Permission Slip to Be Imperfect

Hi Friends,

Last week I poured all my creative energy into completing the third draft of my book. It’s taken me over a year to complete this project that I thought would take six weeks and it’s been way harder than I imagined. 

Reflecting on my process with writing the book got me thinking about two related ideas that I want to share with you today: the power of commitment and permission to be imperfect. 

My all-time favorite author, Annie Dillard, advises authors to write a “shitty first draft.” Just get your ideas down on paper, even if it’s messy. I’ve been thinking that I can bring that embrace of imperfection to whole swaths of my life, far beyond writing. Just get it out there and do the best I can,  while bearing in mind Maya Angelou’s instructions: “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”

Today I want to give you a permission slip to lean into your own imperfections. To look at the aspects of your own work for change where you have perhaps submitted a shitty first draft, and ask yourself, do I know better now? And now that I know better, how can I do better? 

Inertia will keep things going in the direction they’re going. It takes a willful, conscious effort to shift our choices and actions into a new direction. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to be imperfect. We all are. The magic move is in catching ourselves and making a new choice.

I’ll give you a concrete example.

Most of the time my day-to-day life with my partner, Christine, is a textbook version of living happily ever after. But every now and then we get caught in a little bit of a rut. Maybe there’s some criticism back and forth. Maybe one of us is feeling misunderstood or unappreciated. Who knows exactly what it is. The key isn’t in the precise diagnosis, it is in the ability to catch ourselves in that dynamic and interrupt the pattern. 

One of our favorite hacks is the do-over. Here’s a recent example. We were both in the kitchen, cooking dinner, and things just felt off. Christine declared, “I think we need a do-over,” which is our code word for this hack that always works. Even knowing that it always works, I will confess that part of me was like, “No, let’s just stay here and keep being bitchy a little longer.” 

But I’ve learned to discipline myself to ignore the adrenaline junkie in my head that wants to land one more zinger for the win. So I agree. At which point, Christine literally stops chopping vegetables, heads out to the driveway, circles back to the front door, swings it open with dramatic flair, and announces in a cheery voice, “hey family, I’m home!” At which point the kids get all excited and greet her at the door, I join in, too, and we all enjoy a good laugh and a big family hug. We don’t go back and relitigate whatever was the cause of the spat. We just move forward. We knew better and we did better. 

You can get a do-over at work, too. The key is that someone has to call the do-over and everyone has to be in on the game. But it’s entirely possible. Just decide not to go down that rabbit trail of blame and criticism another minute. Because there’s no prize at the end of that trail.

What enables this do-over hack to work is a commitment to something bigger than being right. In my relationship with Christine, it’s our commitment to a conscious loving relationship. In my work, it is a commitment to helping social change leaders make their big dent in the Universe. The do-over is a reliable way to recommit ourselves to the bigger picture. 

I’m curious if any of you have attempted a do-over before – at home or at the office. Or if there’s anything that’s wanting a do-over right now. Maybe this is a message from the Universe to call it. 

When you know better, do better.

Need some help finding a starting point? Take our free course “What’s Your Big In The Universe”. Have fun with this one!

– Becky

p.s. If you’d like to be notified when the book is published, sign up here!

Three of Influence Waitlist

Impact with Integrity (formerly Three Feet of Influence) 2021 Waitlist

We are so excited for the first cohort of 2021 to commence! Enrollment will open at the end of January and the course will begin February 9th, 2021! In the mean time, please let know us a little bit about yourself. Talk soon!

Some Fun & Good News!

We interrupt this nail biting election season for some good news!

Selena had her baby!

We would like to welcome our newest member of the extended Billions Institute Family!

Eliya Tomis Liu Raphael
Born at 10:41AM, October 28th 2020
6lb 15oz & 19.5 inches long


We also realize you might have Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” stuck in your head



Hi Friends,

If you’re not up on TikTok or this viral sensation you might be wondering “Why am I hearing this song?” Well, the whole world is hearing this song right now. And while I’ve been humming along, I had some thoughts about how something like this can happen.

This is Nathan Apodaca aka @420Dogface208 and on September 25th he made this 20 second video of himself riding his longboard drinking some ocean spray and listening to Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. This video got more than 65 million likes in the middle of a heated election and debilitating pandemic. In this time of huge division we can all agree that for some reason we really like this video.

The neat thing about the TikTok platform is that it enables adaptation. All you have to do is push one button on the app and you can be making your own TikTok with the exact same song – but your way. There are literally thousands of TikToks that are a variation on Nathan’s theme. I even saw one of a kitten being pulled on a skateboard with some ocean spray. Stevie Nicks even joined in, lacking up some old school roller skates. We don’t know why this took off, but it definitely did and the repercussions extend beyond TikTok.

