Pressure Makes Diamonds Recap


Pressure Makes Diamonds
September 25, 2018

We all feel it, especially in a city like New York, when the pressure to measure up to inner and outer expectations can feel overbearing. At our past Supper Series event, we discussed managing it all, understanding where it comes from, and learning tactics on how to turn these ‘pressure-filled’ moments into glittering nuggets of valuable life lessons.

Our amazing panel of women included VP of Away Erin Grau, Founder of LIVELY Michelle Cordeiro Grant, VP of Birchbox Pooja Agarwal, and Founder of Otherland Abigail Cook Stone. These accomplished women are no strangers to pressures as they graciously opened up on the pressures they have dealt with and are currently dealing with - leaving us feeling a little bit less alone and more equipped to handle the challenge moments that come our way.

In New York, where ambition and drive are the status quo, 84% of women in New York admit to feeling a pressure to "do it on their own."

There seems to be this perception that women are under more stress and more pressure than ever. We want to "do it all", and busy can feel like a badge of self validation- making us feel time starved. There wasn’t just one area that popped out. In fact, it was the mounting pressures of life - pressures from work, pressures from relationships, societal pressures etc. The list can go on, but one takeaway from all the ladies is that even though we all experience it, we all have the ability to transform it to better our lives or the lives of those around us.

Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder of LIVELY, explained that women today have impossible standards, especially New Yorkers.

Living a “balanced life” while “doing it all” is an impossible standard that many women feel today. The hardest part is feeling like we HAVE to decide what we are going to sacrifice in order to “achieve balance.” Erin said what all of us are thinking - “balance doesn’t exist.” It’s all about work/life integration and understanding your limits. What works for you might not work for the person next to you and that’s okay. We have to understand that we each operate uniquely and setting boundaries that work for ourselves is the most important part. Be kind, be open, be honest, and most importantly be vocal about what you need.  

At MoxxieMade, we refrain from using balance because we agree with Erin. It doesn’t exist. So, instead we say centered. We try to stay centered when we’re feeling the pressure of impossible standards. Michelle hit on a key nugget - A lot of pressure we feel comes from within, especially in NYC when you are surrounded by ambition and people doing incredible things. Her advice is to set your own bar in an achievable place so when you meet the bar, exceed the bar, and then move that bar higher and higher.

Pressure, stress, adversity, failure, disappointment - these words bring negative feelings with them yet it’s these specific moments in our lives that really propel us to grow.

Moments of adversity help to teach us, to stretch us and to help us grow. Each speaker described a pressure-filled moment and the life lesson hidden within it.

For Pooja Agarwal, it was when she followed her gut and led her company into a new initiative. It was a big launch for the company and one that she truly believed in. As any leader knows, not every plan can go smoothly and as the initiative was rolling out there were some kinks in the plan. We’ve been there and have felt the panic rise inside of us as all eyes are on us to help redirect the ship. Pooja did just that - stepped up to the plate and courageously pushed forward - saw the mistakes and pivoted into a new direction.

Michelle struggled with finding her path. She comes from a family of lawyers and doctors. So, naturally she followed suit but just after a few weeks she knew law wasn’t for her. Knowing the disappoint from her family would be inevitable, she faced her fears and communicated to them the brand new path she was about to follow - the retail path. It set her on a journey - a journey better than she could have imagined.

Erin was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Life threw her a big’ol curveball, but - like the fighter that she is - she hasn’t let it stop her from living her life.  She finds fulfillment in her job and amongst all the adversity is leading a new initiative at Away that she is truly passionate about. The best thing? Away is fully supporting her and puts her health above all. Talk about a supportive work family.  She’s now using her adversity to make health and illness an open conversation at Away and creating policies to make it more flexible and manageable for those who are suffering.

Abigail harnessed her courage in a time of huge adversity. In the midst of raising capital for Otherland, both her parents passed away. One thing to know about Abigail is that she really dislikes public speaking (go figure! She’s amazing at it, btw), but when it came time to give a speech at the funeral - knowing all the emotions that were bubbling at the surface - she courageously gave, as she put it, “a fucking amazing speech!” that honored her parents. She led from the heart.

All in all, the night was magical! Filled with some tears, some laughter, some AH HA moments, but most of all it was filled with women that were learning, growing and encouraging one another. We’re never going to escape pressure-filled moments in life. To be honest, we should welcome them because those are the moments that will enrich us even if we can’t see it in the midst of all the adversity. Pressure does indeed make diamonds.

Squarespace_Banner Gradient.png

Inspiration Kit

Interested in this topic and going within to discover your inner wisdom? Feel free to download our Inspiration Kit for some thought starters and tips from our speakers!


Pressure Makes Diamond’s
Wise Women Speakers


Erin Grau

VP of Organizational Development at Away, a global lifestyle brand designing thoughtful objects to make traveling more seamless. Prior to Away, she served as Vice President of Transformation for The New York Times, a new role created to build systems, processes, and culture to increase the output of high quality experiences at speed and in greater concert across the organization. Erin started her career as a television news producer and was nominated for two Emmy Awards before moving into digital media. 

Visit her website

Michelle Cordeiro Grant

Founder and CEO of LIVELY, has spent the tenure of her career creating brands and product for some of the world's largest retailers including Federated, VF Corporation, Limited Brands/ Victoria's Secret and Thrillist Media Group. Grant instantly fell in love with the entire process from concept to customer and realized that her passion was in supporting, creating and developing amazing brands and products. While working with Victoria's Secret, she learned that this $13B lingerie category, in the US alone, was dominated by this one brand, with one point of view. Grant was inspired to create a completely new experience for the category,  — one she coined Leisurée— and so LIVELY was born.

→ Visit her website

Pooja Agarwal

Vice President of Operations at Birchbox, a leading beauty and grooming retailer redefining the way people discover and shop for new products. In addition to Operations, Pooja also oversees Retail, BirchboxMan and Customer Operations. Prior to Birchbox, Pooja spent 6 years at working on business strategy and creative operations. She graduated from University of Michigan and is currently getting her MBA from NYU Stern School of Business. 

→ Visit her website

Abigail Cook Stone

Founder of Otherland Candles, has set out to build a different kind of candle brand. Inspired by her lifelong passion for art and interiors, her moderately healthy obsession with candles, and her family philosophy of finding small ways to elevate everyday life, Otherland was born. To create Otherland, Abigail married her backgrounds in art, e-commerce, and venture capital. Prior to business school she worked at the Ralph Lauren corporate office in Art Acquisitions, where she purchased artwork to decorate the brand’s restaurants, stores and showrooms. Before that she worked in the company's e-commerce division. While attending business school she was an associate at Founder Collective, a seed stage venture fund, and a partner at Dorm Room Fund, First Round Capital's student-run VC fund. Abigail previously held a position at Cuseum, a museum engagement platform, for a year and she is the founder of Young Folk, the young patrons group of the American Folk Art Museum.

→ Visit her website