Strands of Genius: Ha-Ya Means Life, #ListenToBlackWomen, Terrence Truths

Guest curated by Marissa Shrum

This year we’re aiming to highlight 50 creative thinkers that have inspired us, by giving them the opportunity to guest curate this newsletter, Strands of Genius. Marissa and Faris met in NYC and have had the pleasure of working together. And upon meeting Rosie, Marissa realized she knows Rosie’s grandparents from Tennessee. Small world.



Hi I'm Marissa. I started a company called Remember, I Love You. We are a cultural intelligence and community impact studio. I moved to NYC in 2005 and Faris worked 2 buildings down from me at Naked (I was a producer at an experiential shop, Cunning). I can't remember our first meeting, but I'm sure we bonded over having sentient hair & insatiable curiosity. I was fortunate to work with and for Faris early in my career as a strategist. When I met Rosie, we discovered I know her grandparents from back home in Tennessee. Life is wild. Faris and Rosie are people I deeply respect & with whom I always learn & laugh a lot.

Editor’s Note (Faris): I met Marissa in my earliest days in New York and fell in love immediately. She had been working at an agency I knew from London and had just moved to McCann. I eventually followed and we spent a year or two hatching plans and trying to move and make culture. I celebrated her rise at Mother New York leading a content and community group, and cheered her Editor-in-Chief role at Target, but am most excited about what she is doing now and next with Remember, I love You. She’s a beautiful spirit, a tireless campaigner for the unheard, cultural divining rod, community creator and will make you feel better, and smarter, and more enthusiastically alive, after every conversation. We love and miss you Shrumcake!

:: THE LINKS :: 

  • I grew up in the South, going to church three times a week … and my mom enrolled me in a Jewish elementary school (she thought I might avoid early experiences of racism being surrounded by a smaller ethnic community). At 8 years old, I had to learn to read, write and speak Hebrew. It was very hard and very fun. I found deep connection and inspiration being embedded in another culture. This gospel song by the Clark sisters, Ha-Ya is from the Hebrew word Chaya (“living thing”). This song reminds me of home, always puts me in a good mood, and reflects why I think we’re all here on this planet - to connect, express and build. (YouTube)


Looking for more from Marissa Shrum? Those enrolled in The School of Stolen Genius will receive a deep dive from her in their inbox shortly! You can access all our expert interviews for SOSG here.


:: Game :: A card game called "May I" / It's also known as "Continental Rummy"

:: City :: New Orleans

:: Book :: The Color Purple

:: Podcast :: It's not a podcast, it's a folklore series by artist and storyteller Kyana Gordon

:: Album :: Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life


This is an image from my Aunt Jackie's house of her and my grandfather. I remember being very young and confused about why my family used both gender pronouns when talking about her. Jackie has been living her truth as a trans woman since the 60's and so much of me is because of her. Jackie's taste and aesthetic orientation and creativity and passion for design is evident in this photo I took of her a few years ago after I quit my job and decided to spend time capturing her story. During that time, I realized the powerful genius contained within our families; genius we might take for granted because it's familiar and close and painful. Some of us have been tricked to look outside of our homes for magic, interestingness and intelligence. Black Trans Lives Matter.

“We have to create culture, don't watch TV, don't read magazines, don't even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you're worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you're giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told 'no', we're unimportant, we're peripheral. 'Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.' And then you're a player, you don't want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.” ― Terence McKenna

Marissa Shrum

linkedin | instagram

Strands of Genius is currently read by 12,000 subscribers. Support us by sponsoring an issue, becoming a member of The School of Stolen Genius or encouraging friends or colleagues to subscribe.

It's called Genius Steals because we believe ideas are new combinations and that nothing can come from nothingBut copying is lazy. We believe the best way to innovate is to look at the best of that which came before and combine those elements into new solutions. 

Co-Founders Faris & Rosie are award-winning strategists and creative directors, writers, consultants and public speakers who have been living on the road/runway since March 2013, working with companies all over the world. Our Director of Operations is nomadic like us, our accounting team is based out of Washington, our company is registered in Tennessee, and our collaborators are all over the world. Being nomadic allows us to go wherever clients need us to be, and to be inspired by the world in between.

Hit reply and let’s talk about how we might be able to work together :)