Today, the record label’s catalog division reported that in the past two weeks, “Dreams” has been streamed 36 million times, a 212 percent increase from the pervious two-week period. Meanwhile, downloads were up 1,188 percent. They estimate that across social media. streaming apps, and radio that the song has been heard more than 230 million times, thanks to the “Dreams Challenge” Apodaca’s video spawned.  – LA Times


Here is another example impressive impact – Ocean Spray Stock.
On the 29th of September, the stock value doubled in price from $12-$13 to $25 – and held.

Also, stores are out of Ocean Spray.
Forget the toilet paper –  it’s cranberry juice that’s hard to find.

The whole world is in on this one great big joke. Has it ever happened before that a song hits the charts twice, but separated by 43 years? It was top of the charts in 1977 and now again in 2020. So what’s going on here? I’m going to give Nathan credit, what he did was awesome, but what that have to do with you – someone who is working to advance social justice and make the world a better place? What can we learn about spread and scale? Here are a few lessons for you to have in your brain next time you hear ‘Dreams’.


There’s something about making it really easy for people to adapt your thing. The fact that any TikTok user can easily make adaptations – effortlessly, really – is a factor that enables rapid spread/scale. Contrast that with the social sectors where we sometimes see people being kind of precious about fidelity. Nathan doesn’t care if you copy him – he wants you to. And he wants you to make it your own. To the extent that you can make it easy and fun for people to adapt your innovation, you enhance the odds of achieving spread/scale.

Fan The Flames

When OceanSpray saw this was happening they showed up at Nathan’s house with a truck – filled with Cran-Grape Juice – and encouraged him to keep going. So how can we acknowledge and appreciate the people who are trying to do our thing?


2020 has kind of been a shit storm right? Here is something fun and light that can bring people together. It’s a small thing but it’s a big thing. Is there some small way you can inject a little fun, joy, light-heartedness, and music into whatever it is you’re doing?

If you’ve been thinking about this too I’d love to hear your thoughts! Hit me up, write me back on why you think the Dreams Challenge went so viral. I’m fascinated when this type of thing happens and just really appreciative towards human beings – how much it is in our nature to create and play and find joy in the small things. So I wish this for you and I hope this was a fun interruption in a very serious, very important week in United States history. I’ll be thinking of all of you!

– Becky

Guest Writer, Selena Liu Raphael: How “Nesting” Looks Different for Me in 2020

hi friends –

Selena will be starting her parental leave sometime between now and November 6th at the latest. On a recent team call she reflected on how “nesting” looks completely different for her  now versus when she had her first child. I suggested she write a blog about it she graciously agreed (on top of everything else she’s doing!)  Please join me in wishing Selena a safe and love and bonding filled parental leave.

Also please join me in welcoming Jen and Jenna to our growing team.

Oh and please VOTE!

– Becky

How “Nesting” Looks Different for Me in 2020

Dear Readers,

During my first pregnancy 8 years ago, I remember proudly holding up a drill, getting my room in NYC ready for my son’s arrival. For a non-handy person, it made me feel productive and fierce to be getting the house ready, however fumbling I was with a tool I had rarely used in my lifetime. I loved feeling like I was becoming part of a community of mothers who experience this nesting instinct. The year was also 2012. I had recently become a US citizen and a few months after my son was born, I was pretty relaxed as I pushed him in a stroller to the polls to cast my very first vote to re-elect President Barack Obama.

I am now at most 2 weeks from giving birth to my daughter and we are a couple days short of that facing another election day. At the time of this writing, we are already 49,313,897 ballots in with early voting. Like many who may be reading this, I have family members and friends who do not share my political views. For quite some time, I refrained from trying to get too involved, struggled with how to navigate this, almost quietly holding up my “Asians for Black Lives” sign and trying to find windows to build bridges, to plead for civility, to do what I could without upsetting too many people. And then in the last weeks, my instinct to fight kicked in.

It was only yesterday morning that I realized this instinct was my new “nesting” for my daughter. That I had to get this “house” ready for her, this world she is going to grow up in, and could not just idly stand by and hope for the best. As so many have said, this election could be the most important of our lifetime.

While this year has been full of so much grieving for lives lost, this little girl coming so improbably into this world for me at 46 years old is a bright spot I cannot let be dimmed by complacency. And so I faced into both my privilege and my fears and started to speak up.

