Brooklyn-born twins Antoinette M. Clarke and Tricia Clarke-Stone have have had an entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age. From selling Guess sweatshirts to their peers in grade school to offsetting student loans by hosting dance parties at college, the sisters rose to the top of the media world by doubling down on themselves and each other. Now, Antoinette, a two-time Emmy-Award–winning television producer and the vice president of branded entertainment and media innovation at CBS, and Tricia, the cofounder and CEO of content innovation studio WP Narrative, are sharing the tools that helped them achieve success in business in their new book DOUBLE DOWN: Bet on Yourself and Succeed on Your Terms.
In their Thrive Questionnaire, Antoinette and Tricia share the importance of building a tribe, how to let failure fuel your confidence, and ways to leverage your tipping point.
Thrive Global: What is the first thing you do when you wake up? How do you set your day up for success?
Antoinette M. Clarke and Tricia Clarke-Stone: We’re both firm believers in routines and starting our day with structure, which helps set our intentions and makes us better equipped to handle whatever chaos comes our way. We set our alarm 15-20 minutes early so we can meditate. While we get dressed, there’s always music playing to create a good vibe and get our energy going. A good playlist is our coffee.
TG: What brings you energy?
AMC & TCS: Good energy and vibrating on a higher frequency means everything to us! There are a ton of things that bring us energy: friends doing well, small acts of kindness and gratitude, winning at anything, small and big wins, impacting culture and people in positive ways, working on and doing things we’re passionate about, creating necessary change, being creative, finding a killer outfit or pair of shoes, and having thoughtful experiences with friends and family.
TG: What causes you stress?
AMC & TCS: Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what causes you stress, so it’s good to have an ace who knows you better than you know yourself because they can help you identify what it is even if you can’t, and then work through it with you. We both tend to be the most stressed when we feel out of control, overwhelmed, having relationship issues, dealing with a heavy load at work, and multitasking to get everything in life done—and done well.
TG: How do you incorporate self-care into your day?
AMC & TCS: Self-care is so important because it’s all about identifying and meeting your needs. Some women view self-care as being selfish or self-indulgent, but we view it as the necessary means to becoming the best version of ourselves. We both find time to press pause in our days to quiet our minds. We don’t just rely on products or a specific activity to help. Even though we love a good massage and moon dust, we’ve learned to listen to our bodies and know when to turn down an invitation to a party and have a Netflix night. We feel the most clear and grounded after doing a 45 minute guided meditation, creating healthy boundaries in our relationships, being more mindful about what we’re eating, and just flipping the off button so no one can reach us. All of those things help us understand ourselves more and stay in tune with our bodies.
TG: What brings you gratitude? How do you pay that forward?
AMC & TCS: For a long time — and sometimes we still fall prey to it — we were so focused on where we were going and what we needed in order to be happy that we were losing happiness and fulfillment, which is what brings us gratitude. We had to stop concentrating on what we didn’t have, and be grateful for all the blessings in our lives. We will never stop dreaming and aspiring for more, but we now know that we have enough, and as long as we continue to double down and live our truth, we’ll be just fine, because with gratitude comes happiness, and with happiness comes gratitude. We’re grateful that we have more in life to look forward to, and we’re learning to be more content in the moment.
Our book Double Down is a way that we’re paying it forward. We wrote Double Down to help democratize success for people who look like us. We want to give women the power to define and achieve success on their terms, and we think our journey, strategies, and principles will help create a new operating system for success.
TG: Tell us how you turn fear into fuel.
AMC & TCS: As humans, we’re wired to feel fear. It’s one of the few things in life that we can’t get around, so we have to flip the script on it. In a way, fear is like a hangover: You’re cranky, hungry, and can’t get off the couch. The status quo wants you to buy into that fear, and stay on the couch. We’ve learned to embrace our fear and our audacity to turn it into fuel by realizing that when you take chances and fail, you’re still learning and gaining lots of information. What matters is how quickly you recover, so we learned never to bring yesterday into today. You have to go big or go home!
TG: What are some of the key ways we can build our “tribe”?
AMC & TCS: Being twins gave us the base — we were the first people in our tribe, but we still had to build it like a singleton would. Your tribe is your elevation and gravity, and no one can go it alone. That’s what we learned from being twins — we were that for each other.
