They say that life can be a journey and you should do all you can to explore it, travel the world, and live it to the fullest. Lauren Miller does exactly that and then some. Her brand literally describes her lifestyle. She can’t stay put. Her mission in life is to educate, inspire, and influence people to live their lives with purpose, to be unapologetically confident in oneself, live your dreams, and to ultimately live a #cantstayput lifestyle. Blavity’s Creative Society got a minute to catch up with Lauren for an AMA and to gain insight into her many life experiences.
From a very young age, Lauren Miller has been quite used to traveling. She has been flying by herself since the age of 5 and has seen her fair share of airports. Her mom lived in Atlanta while her dad was in Washington, D.C., so she racked up her fly miles very early in life. This eventually led her to have a profession that centered around this lifestyle that she was all too familiar with.
She had a college degree and a good job, but like many people, wasn’t satisfied. It wasn’t something that she really wanted to do. There was something missing. I’m sure a lot of people can relate. When asked about how she took the steps to create her #cantstayput lifestyle brand, she said she made tons of sacrifices to start.
“I gave up as much of my expenses as possible when I started… so I broke my lease, moved my stuff to storage, and was living on couches and guest rooms for close to four years. I changed my way of thinking. I think that was key. Understanding that journey was going to be tough and not to associate things getting hard with giving up… going through tough times is in fact a part of the journey. Also having strong belief in my vision and my dreams.”
She had a moment of realization at 25.
“It was like something clicked and I started yearning for more. More purpose, more fulfillment… I had a good job. But it wasn’t specific to who I was. I felt as though anybody could do it…” At the age of 25, she had a moment of reflection, and like most people, started evaluating what she was doing and where she wanted to be in life. “The whole year leading up to my 25th birthday I shared with people close to me how depressed I was and that if I spent my bday in California, which was where I worked at the time, I would have a nervous breakdown.” For her birthday, she was gifted with a trip to Maui and she traveled to the Aloha state with a close friend and a coworker. “It was there where I prayed to God to please reveal my purpose to me. I promised him I would run 100 mph toward it. It was the most sincere prayer that I had ever said. Once I got back to Cali, I put in my notice. Still didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do but I knew I needed to do something big to show God and the universe that I was ready so they could start conspiring.”
After she made this decision, as a gift to herself, she went on a trip back to Maui in order to get back to the place that inspired her to transition into this new life change. While she was hiking through a scenic bamboo forest, she realized that she wanted to be an inspirational explorer. She thought back to when she was little and had so much experience with traveling due to the distance of her parents’ professions.
“ It was then that I realized the privilege I had experienced and I vowed to use that privilege to help people.”
When asked about how she makes this a living and how she monetizes her brand, Lauren said by selling apparel, public speaking, life coaching, creating content, brand partnerships, as well as through other opportunities that come her way. “When I first started, it wasn’t about the money so I didn’t start with a business model. My intent was to help people, so for the first few years, I was hustling, working various gigs, but also doing research and development to determine why people would seek me out for various different services and then from there, developed my offerings.” From there, she began repositioning herself and her brand to a bigger and greater cause. She wanted everyone to live a Can’t Stay Put lifestyle. She didn’t want people to think that because they weren’t traveling as much her that they couldn’t live this lifestyle. Lauren uses travel because it is specific to her. Everyone has their thing that they do, that they are good at, and that allows them to live the lifestyle that they always wanted. #cantstayput.
Photo: cantstayput.com“I was very candid about my journey, about the hardships, setbacks, the successes, and always offered motivation and inspiration to people who wanted to pursue their dreams or already were. Over time, people started to reach out to me for life coaching advice vs. travel advice and that’s when I realized that can’t stay put wasn’t about the travel, it was a lifestyle. Travel was specific to me, but anyone and everyone can be living a can’t stay put lifestyle… a photographer, a business owner, a real estate agent… people making moves every single day to explore the realms of their own greatness.”
As far as the future, it looks bright for Lauren. She plans on further building her brand and her business. She’s going through another transition in her life to which she calls from founder to CEO. She sees Can’t Stay Put one day being a global brand with a collection of various companies under its umbrella. You've got to dream big. “Always make moves to create the life you want.”
What is your passion? Are you living a Can’t Stay Put lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below!
Learn more about the
For years, Bryan-Michael Cox has helped create some of fans’ favorite R&B songs. Usher, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige and Trey Songz are among the artists that have received production and songwriting help from him. But Bryan recently shared a song of his own on his Soundcloud page, and it doesn’t disappoint.
There are videos of Bryan in the studio where he can be seen making a beat and coming up with a melody, so a full song from him isn’t a complete surprise. However, “Verbatim” is his first offering as a vocalist. The song was produced by Bryan and Sam Thomas.
On it, Bryan talks about a girl that moved on from him after he refrained from committing to her. He seems to accept his mistakes in some of his lyrics, but he ultimately regrets driving her away. Bryan sings, “Cause I said to you verbatim/I could not be bound to only you/You said good girls always waited/and you were not gon’ find somebody now/I guess you showed me, yes you did babe.”