Even though I thought I committed to humility and decency in the fight, there has been ugliness unspeakable. Here is a quote from Joe Biden to Evan Osnos in the New Yorker that sums it up well:

“I’m embarrassed to say, I thought you could defeat hate. You can’t. It only hides. It crawls under the rocks, and, when given oxygen by any person in authority, it comes roaring back out. And what I realized is, the words of a President, even a lousy President, matter. They can take you to war, they can bring peace. They can make the market rise, they can make it fall. But they can also give hate oxygen.”

As much as perhaps I am fumbling like someone unfamiliar with how to use a drill, the drive to snuff out this oxygen of hate by this momma is a force to be reckoned with now. With days to go that could define our next 4 years and beyond, and the future of our children, let’s do this together! When there is no more oxygen for this fire, maybe someday we can have hope still that hate can be defeated. #vote

With much love as I sign off soon to nest with this baby! (And many thanks to Becky for giving me the opportunity to guest write this week! So much appreciation…)







We wish Selena the best as she nests into the end of 2020. We can’t wait to meet her baby!

In the meantime, we’d love to introduce you to two new members of our team. Jen will be covering for Selena can be reached at Jenna has joined our team to head up our marketing efforts as we believe there are literally millions more change leaders who could benefit from adopting our approach. Click on their mugs to get better acquainted. 


Jen Green, Interm Operations Manager


Jenna Culotti, Marketing Manager 


More again soon!

– Becky

Tale Of Two Skies

Greetings from the surreal wildfire season in California.

The temperature reached 119 here this past weekend and our kids have been indoors for way too long. Yesterday we braved the outdoors for a short while and as I watched them “build a city” out of recycled cardboard, the smoke from the Bobcat Fire rolled in.

We started with blue skies and ended with something rather apocalyptic. I captured it on video (you really should see it) and it got me thinking…

What always comes up for me in moments like I captured in the video is “What else can I be doing?” How am I unconsciously participating in anything that is metaphorically like the sky on the right? How can I be sure not to get complacent?

And yes, that kind of self-reflection is always important.

But I want to interrupt that thought pattern for a moment to appreciate each and every person who I am sending this email to.

Yes, that means to appreciate you.

Everyone who gets this newsletter is endeavoring mightily to create a world that looks more like the sky on the left than the one on the right. 

Not just in terms of the environment – though we do have our fair share of brilliant climate activists on this list – but all the inter-woven systems and structures from education to human rights, health care, animal welfare, economic development, early childhood, philanthropy, human services and beyond. Every single person who receives this e-mail is leading change now that will impact all the generations that follow.

So please join me for a minute in appreciating yourself for showing up with your very best in this year that all of us will remember for the rest of our lives. And should you feel inspired, I invite you to reach out to one other awesome change leader in your life and give them some appreciation, too.  Just a text or a note of appreciation goes a long way. This isn’t just for them – this is for you, too, because the act of appreciating is just plain old good for your soul.

With massive appreciation,

As we all struggle to find our way in these times that defy categorization, I also want to invite you to consider joining the Coaching Community that we’re launching in October.

Our intention is for this community to become your touchstone. Your safe refuge from the storm where you can get good coaching, good community, and then get back to it!

Join us for an Open House on September 15th at 10:30 am PT to see what this community is all about.

Announcing Community And Open House

There is no way any of us could know everything we need to know about how to navigate the complexity that comes with leading large-scale change.

That goes for me, too.

Even though I’ve been leading or training others how to lead large-scale change for many years now, I still get stuck sometimes. When I’m not quite sure what the next move might be, my first phone call is to Joe McCannon. And every single time we speak, he expands my thinking about what’s possible and new techniques I might try.  If you don’t already know Joe and want to get a better sense of what he’s all about, we interviewed him for our podcast series and you can listen in.

Likewise, when I’m challenged by how I want to show up as a leader in the areas of race, diversity, equity and inclusion, my first phone call is to Susan X. Jane. And every single time, she invites me into a bigger vision of what it means to be a human being while lovingly challenging me to grow as a person and a leader. If you don’t already know Susan and want to get a better sense of what she’s all about, we interviewed her for our podcast series.

As we all struggle to find our way in these times that defy categorization, I want to invite you to consider joining the Coaching Community that we’re launching in October. 

In the community, your hearts will be filled by the company of kindred spirits who, just like you, are making their big dent in the universe.

You will receive just-in-time coaching from Becky, Joe and/or Susan on whatever challenges you are facing in the moment.

You will be lovingly supported and challenged to bring your whole and best self to what matters to you.

Come can get a free sneak-peak of what this community is going to be at our Open House on September 15th at 10:30 am PT. 


Our deepest hope is that through participating in this coaching community your life will be more expansive, more spacious, more joyful, more easeful, and more impactful.

In solidarity,

If you’re already sure this is for you, we welcome you to join the community now!