The #2018Liberation List

Things I’m letting go of in 2018

Yesterday morning I tweeted about letting go in 2018. Then Cate Huston and Jean Hsu told me about this project on 2018 liberation. And I agreed to join and wrote this post. It’s less well-formulated than I’d like, but it’s really how I’m feeling and thinking about all the things I want to let go of in 2018.

Here’s my list:

  1. Avoiding hard conversations with people I know but don’t agree with. Last year I hemmed and hawed each time before sending a few private messages to people to share a contrary perspective, and almost everyone responded with openness to hearing another view — and I learned from theirs. I’ve met with a few VCs and had productive conversations, even though I know I will always wish they had more impact. This year, I’d like to spend more time cultivating these positive interactions and less time deliberating whether to do it or not — and no time drafting messages that I never send.
  2. Being affected by others’ judgments of me. That includes judging others based on how they judge me. I have been so skeptical of people who five years later are showing up as anti-harassment inclusion feminists. But maybe people can change, and I should definitely stop caring so much.
  3. Feeling guilty about not helping everyone who asks. I get so many requests that I can’t respond to all of them. Sometimes I’m just too tired to do a good job of prioritizing and important stuff gets lost or stuck in drafts. 2018 is about me being comfortable with not getting back to everyone.
  4. Spotlighting people who don’t pay it forward. I try to use my voice to highlight the great work of others with the hope they will shine their light on even more others. But some people hold all the light for themselves. For me, 2018 is about shining light on people who deserve more attention but are systematically neglected and who believe shining the light on others helps us all.
  5. Business travel. If you’re not in San Francisco or Oakland, I’m probably not going to speak at your event/panel/conference/school. This year has been really exhausting, and I prefer being behind the scenes to being the center of attention anyway. That means I plan to write more, speak less. I love the direct connection speaking gives me with a wide range of people, but unfortunately it doesn’t scale well. And it too often involves travel.

On the positive end, 2017 was a year of many firsts:

An appearance on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

One of the highlights of 2017 for someone who watched Late Night almost every night during high school.

Three impactful jobs for the Kapor Center, Kapor Capital, and Project Include — highlighted with a Techcrunch Include Crunchie Award for Project Include and a public conversation with Anita Hill.

My first (and likely only) book, “Reset.” It launched with coverage in three Sunday New York Times in a row, including my op-ed, and a front page USA Today article. “Reset” even made it to over a dozen best and must-read book lists. But I’m most hopeful because of a leading venture capitalist’s recommendation that every male venture capitalist should read it.

(Thank you to the hard-working team at Spiegel & Grau, Aevitas, Frame Shift Consulting, the Kapor Center, Project Include, and Heather Wilson for making it all happen!)

The best highlights of 2017 were the many amazing people I got to meet online and in real life through the book, because of my work and experiences. And the plans already made to meet more of them in 2018!

Like what you read? Give Ellen K. Pao a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.