I mentioned that we had some amazing guests in store for the Best of Both Worlds podcast, and today’s guest was definitely a treat! Tiffany Dufu — author, entrepreneur, activist — has been on our wish list for a long time.
A few years ago, Sarah and I both read and enjoyed Dufu’s book, Drop the Ball. It started off as a lot of work/life literature tends to: the harried working mom, the unhelpful husband, the chaos. But then….Dufu had what she called one of her “Tiffany’s Epiphanies.” At work, she had her teams divvy up work according to talents, interests, availability, and what had to be done. She decided to bring these management strategies to her home life too.
So Dufu made a list of all the things she did around the house, expecting to bring this to her husband to have him share the burden. But then he pointed out the various things that weren’t on the list. It started out small (“botanist” — she’d basically never watered a houseplant) and got bigger (“Kofi night nurse” — Dufu thought their young son slept through the night. Nope, her husband pointed out. She slept through the night.) It is easy not to see and value work other people do. This is true both at work and at home. The two worked through the list to figure out what each party wanted to do, or could reasonably take on. The Dufu family also decided to make a category of activities that no one would do. This included stuff like washing the car. They would either let it be, or if neighbors or relatives asked how they could help, they’d point them to something in that last category.
Drop the Ball is about Dufu’s journey to rethinking what she had to do, and how she advanced her career by “dropping the ball” on things that didn’t matter so much. As she told us on the podcast, this journey began before she could afford to outsource much, and so she had to come up with a solution that worked with her life.
We had a great time talking about that, and also about Dufu’s latest venture: Find Your Cru. This is a new generation of social media, which blends the online and offline worlds. Her algorithm matches a small group of women together who are at similar places in their careers, and with similar values, but who are otherwise in diverse industries (and from different backgrounds). You meet virtually and in person to hold each other accountable. Think of it as structured peer mentoring.
Dufu notes that obviously many people build their own “crus” — but, like anything else, intense networking takes time. Finding people can require going to coffees and cocktail parties and conferences, and then organizing everything. If you already feel stretched too thin, you might not invest the time in these things. The Cru makes it easier.
She’s been raising venture money to build the business, which is why her voice is raspy in the interview. Back-to-back investor meetings can produce laryngitis! But Dufu’s enthusiasm still comes through, plus her insight into why peer mentoring and networking is so important. Think of it as a long-term career play. The people you meet earlier in your career, and who get to know you as you nurture each others’ careers, will eventually be the power players. Dufu has a “cru” — and now whenever she has a problem, she doesn’t ask “how will I solve this?” she asks “who will help me solve this?” It multiplies the resources available to you.
Please give the episode a listen!