It’s not about passive accumulation — you don’t just want to amass friends. It’s about deliberate cultivation. You don’t hear much about how you should be deliberate as hell when it comes to friends, but it’s one of the things we’re the most conscientious about. If you’re being vigilant about your skills, your dreams, your work, your time, about what you eat, and how much you go to the gym — then why wouldn’t you be super vigilant about who you’re investing your time in? People are the best investment in your success, whether personal or professional. Don’t get us wrong: Relationships are all good, and maybe even great. But they’re only great if they’re still in your life for the right reasons, and serving a purpose. It’s about connection — and finding people you can learn from, who inspire you, who you share common passions with. Then, you must really commit to investing in those relationships so you’ll always have the right people in your corner rooting for, supporting, and loving you. It’s also about diversity and creating a tribe of unique people who all have the common goal of becoming better, more evolved humans.
TG: How do you communicate effectively?
AMC & TCS: We communicate compassion effectively by listening, being empathetic, being thoughtful, and choosing our words wisely.
TG: What are some of the ways you can avoid work burnout?
AMC & TCS: Manage expectations so you’re not overextending yourself. Be in tune with your tipping point. You have to turn it off sometimes — create an activity where you know you can unplug, and be religious about it. It’s hard for us to turn our brains off. We realized that watching shows helps us, because we become immersed in another world. So we try to watch at least 30 minutes of something, and get lost in it. It’s a great escape.
TG: What are your tips for integrating work and life?
AMC & TCS: Integrating life and work isn’t the easiest thing to do, but we both seemed to get a better handle on it by being self-aware, making an activities plan for the week, focusing on efficiency, setting boundaries, creating a dedicated workspace at home, and being mindful of our overall fulfillment of life goals.
TG: Share a time you failed. How did you overcome it?
AMC & TCS: Everyone fails at different things every single day, big and small, but it’s all about the recovery and how you move forward. When we were in our twenties, we started a clothing line, and we jumped in headfirst. We invested our own money, didn’t have any experience in the fashion world, and didn’t enlist help from a mentor to help guide us. We were both headstrong, and thought that if we just worked hard, we would succeed. While people loved the tops we designed, we didn’t get paid from all the stores that carried them. We didn’t have enough cash flow to continue production, so we had to fold the business. We overcame the failure by looking at it as a learning experience, and focusing on the things we did right, and learning from the things we did wrong. All of that fueled our confidence, and within six months, we were able to launch a new business and develop new skills that we still use today.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out?
AMC & TCS: Lately, we’ve both been feeling a little burned out. We essentially have two jobs right now. We have our “day jobs” and then the job of promoting our new book, Double Down, and building our brand. it’s been exhausting, but also exhilarating and extremely rewarding. We can’t wait to take a vacation.
TG: What is your relationship with technology? Do you sleep with your phones?
AMC & TCS: Good relationships are critical and need to be nourished and fostered, but we think we both have gone overboard with our relationship with technology. We are overly dependent because we use technology to communicate, to travel, to eat, for education, etc. The first step is admitting we have a problem, and the next step is checking ourselves. We recently started tracking our online time, and have been making a very concerted effort to get our numbers down. Unfortunately, we have a very, very close relationship with our phones; we’re kind of inseparable, and even when we’re sleeping. it’s very close by on our night stand. Our relationship song would be “Telephone love” by JC Lodge.
TG: How do you stay organized when you have an overwhelming amount to do?
AMC & TCS: We are both crazy organized and we attribute that to one of our favorite things: lists! We make them for work, vacations, holiday shopping, projects, etc. We’re all about listful thinking. Lists help us to see everything that has to get done. They make everything more manageable, and make us feel grounded, so we can prioritize and then delete once it’s done. We use the reminders app in our phone and evernote to organize everything by day and time.
TG: How do you manage your inbox?
AMC & TCS: We both try our best to get through what we can during the day, and then dedicate one hour or so in the evening to catching up. We used to answer everything in real time, and we weren’t always present in all the things we were doing. It also set a bad precedent because everyone expected immediate responses all the time, which wasn’t realistic. We had to set boundaries. We had to learn that certain things can — and have to — wait.
TG: What are three things you can’t thrive without?
AMC & TCS: The three things we can’t thrive without are confidence, compassion, and cool!
TG: Can you share a quote or mantra that helps you to thrive?
AMC & TCS: One of our favorite quotes that helps us thrive is from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”