I’ve been having a lot of conversations with friends, family and colleagues about where I am currently and where all my efforts are headed. Young adults everywhere are charged with deciding at the ripe age of 17 what they want to do with their lives. In my case, it was expressed in choose a college and degree field. Make sure it is something that “makes sense and cents”. I assume like most young adults now, I was supposed to be clear about what my life goals were. So long as I was clear on my choice, it was my charge to make a reasonable decision on the next steps thereafter. I’ll say that I did my best.
The issue was I didn’t have a definition for what clarity meant. What I thought was “clarity” was really me blindly walking on a mirage of a straight line to career success. I was finding my way, but I was also doing the status quo. While I have no regrets about the journey so far, I am well-aware that I lacked some imagination in envisioning my future. I’ve come to realize that the lack of imagination I had was directly tied a lack of clarity I had around what my heart truly desired. It made total sense. How does one imagine potential and greatness with precision if they are fuzzy on what success looks like? It simply cannot be done. To be honest, it isn’t totally true that I was unclear, but I will own that I was superficially-clear. Anytime you are carefully balancing what you want with the opinions and criticisms of others you are going to come up short.
It gets boring and tiring to always be following the rules…my advice…break all the damn rules and smile doing it.
The past few years in business have reconfigured me in such a way that I had to become crystal clear on what I wanted for my life. Notice I didn’t say my “career”. You see, once I got clear on the life I wanted to live it became easy to infuse my career pursuits and business with the morals, standards values and mantras I live by daily. It pushed me to create a lane that was unique to me. As a result, I became emboldened and empowered to defy all of the so-called rules that were working against me. Having this level of clarity has not only been exciting, but freeing.
Here are three benefits I have experienced since becoming clear about the direction of my life and career:
1) I learned to say “no” often, without apology, and with confidence. I say “no” to business, to people I no longer need to be associated with; and to situations and circumstances that aren’t mutually beneficial to me or the other person. In other words, I do what I want, change course as needed and do so without saying “sorry”. Giving up saying “sorry” for living life on your terms is a hard habit to kick, but I have worked at it. When you aren’t clear, everything seems like something you should latch onto. I know now that I don’t need to do everything or know everyone — it’s all about finding the synergy in things.
2) Shiny objects, fads, “what everyone else is doing” doesn’t move me. I have long been a creature who is seldom moved and unbothered by the pomp and circumstance of others. However, I would be lying if I said I have never compared myself to others. It is what makes us human. I have been diligent in focusing on my own lawn. While I certainly keep a pulse on what is going on, I do my best not to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing ( i.e. fads, best practices, shiny objects etc.). In the long run, it doesn’t have any bearing on what you are doing anyway. Not to mention, that unhealthy doses of comparison robs you of being able to be grateful for your own progress.
3) My brand and I are in the flow. My message, my brand and what I stand for are so much clearer now that I have clarity around the overall goal. I have spent the past few years rethinking and figuring out what I like, what I want my legacy to be about and making it a reality. I’ve come to realize less is more and sometimes the brand is simply the journey so far. Life in action. I’m essentially just working hard at living my best life.
Success is subjective and what you make it. If you haven’t achieved success in a way that is meaningful for you it is likely because you haven’t done the internal work required to give you the clarity you need to make the right moves. Make the time to think about where you are and where you want to be. Then, go for it.
I am growing a little community on Instagram called: Growth on my Terms. If you are looking for inspiration from everyday people on success, life and moving through challenges be sure to check it out and join the conversation: www.instagram.com/growthonmyterms.
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 esteemed privilege of attending TED at IBM last month in San Francisco. Admitedly, I was prepared to be impressed by their usual roster of inspiring speakers making strides in every field from technology to healthcare. However, there was something more at play at this year’s TED at IBM. I got the sense that IBM, the company wanted each of us to walk away with something more than what we had in previous years. My takeaway was the following: Although things in the world aren’t right at the moment, don’t fret as there are people working to solve the ills of society and more importantly we all have a duty to contribute in the same fashion. While IBM made no specific reference to politics or endorsements of any one candidate, their request that we all refrained from capturing pictures and posting to social media; in addition to the messages each of their speakers brought to bear sent a clear message as to which side of humanity they are on.
If nothing else, 2016 should have taught each of us that the huge global challenges we face are both diverse and emergent. Take speaker, Dr. Laxmi Parida for instance. Her talk at this year’s TED at IBM was about her work as a Computational Geneticist where she is analyzing the genes of crops to ensure our food is safer and sustainable. She shared with us that most of the calories we consume today come from just 12 plants. Dr. Parida went on to share that biodiversity in the tropics has dropped 60% and that the likes of favorite fruits like Avocado are under threat. Most notably, she warned: ” We are a global village. As scourge affects one part of the world it quickly spreads to the others.”
We take for granted everyday that we have certain necessities like food, water, housing etc. What if none of those things exist one day or exist in crippling shortages? Some of our fellow citizens of the world know this reality all to well. While we empathize with their plight we don’t often take a moment to consider whether we will be met with the same shortfall in our own lives.
As luck would have it, I ended up on the same plane and seated next to Dr. Laxmi Parida going back home to NY. You would never know she just delivered the talk of her life sitting next to her. She was humble and friendly as we chatted and shared a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. My kind of gal.
