Lean In | Contributor

If you told me 5 years ago that I would be on a US State Department sponsored speaking tour across Japan, I would have laughed and said, “No way. I have too many tattoos for that gig.”

Japan has one of the lowest female participation rates of developed economies. Economists estimate that the Japanese could increase gross domestic product up to 15.6% if they can boost the female labor participation rate to that of men (62% vs. 80%).  When the US Embassy in Tokyo originally asked me to consider doing a 5-city speaking tour, I knew I wanted to be part of this conversation. I vowed early on to make this presentation one of the most artistic I had ever delivered. I am passionate about mixed media, and I put my heart into this project. On stage I sang, danced, and even donned a superhero cape. The message was that no matter where we are, being a woman these days isn’t about following the path — it’s about creating our own path and designing our own lives. 

Some people have called me crazy, because I refuse to fit in. But the problems of tomorrow won’t be solved with the solutions of yesterday. The people who are crazy enough to break today’s rules will be the ones who pioneer the future.