Drop the Ball

Are you juggling way too much and scared of what’ll happen if you dropped the ball? 

If so, make Time to be Kind because today’s guest is a professional (and highly successful) BALL DROPPER! 

This episode will enlighten you with a new perspective on self-care and empower you to become a professional ball dropper too. Enjoy!


Click here to check out Drop the Ball: Achieve More by Doing Less

Click here to learn more about joining The Cru

Connect on Instagram @tdufu @theCru


Hi, PARKer, I’m Marly Q, welcoming you to Episode #24 with Tiffany Dufu. Do you feel like you’re juggling way too much on any given day? Are you scared what might happen if you ever dropped the ball? If so, today’s episode is for you because you’re about to meet a professional “ball dropper”. That’s right!

Tiffany Dufu is the author of the best-selling book, Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less. She’s also the founder and CEO of The Cru, a nationwide online community whose algorithm matches circles of women who collaborate to meet their personal and professional goals. Tiffany lives in New York City with her husband and two children and although she has an extensive list of accomplishments like being named Entrepreneur’s 100 Powerful Women and Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women, and raising nearly $20 million towards the cause of advancing women and girls, Tiffany believes that our bio should be more of a story of what we DON’T DO, rather than all that we DO.

I absolutely love Tiffany’s perspective on self-care and how to achieve more by doing less and my hope is that after making Time to be Kind today, you’ll become a professional ball dropper, too! Let’s listen.

Welcome, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for making Time to be Kind Tiffany!

[01:43] Tiffany: Of course. Thank you for having me.

[01:46] Marly Q: I am particularly excited to have you join us today because we share a really beautiful I think, PARK story, a really beautiful story of how just, a very simple act of kindness can turn into, not just a beautiful connection and relationship but also a great business opportunity as well and an aligned mission to inspire and be of service in this world. So, if I can share that story to get us started.

[02:13] Tiffany: Of course, I would love you to.

[02:16] Marly Q: So, a couple of years ago, I think two years ago, I received an email from a friend and a fellow event industry resource that I work with saying, “Hey, look at this amazing woman who has started this organization to connect women and empower, you know, women in leadership to live their best lives and they’re having their first ever summit here in Miami. And they needed someone to come in and just lead kind of like their morning meditation, their morning stretches, their morning mindfulness part and I referred you and I thought you would be really great to support them because I think you’re really aligned with this woman and her mission”. I’m like, “Cool, please, by all means, connect us.”.

And a little email sparked this – I am such a fan of yours because not only have you created a network of women called The Cru, that I got to be a part of your very first summit in Miami Beach but that turned into me being your event planner for your second one, which was scheduled to be this year in July. And because of COVID-19, and this whole pandemic, we’ve had to reschedule it, but you continue your work virtually and we are hopefully slated to have this event in the future. But I just love, love, love how a very simple little act of kindness like referring somebody, or making a connection led to not just business, but honestly a really beautiful relationship. And I’m just a fan of your work, of your book, and I hope to cover all these things in our interview today!

[03:48] Tiffany: Oh, thank you so much, Marly. And I have to say, I also really valued that act of kindness in making the introduction. I also have to say that I wasn’t surprised at all, that what we were looking for was really someone to help usher and steward and guide our members through an amazing journey and that it happened that we met the perfect person to help us to do that!

Because, and we can talk about this, this happens to me all the time, yeah, the universe, I think that the universe conspires to help people who are just here to make a difference in the world. And I think that acts of kindness, spark other acts of kindness. So, your act of kindness may not come back to you directly but you putting it out into the universe means that you’re sending a crescendo effect. It’s like an act of kindness is like a pebble that you put into, you know, just like a lake and it ripples out and it will eventually come back to you. And so, when I met you, and especially when I spoke to you for the first time, and then when I met you in Miami and I thought, “We are of the same cloth and this is going to be so brilliant.”, I just knew that it was the universe saying, “Tiffany, you’re on the right track”.

[05:10] Marly Q: Oh, I love that so much! So, I refer to that crescendo, if you will, as the currency of kindness, a currency being in that current, in that frequency, in that flow of energy, you just really make it a practice or a lifestyle to live from that place and not expecting the person in front of you or the situation in front of you to give you any kindness back, but just putting it out there in the world in that current, oh my goodness, the beautiful universe find so many ways to bring it back to you. And you’re right, I am rarely surprised anymore, it’s more like this beautiful gift and I smile and I’m like, “Look at that, of course, I was going to connect with Tiffany Dufu and The Cru and get to be a part of this beautiful network of women around the nation who are coming together.” Virtually and in person, as soon as we can get back to that, to truly just empower each other and to uplift and hold ourselves accountable to living our best life and living the life that we want to live. I really feel like that’s what you do and I’d love for you to share with our PARKers listening a bit about The Cru and your mission and your vision with this.

