By Molly Vorwerck, Rosanne Liu, and Ashley Frabasilio, Women of Uber Book Club Leads
On December 5, 2019 in Los Angeles, Uber hosted community builder and author, Cleo Wade, for an exclusive fireside chat with political commentator, Angela Rye.
Author of the best-selling books Heart Talk and Where To Begin, Cleo first became widely known for sharing powerful and inspiring reflections on Instagram. Her posts went viral, and over 500K followers and two books later, she has carved a niche for herself as a voice for a new, more conscientious generation, using her influence to promote self-care, community, and social justice.
Uber’s event, attended by over 150 professionals from across Los Angeles, welcomed groups from the broader community, including members of Las Fotos Project, Community Coalition, Get Lit, March for Our Lives, and Las Chicas Chulas.
Angela began her interview by asking Cleo the straightforward question: “Are you OK?” While direct and perhaps strange to some, it’s a familiar question for Cleo, who launched the popular ARE YOU OK?: Peaceful and Loving Conversation Booth initiative in 2016, aimed at encouraging conversation to promote well-being and mindfulness.
Cleo went on to describe her hectic past few months, which consisted of a national tour for her second book, Where To Begin, and cross-country move from New York City—where she’s lived for the past 13 years—to Los Angeles, to be with her partner and his two children.
“Throughout this, I’ve realized that home is where the exhale feels best, whether that’s New York or Los Angeles,” Cleo said, referring to her move. “It’s not always going to feel the most pleasurable, especially when you’re going through periods of growth, but it does breed the most abundant and beautiful things that you really want in your life.”
Angela, in reference to Cleo’s simultaneously relatable and unique turns of phrase as captured in Heart Talk and Where To Begin (words that, as Angela suggested, “both resonate with us and give us permission”), took the conversation a step further, asking Cleo how we can all feel “OK” and empowered to live our truths, as Cleo did when she chose to become a poet.
According to Cleo, technology gives people the power to lay claim over their authentic selves in a global setting, as well as a community from which to derive support. There are no guidebooks or rules to follow, she says, which both gives people the agency to embrace their passions and forces them to be confident in their own skin.
“[To become a poet], I had to believe in myself more than other people believed in me,” Cleo said. “This is something that is required of us, particularly as women, given that there is often a lack of belief from others that we can achieve our goals safely.”
In addition to fostering self-love, Cleo suggests that we have to support others in their journeys to embracing their passions through their careers, hobbies, and other elements of their lives.
“There’s such an awakening and opening of all possible career paths,” Cleo said. “I want us to get to a liberated space and then ask ourselves what we can do to feel freer. To truly free ourselves, we need to make sure that all other people are free, too.”
Angela ended the conversation by asking how we can give ourselves the space to feel liberated and impactful: “What do you tell people who question if they’re enough?”
Cleo suggested that it’s important to realize that “enough” depends on what makes sense for us in the moment, and that the definition should be fluid and empowering.
“Everyone has something different to give,” Cleo said. “You have to ask yourself: what can I do today?”
We’re grateful to our sponsors at Outdoor Voices, Wishi, WeWork, and Uphold Wines for their support of Uber Talks.