Welcome back! I took a bit of a hiatus at the end of last year to rest, regroup and reflect on 2016. Of late, I have been hearing way too many stories about people namely bloggers and influencers that have effectively worked themselves to the point of being depleted. In one recent story, a woman worked so tirelessly that she ended up in a mental hospital towards the end of last year.
Why am I sharing this?
At the end of last year, I was lethargic and couldn’t get a hold of my energy. I wanted to understand why I felt so sluggish. It was at that point that I took to my Instagram to share my experience. Although hesitant to be this vulnerable, I was blown away by the response. Many of my friends and colleagues telling me it was the universe’s way of getting me to slow down.
And slow down, I did…
I took time to rest and reflect. I had plenty of ideas during this time. I didn’t launch anything; instead I wrote them down. I did not do any paid consulting work during this time. My days were spent in the present with my kids, reflecting on 2016 and looking forward to 2017.
What I discovered is I was beginning to recreate the very thing I ran from when I left my full-time position in 2014. That thing that I was recreating was an unhealthy balance between work and life. Suddenly, I remembered the reason why building my business was important. It was important because I wanted to do work I loved and to live my life fully. Living fully for me is being able to continue building my business while tending to the needs of my 3 kids. It’s to provide a nurturing home and environment for my husband who works tirelessly for us while also traveling the world. Living fully and success also looks like me getting back to hobbies that once meant the world to me.
Success is a word that gets thrown around rather loosely these days. Nevertheless, what I described above is what success means for me in my own life at the moment. Working to the point of being in a stupor or worse a padded-room is a long way from what it means to be successful.
When I had to think of one word I want to represent 2017, “preservation” came to mind. Due to many things in the past few years, I need and will preserve my energy, my sanity, my privacy. I plan to preserve my legacy by safeguarding various effects of life and business.
More importantly, it appears that the preservation and/or protection of my civil rights and the rights of others will be in the forefront as well. There’s a lot to do on this front and I am up to the challenge.
These aren’t resolutions by the way. I am at the point of recognizing the error of my behaviors and habits; as well as new opportunities for my talents. As a result, action is already in play.
What I want you to know is there is absolutely nothing wrong with chasing your dreams and working hard. The challenge is making sure your work doesn’t become all-encompassing and worst yet- toxic. What do any of us have if our bodies or minds shutdown on us? The answer is: we will have nothing.
I have already accepted that the juggle and balance will not always be ideal, but I am dedicated to striving towards it and being flexible on the outcomes.
From these realizations, I have created a new movement/community called: Growth on my Terms. This is my commitment and charge to see that people frame success in healthy and achievable ways. To see what I’m up to, you can check it out on Instagram at: www.instagram.com/growthonmyterms.
You can expect a lot more HR, Technology, and Business commentary here this year, but please make room in your psyche and heart for more of my journey and a-ha’s too. I look forward to sharing and offering you more insights.
Let’s grow, uplift one another and kill it in 2017!
Please share with me in the comments section how you are tackling 2017 so far?
I had the privilege of attending S.H.E. Summit two weekends ago as press. My attendance at the event was the culmination of a two-year promise I made to myself to get there. I stumbled upon this event a few years ago while on Twitter. I saw the hashtag trending and it immediately peaked my interest. I started reading all of the goodness on the hashtag which lead me to Claudia Chan’s website and from there I was hooked.
I have been to quite a few conferences over the years – each of them with a different mashup of pros and cons. Here’s what I appreciated about S.H.E. Summit:
1)The speakers were relatable. Each speaker shared their stories honestly and ended with sincere calls-to-action that spoke to their dedication to seeing all women thrive. Part of what energizes attendees to take action with any information acquired from your event is: Their ability to see themselves in the speakers and/or the stories being told.
2)They didn’t miss the opportunity to include men in the discussion. From the men who attended as a attendees to those who graced the stage, there was an important dialogue at S.H.E. Summit around how the empowerment and progression of women is affecting men. This is a conversation that is usually scoffed at by hardcore feminists, but I appreciated the difference in perspective.
3)Their programming was designed to address the whole woman, not just parts. When have you ever gone to a conference where you can get professional inspiration while finding out that there is underwear that exists to eliminate the god-awful maxi pad all women have to endure during that time of the month? Yes, this happened. We had the privilege of hearing from dynamic founder and serial entrepreneur Miki Agrawal of Thinx, Period Panties ( sorry not sorry, guys). Miki has created panties that are powered by technology that allows women to ditch the pad. Not only were there unanimous gasps in the room by the women in attendance, but we were all so captivated by her charge to remove the shame that is often synonymous with menstrual cycles for women around the world.
Miki wasn’t the only captivating voice that day. We also had the pleasure of being introduced to Tiffany Dufu, Author of Drop The Ball ( due to be released in Feb. 2017). Tiffany spoke to me personally because she shared her story of striving to be a perfect mom. She called her particular condition “Home Control Disease” (HCD). HCD is a condition that she defines as “having the need to have everything done a certain way – her way”. After her attempts at perfection failed her consistently, she started to redefine what success looked like.
