Marci Harris is the founder and CEO of POPVOX, an advocacy platform that combines legislative data with personal stories, and then delivers public input to Congress. POPVOX won the social media category at the 2011 SxSW BizSpark Accelerator Startup Competition. Marci was also named one of Fast Company Magazine’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012 and one of Washingtonian Magazine’s Tech Titans in 2013. She previously was Legislative Counsel for California Rep. Pete Stark.
A Key Talent | I think an extremely important quality is the ability to be positive and realistic at the same time. Vision requires a positive attitude. Imagining new things, taking risks, moving despite setbacks — these all require an ability to see the silver lining in dark clouds and to stay focused on the destination despite bumps in the road. That does not, however, mean that you ignore realities, or stay on a predetermined path when the evidence shows you that conditions are changing. The ability to truly listen with head, heart, and gut is essential to making good decisions and living honestly and without fear.
My Definition Of Success| Success to me means living authentically, listening to your inspirations, following the path that feels right. I think every human’s instinct is to give to the world, to leave a mark and contribute something that they are uniquely to provide. Success is finding the means to do that. Scale, recognition — those are all superficial. Success can be found in micro actions that affect small communities, families, even one person. Success means simply finding our path and being authentically ourselves. My definition of success has changed through the years as I have come to appreciate how human we all are, how meaningful small gestures can be and how humble the truly great among us are.
The Difference Between good And Great | People who are good at what they do usually are acting in accordance with some exterior standard. They have studied and perfected the world as it is. Frequently they are playing faithfully by the rules that someone else established. People who are great at what they do listen to their heart. They are evaluating the old rules by what feels true, and creating new rules. They see the world as it could be, and work to make it so.
Values And Principles I Live By | Authenticity, humility, truth, non-judgment, forgiveness, compassion.
How I Use My Mind | I think intention and state of mind are key to success. It is less about what you do than why and how. I try to be open to input from many sources; to listen carefully to ideas, critiques, and feedback, and to assimilate those that resonate. I am most productive and make the best decisions when my perspective is expansive and open, and frequently when I step back from the issue at hand. If I find myself too myopic or focused, I mentally step back — almost like an actual satellite photo — to imagine the city, the state, country, the earth, and beyond… I find that this exercise makes minute decisions more manageable and gives perspective of time and context to large decisions. Above all, it is vital to let go of fear of failure — it does us no good and leads to mental paralysis.
Dealing With Doubt | On a very practical level, I am surrounded by people I love and trust. I work with people I respect. I try not to judge or send negativity out to others and I do not look for it to come to me. Inevitably, negativity happens. Fear comes. And sometimes it has very little to do with actual reality, it can show up when we are tired or under the weather, or feeling sensitive. At those times I turn to loved ones and advisors for perspective. My advisor Janice Fraser, has a wonderful diagram that shows the path of an entrepreneur: I have re-drawn that many times for friends and colleagues.
Performing At My Peak | It is impossible to always be performing at your peak. The important thing is to be authentic.
The best advice I have ever received | I was finishing college and trying to decide where to apply for a job, sitting at my father’s kitchen table, pouring over my resume and overwhelmed with what felt like too many options and not enough, at the same time. As he asked me how I was doing and tried to talk to me about my morose mood, I exclaimed, “I JUST SO AFRAID I AM GOING TO SCREW UP.”
My dad threw his head back and laughed a deep, belly laugh.
“Well, baby, you are going to screw up,” he said emphatically.
And from that point on, that decision, and every decision that followed, was just a little easier to make.
Important Advice | Don’t live someone else’s life. Don’t play by someone else’s rules.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | True empowerment of people around the world to be a part of the decisions that affect them and with that to embrace the responsibility of decision-making that considers long-term macro effects and respects all people of our world community.