Can Miki Come Back After Her Downfall at THINX?

She has always loved breaking taboos.

THINX founder Miki Agrawal at Burning Man.

It started when she and her twin sister faked their gender at age five, disguising their long hair under helmets and pulling on shin guards to break into a boys’ soccer game in the playgrounds of Montreal. By their teen years, Miki and Radha Agrawal reached the Canadian National Championships. The identical twins were in a race over who would be first to change the world.

But nearing age 30, Miki was burned out from running between her two successful organic pizza cafes in New York City. Radha had just broken off an engagement and become a fixture at a sports bar, drinking every night until she passed out.

The twins were spiritually untethered. They had no community. They began to feel the burnout that hits so many millennials, particularly entrepreneurs.

“I just love the taboo space,” Miki often said. Few words are more verboten than the one that describes everywoman’s healthy menstrual flow.

In 2010, when Miki hatched the idea of designing a luxury underwear line for “people with periods,” she had a tiger by the tail. THINX was the first major successful innovation to hit the women’s sanitary product market in 75 years, since tampons. Posters appeared one day wrapped around posts in Grand Central station, with beautiful young women showing off their bikini panties and sports briefs without a trace of embarrassment.

Miki earmarked a portion of the proceeds to go to a partner, Afripads, to serve poor girls across Africa. While traveling, she’d discovered many young women drop out of school at 13 or 14, ashamed to have nothing to hide their time of the month but unhygienic materials like rags, leaves, or bits of foam.

At the peak of Miki’s phenomenal success in 2017, she was scorched by scandal. The first hint of trouble was when her “public relations girl,” Chelsea Leibow, demanded a raise only a month after she was hired. The 25-year-old’s only previous employment had been as a nanny. Leibow gave herself the title of High Priestess of Period PR and insisted her name should be on all emails, not the founder of the company. Miki kicks herself for letting her antagonist stay on for a year.

Fired in December, 2016, Leibow re-appeared in the office to threaten her former boss, demanding $250,000 or she would go to the media with allegations of sexual harassment against Miki. Agrawal says she refused what she called an “extortion” attempt.

But serious problems with her company had been looming. Her executive life coach, Lauren Zander, saw that Miki was headed down a dangerous path long before the scandal. Working at breakneck speed to build her business, Miki took shortcuts and made decisions and deals that left her vulnerable. Zander told her outright that she had ignored the most significant aspect of building a successful team by turning the hiring of her staff to another person. And she had no HR department.

Many online blogs and magazines shared Leibow’s story: Agrawal had an “obsession” with the young woman’s breasts, touched them without consent, and asked her to show her nipple piercings to other employees. She and a few other staffers complained that Agrawal often disrobed in the office while trying on new products and would FaceTime into meetings from home while sitting on the toilet. Leibow also described her boss as having “an aggressive management style” that made Leibow too intimidated to speak up. Up to one-third of the 30-person staff had quit since January of 2017.

At a board meeting in New York that March, the CEO was forced to step down. “The board had been looking to replace Miki as CEO well before Miki left,” I was told by the new public relations manager of the reorganized company, Leesa Raab. Several other new executives told me they had wanted a corporate bottom-line person.

She had also made a classic mistake of new entrepreneurs— giving her board 51 percent of the company. Her board members took advantage of the scandal about to hit the press to fire the founder.

Miki’s “takedown,” as she calls it, happened just as the #MeToo movement was bringing sexual harassment into a serious national conversation. It was toppling scores of powerful men who would lose their exalted positions in places like Hollywood, Silicon Valley and all over the media.

There are no documented cases of women using their corporate power to intimidate women employees to offer sexual favors, on pain of losing their job. One former THINX employee explicitly said that she doesn’t believe Agrawal was actually pursuing a sexual relationship with anyone at the company; rather, she called it performative. “She’s not a predator and it’s not malicious, but that doesn’t make it right. And it all boils down to the fact that she has no conception of it not being right.”

Breaking the taboo against respecting employees’ privacy was not forgivable.

“I didn’t protect myself,” was all Miki would say at the time, given the “non-disparagement” agreement she had signed. Miki’s second book, Disrupt-Her, will be launched January 29, published by Hay House. The “manifesto for female entrepreneurs” does not address her professional or personal passage since the scandal.

The media today is rife with “cancelling” notable people, usually for disappointing fans’ expectations. People as seemingly bulletproof as humanitarian Bill Gates, Gwen Stefani, Taylor Swift, and Kanye West met this fate. Once people are cancelled, they are victims of human boycotting; no matter what they say or do, they are virtually written off. It’s perfectionism gone to an absurd extreme. No one who dares enough to become publicly successful does so without making a stupid mistake somewhere along the line.

