“Be yourself so that people that are looking for you can find you.” – Arlan Hamilton
I chose It’s About Damn Time for the Peacemaker’s Book Club because when I read it this summer I was taken by Arlan’s humble confidence. Through her stories, she manifested a genuine care and curiosity that made me feel like I had found a kindred spirit. Even though her life journey from poverty to becoming a venture capitalist is very different than mine, we landed in a similar place, encouraging and advocating for the underestimated.
I appreciate how she shares both her struggles and triumphs, offering practical advice alongside life lessons. Two sections of the book focused on peacemaker qualities that I write about often – Relationships and Authenticity.
“It has always been important to me to look beyond my own circumstances, surroundings, and culture in order to understand the world and myself.”
She gives an example of trying to raise $10,000 to print a magazine that she had created. At the time, she didn’t have that kind of money or access to anyone with that kind of money. She devised a plan to go on a quest to meet 10,000 people in person, take a photograph with each of them, then post the photograph on a website where she would sell t-shirts that said “World Citizen” and accept donations. She figured if even 1,000 people bought shirts or gave $10, she would have the funds she needed.
After the first day, she realized that she had underestimated the time that the quest would take, but more importantly, she saw that connecting with people about their lives, dreams and families was worth much more than the money she was trying to raise. It reminds me of a quest I took to understand more about the Philippines back in 2000. I lived there for about six months thinking I would learn Tagalog and more about geography. In the end, the most meaningful part was the connections I made with and between family and friends.
“There are threads that connect us all, and only by being insatiably curious about others can we discover them.”
In the section on Authenticity, Arlan writes about the struggle and striving to be true to herself, something I have written about through this month of February.
“Being 100 percent yourself is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest thing you can do. On the one hand, you get to go with your gut and do what feels right…On the other hand, the world is constantly telling us to change ourselves.”
She tells stories about having to stay silent in the face of racism in elementary school, missing out on investment opportunities because of misaligned values with an investor, working through stage fright to be able to share her message, and ignoring criticism about her casual wardrobe, which usually is a hoodie and sneakers. In all of these examples, I appreciate her honesty and willingness to show that it isn’t always easy to be yourself, but it is absolutely worth it.
“I think if you share your full self with people, you are able to relate to them on a much deeper level.”
Overall, I enjoyed the book because I feel like Arlan could be my friend and fellow peacemaker. She comes across as funny, kind, honest, optimistic, and committed to helping people in a significant way – plus she’s really interesting! (There is so much that I didn’t include here – her start as a tour manager for a Norwegian pop-punk band and the time she refused to give DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg her ice-cold Diet Coke.)
If you read the book or know Arlan’s story, let me know what resonated with you. Have you ever gone on a quest that led to connections you didn’t expect? Are there times when you have struggled to live authentically? How can you encourage and support underestimated people in your life?
More on Arlan:
- 2022 interview on PBS’ To Dine For with Kate Sullivan
- 2018 Fast Company cover and article
- 2008 YouTube video about the 10,000 people quest.
Hamilton, Arlan (2022). It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage. Doubleday.