[06:19] Tiffany: Sure. You know, The Cru is really designed for women who have some clarity about what they might want to achieve in their lives and could really benefit from some inspiration and some accountability. The way that it works is that you apply to become a member and we match you with nine other women, It used to be in your city, it’s now in your time zone now that you know this whole thing has gone virtual and the 10 of you become a Cru and you collaborate to meet your life goals together. We call goals intentions in The Cru. We’re agnostic as to whether or not your intentions are personal or professional, it could be anything from, “I want to get a promotion”, or, “I want to increase my salary” to, “I want to lose 10 pounds”, or, “I want to get more Instagram followers or get my financial house in order”, but that’s the center of your experience, you upload those into our digital goal tracking tool, along with actions against them and your Cru is there to hold you accountable digitally, but also through regular events that we call gatherings. It’s a really incredible experience and I wish for every woman to have a Cru, whether you’re with our Cru or not.

[07:29] Marly Q: Yes, everybody should have a Cru. I love that we have that in common as well. So, my PARKers, those listening, and people in my community are part of my Kind Qrew. My crew is spelled with a “Q”, Q-R-E-W, for Marly Q, of course. And it’s really, it’s that; it’s about community building, it’s about bringing kind minded people together, or like-minded people together, who have the same intention of connecting, of uplifting each other, inspiring each other and in essence, holding each other accountable for what we intend to do and what we say that we want to do, whether it’s personal or professional goal. I love that you’ve created not just the community, but the structure and this accountability system to keep everybody focused on the intention. I love that because I think as humans, it’s really easy to forget, right? To forget what our intentions are but when you’re in community, and you have the structure or the system in place, you’re way more likely to achieve those goals or intentions.

[08:25] Tiffany: That’s really it Marly. It’s not as if any of us have goals that we don’t achieve, because we don’t know how to achieve goals, we all know how to do that, we’re all successful people. It’s not as if we don’t care about the goals, we all care. It’s just that there’s this thing called life that gets in the way. And for women in particular, we often spend quite a bit of time holding other people accountable in their lives, whether it’s holding our children accountable, holding our manager accountable, holding our team accountable, holding our partner accountable, that sometimes we’re the last ones who get held accountable to our own ambition, in some ways, because we are successful because people do look up to us, because people rely on us. And so, women joining The Cru, I do see as an act of kindness toward ourselves, you know, and I thank women, and I celebrate women for making an investment in themselves to say …

“Actually, I want to invest in myself in such a way that I’m going to be able to move myself forward with intentionality.”, that’s an act of kindness as well.

[09:33] Marly Q: Absolutely. Making the Time to be Kind, making the investment to be kind and yourself, I’m such a big supporter of that, promoter of that. Absolutely, I think that many women in particular struggle with, you know, “How can I make time to be kind to myself or to prioritize myself when I have all these other competing priorities and everybody else comes first and everything else has to come first?”

You know, we put ourselves last on that list. So, really, what this podcast for me is, putting my money where my mouth is, if you will, or walking the talk and really making time to be kind to myself by launching this podcast and channeling my energy in a positive way, where it was really birthed right at the start of this whole pandemic, right? And my events business crumbled within the span of a week. It’s like, “Okay, let’s make a different intention”.

My mission has been the same since I was 10 years old; I want to inspire kindness in the world. And I do that through speaking, through teaching, through events and the events kind of took a weird turn here in 2020 but I can still be on mission. I can still be focused on my intention and having awesome guests like you come and make the time to be kind to me, holds me accountable to showing up and really doing what I love, which is really just sharing stories and inspiring kindness and keeping this message moving forward or this movement moving forward by turning up the volume a little bit on kindness. And I love that you focus your work, your mission and your energy on teaching and empowering women specifically, who I think are the ones that need this message, you know more than anybody, like, “Hey, you deserve to make time to be kind to yourself too, just as much as you make time to be kind to your kids and your spouse and your community and your colleagues at work and the world at large; you deserve a little bit of that time to be kind to you as well”.

[11:26] Tiffany: Absolutely. There’s something about what you just said that I think we should amplify to anyone who’s listening, which is the importance of having clarity about why you’re here. You know, my life’s work is advancing women and girls, that’s pretty much why I’m on the planet. And so, my life is simple, not because I don’t have a lot of things to do or there aren’t demands, it’s because ultimately …

I already know what’s on my tombstone. You know, it says, “She got to as many women as she could.”

… and on most days, I’m just kind of project managing my life backwards from there, it makes for a different kind of life exercise. One of the reasons why it’s so important is because of the story that you just told …

…life is going to happen, a viral pandemic will hit, your events business might have to be shuttered but why you’re here is never shuttered, your passion and your purpose cannot be shuttered.

