You know the old saying: “It's always quiet before the storm?” Well, that’s how life can be, unfortunately. One day we are happily living life, carefree, enjoying our Starbucks Café Mocha without a problem in the world. Inspiration is near, we discover our purpose, a clearer vision for life comes into plain view and then, the next day, dark clouds roll in and life gets confusing and disquieting. Throughout life, we are taught to find meaning and purpose. For entrepreneurs, this means following our own path. But what we're often not told are the setbacks and tribulations that accompany purpose.
Life is a teacher. We are always getting graded. Yet, without a doubt, life is not designed to fail you but to test you.
Here’s a candid look at three of the biggest setbacks that stop most people from following their purpose in life and how we can overcome them. Hopefully you're see how setbacks are really designed for your ultimate set up.
1. Lack of funds
Let's just start with the obvious. The biggest thing that holds most people back from following their dreams and living their purpose is money. So, we use that as an excuse to not move forward. A lack of funds, to be perfectly honest, is a great excuse. But it should not set us back. Once you have a vision for your life, money will be the last thing you’ll have to worry about. Let me explain why.
With crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you can rally financial support from across the globe. These sites are created for people to invest in projects and for those who have a vision and a plan of action to bring their ideas into the world.
It's not enough to just have a vision; you must also have a plan of action that looks promising for investors.
Let’s look at government contracts and grants, too. Grants are granted to people who have a specific vision. If you have an idea for a government program you want to fund, you’ll have to communicate your vision and detail a plan of action. People invest in people. What good are funds without a solid vision that informs you how to direct and use them?
Don't let the idea of not having enough money to start a business stop you. Instead, focus your efforts on fully developing your business idea and clarifying your vision. You'll find that people will be attracted to your vision and resources will soon follow!
2. No experience
This perceived setback never gets old. You graduate from high school, get accepted into college and graduate. You apply for your dream job and they kindly send you an email stating they are looking for someone who has more experience. Or maybe you have a great business idea and you’re sure it will be the next big thing. So, you start to research what it will take to startup. You are told by others, and maybe even yourself, you don’t have enough startup experience to become an entrepreneur.
Don’t let a lack of experience be the sole reason you give up on your plans. Many entrepreneurs who went on to create million dollar companies did not have “enough experience,” let alone a college degree.
One way to gain practical experience is to intern, shadow someone in the industry, seek mentorship or turn to e-learning courses. This will give you a chance to gain in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience. For example, ed tech is taking off. Platforms such as Skillshare offer a learning community for creators. Anyone can take an online class, watch video lessons, create projects and even teach a class themselves.
3. Little social proof
With social media playing such a major part in our daily lives, having a strong social media presence is important. Yet, you don’t have to have nine million Twitter followers to launch a successful business. Too many entrepreneurs get discouraged when starting a business or launching a product because they think customers won’t take them seriously with a fledgling social media presence. Instead, grow organically by creating a simple social content plan. Every chance you get to connect offline and online with a customer, let them know where they can find you on social media.
Numbers are important when it comes to social media, but engagement is more important. So focus on creating a following that boosts engagement. Social Media Examiner suggests, “three things big brands do very well that small businesses can emulate: Find where their customers talk and 'go deep.' Create content that people want to talk about. [And] use social media to listen to customers.”
There are plenty of social media accounts with millions of followers and no real engagement (which is pointless). The right social media conversations can let you know how your product or service is solving a problem, what you are doing right and, more importantly, what you are doing wrong. So instead of worrying about how many “likes” your Facebook brand page has, focus on building a relationship and creating value for those who follow you today. Do not let small numbers discourage you from doing business.
Do not let a lack of funds, experience or social validation hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Instead, put your time and energy into creating a vision for your business and figuring out the direction you want to go. Make the decision to be successful today.
What setbacks have you overcome to reach success? Let us know in the comments below, and share this piece with your entrepreneur friends!