This story is about a tribe that has saved this flawed female entrepreneur from cancellation.

A glimmer of enlightenment came to Miki Agrawal when she dared to go to her first Burning Man festival in 2011. She was 31. The ethos of Burning Man is to live in the moment, just what she needed.

Miki and her twin sister let their natural entrepreneurial minds flip the whole scenario of late-night clubbing. The twins’ inspiration was, “What if we took all the positives of nightlife—music and dance—and did that in the morning with no drugs, no mean bouncers; instead, a welcoming committee to give you hugs?”

I first caught up with Miki in 2012 when she was she was bouncing out of her Williamsburg, Brooklyn loft at 5:30 AM to run for the subway in her four-inch high stacked silver sneakers to beat the crowd of a thousand-plus that lines up at Pier 40 on the Hudson River for the tribal dance party they call Daybreaker. Dancing at dawn? That’s the point. This sober rave was meant to convert millennial office slaves and startup entrepreneurs from drug-blasted club-goers to sunrise lovers of yoga, dance and underground music.

The twins were DJ’ing together, joining in on this ground-breaking generation of female DJs  Their athletic figures were skimpily clad; Radha’s in a sequined bustier and fishnet stockings, Miki‘s in a braless crop top stenciled with “Feminista”—or was that Radha? It’s impossible to tell the twins apart. Both sported bejeweled captain’s hats.

These days, crowds of over a thousand are happy to pay $40 to join this cool phenom and dance for two hours while being ferried past the Statue of Liberty and filmed by a drone. In its first two years, it had become an urban craze.

The twins’ mother is Japanese and was passive in the face of their domineering Indian father.  He was the parent who instilled their burning urge to compete. They were sent to French school on weekdays, Japanese school on Saturdays and Hindi school on Sundays, emerging with a polyglot identity and the ability to fit in almost anywhere.

They left home at 19 to immigrate by themselves from Canada to the U.S. and strive for the utmost reaches of the American dream. With the help of financial aid, they both graduated from Cornell University and beelined to New York, where they both began careers as investment bankers.

That safe choice was blown to smithereens by 9/11.

Never before had Miki overslept her alarm. It kept her from being incinerated in the Deutsche Bank office in Building Two of the World Trade Center. “9/11 was my wakeup call—the aha moment,” Miki says. “Do I live an actualized life, or not?”

She wrote down three things she wanted to do with her life: play professional soccer, make movies and start a business.  Her soccer career with the New York Magic was cut short by multiple injuries. Video production was too confining. She wanted to be her own boss.

The usual generational solution for millennials who feel lonely and abandoned by America’s institutions is to live at home as long as tolerable. One-third of millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 still live at home with parents. Women in their twenties and thirties flee to Facebook for friends and to Instagram and Snapchat for followers. They desperately seek to portray a dream life from carefully curated images and videos, often signing off after many wasted hours only to feel more empty.  Too long diapered in internships and haunted by college debt, they may stick with a shitty 9-to-5 rather than risk trying out different career options.

Not Miki and Radha. They took gigantic risks and had the benefit of failing early, but they still felt isolated. “We were working our asses off to do startups. We had no safety net. At the end of the day,” Miki admitted, “we felt alone and drained. We needed a community.”

Older friends told the twins that Burning Man was a utopian experience in community living, unplugged from all the electronic devices and commercial transactions that run our lives. Everybody shares. In 2011, the twins joined some 68,000 creatives for a week to help build a city from sand in the barren Nevada desert and fill that magical canvas with art installations.

“Radical self-expression” is one of the principles giddily practiced—men love to dress up in tutus; nubile women show off their pastie-covered tits; strangers exchange gifts and favors, art and music and maybe sex, all in pursuit of a higher level of happiness.

Miki met her soulmate at Burning Man. Andrew Horn was not only handsome, he was already a social entrepreneur, like her. He was only 24, but he had started two non-profits—one for children with disabilities and one for disabled adults. Actually, they had met four months earlier, but Andrew admitted to me, “Of course I was intimidated. Miki is a force of nature.”

The young man was still trying to figure out who he was and, as he told me, not ready to get involved with a formidable woman seven and a half years his senior. Andrew brought his own tent to Burning Man, determined to sleep by himself. After too many mushrooms, he could barely pitch his tent.