For Tiffany, success boiled down to these three things:
1) Having a purposeful career
2) Cultivating a juicy partnership
3) Leading a healthy lifestyle.
With a new definition of success and letting go of perfection, she decided that it was okay to “drop the ball”. This meant that she would forgive herself if she missed responding to birthday party invites. It also meant that, she only manages what she can and lives with the imperfection of everything else. This is something I personally grapple with as I try feverishly to manage my three children, wife duties and my business.
Although I well know that I’m not alone in my mommypreneur plight, it was reassuring to know that it was okay to “drop the ball” if it means more peace and less pressure in my life.
Claudia Chan, Founder of S.H.E. Summit
If these two ladies weren’t enough to whip us in shape, we got hit over the head with the “Women & Money: Why We Struggle in the Relationship & Practical Steps to Financial Empowerment” panel. This panel encompassed Judy Dougherty, VP and Head of Strategic Initiatives at Prudential, Deborah Owens of Owens Media Group, Lisa Nichols, CEO of Motivating the Masses, Silvia Tergas, Financial Planner at Prudential and was moderated by S.H.E. Summit Founder, Claudia Chan. Their message to us was to not leave our financial futures up to chance. What I appreciated about the discussion was that it talked about the difference between wealth versus income. Deborah Owens of Owens Media Group cited that “wealth is an inside job”.
Typically when we hear about acquiring wealth, it is spoken about as something tangible that we can go out and conquer. It was refreshing to hear them encourage us to do the internal work first so we know how to sustain and build upon the income when it comes.
As you can tell, S.H.E. Summit was chock full of inspiration and activation to get you moving towards chasing your dreams. My overall takeaway was: Success should be defined individually. Much of the pressure and shame women and men feel around how well they are doing in life stems from very general definitions of success that are rooted in how much money you have in your bank account or the items in your closet. Walking away from the S.H.E. Summit I felt empowered to help the women in my life and my clients to redefine success on their own terms. When you are focused on the things that are important to you and you are actively taking steps to achieve your goals – you are indeed a success.
I was a Snapchat and Instagram beast that day. Check out some of the highlights of my day below:
Last week, I shared my thoughts on the importance of speaking up when things have gone horribly wrong in society. I also shared that I would be hosting my “Black Out Show” as my first Ask Czarina Live after vacation. What I didn’t realize was how much extra courage and strength I had to muster up to get through my show.
It’s one thing to tell yourself you are going to do something monumental. It is quite another thing to recognize your accountability to deliver a message and story that resonates in spite of the difficulty of the topic.
Prior to the show, I watched the videos of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile killings again. I watched the breaking news stories for the slain police officers and I immediately became emotional. I attempted to put on makeup to make myself appear as if I had it together, but the reality was I was a milli-second away from falling apart for everyone to see.
At the stroke of 10 pm, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I knew that I was speaking for more than just myself which pushed me beyond my very palpable fear. I remembered those two little girls pictured above and recognized the duty I have as their mother and as a woman to show them that nothing should prevent them from being fully seen, appreciated and heard in this world.
I want my daughters to know that raising your voice when others find it easier to be quiet takes courage. I am showing them through my own actions that speaking the truth in a time when it is preferential to lie takes strength. In the end, I hope they will see that business should not only be profitable, but socially responsible.
An hour and nine minutes later, I felt lighter and proud that I delivered on my promise. My viewers kept up their end of the bargain as they listened without starting any arguments, fights etc. All of this proving that we can have civil discussions around race issues and politics, if we first are willing to listen more than we speak. It also illustrated that we all can speak up without it being disastrous for our reputations and businesses.
As a friend of mine shared, you can’t go wrong when your words are from your heart and they are delivered with poise and professionalism.
In case you missed the show live, I am making sure to share it with my readers here. Thank you to those of you who have reached out to share your feedback on the show. It really makes me feel good to know, I made a difference by using my voice and platform.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with my friend and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Joey Price of JumpstartHR on his Business, Life, and Coffee Podcast. We had a great conversation about when I knew I needed to start my business and discussed whether women make better CEOs than men.
You’ll have to listen below to hear what I had to say about whether women are better than men at leading organizations. I think you will be surprised at my response. The one thing I learned for sure listening to this podcast is:
“We all have a story and we should share it as much as the universe will allow.”
Joey was able to capture my journey to entrepreneurship in a way that I have not in the past. Life often feels like thousands of vignettes that run into one another, blend and become distorted the further away from them you get. Asking the right question and a dose of honesty will always bring forth something compelling and useful.
Joey and I started on our social media journey at about the same time and have since become both colleagues and friends. It is pretty neat to see where both of us have landed respectively in our lives and businesses.
If you have a business, are thinking of starting a business or just have an interest in a story about someone who chased their dreams when everything was falling apart around them – you will want to listen to this podcast.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with me on the podcast below in the comments. Also, if you like this episode you will love the variety of his other shows- give them a spin!
