Nike Women & The ‘Make Yourself’ Movement


[Hey, it’s me. This post is one in a series I’ll be writing as part of Nike Women’s Make Yourself movement, and gets a bit personal. If that’s not your thing, I totally understand. Go grab some turkey and pumpkin pie a little early this year and we’ll see you back after the American holiday.]

Something cool happened a few weeks back – Nike called. They said that over the next few months they’d be collaborating with 20 female bloggers to help them build a new community around the Nike Women mantra of “Make Yourself”. I was asked if I’d consider being part of what they were doing. Though somewhat intimidated by that notion, the former athlete inside of me agreed before I could stop her. My first assignment per Nike: Share the story of how I’ve “made myself”.

You want to vomit, right? I know. I had the same reaction.

When I was first asked how I made myself, my initial response was to scrunch up my face and wonder what the hell, exactly, people think I’ve made here. But, as Outspoken Media prepares to turn two (TWO!), we get cozy in our new Troy, NY office, and we continue to sign dream clients, I think that maybe I have created something. I (along with my amazing partners Rae and Rhea, of course) have created the opportunity to support myself and a growing team of employees, doing something we believe in, in a way that we believe in. And that’s something to be proud of. How did I do it? How did I “make myself”?

With two things:

  • An unrelenting belief that I could.
  • A desire to show anyone who ever told me I “couldn’t” how wrong they were.

In essence, I’ve built myself on an intense desire to prove you wrong. And if you’re familiar with me either online or in real life, none of that will surprise you.

I’ve blogged before about the difficulties I face communicating and how it’s had a substantial impact on my life. As they say, “it is what it is” and it’s just another thing that makes me Lisa. But I think anyone who has grown up feeling “different” or who’s been seen as “lesser than” comes to a point where they see there are two options: Accept what other people have decided for you or don’t. I decided early on in my career that I wouldn’t

I think it’s been easier for me to stand out because I’ve always had to. I’ve often felt that people who grow up “normal” probably feel a lot more pressure to conform than those who do not. Yesterday, Shoemoney blogged about how being fat gave him a huge edge, and I think it’s completely similar. The crosses you bear give you the character you need to attack the rest of your life. People who fit in often grow up to write blog entries that don’t move people or create campaigns that others barely notice. They blend in because they’ve always blended in. With my speech, I can’t. So I don’t even bother trying. Why not take it to the edge and see how far I can go?

There was a point in my career a few years ago where I stopped looking behind me. Where I stopped analyzing what I was doing wrong and decided to go for it, full strength. It’s when I started caring more about saying something that mattered to me and not at all what people were saying about me. That’s the moment I created a brand. It’s when I created myself. It’s ironic, really. I’ve made myself off a voice that others spent the first part of my life telling me I didn’t have.


While my situation is more dramatic (isn’t it always?), I do think everyone goes through the process when trying to “make” themselves. We all have something that causes us to question what we’re doing. To ask: Is this right? What will people think? Can I really do this? You live your life doing what you’re “supposed” to and bobbing and weaving at all the right times. And that’s fine – until you want to make something remotely interesting. For that, you have to break the norm. The moment you start bobbing and weaving out of tune is when people notice you and when things get interesting.

Call it ego, but I always believed that I was special; that I was the exception to any rule. I believed that if I jumped, I’d find something to land on. And that’s hard – leaping with nothing but blind faith that something will catch you.  But there always has been, even if it’s not the something I was expecting. And that’s when stuff gets fun. These days, that’s what I try to do and what I hold in the back in my head. I jump and the rest seems to fall into place.

I made myself by embracing my differences and trusting myself, even when no one else did. The first step to changing the world is the belief that you can. I do. And I will. Just wait.

If you’d like to join or learn more about Nike’s Make Yourself campaign, I’d encourage you to take a look at the females featured on Nike’s Web site, the Nike Women Facebook page or check out the online video ads.

[Note: I’m traveling home to Long Island today to have Thanksgiving with my family. So, I may be slow to respond to comments. However, as usual, I always will.  If you’re celebrating, have a great holiday. If not, enjoy the quieter Internet.]

Your Comments

  • Jen

    Lisa, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again; You make me want to be brave. Because of you I’ve learned not to fear failure, but to fear mediocrity. And on a personal level, I know that you really do always look forward. We’ve not had the easiest road to friendship but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Adversity has the power to make people and relationships strong. It’s certainly proved true for you and for us. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • CJ

    This is a really nice way to finish my short holiday week. I appreciate and respect this very personal post. It hits home for everyone, in some way, even if people aren’t ready to accept that they’ve had something to overcome. We all deal with something and I think its how (or if) we deal with it that helps us define who we are. I’m always thankful for your honest, straightforward style.

    Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

  • illmill

    You read shoemoney’s blog? I can’t tell u how much respect for you I just lost…

  • Chris Snell

    Thanks for sharing and being as transparent as you are! This is good stuff!

