#SheWearsThePants: Hope on taking risks, building confidence, and wearing all-black

Name, location - and multi-hyphenated Title:
Hope, NYC: Lover-fighter-wanderluster-innovator-feminist

What do you do - and what drives you in your career as well as personal endeavors?
I’m a strong believer in living a consequential life: Making a positive impact on society–whether through my career or personal pursuits–is especially important to me. I try to live my life by the buddhist philosophy of "right intention, right livelihood, and right action." I work for a pharma startup that’s challenging the status quo in our broken healthcare system. We strive to make prescription drugs more affordable for Americans by engaging the pharmacist as the center of the patient care team. I’ve always found myself working at disruptive companies–being drawn to organizations that take on long-standing challenges in bold and innovative ways. I have a passion for solving problems and optimizing processes, which drives me in my daily pursuit of continuous improvement.

Ambition: What does ambition personally mean to you - what place does it have in your life? Do you think our culture perceives “ambition” to be a dirty word for women? Why or why not?
Ambition means striving to be the best version of myself. I think in progressive and cosmopolitan cities like New York, ambition in women is applauded. Despite this, ambitious women in the workplace (regardless of where they are) are perceived differently than their male counterparts. While a competent man who commands authority may be seen as a leader, a competent woman may be described as “bossy” or “demanding” by her colleagues. We still have a long way to go when it comes to the availability and application of sensitivity training in the workplace, especially in the startup world.

What does ‘having confidence’ mean to you - what place does it have in your life? How do you work on it?
Having confidence means believing in yourself. Building it takes work. In order to have confidence, you have to first accept that nothing is perfect and you never will be. Then, you have to be willing to take a risk. The biggest confidence-building experience in my life has been solo backpacking. A few years ago, I booked a one-way ticket to India, packed a bag, and left my first-world comforts to explore a new country. I ended up there for 3 months, backpacking the country from north to south. I did things I never thought I’d be able to do as a female solo traveler. I found smart ways to stay safe while taking overnight busses and trains. I met fellow travelers from all over the world and learned their perspectives. I learned to navigate dodgy situations with vendors and scam artists. I visited ancient temples, meditated in ashrams, and met wise sadhus. Before that trip, I had been terrified to visit a country notorious for its unsafe conditions for women. But I decided to take the risk anyway. I came back from that trip with an overwhelming sense of pride and confidence in myself.

Goals: Please share one of your current, important goals (can be personal or work-related). Why is this a goal and how did you realize it was something that you wanted to work on? What’s your plan for achieving it?
One of my personal goals this year is to be able to do a handstand. In order to do a handstand, you have to develop core strength, arm strength, and balance. Yoga is about finding union - in mind and body, emotion and logic, structure and disorder. Practicing yoga helps settle my mind, which creates more focus in other areas of my life. Setting a goal of accomplishing something physical is great because it’s simple: there is a tangible and easily measurable result at the end. Accomplishing this goal will require the discipline to practice and do daily drills. It’ll also require me to overcome the fear of falling. I’ll need to learn to trust myself in my ability to carry my own body weight. So much in yoga can be applied to situations off the mat. The confidence we gain from yoga can help us remove the self-doubt that may trouble us in the workplace or in our relationships.

Does your pursuit of ambition, confidence and goals influence your wardrobe choices? For example, does work influence the way you dress both in the workplace and outside of it? What is your outfit when you really have to get shi*t done?
The startups I’ve worked at haven’t had strict dress codes. In the tech startups, casual hoodies and sneakers were the typical uniform of choice. In my past product manager role, I knew I couldn’t walk into a room full of engineers wearing cargo shorts and a T-shirt and expect them to take me seriously. I wouldn’t feel confident in my outfit and I’d look just like everyone else. So, my wardrobe was quasi-professional-casual. Skirts always past the knee and sneakers only if they also had a wedge. I believe you should dress for the job you want–your wardrobe choice is an easy way for you to stand out. My go-to outfit when I really have to get sh*t done is the classic NYC uniform: all black, of course. Black is easy to dress up or dress down and matches with everything.

What activities do you do outside of your full-time gig (whether that’s work, parenting or something else)? How does it bring balance to your life? How does it make you more successful in your full-time gig?
One of my passions is traveling. It’s important to take a break from work and get away from everyday life. Taking trips re-energizes me; I get back to work with more motivation and productivity. Sometimes all you need is some distance to gain perspective on your life. When globetrotting to satisfy my wanderlust isn’t possible, daily meditation and yoga help me maintain balance - physically and mentally. It helps to calm the chatter in my mind and maintain focus.

What are your guidelines when choosing to buy something new for your wardrobe?
When I was younger all I cared about was how good it looked on me and how cheap it was. Now that I am a more environmentally and socially conscious consumer, it’s important that I will get a lot of use out of it. So it needs to be comfortable and high quality. I no longer buy clothes that will stay in my closet with the tags on for months until my next Marie-Kondo session.

How would you spend an extra 15 minutes a day?
I would meditate more!