The production is up-tempo, driven by the drums and hand claps heard at the start as well as the bass that comes in shortly after. Bryan’s vocals are more than respectable throughout the song. He layers them in select moments and brings his falsetto into the mix during the bridge.
The artwork for the song includes the words, “The Thirteenth Letter, Volume One.” This seems like the title of a project, so hopefully Bryan will be delivering more music of his own in the near future. Fans can check out his Periscope for previews of music he’s working on. The song that has been released so far, “Verbatim,” shows that Bryan has the ability to make the successful transition that has been made by artists like Ryan Leslie and The-Dream.
Listen to the song above and make sure to keep up with Bryan’s work!
For more music content like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
The Black Lives Matter movement has shed a bright light onto the disproportionate way African Americans are treated in the U.S. However, amongst all of the voices, how can we hear a solution..? Is it a top-down solution? Is it up to individuals? And what do we do when disproportionate force by police is coupled with high unemployment rates and sky high incarceration percentages?
With a (U-6) unemployment rate amongst 18-29 year old African American millennials at 15.2%, young people are getting left behind, or worse, ending up in jail. According to the NAACP, African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.
Well, the answer certainly isn't simple and, in all likelihood, will take time to implement. In the meantime, two businessmen in the mostly minority South LA, Karim Webb and Ed Barnett of PCF Restaurant Management, have taken it upon themselves to make a difference where they can. Even if it is mentoring one kid at a time.
“Part of our mission is to be a good community partner, provide job training and employment opportunities to the young people in the areas we serve," says Barnett.
Together, Webb and Barnett have created a successful formula for developing diverse young workers in underserved areas where they teach young men and women how to be independent, work hard and keep hope. Using their three Buffalo Wild Wings franchise locations (with three additional in development) as a teaching ground, the pair aim to impart real transferable skills that will give these young diverse workers the necessary tools to succeed in life. Giving them a brighter future by keeping them out of jail and off of welfare, which will in turn save US citizens tax money. Ultimately, it's a win, win. "If we can connect to employees' innate will to succeed, we can create something great. Show them you care about them succeeding as much as they do," says Webb.
What is even more impressive is that Karim and Ed are making a profit doing it. All three of their BWW locations have consistently outpaced regional and national sales trends within the industry and have produced double-digit sales increases. The Baldwin Hills location was recognized for achieving the highest sales percentage increase of any Buffalo Wild Wings in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.
The pair strive to ensure their restaurants reflect the diverse areas they're in. In an interview with Nation's Restaurant News, Karim was quoted as saying, "If I go into a restaurant in a community that I know is diverse and I don't see people that look like my kids, I take note of that." An important fact both take to heart.
Karim and Ed have three additional BWW locations in development and continue to be an integral part of each community they move into. If you’d like to support them and their work within the community please check out www.lawildwings.com for upcoming community events.
For more submissions like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
The BET show Music Moguls highlighted quite a few impressive work habits of some of hip-hop’s finest, including Baby of Cash Money, Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri and Dame Dash.
But with success comes risks, and vice versa. Viewers of the show might remember one huge risk that Dame Dash took, uprooting himself and his girlfriend Raquel M. Horn from North Carolina to be closer to his daughter in Los Angeles. He left behind his public access show and his home. Although he seemed to be optimistic about the move, it was easy to understand why Horn was near tears about leaving that kind of stability.
Anyone who has ever made the big decision to relocate knows how stressful this is: Finding a new home (or rental), starting a new job and moving away from family/friends can be hard. In Dame’s case, he was leaving two of the three behind to get closer to the latter. But as the former co-owner of Roc-A-Fella and the former manager/business partner of Jay Z, this is a man with almost two decades of entrepreneurial experience who has made millions. (Before the season ended, he’d already shown off his new American-made clothing line venture.)
However, in a job market full of aspiring millennials, million-dollar salaries might be hard to come by in the early stages. According to Forbes, two-thirds of graduates owe approximately $26,600 in debt after earning their college degrees. It might be easier to believe that seasoned employees and entrepreneurs, who also may have home ownership, would feel less stressed about moving for better financial opportunities. That’s not always true.
According to Chicago’s UrbanBound relocation software company: “Homeowners are slowly losing their majority representation of the relocating population — which is causing people to land in some tricky situations. Some home-owning transferees are being forced to leave homes in their original location in foreclosure or short sale situations.
Others simply cannot sell their homes due to a market that remains poor or volatile. They might be in a negative equity situation or in a situation where they will be facing a significant loss on sale. (Source: “Renter Policies: What You Need to Know” ebook)
So this could leave college students turning down lucrative jobs for fear that they can’t afford the move. And seasoned employees might be worried that they’ll be in more debt by giving up their homes. Working with an attorney to fully understand what should be in their job relocation package and/or how to handle home ownership decisions could make the process less stressful. There are no state or federal requirements in terms of what an employer must offer an employee in a relocation package.
Here are the top things to make sure are in the written contract before agreeing to that new job:
1. Home sale services
Employees should try to negotiate home sale services into their relocation package. For example, the employer refers the employee to a real estate agent that is experienced in selling homes in a short period. Additionally, the employee should try to negotiate for the employer to cover the employee’s closing cost.
