stacy-marie ishmael


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Misc: Some statements of personal policy


Part One:

1) If you believe that talking about difference or acknowledging that -isms exist is tantamount to either “making the problem worse” or being that -ist - “Talking about racism means you’re a racist!” - I will disagree with you.

2) If you contend that “we are all just people” or “I don’t even see colour” or “it wouldn’t matter if she was a purple alien”, I will seriously disagree with you.

Typical, real example: “"Personally, I feel that the way to break down the minority divides is to ignore the existence of a minority at all. Let’s forget about gender - we’re all just people”

3) If your arguments include such threads as “then why isn’t there a White History month?” or “we only wanted the most qualified people for this panel”, I will end the conversation.

Typical, real example: “Besides, how would the world react to male-only networking groups/ online forums? I bet that...

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Meta: Long live the front page

I spend a lot of time consuming the interwebs. News, analysis, listicles, infographics, longform, charts, podcasts, newsletters, streams - give them to me.

But it struck me today that the only “front pages” I visit consistently belong to Google, Twitter, and Reddit - which, appropriately, describes itself as “the front page of the internet”.

A swift review of my Pocket and Instapaper queues, and my Pinboard archives, reinforced what I suspected: in 2013 I read hundreds of pieces in the Atlantic, the NYTimes, the FT, the WSJ, Buzzfeed, Bloomberg Business Week, or on Medium.

But I cannot remember the last time I found my way to articles from any of these sites by any means other than I saw it shared on Twitter, via my [Percolate brew] (, or linked to in one of the many email newsletters to which I subscribe.

I did check out to the NY Times homepage a few weeks ago -...

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#awesomewomen of the world, reject your Impostor Syndrome

I have a theory - several, really - that stories about women not wanting to work with other women and women not wanting to report to women reflect the realities of power dynamics.


  • When there are very few women in positions of power, we become “tokens” in the Moss Kanter sense:

Three perceptual phenomena are associated with tokens: visibility (tokens capture a disproportionate awareness share), polarization (differences between tokens and dominants are exaggerated), and assimilation (tokens’ attributes are distorted to fit preexisting generalizations about their social type). Visibility generates performance pressures; polarization leads dominants to heighten their group boundaries; and assimilation leads to the tokens’ role entrapment.

Put another way:


Given these factors, it is entirely rational for women to seek to align ourselves with those who hold power - i.e...

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Wellness: The path of least resistance (involves not pretending I’ll exercise after work)

I’m not a morning person, but I do an excellent impression of one. And that fake-it-till-you-make-it extends to my ability to drag myself out of bed before dawn in the depths of winter to attend a spin class, or to show up for the 7am yoga practice with a smile on my otherwise not-really-awake face.

But no matter how resolute I think I am, how many events I put in my calendar, how often I take my gym clothes with me - if I’m still in the office at 7 or 8pm, I am not going to make it to that yoga class. I am not going to suit up for a run. I am going to get on the first available form of transportation that will get me home and drinking tea in the least amount of time. (I call this “Time To Tea”, and I aspire to 30mins or less after a long day)

Whether you believe that ego depletion is real or are convinced you can overcome wobbles in willpower, the key is to architect paths of least...

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Wellness: I think I’ll just pass out in this corner, thank you

The emergent popularity of books like Susan Cain’s “Quiet” means that more people now understand - or have at least been exposed to - the traits of introverts.

But this growing awareness hasn’t yet been coupled with widespread attempts to design schools, workplaces or even conferences that give introverts the time and the space to rest and recharge, to avoid burnout.

Today, after a week that consisted of back-to-back meetings bookended by breakfasts and dinners, I slept until 3pm. And then, after making some lunch and still completely exhausted, I went back to bed for a nap.

Most Western societies are optimised for extroverted behaviour. I’m not.

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Wellness: What’s your burnout indicator?

I’ve learnt to recognize when I am burning out. Sleep fails to refresh me; I wake up with a sore jaw from having clenched and ground my teeth all night; I don’t laugh as often or as easily.

For me, burnout is rarely about stress. It is usually about losing control of my time (manifested, most often, as unbroken blocks in my Google Calendar - representing back-to-back meetings that consume the day).

Because those blocks mean I fail to make it to yoga - as I write this, my rolled-up mat rests accusingly in a corner. Those blocks mean I cancel the coffees and dinners with the friends who recharge me.

Burnout means I begin to resent those blocks.

Time to make time for yoga.

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Misc: No, you may not ‘pick my brain'

I am not sure when the phrase “pick your brain” began to be used as a substitute “I would like you to give me free advice and possibly throw in some consulting work and you will probably have to pay for your own coffee”.

And I am not sure why my reaction to seeing or hearing it is so visceral.

In 2013 I started saying no to certain of these kinds of requests: if I asked you for specifics - and in some cases, I went so far as to assign ‘homework’ - and you couldn’t follow-up or weren’t willing to commit to, I declined.

I say often that people don’t scale, and I certainly don’t. My commitment to supporting the members of the various communities of which I am a part, and to mentorship, would be undermined if I devoted hours to people who are not willing to do the work. Saying no meant saying yes to more meaningful engagements with people who are themselves committed and driven. And...

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Misc: ‘When you play with amateurs, you’re going to get hurt'

Damon Collins speaks convincingly about the importance of aligning yourselves with people who know what they’re doing in any collaborative venture.

What strikes me as (even more) interesting is that other folks talk about the tendency of ‘amateurs’ to be dangerous in a different context - that of ‘disruption’. A little learning might be a dangerous thing, but it can sometimes be liberating.

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Travel: My favourite gadgets, II

Google Chromecast, for who-needs-an-av-department presentation action.

Ultimate Ears Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - as recommended by Wirecutter.

Tunnelbear. Because travel + VPN = better.

Personal Handheld Steamer + Adapter Kit. Rumpled is never a good look.

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Read: Best of the Week to Jan 10

SNL’s Real Race Problem - Tanner Colby, provoking thoughts:

When racial-justice advocates call for more diversity, what they’re saying is that the hiring pipelines into America’s majority-white industries need to be expanded to include a truly multicultural array of voices and talents from all ethnic corners of America; they want equal opportunity for minorities who don’t necessarily conform to the social norms of the white majority. When exasperated hiring managers use the word diversity, what they really mean is that they’re looking for assimilated diversity

11 Awkward Things About Email, which inspired my short reflection on exclamation marks.

Writers and Rum - Adam Gopnik knows:

writing is, if not uniquely hard work, then uniquely draining work. Some basic human need for a balance between thinking and acting is still kept intact even by the most tedious of other tasks. All...

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