Tony Logan is the VP of Liftbridge Publishing a publishing company used to publish independent authors and also the Creative Director for Abstract Solutions which is a marketing firm. When he's not working he can be found at your local cafe stealing wifi and sugar packets. Follow him on Twitter.
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Here's a fact – the word resolution really only becomes important in our lives when a year is ending or beginning. We make vision boards, hit the gym, clean out the organic section in the grocery store, or worse — give up on the one excessive habit that makes us happy.
Sometimes we stick with these resolutions, other times we fall off the wagon. But what about the rest of the year? We can and should resolve to make active changes in our lives independent of the day that the ball is set to drop. Here are 11 actions to get you started:
1. Treat other black women as motivation (not competition)
This goes for our entire community, not just black women. Let’s lift each other up and celebrate our brothers and sisters instead of devaluing and belittling them.
2. Say NO to f*ckboys
Black, white or brown, if they’re a f*ckboy they don’t deserve the magic of your melanin. If you’ve fallen victim to f*ckboys, write this down, read it, live it and repeat it.
3. Live with the confidence of a mediocre white man
Does this really need an explanation? This might actually be the key to surviving any and all of life's obstacles.
4. Refuse to be a mule
Don't break your back because you’ve allowed someone or any group of persons to deplete you physically, mentally or emotionally. Take care of yourself first, always.
5. Embrace your inner carefree black girl
Yes, this is an act of selfishness. Yes, it’s okay to do this without apologizing for doing so. Think about it, if you’re not living for you, who are you living for and are the sacrifices that you’re making really worth it?
6. Let go of white beauty standards
We’re not necessarily telling you to do a big-chop and join the ranks of natural hair product junkies clearing out Walgreens shelves everywhere. We’re just saying to be both conscious and honest about why you do what you do to look a certain way.
7. Find a way to uplift younger black women
Make your #blackgirlmagic visible to younger generations. Volunteer with a non-profit organization. Become a mentor to a high school or college student. Donate to an organization that sends girls to school in African countries. No matter how small or how big your action is, make it count.
8. Listen to your body when it’s tired
Contrary to the demands of your life, you are a human being, not a superhero or a robot. Make time for rest and self-care. You don't want to end up regretting it later.
9. Focus on wellness, not weight
Here’s a fact: The real value in health is how you treat your body, not how much you weigh.
10. Get a handle on your finances
Stop spending your money unconsciously. One year I spent more than $1,000 just getting my hair done. This doesn’t account for all of the products I purchased. I quickly snatched my life and found the blessing that is known as YouTube. Figure out how you can eliminate unnecessary costs in your own life.
11. Create or do something bigger than yourself
The cold hard truth is that we all only have one life to live.
What are you going to do to leave your mark of #blackgirlmagic? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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We're all working toward something. Some of us wholeheartedly dedicate ourselves to our careers and crafts, with little care for or focus on anything else. What about the days when you literally can't because you're too tired, exhausted or you're simply burning out? It's never fun when your world comes crashing down because you forgot about everything else. Follow these nine steps to help you keep the momentum going:
Take time to breathe
Don't suffocate yourself with your work. Take breaks. We’re not talking about the 30-minute break that you take to scarf food while catching up on the show you missed last night, we’re talking meaningful breaks taken on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Dedicate a day!
Work smarter, not harder
Whether you’re freelancer or a 9-to-5er, you need to make sure that you’re utilizing your time as best as possible. Spend at least 20 minutes at the end of each day to prepare for the next day. A good tactic is to divide your day into 2- or 3-hour intervals and plan what you hope to accomplish during each block.
Set and track goals
It’s very easy to get lost in your work and begin to feel hopeless about the future of career if you aren’t setting or tracking goals. It’s important to remind yourself how far you’ve come and how far you seek to go.
Learn that perfection is unattainable
When work never ends, you must accept that not everything will be perfect. Sometimes you will fail and sometimes you will disappoint yourself, but the easiest thing to do is move forward and give yourself chances to excel with new projects.
