Wanderlust presenter Miki Agrawal is known for disrupting industries typically associated with shame. She loves questioning the status quo, and society’s standard approach. Between co-founding or inventing several companies and products, she also managed to write a bestselling book, Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, and Live Happily Ever After.
Her newest book, Disrupt-Her, A Manifesto for the Modern Woman, comes out in hardback on January 29. We sat down with Miki to get a feel for what this newest project is about, and why we’re so excited for it to come out.
Wanderlust (WL): What do you mean by Disrupt-Her?
Miki Agrawal (MA): A person who is courageous enough to live life fully lit up, on her own terms, and is committed to moving the world forward, despite societal obstacles in her way. Disrupt-Her is an unabashed manifesto that inspires us to move past outrage and take positive steps on the personal, professional, and societal levels. It galvanizes us to action in 13 major areas of our lives with as much firepower as possible. These are the credos we live by, the advice we give to friends, the tenets we instill in our companies and peers on a daily basis. It’s a whole body F*CK YES to your work, your love, your relationships, and your mission.
WL: Why is disruption to the status quo necessary right now?
MA: Doing things “the way society deems is acceptable” is not working. Eighty-five percent of people worldwide hate their jobs. Over 55 percent of Americans are medicating, and an even-greater percentage are bored with the “acceptable life path” that most follow (often to satiate previous generations’ societally accepted dreams that got squashed by their previous generations’ dreams for them and so on). It’s a vicious cycle and it’s hitting a boiling point. There is more outrage and divisiveness that ever before in this country, including rising mass shootings and suicide. The takedown culture is a pleasure to so many, and media is taking advantage of the click-bait ugliness that people are seeking to mask their own boredom. Society as we know it needs an overhaul. And who is society? It’s made up of *people* who are not different than any of us—so why should we listen to those people who are from years past and whose concept of “what’s acceptable” may not be relevant to today at all?
All of this needs complete and total *positive* disruption. People clearly don’t want to follow made-up rules like sheep, we want to break free of the shame that has a chokehold on our lives and live life on our terms, and fully lit up.
WL: What are some of the common societal beliefs that you are attempting to disrupt in your book?
MA: Why must we get serious as we grow up? Why must we get our head out of the clouds in class? Who is making up these rules and why?
Why are our children still learning like they did during the Industrial Revolution? The rows of desks, the standardized tests, were all made to churn out factory workers. Why are we still making our children go through this obsolete process of learning that clearly isn’t working? Why are we medicating our children to “help them focus” on a system that is completely irrelevant to current times? Why must we follow a career path at all? Even if you go to medical school and become a doctor for a few years, why must you stay in that profession? Because it makes your parents have more bragging rights? Because you might “lose face” if you switched careers and might possibly fail at the next thing you do, so rather you stay in your “safe career path” that makes you unhappy than try your hand at the thing that you are actually passionate about? Save face to whom and for what?
Why are we still not talking about “money”? Why is still tacky to talk about? Money is literally a made up energy exchange that we have agreed to is worth something and yet it’s taboo to discuss? Who says?
Why are we all down to live in a culture of complaining? I get it, everyone wants their angst heard, especially the selfie generation, but isn’t it better if we connected in a different, more positively disruptive way instead of hiding behind complaining? I call bullsh*t on all of it and more.
WL: How has this approach helped you? What have you gained by being a disruptor?
MA: We literally only have around 21,000 days to live from the point we graduate college (average 22-years-old) to the point we die (average age 80), so why not live those days fully lit up and fully alive and fully in our power to decide exactly who we want to be, for said short amount of time?
I have learned to quickly discern what is societal conditioning and what is my own thoughts and it has given me so much freedom to focus on being in integrity and choose a positive, loving path that speaks to me and to those I love.
I learned that I don’t need to “get serious as I grow up,” I can still live in a child-like state of curiosity, playfulness and awe, and still be a responsible adult at the same time.
I learned that I don’t have to follow a “career path,” I can follow my “lit path,” where the dots of my life will inevitably connect. I learned to look at money as flowing energy and the more I saw money as an energy exchange, the more I was able to be released from the weirdness around it and by releasing the weirdness around it, I was able to build my businesses to over $150 million.
I learned that rather than complain about things, come with solutions before even voicing any complaint. Those who come with solutions are coming at it from a productive angle, not from an “acceptable-culture-of-complaining” angle.
I learned that if I want to move society in a new, forward-thinking, positive direction, that it will come with a lot of pushback—and I have learned to love the process of teaching people the new, positive, more forward-thinking, happy way of existing, judgement-free of yourself and those around you.
Miki speaking at Wanderlust Speakeasy in 2015.
WL: You say this is a manifesto. What do you mean by that? What is a modern manifesto, and how can it help to push change?
MA: A manifesto is a wake up call. I think this book will help wake people up to how we are following made-up rules in all of the major areas in our lives and will help set a completely new life-changing, positively disruptive path forward for ourselves and the world.
WL: Women’s empowerment is having a moment. What can women learn in your book that they may not elsewhere?
MA: They will learn new original ways to talk about things like money, career and purpose in an empowered way, how to fight the patriarchy authentically and without outrage, how to find the loving partners who lift them up, how to understand and deal with Hate-hers in a different way and how to inspire a culture of positive disruption once and for all.
One of the major themes in the book is to encourage women to stop feeling like they don’t have control over their lives. It’s a fine line to walk between this kind of empowerment and victim-shaming. What’s the difference? What if a woman does feel like a victim?
This book shows women how to powerfully feel through all of their feelings and move through them in an even more powerful way. I share tangible techniques on how to feel empowered and empathetic even after having dealt with so many tough experiences.
WL: Can a man be a disrupt-her? Are we ready for allyship?
MA: Yes! We can all align with men who also believe in equality for all and there are plenty of them out there.
WL: Where do we go from here?
MA: Read Disrupt-Her, join our Disrupt-Her Book Club (a Facebook group) where you will be held accountable to disrupt your life in the most epic way imaginable. Once you hold yourself accountable and consciously do the exercises in the book, watch how your life, the lives of those around you and the world shift.