Miki was not nearly so restrained. “He was the most romantic man I’d ever met and we made each other laugh.” So Miki searched the desert until she found Andrew in his tent at four in the morning. Peeking inside, she was overjoyed to see him sleeping alone. She planted herself outside and debated for an hour, “Should I crawl into this kid’s tent?”

Andrew awoke with a yelp. “‘Oh, Miki?” And he pulled her all the way in. “We spooned the rest of the night,” he told me. After the two spent four days radically expressing themselves together, they were “Burning Man married.” Andrew wore a gifted Brooks Brothers suit over his bare chest. Miki was also transformed, a swath of sheer white chiffon wrapped around her half-naked body. The ceremony was performed by a Rev. FunkPocket on an artistic replica of an ocean pier..

But it turned out that Andrew had been addicted to porn from age 12. He’d had some 70 one-night stands but never a relationship. The next year, the couple returned to Burning Man in an RV with six of their closest friends and dozens more who were eager to bear witness to their second, more serious, “Burning Man marriage.” It was still not an official paper marriage, but Andrew whispered to me: “We feel committed for life.”

It was out there, nowhere in the Nevada desert, where apocalyptic flamethrowers set a wooden man to burn, symbolic of letting go and starting fresh in life, that Miki and Radha hit on the idea of founding their tribe. They named their communal “family” Boom Spiral.

“It’s the opposite of the Doom Spiral in economics, where everything gets worse and worse,” Miki told me. “In our tribe, we enhance everyone’s well-being and awesomeness.”

That includes the “well-being and awesomeness” of Taylor Conroy, a 26-year-old meditating zen surfer who was obsessed with building businesses that make change in the world. He was close to folding his first startup, Change Heroes. Miki and Radha heard about the company that offered a video platform for young, purpose-driven philanthropists.

Miki held a pow-wow for him, and her tribe members all insisted: “You can do this—just power through.” Shaking hands with Conroy, Miki slipped him $10,000. He parlayed that pre-investment over the next few years to raise $3 million from donors in over 40 countries to fund schools, anti-sex trafficking efforts, and water projects—before he turned 30.

The anthropological definition of tribe is “a social group consisting of people of the same race”—okay, these are almost all white, except for Miki and Radha; “they speak the same language; hold the same beliefs”—de-commodification, self-sufficiency, human connection; “share customs”—half the tribe today are repeat “Burners”; “and a common purpose”—to use their success as entrepreneurs to change the face of education, eating habits, energy production, philanthropy, music, dance, media, toilet habits, you name it.

To house some of her tribe, Miki found a handsomely renovated 100-year-old Catholic church in Williamsburg. It had been turned into mini-apartments. “Three of our couple friends all moved onto the same floor with us,” she announced. The four couples could beg and borrow from one another, talk shop, or commiserate. Andrew saw their tribe as a new version of the sixties commune. I couldn’t hold back a laugh, having been a big sister of the Woodstock generation.

“But the sixties hippies followed Timothy Leary’s psychedelic prescription: ‘turn on, tune in, drop out.’” I pointed out. “They were anti-capitalists, living off the land, making bread and love and accidental children. Isn’t your tribe using capitalism to foster your social purposes? Maybe even to justify living well?”

Their pocket duplex rented for $4,375 a month. That’s no sixties commune. Andrew acknowledged they were different: “We balance the ridiculousness of the way we’re able to live by trying to make the world a better place, and investing our time in things that are helping people.”

Tribes need rituals. I followed the couple and their tribe to their next Burn and saw them begin to invent rituals to celebrate couplings to come, conceptions, anniversaries, births—both of children and startups—and all the other passages as they grew from stage to stage into adulthood.

“This is a unique group among millennials,” says Esther Perel, a couples’ therapist and best-selling author of Mating in Captivity, who Miki and Radha invited to coach the tribe on intimacy and sex. They were most curious about polyamory, usually defined as having a deep attachment to one partner but also able to have romances with others. Lots of players in rich single precincts like Silicon Valley declare their marriages “open,” but usually end in a breakup, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher.

“Open marriage didn’t work in the sixties, or when it was tried in earlier centuries,” she says. “We are a jealous animal.”

I asked Miki how she felt about polyamory. “Andrew and I talked about it. We’re just not ready. Maybe in 15 years when we’ve tried every position, but now I’m thinking about having a baby, so I feel like ‘mine, no one else’s, he’s mine.’”