2. Lease cancellation fees
If the employee is a renter and still has substantial time left on the lease, (s)he should consider negotiating with the employer to cover lease cancellation fees in the relocation package. Alternatively, if an employee decides to sublease the apartment to avoid lease cancellation fees, (s)he may want to make sure the sublease includes an assignment and release clause. With an assignment and release clause, the employee limits liability if the sublessee fails to make the rent payments due under the lease.
3. Temporary housing expense
Paying a security deposit and first month’s rent for a new apartment or putting down an earnest money deposit on a new home can be a major financial setback. Negotiating for an employer to pay for the employee to live in temporary corporate housing, an apartment or rental home provides the employee time to save money to put toward a security or earnest money deposit.
Johnetta G. Paye, Esq., the lead attorney of J. Paye & Associates in Chicago, has a wealth of experience in entertainment law, business law and real estate law.Follow Johnetta onTwitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Shamontiel L. Vaughn is a copy editor and a freelance journalist for various print and online publications for over a decade. Visit JPayeinBrief.com to find out more about the writing team. Follow Shamontiel onTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
The information contained here is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered but should not be construed as one-size-fits-all legal advice. Speak to an attorney specifically about your particular relocation agreement for specific terms and conditions.
Want more content like this? Sign up for Blavity's daily...
"If I knew then what I know now..." -Your Elders
This phrase — almost always followed by a silent pause, knowing nod or random segue into completely unrelated conversation — has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves in life. I always want to scream, "Finish your sentence!" Tell us, let us know and teach the children what you would do differently at the end of that ellipses. Wisdom is an invaluable commodity, and no matter what stage of life you're in, someone else's then is your now. Although no two experiences are exactly the same, if there is knowledge to be gained and pitfalls avoided through the sharing of experiences, by all means, elders — please share!
This is the primary reason I began this column. As an older millennial, my decade-and-a-half of adulting has yielded its share of major life keys, and if there's any nugget of value to be gained from that experience, I'm happy to share it. However, I recognize that I still have so much to learn. We all do. The amazing thing is that nothing we're facing is new. It's just new to us. From personal to societal, every issue that we're grappling with today has likely already been faced by the generations that preceded us. Think of how much ground could be gained from taking the time to learn from the triumphs and failures of our elders. Mentorship is important, and as we grow in experience it's equally vital that we assume those mentoring roles for others.
Here are 13 tips to get the most out of your dual-generation mentorship:
1. Be open
Your mentor grew up at a different time, guided by a different set of social norms. Perspectives and terminology might differ, but as long as the dialogue is constructive and honest, you're on the right track.
2. Don't judge
If there is a communication gap between the young and the old, it's not without reason. Too often the wisdom that comes with age is accompanied by critical, judgmental undertones that ultimately surrender effectiveness in condescending delivery. Conversely, the arrogance of youth can sometimes be a barrier to receiving valuable insight. We can do better.
3. Keep it one-hunned
The most impactful conversations are the open and honest ones. In mentorship, it's not about rattling off a list of dos and don'ts, it's about sharing the process of how you arrived at those conclusions. That's how lessons are internalized. Authenticity always resonates.
4. Be vulnerable
Effective mentorship demands a certain level of vulnerability and setting aside of ego. If you're not willing to be transparent, the value of the relationship will be limited.
5. Share stories not sermons
Save the self-righteous indignation and philosophical sermons. We need to hear about the crazy, careless decisions that earned you that wisdom. Don't tell us what to do, we are capable of thinking for ourselves. Tell us what you did or didn't do and the results of those decisions. That's where the real value is.
6. It's so not about you
Few things are more fulfilling than serving and helping others. If you're a mentor, it's important to take periodic inventory of why you're in this mentorship relationship. Are you here to feel good about yourself or are you genuinely invested in the growth and development of your mentee? If you're a mentee, understand that this is a give and take relationship. You contribute to this relationship too.
7. Take genuine interest
You can give and receive surface-level advise without really knowing a person, but in order to be an effective mentor or mentee, you really need to get to know your mentee or mentor on a personal level. What motivates them? What challenges are they facing?
8. Share successes
If the advice of your mentor leads you to a win, let them know. Take them to lunch, tell them "thank you." Don't take what you need and then disappear. A little appreciation goes a long way.
Advice isn't always necessary. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen. This should be a safe place for mentor and mentee to vent and air their frustrations.
10. Admit what you don't know
As a mentor, it might be tempting to assume the 'know-it-all' role, but you don't know it all. If your mentee has a need that you aren't equipped to meet, tell them or refer them to someone else. As a mentee, there's no need to try to impress. Mentorships are most effective when both parties bring their real selves to the table.
11. Set boundaries
Is this a formal or casual mentorship? How often will you talk? What kind of information and how much are you willing to share? Set clear expectations to hash out boundaries.
12. Set expectations
To maximize these relationships, it's important to be clear about what you want to get out of it. What exactly do you want to learn from this person? My mentors include a super upbeat and hilarious peer, a retired grandmother, a powerhouse entrepreneur and an award-winning writer. They all serve different purposes in mentorship and they all know it.