Switch it up!
Changing your daily routine not only prevents boredom, but it also helps keep your mind fresh. You’ll be way less bored during the day if you have something new or different to look forward to every evening or morning.
Start doing retrospectives
This is a trick that I learned from working at a major corporation. A retrospective is a look back at a past event or situation. After you finish a major project or at the end of every month, take time to figure out how you can improve your workflow. This means detailing what you should start doing, stop doing and continue doing in your work... It’ll help make you more conscious.
Put down your phone
Let’s be honest. How much work can you really do when your hotline is blinging 24/7? You can re-up your productivity by keeping your phone on 'Do Not Disturb' (if you have an iPhone) or putting your phone face-down on the desk/table while you’re working.
Find a good stress reliever
For some, this might be working out — for others, it might be binge-watching Scandal or A Different World on Netflix. Whatever it is, find it and use it as much as you need to.
Focus on yourself
It’s very easy to lose focus on your health and well-being when work or school is your main focus. Surpassing goals, acing exams and making power moves are all amazing, but what are they really worth when you don’t have your health? Don’t forget to put yourself first.
Do you have other tips for those struggling with managing all of their tasks? Comment below with your advice!
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'2 Self Help Books Away From Being Perfect' is a female-driven romantic comedy about a bright-eyed Brooklynite who naively uses self-help principles to find love.
Written, Created, and Stars Kimberly Young
Directed and Produced by Lopez Williams
Song in Trailer: "Romeo" by...
As much as we might love our friends, we're not always equipped to help them in their times of need, especially if they’re experiencing a crisis such as domestic violence, sexual assault or extreme emotional distress. Here is a list of handy online resources that connect people to free, qualified support immediately, via a helpline, online chat or text messaging. Please share these resources with your loved ones.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-TALK or suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Trained counselors help those who feel they are in crisis, even people who might not necessarily be thinking of suicide. This includes those dealing with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illnesses and loneliness
National Sexual Assault Hotline — 800-656-HOPE or rainn.org
This resource operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) provides free 24/7 confidential, one-on-one crisis support to anyone impacted by sexual assault, including survivors and loved ones. They can provide a safe place to talk about what happened and connect you with resources in your local area.
Boys Town National Hotline — 1-800-448-3000 or boystown.org/hotline
Boys Town helps at-risk children, teens and families who are at the brink of disaster. Their 24/7 hotline is staffed by trained counselors, including some that are Spanish-speaking. They also offer translation services and options for the hearing-impaired.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline — 1-800-799-SAFE or thehotline.org
Trained advocates are available 24/7 via phone or chat to help those experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
The Trevor Project — 866-488-7386 or thetrevorproject.org
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
Veterans Crisis Line — 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or veteranscrisisline.net
This confidential resource connects veterans and their loved ones with responders from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This resource is designed to help veterans experiencing emotional distress. Veterans and their family and friends are encouraged to call anytime, even before reaching a crisis point, so that they can get the specialized help they need.
Crisis Text Line — Text START to 741741, or crisistextline.org
Trained crisis counselors and volunteers help those in hot moments experience more calm through active listening and suggesting referrals. Texts are confidential and free for major carriers but standard SMS rates might apply for others.
Disaster Distress Helpline — 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 or facebook.com/distresshelpline
This U.S. government-sponsored resource is available to those experiencing distress related to natural or manmade disasters, including flooding, severe storms, mass violence, community unrest, disease outbreaks and more.
SPEAK UP — 1-866-SPEAK-UP or speakup.com
This resource allows students to anonymously report a weapon threat at their school or in their community. It has received nearly 40,000 calls since launching in 2002.
