Here is a summary of the most recent principles since last Friday’s Flash:
Find ways to stay memorable- so you are top of mind when a new opportunity arises or when you need a professional favor.
Take risks in your career- because challenges will strengthen your skill-set and groom you for leadership.
Transform self-doubtinto self-improvement. Negative energy distracts you from working towards new accomplishments. We all have rough days, but make a conscious effort to make your down days into productive ones.
Your face/nails/hair reflects your professional judgment. The famously overused cliché “perception is reality” holds true. Make choices that give you confidence, but also represent your strong professional brand.
Pursue what makes you happy- and don’t let fear keep you from doing so. You will be successful at anything you put hard work into.
Til I Die (clean)- Chris Brown, WizKhalifa & Big Sean
“And this the life we chose/ Workin’ all night/ Swear I’m never going broke/ And I’mma do this till I die/ And I ain’t talking s*** just cause I’m, just cause I’m…(I’m high)”
The song addresses the benefits that accompany the lifestyle and career choices that are made in one’s area of passion. With a clear excitement for work, working late nights, around the clock, at the cost of sleep, can be done with a smile. That work ethic will ensure long term financial security. There is no rush to stop working, your career becomes the only life sentence you hope for, and not just because of the ephemeral joy that comes with trying something new or different. Career moves that truly excite you will make work seem effortless. When you are personally invested in what you’re doing, your work product is likely to be much stronger; you’ll work harder and your chances of success are much higher.
When exploring/beginning a career change, approach it like you did when you first got started in your career.
Ask yourself the important questions. Is it the right time in your life? Have you saved enough to take a pay cut if necessary? Will you move locations if required? Is it a hard industry to break into? How much endurance do you have? Is there a point where you consider turning back?
Do your research. Learn the typical career path for the industry that interests you. Figure out if there are opportunities for advancement. Find out who the leading companies are and what the starting salaries look like. Glassdoor.com is a great resource for this type of information.
Figure out who you might be connected to that currently is doing what you want to do. Are you on LinkedIn? Join. It’s a great way to scan your existing network (people who’ve you worked with or met in a professional setting) for connections to a potential mentor or resource. Search your high school or college network. Once you make connections, set up informational interviews and seek a shadowing opportunity.
Work on your selling points. What is your pitch for your potential future employer? You already have a set of skills; determine which of those translate. Call on past experiences. Perhaps you’re leaving an IT role, but are hungry for a marketing position. Ever babysat? How did you get new clients? That’s a form of marketing your services. The stronger your pitch, the less likely you’ll have to start from the bottom.
Leave your current position on a good note. When you decide to make a move or change paths, make your move professionally and respectfully. Your current manager may even be able to help you make a transition or be willing to hire you back if things don’t work out. Don’t ruin the professional relationships you’ve worked hard on just because you’re leaving.
When you love what you do and truly have a passion for it, work is not a job; it is a part of your lifestyle. You are engaged, excited, self-motivated and you look forward to even the challenges that arise as a part of your career. You know that the tough times are leading you to an end goal that is meaningful to you.
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum—if you know you are not truly interested in what you do, work is about a paycheck. It’s habitual, routine, and you can sometimes be the walking dead. You might be engaged enough to get yourself promoted, get a bigger paycheck and live a pretty decent life. But you will be complacent, not happy. Or,in the worst cases, you will be miserable and in a serious funk.
Clearly, everyone in today’s workforce is not out there overjoyed and pursuing their passions. Some people have yet to discover what it is they love. But, there are folks who have taken some pretty big risks to male themselves happy in their careers. They all share at least two characteristics—they are fearless and they believe in their success.
The courage is critical, but not easy; there is a big risk factor involved in pursuing your passion, particularly if it involves changing careers. You might have trained yourself for years to get skilled in a particular craft, before realizing it’s not what you want. So what happens if you’re not good at what you want? What if you find your dream job (or the path to it), but it involves a pay cut? What happens when you can’t find opportunities in the industries that excite you?
This is where that confidence comes in again. Your belief in your success is the most fundamental element of achieving any of your goals. As a track runner in college, I was always told, “Envision yourself crossing the finish line first.”You might not always come out first, but if you can’t even see yourself coming out first, you definitely are not winning that race.