13. Get tactical
Now that you've mastered the basics, it's time to get tactical and work together to put a practical plan of action in place.
With practice and a little patience, dual-generation mentorships can be valuable and fulfilling for all parties involved. Stick with it!
Want more articles from Ebony F? Sign up for our daily newsletter.
The transition into adulthood isn’t an easy one. Navigating relationships, managing workplace politics, hitting those milestones on schedule— don’t be fooled, no one knows what they’re doing. There will be all kinds of fumbles, blunders and awkward missteps along the way. If you’re constantly wondering to yourself, “Am I doing this right?” Welcome. This is just the place for...
When I told my mother I wanted to quit my job on Capitol Hill to write full time, she was apprehensive. I’d been at my job for three years and I loved my boss, the people I worked with, and the work that I did. I even saw a clear path for upward mobility in my career there, and had devised a plan for it the moment I walked through the heavy wooden doors of the Rayburn Office Building. But then I began writing again, and my first love quickly turned from a pastime to a side hustle. Then it started to consume my daily life, forcing me to ask myself some hard questions. In the months before I left I'd sit at my desk contending with the thought that perhaps the job was more of a marker for where I thought I should be rather than my true purpose. Finally I got to a place where I came in and did my work, but otherwise felt like dead weight. And that's when I decided to go.
My choice to leave was made even harder by the fact that I knew my feelings could be tricky sometimes. When I was 15, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and being impulsive is one of its most definitive traits. The diagnosis had come at a time when I was performing locally as a hip-hop artist, totally ignoring my mental health and getting into a lot of trouble. I had a baby at 21 years old and dropped out of college. I married his father, but we separated soon after. I still wrote music and worked odd jobs, but I felt like nothing had turned out the way I’d planned and it was truly depressing. So I withdrew from my family and friends and stopped making any big plans. In fact, there were some points during that time when I battled bouts of indecisiveness so crippling that I felt my best recourse was to stand still. Luckily, even though my husband and I were living separately at the time, his parents offered to help with my son and encouraged me to go back to school and finish my undergraduate career.
So I did just that.
It was the first goal I’d stuck with and accomplished in a long time. Though issues that stemmed from my disorder threatened to derail the last two years of my studies, I worked hard and graduated with an English degree. Right before I graduated, one of my professors encouraged me to apply for a congressional internship, and a few months later I was an official part of a congresswoman’s staff. It was only part-time, but it was salaried, and I didn't mind either way because I was happy to get my foot in the door.
Then I did everything I could to kick butt in that office. In such a small press shop, there was a lot of work to do with her social media, but I did it. Our office won two awards for social media engagement while I was there, and the changes I suggested for her website are still in place today. Another bonus was that the women I worked with were strong, capable, and drama-free. I learned so much from that office about writing and editing that after awhile I decided to start writing again. I had written for my college paper and won awards for some of my short stories, so I thought it'd be a good hobby for me. So I dove back into my old blog and got a few articles published, but tried to quell any desire to write full-time.
My reason for this was simple — despite reading stories about other women who’d managed to launch successful writing careers while holding down a day job, I told myself that I wasn’t like them. Having bipolar disorder had kept me on an emotional balance beam for most of my life, and I wasn’t ready to fall off of it again. Those thoughts were inwardly devastating for me, but I accepted them as my truth for a long time. Even after I took advantage of the great healthcare I got through my job and went to talk therapy, I was hesitant to make any drastic changes in my life. Surprisingly, what snapped me out of that mode was the realization that I was inadvertently doing something extremely selfish and potentially sabotaging my own growth.
Really, sitting at that desk even though I’d lost all passion for the job months before was one of the most selfish things I've ever done. I watched desperate interns who would’ve given their left kidney to work in that office bust their butts the way I did when I first came to work, and I knew they were doing it because it was their dream to be there. It just wasn’t my dream anymore.
I knew it had gotten bad when I began to view staying at my job the same way I view holding onto someone with whom I have no real plans on staying with long-term. Once I stopped being invested in the work I was doing, I knew that it wasn't right for me stay in that position. So, I stopped being a placeholder in that office and made room for the next person who’d give it their all.
I left on good terms, too. One of my favorite coworkers made cake, I received Hallmark cards scribbled with warm goodbyes and a kind send-off that makes me smile whenever I think back on it. But now I’m settling into my new reality, and I feel complete. I kept a side-gig putting together proposals for a government contracting firm, and I'm able to do that from home. The income from that enabled me to start my own company, and ultimately, my goal is to work solely for myself and travel the world. Even my personal relationships are better since I stuck with my counseling.
Although I don’t know what my life’s going to look like a year from now, I can at least say that this fresh start — and every fresh start I’ve ever given myself — has brought me nothing but growth. I’ve even learned that stumbling along the way is not necessarily a result of my disorder, but it is a result of me being human. Today I see that I was never meant to be a placeholder in anything I do, and I really don't think that should be anyone's goal. There's always someone who's hungry enough to fill your shoes, so slay or get out of the way.
