10 Awesome Women to Follow on Instagram

Before I get into my list, I want to say that my ENTIRE social media community is worthy of a loving shoutout (and a zillion fist-bump emojis!). The daily messages we create and share about empowerment, equality and inclusion would be nothing without an awesome community to exchange with.

In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to share 13 of my favorite Instagram accounts owned and operated by women. These women create inspirational, educational, and empowering content that I could spend hours scrolling through (and do). If you don’t already know them, check them out and give them a follow.

  1. In the Insta-world of fitness models, we tend to see little size diversity. Enter @louisegreen_bigfitgirl who uses her platform to represent and showcase fit bodies of all sizes. She’s also got a great new book coming out that I (ahem, ahem) wrote the foreword for. No big deal. Get it now!!
  2. @usowomen…Obviously! The work that the United State of Women do everyday is shaping the culture that our next generation of girls will experience. The work we’ve done together (hello 2016 summit anyone??) will always be one of my most valued experiences. They have their work cut out for them in 2017, but look to them on great, tangible ways to join the #Resistance!
  3. This is my OG girl crush for all things empowerment: @amypoehlersmartgirls. Without a doubt, one of the best pages to turn to for global girl power and smart, cutting-edge leadership. Special squeezes to @puzzlesmom who leads this awesome parade!
  4. @euniquejg is my new girl crush. She’s the real deal, full of heart and fire, and has created a vital account with @becauseofthem. They had a beautiful Black History Month campaign (you can still go check it out) and their content is important to share with everyone (especially your kids!).
  5. @Amani speaks truth and power and her her Insta-platform for @muslimgirl is no different. She’s created the most popular digital platform for Muslim women and they have phenomenally talented writers who pen their perspectives on current news and experiences; a definite must-share for everyone!
  6. @laflowers has created the most incredible Latina blogger community of almost 20k strong over at @weallgrowlatina. You can count on them for funny, poignant, and powerful content – te adoro!
  7. My senator @kamalaharris has one of the best political Instagram accounts I’ve seen. Even after her campaign, she continues to be a trailblazer for change through the informative content she shares everyday. 2020 anyone?
  8. The girl crushes continue with @senduckworth. She frequently posts updates on what’s happening in government and is such a superstar bad ass that you will wish that a zillion more Tammy Duckworth’s were in government. (Psst… see #9 for help with this!)
  9. Since the election, over 6,000 women have enrolled in an incubator program to help them run for office. And who’s behind this incredible program? One of my favorite organizations @sheshouldrun. If you have ever thought about running for office or know someone who should, definitely check them out!
  10. Another one of my favorite nonprofits out there is @shesthefirst. They are literally changing the game for girls (and therefore the world) with their vision to help women around the globe become the 1st in their families to receive education.
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Why You Need to See “Hidden Figures”

If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures yet, do not wait any longer! The story of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, three African-American women who provided NASA the mathematical data to launch one of our country’s first successful space missions, is one that has never been told in Hollywood.

 

This is why representation matters. How often do we see a Hollywood film where women, especially women of color, are being brilliant human computers? Not often. And this story is real American history! Right now, I urge everyone in this country to see this film and bring a little girl in your life along with you. Our girls need to see this inspiration. We all do!

 

Fun fact to add motivation, Hidden Figures became the #1 movie in America at the box office after opening weekend! Let’s keep it going! Let’s prove that these are the stories and films that Hollywood should spend millions of dollars in producing.

 

This story is one of the most important stories that could be told in the current state of our society. We need to continue to encourage the Katherine’s, Mary’s, and Dorothy’s of tomorrow. Let’s start by sharing the truth today. Go see #HiddenFigures!

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#BlogHer16 Closing Keynote Recap

It’s not often that we get to have honest, public discussions with a few hundred folks about intersectional feminism and activism. That’s exactly what we did at the closing keynote of the #BlogHer16 conference this past Saturday. I was honored to moderate this inspiring panel conversation about how people in the public eye can use their platform for activism. As well as about how we all can serve to be better allies to the causes that move us.