If you are in a role that doesn’t excite you and you have the benefit of actually knowing what does (a lot of people don’t even know what they want), you owe it yourself to try it. Drake’s Y.O.L.O. (you only live once) concept is so overused because it’s so true. Eliminate the fear that is preventing you for pursuing your true goals and believe that you WILL be great. You had to learn to be good at what you currently do, right? So take that same energy and focus that you used then and apply it to what you love.
The money will come, but it will take some time, patience and effort on your behalf. And it will also provide you with a lot more happiness, which I’d argue makes it all worth the while.
Annie Peterson is a director at a major media company that generates several billion dollars each year. As a salesperson, she is charged with bringing that revenue in and growing it each year. She is no stranger to courage or confidence; she fearlessly transformed a law degree into a successful media sales career.
Tip: Annie displays her confidence best when she is dressed for the occasion. For her, style is an art as much as it apart of the job. Solid tailored dresses jazzed up with color and strong accessories are her forte. When you are looking to leave a lasting impression, opt out of busy patterns and into simple silhouettes. You’ll appear and feel more authoritative and have a stronger presence.
I am a Black woman who wears her hair natural for work. Usually in the summer time I default to extension braids because they're: a)cooler on the scalp than a head of hair and b) it allows my hair to rest and grow a bit. I work in corporate, and am afraid to get extensions now. Why? I don't know. Should I get them? If not, do you know any tips to keep my natural hair healthy in the summer?
The key to all of your style choices, be it make-up, hair, nails, or clothes, is being polished…
A good friend of mine who has been very successful in the financial sector, which is arguably the most traditional and conservative, wore locks and sometimes questioned if she should cut them to better assimilate. She knew that some people would stare, ask to touch or make distracting comments. It was different than what people were used to.
Ultimately, she knew was confident in her talents and what she had to offer her job, so she realized she deserved to be comfortable at work; she kept her hair. She deals with the annoyances of being different when they arise, but they barely bother her, because she now expects it, and she’s much happier with the look she wanted.
The key to all of your style choices, be it make-up, hair, nails, or clothes, is being polished. Your overall look needs to flatter you, make you confident, and reflect your professionalism. I’ve known investment bankers with locks, vice presidents with fros, directors with weaves, etc. Slowly, the corporate sector is becoming more diverse and folks are growing accustomed to seeing people that look different from the traditional hierarchy.
Braids are certainly fine for the office, as long as they are well-maintained (in keeping with your overall appearance). Still, I’d throw some questions back to you and test your self-awareness. Will being the only person in your office with braids make YOU feel uncomfortable? Does feeling different affect your confidence? If unaware coworkers try and touch, might some workplace violence ensue? No judgments here, but those answers are critical to your decision.
If you determine you aren’t comfortable with braids, there are now many other low maintenance options that might work for you. Weaves and partial wigs can be cheap and easy and done in whatever texture you feel comfortable with. Keratin treatments are also good for the summer, temporarily softening your texture, making it easy to manage, while not damaging it.
Annie Peterson is a director at a leading media company, where she manages critical business partnerships. Last year, her work led to 200% increase in her department’s revenues. I’d argue that her success as a salesperson and leader is due to her talent for negotiating, her warm personality, and her thirst for knowing more about the business.
Her success is probably also driven by the balance she enjoys in her life—she’s a runner, world traveler, avid reader and a regular yoga practitioner. Annie definitely embodies a “c-suite swag,” as her professionalism extends beyond the office and into her wardrobe. She’s chic, creative, and always professional.
She has been a mentor to many young professionals and here, gives some quick words of advice that are sure to have a lasting impact.
Hair Done, Nails Done, Everything Did- Work Edition
Have you ever wondered, “is this nail polish too bright for my interview” or “is my eyeliner too thick for my meeting”? Whether your work environment is casual or corporate, your responsibility is to always fully present yourself in keeping with your office climate. But that doesn’t mean your nails and makeup have to be boring. Here are some tips on how to keep your nail/makeup choices professional, without limiting your creativity!
Less is more. Nudes and soft colors are always the best choice when in doubt about professional makeup. If you choose to have color on your lips or eyes, be sure that they are done in moderation. Too loud of an eye shadow/lipstick or too much of it can be a distraction to your colleagues and may translate as excessive and highly unprofessional. If you decide you do want a burst of color, pick just one area to be bold. For example, if your nails are Nikki Minaj bright, then your face should be very natural. Or if you go with a brighter lip, then hold back on the blush and eyeshadow.