For more essays like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
Shortly after I graduated, I went into the field of education. I did one year of AmeriCorps service, mentoring and teaching students at an elementary school, and was paid a small stipend every two weeks. Once my year of service was over, I scrambled to find my next job. Eventually I landed an opportunity but I was so happy to be employed and thankful that I was getting paid more than just a bi-weekly stipend that I didn’t even think about negotiating my salary. Understandably so, as a millennial who graduated with a large sum of student loan debt, my first priority was to just get a job that paid, ASAP. I also didn’t feel like I had the right to negotiate my salary because I didn’t have much job experience or even all of the necessary skills posted in the job description.
However, not negotiating my salary was a huge mistake.
According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), “Black women were paid 63 percent of what white men were paid in 2014. That means it takes a black woman nearly eight extra months to be paid what the average white man took home back on December 31.” Further, white women on the other hand were paid 78 percent of what white men were paid in 2014, while Latina women earned 54 percent of what white men were paid in 2014.
Reading those statistics got me so upset because I know that there's no sound basis for why women get paid less than men. It’s important to note that the gender pay gap also affects all women, no matter what career path you choose or how many degrees you earn. It’s also upsetting because gender-based pay inequity has some serious long-term consequences for us as women. According to a recent study conducted by the National Women’s Law Center, black women stand to lose $877,480 over the course of her career, in comparison to white men. In California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C., that number increases to $1 million dollars! The money lost over the course of our careers, is money that can be saved for retirement and to make those purchases that allow for a better quality of life.
Although, there is much legislative work needed to be done to change the gender pay gap, I also believe that there are steps that we can take as millennials to make sure that we aren’t losing out on income. For starters, frank and open conversations around this issue are needed, as well as tools and resources so that we can learn the ins and outs of salary negotiation. One great place to start is aauw.org.
Lastly, know this — as a new graduate, you are worthy of earning more and have so much to offer to your future employer, even if you don’t necessarily have the years of experience. Ultimately, it’s about the value you bring. Therefore, I urge you to negotiate your salary the next time around.
Here are some tips to consider:
Go into that meeting prepared with your pitch, know what you are going to say.
Practice your pitch beforehand so that you'll feel more confident going into your meeting.
The best time to negotiate your salary is once an offer has been made, until then don't mention anything about your salary.
Also know that they can say no. You have to ask yourself if you're willing to walk away if the money isn’t right.
Look for salary negotiation workshops in your city or a city near you. Often they are free and provide very helpful information.
Look up and research questions and responses that employers might ask you during the salary negotiation and then tailor those responses to suit your needs.
Let’s get a discussion going, what are some other tips that you've used to negotiate your salary? Let us know in the comments below!
Cassandre is a blogger, writer, creator, and motivator. She loves to use her writing and her voice to empower women to be their best selves. She recently launched her blog, which is dedicated to creating inspirational, raw content for women on their faith walk journeys. She also enjoys writing about issues related to personal development, womanism, and pop culture. When she is not writing, you can find her curled up reading a great book, planning her next adventure. or dancing the azonto to every song.
Loving Blavity's content? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss a...
When I was a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to Urban Fiction through my best friend. I had a pretty rough childhood, so reading and writing had always been my escape, but when I read books such as Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree and The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah, it was then that I really connected to the stories. In some ways, I saw myself in those characters, in those situations, and it became addictive. As I got older, I wanted to try and see if I could create something like my idols before me, not for the fame or fortune, but for the love of writing.
In 2005, I started my first book Counterfeit Dreams as a personal challenge. I let my best friend and a few of my family members read the story as I went along, but I never had the intent on taking it any further than that. Seven long years later, I completed the book and felt a pride that I had never felt before, but I still wasn’t ready to let the world in on my little secret. It wasn’t until everyone around me encouraged me to self-publish Counterfeit Dreams that I found that courage within myself to take a step out on faith. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but my dream of becoming a writer completely overshadowed that.
I never would have imagined what putting out this book would mean for me. After a lot of trial and error, I now have a series that I am more than proud of, I am the author that I always imagined being, and I am also the owner of my own publication company with 10 books under my belt. It scares me to know that I almost let these opportunities slip through my fingers because I was afraid of what people were going to think.
Here are a few tips that I live by and that have helped me along the way:
1. Tell EVERYONE, “I am a writer!”
Yell this from the rooftop if you have to. This should be a part of your daily mantra. Speak it into existence.
2. Study your craft and the business side of writing
This is a tip that I wish someone would have shared with me when I was first starting out. I think a lot of new authors get into this industry without having a solid foundation to stand on. The English language is a living, breathing thing, and is constantly changing. This means that you will need to change along with it. Stay on top of your craft by studying grammar, story architecture, syntax, etc., but also skill up on basic business concepts. Whether you're looking to self-publish, start your own publication company or be signed with someone, there are a lot of dos and don’ts that you want to be mindful of so that you’re not on the losing-end of the stick.
3. Socialize with other writers
This is very important to do, but please don't misconstrue this as you must become a part of some “clique.” When you're starting out as a new author, it's good to have as much support around you as possible, and who better to have than people who may be in the same shoes as you? Building a network of author friends is also beneficial when it comes to promoting. You’ll find that a lot of authors are willing to post/re-post your books or links to lend a helping hand, which is always a good thing.
