GUILT — That uncomfortable, yet ubiquitous feeling that seems to never go away. Every day, we feel guilty about so many things: being a workaholic, not being productive enough, not having enough time to hang out with family & friends, etc.
The list is endless. Does it ring a bell?
We live in a society that puts a lot of pressure to balance it all perfectly well. We have been programmed to think that successful people can handle it all every day. But is it realistic?
Randi Zuckerberg pushes back against the idea of a well-balanced life. And in her book Pick Three is an easy self-help guide to achieve “real” balance in all areas of life.
You are the definition of a superwoman wearing different capes every day as a mom, entrepreneur, author, and speaker. How do you pick a project that you want to be involved with?
First of all, thank you. That’s incredibly kind, especially since I am 8 months pregnant right now and can barely walk down the street, let alone feel super at anything! But women truly are superheroes.
For me, my passion is supporting other women who are performing at the top of their game – and just need that small boost up to get there – whether that’s in technology, business, theater, running their household, you name it.
Sometimes I’ll invest in a particular entrepreneur or project if I think it’s something where I can truly be helpful, sometimes I’ll try and give advice that can scale to many people through my books, my radio show, or my mentorship and coaching platform, Zuckerberg Institute.
Where were you in your life when you were writing your book,
I was raising my two young sons while traveling 100 days a year to speak at events around the world and simultaneously running my own business back at home. Oh, and trying to have some semblance of maintaining health, fitness, and friendships.
I love everything I do, but definitely felt the guilt creeping in and the sleep going bye bye.
The concept of Pick Three (Work. Sleep. Family. Fitness. Friends. Pick Three) has saved me and my sanity more times than I can say, and writing the book definitely could not have happened at a more perfect or necessary point in my life!
In your book, you discuss the concept of being “well-lopsided” as the key to success and happiness. Please tell us more about that.
I’ve always believed that in order to achieve excellence in anything, you need to give yourself permission to really focus on that area of your life, even if it means that other things need to temporarily go on the back burner.
If you ask anyone to tell you the one or two things they are most proud of in their life, they will start talking about times when they weren’t well-balanced at all.
That’s why I am a huge advocate for being well-lopsided. In the long run, you can’t ignore or sacrifice areas of your life forever, but sometimes it is essential in order to thrive, or even simply survive, in the short term.
What was your motivation behind this book?
As a woman in technology and business, I’ve gotten used to being the only woman in the room, the only woman speaking in a panel discussion. And I noticed that I would be the only one who would get asked: “how do I balance it all?”
It made me curious; when did work/life balance become an issue only for women? Doesn’t everyone have to make decisions and trade-offs about their time, regardless of gender, age, work, or marital status?
I started diving deeper into different theories around time management and how we prioritize different aspects of our lives, and that’s how I came up with Pick Three. It took me almost seven years from coming up with this mantra to writing a book about it.
During that time, I’ve done countless research, spoken with experts across all five of the Pick Three categories, and honed/changed some of my own theories about what truly leads to balance, success, and happiness.
How did the Pick Three method originate? How does it work?
I was starting to figure out that in the real world, achieving anything of substance, whether at work, a personal goal, a health milestone, required intense focus and “lopsidedness.”
Everything you say yes to in life means you are saying no to something else, whether that something else is sleep, or going to the gym, or dating, you name it.
One day, out of sheer exasperation, I tweeted out: “The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma. Maintaining Friendships. Getting Sleep. Staying Fit. Having a Family. Building a business. Pick Three.”
After the tweet went viral, I realized that this wasn’t just something that applied to entrepreneurs. Everyone struggles with how to manage the many demands on our time.
The Pick three method encourages us to choose three categories of our life each day – Why is it important to ONLY pick three?
Before I committed to Pick Three, I would go to bed thinking about everything I didn’t do that day. I had mile-long to-do lists and guilt that flowed even longer.
However, I noticed that when I gave myself permission to Pick Three in a given day, I could easily accomplish everything I set out to do. And not only that, I did it well.
I’d end the day thinking about everything I had done, rather than what I hadn’t. And I started making Ta-Da lists rather than To-Do lists (which I outline in the book).
Now I’m not saying that you can only pick Three things and then you’re stuck with those same three things every day until the end of time. No, I believe in balance over the long run but lopsidedness in the short term. Every day is a new opportunity to pick a different three things.
How does the Pick Three method help people achieve balance over time?
The reason Pick Three exists is to give ourselves permission to be lopsided at a time when life is skewed in different directions. By focusing on a few tasks each day—varying what needs attention and when—we eventually will balance out.
Sometimes we are lucky and we get to choose which three to pick. Sometimes life is crazy and throws wrenches at us and picks for us.
