The Girl’s Guide to Power Lunches
By Tracy Saville
The following is homage to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Earth. It is a nod to my SWIRL girls, and to all the women of the grid who bring their authentic selves to their lives and careers every day. Lunch, it seems, in our fair River City, is being transformed. The following is a true story, sort of; a story of how girls of the gird are re-writing the code of the world over ginger-laced carrot soup and pulled pork.
The story so far:
In the beginning, Sacramento was created. Boys and girls were made. There was a grid. They had to eat.
This has made a lot of people angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. Had the people not had to eat, and had the city born a rule that food was neither important nor necessary, well, flavors and choices, wine-women-song would never have been invented. Lots of paperwork and fuss could have been avoided. Alas, all must eat, and the girls, being inventive and extremely busy, chose to do so over what they called a Power Lunch. Not like the Power Lunch of the other clan, however. Not at all like that.
Many in the other clan believe this movement was created by some sort of a God, perhaps a female deity of great influence among the others, and they often discussed the idea that this ritual in Sacramento came about, in part, due to the extraordinary array of farm-to-fork-fueled eateries, where all in the land participated in the ritual of pulling food from the ground and eating it in ritualistic revelry, and because girls like to eat well. Yet many of the others also believed the girls to be just having lunch, a tremendous underestimation on their part.
The girls were very tactical, however. They saw great, fresh food as a strategic element for creating ecosystems of important decision-making, ideation, and strategy-setting for how to solve the city’s and the world’s greatest problems. It is not uncommon for girls to Power Lunch and start the conversation with news about the latest project financed, the last awesome promotion, a pain point to leverage or remove, or boys. Where the lunch talk begins never matters. It is where the talk takes them in the end that has literally powered the bowels of change. This has the boy clan concerned.
All the women in the land of urban awesomeness, surrounded by a flowing river where most have dipped their toes, do what all the men do; they work, take care of those they love, struggle, dream, shop, play and party. It is just that in Sacramento, they are doing it with an all or nothing side dish, and a very unique ability to eat what they kill AND kill enough to feed everyone in the process.
The Power Lunch has hence been redefined by the River City girls of the grid, the professionals who do more than lean in, who expect to move mountains and men, and money toward what they love with every step.
It is with this new secret clumping of Power Lunching, scattered across tables all up and down the grid, moving and shaking the city from the inside out, that Sacramento is beginning to feel the disruption.
Recently, six from a cabal who call themselves SWIRL (Smart Women I Really Love), met at the long, trouble-making table at the Grange, where Chef Oliver Ridgeway does mystical things with farm-fresh ingredients and divine presentation.
Here’s what happened:
- United & Badass: One new member of SWIRL, who assures the charitable donations of regional companies make it to the most in need with the greatest efficacy, was late in arriving—her daughter had been hit by a car while riding her bike earlier that day. The mother-United Way leader had to eat, and so she came because she had sorted out the welfare of family and friends alike. On her mind besides her daughter? How to disrupt and make better the world of philanthropy, once and for all. She also was the first woman ever, in the history of the city, to use the word badass from a podium when describing women leaders in the region at the Sacramento Women Who Mean Business luncheon recently. There were standing ovations. At lunch that day, however, they sat. She was contemplative and brimming with the unspent energy of stress locked down and dreams pending.
- Heart Attacks & Power Stories: The founding member of this Power Lunch army of influencers creates a great many of the region’s visual, technical, and story platforms, widgets and assets herself- fueling nonprofit and businesses alike. Her imagination and energy level scares most people. And that is a very good thing, indeed. At lunch she reported that a close relation had had a heart attack and she’d come from the hospital, post stints and doctor talk. “All was well”, she said with resolve, wearing a grey power suit that would make Ellen jealous. She was eerily calm, even though her company had been burgled on Thanksgiving, where the very thing her business relies upon to make things go was stolen—computers—along with thousands of donated socks she champions every year for the homeless. Her son is also the Sous Chef at the Grange. They agreed this is why the gaggle of girls had been placed at the trouble-making table. Thousands of new socks were pouring in, and she wiggled in her seat over a new adventure of disruption, though waited for others to share – making certain all received their support first.
