Ericka on Life, Vulnerability, and Femininity
CREATE: You made an important decision in your grandmother’s passing. Can you tell us about the promise you made to your and how it has impacted your life?
Pittman: Maybe six or seven months before my grandmother passed away she pulled out this beaded gown and was very prescriptive about what she wanted to wear in her casket.
At the time I said wow, “this is just so morbid like why are you even talking about this.”
She said, "It's not a big deal, but I want you to know where the dress is, that I would like to wear in my casket.”
That's the vein of how this woman lived. She was very clear about the type of life she wanted to live, the things she wanted to do in her life, and how she wanted to operate. And she lived a really full, amazing life.
I gave my grandmother’s eulogy and one of the things that I considered in her passing was, "What are they going to say about me at my eulogy when I'm laying in a coffin and there are no more opportunities to be exactly who I want to be.”
It gave me this sobering mortality moment that said, "I have to live my life out loud. I have to be fully and wholly who I am, through the line, at work, at home, no matter where I am. I have to be me, authentically and boldly.”
I realized it wasn’t until I embraced that part of my life, the vulnerable side of life that I was really going to achieve success and be the type of person that I want to be.
CREATE: That takes so much courage! You mentioned vulnerability. One of the things you speak of often is a woman leveraging the feminine in business, not just from a physical perspective but also from an intellectual one.
Pittman: Sexuality and femininity -- I talk about it a lot because very few women really understand the difference between the two and they are both powerful and equally ours to possess and use at our will.
There's far more strength in femininity than ever could be in sexuality. If women could learn to embrace the difference and learn how to use femininity, they have an added advantage to their counterpart.
When I say that femininity is cerebral, it's about how we’re hardwired to think. If you look at some of the qualities surrounding femininity we're nurturers, we have empathy for the most part, we're great multi-taskers, we’re able to combine thoughts and ideas in a way that creates synergy.
Men compartmentalize and take on tasks in a way that is very separate and often times fragmented, not in a negative way, but that's how men approach situations.
Women have the ability to see every aspect and how one is going to affect the other because we are so nurturing. We can process the impact that a decision might make on four or five other things in a way that doesn't necessarily connect for a man.
If we can use these tools in a business setting we have an added advantage.
CREATE: What do you want people to know about Ericka Pittman?
Pittman: That they don't already know? I want people to know that I authentically believe in doing well by doing good. I don't just say it, I really work towards helping people every single day of my life.
Anyone that knows me intimately knows that I'm the person that will put a quarter in a meter that's running low because I don't want somebody to get a ticket. I come across stringent sometimes but at the core of who I am, I care about what happens to people.
CREATE: I get that. If you were to describe your life in movie title what would it be?
Pittman: I don't have any super fancy titles. But I think, "The Concrete Road" might be a good one, because I am from the school of hard knocks.
While I lived a great childhood, I didn't grow up in the best neighborhoods. I've also been raised, nurtured, and guided to be a very gentle, spiritual, and feminine soul.
As a result -- I have this exterior that's really concrete and rigid and a bit rugged but at the core of who I am is very soft and demure and pure and kind inside.
The dichotomy of those two things shows up throughout my entire life, in everything that I do. I think it would be a really good -- definitely a good novel and we'll figure out how to turn it into an amazing screenplay.