Either way, whether you are on top of the world or simply treading water, giving yourself permission to focus on a few things and freeing yourself from the guilt of not being everything to everyone can make a huge difference in our overall happiness and well-being.
We live in a culture that puts a lot of pressure to balance everything and get it perfectly right. How do you think we can change that?
It’s easy to look at social media and think that everyone else’s lives are perfect. But peer beneath the surface and you’ll find that everyone is struggling. If you try and do everything well every day, you are setting yourself up for failure and mediocrity across every category of your life.
Personally, I’d rather be great at a few things than average at everything! But it definitely takes time, mindfulness, and focus to get to that place and to give yourself permission to be ok with being “lopsided.”
What do you hope for readers to take away from your book?
No one’s life is perfect, regardless of what it looks like on the outside. We’re all just trying to live the best way we know how. Comparison and judgment won’t make you happy, it’s actually the opposite, so avoid being hard on yourself at all costs.
Being mindful and careful about what you focus your time on, even if it means saying no to things, will help you be happier, more successful, and yes, more balanced, in the long run.
You’ve had an amazing professional journey, from Facebook director of marketing to founder of the Zuckerberg Institute. What is the one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs that are just starting?
Every single day is a new opportunity to make choices, to reconsider how you are going to spend your time, and to prioritize the things that truly feed your soul.
I love seeing the entrepreneurs I mentor and coach through the Zuckerberg Institute start ditching the guilt and giving themselves permission to accomplish greatness.
Nobody becomes an entrepreneur because they want to be mediocre – if you’ve made the decision to start your own business, this is the time to dig deep, focus, and build something you can truly be proud of.
Meet Thais Drassinower: A Latinx Woman Film Creator in Hollywood Pushing for Diversity
This past year, the prestigious British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) selected Thais Drassinower into the Newcomers program. Thais is based in L.A. as a female filmmaker. The year 2020 had the biggest turnout of women in the program and Thais was one of those representing female filmmakers!
This program offers career support and helps to new filmmakers in the industry. Apart from being welcomed into the program, Thais has a lot of history with filmmaking and in the film industry. We interviewed her to learn more about her history with film and any new projects she might be working on.
1. Your hometown is Lima, Peru, what was it like coming to America and starting up in the film industry? What inspired you to pursue filmmaking as a career, and please tell me a bit about that journey.
I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put two words together.
My grandma still keeps those early ones in her bedroom chest. I’ve also always loved film and would spend my free time as a teenager watching foreign film cycles at the local cultural center.
But as a young woman from a traditional family growing up in Lima – Peru, I never thought being a filmmaker was an option for me.
My diverse interests in story, psychology, and anthropology led me to advertising as a first step and it was then, working as a copywriter in Chicago, that I realized the power that audiovisual communication has on society and understood that there are archetypes in the collective consciousness that stories can portray in infinite ways.
That’s when I decided to become a filmmaker and assume the responsibility of sharing narratives that can shift our world into a more comprehensive, empathetic, and healthy place.
I started taking night classes at a local school after work and then decided to make the jump and apply for an MFA in Film which got me to NYC where I got my degree at Columbia University. That’s how it all started.
2. Before transitioning to the film industry, you were a copywriter. Can you tell me what it was like making that transition to filmmaking? Did you encounter any major differences or have any difficulty with the transition to films?
I was a copywriter for an advertising agency in Chicago which meant that, together with my partner, I came up with an idea for a commercial, wrote the script for it and then supervised the whole production and post-production process to make sure the idea was coming to life in the way we envisioned it.
The whole supervision part of the process was similar to being a film producer on a project. Being on set and watching the director work with the actors made me fall in love with the directing process. I think it has been a very organic transition and my years as a copywriter helped me build very important skills that I now use as a writer/director.
3. The entertainment industry can be cutthroat at times. Have you endured any hardships along the way? What did you do to overcome them?
I’m still at the beginning of my career and it is definitely a challenging field. As a Latinx woman trying to break in, you have to work extremely hard and convince people that you deserve a seat at the table.
It’s an exciting time for minorities in Hollywood, the conversation is open and more studios are looking to champion diverse and underrepresented voices, but there is still a long way to go to achieve proper representation and I’m proud to be a part of this new generation pushing for change.
4. You’ve directed three projects, “The Catch,” “Baby,” and “Memories of the Sea.” All of which are special in their own ways. Please tell me a bit about how you drew inspiration for these projects and how they are connected to you?
Memories of The Sea was my first film which explores the sense of loss for a child. My dear friend and fellow filmmaker Sudarshan Suresh had written a beautiful script which we then worked on together to adapt for me to direct it.
I decided to set it in Brazil because that’s where I spent my first years of childhood and where I experienced a sense of loss myself.