4. Work with a mentor
Working with a mentor is great. It’s very helpful to speak with someone who has been in your position before and can help you avoid mistakes that maybe they have made in the past. Remember, you're not alone in this.
5. Do what works for you
I can’t stress this tip enough. You’ll get a lot of advice from people, some wanted, others unwanted, but you have to remember that at the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you. This industry is by no means a “one size fits all” industry. Learn as much as you can but apply what appeals to you. Remember, you are the writer. Don’t be afraid to stand on your own two feet.
6. Never give up!
This is the most important tip I can give to an aspiring author. The road might be bumpy along the way, but you must never give up! You never know who you could be inspiring on your road to success.
If you have a dream, whether it be to become a successful writer or anything else under the sun, I say go for it. Nothing worth having is going to come easily, so you shouldn’t expect it to. But through hard work and determination, you can achieve the impossible! Remember, it all starts with that first step.
Sasha Ravae is an Author, CEO, and Founder of Black Eden Publications. You can follow @black_eden_publications on social media, and to purchase books go to BlackEdenPublications.com/shop. Stay tuned for part 5 of her best selling series Counterfeit Dreams 5 releasing October 1st.
Loving Blavity? Sign up for our daily...
Good news for college grads (or those in process of getting their degrees) — a new report shows that the majority of the 11.6 million jobs created after the 2008 recession went to people with at least a bachelor’s degree.
CNN Money reports that specifically, 8.4 million jobs went to those with a bachelor’s degree, while those with an associate degree or at least some college education snatched up another 3 million jobs, according to the new study released by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. According to CNNMoney, 45% of Americans age 25 to 64 have an associate degree or higher, while 23% have at least a bachelor's degree.
Even though 42% of young adults age 18 to 24 are enrolled in higher education, nearly 41% of them won't graduate, according to a statistic released by the United States Department of Education. As if you needed another reason to stay in school, a college education actually does make a huge difference when it's time to apply for a job.
This post was originally published on Teen Vogue.
For more content like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
Diversity in the workplace is a topic of conversation that stretches beyond industries. Across the board, companies can and should do better. And Porter Braswell is helping to bridge the gaps and ensure that no one has any grounds for lacking a diverse team. Braswell and his friend Ryan Williams left Wall Street to found Jopwell, a platform that helps leading companies find diverse professionals to fit their needs.
Potential employees have an unheard of amount of control over how they present themselves to potential employers, and companies are able to get a well-rounded look at a wide-array of candidates. This tech solution to a huge problem is inspiring. And so is Braswell.
Get to know Porter further before he presents at AfroTech this November, and read our interview with him below:
Blavity: Is the concept behind Jopwell something you always knew you wanted to work on ? If not, what prompted the passion behind such a platform?
PB: The passion for Jopwell came from my cofounder Ryan and my own experiences working on Wall Street, where we met as analysts on the same trading floor. We both felt incredibly fortunate to have gotten exposure and industry experience in high school and college through specific diversity-focused internship programs. We also saw the key barriers that led to a lack of diversity in the workforce. Our passion came out of knowing that there was a large opportunity to use technology to connect candidates and companies more efficiently and at scale.
B: You and Ryan left your previous jobs to start Jopwell — a decision that many founders have to make, but that many more people don't understand or are skeptical of. How did you find the strength to believe in and invest in yourself, despite what naysayers might try to convince you of?
PB: A lot of our confidence came from being uniquely familiar with the problem we were looking to solve. The workforce diversity gap continues to be a massive business challenge across all major industries, and the opportunity to introduce an innovative, tech-driven solution has been hugely motivating for us.
The naysayers will always be there – and that’s actually a good thing because you have to believe in yourself and your idea enough to be able to ignore them. When Ryan and I told people we were leaving Wall Street to launch Jopwell, even my own parents looked at us like we were crazy. That’s a reality whenever you’re doing something new and unfamiliar to people. Plus, we’re both non-technical and had zero startup or HR experience. But along with our passion was our strong belief that we could rally the resources to create a diversity recruitment platform and get amazing candidates and the world’s leading companies to use it.
It’s not easy to leave the stability of a job or industry you know, but we believe in ourselves, each other, and our vision, and that continues to drive us forward.
B: Jopwell allows users to create a profile that’s more than just a résumé, but that also lets them describe themselves with various words, highlight leadership roles they’ve had, and be transparent about what roles interest them. How do you think this more thorough way of describing oneself changes the way companies recruit diverse candidates?
PB: Before anything else, companies are looking to connect with and recruit great candidates. That search can’t be limited to simply screening people’s work history and alma maters, especially when it comes to recruiting talented candidates from historically underrepresented groups.
Your Jopwell profile, in addition to showcasing your résumé and work experience, is designed to give you a platform to stand out to recruiters by providing more context around your unique traits and skills. You can share a “leadership moment,” for example. We prompt Jopwell candidates to be more descriptive and highlight their capabilities, talents, and aspirations in their profiles so they can stand out in today’s crowded and competitive job market.
B: You’ve described yourself as “non-technical.” How did you manage to break into the tech industry without coming from a tech-based background? What advice do you have for someone who wants to do the same?
