You may know Luvvie Ajayi for her sharp Scandal recaps, brand smarts, and social commentary. At #ASAE17 this week, she struck a tone of tough love from a warm but demanding big sister, calling for people everywhere to hold themselves to a higher standard by understanding their own power and speaking up when others can’t.
Luvvie Ajayi came to #ASAE17 with a message she’s been spreading around the world: You can do better.
Doing better comes from making sure that even when it’s uncomfortable, we are saying the things that need to be said.
In her Monday afternoon Game Changer session at the ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition in Toronto, the digital strategist and author of I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual shared the wide-ranging story of how her “cute hobby” of “saying what I wanted to say the way I wanted to say it” —via her popular blog, AwesomelyLuvvie—grew into a thriving career as a social media consultant, pop culture critic, and activist.
A key to her success, she said, is a willingness to speak up when others don’t, and especially for others who can’t.
“Doing better comes from making sure that even when it’s uncomfortable, we are saying the things that need to be said. That we are making sure that those who are more marginalized than us don’t have to bear the brunt of also having to speak up for themselves, especially when you have the power to do it,” Ajayi said. “If I’m sitting in a room where I have the power, I can definitely ruffle feathers on your behalf, because I know I have less to lose. Part of doing better comes down to that.”
She urged her audience to understand their own power on their teams and to use it when the moment is right.
“I want to make sure I don’t walk out of a room and say, ‘Dang, I wish I had said that when I had the chance. Dang it, I wish I had stopped that from happening,’” she said. Chances are, other people in the room are thinking the same thing, but “nobody wants to be the domino that falls first. Sometimes, if it’s important enough, be the domino. The peanut gallery will be like, ‘Yup, I agree, that’s a bad idea.’ Be the person that inspires the peanut gallery.”
She acknowledged that fear is a powerful obstacle to speaking up. “Sometimes push past the fear and do it anyway, because it’s worth it,” she said. “You can’t be silent about the things that matter. Speak up more. That’s part of doing better.”
Ajayi left attendees with a quick checklist she uses when she is about to say something difficult.
“I ask myself three questions: One, am I saying it with love? Two, do I mean it? Three, can I defend it? If the answer is yes to all of it, I say it, and we’ll see where the chips fall.”