It’s all in your hands. Whether you’re typing in the office or shaking on a business deal, your hands are always visible. Nails are most flattering when they are shaped, cleaned and at a decent length. Extra long, flamboyant or chipped nails show that you don’t care how you represent yourself and may prohibit people from taking you seriously. Clear is always the safest choice, but if you like color, keep some cotton balls and remover in your desk drawer in the event they chip on the job.
It’s on you to make appropriate preferences. Ultimately, you should be comfortable at work. If you choose to cake on the make up, make sure that it is respectful and tasteful. If you choose to go au natural, be sure to stay well groomed and fresh. Whatever you choose should reflect your professional character and boost your confidence!
“I’m a gangsta young n****/ So I keep my mouth closed/ My ears and eyes open/ So I can focus on the s**t/ Around me/ I know they gone down me/ But all I wonder why in the f*** would they come around me/ I gotta stay down/ I’m a shine like a light/ Stomp on all these cockaroaches/ Whether I’m wrong or if I’m right”
When you are feeling stuck in the same spot, sometimes it’s necessary to remember what your purpose was. I lost sight of my goal (writing about business and hip-hop), so I decided to return one of my original motivating factors (TV about… stuff… and hip-hop, now in a major southern city). Watching that portrayal of what it means to be a part of hip-hop culture helped remind me that I right to share my own idea of what hip-hop means. To me, it is not about violence, baby mamas, and unnecessary drama. Obviously, that’s all reality, but it’s not the only reality. Hip-hop is also art, empowerment, motivation, wisdom, and business. Demonstrating a positive perspective on hip-hop fuels my writing as much as being the child of a young single mother from the “wrong” neighborhood fuels my desire to be a CEO one day. Perhaps I like to prove people wrong or maybe I just want them to rethink their ideas about what is “right.”
In any case, DG Yola, a young rapper from Atlanta (in the spirit of “that show”), who is sadly now so irrelevant that his page has been deleted from Wikipedia, had one good hit about staying focused. In the lyrics above, Yola Da Great discusses minding his own business, versus comparing himself to others around him, and working on his own situation. He may not always be right, but he’s decided to be sure of himself; that confidence fuels him when others doubt his capabilities. In your career, “cockroaches,” dreamkillers, or whatever will tell you that you are wrong for the position, the task, the promotion, whatever. Instead of focusing your energy on criticizing yourself and questioning whether they are right, prove to them that YOU are right, for whatever you seek to accomplish. Don’t let their doubts about you fuel a negative perception of yourself; let it fuel your success.
I had been feeling down on myself for the last few weeks for a lot of stupid reasons. I tried to pinpoint the source of what was feeling like straight up anguish. Work had gotten a bit crazy, so I used that as an excuse for everything—missing social engagements, skipping workouts, not taking care of necessary things around my apartment (like getting AC when it is 900° outside), and most importantly, not writing. Work seemed like a strong defense for any accusation that came from friends, family members, mentors, or anyone who could sense my frenzy. Fortunately, a rare visit from an out-of-town friend forced me out my funk.
It could have been the genuine longing to see my friend or it could have been plainly being tired of “being tired,” making excuses, and feeling bad for myself. Whatever the cause, that day, I was happy to be outside again. Not outside as in outdoors, but out in a world that was not in my own head. I felt hungry again and was eager to see with open eyes. We didn’t do anything particularly crazy or spectacular. We caught up over brunch and walked down the street to a museum. Still, my hunger to get out of my funk made my eggs seem extra tasty, the conversation extra dynamic, the 10-block walk in the heat extra short, and the museum visit extra enlightening.
True to my passion for learning about successful people with “Swag,” we visited the Schiaparelli/Prada exhibit. It featured two talented designers, who’ve also been successful businesswomen, separated by time but connected by their Italian heritage and keen understanding of how to design to make women feel beautiful; hence their success. Again, my desire to feel renewed made a fashion exhibit evolve into the eye-opening moment I’d been waiting for. I saw a quote from Prada that resonated with me in my current circumstance: “Thinking about age is the biggest prison women (people) can make for themselves.”
