By Naomi Hirabayashi & Marah Lidey, founders of Shine
Illustration by Tara Jacoby
As two friends who’ve built an entire company around the support we give each other, we know first-hand the power of celebrating the women in your life.
We started sharing “I got yous” seven years ago, when we first met at a global NGO. As a CMO and Director of Product, we elevated and celebrated each other in the office, supporting one another on high-impact cross-functional projects day after day, to publicly praising each other when we landed a big partnership or nailed a big presentation.
And that support quickly spread beyond the 9 to 5. In a matter of months, we were grabbing 8:00 am coffees or post-work drinks to share insights and advice on our careers, relationships, and even get real (very real) about personal finance.
What started as two driven women celebrating each other at work has since evolved into something much bigger: our company, Shine. We left that job that brought us together two years ago, and we’ve now created the go-to daily wellbeing platform for over one million people. We still live in the advice and support we gave one another over drinks and during coffee breaks, but we share those learnings in a motivational text that reaches people in 189 countries.
So this International Women’s Day, building on the celebration we’ve given each other throughout our partnership, we want to share some tips on how to truly elevate and celebrate the women in your life. Whether you’re a woman, ally, or a someone curious about being an ally: we got you.
Start with Celebrating the ‘Small Wins.’
In the early stages of Shine, we had to consciously remind ourselves to celebrate the ‘small wins.’ As ambitious new co-founders, we felt like we had to ‘wait to celebrate’ the big moments (1M users!) and overlooked the small moments of progress that were happening each day (navigating that tough phone call!).
One way we fixed that? We set up a Friday afternoon debrief where we reflected on the week and shared specific and positive feedback with each other on what we did well and the impact it had.
By integrating celebrating small wins into our routine it helped us honor the everyday progress that was happening in our lives.
Whether you’re doing that for yourself, or trying hard to consciously celebrate the small wins of the women in your life, making it a fun habit (did we mention we do it over happy hour?), makes it easier to sustain.
Celebrate “Real World” Narratives.
From pop culture to the entrepreneurship space, socially we’re quick to call to mind the ‘superstars’ who have dominated their industries and inspired millions. And while those mainstream stories hold weight because of their scale (or ‘perfect’ narrative arc that we love to gobble up), there are so many real world stories that are being overlooked.
One of the most rewarding things we get to do is Google Hangouts with Shine members from all over the world. It’s a way for us to spend time with our community, and get feedback from users.
Sure, we get valuable product feedback, but we also get to hear the real stories of incredible women who are navigating a new promotion, a divorce, becoming a new mom, letting go of a tough friendship. Those real stories are worth celebrating.
We walk away feeling closer to our community, and in awe of what women around the world are dealing with everyday.
What are the real world narratives you can celebrate in your life?
Whether it’s a catch up with a close friend where you learn a little more about how they got to where they are, or checking in with a co-worker who’s mentioned they’re going through a tough time, often the most inspiring stories are right in front of us, if we just think to ask.
Make every day IWD
Social Movements, like IWD, amplify the conversation around equal rights and the intersectionality of feminism and give everyone something to mobilize around on a specific day. That’s great. But we cannot wait for once-a-year events to listen, learn, and act so we can be stronger allies for marginalized communities in our life. It’s not something to just “try on” for a day; it’s something you live through your actions, great and small.
This might mean actively pursuing more work by women, like only reading books written by women for a month, seeking out women role models, or having a conversation with your partner about how you can handle more of the ‘emotional labor’ in your relationship.
Whatever you decide to do, today is the day to start and every day after is the day to keep going.
Naomi Hirabayashi + Marah Lidey are the founders of Shine. Shine makes wellbeing more accessible. Shine’s first product, Shine Text, is a daily messaging experience that helps over 1 million users in 189 countries improve their wellbeing every morning. Shine’s app for iOS is available in the App Store and features Mindful Moments—a quick and personalized alternative to traditional meditation.
In honor of International Women's Day, we are sharing the perspectives of six different women who have written about the five tenets of IWD's #PressforProgress initiative. As part of this project, Bonobos will be donating $5,000 to a charity of the writers' choice. In this case, we'll be donating to the Essie Justice Group, an organization of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration.