Back It Up, Flip It and Reverse It

“If you knew how this story ended, what would you have done differently during the beginning and middle?” My therapist asked me this question during one of our sessions. For that reason, I want to tell this story in reverse.

The End

“Broooooooooo, God showed up and showed out! I wouldn’t have even thought to put this together in a million years. See what happens when you’re patient?” My BFF had to sternly remind me of a couple of things: First, I hadn’t been patient AT ALL, and second, hadn’t she TOLD me that it would work out for the best? That’s neither here nor there though. I like to credit myself for being able to predict (read: control) the outcomes of situations. However, this time, I almost sabotaged the testimony during the test. A couple weeks into a 3-month contract role, I was hired full time to work at the corporate office for a fashion retail company. I was so excited! The opportunity to combine my expertise (training) and hobby (fashion) and get paid for it was unreal! I’d always worked in financial services and never even thought to look for corporate training roles in fashion. After being unemployed for 4 months, I could finally sigh a breath of relief.

The Middle

Before I had a chance to enjoy the last plate of leftover turkey, I was unexpectedly laid off from my first executive role the Monday following Thanksgiving. After I recovered from initial shock, I jumped into action and started searching for jobs. My resume seemed to get lost in a black hole. I even considered changing fields and interviewed for roles in community relations and non-profit. Let’s just say that I’m still waiting for a call back. Had I known that after 3 months, I’d land a new role that I was excited about, here’s what I would have been spending my time doing, instead of hosting daily pity parties with my friends, family and anyone who would listen as the guests of honor:

  1. Spending quality time with my family and friends. The time that I did spend with my family and friends was spent crying and worrying. It isn’t often that you have 3 months to sit around during the day and watch ‘the stories’ with your grandma, take your toddler to read-a-longs in the morning when other parents are at work or go visit your brother out of state for a week.

  2. Job shadowing my friends. Most of my friends have flexible jobs in fields outside of my own. I had the opportunity to learn more about project management, operations, and about ten other skills/industries. I wouldn’t have expected to become an expert but could have expanded my knowledge and applied it to my new role.

  3. Traveling to expand my network. I always find conferences, workshops and learning events across the country as I’m scrolling social media. During the time I was laid off, I should have attended some of those events to not only sharpen my skills but to have been exposed to people and opportunities outside of the

  4. local market.

The Beginning

Needless to say, my role as a Learning & Development VP charged with the task of developing and implementing the learning program at a company required long hours. I kept my head down and worked tirelessly with an end goal in mind. While I don’t regret my effort to do well in that role, here’s the one thing that I would have done differently:

Remained closely connected with my network! I cancelled lunch meetings, skipped out on networking events and stepped down from leadership positions in community organizations. I was busy and didn’t want to burn out. Although I wasn’t able to engage with my network in the same way that I had before, I could have used tools such as LinkedIn to remain connected. LinkedIn provides updates on your network so I could have sent a congratulatory note for a promotion or new job, shared relevant articles and connected individuals. For me, it felt awkward to reach out to my network while unemployed because I hadn’t been in contact. I’ve never wanted to be the person to only reach out when I needed something but to be a person that builds and maintains genuine relationships.

“If you knew how this story ended, what would you have done differently during the beginning and middle?”

I would have spent less time worrying and more time preparing for what’s to come! What are YOU doing during your beginning and middle?


Love it or Hate It: You Gotta Work

Do you not enjoy holidays and weekends because you are already dreading returning to work? Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat in anticipation of going to work to find that it’s only 3:29am? Better yet, raise your hand if you’ve ever cried uncontrollably in the handicap stall in the bathroom at work.

Those thoughts aren’t always a sign that it’s time for you to chuck the deuces to your 8-to-8 (shout out to you if you are able to shut down your laptop and be done with work at 5pm) and work for yourself. I mean, if you haven’t discovered your passion, how the hell are you supposed to follow it? If you don’t have a passion, product or service, you probably need to keep a day job. Notice that I said a job, which doesn’t have to be your current job if it makes you miserable.

At the end of the day, the goal is to create the opportunity to do work that you find fulfilling….whether you create that job as an entrepreneur or mold it in the corporate space.

Do What You Like

Here’s the gag about adulting: It’s not as much fun as we imagined it would be when we were kids. Among gag-worthy responsibilities like paying bills, we have to work. Everyday. Sometimes for 12 or more hours for and/or with people that we don’t like, at companies that we hate. I’ve done it. I get it.