 

My long-term partners at Dove kicked off the panel sharing about their new campaign #MyBeautyMySay and it’s right on time for the Olympics! The media too often makes comments about female athletes and their appearance rather than focusing on their accomplishments. And have you read these headlines lately?? Now accomplished female athletes are being described by their husbands rather than their own achievements!

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So leave it to our panel of bad asses to break it all down! I was joined by the incredible: Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Matt McGorry, and professional boxer Heather “The Heat” Hardy. As actors and athletes in the public eye they are also fighting for social justice – whether it’s HIV/AIDS awareness, civil rights, racial and gender equality or equal pay. They are all utilizing their privilege and public platforms to speak out.

 

We dug into what makes a good ally – especially to causes where you are not the predominant demographic effected (think: how to be a good white ally for Black Lives Matter) and also how to fight injustice within your own field of business (think: how to challenge sexism and racism amongst your co-workers and bosses). Not easy subjects for sure. But this panel handled it with such clarity, grace, and courage. We could have gone on for hours more. So much work still left to do. But catch up on some of the highlights below.

 

And remember this is a conversation that is just in its beginning stages – we have to continue to work together and have the hard conversations because #ChangeIsAWeThing.

Panel Conversation Highlights:

BlogHer Panel

Too bad I didn’t enjoy myself.

BlogHer Team

The whole BlogHer team!

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3 Ways (not) to Blow Your Interview

A season of transition is upon us. Summer is slowly turning into fall as we begin the month of August. I always love this time of year because I know that I’ll be back in the classroom teaching personal brand development to future professionals at USC. For a lot of recent graduates, this is a very exciting time. Many are wrapping up their last summer internship or a vacation and preparing to enter the workforce and launch their careers with a new position. This means doing a lot of strategic job hunting, and even more importantly, planning for successful interviews.

 

Interviews can be tough when you’re new to the process, trying to break into a new industry, or design a new career path. I’ve had plenty of experience with interviewing candidates for positions with my company Talk To Jess, LLC (learn more about our company transition by signing up for our newsletter!). From great interviewers to interviewers who have room for improvement, I’ve seen and talked to them all. Through lots of practice and avoiding these three mistakes before, during, and after the interview, we can all take control of our careers and receive offers for any job we truly desire.

 

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Mistake #1 (Before the Interview): Manipulating the interview process to meet your needs, instead of being flexible to meet the needs of the employer

 

One thing that completely turns me off is an interviewee who tries to manipulate the interview process to fit their personal agenda. Asking the interviewer if you can re-schedule a meeting for a certain day/time because you have another appointment creates a less-than-favorable first-impression. Before even meeting, asking for special accommodations paints a picture that you will always try to manipulate a situation to fit your needs, without concern for the needs of the company. Always allow yourself to be flexible when prospecting a job opportunity. Show your interviewer that you’re willing to go the extra mile to land your position. The ball is ultimately in their court – you are trying to earn your spot on the team. Clear your schedule of other appointments when possible. Show your interviewer that their time is just as valuable as your own, and this will create the best first impression.

 

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Mistake #2 (During the Interview): Not being specific about your experience, skills, and what you bring to the table, along with things you want to accomplish in the position

 

An interview is really your opportunity to show a prospective employer specific examples of your experience and any applicable skills you’re able to bring to the company. Saying you have excellent time management and organization skills or that you can do the job efficiently is simply not enough. When an interviewer asks you the infamous question, “Tell me about yourself,” they aren’t asking to find out your favorite color or where you went to school. Your interviewer is looking for specific examples – or anecdotes – about your past experience related to the position. Always be prepared to follow this question with anecdotal examples that answer why you’re qualified for the position, why you’re interviewing for the position, and tactical examples of what you’ll accomplish once on the job. You’ve got 30 minutes to show the interviewer that you’re equipped to bring success to the company – deliver the details that prove why you’re the best candidate for the job.

 

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Mistake #3 (After the interview): Not following up or sending “thank you” notes

 

The level of engagement and dedication in your follow up tells an interviewer how hungry you are for the job. I’ve had candidates who interviewed extremely well and showed me why they’re qualified for the job, however, I did not end up hiring them. Why? Because they failed to follow up with me in a way that made them stand out amongst other candidates. Following up is the single most important skill to have in any business or career. Being persistent and saying thank you shows the interviewer that you are both very interested in the position and value their time (and yours). It may be old-fashioned, but handwritten thank-you notes still go a long way in the job hiring process. A handwritten note leaves a takeaway for the employer and shows that you care enough to add that extra personal touch to your representation. If you are committed to following up, a potential employer will commit you to their memory too.

