Shout Out Saturday is a series meant to highlight real and singular womxn, in a variety of lines of work, both ‘known’ and unknown, from across the country.
Lea Thau is a Peabody award-winning director. She’s the creator, producer, and host of the popular storytelling podcast Strangers, and the former Executive & Creative Director of The Moth, where she created The Moth Podcast and The Moth Radio Hour. She has taught storytelling in homeless shelters and prisons, at Harvard and NUY, and at companies like Nike, Google, Intel, and many others.
On her education and studies: I went to university in Denmark and began my studies in Philosophy, then switched to literature. I’ve always been fascinated by the epic drama of human existence, the lived life. Nothing gets closer to that than stories. Through hearing stories we learn that though the universe is vast and diverse, that some commonly shared experiences and emotions exist. The Moth and Strangers spoke to a real hunger that people have for that connection.
Glitter Box: What is the realest, most honest piece of advice you have for a womxn working their way up in your field (or any field).
Lea: My advice has changed from what it would have been in the past. Even as recently as two years ago. It used to be that my advice would be "Just got out there and do it! No one can stop you!” I was raised to believe that gender was not an issue, not a barrier. I was fortunate to have been given this message because I certainly meet women still who view their gender as somehow being a barrier. I was raised to think gender was a non-issue. Pretending it didn't exist was the path to equality somehow. The message was that as women we accomplish anything and everything and that we can do it all at once - concurrently.
We could be motivated professionally, be healthy and attractive and a good friend, mom sister, partner, etc etc.
Women are incredibly adept at multi-tasking and we want everything and sometimes our own issues and personality reinforces that message of constant fast-paced demand for productivity on all levels. Of mastery at everything all at once. Multitasking is a huge part of what makes women so skilled at keeping up this standard. But its also our downfall.
So now since hitting a wall with myself and taking nearly two years off, my advice is: yes go for it, but try to have some kind of balance in your experience. Bring yourselves with you. Don't leave yourself behind in order to be a success. Do the necessary work on yourself and take care of your mind and body. Cultivate a mind/body connection for yourself! Go to therapy! Go to Yoga! Find out who you are! Bring that person with you! Self-care can be a pedicure or spa date but if you want to make more of your life in a fuller and healthier way, you must do the work that it takes to care for yourself and some of that will be difficult inner work. Instead of being reactive to what others want, try always to come form a place of “who am I?” I spent a lot of time hacking through the forest not knowing that just to the side was always a clear path I just had to stop hacking long enough to perceive that path. I’m not saying stop and smell the roses but can you do that from a place of power by getting in touch with yourselves?
Glitter Box: What does success look like to you? In your field, what are you working towards/striving for?
Lea: Success once meant the number of downloads, likes and positive press. Now it is different. Now success looks like not going back to that standard of measurement. Success looks like me being able to do this work and not compromise myself or my health. Success is the feeling of empowerment that comes from being centered.