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Warning: This intro contains spoilers from the book Pachinko. Feel free to skip the part past where we put our second spoiler warning if you don’t want to learn more.
At the same time I was speed reading Crazy Rich Asians in time to give my box office dollars to opening weekend, I was also finishing up Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko. While both feature all-Asian characters, and a lot of the same threads about the baggage of family, the luck of the draw, and the insider/outsider status of Asians throughout different countries, the two couldn’t be more different.
If you read this newsletter, you probably know that we are producing a pretty epic fall retreat called the Chairman Mom Flee. It’ll be three days in a Northern California gold mining town with only women in the town.
There are amazing speakers. There are 100 women coming from industries as diverse as finance, tech, filmmaking, restaurants, and political activism.
There’s water to soak in. There are handmade cabins. There’s amazing home-grown food. There are potential mentors and business partners and best friends. There’s yoga. There’s live music. There’s inspiration. There’s bottomless rose.
Newsletter editor Lily here.
Starting in less than two weeks, I’ll be adding yet another title to my plate and teaching a class on digital media at my alma mater, Wesleyan. (For clarification: It’s the co-ed liberal arts school in Connecticut, not to be confused with Wellesley, the women’s college where Hillary Clinton went!)
I’m very excited, very terrified, and very…rushed. Lesson planning is hard, and I have a lot of other responsibilities at the moment. But classes aside, I noticed something interesting about the students who want to take my class so far.
This is a long intro, so here’s the TL;DR: Celebrity chef Preeti Mistry is joining our roster of phenomenal speakers at our September retreat. She is even going to do a cooking lesson. Keep reading to know why you should be losing your mind and buying one of our final tickets right about now…
More than a year ago, I started a regular dinner group in my home of Bay Area female investors, founders and executives of all different ages and experience levels. One of them, Nomiku’s Lisa Fetterman, started doing her own dinners piggy-backed off mine, adding in a lot of her own network. And it was at one of her dinners that I met—and ate the food of—Preeti Mistry.
One of the “benefits” of having been a reporter in Silicon Valley for more than 20 years is that I frequently get to know people on the way up, or even well before they are rich and famous. It’s always fascinating to see how they change. A common parlor game in the Valley is to debate whether money changes people or money and massive success just allows people to become more of themselves.
Take all of this armchair quarterbacking with a grain of salt, but here are some examples…
The consensus of most people I know—and my gut as well—is that money didn’t necessarily change someone like Travis Kalanick or Peter Thiel. It just allowed them unfettered encouragement to be themselves. (Demons and all.)
There were moments last year when I thought, “Wait a minute…why on earth did I think I could write and promote a book on top of running a company, starting a new company, and being a mother?”
Everything all around me was chaos, and I was overloaded. Whoa, was my house a DISASTER. And I say that as a person who handles stress pretty well.
But this past weekend, I had a moment where I viscerally remembered why: Daddy weekends. I had reached a point where I had reorganized every closet, had more bottomless mimosa brunches than I cared to ever again, and just generally had nothing else to fill the hollowness of my kid-less weekends. I needed something big and distracting the fill the hole.
Well, Mama Bears, we made it. We survived another summer juggling work and kids. I’ve actually got another week to go, but I know many of your kids have already headed back to school.
For me, it’s a mixed feeling. On one hand, there’s the welcome structure of the school year, after months of crazy-quilt camps with different start times and pick up times strewn all over the city. There’s no doubt I’m more focused and get more work done during the more predictable school year. And there’s no doubt I spend less money keeping them entertained and taken care of during the school year.
Newsletter editor Lily here. This morning I was reading this great piece from Torey Van Oot about the fact that almost all women newscasters have the exact same hair.
From the article: “Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, analyzed more than 400 publicity images for local broadcast journalists and found that 95.8 percent of female anchors and reporters had smooth hair. About two-thirds had short or medium-length cuts. Nearly half of the women were blond. Zero had gray hair. Just one black woman in the UT study sample wore her natural curls.”
In my moments not spent momming or working this week, I am read-sprinting through Crazy Rich Asians right now. In my own personal attempt to “give Crazy Rich Asians allllll the money” as Lily Herman suggested a few weeks ago on our Chairman Mom Slack channel, I want to read the book and go see the film on opening weekend.
I’m not a big rom-com or “chick lit” fan, so it wasn’t a book on my radar before that conversation with Lily and the early press around the film. Add to that, as a white woman, I am coming embarrassingly late to the power and importance of seeing relatable images on screen. This, by Allyson Chiu, says why Crazy Rich Asians is so important: “…I became more acutely aware of how I didn’t fit those [Asian] molds, as defined by Western pop culture. I was so bad at piano my teacher recommended I quit. I almost fainted in AP biology when I had to dissect a cat, and I have never once attempted to learn a martial art. I’m a journalist.
I’ve had a horrendous cough for the last few weeks (Is my pneumonia back? Did my pneumonia a few years ago give me chronic asthma? No one seems to be able to tell me…) and was bummed to miss out on most of Outside Lands this past weekend, despite two wristbands sitting alone at Will Call with my name on them.
But by sheer force of will, I did manage to convince Paul I wouldn’t have an asthmatic emergency, drag myself out of bed, and book a babysitter to attend the last 90 minutes of the San Francisco music festival Sunday night.