 

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Honorable mention (At all times): Giving weak handshakes

This is a personal pet peeve of mine (hey, I’m a professional brand developer). Please practice your handshake before meeting and greeting people you want to network with! An interview is not only a part of the job hunt; it’s also a networking opportunity. Shake a person’s hand with conviction. Don’t give out weak handshakes – that’s exactly how you’ll represent yourself: weak and lacking confidence. When you shake someone’s hand, be firm and look them in the eye. Exude confidence and make them feel like they’ve just connected with someone worth knowing.

 

Avoiding these mistakes ultimately show an interviewer that you possess empathy and pay great attention to detail (a requirement for any job). The job searching process can be a long one, but every successful interview is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression for your personal brand and take control of creating the career you want. Think forward and walk in the very best version of yourself before, during, and after your interview.

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Jess’ Bookshelf: All the Single Ladies

In honor of Independence Day, let’s put our attention on the largest growing demographic of women who are poised to change our world – Single Ladies!

 

If you let mainstream media and advertising paint the picture of single women – they are usually lovelorn, seeking marriage or partnership and generally feeling incomplete about their lives.

 

But cue reality: today’s single women are more satisfied personally, professionally driven, and delaying decisions like marriage and children until, when or if they are ready.

 

They are seeking a life that unites their value system with their circumstance. Many are single by choice, choosing powerfully to re write their own family legacies, expectations and societal impositions.

 

Oh, and in case you aren’t convinced yet – Single Women are also basically going to decide our next President.

 

In 2012 single women were 23% of the vote for Barack Obama and a major player when it came to getting Obama re-elected! Think about that for a second, in 2012 single women made up almost an entire QUARTER of votes in the United States.

 

If you haven’t picked up Rebecca Traister’s new book – please do. It was this descriptive sentence that made me click “Buy” on Amazon Prime:

 

“All the Single Ladies” is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman.

 

Covering class, race, sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, “All the Single Ladies” is destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism.

 

And you can catch more of Rebecca’s incredible insights here:

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How Inspirational Women Shape Our Lives

This March, I’m spotlighting my SHEROES in honor of Women’s History Month! Let’s celebrate the wonderful people we know in real life, and make them the true celebrities!

 

I asked Julie Ann Crommett – force for change and Google’s Program Manager for Computer Science Education in Media: Who is the most inspirational woman in your life?

 

Here’s what she said:

 

Without a doubt, it is my namesake. Both my mother and abuela (“Abuita”). I am named after both of them and am a combo of their biggest personality traits.

 

My abuita Julie left Cuba with my abuelo, mom and godfather with only the clothes on their backs and what they could carry in some duffle bags. By the time she was my age, she had left her home country, moved multiple times with two kids, resettled in a new country and was holding down a steady job. That kind of courage and grace is at once astounding and inspiring.

 

At almost 82 years young, she is still going as President of the Southeast Regional Catholic Women’s Association where she is driving a campaign to stop human trafficking locally. She has modeled to me resilience, maintaining faith and hope at the center of one’s life and to believe that anything is possible no matter your age, circumstance or set-backs.

 

My mother, Ana, is a remarkable woman. Coming of age during the feminist movement, she attended Tufts undergrad and Harvard Graduate School of Education and has single handedly changed the lives of thousands of children as a tireless teacher, school principal and educational strategist. For her, the kids come first and that those who can not speak for themselves always need champions.

 

I watch her in awe as she’s reinvented the second half of her life learning non-profit management, working in corporate America and marking new paths to make a difference including working jointly with my abuela to stop human trafficking. It is from her that I learned my voice mattered, to never quiet down even when others demand, to follow my biggest dreams, that empathy is the key and that teaching / serving others is the greatest reward.

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The Women Who Inspire Me: Part 2

Amongst the women I admire most is Maria Popova. She’s a writer, critic and intellectual whose work speaks to my whole soul.