Crisis can affect anyone, including women and men of color, and it's important to fight the stigma that prevents many in our communities from seeking help when needed. Talk openly about self-care with friends and be open about the fact that you support those who utilize formal resources designed to help people overcome challenges. This might make friends more likely to reach out to you if they ever find themselves in crisis. Resources like the ones above are just a Google search away, but sometimes it takes the support of a nonjudgmental, supportive friend to encourage someone to put them to use.
Are there other online resources you consider useful in crisis? Please share them in the comments below!
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As a 30-something, it's now easier to reach back and reflect on all of the things that I would have taken more seriously, acted on more intently, or just ditched altogether in my past. However, this isn't a pity party or expression of regret by any means, but rather an eye-opener of sorts. That older/wiser thing is surely kicking in (life comes at you fast) and I'm happy to share the life lessons I've learned so far.
Don't underestimate your abilities
You don't have to dim your light to appease others. In masking your gifts to fit in, you are doing yourself a huge disservice, not to mention, missing out on valuable opportunities to stand out. As the poem, "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson so boldly states, "Your playing small does not serve the world." You are extraordinary, so let your light shine.
Do not sit on your talents; they are meant to be shared with the world
Do you know how many great businesses began on the grounds of natural talent(s) alone, and not necessarily formal experience? Ever hear, "I used to be really good at XYZ, but I quit...," followed by no further explanation? If you don't work to develop something over a long period of time (i.e., singing, playing an instrument, dancing, writing, crunching numbers, etc.), you naturally become a bit rusty. Some are able to bounce right back into it almost immediately and others, not so much. Natural talents are undeniable. When you've got it, you've got it. The real question is how will you use it?
Not everyone is cut out for the entrepreneurial life, but you very well might beThe fact is that you'll never know if you don't explore the option. You will find that having multiple streams of income is the way to go. These same income streams could set you right into the position of being your own boss or staying afloat financially should a layoff at your regular 9-5 occur. What are you great at (see #2)? You are not too young to start your own business and, in fact, now is as good a time as any to try and fail... and try and fail again (rinse and repeat until you succeed). Never forget that Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, along with college roommates, in 2004. This is a prime example that sometimes all you need is a well-thought-out idea and plan to get the ball rolling. However, pack your patience — entrepreneurship is a long, bumpy ride!
Stop with the comparisons
More clearly, don't tie anyone's failures to your potential for success. Different game, different elements and different players. Get it? Got it? Good.
Ditch the "milestones"
I totally understand that you want to hurry up and finish school, move out from your parents' house, find a job making decent money, maybe get married and have some children. "Adult-ing" is hard. And it becomes even more complicated once you enter the workforce, the bill-paying world, marriage and parenthood. Those are all factors that will immediately alter your life. Although it's nice to want all those things (and more), don't be held hostage in your mind to a magic age for marriage, children or even "finding yourself." I promise that you will be highly disappointed. Your life will happen on it's own timeline. It's a continual discovery process and I will be the first to admit that I am still "finding myself" in my 30s.
Don't chalk everything up to "being young" and "having fun." Your life is serious business
The 20s define you more than you realize. Sure, you're still young and having fun (by all means, travel as much as possible). However, make your future a top priority and do your best to make the best decisions along the way. There will be a lot of trials and errors but that's a part of life. Don't let your youth slip away without seizing every opportunity for growth that comes your way. Play hard and work even harder.
You can't take everyone with you
One day, you'll look around and see just how drastically your circles have changed. The harsh truth is that you will outgrow friendships and end some relationships, but that's okay! The bigger lesson is that you surround yourselves with people who are going to push you to the next level and add positivity to your life. Never allow individuals or circumstances to keep you stuck. And that includes yourself — get out of your own...
Congratulations! You're a college graduate. The ceremony was grand, the after parties were lit, and Big Momma baked her special Mac & Cheese just for you. Fast forward several months. Now your account balance is disrespectful, Big Momma has left four voicemails reminding you to return her good casserole dish, and that degree on your wall taunts you each day as you head to your minimum-wage job. Welcome to the post-grad struggle.