Here’s the question: How do I figure out what my dream job is…and get hired? Like, today?

Answer: Figure out what you DON’T like. In 2015, I hated my job. I took daily cry breaks in the bathroom (who am I kidding, I took HOURLY cry breaks), I worked for a micromanager, the job paid the most money that I’d made up to that point and I traveled often. My dilemma was that I loved the money and travel but hated feeling like my manager didn’t trust me and constantly being questioned. As I began planning my exit, I made two very specific lists. First, I listed everything that I hated about that role. It’s one thing to not like your job, but ask yourself, what specifically do I dislike about this job? Is it the daily tasks? The way your manager provides feedback, or the lack or feedback? Incompetent colleagues? Long hours? Here are four specific things that I hated about that job:

Hate List

  1. Micro-management. “Your messenger shows that you were away for 5 minutes…where were you?”

  2. 3am conference calls with business partners across the globe.

  3. Unable to take advantage of company sponsored development due to overwhelming workload.

  4. Unbalanced feedback. “Here’s everything that you did wrong….”

Then, I wrote what I liked about the role. Again, I was very specific:

Like List (I’m sure I had a better name for this list at the time)

  1. Developing instructor led training (writing) and seeing to come to life in class

  2. Traveling to places that I may not have otherwise gone

  3. The ability to work from home.

  4. Opportunity to manage projects. New skill alert!

I looked over the lists and created a third list of what my ‘dream job’ needed to look like:

My Dream Job

  1. Freedom to be creative. That could happen by working for a manager/company that allows me use my skills/expertise to create effective learning solutions OR creating a space for myself as an entrepreneur to create, write, teach, etc.

  2. Ability to travel. Either from the freedom of working for myself or a role that includes travel.

  3. Work/life alignment. Because work/life balance isn’t a ‘thing’. Sitting on a conference call in the wee hours of the morning doesn’t work for my life….

  4. Consistent development. Whether it’s personal or professional, I need the opportunity and resources to work on myself and learn new skills.

Now What?

Looking at my dream job list was exciting and confusing. It felt good to kinda know what I was looking for. At the same time, I wondered how I’d find this dream role, if it existed at all. The first thing I did was ask better questions in interviews to find out if the culture aligned with my dream job list. (I’ll write a post about questions to ask in an interview soon.) I also looked for opportunities to do what I love on my own, like creating a blog where I am able to write and create in my own way.

The adventure of seeking new experiences (volunteering, a part time job doing something that you love, taking a class to build a new skill..) that lead to landing or creating your dream job is just as important and rewarding as stepping into that new role…whatever you determine it to be.

This week, I challenge you to create your lists and share them with me! Either leave a comment, send me a DM or email!




Going Above and Beyond Will Not Earn You a Promotion

I was robbed at gun point and went to work the next day.

I was stuck in a snowstorm in Minneapolis and missed Christmas with my family for work.

I worked 20-hour days for 6 months.

I missed the Season 2 finale of Insecure because I was on a plane for work…need I say more?

I was ambitious. I was dedicated. I was a damn fool. This is NOT how you earn credibility. This is NOT how you earn a promotion. This is NOT how life is supposed to work (pun accidentally intended.)

I know what you are thinking..”That must have been the job, or jobs, from hell!”. The funny thing is, most of these unfortunate circumstances I put on myself. As a corporate trainer, if one of my colleagues was sick and couldn’t facilitate a class in California, I raised my hand to take the 5-hour flight to the West Coast. As a Learning & Development Consultant, if a client didn’t provide everything I needed, I’d work around the clock to ensure I met the deadlines. As an Instructional Designer, I’d accept projects that were outside of my realm of expertise which caused undue stress and even longer hours. I told myself that these stretch assignments would pay off in the long run.

Well, I stretched myself too thin. Instead of being promoted, I ended up stressed, depressed and unemployed.

Here’s why going this hard will NOT earn you a promotion. I had to tell myself:

“Girl, go to bed!”