PB: You don’t have to have a technical background to understand how technology can be applied to a problem. You need to be able to add value to the business, and that can come in many different forms. The best tech companies are looking for the best lawyers, digital marketers, salespeople, etc. Having talented engineers is incredibly important, but you don’t have to write great code to have a great career in tech. A Microsoft general manager recently shared some great advice with the Jopwell community around how to build a successful tech career when you’re non-technical. She stressed the value of being a strategic thinker and doer.
My advice is to constantly consider how to turn challenges into actionable, value-add solutions. When we’re hiring at Jopwell, we’re looking for people who can cut through barriers, add value and get things done.
B: How important was it for you to tap into your resources and network when trying to build out the tech side of things?
PB: It was and continues to be hugely important. Our first technical hire, Randy Brown, went to high school with me, and when I think about how we’ve gone from a few of us in a WeWork space to a 24-person team in our own NYC office, I can connect much of our growth back to our networks. We participated in Y Combinator in San Francisco last summer, and having the opportunity to grow our network there and gain support and insight from industry leaders has been invaluable. Our funding and the mentorship we’ve received from leaders like Magic Johnson and Mitch and Freada Kapor, for example, has come from meeting as many people as we could across a number of industries and building real relationships with them. Having their support makes it possible for us to be able to build out our technology thoughtfully.
B: How have you watched the conversation about diversity in tech shift since you founded Jopwell?
PB: It’s interesting – Jopwell focuses on connecting top talent with jobs across a range of industries, not just technology. But, probably because tech companies have been the most transparent and forthcoming about their actual numbers, a lot of the diversity-related press and conversation is around tech. By releasing their data, tech companies have set a new standard for accountability, and other organizations are following suit and being more open about the investments they are making to really move the needle. More and more, companies are hiring chief diversity officers, hosting diversity-specific events, and proudly using Jopwell. We’re moving beyond this phase of companies acknowledging “Yes, we have a workforce diversity problem that hurts our bottom-line” and more into a “So what investments are you making to solve this, and how is that going?” stage. It’s a positive shift.
B: What’s on the horizon for Jopwell? How do you plan to continue to raise the bar for diversity recruitment?
PB: Growth. It has been exciting to see what we’ve been able to accomplish in less than two years.
We’re going to continue to grow our user base by offering new and unique features to help candidates make meaningful connections with the employers leveraging the Jopwell platform. We’re excited to host some great events nationwide. We just announced our first National Headshot Tour and will be giving free professional headshots to black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American college students in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, D.C., and NYC. (Editor's Note: You can check out the dates here.)
We’ll also continue expanding our roster of leading companies that are committed to diversity in the workplace. This will bring even more great job and internship opportunities to our community.
B: Your book, ‘Yes, You Can: The secrets revealed for how to get into and succeed at America’s top universities and colleges’ gives readers a straightforward look at what’s really helpful to get them into their school of choice. Such a resource is so beneficial for first generation students. What motivated you to curate and share the tips and tricks?
PB: I think we can all learn from each other people’s honest experiences, and I wrote Yes, You Can with the hope of reaching other young people who are ambitious and might have some of the same questions as I did when I was applying to college.
B: Anything else readers should know about you or Jopwell?
PB: No matter what stage of your career you’re in, we welcome and encourage you to create a Jopwell profile. For professionals, you can even opt out of allowing certain companies to view your profile. There’s no downside – it’s an opportunity to be on the radars of great companies and to get career advice from and for our community via our editorial hub, The Well.
Here’s a quick overview on who we are, exactly:
Jopwell helps today’s leading companies find and recruit Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American professionals and students at scale. The platform provides two-way empowerment for both companies and job seekers, delivering a pipeline of talent to fill a range of roles – from experienced to entry-level to internships – across industries, including technology, finance, education, not-for-profits, consulting, and healthcare. In doing so, Jopwell shrinks the diversity employment gap and helps underrepresented ethnic minority talent find jobs they love.
For more from Porter Braswell and other game-changers, get your tickets to AfroTech! We'll see you there.
For more interviews like this, sign up for Blavity's...
In an age when digital media matters and is undoubtedly a mandatory aspect of communication, commerce and modern professionalism, it’s no surprise that there’s been a culture shift in the past decade.
Many may not realize that this culture shift heavily affects people of color. Of course, we can state the obvious. The increased media coverage of police brutality and slain unarmed black and Latino people has contributed heavily to this digital cultural shift. In the past five years alone we’ve been inundated with images of slain men, women and children of color at the hands of law enforcement or racist citizens in the U.S., and it’s proven hard to avoid this necessary conversation on social media.
But what happens when you work in the digital media industry? As someone who works at a digital creative agency and is surrounded by social media, digital media and graphics projects, I was interested to see how sensitive subjects and politics would be handled in the workplace, considering some of the client work we get is political.
What do you do as a person of color when the agency you work for is hired to produce political content and graphics for candidates and parties who don’t support or care about people of color and, in fact, have been enemies to people of color?
This is the reality and the little detailed parts of being marginalized that don’t get broadcasted.
These are the small moments of hesitation and disheartening ache that come when you have to work on a project or correspond with a client who does not support the livelihood of people who look like you, yet asks you to help them beautifully present platforms and ideals that disenfranchise your entire community.
