Erica Williams Simon, entrepreneur and author: The only way out of feeling stuck is to move.
Today. We welcome Erica. William Simon to skimmed from the couch. Erica is a writer podcast hosts and the CEO of Sage House media as a self-described -scribed professional question asker. She facilitates conversations to inspire social change. Her new book you deserve. The Truth Discusses The career decisions nations. She made in order to re write her life story and she shares. How you can do the same Erica? We are so excited to have you with US mainly because you have interviewed us many times and now we have you on the other side of the table. I'm kind of your good energy. Yeah I'm like I mean I feel a lot of pressure. You're the welcome to the couch. Thank you for having me. So we're GONNA start how he started every interview. Just Skim your resume for us. So I started out my career in politics six. I'm born and raised in the DC area and went to the leadership conference on Civil and human rights which is the nation's oldest largest civil rights coalition that no one has ever heard of. But they're behind every major piece of legislation since the march on Washington and they're a coalition of women's or LGBT or eggs and black and brown ours and so what was awesome about. It was right then I got to kind of get a lay of the land of the entire like social justice progressive policy world. So from there I went to run in the national use arm for the Center for American progress which they call like the White House in waiting. It's Clinton Chief of staff ran it and it was just the forefront of progressive policy and my job was to figure out how to work with young people millennials to get them involved and support their campaigns and in the process ended up on TV quite a bit and my spokesperson and fell in love with that part of the work did a couple more jobs in that arena went to the citizen engagement lab which is like this really cool incubator for social change projects and kind of had carved out at this role for myself as like the Voice of Progressive Millennial America. You know what I mean and I loved it and it was fine and it was flashy and exciting and yet there was a part. Pardon me that felt like I want more than this. For my life felt very limited then became the creative director the first creative director of up worthy which at the time was like a social good buzzfeed inroad a buck and then went to snapchat and built a program. They are called the creators lab. It was the first of its kind. It was a program physical space to bring storytellers digital media creators and influences together to have meaningful conversations. And now I run my own company. So that's the that's the resume and the highlight so we can get when something not on your linked in that we should know about you. I have been singing in the choir and directed McGuire. That was a little girl so music is like my passion outside of work and I bring that up. Just because it's kind of what I do is try to create the same spaces professionally that I felt. As a little girl growing up a pastor's kid singing and having meaningful meaningful conversations and community with people that still very much a part of the mindset that I bring to everything I do. What's your favorite song to Sing Whitney? Houston's I love the Lord which she sang in the preacher's that's why I love it. It's so good. When you started to say Whitney Houston I was like Oh my God me too? I'm like I WANNA dance with somebody and then you went into. Yeah I know I'm GonNa Dance. Somebody's a good one. So let's talk about how you grow grew up in DC. Your father was a preacher. You call yourself a preacher's preacher's daughter for life. What does that mean to you? The way that I view the world everything than I am came from that experience so the way TV depicts black. Churches coaches is actually not the way that most black churches in America are most of them are actually very small kind of like mom and pop. They call them storefront churches. So that's what ours was and felt like a giant family family. He started the church literally in our basement when I was nine months old. So when people say they grew up in church like literally of course then the church moved out and had the real building and all that stuff but my life revolved around a couple of key principles around service so ours was the door that was always open. If you needed a place to stay needed to be bailed L. out of jail in the middle of the night like you called my father it was that kind of orientation around just selfless giving it was oriented around having honest authentic conversations so whether it was because he was counseling people or the group or Sunday mornings. It was just this. Is the place where you can be real where you can be. Authentic used. Always say like we're not interested. Is it in your Sunday. Best like how you look in your outfit but we want to get to know the real you and have meaningful conversations and so that is kind of been a thread through everything that I've done in my life. I've realized that I've been doing that whether it was in the sphere of politics or media or attack my main mission was select. Let's cut through the BS and have meaningful conversations that can help you change your life and change the world in some way and I got that straight from from my father and really both of my parents. We met you with four ever really knowing this part of your background and so it was really really fun to kind of research and read more about you realize what a huge part of who you are is really based around your dad and based around growing up that way and around faith we are struck once said where you said you define in view faith specifically that your faith is about wonder what does that mean in general but particularly for for our generation for those who grew up like in the nineties in two thousand and even now the way that faith is presented in the public sphere is very much about certainty. Like you have to know these these things and believe these things. There are these lines around religion. That safe you you know you have to know with absolute certainty that this happened in this way and I just find and that to be such a limiting way of thinking about a God who was ultimately big massive and unknowable. Right and so I prefer to think of faith as looking at the. Aw and under of the things that I don't understand the things that there are no clear answers for. I'm not GonNa sit in debate science. There's an answer for that right but there's so many things we don't know and don't understand and you can't put words to love you can't put words to kind of like your own growth and development and all of these beautiful amazing things and so my faith practice is really really grounded in just the wonder awe of life and how how it exists and how we communicate and engage with one another and I think if you do that you can kind of free yourself from so many restrictions that society and institutions have put on your faith and your spirit and your internal life. I feel like that was beautiful too. Yeah I'm amazed that someone who has this authentic sense to face can then go into politics girl me too and and I are benthic since a face because I think that both parties all parties. There's kind of a religious pandering. How did you reconcile that? It was was hard but I went and pretty naive. I went into that world for the purest reason possible which I must say actually a lot of my colleagues did to. Let's be clear. A lot of people who are doing social impact work whether on the activist side of the political side tend to go in with a really pure mission. I want to change people's lives. I went to help help. People recognize their own power change systems and structures all that stuff like I felt like it was a continuation of my fathers when he did in our community. And I was like. This is just a different Scale a different level in a way to do that that you know spirit and and services one thing but let's talk about systems so I went in with that mindset and then saw what it is that I think everybody sees. which is you know all the red tape all the hypocrisy again very similar to how most people view religion right these are institutions? That are very change focused and I think when you go in with that power gets involved and things become corrupted and so it was really hard and talk about this in the book and the chapter on faith with and actually in the chapter on work and in identity. I think I talked about I do but just this idea that I was struggling to reconcile all the different parts of WHO. Yeah I was and so at work. I didn't talk about faith a lot for very obvious reasons right especially if you're progressive. We're not supposed to talk about that. Because Faith Jason Religion is supposed to be owned by conservatives and so that's just not a thing that's really cool to talk about and then on the flip. When I was home in my faith environment I was not talking about the fact that like Hey I am on the frontlines literally fighting for marriage equality fighting for reproductive rights and justice which were taboo topics in the church and so I was was kind of walking this line for a while and I think part of why I ended up at a point where I said? I can't do this anymore. I have to remake my life and write a new story for myself was because because of that I was living kind of this divided existence.