 

Maria created Brain Pickings, a blog and curated platform that offers incredibly rich thoughts on culture and philosophy and brings forth literature, art, and people that sometimes go unnoticed. I’ve spent many an afternoon getting lost in her writing and then ordering every book she is recommending.

 

Even the art that hangs in my home has come from artists she’s exposed me to through her work! I am forever grateful that my eyes have been opened to the elegance and stunning beauty of Kerri Augenstein‘s Dumb Dots Figure Studies series.

 

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Maria reminds me to explore further what I already think I know, and open my mind to beautiful other possibilities. Her work is so in depth and clearly time intensive that I have no problem donating to Brain Pickings in order to support her wonderful work.

 

In a culture of click bait, Brain Pickings is a luxuriating indulgence in thoughtful exploration.

 

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Women Who Lead – She Should Run’s National Conversation

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to moderate She Should Run’s National Conversation in Washington DC to help women find a way to run for office.

 

Their message: Sometimes we need to tap each other on the shoulder and ask one another to run.

 

Joining me were several brilliant women (and one amazing 12-year-old girl!) who spoke from personal experience about their paths to leadership.

 

I shared with the audience how the lack of representation of women in the media is what fueled my passion for storytelling and working to create social change.

 

But when it comes to political and public office – the time for getting women to take a step up and lead is now. We have to find a way to become better represented in our government.

 

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I was thrilled to interview Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau from DC and Representative Susan Brooks from Indiana, both of them leaders with a strong vision for making change in their communities.

 

“We need more women on the ballot. We need to do better.” – Representative Brooks

 

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“Women make sacrifices everyday … And we have to demonstrate that we’ll make those same sacrifices at work.” – Councilwoman Nadeau

 

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I then interviewed one of the most inspiring 12-year-olds I’ve ever met! Christian Herald.

 

Christian is an amazing girl. She’s smart, vibrant and full of life. She is a leader in her student council and I’m sure will be our next President one day.

 

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I also had the pleasure to interview the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, Cathy McMorris Rogers from the state of Washington. Congresswoman Rogers was elected 11 years ago and has served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

 

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We ended the night interviewing two of my favorite dynamos: Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code, and Julie Ann Crommett, Google’s Diversity Manager, to talk about the intersection of politics and technology.

 

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We talked about the need to create systemic change and how we all work from within corporate and political systems to do so. Reshma and Julie Ann agreed that technology can help disrupt the standard playing field of politics by making new and viable candidates more visible and bringing about more diverse voices.

 

Overall, it was amazing to be in the presence of women and girls who are so motivated to rewrite the narrative for women in leadership roles.

 

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I have to give incredible kudos to the leaders of She Should Run, CEO Erin Loos Cutraro and Executive Director Clare Bresnahan as well as She Should Run’s national board. The theme of the night was #FindAWay – and we did. We found a way to start an important conversation about women in leadership. Now we have to keep that conversation going!

 

All photos by Neshan H. Naltchayan

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Spreading Confidence with #PearlxChange

This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to join Nicole Richie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marianne Williamson and few hundred other new friends at the first ever Pearl xChange conference in Los Angeles.

 

The event gathered a diverse room of women (and some men) to collaborate, inspire, and take action on a personal, professional, and even a global level. Together we explored our varying paths to success and confidence.

 

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Taking my place on the not-so-red carpet before the show! I’m joined by speakers: Nicole Richie, Psychic Dougall Fraser, Event Producer Ramey Warren and Astronaut (and bad ass) Jeanette Epps.

 

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Nicole did a lovely job hosting and offered a few wise words of her own throughout the day. In her opening remarks she discussed the power of collaboration and openness as a source of empowerment.

 

“When you’re open, the world is your oyster, and you can create whatever you want…Your mind + my mind is going to help us evolve” –Nicole Richie

 

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I was first up at the mic, which was exciting because I had the opportunity to set the tone for the day – the women in the audience were so receptive, warm, and affirming.
We spoke about that messy path to confidence!

 

“It does us no good to be resentful of the path that got us here…Forgive, elevate, and move on” — Jess Weiner

 

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Shadi Mehraein gave some solid advice to the entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience citing her ups and downs along her journey to becoming a successful venture capitalist, investing in women-led markets.

