Through the Prism with Becky Margiotta
Becky Margiotta leads the Billions Institute, where she inspires and supports leaders in the social sector to step all the way into what they’re here to do on this planet. Her forthcoming book, Impact with Integrity: Repair the World Without Breaking Yourself is available for pre-order now.
What is one of your earliest memories of the power of human connection?
When I was three, my family moved from Washington, DC, to Phoenix, Arizona. I remember crying in the airport before we boarded the plane. I don’t remember why I was sad. Maybe I picked up on the emotion of all the relatives dropping my parents off — this was a big deal back in 1972 and everyone showed up to send us off! Maybe I was afraid of flying in a plane? Maybe I was just enjoying being a three-nager. A total stranger approached us and offered me a roll of cherry lifesavers. The fact that I vividly remember this moment 49 years later tells me how important the kindness of strangers is.
I should also note that when our daughter was three, she was chasing pigeons at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican and did a faceplant on the cobblestone plaza. As we were comforting her, a total stranger gave her a candy bar. To this day, when we mention our vacation to Italy, all she remembers (despite being in that fabulous country for 10 days) is that she fell down and a stranger gave her candy. An intergenerational family curse, or a reminder to keep a little candy nearby to give to children?
What are you working on right now?
With my editor’s help, I am dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on my first book, Impact With Integrity: Repair the World Without Breaking Yourself, which will be published in April 2022. I mistakenly thought I would knock this out over a weekend. Although it took a couple years, I could not be more excited to share this book with the world. I am such a believer in the importance of doing the inner work of social change, and this book distills the concepts that have been most transformative for me on my journey into a practical “how-to” guide.
In many ways, Impact With Integrity is resonant with the vision and purpose of Einhorn Collaborative. I don’t think much worth doing gets done in the world unless the people doing it are able to show up in their essence, as their whole and best selves, and able to engage in authentic relationships with others. Large-scale social change is deeply relational work, and is ideally done off the Drama Triangle and in our genius. These skills are essential building blocks that enable us to recognize our shared humanity and remember that we are all connected and share a linked fate.
What values guide your work?
Humility. Curiosity. Authenticity. Generosity. Boldness. If I had to pick only one, it would be authenticity, because after living in the closet when I served in the military, I know how painful it is to hide any part of myself. When I am coaching change leaders, my favorite moments are when I am able to help someone know and fully own their truth about whatever issue they are facing in the moment. Although it waivers from time to time, everything I do is held up by a deep appreciation of human beings and what we are capable of when we tap into our essence and our purpose.
How has the experience of the last year affected you and your work?
On a personal level, when the pandemic hit, my wife and I decided to do everything in our power to ensure our young kids (4 and 6 at the time) would look back on this period of their lives with nothing but good memories. Due to a tremendous amount of privilege, we were largely able to isolate ourselves from others. My wife and I cut our work hours in half, taking turns caring for our children and running our separate businesses. I realized that I could get everything — or at least all the most essential things — done in half the time if I focused, and I got to hang out with our kids for hours every day. I am not the world’s best parent by any stretch of the imagination — not an area of “genius” for me — but I sure do love those little stinkers and enjoy hearing their laughter and playing while I’m cleaning the house! Their sibling relationship flourished and I believe they will be even more closely bonded for life. Even now that things are more open, I pick up my kids from school everyday at 2:45 PM and that’s it for my work day. As far as they know, I’m a stay at home mom. The forced together time for all of us also surfaced some relationship issues that when I was traveling more frequently we were able to sweep under the rug. With the help of a genius therapist, we sorted that out over zoom and are back to living happily ever after. I do believe the pandemic has changed our family life for the better.
Professionally, it has been a whirlwind. In March 2020, 100% of our revenue was generated from in-person workshops and keynote events, so we pivoted to virtual fast. Turns out some of what we teach can be taught better virtually, at less expense to our customers, with way less harm to Mother Nature. By switching to virtual, we were able to exponentially increase the number of people we could train in our Model for Unleashing. We hired two more employees. We got even more clear on our purpose and aligned with our genius. Quite frankly, we survived, for which I am incredibly grateful. I just returned from a two week trip to the UK where we’ve been supporting the National Health Service for years. It felt great to be back live and in-person again, and we look forward to offering more live workshops in the US, but virtual is here to stay, too.
What's giving you joy right now? What are you hopeful about?
I am finding myself savoring human connection these days. Live or virtual — doesn’t matter. The other week, I interviewed one of our alumni, Chris Lubbe, who was one of Nelson Mandela’s bodyguards, about his life as an activist for our podcast, Unleashing Social Change. Me and Selena, who produces our podcast, cried through the whole thing. We were so moved by his stories and his unwavering love for humanity. A few weeks ago, I was able to go to dinner with four of our fellows in San Diego, and my face hurt from laughing so hard. A stray cat has wandered it’s way into our yard, and I’ve been texting with another fellow, Dr. Kate Hurley, for advice about that. Our fellows are converging for our first in-person retreat in 18 months and I am beside myself with excitement. My wife and I are hosting some neighborhood kids and their parents for a physically distanced outdoor movie night in our backyard this weekend. I no longer take for granted the joy of authentic connection with people. Picking up my kids from school each day at 2:45. That’s what gives me the most hope: kids. And how much everyone wants better for their kids. Not just better in material ways — better emotionally, spiritually, wellbeing.
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