We’re heading to San Francisco this September and we wanted to profile five women doing incredible things in the San Francisco/Oakland community. This series, SF LEADERS, will celebrate the work of trailblazing women and showcase how they’ve inspired others in their community and ours. The third woman in this series is Roe Cummings, Designer & Intentional-Living Advocate.

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What does a good leader mean to you?

A great leader is someone who’s willing to ask the jugular question and invites others to meaningfully explore the answer.

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For you personally, have you found that leadership is innate, learned or both?

More important than either of these things, I’ve come to realize leadership is a quiet yet profound choice. You use your vision and personality to push the conversation forward, or you recognize that you have the opportunity to answer what the world needs of you.

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What is some advice that has helped you get where you are?

Oh gosh. I’ve had so much incredible advice I couldn’t have made it without it but if I only list one? “No one can tell your story like you can.” That has been influential in helping me drop the stress and intimidation I feel about all the other rockstars out there and what they’re so profoundly good at. What’s never been heard before is my little life as I’m living it. It connects and has opened doors for me every time.

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What do you admire most in others?

I love how creatives can wake up everyday and commit to the act of making. I also love those who have a positive relationship with failure. I want to be like both of those people.

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How do you balance drive and ambition with gratitude and being happy with where you’re at?

If anyone has an answer to this question, call me, haha.

Full admission, I’m incredibly ambitious but I want to be fully honest with you: drive without a meaningful purpose is pointless and fool-hardy.

I am not a hustle advocate nor do I own a lady boss mug.

I am not here to be an influencer or CEO or organizer or head of state.

My purpose for being here on this earth is to be a human being and steward my talents for the good of my planet and community.

So, for me the balance between drive and ambition is only possible when you’re crystal clear what this time in history is asking of you and the humility to understand you are not the change. You only hold a little part.

Say that again. You are not the change. You only hold a little part. And when my internal megalomaniac freaks out about being remembered or effective or whatever the hell it feels when it’s threatened, I take a deep breath and remember (a) a nourished, rested spirit is better than empty achievement, (b) conversations with our families are what will stay with us longer than what strategic partnerships we’re trying to land, and © the world is absolutely ridiculous right now, so better for us to indulge in the biggest belly laugh of our life and take one insistent step toward progress.

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How do you measure success?

Did I mail my mother’s birthday card in time?

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What are you still working on that you haven’t quite nailed down yet?

I have so many ideas, I know you can all relate! What I can’t quite figure out is how to create a corner store in my neighborhood that’s beautiful, sells whole foods and vegetables, and has a food service component. I’ve never worked in food service or grocery management! Also, if you’re looking for someone to maintain something, I am NOT the one. But my city needs one so badly, along with a quality restaurant that serves fresh fare. I’ve been pinning ideas of what it could look like for over a year now. The whole endeavor feels so terrifying but necessary and I haven’t been able to discern if I have the skills needed to create what would be of service here.

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What are the three things in life you need in order to thrive?
  1. To be learning something.
  2. To mean something to someone.
  3. To mean something to myself.

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Words you live by?

If you can’t argue both sides of the argument, you don’t understand the issue.

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Wisdom for other women striving to be leaders in their life?

Insight is waiting for you on the other side of silence. If you need to make a decision or regain your vision, go out into nature and get quiet. You’ll find it there.

ok

Roe Cummings
Designer & Intentional-Living Advocate

i. @brownkids