Perel quickly assessed the tribe as “warm and loving, but living in a sensory-deprived age.” The first piece of furniture Miki showed me in her new shared apartment with Andrew was a huge, low Indian bed in the middle of their living room—“a cuddle puddle.” (The twins picked up cuddle puddling at Burning Man, where people drift into parties over the course of an evening, sit close, hugging, drinking, talking, stroking in a friendly setting, going as far as their boundaries allow.)

Miki had always imagined herself marrying and having children.  She confided in me her recurrent dream:  She is  in a birthing tub in a little country house with Andrew in the water beside her. The family of their tribe is gathered around the tub. If all goes well,  Miki will enjoy an orgasmic birth. A midwife will help deliver the baby and the father will assist. The newborn will be passed around members of the tribe each of whom pledge to help raise the child.

The couple secretly planned their ritual of conception. While friends assembled for a tribal member’s birthday party, Miki and Andrew disappeared into a bedroom and Miki “pulled the goalie.” They say they felt their baby’s spirit form in the moment of joining. “It was sublime.”

But, as the Beatles warned us, life is what happens when one is making other plans. In her fifth month of pregnancy, Miki’s other baby, THINX, was wrested from her in the space of a few weeks. Its earnings, privately held, had increased by 20 times in the first two years, according to Miki. She had fantastical plans. “I want this to be a billion-dollar brand that influences a billion lives and eliminates the menstrual taboo for a billion women,” Miki had told me.

Andrew’s startup had attracted 50,000 customers to use his Tribute platform to record eulogies for living loved ones. Among them were Bill Clinton, Richard Branson, Tim Ferriss.

In Joseph Campbell’s famous mythic Hero’s Journey, there are three main phases: The Call to Adventure, The Ordeal and the The Comeback.

When I saw Miki shortly after she had stepped down as CEO and the media had blasted out the story in every form, she was fit to be tied. Five months pregnant and swimming in hormones, she swore that she would carry bitterness to the end of her days. When I received an announcement of the birth of Miki and Andrew’s son, I couldn’t wait to hear if her dream delivery had come true. Did the tribe rally ‘round?

“Oh my god, two weeks after I was fired, they burst in here with a boom box, food and flowers and said, ‘We’re having a party!’”

Miki and her son.

The week before her due date, Miki had DJ’ed at Daybreaker, belly bouncing. When she began having labor pains two days late, Miki invited everyone over for a dinner party. It began like a big meditation circle, 15 people all gathered round the cuddle puddle chanting in unison with the birth mother’s vibrations: “Ooohhhmmm.” It helped ease her contractions.

As the pain became unbearable, Miki succumbed to going to the hospital. She was given a drug that forces contractions. Instead, it squeezed the heart of the fetus and drove its heart rate down. A vaginal birth was not safe. An emergency C-section was performed.

When I visited Miki at home three weeks after her son Hiro was born, she was still “on the hamster wheel,” as she calls her non-stop entrepreneurial quest to change the world. She had already churned out two new patents and applications for two more. Her other business, Tushy, a portable bidet for adults, had earned a million and half in revenue, she said, and her mother-in-law was encouraging her to write a book. “It’s going to be a modern woman’s manifesto called Disrupt-Her,” Miki announced.

How, I asked Miki, did she and Andrew weather the storm of such a public failure? Miki’s defiant armor loosened. “I talked like three times a day with my life coach, going through every emotion. Sometimes I lashed out. Andrew and I would go to our coach’s house for a weekend and talk through all the stuff we were holding.”

No progress can be made to restore one’s professional standing until, if and when, the “cancelled” figure can allow her or himself to be vulnerable. The inner comeback must come first. It’s a painful process of self-examination and self-correction before one can move forward without carrying bitterness or blaming others.

After the takedown, Miki immediately went to work with her Lauren Zander, the best-selling author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap, Face Your Fears, Love Your Life.  “Miki was a mess,” the executive life coach told me in a recent interview. “She could not breathe. She couldn’t not cry. She felt devastated in every way. People didn’t believe her; she was betrayed by her board; the media piled on and on.”

Zander does not suffer whining. She is 48, a one-time teenage hellion who is now happily married. “We’re going to begin with a long list of post-mortems,” she told her client. The old Miki had to be put to rest in order to allow a rebirth. To help her come out of her bitterness and blaming, Zander told Miki she’d have to learn to take full responsibility for everything that happened around her.

How long did it take to lead Miki to the point where she could accept the truth? “Six to eight months,” Zander said. “She had to practice talking about it, coming to own it, and not being ashamed or venomous.”

