It’s easy to feel disconnected while we shelter in place. But in some ways, this age of social distancing has been transformative. Technology helps us to stay connected and frees us to work from anywhere. And it’s through the power of technology — social media in particular — that we can all become content creators with a platform to share our stories. It’s up to us how we use that platform.
In this week’s Leading Through Change episode, we bring you someone who for years has inspired change and helped improve the state of the world. “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts has long been someone I have looked up to, in part because her story so parallels my own — her experience as a proud Black woman in the media industry, her journey to overcome cancer, and her belief in the power of authentic, inclusive storytelling.
What I admire most about Roberts brand of journalism is she puts people at the heart of storytelling. It’s about the human connection that brings us closer together.
“I can’t imagine doing it any other way,” says Roberts. “You can spout facts and figures, but if there’s an impact you’re trying to make, you show it through someone’s story.”
She believes using your platform to drive change — whether that is through storytelling or other ways — starts with courage. “You have to have courage: the courage to start something, to stay strong, and to sustain and not get distracted.”
With so many distractions, Roberts says meditation and prayer are central to her well-being, along with a commitment not to get too far ahead of herself.
“I’m really trying my best to stay in the moment,” she says.
That notion of living in the moment reminds me of a saying: “Depression is ruminating on the past. Anxiety is worrying about what’s happening tomorrow. But the present is where your gift is.” It begs the question: can we take this opportunity to build better? Can we take everything we’ve learned from these crises and create something more equitable and powerful where everyone is a valued member of society?
Roberts’s response reveals how she uses her platform to drive positive change. “I’m here to remind people of what they have within themselves,” she says. “You’ve found a strength in you over these past months and learned to adapt. Don’t let fear keep you from your destiny.”
It’s easy to feel like fear is winning these days. Everywhere you turn, there’s bad news. It can be overwhelming. Roberts is not only trying to bring people something positive on “Good Morning America,” but also via her production company Rock’n Robin Productions.
“I firmly believe this is a time where people are just in need of something good. They need good news,” she says.
Now more than ever, it’s critical we find ways to tell real stories that can inspire people because at a time of so much darkness, let’s look for ways to not just survive, but to thrive. Like Roberts, I believe we can all use our platforms to bring about positive change. Some of us do that with storytelling, but there are many different ways — the important thing is to find a way to lead.
Another voice who is using her platform to speak out and joined me today to discuss that is Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire.
“I have an opportunity to share, so I’m sharing. It’s a beautiful thing to invest in people and see them take ownership of their progress,” says Chassagne, who co-founded KANPE to empower the neediest Haitian families to become autonomous.
I hope this conversation leaves you feeling the way I felt: inspired, reinvigorated, and reenergized. We can all heed Roberts’s advice: “Start, stay, sustain.”
This conversation is part of our Leading Through Change series, providing thought leadership, tips, and resources to help business leaders manage through crisis. Prior video interviews include:
- Giving hope for real prison reform with Michelle Cirocco
- Performing like an athlete at work and in life with Pete Carroll and Michael Gervais, Ph.D.
- Ending homelessness with Dame Louise Casey and Beth Sandor
- Thriving with inclusivity with Ekta Chopra
- Transitioning to a sustainable future with Mark Carney and Leona Lewis
- Discussing the future of work and a safe, secure return with Aneel Bhusri and Leon Bridges
- Honoring Pride with Janelle Monáe and Megan Rapinoe
- Taking action against racial injustice with Mellody Hobson, Soledad O’Brien, and LL COOL J
- Outmaneuvering uncertainty with Accenture CEO Julie Sweet and Alicia Keys
- Responding and recovering from crises with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and Jewel
- Staying positive in the new normal with Naomi Simson and Rivers Cuomo
- Discussing COVID-19 and race in America with Van Jones, Dr. Camara Jones, Ellen McGirt, and Jessica Hudson
- Connecting with your fans from home with Lars Ulrich of Metallica
- Planning ahead amidst uncertainty with BT Chief Executive Philip Jansen and Chrissie Hynde
- Uniting to feed hope to the world with Jose Andres and Dave Matthews
- Serving customers from home and the heart with the founders of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee and Lionel Ritchie
- Giving people a chance to lead with Soledad O’Brien and Sheryl Crow