And so, if you have clarity about the contribution that you want to make to the world, about why you’re here, ultimately, you can pivot much faster, you can pivot so much faster. And that’s why you’re able to say, “Oh, this week, my events business is gone, the next week, we’re going to launch a podcast.”. That’s it. I think that’s amazing.

[12:51] Marly Q: Thank you so much for reflecting that and amplifying it in such a beautiful and eloquent way that only you can, so beautiful. I love how you speak and just share everything, including your book that I devoured when I picked it up called, Drop the Ball, which I really want you to share what Drop the Ball is all about, because I think it’s all about making time to be kind to yourself.

[13:14] Tiffany: It really is. So, I wrote a book called Drop the Ball because I used to be someone who was terrified of ever dropping a ball. I used to think that dropping the ball was effectively failure to take timely action on something, that it meant that I wasn’t being responsible, it meant that I was letting myself down, my family down, my community down. It sounds a bit dramatic but as an African American person, I actually felt like I was letting the entire race down, you know, as in, they’re never going to hire another black person again, if I screw this up, and so, it’s a lot of pressure, exactly. And that’s actually where a lot of women are, feeling a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibilities to keep all of the balls up in the air. Now, to be honest, it isn’t as if I came up with some amazing strategy for dropping the ball, what happened was that, I had a life event for which all the balls came crashing to the floor. For me, it was the birth of my first child, for some women I’ve spoken to, it’s you finally get the promotion and you find out that it’s a lot harder to be the boss than you thought it was going to be. I’ve spoken to women for whom it was a diagnosis that caused them to drop the balls. I’ve spoken to many women over the past several months for whom this crisis, this viral pandemic, and the ensuing social uprising has been what has caused them to drop the ball like left and right. So, I decided to reappropriate the term because when that happened to me, when I started dropping balls, one of the discoveries I made was that all of the things I was always terrified would happen if I ever dropped the ball, didn’t happen. None of them happened, no one came to me, read me my Miranda Rights because I hadn’t paid all the tickets for alternate side parking. Like, no one called to tell me they didn’t love me anymore, and that they weren’t going to be my friend anymore, that they were going to disown me from the family, I didn’t get fired from my job. Like, all the things that I thought were going to happen that were terrible, that would mean I was a failure, none of those things happened. So, I really started to question, why is it that I feel all this pressure to begin with? Where is that coming from? And eventually…

I redefined the term for myself. So, for me dropping the ball now means that I have released these unrealistic expectations about having to keep everything in the air to begin with, that I figured out what matters most to me, that I figured out what my highest and best use is in relationship to what matters most and that I figured out how to meaningfully engage other people in my life so that I can realize my full potential…

…and we can talk a little bit about what that means but it’s been a life changing event. It took me a good three and a half years, you know, to figure out how to drop the ball. I wrote the book in hopes that it won’t take another woman so long to be able to do that, but it’s been a journey. I’ve been a ball dropper now for about 11,12 years, it’s changed my life. And by the way, I discovered after I became a ball dropper, that there are women for whom they don’t feel this pressure. It’s like, the women who are like, “Tiffany, I never ever cleaned the top of my refrigerator.”, I was like, “Really? There are people who never?”, “No, I never did that.”. But we don’t hear their stories very often. So, I also like to say, you know, if you’re listening, and you never felt that pressure, or you always felt permission to drop balls, tell your story, talk about what it is that you don’t do …

I think we should write bios about what we don’t do, as opposed to what we do do in order to free other people.

[17:09] Marly Q: Yes, I absolutely love it. You know, right now what we’re doing is giving me permission to drop the ball, so to speak, and give me time to be kind to myself, as I transition into becoming a mom of two boys, this episode is being you know, released while I’m taking that time to drop every single other ball and only focus on my brand new baby and I thought of you right away! So, like, this is such a perfect episode to have while I’m taking time off, because I just love that message that you have permission to drop the ball and if you are clear with what’s most important to you, and you’re able to really just plan your life around that, there’s no guilt, right? Because that was a big feeling for me I really related with all of the the reasons why I always had to have all the balls in the air and put all this pressure myself but one real big one was, I feel a lot of guilt of letting anybody down, whether it’s my family or my friends or my clients, it was a big pressure that I would put on myself and I have practiced enough you know, gently, it’s not even dropping the ball like, “Ugh, like, get out of here ball, you don’t matter anymore.”, no, those things still matter. I’m going to gently put that ball down, right? With kindness because I’m on this other ball right here or, you know, I’m taking space to clear you know, the calendar of all the balls that have been up in the air in order to give myself the time to rest, to recharge, to re-center myself or to apply to this other thing that I’m on. So, I just loved your book so much, I devoured it and I just think that it’s something that so many people can benefit from. I will definitely share the book in the show notes and encourage everyone, man or woman, alike to pick up this book because it is filled with really wonderful stories, it’s so really well written and specific things that I think you can apply to help you be a ball dropper. I love that.