Working 20 hour days is not sustainable for any amount of time, let alone 6 months. Yes, this is even true for those of us with double and triple doses of #BlackGirlMagic. So yes, you will meet your deadlines but if the quality of your output is trash, what does that do to your reputation? Besides, when you work that hard and long you want something that you can be proud of. People begin to expect 3am emails from you and after awhile it becomes the norm. It isn’t looked at as going above and beyond. If you show up to a meeting to present, no one cares that you flew in on a red eye, that your toddler has an ear ache or that you had an anxiety attack in the bathroom minutes prior. In that moment, the quality of your presentation is what matters. You have to be very protective of your professional signature, your brand, your reputation. I had to learn to tell myself “Go to bed. No one is going to die if you don’t submit that report at midnight.” Honestly, no one is going to read it at midnight anyway, like sensible people, they are probably sleep…or, never mind. I finally stopped losing sleep (literally) over projects, deadlines and upcoming meetings. Instead, I took my ass to bed to protect my mental and physical health. Besides, under eye bags aren’t cute.

 

“If you can’t manage your existing workload, who do you think you are going to manage?”

For most of us, we can complete our workloads in 40-50 hours if we get off of social media. Consistently working 90 hour weeks sends a signal to your manager that you can’t handle your existing workload. That definitely doesn’t scream “Give this person even MORE responsibility including managing people!” It also shows that you don’t know when or how to delegate or raise your hand and say I need help. We are all moving at 1000 miles a minute, often others won’t see you struggling. You have to ask for help. When you ask, be specific. Don’t say “I can’t meet my deadlines” because you should have spoken up when they were assigned and it puts everyone in a bad space. Say “ I’ve taken all of the notes but it would help Bob could lead the meeting while I meet with a client to ensure that we meet our deadline on this project”.

 

“You about to blow up!”

You are a ticking time bomb. At some point you are going to suffer from burn out. You definitely don’t want that to happen while you are in a leadership or more visible position. It looks differently for everyone. It could be that you shut down, or lose interest in the things that you love, self medicate , become physically ill…etc. Don’t let it get there sis. Take care of yourself. I know that self care has become somewhat cliche but it’s so necessary. At the end of the day, not only will you NOT receive a promotion, you will probably be replaced by someone who takes care of themselves, knows when to delegate and manages their time wisely.

 

Take care (literally)

 

5 Books That You Should Read Before December 31st

It was December 31, 2017…I remember it like it was, well, last New Year’s Eve. I made a goal (because I don’t subscribe to resolutions*) to read 5 books a month, every month in 2018. I made this goal knowing that it would be added to a growing list of daily activities like: mom-ing, meetings, scrolling IG, volunteering, looking cute, writing, pitching and doing all of the activities that are attributed to living my best life (shout out to Duval, for the culture).

Thanks to my (now expired) Amazon Prime membership, I had all 15 books for Q1 2018 on my doorstep by January 4, 2018. Today is September 19th and I’m proud to say that I finally found the time to pick the books up from my doorstep and bring them in the house.

Actually, I’ve read 5 books this year and started 8.

Earlier this week, I spent the day in Barnes & Noble to scope out new book titles although I’m not buying anymore until I read the ones that I purchased in January.

Here are 5 books that grabbed my attention:

1.       Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy

If you are a content creator looking to grow and engage your audience, monetize your brand and become a top influencer, this book was written for you! (Shameless Plug Alert: I’m about 80% into this book, in case you haven’t noticed my blog updates and IG feed). The book is divided into four digestible sections: Building Your Community, Packaging Your Brand, Monetizing Your Influence & Planning Your Future. Hennessy shares tips that you can implement immediately and see results. I keep this book in my purse and re-read sections, use templates and follow (and study) the influencers and business owners mentioned in the book.

2.       The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser with Jodi Lipper

If you are a smart professional woman looking to take your career to the next level without compromising who you are, this book is for you! The title immediately caught my eye particularly because “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois R. Frankel, PhD is one of the books that I started this year. I logged on to my library account to see if it was available (I’m all about saving money) and borrowed the ebook! I read the first three chapters today. This book speaks to those of us that walk the line of sometimes being too nice to avoid being labeled a bitch. It also speaks to those of us that hide our niceness at work to avoid being viewed as weak and ineffective.

 

3.       Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together by Erin Lowry

If you are in fact a broke millennial, just interested in financial literacy or anywhere in between, pick up this book. The tone of this book makes it far more interesting than other financial literacy books that I’ve read. Erin discusses how to get financially naked with your partner, managing student loans and balancing your bank account and social life! The advice is practical, realistic and relatable. I skimmed the book today and have definitely added it to my “To Read” list.

