Daring to Reframe my Disability
It’s my pleasure to sit down again with Tiffany Yu, a Bootcamp alum I just can’t get enough of! Last year, Tiffany was featured as one of our incredible Boss of the Year nominees and most recently was front and center in the Wall Street Journal as part of her incredible achievements.
Read on to learn more about what this bossin’ Bootcamp alum is up to now – and her words of advice for bosses navigating big life choices.
Emilie: Tell us about yourself, boss!
Tiffany: Hi, I’m Tiffany! I’m currently work in corporate development at a media startup. I’m also a merchandiser at the lifestyle and jewelry brand Chloe + Isabel and the founder of Diversability. Talk about a multi-passionate life! I’m passionate about making an impact and paying it forward.
E: Awesome. So what drives you, Tiffany?
T: When I was 9, I was in a car accident that left me with severe nerve damage to my right arm. In the years that followed, I struggled. I hated being different and felt inferior… talk about the opposite of being a boss! During my senior year of college, I realized that ability/disability was an aspect of diversity that no one really acknowledged. But for me, it was something that played a big role in my life on a daily basis, from shaking people’s hands to typing an email. It often felt like the elephant in the room.
E: Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. How did you turn such a scary, unexpected turn of events into an opportunity for impact?
T: Well, a quote from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon resonated with me: “We must remove all barriers that affect the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in society, including through changing attitudes that fuel stigma and institutionalize discrimination.”
To me, the biggest barriers are rooted in assumptions and a lack of awareness. People with disability are more than just their disability, and I wanted to showcase that ability is just one part of a very colorful identity. I thought something needed to be done and I couldn’t wait for someone else to take the lead.
So I started Diversability, a forum to raise disability awareness and reshape conceptions of ability through conversation, action, and community.
E: Incredible. So you started Diversability while in college, correct? Why re-launch it now?
T: That’s right. More than 5 years after launching Diversability on campus, people were still reaching out to me on the work we had done. It made me feel like Diversability could be something bigger. I’ve spent the last couple of months working with a great team of volunteers to connect with others doing great work in the disability space and planning our re-launch event in New York City, which happened in April.
We had a great panel with Ms. Wheelchair America 2011, a jazz pianist who had performed on David Letterman, a TEDx speaker, and the co-chair of Women on Wheels. Even the Commissioner from the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities was in attendance!
I could have never imagined that this passion project would turn into such an amazing event. And this is just the beginning. I want to foster a community with Diversability that connects, showcases, and empowers people of all abilities doing amazing things. You can learn more and join the movement at http://mydiversability.com.
E: So cool, boss! So what role did Bossed Up Bootcamp have in getting you here, Tiffany?
T: I went to Bossed Up Bootcamp back in 2014 while I was in a job with overnight hours that I didn’t love, and it was having hugely problematic impacts on my life. My sleep habits were terrible , eating habits weren’t great, and exercise habits… what exercise? When I was awake, I felt like I was constantly in a zombie-like state, which didn’t help my social life.
Bossed Up Bootcamp was the reset moment that made me realize: I needed some big changes. More importantly, it connected me with an amazing group of boss sisters that I can turn to for support and advice. The Bossed Up Bootcamp community saw me in a way I didn’t see myself at the time – as a boss!
E: Hearing these stories always makes my heart just want to crack right open. Love! So what advice do you have for other bosses-to-be on the brink of daring greatly?
T: My biggest advice for starting something new is just to do it! I currently live by the quote, “If it’s both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue it.”
That’s how I felt when I started my new job at the startup and it’s how I felt when I re-launched Diversability. Be brave, and your boss sisters will have your back.