  • Kristin

    Lisa –
    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been a follower of OSM for about a year and am someone who goes through that routine a lot despite not being happy with it. Hearing about others who can step out of it and do it successfully is a huge inspiration.


    ps. congrats on the paypal post too!

  • Doc Sheldon

    Absolutely fantastic post, Lisa, and a prime example of “walkin’ the walk”.
    Interesting that you have taken what some might call a weakness, and turned it into a strength that many would envy. Frame of mind is, indeed, everything.

  • Michael Dorausch

    In the process of making yourself, you’ve also motivated countless others. We may not take the time to say so often enough, but you are appreciated on many levels. Thanks for being you.

    Have a great Thanksgiving on Long Island!

  • W. Michael Hsu

    Great. Freakin. Post. Lisa.

    Can definitely relate to the things that you are saying here and I’m sure many people go through the same self-doubt from time-to-time – “can I really do this?” – as they are trying to accomplish something or “make themselves.” but you are absolutely right that the ones who’ve come through or is in the process of – simply keep fighting back and push on the limitations that others (or ourselves) have set.

    Inspirational as always and thanks for the share.


    • Lisa Barone

      Thanks. Absolutely everyone has their “can I do this moments”. That’s what makes us human. It’s funny how we’re so inclined to doubt ourselves and be so sure that someone else has it better. Nope. We’re all in this together. :)

  • Suzanne Vara


    First, congrats to you for this well deserved honor of being included with the other women.

    There is that inner voice in all of us that either believes the folks who say we cannot or instills a drive in us that sets out to disprove and not just a little bit, but a whole lot. If someone tells me I am shit and cannot do something, oh let me tell you how shitty I will show them I am. It is that competitive nature or that power that pushes us when we want to be pushed. Otherwise, we move on as there is nothing left to see there.

    This line is something we all need to look deep into: “The crosses you bear give you the character you need to attack the rest of your life.” When we are going through things we need to take away a piece of it with us, when we are or see others who are different we need to remember and focus on what makes them special.

    Thanks Lisa I needed this as I am not where I want to be physically this Thanksgiving but reading this made me see it differently: while I may not be where I want to be, I am where I am supposed to me … for now.

    Enjoy the family out on the Island. Can ya send a wave over to my peeps in NJ?

    • Lisa Barone

      Hi Suzanne,

      Thanks so much for your comment and the kind words. It’s definitely a competitive in nature that drives people to show others wrong, I think. Or at least it always has been for me. And it feels really, really good to do it. ;) Props to you as you get to where you know you want to be. You can do it.

  • Pam

    It is encouraging and empowering to see a woman of strength use her gifts to inspire others. I too always felt my voice should be kept quiet, as surely no one would want to hear words that falter, or drag on a little longer than everyone else’s. And then I realized I am not everyone else. I am me.
    When we accept that, our voice clamors to be heard.
    That’s what mine was doing for a long time and then I listened.
    And I found my voice – the inner that deserves to be heard.
    Looks like you are doing that too. Well obviously you have already mastered the written part.
    I believe that women who stutter have a special purpose- we teach people to be better listeners.
    This is a great piece. I feel privileged to have met you!


    • Doc Sheldon

      “…we teach people to be better listeners.”
      What a great way of putting it, Pam!

      When I was in high school, the guy that ended up being my best friend stuttered badly. On a bad day, It could easily take him 15 seconds just to say “My dog ate my homework”. Most ignored him, some made fun of him, but he didn’t stop trying. By our senior year, when he was elected class president, he still stuttered, but people had finally figured out that what he had to say was well worth listening to. Besides the fact that he became (and remains) like a brother to me, I really respected his spirit. He rarely stutters now, only in times of great stress, but is still someone that people listen to.

      Kinda like you, Lisa! ;)

      • Pam

        Wow Doc! That was a nice reply. It took me a long time to realize that people could, and would, want to listen to me talk and stutter. And thats its OK.

        Stuttering is just another one of the many ways we have of communicating!

        And yes, Lisa does it quite well.

    • Lisa Barone

      Thanks, Pam. It was so great to have met you last week. Looking forward to more outings. :)

  • Andrew @ Blogging Guide

    Nike has not made the wrong choice about you. And this is yet another great post! The drive to prove someone wrong is really good. Proving someone wrong somehow gives you the sense that you’ve indeed accomplished something.

  • Matt Clark

    Hey Lisa, well done… Thanks for sharing this and it is really a great post to let people know that doing the right thing is not always the right thing. Our best teacher is our last mistake and if we do not take a step out of the comfort range we will never get that lesson. This is great stuff…


  • Natalie Sisson

    Lisa so great to be part of this Nike Make Yourself Movement with you. I too was selected to be part of it and was kind of amazed when I read the email saying `Nike calling’ in my inbox.

    Your piece is brave and bold and beautiful. I’m excited to be on this next stage of your journey with you.


  • Jennifer@voip mpls

    Believing you can, believing you are special, is 95% of the battle. Too many people give up before they’ve even started. Good for you for believing in yourself!

  • Kim

    This post brought tears to my eyes. I relate fully. Thank you for writing it.