I am a self-appointed expert in Post-Grad Struggology.
Although each person is unique in how he or she copes with it, research shows that the struggle is, in fact, REAL. For your benefit, I have identified the most commonly occurring stages and compiled them into this handy guide, complete with trial testimonials. You’re welcome.
Stage 1: The Humbling — Upon graduation, I was one of several servers at a restaurant just off campus — all degreed and competing for work in a dwindling job market. Several of my co-workers had altogether stopped applying for jobs. And who could blame them? The process of reworking resumes, submitting online applications and selling oneself at career fairs only to be swerved with the "we’re just not that into you" email is rough. Job hunting seemed like an exercise in humiliation.
Stage 2: The Pity Party — It had become our daily routine to gather in the alley before our shift to trade stories of demeaning experiences with guests who would snap their fingers and call, “hey you,” like it was our legal name. We compared notes about fruitless leads and bad interviews.
Stage 3: The Reality Check — Although there was relief to be found in our shared frustration, I recognized that my experience was different from theirs. If they didn’t land a job by conventional means, they had a Plan B, a family business, or some well-connected relative or family friend. If cash came up short at the end of the month, they could make a phone call. I respected their desire to make it on their own and envied their worse case scenarios.
Stage 4: Getting Swerved — I had submitted dozens of applications and gone on several interviews to no avail. There were a couple of close calls. The most memorable was the verbal offer that got revoked one week after it was extended. It was a solid entry-level position with a Fortune 500 corporation and I was ecstatic. I had received the 'unofficial' offer after interviewing at a career fair. The recruiter wanted me on his team but would need to debrief at headquarters to iron out logistics.
He assured me that I would be contacted, within two weeks, with further details. A week later I found myself on the receiving end of that call. A professional voice met my “hello” with a friendly greeting. “This is it!” I thought. After a bit of nervous small talk, the recruiter transitioned into a statement, read verbatim, “I regret to inform you, due to restructuring, we are currently undergoing a hiring freeze. The offer that was previously discussed has been rendered null, indefinitely. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.” That last sentence reverberated in my ear as I mustered a polite, “Thank you for the call,“ and hung up the phone.
Stage 5: I'm Officially a Loser — I pulled my uniform out of the dryer and took extra care in getting ready for my evening shift. “Who do you think you are,” I curled my hair. “You thought you could do better than this?” I ironed my shirt with extra starch. That evening, every guest that ever had a bad mood and needed someone to take it out on conspired to sit in my section. It had to be a conspiracy because there is no other way to statistically account for that many crabby people gathering in one place, on one night, in one section, of one restaurant, one rotation after another. It was during this shift that a child threw up on me for the first time in my extensive serving history. I was lifting the toddler out of the booth and into a high chair to assist his mother, who had her hands full with two other restless kids. Once we were eye to eye, he vomited in my face. The mother gasped as I put the child down. I excused myself to the restroom as she apologized profusely.
Stage 6: The Epic Meltdown The instant I knew that I was alone, the tears poured uncontrollably. I was powerless to stop them. I cried the humiliation, frustration and disappointment that I had masked behind smiles and covered with sarcasm. I cried the guilt and embarrassment for indulging the notion that I could do more. I cried until I was dizzy and then just as suddenly as the hysterics began, I was done. I couldn't cry anymore.
Stage 7: The Epiphany — I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of serenity. Standing there with a visible chunk of regurgitated tater tot in my hair, I felt the purest sense of gratitude that I had ever experienced. I was thankful for my job, thankful for every tip, thankful for my apartment, thankful for transportation, thankful for groceries, thankful for family, thankful for air — just thankful.
Stage 8: The Shift — From that moment forward, my perspective completely changed. I no longer participated in self-deprecating conversations; I couldn’t afford to flirt with self-pity. I refused to indulge in gossip; I found no amusement at the expense of others. I didn't need to win. I had nothing to prove. I just focused on delivering impeccable service to every guest, every day, no matter what. It was an honor to serve. The sudden transition was off-putting to some, but I met rolled eyes with indifference. I didn't care if I fit in. My guests were happier, my tip percentages increased and thus my income did too.