Next up is a particularly moving speaker by the name of Villy Wang. When we talk about empathy and putting ourselves in the place of another- no name stands out more than Villy Wang. Upon listening to her opening remarks for her talk at TED at IBM we all heard about her childhood which appeared to be marred by her fear and hatred of African-American people. You see, Villy was raised by a immigrant single mother in NYC who was one day unexpectedly mugged by some black teens. As we all cringed listening to this story, a bright spot immediately emerges as she explains how her own disdain of stereotypes against Asian people caused her to want to understand other minorities (particularly, African-American people) and the biases they faced. The more she examined other minorities the more she came to see the economic and social disparity faced by minorities. As a result, she started BAYCAT – a social enterprise designed to teach youth for low-income and underserved communities to capture untold stories to create social change. She brought one of her students with her to TED at IBM who she asked to stand for applause. There was not a dry eye in the theater.
Having compassion for one another begins with the genuine interest in not only listening to what others have to say; but understanding and acknowledging their reality. Villy lives this and it came through in her talk.
Some more inspiration…
What does the development of chemotherapy drugs have to do with curing the ills of governments? Apparently, the two are very connected if you ask Charity Wayua. Dr. Wayua is from rural Kenya. After earning her PhD in developing chemotherapy drugs from Purdue University she returned to Kenya to use what she new to cure the ills of the Kenyan government. Her goal was no simple task. She wanted to improve government services designated for small and medium businesses.
As result of Dr. Wayua’s use of cutting-edge technology and the utilization of methodologies used to cure cancer to cure inefficiencies in the Kenyan government, she was able to shift Kenya’s rank on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Data Bank from ranking 113 to 92. She noted that initially she believed the Kenyan government was corrupt. However, she has revised her thinking since working with them realizing that they were not corrupt in the way she first believed. Her belief is we all have a duty to roll-up our sleeves to create the change we want to see in our governments.
As we face our own dealings with corruption here in the U.S., this is a great reminder that we all have what it takes to be the change we wish to see in our government.
I could write so much more about the power of the speakers at TED at IBM, but it would never end.
What I took with me is this feeling of hope and obligation to refocus on that which is bigger and more pressing than my immediate needs. The world needs each of us to do our part whether in our own communities or at scale to cure the ills of society while making life better for others. It is time for us to use the spark within us to activate things that add value to humanity rather than detract from it.
This is a call to action I can get behind. What ideas will you “spark and activate” in 2017?
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:
September 13th will mark the 5 year anniversary of The Aristocracy of HR. I certainly never set out to become a blogger, so reaching this milestone is pretty darn special. There were quite a few people who gave me a chance and supported from the very beginning. I’ll give them a shout out next week as well as address how I stumbled upon blogging; but for the purpose of this post I want to explore what I have learned over the past five years.
The first lesson is: Honor your writing process.
Don’t get me wrong consistency is a huge factor in achieving and maintaining traffic to your blog, but you want to know what is even more damaging than consistency- forced content. I have never been able to write under duress. Like a true artist, I need the spirits to move me or something to inspire me to write. Luckily, I have been inspired on more weeks than not these past five years. However, there have been a few weeks in which nothing I thought to type was worth your time.
I often had this aching feeling like I needed to put something out for the sake of not losing readers. I used to sit in a bit of my own purgatory, until one day I learned to honor my writing process. I write what inspires me. The only other writing I know how to do is to introduce a product, service or event which is a bit more technical. Outside of that, I am not a content calendar gal. It just isn’t helpful given the way I write.
If there is anything that I have learned, it is that you will churn out the worst content – if you don’t recognize what kind of writer you are and honor it. Planning a content calendar may help some organize their thoughts – while others may be more free-spirited like me. Do what works for you.
The second lesson is: Write what you know.
I’m not sure how many blogs I’ve read over the years, but I am certain it’s in the thousands. That said, there is nothing worse than reading something that seems forced or isn’t based in fact. There is of course satire, but I am talking about the group of folks who are professionals, experts, gurus, ninjas in their own right yet, their story and/or style of writing leaves much to be desired.
Part of how you succeed as a blogger is to write what you know. The things that are like second nature to you, but still a mystery for the right audience is where the magic happens. I’m not saying pick easy topics to write about all the time, but do yourself and your readers a favor by knowing what you are talking about. Lack of acumen can plague even the best writing. It’s kind of like an unwanted zit – it’s grossly noticeable, unnecessary and bothersome.
Lesson three is: Be humble.
When I started blogging in the HR niche, there were a lot of cliques and elitist personalities in abundance. I’ve since learned that many of the other blogging niches suffer from the same problem. Many of the bloggers who were prolific five years ago have either fallen off the blogging scene and faded into obscurity. Some have moved on to other endeavors. Yet there are still a few plugging along like me. You never know where your next opportunity is coming from. Treat new bloggers the same as you would a blogger with thousands of followers or readers. That newbie blogger with a rather scant reader base and social media following can sky rocket to notoriety in the blink of an eye. Focus on being better at your craft, but never count a lesser-known blogger out.
I believe one of my keys to success with The Aristocracy of HR is that I am humble and welcome connecting with my readers and followers whether online and offline. It may seem as though this would be simple for most bloggers to follow through with; but I have seen many let the pomp and circumstance of blogging success get to their heads. Don’t let that be you.
There are so many other lessons I have learned in five years. There are far too many to share in a mere blog post. When I got clear about how I wanted to celebrate this occasion I realized the best way to do so is to give my time and ear to those thinking of dabbling in blogging and/or those who are bloggers but need a fresh perspective to continue.
As such, I am holding a free Q & A call on September 13th to answer questions about blogging, business, and how becoming a blogger has transformed my career and life.
If this is you, register for my call below. Conversely, if you know someone who could benefit from this call, please feel free to share the call information.
Stay tuned here as there will be many more celebrations of my 5 year Blogiversary and announcements in the coming weeks!