6 Steps to Elevate the Voice & Impact of Women

I'm writing you today from beautiful San Luis Obispo where Charlie Gandy and I have come for my post b-day celebration. Did you know that SLO (as the locals call it) has been called the happiest place in the United States?

While I'm here I'm walking everywhere, taking in the beauty, and I'm taking time to think deeply about catalyzing the conversation from women to grow more mindful mobility.  I adore this 2013 video from the British bike company Halfords. I love how they have not only so cleverly captured the various tribes of bicycling, but who wins in the end. Ah, to be that little girl again feeling triumphant on her bike. That's powerful.

Tonight I had the great pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Dan Rivoire, the Executive Director of Bike SLO County. Dan epitomizes the fresh young talent in the mindful mobility movement, what a fun time we had talking, of all things, about the power of beauty to change hearts and minds and why he's learned that female only events are important tools to making sure women from the broadest possible audiences feel truly comfortable and welcome. I look forward to sharing more of his thoughts along these lines soon.

Last night we walked all around downtown and then I went to Barnes & Noble with a b-day gift card burning a hole in my pocket. There on one of the promotional endcaps was Gloria Steinem smiling knowingly at me, looking chic and impossibly hip from the cover of her new book "My Life on the Road." I haven't even gotten out of the introduction before I begin to dog-ear pages and just have to share this gem with you:

If you tell me a statistic I’ll make up a story to explain why it’s true. Our brains are organized by narrative and image
— Gloria Steinem from My Life on the Road

Here are 6 steps I'm putting into play for Pedal Love to shift into a higher gear of visibility as we move from being focused on California and the U.S. I invite you to adopt them too:

1. Give Yourself Permission to Shine. Give Women Permission to Shine. Even if you're a female Executive Director chances are you're just not getting your own story out to the world the way you could be. And how about the other women on your team and in your collaborative network? Women whose lives have been/are being transformed by biking, walking and taking public transit? Women who are becoming healthier, more financially prosperous and confident? The confidence gap between what women feel they are ready to handle vs. men is still very real even for women who are movers and shakers on the world stage. Bring it front and center in your consciousness so we can all work together to change it.

2. Think Like a Talent Scout. The biggest thing I've learned in 8 years of advocacy - you have to directly ask people, you have to recruit people, especially women, to step up and share their stories and consider themselves in new lights. If you want a truly diverse array of stories from women of all ages and backgrounds you may have to ask several times. You may need to cajole and encourage and hand hold. Do it. It's worth it. Those whose stories are most needed to be shared are often the very last to speak up.

3. Seek Storytelling Training Resources. Our Internet connected society is full of excellent free and low cost tools like Toastmasters. The very talented Vanessa Chase Lockshin hosts the next Non Profit Storytelling Virtual Conference February 10-12, 2016. And guess what? It's free! I'll be on the line for as much of it as I can. I encourage to you do so as well. Here are two other storytelling resources to check out to 1) Toastmasters Int. is the best way to learn to be a polished dynamic public speaker for a very low cost price. There are clubs in almost every community across the U.S. 2) Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones" is one of the best books on getting moving on writing from an authentic, compelling place that I've ever read.

4. Create Small Measurable Storytelling Goals. If the idea of hosting a blog on your website overwhelms you start with storytelling on Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. Consider recruiting a social media storytelling intern this year. Find a talented young person to capture what your organization is excelling at through the lens of storytelling. Think outside of the box. What are groundbreaking creative brands doing, culture shift brands doing, that you could adopt in tiny baby steps? And the great thing about social media? It's so measurable and easy to find what's working and sparking fresh interest.

5. Create Welcoming Social Media Platforms for Women. If we can't see it we can't be it to quote Gloria Steinem yet again. Invite women of all ages and races and backgrounds to share their stories in your social media - create a welcome space for dialogue. Create a space for "aha!" and "oh, I can too!" through the way you approach and present.

6. Create Long Term Storytelling Culture Shift Goals. Three of mine: 1) Equal number of female keynote speakers at the National Bicycle Summit in DC 2017 and the 2) Bicycle Leadership Conference for 2017 AND 3) A female mindful mobility expert on the big TED stage 2018. Mia Kohout of Momentum Magazine I haven't forgot our conversation about this, have you? Image by David Niddrie.