 

“You’re only going to fail when you give up” — Shadi Mehraein

 

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Marianne Williamson is incredible. If you’ve never been in her audience, know that she speaks with enough power and conviction to mobilize a nation. Marianne discussed the importance of showing up and being there to support one another.

 

“How are you changing the world & how can I help?” — Marianne Williamson

 

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Dougall Fraser has a gift – but he won’t attribute this to his psychic abilities – no, his gift is reaching people at a vulnerable level and guiding them to their own intuitions. According to Dougall, fear diminishes our power and our power is within our own intuitions.

 

“We have to carve out time to be still” — Dougall Fraser

 

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Jeanette Epps offered an amazing perspective about both advocating for yourself and your responsibility beyond yourself. Her insightful perspective on the world stems from the fact that she’s seen the world from a few vantage points – including from space and within the CIA.

 

“I didn’t let anyone define who I would be… I defined who I would be in the world.” — Jeanette Epps

 

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Gwyneth Paltrow took the stage to answer some questions from the audience. She spoke candidly about her divorce, her business, and her philosophy of friendship (even bestie Cameron Diaz was there to support!)

 

“As soon as I can put a pause in between the negative voice in my head and what I’m feeling, I can get back to myself.” — Gwyneth Paltrow

 

The diverse paths of each speaker and attendee reminded me that no one’s journey to success or confidence will look the same – nor should it. Life’s twists and turns are often what help us to move forward.

 

As Nicole Richie summarized in her closing, “Pearls are beautiful on their own…but when you add more pearls to the strand, you become more valuable.”

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Change One Thing

Each of us can probably rattle off a part of our appearance we wish was different. So it may not surprise us that the latest research from Dove reveals 9 out of 10 girls want to change at least one thing about the way they look. Where this becomes problematic is that we know 60% of girls will stop doing something they love based on how they feel about the way they look. We can change this by shifting the way we speak, think, and act around the concept of beauty.

 

This is the foundation behind Dove’s latest campaign #ChangeOneThing. We’ve been conducting self-esteem workshops and helping women and girls think more critically about beauty stereotypes. I’ve spent the last month kicking off workshops from Minnesota to NYC, Cincinnati to Arkansas.

 

Our main message: It’s not girls who have to change, but our culture!

 

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At our NYC launch event, I’m joined by Franchesca Ramsey (host of MTV’s Decoded), Sarah Hammer (Dove Brand Manager), and Dr. Jen Hartstein to help lead an inspiring workshop for girls and their mentors.

 


Before the event, I was interviewed about how we can change our culture by changing the way we post and share on social media.

 

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Here I am leading the workshop! We also announced Dove’s partnership w/ Pinterest to reveal 80 new self-esteem pins designed for Moms, Mentors and Educators. Dove has reached over 17 million girls with self-esteem programming with workshops just like this.

 

attends Dove Self-Esteem Project Hosts 'Pinspiring' Workshop for Girls To Launch New Pinterest Self-Esteem Page on September 29, 2015 in New York City.

 

We had the girls and mentors make real-life Pinterest boards to share their positive messages with the world.

 

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attends Dove Self-Esteem Project Hosts 'Pinspiring' Workshop for Girls To Launch New Pinterest Self-Esteem Page on September 29, 2015 in New York City.

 

This wonderful girl standing next to me is 10-year-old Olivia Allen. She is the founder of the “I Can Be” Girls Confidence Conference – an event for girls and their parents to develop higher self-esteem. Can you imagine creating a conference like this when you were 10?

 

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The next day, I flew out to Cincinnati to film a news segment with Good Morning Cincinnati !

 

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Then we hosted two back-to-back workshops with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cincinnati.

 

Their wisdom and energy had me thinking about this:

 

We can help redefine what is beautiful by using our social media platforms to spread positivity and acceptance. Within our families, friends, classrooms, and communities, we’re constantly shaping the world by what we post online.

 

It could be one word or comment.
One image or video.

 

Being mindful about what we communicate is what creates opportunities to shift our culture in big and small ways.

 

We all have the power to #ChangeOneThing.

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