Stage 9: The Happy Ending In less than a month I received a call back from the company that had revoked the initial job offer. The hiring ban had been lifted and they were still interested in bringing me on-board but it would mean flying to their corporate office to compete with a new slate of candidates for a different job than previously offered. I had three days to prepare a presentation, participate in a case study and ready myself for interviews. By the end of the intense evaluation process I was presented a job offer that came with a salary well above market average and a signing bonus to boot! This experience would mark a turning point and set into motion a series of events that would change my entire trajectory.
Stage 10: Repeat — So you landed the job! The post-grad struggle is officially over, but chances are you're about to enter another transition *Que Adulting Struggle. Maybe your boss is a certified psychopath or perhaps the company you work for frowns on taking time off...like, ever. I’m just saying, life will be sprinkled with a little struggle here and there, but it rarely lasts. Learn the lessons and enjoy the journey. Who knows...maybe one day you’ll look back and realize it was the best...
I've experienced my share of heartbreak. Despite this, I'm committed to expanding into love rather than running from it. It's been a challenging journey to accept each man as he stands before me and not contain him in my box of judgments and insecurities. No matter how much work I've done on myself, sometimes insecurities still creep.
When they do, I handle them like this:
I'm choosing to be the spicy, confident, but loving seductress who affirms, “I know you’re worthy of my love, but when you remember you’re worthy come get this," over the nice, timid, careful-not-to-piss-anyone-off little girl who says, “Are you ok? Are we ok? Was it something I said or did?”
The seductress affirms my power while the little girl questions it, is afraid of it. She needs to feel safe, secure, loved and protected, otherwise she’ll start throwing tantrums and neither my partner nor I want that.
She hasn’t yet learned that she’s always safe, secure, loved and protected. The seductress knows this. She acts as the protectress to my inner child, reminding her of who she is and that she has everything she needs already.
Unlike the little girl, the seductress sees my partner's behavior for what it is. It’s never personal. He is only projecting his fears, allowing his inner child to run the show. I started to reflect him with my inner child; good thing this wasn’t done out loud!
It's a learning experience about the dynamics between partners in romantic spaces. I can take someone's actions and silence the wrong way. I sometimes take things personally and end up in these uncomfortable spaces having unnecessary spats simply because I'm unable to silence my own insecurities long enough to hear my partners.
But when I channel my inner seductress to fight my insecurities, I'm able to say "Nah, not...
The power of the millennial revolution shows how much businesses truly need us. We are tenacious, outspoken, socially-connected, we understand media and marketing and, thanks to the nature of the times, we have an unmeasurable ability to multitask. The truth is the majority of the jobs I’ve had in the past three years I was considered “unqualified” for. All of the descriptions asked for something I didn’t have yet; a degree. Nothing makes me sadder than my friends and family coming to me for help because they literally hate going to work every day. Eight hours of five days of each week of your life is a lot to sacrifice to a place you don’t like or where you feel underappreciated. Most of the creatives I meet have the same struggle.
Seeing big picture can be difficult for many of us, hard for us because we get so caught up in all of the things we can do and learn right away. Our “projects” keep us from landing a career-focused job that would allow us to exercise our muscles with the salary and benefits we deserve. My key advice for actually finding “the dream job” is to always be looking.
Here are four steps you can take today that can help you start you on your successful job hunt in 2016.
Simplify your job hunt
Make job hunting and applications easy. The harder it is the less likely you are to follow through. Always keep job search apps on your phone and get notifications of new job opportunities in your intended area straight to your email.
Write yourself a cover letter email with your resume attached. That way if a job opportunity arises you can copy and paste it straight from your phone. It seems like that’s happening more and more thanks to Instagram and LinkedIn.