The line that Miki and Zander kept rehearsing was “You let the fox into the hen house.” Miki was strapped for cash in doing her startup. The minute she realized she could get a better deal from another manufacturer, she insisted her current manufacturer give her a better rate. That was the beginning of the end. Zander smelled it. “I screamed at her: ‘This is dangerous, Miki!’”

But Miki was desperate to make payroll and grow the business. “She had high hopes that she could straighten out the problems later—don’t we all?” This is one of the biggest mistakes that startup leaders make. They’ll deal with the culture later, they just have to get the work out: “Everybody, heads down!” Zander has seen it happen so often to her clients, she sees it as the fatal flaw in building the culture of a startup.

“She needed to realize that because she’s such a force to be reckoned with— a visionary— she doesn’t see or hear what people are whispering behind her back—and she doesn’t care,” Zander told me. “The business was growing so fast, Miki paid no attention to whether people liked her or not. She didn’t take the time to develop relationships with the people working for her.”

In reality, the culture of a company is everything: the way the CEO runs a meeting, builds a team, manages deadlines, hears grievances and builds trust. Miki couldn’t see the impact her demanding style was having. Zander admits: “If you don’t really know her, you might assume she was a controlling bitch.”

To break through Miki’s wall of denial, Zander helped Miki establish three personal laws against repeating behaviors that alienate people: I will know whoever I hire, I will never try to be CEO again, I will always respect the art of building a great culture.

Miki and Andrew went through a lot of turmoil during her work on inner change. “Miki was accustomed to not needing help or nurturing,” Zander learned. From my observation of her demanding father and passive mother, the self-starter probably didn’t get much nurturing as a child. This crisis was the first time ever that she needed Andrew to take care of her, but she didn’t know how to ask.

“What Miki really needed was for Andrew to fight for her or let her cry like a baby,” Zander said. Andrew is a warm and loving person, but, like most men, Zander told me, his approach was how to “fix” the problem—by looking at all sides.

Miki has made great strides in how she handles talking about the takedown. Today, she is even able to bring it up: “If you Google me, you’ll read articles that say when I was four months pregnant, I was sexually harassing a woman I had fired.”

For all their work together, Zander knows Miki is still afraid that people won’t see her for who she is now. “I wish she loved her scarlet letter more— that she understood how special she is. She truly believes in changing the world, but she’s still afraid people won’t understand that about her and like her for who she really is.”

It had taken two years for Miki to help Andrew give up his porn addiction and fully enjoy their sexual intimacy. The couple had then begun pursuing what I call “slow love,” as opposed to the popularity of hookup culture and dateless sex. At every significant moment of their relationship, these two create a ceremony to deepen their commitment, which is witnessed and affirmed by their tribe.

Andrew designed her gold engagement ring with a space in the center to reflect their agreement to choose each other, over and over again, but also to maintain their separateness as individuals. Their deepening love and trust was endorsed by their tribe in many memorable rituals.

“When I think about my relationship with Andrew and all the obstacles we have overcome together, “ Miki said softly, “in business, in life, even in the sexual space—I’m so deeply proud of our partnership.”

On a visit to Miki, in June 2018, I caught her dashing in from a barre class in a running bra and biker shorts—still running. She summoned her babysitter to bring her infant son straight home. From the moment the nine-month-old baby boy appeared, Miki lit up as little Hiro pulled down her bra top to have a snack.

“If bad things hadn’t happen to you…” I began.

“…I wouldn’t have been able to be here for my baby,” Miki finished the sentence. “I was in the hamster wheel running so fast, I would never have been able to stop.” But stop she did, and her new M.O. as a calm and present mother was a stunning contrast to the driven disrupter of her first 35 years.

She cancelled 15 speaking engagements after being fired. She was now working from home, but on a book that could be set aside for Hiro’s dominant needs. The cuddle puddle was now a playpen strewn with toys.

And Miki herself looked different. A band of grey hair was showing. (She corrected me:  “Silver hair, I’m rebranding.”) Allowing her natural color to take over is another part of the passage into one’s late thirties—one day desperately wanting to look younger again, then embracing the reality of what I call not aging, but “sageing.”

“Silver connotes hard-earned wisdom,” she commented. “We should be proud to show it off.”

Miki’s dream now is to continue to break taboos through innovation. She hopes her book, Disrupt-Her, will expose the many ways in which women are indoctrinated to act out in business and life according to pre-prescribed behaviors.