If I’m being honest, my expectations for how concerned my coworkers would be about all of this was low and my expectations proved right; however, in no way am I saying that coworkers or employers should be hindered with the concern of sensitivity to projects like these. It’s a part of the job and it happens to involve politics. It doesn’t necessarily reflect my coworkers, my employer or me.
With that being said, I’m one of two people of color in the entire company and the only black person, so having some type of shoulder to lean on is few and far between. The reason this is a big deal is because despite whether or not my coworkers or employer have the same political views as me doesn't matter. They can’t fully understand or experience how politics affect me directly as someone who is black.
Black people who work in any aspect of the media industry, whether it’s journalism, digital media, storytelling, graphic design or social media, are faced with the reality of having to maintain media integrity, unbiased motivations in order to produce the best work for the client. They're tasked with reading, reviewing, refining and repeating constant jargon that challenges their very existence.
I’m not offering a solution to this because the only solution is to continue to speak out when and where you’ll be effective and continue to participate in the political process to promote change. I’m simply presenting yet another aspect of being a person of color in hopes that we will all work toward continuing to bring this awareness to the table to ensure that society is more and more mindful to shift the culture to where it should be.
Ishmael Mayhew is a brand strategist, project manager and producer based in Los Angeles, CA. His primary areas of media are focused in digital media, digital branding and storytelling. Ishmael obtained his experience while earning his degree in Media Communications at Full Sail University and while working in the field of media and storytelling for over 5 years. His hope is to continue to impact communities with storytelling and information to improve intrasocietal relations and standards. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and...
Office dynamics can be challenging. When you spend the majority of your life in a place, a certain level of annoyance is inevitable. Even the best of work environments are filled with all types of characters and conflicting personalities that make for a colorful 40-hour work week. Why not make the best of it?
Brace yourself...I'm about to put you on game. You ready? The secret to surviving and thriving at work is having New York narrate your internal dialogue. She has the perfect response for every situation. Trust me, if you employ these 13 Tiffany Pollard reactions for annoying co-workers, you'll never have a bad work day again.
1.The Brown Noser
You know the guy who never misses the opportunity to kiss up? The one who, after every meeting, enthusiastically reiterates how much he agrees with that great point the boss just made? Well, next time he comes with his standard hype man routine, hit him with this amused hair flip. What are we doing here, sir? How does this add value?
2. The Devil's Advocate
"I'm just going to play devil's advocate here..." is her favorite phrase. Although it's important to consider all angles of a situation to tease out possible unintended negative consequences, your girl over there has personally nominated herself to perpetually play that role. Not every decision requires mandatory opposition. Chill with that.
3. The Rambler
A polite "good morning" or "how's it going" can become a 15-minute dissertation with this one. Listen sir, I can't. I don't know what your job entails but I have deadlines over here.
4. The Lunch Stealer
The audacity! Everyone here can afford to buy food. Plus, why would you even want to eat someone else's prepared meal. You don't know us like that. Stop it!
5. The Loud Phone Talker
There is no reason that the entire office should be able to hear your conversation. Ma'am, use your inside voice please and thank you.
6. The Frat Boy
He never meets his objectives and he might not have those numbers ready for the conference call, but if you're planning a company picnic or bowling night out, your boy moves with military precision to makes sure it's lit! Nothing excites him more than after-work fraternization.
7. The Solitaire Champ
Ma'am, you aren't fooling anyone by minimizing your screen every time someone passes by. We all know you're the online solitaire queen. Tiffany, how many times have we caught her playing today?
8. The Informant
This one swears he has the 411 on who's secretly hooking up, the suspected upcoming merger and who might be getting laid off in the next few weeks. Most of the time he's right though, which begs the question...Where is he getting this information?
9. The Snitch
She is always posted up in the cut, just waiting for you to get back five minutes late so she can run and tell it. Don't even think about easing out early on a slow Friday. She keeps the boss on speed dial. Tiffany, how should we handle this situation?
10. The Motivator
Her aura is pure sunshine. She is always super positive and manages to find the good in every situation. So, what's the problem? This level of perpetual bubbly sunshine can be taxing for us mere mortals. Give me a minute...I just need my coffee first.
11. Mr. Doom and Gloom
Everyone gets an unexpected bonus, he complains that it should have been more. You ask him how his vacation went, he whines about the weather. Mr. Gloomy here is always inserting his unsolicited negative perspective. Stand over there, please sir. We don't need that energy.
12. The Climber
You respect the hustle. Your boy is a straight up politician. Shaking hands and kissing babies, he'll do whatever it takes to move up that ladder. I see you, bruh.
13. The Lifetime Movie Character
You swear her life has it's own team of writers, casting directors and a lighting crew. The amount of drama that goes on in her daily affairs is draining. Ma'am, I don't think I'm equipped to help you here. Perhaps you should flex that EAP on a professional therapist.
Next time you are challenged by office politics, tap into your inner Tiffany Pollard and quietly play out these scenes in your head. I promise it'll make your entire life!
Loving Blavity's articles? Sign up for our daily...