Keep your brand with you
Keep “freelance” or “for hire” business cards if you don’t have a current set with your job or business. ALWAYS have cards in your wallet, car or purse. It shows that you value yourself. I have three cards on me; one for my full time, one for my part time and one for my business where I’m a freelance photographer and marketing consultant.
Have references handy
Keep three references who know your strengths and weakness up to date and ALWAYS on deck. Some of the freelance and pro-bono cases I took on last year were opportunities I specifically needed for my reference list or portfolio. Take a genuine look at your circle, do you have three people you can trust to sell you for the kind of job you’re after? Will they get stumped on basic questions about your qualifications? A great reference is someone that has seen you work in the capacity in which you are applying and whole-heartedly believes in your worth like you do. Sometimes even more. If you don’t have references like this, put yourself in some situations this year that will get you there! It’s always best to start with people you already know and be transparent in your search for a new job.
Update your headshots
Let’s be clear — a headshot is not a good selfie. It’s a photo that frames your face with little or no distraction in the background. Someone asked me how often they should update their headshots and I say whenever you update your look! You’ll get a variety of advice on what makes a good headshot but to me, it’s a visual representation of who you are. Just your facial expressions alone can say a lot about you. Are you serious, laid-back, creative, fun? Talk to your photographer about the composition and lighting. I like to take mine outside with a softer look to soften my appeal. Don’t forget you are your own brand. Every decision you make from the color scheme of your resume to the way you sign your emails should reflect how you see yourself and how you want others to view you as well. I get calls weekly via LinkedIn from companies offering me positions. It’s an investment in yourself. These days, especially in the creative field, people are even putting them directly on their resumes. I also keep my Gmail profile updated with professional headshots so that way when I correspond with potential hiring managers they can easily place my face and recognize my brand.
Tell your story
For jobs you might be “under-qualified" for, make sure you deliver your resume directly to the owner or HR manager's email. Don’t bother with the online application, because more than likely if you don’t fill out the necessary qualifications, your application won’t even make it where you need it to be. Make sure the body of your email is compelling and speaks to your high points without mentioning the negative or obvious. In fact, I like to spin the negative:
Hiring Manager: I see you are still in school.
You: I think I will always be in school. I love learning, and after my undergrad I want to go straight into grad school. I never take on more than I am capable of, and that’s part of the reason why it has taken so long to graduate, I always put work first. I think I do my best work with a couple of classes a semester that are based on my current job (marketing), so I can supplement my learning.
Make sure the money is right
Don’t forget to always do the salary and qualification research. It’s good to know what you’re up against. That doesn’t mean see what a job is looking for and lie, but if you know where you want to be and you’re not there yet, focus on growing those determining factors. It should also be a determining factor in how much time and money you invest in gaining the necessary training and certifications. For instance, as of last month, Glassdoor puts graphic designers in Atlanta at making around $45k while creative directors make almost $135k on average.
Big difference, right? Not if you ask some extremely driven designers! The ones that stay late, know the big-picture importance in brand management and have experience in managing creative teams. They’d probably say "Hey, maybe I should switch tracks" if only they knew they could triple their earnings with some simple goal setting. Until you know what you’re after, how can you know what you need to get there? Don’t get me wrong, there is a huge difference between the two job descriptions, however there’s no reason someone with a design background and great leadership couldn’t take that route if they wanted to. I’ve seen several great freelancers and brand management professionals go from hitting the streets searching for clients to getting recruited to the corporate high life, driving company cars and flying first class. Kudos to great health insurance and a 401k! If you’re happy with your current position stay there and be the best you can be, but if you’re not and are looking to make a change...do the research!
Not only does Glassdoor give information on salaries per locations and positions it’s awesome for looking up real reviews of businesses and current openings!
