I spent my childhood in Hawaii and California, where I became enamored of four things: Hula, Girl Scouts, math/science/environment and Star Trek. Encouraged by my parents, who were hardworking and determined themselves, I threw myself into all these passions.
Dancing gave me pure joy – it fed my soul. Earning Girl Scout badges was fun and fulfilling. Designing electrical circuits, conducting science experiments in summer camp, and studying environmental challenges in the 70’s in California fed my desire to solve hard problems. And building model planes and spaceships inspired by Star Trek underscored my love for science. (I hoped I’d be an astronaut someday!)
While I didn’t become an astronaut, I went to MIT, where I majored in electrical engineering, competed in ballroom dance, sang in a band, and developed my mantra: “Be authentic and fully present.” Upon graduation, I had offers from a dozen companies. Eleven wanted me to work in a lab, designing something. Only Booz Allen’s offer, which included working with clients while solving hard problems, allowed me to be true to my whole self.
After plenty of trial and error, I built on “Be authentic,” codifying my other guiding principles: “Strive for balance and integration” and “Pursue my passions.” Each is crucial to my overall well-being.
Being authentic means I give the best of myself to the people or task at hand. If I’m riding bikes with my 10-year old, I don’t check my iPhone. If I’m in a meeting, I close my laptop. I’m committed to what’s happening now.
I learned the hard way that if I don’t integrate the parts of my life into a coherent whole, I’m overloaded, unproductive, and unhappy. That’s why I created the “Three I’s” framework. Simply put, I can’t be Involved in everything all the time. I prioritize and revisit what I’m doing every six months, deciding when I can just be Informed or merely Interested and let others lead and drive the outcomes.
My passions have shifted over the years. Although I still dance hula with my halau and work with Girl Scouts, AFCEA, and MIT on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), my overarching passion is being a catalyst for improvement through others and their strengths and interests. By bringing the right people with the right skills together, I can effect tremendous change for my family, my clients, my community, and our world. For me, that’s being authentic – dancing with my whole heart, as if nobody’s watching.