Stephanie L. Schierholz

WHYITRIBE (THE REASON YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO YOU ALREADY ARE):

Each person is imbued with uniqueness and therefore worthy of being celebrated for their unique humanity. When I talk to brands about effectively using social media, one of my mantras is “find and communicate your unique value; what do you offer that no one else does?” That should be even more true about each of us as individuals. Each of us has something unique and special to offer, but we need to know what that is about ourselves. When we recognize our unique value, then we find that we are reason enough to celebrate. To identify our unique value requires us to reflect and be introspective, which can be difficult in a world that encourages us to emulate stars. That we are worthy. The greeting “Namaste” has many interpretations, but at its root is the idea that I respect you because I recognize your inherent value as a person like me, coming from the same universe. I think celebrating who we already are is a recognition that each individual – including ourselves – is inherently worthy.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF / HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

I recently was told I will be winning a significant award at work, a high honor, and a recognition of a lot of hard work and time I’ve put into my job in the last couple years. At first I only told a couple of close friends about the award – and the message that I am good at my job! – even though it makes me quite proud to be receiving it. One friend in particular who has been a regular champion of me asked me when we were celebrating – not if, but when. His response reminded me how awesome it is and that I should celebrate this achievement.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?

I certainly feel there are strong cultural elements that teach us to demure, not to seek attention or to stand out, and those can be difficult first to recognize and secondly to overcome.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?

Lucky for me, one of my best friends from high school started training me way back then. Whenever I received a compliment, she told me, “Say ‘thank you’ and smile.” It became a running joke of ours to “Say ‘thank you and smile’.” It has been a useful mantra to remind me to accept compliments and do so graciously and avoid the tendency to downplay the compliments. And it usually makes me smile, even when I begin by cheekily expressing it as a word instead of taking the action.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA WE ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?

Cultures reinforce the idea myriad ways, and one way of reinforcing it can be a minor bump to one person but an insurmountable mountain to another. Perhaps one way of overcoming is to recognize that when we claim the celebration of which we are worthy, that also enables us to spread the light on others as well. When we take a seat at the table, we are showing others that we collectively belong there. It is quite powerful to see recent examples of what happens when a few people have the courage to speak up and speak back to existing power structures – it inspires more to come forward. When more women come forward and say, “me too!” we can work together to shift the power from a single voice to a multitude. “And the more we are a choir, the more the tune is forced to change.”

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?

It is important to practice celebrating our value, of using our voice to speak up and advocate for ourselves. For many of us, it is easier to celebrate other awesome women in our lives without taking a look inward, but we must respect and value ourselves first.

Stephanie L. Schierholz is the acting press secretary for NASA. In this role, she plans and executes strategic communications initiatives to highlight NASA’s efforts to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humanity. Working with a talented team of public affairs officers, program managers, scientists and space policy leaders at NASA and partner organizations, she provides strategic communications guidance and directs media events and press interviews for acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the agency’s highest-ranking civil servant. She assumed the role as acting press secretary in January 2016 for four-time astronaut and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Photo credit: Daniel Toader/Toader Photography.

Occupation: Acting Press Secretary for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

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