[18:57] Tiffany: Yes, absolutely. And you know, speaking of guilt, it’s pretty impossible to feel guilty and be kind to yourself simultaneously. Guilt is a feeling that we’ve committed a moral transgression, it’s a feeling that we’ve done something terribly wrong and in the process of feeling guilty, we often beat ourselves up.

And the best way to really manage the guilt is really to identify what value, what belief system you feel that your behavior is out of alignment with that’s causing the guilt.

Because that’s what happens, we basically have things that we believe in, we have values, maybe your value is, you know, nurturing, you feel like it’s really important to nurture in hopes of being a good mom and the behavior that you associate with nurturing is spending time with your child; many women, by the way, are socially conditioned to believe this as well. But that could be your genuine belief system. Well, if in the midst of COVID, you are now working from home and unlike in a previous world, you now feel that you’re spending less time with your child, when they’re used to you being able to do that in your own home because you’ve got to meet the demands of the workplace, you may feel guilty, because you’re not able to exercise the behavior of spending the time with your, you know, value of nurturing. And so, the only way to really manage that is to reassign new behaviors to your values, to your belief system. So, what you have to do is say, “I believe that to be a good mom, I need to nurture my children, nurturing my children could come in many different forms, what is going to be my highest and best use in nurturing my children?”. And to be more specific, so right now for me, I’m saying everything that we say is teaching us, for me right now, it’s, “I’m going to have a meaningful conversation with my children each and every day, I’m going to be their coaching chief. And if I can do that every day, that I am a nurturing mother, even if the rest of the day, they’re being parented by Fortnite and YouTube right now.”. So, I don’t feel guilty because as long as I’m having that conversation with them, even if it’s just for a moment, I’m a nurturing mother.

So, as much as you can assign behaviors that are feasible, that are realistic to your values, you won’t have to worry about feeling guilty.

[21:30] Marly Q: Ah, that is so beautifully said, I feel like giving you like the standing ovation, but I don’t want to mess up my setup here. That was beautiful and so on point. I recently launched my first online course called, The B.E.S.T. Way to Stress Less™, this whole situation has forced me into being like a virtual yoga teacher or virtual coach or virtual event creator, things that I never thought I would be, and I just launched, it just happened in August, a four week virtual experience where I was teaching people the “best way to stress less” and right, what you just finished sharing is, in this time that we are maybe feeling we’re stuck in our homes, and maybe we can’t go to the gym, and we can’t practice self-care the way that we would want to and we’re stressing, right? There’s so much stress going on and maybe we’re not managing that stress the way that we normally would by going to the spa or going to the gym or going to your favorite yoga class or going to a music concert, whatever your way of stressing less is, that’s been taken away. I created a very simple way where different set of behaviors like you were just saying, how can you re-designate behaviors that are still aligned with the value of taking care of yourself and not over stressing and not, you know, putting yourself in a state where you’re anxious or worried all the time. What behaviors are feasible and are doable in this time right now? And you can change those behaviors so that they’re aligned with the values at any time, that’s a beautiful thing about it. It’s just, are we making the time to reassess and redefine those behaviors, right? Which is taking time to be kind. So, I love that, I absolutely love that; it’s so on point.

[23:09] Tiffany: Thank you. No, it’s so true.

[23:11] Marly Q: Thank you for that, being just one of the many gifts that I found within your book and also within just the work that you do. Tiffany, we can talk for days, we can have multiple interviews, but we do try to keep all of our interviews in the sake of time, and making sure that folks can actually devour them, I’m going to go ahead and just thank you so much for making the time to be kind today. And for all of our PARKers listening, I want to make sure that they connect with you so, I’ll include all of your links in our show notes.

[23:41] Tiffany: Thank you so much.

[23:43] Outro: I hope that after listening to this episode, you’re empowered to make more time to be kind to yourself. To check out Tiffany’s book, Drop the Ball and learn more about joining The Cru, just visit this episode’s show notes page at marlyq.com/24.

And hey, if you’ve been struggling to get your kids or students into the school spirit this academic year, I invite you to “drop the ball” and join me for the first ever DIGITAL All Kids Included Family Arts Festival, or AKI for short.

This totally free and fully accessible virtual event is designed for kids of all ages and abilities, and it’s proudly presented by Miami Dade County’s Department of Cultural Affairs and South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, with support from the Children’s Trust.

I have the honor of serving as Emcee and I invite you to introduce your kids to the virtual world of enchanting arts, crafts, jaw dropping performances with more than a dozen videos as students can have fun with, like interactive art classes, games, book readings, dance performance, music lessons, and so much more, including a beautiful digital gallery with artwork created by students in grades pre K through 12.

Click here to be a part of the special Digital AKI award ceremony streamed this Saturday September 12th at 11am Eastern time to announce the winning artwork.

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