Can you hear me better with this lipstick?
I was on my way to an investor meeting across town. One year before, I’d gotten a call from their consultant saying they’re giving us a grant, a few thousand more than my proposal asked for. I was on my way to our one year review meeting, but in my mind it was actually the first meeting of a new round of funding I wanted them to take the lead on.
Just a few days before, a rollercoaster of events happened. The rollercoaster’s peak was a New York Times feature and its dip was the resignation of my #2 at the company. It was a time for growing pains at Swipe Out Hunger. I’d also spent an entire hour that day deciding what to wear. Something sophisticated, but not too tight, not too short, flattering…. I left the house stressed and frustrated with myself. Also frustrated with Mark Zuckerberg who carelessly promoted his same t-shirt and jeans lifestyle. How am I supposed to combat misogyny in a t-shirt and jeans? How am I to prove I’m worth listening to if I don’t have makeup on telling you I’m worthwhile.
I found myself driving across town and to this meeting bottled with anger. I was taking on two roles at Swipe Out Hunger, going through hiring, writing extra press releases, dealing with the bank etc. And this whole time I’m asking myself if it even matters– because I could walk into a room and all 5’11 of me would be sized up before I open my mouth. How we look speaks before we can.
I do what any entreprenur does in this situation and I called my dad. He replied as if he’d been preparing for 24 years. Within three minutes I realized the insane pressure I’d put on myself. My body knew that the only way to be ready by the time I got across town was to release the tension with an epic cry. My first in seven months. I pulled up to their office and quickly took a peek in the car mirror only to notice two prominent streaks, emanating from the outer corners of my eyes. My stress-induced tears had left evidence. For a brief moment I considered leaving them as is. Then I realized the world of business isn’t quite as transparent as I am. I cover up the tracks. Of course we carry my make up with us. After blasting some very loud Kayne, I headed inside and proceeded to charm the hell out of the room.
As I was walking down the hallway and into their office, I remembered that this was just another meeting. There is no pinnacle or big break. The journey we’re each on is more substantial than any one encounter.
I remembered the wise words of my friend Yavilah who before I went up for a talk a few weeks before told me “Why are you nervous? You’re just speaking your truth.”
I recently learned they will fund us, big. Believe in yourself, my friends. Take the time to know yourself and your work. Be able to speak your truth, having clarity on that is essential, and might get you funded.