And just like that, I pinpointed the source of my mild depression. I was having a “too-young-to-be-having-a-crisis” crisis. I felt unaccomplished for my age and was letting my disappointment with myself keep me in prison. Instead of looking for ways to free myself, like pursuing new accomplishments, working towards new heights, I kept adding on to my list of disappointments, like being too broke to afford a Prada anything, lengthening that prison sentence. Well, while I’m not in a place to afford her shoes, clothes, bags, or anything of hers really, I definitely bought her words of wisdom.
I walked out of the museum feeling 16 again, when I looked forward to the next birthday and the next new accomplishment. I realized that I’d been way too hard on myself and that in doing so, I was restricting myself from progressing. We are our own worst critics and we frequently fail to see how much judging ourselves, particularly against others, or against unrealistic goals that we set to accomplish by a certain age, can hurt us. Age and time are limits, inherently restrictive and if you spend all your time worrying about what you haven’t done by now, you’re wasting valuable time that could be spent pursuing the infinite possibilities that exist in your future.
Tip: Instead of focusing on the hairs you have out of place (see above), put on a power outfit and focus on what you do have going for you. A strong confidence will make whatever you wear look stylish and ageless.
Korean town lunchin’, talking ’bout how to run things/ He said Atlanta wanted something/ Waka, Jeezy, and Future got the streets locked down/ Copycats making sure Tip keep that crown/ You f***ing ’round with the truth, went to see The Roots/ Quest brought me back on stage in a suit/ I wear it hard cause n****s say that I’m soft/ Even Black Thought thought I made it a little hard
In We Ain’t Them, Childish Gambino discusses how pushing the envelope and being a bit ironic in his style is what will enable him to lead in his industry. There is one way of rap that’s leading and he is not an exact fit for that mold. However, he rhymes about not limiting himself to the mold that is expected of him. If folks expect him to be a softie, he’ll rhyme harder in a suit. His intent is not to provide shock value, but to challenge himself to grow by doing the unexpected. Doing what others expect from you and even what you expect of yourself makes life simpler at the expense of stifling your growth. People naturally want you to be in a box, so you have to take it upon yourself to break free.
Challenge Yourself and Get Prepared for Leadership
“Don’t be the Black gay man fighting for the Black gay man cause.”This principle is actually a quote I heard recently from a director at a major media network who was featured on a philanthropy panel. His honesty sent an awkward and shocked laugh through the audience. Ironically, his intent didn’t seem to be awkward or controversial. He explained that while he was comfortable and happy with his identity, he didn’t want to be put in a box by building a career around that identity.
This concept is in part a blunter way of saying, “diversify your portfolio” and in part a reminder to force oneself to grow and avoid complacency. Working in a role near and dear to your identity has the benefit of being rewarding, driven by passion, and is probably pretty exciting. Everyone should seek a role like this at some point in their career. However, the point the speaker was trying to make was that this being the only role you take on can be very limiting to your personal and career growth. For one, people evolve all the time and your passion today may not be your passion in 5 years, but if you haven’t equipped yourself with a skillset that translates to other passions, you might find yourself stuck.
Additionally if you want to lead one day, you have to force yourself to try different things. Do a quick “Linkedin” search of a role you aspire to, “vice president” perhaps. What you’ll find is that most folks of this title have had diverse experiences in their career in some way. Maybe they’ve stuck with marketing all the way to the top, but if so, they’ve certainly tried some different companies. Or maybe they have gone from finance to sales and more all at the same company. Whatever, the case, they got to where they are by not allowing themselves to be pigeon-holed into any role. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you. Step outside of what’s comfortable and even outside of your heart’s true passion sometimes to push yourself to grow your skills and your readiness to lead.
Chloe is a former Division 1 scholar athlete. This soccer star excelled at sports and thought it was only natural to pursue sports as a career. Despite being a strong performer at a professional sports league, she began to realize her new passion was for fashion. She used the skillset she acquired both playing and working in the sports field, and decided to aggressively shoot towards a new goal. She is now working hard as a fulltime fashion publicist.
Tip: Chloe will always be an athlete at heart, and luckily, she can show off the impact her 4 years of hard work on the field had on her legs in her casual work environment. She’s graduated from soccer shorts into lace ones and dresses them up with a funky denim blazer and barely there bright heeled sandals. Her advice—just be creative in your day to day look; it may not be comfortable, but it will definitely be fun!