4.       Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

I asked my friends and social media fam for book recommendations and this book was mentioned 10x! My friends tell me that the twenty lies and misconceptions that Rachel addresses in the book are spot on. She shares the falsehoods that we all are guilty of telling ourselves (and believing) that hold us back from living our best lives. The book is funny, real and necessary.

5.       13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success by Amy Morin

If you are ready to kick bad mental habits in the ass, you’ll love this book. We’ve all heard some version of the saying “Master your mind and you will master your life”. This book shares 13 tips to master your mental strength that can work for anyone from college students to CEOs. Among the strategies are: Don’t focus on things you can’t control, don’t resent other people’s success and don’t expect immediate results (do I need to say it louder for the people in the back?). I love lists as they are easy to follow and refer back to. I haven’t started this one yet,but looking forward to it.

 

 

What books from this list have you read or plan on reading?

 

 

*comment drips with sarcasm.

Your Favorite Influencers Spill the Tea on Living Your Best Life...Now

What do you do when you talk to five of your favorite influencers with a combined Instagram following of over 1.4 million in the same weekend? You listen…and that’s exactly what I did.

The Inaugural Prevailing Woman Conference was held September 8-9 in Durham, NC. The conference brought thought leaders, entrepreneurs and philanthropists from around the country together for a weekend of empowerment, entertainment and the opportunity to recharge. I sat down with five of the conference’s keynote speakers, Kela Walker (7 x Emmy nominated TV Host & Producer), Tamara Hush Lee (Owner of HUSH Boutique and Celebrity Stylist), Dayna Bolden (Lifestyle, Beauty & Travel Influencer), Tasha Smith (Actress) and Charli Penn (Sr. Digital Lifestyle Editor at Essence and Podcast Host) to find out the keys to their personal and professional success.

In the microwave society that we live in, everybody wants things fast.  We want the cheat code. We want to find out the easiest, fastest way to achieving our goals to create Instagrammable images captioned with Drake quotes. Social media has been described as a highlight reel, showcasing the best pieces of our lives and conveniently neglecting to show the sacrifices, work and effort that it takes to get there.

Each of these influential women attribute three major keys to living your best life. There are no tricks or gimmicks, in fact, it’s quite simple: authenticity, intentionality and transparency. Here’s what they shared:

 

TAMARA

 Boutique Owner, Celebrity Stylist

IG: @boutiquehush , 62.8K followers

It’s not by chance that Tamara has fearlessly made bold, power moves throughout her career.   “Confidence is knowing that you are going to win. Fear is an energy. Success is an energy. Remember, everything that you do is intentional. Winning is intentional.”

 

DAYNA

Lifestyle, Beauty & Travel Influencer

IG: @daynabolden,  60.7K followers

Although she’s a very successful entrepreneur, Dayna doesn’t believe that entrepreneurship is necessarily for everyone. She says,  “I want you to live your truth and your passion. Not everyone desires to work for themselves…not everyone has to be their own boss. Do what you are passionate about and what inspires you. Do what it is that makes you happy.”

 

CHARLI

Senior Digital Lifestyle Editor at Essence, Podcast Host

IG: @charlipenn, 13.4k followers

Admitting difficult truths, even to yourself, isn’t always easy. “We don’t have balance because we let our jobs take over our lives… because we don’t establish hard lines. We are afraid to say my job sucks. We are afraid to say this isn’t working for me”.  

 

TASHA

Actress

IG: @tasha4realsmith, 1.2M followers

 For Tasha, saying no is an essential part of self-care. “I will put a line in the sand in a minute. If there’s something that I don’t feel aligns with me, I won’t do it. You can’t feel good about yourself if you go against your truth.”

KELA

 7x Emmy nominated TV Host & Producer

IG: @kelawalker, 72.6K followers

As you develop personal and professional relationships, Kela advises “…relationships shouldn’t be predicated on what I can do for you or even what you can do for me. Keep dialogue and engagement going. What I do is not who I am. Who I am is much more important that what I do.”

 

Success isn’t defined by an Instagram feed full of images captured at the perfect angle or having a verified account. Always remain true to who you are, make decisions on purpose and be open to a degree of vulnerability.

Drake said it best “…you know it’s real when you are who you think you are…”