Thanks for reading and supporting! I appreciate you immensely.
As I turned on my computer yesterday and started to navigate my various social accounts, I found out that it was #EqualPayDay. It was a day for all of us to discuss the obvious issue with pay equity in this country. It also marks how far into the year women must work in order as much as their male counterparts earned in 2014. I’m always down for a good social campaign, but something about #EqualPayDay feels banal.
It is well documented that women are paid less than men in the workplace. We also know that black and latino women fare the worse with regard to pay equity. The bigger question is: what are employers going to do about it? It’s cute to hop on social media and tweet your support for the day, but again what is anyone going to do about it?
I am a solopreneur with a little over two years under my belt as a business owner. I can assure you when my time comes to hire a few good women to assist me with building my legacy they will be compensated adequately for their efforts regardless of gender, color or any other identifiable criteria beyond their control. That’s my vision for my company. I have powerhouse women friends who also own their own businesses and have dedicated themselves to filling in all the pay equity gaps women have had to deal with for eternity by offering: fair salaries, childcare and eldercare options, real maternity leave that isn’t confined to a 12 week FMLA allotment etc. You see, the end to the gender pay gap in this country has to start with good intentions. If you have little or no regard for a certain subsection of citizens or better yet the people you employ (who happen to be human beings like you) none of this will change.
Food for thought…
Women don’t just get screwed on salary alone, it is the entire package and delivery that creates economic disparity. Every unpaid medical or maternity leave, the inordinate costs of childcare and eldercare; and wages that have stopped increasing or do so marginally prevents us from being able to sustain ourselves and our families. According to a recent study by the Center For American Progress, over 50% of women work outside of the household and contribute to their families economic security.
I have been pretty transparent about my salary negotiation missteps over the course of my career. However, what’s really disturbing is that the “sisterhood” isn’t collectively on the same page when it comes to closing this gap. Out of the seven positions I have held over the course of my career, I have had one male boss. The rest have been women. In all circumstances, not one of them ever advocated or demanded I be paid my worth. They used to lie and tell me that they were pulling for me to get the raises I was fighting for, but it was hot air. It was never their intention to ensure that I was paid a fair wage for my efforts.
Here’s the bottom-line, if I work hard and provide quality outcomes I expect to be paid commensurate with the result. I don’t want to hear: “hang in there” “I’m rooting for you” “Budgets are tight” or “maybe next year”. Women want this to change now- not in 2049 or 2178.
I say all of this to say leaning-in never increased my salary, asking for more never increased my salary and it had little to do with my ability or lack thereof to negotiate. The system in many companies is not geared to serve the interests of women or minorities for that matter. The companies that care and want to see everyone succeed do so because they start with good intentions, consistent action and passion for establishing fair workplace standards.
I know many of you felt empowered yesterday, but what are you doing about it today in your own businesses? I’ll wait.
Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.
Day 13 of 31- Playing The Game Is Played Out
I just read this story about actress and comedian Mo’Nique speaking about how she was blackballed in Hollywood after having success in the movie “Precious”. Director, Lee Daniels expressed that Mo’Nique hurt her self during the course of the Precious production by “making unreasonable demands and not playing the game”. As far as I’m concerned, she may have been “unreasonable” or even difficult. What I take issue with is the fact that the game isn’t the same for everyone. She was not and will not be the last difficult celebrity to grace a movie stage. Difficult and unreasonable demands of movie stars on set is the kind of fodder that lines tabloids daily. The difficulty doesn’t stop Hollywood from spending millions of dollars supporting projects with some of these people.
This story line is no different to what goes on in Corporate America everyday. I recall just a few years ago being discouraged from filing an EEO claim by an HR person who cautioned me to “play the game”. I even recall women executives in meetings setting women’s suffrage back several decades by giggling, twirling their hair and flirting through negotiations. My question is: what is the game? Is the game that you “shut up, smile and look pretty” as actress Sheryl Lee Ralph suggests? Why is the advice to women in 2015 that we should bat our eyes, smile when we are displeased and not be heard? If the game is about brown-nosing and/or keeping up appearances, I am out.
I’m not suggesting you have outbursts like a child when the spirit moves you ; but a person should be able to demand and communicate needs and wants without it being tied back to some facade you have to keep up to get ahead. It should be the case that any women can show up to the boardroom or the set as she is. We shouldn’t have to apologize for who we are and why we want what we want, Men do it all the time and don’t have to perform in the manner that we are expected to as women.
Who knows? Mo’Nique could very well have been terrible to work with. I just wished we lived in a society that treated like instances equally. In this case, that would mean blackballing every actor or actress that is difficult. The truth is money is spent on people that are liked, can bring in revenue and “look” and “act” the part. I wasn’t that person when I worked in Corporate America and Mo’Nique isn’t that for Hollywood unfortunately,
Czarina’s Lesson: There are limits to equality and fairness where money is the primary concern.