s fine. But until you figure that out with someone, I really am quite conscious of adding back the humanity. It’s so funny you should say that because that is exactly something I have encountered directly in my life.

‏‏Yeah. But there is a balance where sometimes in order to fit in, I overcompensate, too nice, I’m too, too nice, and I don’t like it, I just like to be me. Right now in everything that I post, I’m like, “Am I being genuine enough? How can I be even more? What is my voice?” You can’t please everyone but I still want to be me.

‏‏Right, right. Absolutely. I think that I definitely err on the side of being pretty straightforward and forthright. Before we founded BlogHer, I was super involved with party politics on one particular side and I blogged for my local party in fact during the 2004 election. I was very partisan. Then when we founded BlogHer we decided that it was going to be on the partisan that we wanted to hear from people across the ideological spectrum and I knew I could never authentically ask people from the other side of the spectrum to come speak and share their respective if I was being super partisan still. I really learned how to have conversations where I didn’t ever give up what I believed but I learned how to articulate things in a different way and be more open to hearing other people and having civil discourse with people in a way that help me be able to communicate with people who have very different beliefs from me. Now that I’m not there anymore, it’s not my problem anymore really to have to build an omni-partisan organization more partisan again, but I’ve never gone that all the way, I’ve definitely learned how to have conversations in a different way. I’m going to cut off communicating with the troll no matter what their ideology. By the way, there are trolls all the way from left to right, it doesn’t matter. I’m just never going to try to have conversation with someone like that. But I can have a conversation, in fact tomorrow I’m supposed to record a video for both TV that talks about one person from the other side of the aisle that I really respect and admire. I’m trying to decide between a couple of folks to record this video. I don’t know about 15 years ago, I would have been able to do that because I’ve been like, “Nobody, nothing.”

‏‏There is light in everybody.

‏‏Yes, exactly.

‏‏It’s a part of maturity and that’s why we need more voices like yours because it will bring world peace, eventually.

‏‏That’s a toll order.

‏‏No expectations. Thank you so much. Before we finish, what are your three quick tips to living a stellar life and where can people find you and where can they order your book?

‏‏Let’s see, three quick tips for leading a stellar life. I think the first is absolutely in that behaving in alignment with your values, that’s the true to me path to happiness; if you can’t be happy with yourself, you can’t be happy in general. Figure out what your values are and figure out how to live more closely to them. It’s a work in progress, it’s not about perfection but it’s about getting closer to living your values. The second is to appreciate your own boundaries and they don’t have to be like anybody else’s. You can set them where and when you want. I think the third is to respect your own. It’s very much all these are about really getting to know yourself and respecting yourself. Respect what drives you and what doesn’t drive you. A lot of times, people are motivated by very different things and I once had a boss who told me that for each of his employees he figured out what was the one saying that really made them tick and then they tried to build their goals and incentives around that. For some people it was money, for some people it was a nicer office, for some people it was praise. A good boss is going to be trying to game you and figure out what really makes you tick, why don’t you figure it out first so that you can go out and get it? If what makes you tick isn’t what the conventional wisdom says, you make it tick that you’re still can own it and respect it. They are all kind of related and that’s all about authenticity. I don’t know how you lead a stellar life if you’re not leading an authentic life. You can find me at elisacp.com. I did it myself, I haven’t made a website in like 12 years but I was like, “I could do this.” I went and got the Squarespace site. I’ve made it myself so I’d love feedback. It’s brand new.

‏‏Congratulations.

‏‏Thank you. It’s good to exercise your brain and I just thought it would be a nice challenge for me to do that again, to figure out how to make something for myself again. Then you can find the book Road Map for Revolutionaries on Amazon.

‏‏Wonderful. Elisa, it was really fun talking to you and very enlightening. Thank you so much.

‏‏You too. You are so welcome.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

✓ Use the internet as platform to share your message. With the technology today, reaching out and sharing your gift to others has never been easier.

✓ Provide value to your followers. Make sure that anything that comes from you is either helpful, enlightening or compelling.

✓ Be active on social media and use it for good by creating quality content for your followers to learn from and appreciate.

✓ Attend conferences to expand your network and connect with people. Use these events to learn something new or to sharpen a skill.

✓ Respect others’ opinions and openly communicate when building an online community. Let your followers feel your presence and guidance.

✓ Own your style. Don’t be afraid to show who you really are and to be yourself. Your true tribe will appreciate you no matter what.

✓ Take a leap of faith. Don’t be afraid to start your own online presence and become an influencer in your own way.

✓ Don’t take negative feedback personally. Accept that you can’t please everybody and understand that staying true to yourself is what’s really important.

✓ Find ways to collaborate with others. This is a perfect opportunity to grow your network and start new ventures.

✓ Set your own boundaries and know your limits. You can’t give everything to everybody without leaving some for yourself.

Links and Resources:

About Elisa Camahort Page

BlogHer Co-Founder & COO, now advising, authoring, and advocating. Known as the co-founder and COO of scrappy start-up-turned-global women’s media company BlogHer, Inc., I’m now focused on writing (check out my debut book available now) and consulting with entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and organizations at the inflection points when they are contemplating pivots, diversifying and scaling their revenue streams, and looking for better ways to get their narrative out into the world.

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