March is National Women's History Month, and it's all about connection, reflecting on women who came before us and paying it forward to our future female leaders. In January 2011, we founded Dermalogica's initiative called joinFITE, a women's microlending initiative which operates worldwide in partnership with Kiva. We've received overwhelming positive feedback since its inception, and participants report a shared experience: connecting with like-minded entrepreneurial business-women across the world has reconnected those who give with a more immediate sense of their own possibility and potential.
One of the uniting themes for our company, and for joinFITE, is the need for greater connection, which we often call the power of touch. So it makes perfect sense to me to celebrate and honor National Women's History Month with the world's largest game of tag: #tagURit! It's a fun and easy way to spark change by reaching out to friends, family, colleagues and loved ones, who may not be aware of the opportunities they can create for a woman who is on her way to greater financial independence and success.
Simple human touch is what is missing from business, and from the world. But I use the term "touch" both literally and metaphorically. I have spent the past 30 years in professional skin therapy, witnessing and participating in the power of touch. Skin therapists literally lay their bare hands (no mandatory gloves in my profession, unlike in a dermatologist's office) on the skin of the people who come into their treatment space. This is one of the few places which exist in the industrialized world where we allow this vulnerability.
But sometimes we are not able to literally go hands-on, skin-to-skin. It is just impossible to physically touch everyone, so I am redefining the word "touch" and what it means to be "touched."
These days, it needs to be intangible as well as hands-on. We cannot simply hug and kiss and squeeze and stroke the people we like, much less the people we have just met. As urbanites, perhaps we have to stylize the nurturing power of touch into symbolic form. By this definition, touch may be transmitted via vocabulary when we speak. The healing power of touch may be transmitted by the tone of our voice. By our kindness. By our being fully present. And it is part of the micro-expressions that form the mosaic of our facial communication as we interact face to face.
I like a genuine smile, but most of all I like eye-contact. Looking someone in the eye, being present in the moment as they speak, is like holding both of their hands in yours, or feeling their heartbeat. No need for a big grin. Cultural anthropologists agree that showing the teeth is a sign of submission. I personally am not a fan of the frozen-in-place beauty pageant grimace which many women adopt. Sometimes when I see women doing this, I wonder if they have just had too much Botox.
It is tough with email, which is why I am a fan of Skype. We can actually look into each others' eyes and hear the sound of each others' voices. And although we have all had the conversation that our digital world creates distance instead of closeness, this month can be an exception. So share this message, "tag" a friend, and include "#tagURit." By doing so, our non-profit, joinFITE, will then contribute $1 towards funding a microloan that will empower a woman entrepreneur to become financially independent.
Go on: reach out and touch someone -- anyone -- we all need it. Tag you're it!
Visit JoinFITE on Facebook to get started in tagging a friend, and touching someone's life.