I wanted to revisit the space and dive deep into the experience of seeing the world through a child’s eyes. This is a film about finding your own answers when adults don’t explain things to you. I think we often forget how intuitive and perceptive children are and this film attempts to remind us.
Baby, my second film, explores what it means to grow up by messing up. It’s a film about a young woman who goes home for a weekend and has an unnerving encounter with her estranged father at a nightclub which reminds her that there are unhealed wounds.
Through a series of disturbing events that night, she will be forced to understand that the only person who can take care of her now is herself. I drew inspiration for this film from the memories of being that age and feeling lost at many points. Feeling like a grown up, but also like a child.
Feeling like I had all the answers, but then suddenly like I knew nothing. It’s a fascinating period in a person’s life and with this story and through this character I explore subjects such as sexuality and consent.
Finally, The Catch, my latest film, tells the story of two trapeze artists whose trust is threatened right before the biggest performance of their careers. The script was written by another Peruvian making waves in the US, my dear friend Camila Zavala who also produced the film.
What attracted me to direct this movie was the opportunity to explore the concept of trust between a couple with such high stakes and the idea of dancing between public and private spaces in the magical world of a circus.
The film invites us to reflect on the power of a bond and what it takes to break it.
5. Many young people are looking into the arts as careers, but of course, they may face obstacles along the way. What would you say to someone who would want to pursue a career such as filmmaking? What advice would you offer?
I say GO FOR IT. This is a challenging career, but all good things in life require you to work hard for them. The enjoyment comes from the hours you put in day to day. I find that the most important things are consistency and your community.
Do the work, go out and shoot, sit down and write, even if you don’t end up showing that “thing” to anyone, practice makes a master. And surround yourself with a group of peers who will champion you and who you will champion. Help each other out.
Film is a collective art and you can’t do it alone, having a group of colleagues that you trust is crucial for your career. Find them. Either at school, at writing groups, at online forums. Find them and nurture those relationships. They are the most wonderful gift that a film career can give you.
I started writing a blog for young female filmmakers who are working or hope to work on their first feature film. There you can find advice on how to embark in the journey both from my personal experience, and also from interviews that I make to first time female directors.
Check it out and hope you find it helpful, I’m always available through there for any questions you might have.
Best of luck to you all!
6. What are your plans for the future in filmmaking? Do you have genres or films you are particularly interested in?
I’m currently working on my first feature film which I hope we can start pre-production for once we achieve a new normal after COVID-19. I am interested in telling stories through a female perspective in the genres of psychological thriller, psychological horror, and drama.
As I mentioned before, it is also very important for me to portray diversity on the screen through my narratives and I look forward to keep sharing stories that build empathy and hopefully invite the audience to reflect and discuss.
From growing up in Peru and moving to L.A, to transitioning from copywriting to filmmaking. Thais has achieved many great things that other young filmmakers aspire to achieve.
We hope that by reading this article, many young filmmakers or others wanting to join the industry can get some inspiration from Thais and perhaps one day join the Newcomers program like her.
Thank you Thais for your time and we wish you luck with your first feature film and your BAFTA Newcomers program!
Alicia White Leading Project Petals to Repair Communities
Nonprofit organizations are driven by a social cause. They help families in need, repair communities, teach children new things, and give hope to those who need it most.
Alicia White, the founder and president of Project Petals, had all of this in mind when starting her nonprofit. She is an advocate for all those living in low-income and under-resourced communities. Not only is she an entrepreneur, but she has also worked with the United Nations and done grant work with domestic justice civil rights issues within her community.
BLENDtw had the opportunity to interview White regarding her history with Project Petals and moving forward with her program.
1.) You started Project Petals with the vision to help low-income and under-resourced communities. Can you tell us a bit about what the process of starting up a new business was like? What were your struggles along the way?
The process of starting my organization has been rewarding, and I learned so much through the process. My organization started out as a volunteer-led project in Queens, New York. It was important for me to form an organization to improve the environment, support communities and future leaders.
It was challenging starting my first environmental project, and I wanted to make it less difficult for anyone coming after me. Also, to help youth learn the leadership skills needed to make an impact in their communities.
Starting a new organization for me had its challenge, but I learned so much along the way. I had to essentially learn what it was to set up an organization in what felt like overnight. Through extensive research, I had to file paperwork, create a website, the logo, the structure of the organization, and just typical start-up activities fell on my shoulders.
Like most black women founders, my biggest struggle was finding and securing funding. For example, in 2019, Black-led organizations received less than 4% of grants and funding. That percentage dwindles when you are a woman.
2.) COVID-19 has been challenging for many small businesses and has caused people within many communities to struggle to make ends meet. How have you seen this affect them and what has Project Petals been doing in response to this?
