The Insider’s Guide to Life: The Power. You Have It.

ColumnWhat will your do with your wild hair?

Every few years I get what’s known in the parlance as a wild hair. These are more than mere hankerings, yens and yearnings. I feel them before I understand them, but by now I know better than to question them. The result of this is always swift, powerful change. I happened to drive to Los Angeles on Saturday in order to get some EcoSalon matters squared away, and halfway down the 5, it happened. I realized the real reason for the trip was something else entirely. Hello, wild hair.

Dinner with pals at The Tasting Kitchen in Venice (lovely branzino, by the way, order it with a Baby Bird cocktail), 7 p.m. Checkpoint: Oh yeah. Something’s going on. Tossing and turning with enervated, inexplicable insomnia, 1 a.m. Checkpoint: I’m awake, already! What? Brunch with a think-different-now, go-get-em-girl musician friend, 11 a.m.: Like it was in the cards all along. And the unexpected, sudden change in the work schedule for the day, 1 p.m.? No surprise at all.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to go on runs to a spot on the bluffs of Pacific Palisades. These hills just beyond Temescal High School are lined with a grassy dog park and benches, only a few feet from the edge, the whole of the Pacific Ocean spreading out below. From this vantage point, you can gaze in the distance at Long Beach and Malibu; you can sense the gentle curve of the planet. The sea sparkles some days, and is a mirage of sunlit mist other days. My bench was lower and more secluded than the others, below some wild chapparal on a ledge jutting out from the bluffs. This was my thinking spot for years, a place where I made many important decisions and renewed commitments. And on Sunday, I knew exactly where I belonged.

The last Wild Hair Incident, just over three years ago, resulted in radical change in my life of the external sort. It’s why I’m here talking to you, in fact. This time is different, a kinder, gentler fire under the ass. So, no: I’m not adopting an African baby or marrying a rock star or moving to an ashram. I’m still me, here. But while I’m here, I want to say something to you.

Right now, what do you really want to say to that person? Stop reading and go say it. You know how to say it. It’s the right thing to say. Say it.

Forget this year. Think about this decade. What do you want out of it? Start working backwards right now. Do not wait. We need you.

And just stop.

Stop faxing. Who faxes? If they want you to fax it, refuse. Insist on an email. Nobody needs to be faxing, period, ever. Get a scanner and tell them to try out the new century, they’ll like it.

Tell the market it is not acceptable that they do not have organic dairy products and are still selling conventional strawberries. Just tell them. They will change.

Don’t text. Pick up the phone. Don’t surf, pick up a novel. If it is not about creating, changing, or cramming things of value into that brain of yours, do not do it. If it is not getting you where you want to go, and you know exactly where you want to go, do not give it any thought.

Don’t wait if you already know the right thing. Good men don’t wait and neither do good women. Everything is always in flux, always changing, and waiting or not waiting does not slow the pace of change or make something more right. Start making your decisions quickly; yes or no, in or out. Light your own fire.

How do I know you can do this? Because you’re here, right now, with me. A few weeks ago I was thinking about the EcoSalon audience – yes, I do that – and the thought that twigged me most persistently was how powerful you are. Today’s marketing-savvy consumer can trot out the facts and figures about how women control the dollars as well as any advertiser I know; we’re 80% that, 60% this. You can probably tell me more about what marketers do than they can. Anyone who has seen a commercial or received a promotional offer knows this power implicitly. But do you know it?

AOL just bought The Huffington Post for $315 million. Arianna Huffington is now the president of AOL’s content, and content is their strategy for the foreseeable future. The reason? As put by the perennially rude (and brilliant) Paul Carr on TechCrunch, “Tim Armstrong has just sent to all AOL staffers: ‘The Huffington Post is core to our strategy and our 80:80:80 focus – 80% of domestic spending is done by women, 80% of commerce happens locally and 80% of considered purchases are driven by influencers. The influencer part of the strategy is important and will be potent.’ Or put another way, ‘we bought the Huffington Post because it’s full of important women who buy things’.”

Do you actually know your power? Or are you just saying you do? Elle‘s slogan is “Cherchez La Femme”: Look for the woman. Why? Because women are behind everything. Our motto is “Have a Heart.” Why? Because everything you need, absolutely, ever, to create change, to create a life of meaning, to leave this place better than you found it, is right inside you now.

You’re powerful and you know it and so do I, and I expect you to make good use of it. Consider this your wild hair. Now, what are you going to do?

This is the latest installment in your editor’s new column for 2011, The Insider’s Guide to Life, exploring topics such as media, culture, sex, politics, and style. Cheers and spellcheck!

Image: NeilArmstrong2