In the afternoon, three of her male employees from Tushy dropped by to show her prototypes of a portable bidet. Her new CEO is Jason Ojalvo. She hired him away from Audible where he was head of the content production division. She doesn’t have to change her clothes or leave her baby.

I asked Miki if she still believes that it is possible to run a profit-making business in America’s market economy and at the same time pursue a social justice movement. “I absolutely do.” She spoke as an entrepreneur in the taboo-breaking business. “You weather the storms in business. But what’s most important is that you have people who love the shit out of you.”

Miki and Andrew moved into their new, fully grown-up home a month before their official marriage and seven years after their first Burning Man marriage—a testament to slow love. A gigantic sectional sofa sits in front of their new fireplace.

What happened to the cuddle puddle? Appropriately, it was moved upstairs to their new boudoir.

I asked Andrew how the usual distancing from friends once a couple has a child had affected the old closeness of their tribe. He barely grasped my point. “Miki and I exist as a central unit with a core orbit of about 80 tribe members around us,” he replied. “Concentric orbits of people in other cities and countries number, maybe 200.”

Being the romantic, Andrew had taken the last year to plan a DIY wedding where everyone would contribute to the tribal ceremonies. He found a rent-a-wreck boy’s summer camp near Cold Spring, New York—deep, really deep, in the woods of the Catskills. A private bus hauled the revelers up from Brooklyn and deposited them by dorms with wood-slatted camp beds. Most were then dressed in overalls and ready to prepare the outdoor dining area, bar and a stage in the amphitheater for a talent show of odes to love. Andrew had spent the last year planning it down to the yurt where wasted guests could get away from it all. I found him in his cabin writing his wedding vows.

Miki and Andrew at their wedding.

He showed me Miki’s wedding ring. He had designed it to slip into the space left between the two halves of her engagement ring. “That was when we wanted to be joined but separate. Now the wedding rings lock us together.”

That night, after a musical meditation and a buffet dinner, guests dressed in elegant versions of Burning Man outrageous picked up popcorn, Kombucha drinks and craft beers and disported themselves on blankets to watch a talent show. The twins put on an hilarious performance of a song they wrote together at age ten, constantly interrupting each other, ever the competitive performers, to the delight of their audience.

Saturday was the scene of two wedding ceremonies—one Indian, one Japanese—and a final inter-galactic joining, with Andrew in all white and Miki in sheer chiffon over a sparkly leotard with her signature Panama hat.

A couple of weeks before Miki’s book tour, I interviewed Miki and Andrew in the house the couple bought just before their marriage last September. It’s now the new HQ of the tribe with friends dropping in and out and an extra bedroom for out-of-town members to crash. Their son Hiro is center stage, a year and a half and kicking a soccer ball the length of the living room with his dad when he’s not racing toward Miki—squealing “Mama! Mama!” to jump into her arms and go dancing.

Andrew retreats to his study, where he’s preparing a podcast show. He launched his third social good business a year ago and now leads retreats for young men to work through a ceremonial rite of passage into mature masculinity. He’s what Miki calls a SNAG: Secure New Age Guy.

Radha drops in with her new husband. The twins live a 10 minute walk apart in Williamsburg. The uncomfortably overdo “geriatric” pregnant twin, already days past her delivery date, leaned back in a lounge chair so her beach-ball-sized belly could float up and take the pressure off. Radha talked about the greatest gift she’s had in life—an identical twin sister.

So much of our old B.S. is gone. Sharing motherhood has taken away all the silly competition we’ve had and replaced it with collaboration.” The sisters are on the phone 50 times a day, to which I can attest.

When I returned to Miki and Andrew’s place to say goodnight, they were at the kitchen island surrounded by friends all pitching in to make dinner. I had one last question: What does the couple do when they have a fight?

Andrew smiled. He will pull out the photo albums of their Burning Man experiences with the tribe. He piles them up on the cuddle puddle and waits for Miki to pore over them. It’s a reminder of all the beautiful times they have shared over the last seven years and an invitation to reconcile.

On one of the album’s last pages is their mantra: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Gail Sheehy is an icon of American journalism, a sought-after speaker and groundbreaking pioneer for women. She is the author of 17 books. Her landmark work, Passages, remained on The NYTimes Bestseller List for more than three years and has been reprinted in 28 languages. Gail was one of the original contributors to New York magazine and has been a contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 1984. She is a seven-time recipient of the New York Newswomen’s Club Front Page Award for distinguished journalism and three-time winner or finalist for National Magazine Awards. In 2013, she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by Books for a Better Life.

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