COVID-19 has hit the communications that my organization works, extremely hard. My organization had to change from working on the ground with large amounts of volunteers to working remotely, with fewer volunteers on the ground.
Through all of this, we were still able to support our community leaders and neighborhoods with the tools and resources that they need to improve their environments. Like every other organization, we have to abide by COVID-19 safety restrictions and guidelines to keep everyone safe while still actively providing the services that are needed to make an impact.
3.) Going forward with Project Petals, what do you envision with your company? Where do you see it going in terms of growth?
I see Project Petals eventually moving to a national scale. The need for environmental support and community development is needed now more than ever. With the climate crises on the brink of causing further catastrophe, it is vital that Project Petals is able to serve as many communities and leaders as we can.
4.) You have a program called, “Youth Builders Program.” Can you elaborate more on what it is and what sort of programs it offers? And how this program can be of help to those participating in it?
Our Project Petals Youth Builders Program helps young people gain the leadership skills they need to improve their communities and futures. Our program connects youth in grades 4-12 to engineering, architecture, urban planning, environmental science, tech, and design professionals who can offer mentorship, experience, internships, and inspiration through monthly workshops.
We work to catalyze the next generation of environmentalists, community leaders, and professionals in these fields. Our program inspires them to develop a passion for these fields, thus working to create a more sustainable, diverse, and equitable world. One hundred percent of all of the youth show great leadership potential. We believe by fostering this leadership and giving them access to a network of professionals; we will start to build more resilient communities.
5.) Before Project Petals, what sort of jobs were you doing? What led you to want to become an entrepreneur and what advice do you have for anyone also planning to pursue entrepreneurship?
Growing up, I always had ideas that I wanted to bring to reality, but as a young person, I didn’t know how to, and I didn’t think it was possible for me to do so. As an adult, social entrepreneurship gave me the opportunity to take my ideas and actually use them to make a positive impact in other people’s lives and the environment.
If I had to give any advice, it would be to have confidence in your ideas and in your skillset as you may face many obstacles, nay-sayers, and challenges along the way. Failure is par for the course and is a good lesson plan to succeed.
We hope that by understanding Project Petals, White, and how entrepreneurs can shape the future of the community around them, we can then better understand how to make our community and the world around us a better place. Thank you to Project Petals and White for this opportunity and we hope this program thrives in the coming years!
Using Instagram Art to Promote Anti-Racism: Meet French Graphic Artist Aurélia Durand
Instagram artist, Aurélia Durand, has been using the platform to promote her anti-racism art. She has a website on which she sells posters, stickers, and cards that she has designed herself. Her art is focused on celebrating diversity and equal representation. Durand’s dream is to help form a united community and an inclusive future for everyone. BLENDtw had the opportunity to ask Durand a series of questions about her current work on Instagram, the book she illustrated, and her goals for the future.
1. Who or what inspired you to start creating art? What keeps you motivated?
When I begin working on a new artistic creation, I listen to music to put myself in a zone where I feel good and am inspired to create a meaningful message. I find that music settles the mood and atmosphere around me. I create to stay positive, and staying positive is essential for my well being. I need to be creative; I am addicted to creativity; imagination, drawing, and seeing the idea evolve is exciting. The most fulfilling feeling is to see people interacting with my work.
2. If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? What advice would you give to young black women with dreams similar to your own?
Create for yourself; don’t try to make the same as everyone else. Find your voice; follow your instinct.
3. What impact do you hope your art will have on our world today?
I hope my art empowers people and makes them smile.
4. In what way does art communicate with and reach people better than other means do?
It’s upon us; it happens because of many factors. I think that visuals are more impactful than words. It is universal, we see it, and we quickly react to it.
6. You just recently illustrated a New York Times bestseller, “This Book is Anti-Racist.” What inspired this project? What do you hope readers take away from it?
I hope readers want to take action for antiracism in there every day life after they read the book.
My publisher, Quarto, contacted me at the end of 2018 to participate in the book’s conception as the leading illustrator. I have never met the author; unfortunately, due to the current global pandemic and social distancing regulations.
The book, “This Book is Anti-Racist” was released in January 2020 and became a best seller in June after the Black Lives Matter movement spread globally. We sold more than 150,000 copies! The book has been popular in schools, but people of all ages are reading the book. It includes about 20 exercises for readers to do while thinking about how they can take action to build a more inclusive society.
7. Do you have any plans or projects you are working on? How can people help support your cause?
I am working on many new projects, but I can’t talk about them as they are meant to be a surprise. In October, I will be participating in several talks with Adobe, Ladies and Wine, and the AOI association. The projects are very exciting and I have confidence that they will have great success when they are completed.
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