“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”          ~ Steve Jobs

 

My mother-in-law emailed this to me one afternoon because she saw it and thought I would like it. I’m not sure what I loved more, that she knows me so well or that she signs her emails “xoxo Love Mom.”

 

I was born and raised in Rochester, NY and attended an all girls high school. It was prehistoric in the way of technology and void of social media. The most cutting edge piece of technology was the pager, which surfaced my senior year of high school. Looking back 20 years, it seemed like such a simple time. It’s not like I was churning my own butter or laundering my clothes in a washtub but there was magic in the anticipation of waiting for a phone call…..on a phone with a cord that connected to the wall. There was excitement when catching up with a friend in person because you had absolutely no idea what they had been up to in the last 48 hours.

 

 

What’s funny is while technology at that time was in the dark ages (relatively speaking), what I learned about inclusivity now feels like it was ahead of its time. It was in the ninth grade where I was first introduced to what it looks like having empowered women as leaders in the community. With all female classmates, I witnessed young women as sports heroes, stage stars, journalists and heads of student government. I was never discouraged to pursue an ambition just because I was female. I was immersed in an environment where females could do anything they put their minds to. The notion of being judged on gender over merit was a foreign concept to me.

 

I have been fortunate over the years to work for and with some phenomenal females whether they were female through biology or female through gender identity. What was so beautiful about these relationships is that I was able to see them at their messiest. They shared stories of their vulnerable experiences as well as stories of loss and betrayal. I witnessed these women at their less than best & brightest. Experiencing these powerful women in that way inspired me and gave me the courage to move forward with my partner in starting Revolution. When you only see the Insta version of people, it can give you a false sense of what it means to be successful, in business or in life. Some of the most potent learning comes from the messiest experiences. The learning again and again for me was that operating in a role of power didn’t equate to perfection. Everyone is a work in progress and a true leader is always willing to be a student of the work.

 

I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. I had two blue-collar parents who provided me with the essentials. If I wanted anything extra, than the expectation was that I got a job and worked for it. Nothing extra was ever handed to me and to this day it’s the lesson I’m most grateful for. On the flip side what I did have a lot of growing up was diversity. I had friends of every race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Meeting and connecting with people that weren’t a carbon copy of myself, never seemed strange or foreign to me. What my parents weren’t able to provide monetarily, they provided in inclusivity and acceptance to a point where into my young adult life I was almost naïve to human divide. I couldn’t wrap my head around not spending time with someone because of the shade of their skin or what gender they preferred to go to bed with.

 

After high school I had no clue what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. All I knew is that I wanted to surround myself with the crazy ones. Those perceived as the misfits, the rebels and the troublemakers. People like me who had no respect for the status quo and believed that anything was possible regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity or income status. People who felt that as naïve as it sounds, it’s possible to cultivate an environment and a way of being where all are welcomed with a seat at the table. How is this possible? Well, it starts with YOU. It starts with one single person, crazy enough to think that they can change the world. All of a sudden one becomes some and some becomes many. Before you know it, the many people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Much love,

Mel