- Mountains & Houses: Then there is one member of SWIRL who was present that day, a girl who carries a serious munitions bag of the tools and weapons it takes to house the less fortunate, and the special human beings among us whose gifts ask us to help them find their feet and a pillow. This girl on the grid brought tales of her Tahoe triumph, of the affordable housing complex she and her team delivered, after everyone told her it was impossible. The girls at the table agreed that everyone in the world should simply lay down their “that’s impossible signs” when this member of their sisterhood shows up, because “can’t” for her is like lighting an oil field on fire. Fan that flame and stand back. Either a very bad idea, or a very good one. There was also talk of a Hawaii speaking experience in her rear view, where she participated in the visioning and inspiring of disruptive transportation remixing, and there was a report on Farm to Future, a project she is already working on with many in the group, a project to house the homeless, to help the Veterans and women especially, to teach them to farm, while they find their socked-feet well supported. Everyone in the group agrees: she will be the leader in the Zombie Apocalypse.
- Innovation & User Genius: The fourth member this day announced she was moving from a Kaiser role of innovation and grace to a new hospital system where dignified people were very interested in having her make formal an expanded sandbox of innovation inside their system. Aside from thriving in single-motherhood, and we all know what kind of a power gift that is, this girl uses words like ethnography, social innovation, and user-centricity the way others talk about pumps and boots, or brand names that one might find at Bloomingdale’s shoe department. Although, she, too, has terrific shoes. Her special power is not so much what she says when she speaks, but how closely she listens and how well she interprets the information she takes in—placing herself in service of those around her. Her genius is she is a receptor of our humanness. Power news aside from major changes in healthcare systems and horizons? She also shared the idea of making sure that there is no flotsam blocking the doorways the rest of build or open. Of course, this wasn’t about doorway step-downs or bones left in the doorway by the family dog.
- Civic-Genius & Herding Cats: This day a new member joined SWIRL, a girl of deep roots and long-standing reputation in the bowels and outer edges of the city’s leading planning agency, a herder of cats and ideas, a keeper and analyst of data and trends, of economic know-how, with a history of where the bodies are buried, and a knack for opening doors and clearing roads. She had quite a first Power Lunch, realizing quickly that this was not going to be an average, everyday bite to eat with some friends. She is a major force in the farms and streets of the city, helping all who work to leverage our fields, water, energy, human resources, and other assets with intelligence and smart intent. This makes her a perfect new member to the Power Lunch pool: for all of her new Power Lunch peeps very much have their hands and feet in ever single one of those corners of the city.
- Disruption & Influence: This girl from the grid wields a pen, and what she calls a geek brain for technology and understanding the underbelly of things. She also is a human widget in the world helping others to find and deliver their true north. She arrived first, and five minutes late, which is a first, for she always, always late, because her plate is nearly always too full and so, too, are all the other plates she is spinning. She helps grow and start companies that blow up boxes. She also tells the story of the waste-to-energy company in town that grew food waste-to-fuel technology that is cleaning up the world. Her big news? Only building the world’s premiere wealth building and influence creating platform for women and opening a bank and maker lab. There was talk among the girls about this with a kind of spark behind the eye and body English that happens when girls fall in love and decide they will have a thing, and so it becomes so.
And that is the way of the Power Lunch today, in this land of grids, girls, and great sword-carrying women inside the power capitol of California.
These mothers, daughters, partners, wives, friends, sisters, disruptors, makers, leaders, mentors, and inspirers of change that comes from the bones, who’s Power Lunches include the small details of daily lives, who’s discourse is conducted on the backbone of a value system embedded in their togetherness, who’s individual DNA fuels equalizing forces of nature.
You see, it isn’t about them; although, a girl’s gotta eat sometime. Nor is it about NOT playing well or NOT eating on the grid with the other clan. They love the other clan, like they love all the other choices they make in their lives.
It’s about knowing you can change anything at any time, that change and dreams are best served with a side of rosemary-infused homemade gnocchi and a winning Pinot Grigio. It’s about knowing the girls you trust to have your back and your front share your table… because they can.