Seeing The big picture can be difficult for many of us because we get so caught up in all of the things we "should" be doing right now. Our “projects” keep us from landing a career-focused job that would allow us to exercise our muscles with the salary and benefits we deserve. My key advice for actually finding “the dream job” is to always be looking.
2016 is YOUR year. Never be afraid to go for what you’re after. The ‘perfect job’ is waiting for you, you just have to go get it! Make structured use of your time. Rather than posting about, talking about or even thinking about how much you want a change this year, dedicate 30 minutes a day to actionable items that will take you one step closer to big changes in the new...
Like many people, I had a chuckle at the Miss Universe and Steve Harvey debacle. Outside of the vitriolic anti-black rhetoric and racism that quickly arose and the enormous amount of tea that was spilled on Black Twitter, It seemed a pretty open and shut moment of 2015. But something kept lingering. For me, the conversation wasn’t about Harvey, so much as it was public failure and how we engage with it.
It’s common for bloggers or freelancers to share income reports. They keep people accountable and provide a wealth of information for their audiences to see the real numbers behind working for yourself.
It’s not common for people to share struggle reports and explain the losses they took over a calendar year and what those shifts should look like. The internet is just like high school; so I made one instead.
For every struggle I’ve also listed an adjustment — a change in behavior, attitude or thought pattern that I’m working to implementing next year. This is my life, not a listicle.
1. I didn't share my work.
I know I created things of value in 2015. A lot of them. But my own fear shielded me from actually sharing a majority of it, so I left it to chance and the general sentiment that someone, somewhere will find this. Let me just do the work. In an attempt to not add to the noise, I devalued myself, at the expense of potentially helping people. Every single time I've published something that scared me, I faded into the shadows. Ironically, those pieces were the ones that resonated the most, but I was too in my own feelings to recognize it. I prefer moves over announcements, but I didn't understand the power of my voice until very recently.
The Adjustment: If I write it, I’m going to share it and be unabashed about what I make and the value it has.
2. I opted for "perfect" instead of done.
As a writer, I love creating. As an editor, I’m kind to everyone’s drafts except my own. My drafts folder probably looks like Dr. Dre's Detox hard drive (obviously less prolific). I have things I never launched because they weren't 'good enough,' whatever that means.
The Adjustment: I'm working to give my own creative process the same care and nurturing I do with other people's.
3. I made excuses for mediocrity.
There were times I cut corners this year. I was tired, but I didn’t admit it and rest. Instead, I gave up effort when I couldn’t afford too. That “somewhere” was developing myself and taking new opportunities. I opted for tomorrow when today was really what should have taken precedence.
The Adjustment: Remove the ability for excuses to breathe, especially in things I need to get done.
4. I wasn't ruthless with my calendar.
A lot of people want to spend time with you. Only a handful will invest in you. I learned this difference in real time, as I kept letting people abuse my Google Calendar with reckless abandon.
The Adjustment: Mid-way through the year, I started proactively blocking my calendar. I set up times to think, plan and execute. This will continue aggressively in 2016. Time is a resource that can’t be replenished, so it has to be protected.
5. I was more focused on mastering tools instead of building habits.
I consume a lot of content. I want to learn everything I can about the things I want to be excellent at.
The Adjustment: I don’t need to do everything, and the things I shouldn’t spend time on, I’ll be working on automating. That leaves me space to focus time and energy on the goals that will drive more progress.
6. I studied success but not the systems that inform it.
It’s quickly becoming the new sexy to deconstruct success. With billion dollar valuations, new millionaires emerging from almost nowhere, understanding the how, what, and where can be invaluable. And there are countless articles about just that. I love those stories. But the success is the outcome, not the input. It’s the systems, processes and access that have a hand in dictating the front page stories.
The Adjustment: I’m starting to research and look into patterns that people have, and not just their accolades. The latter is sexy, but the former is what creates longevity, regardless of industry.
7. I didn’t clearly and decisively write out what success looked like for me.
I have all kinds of things I want to do. Businesses. Ventures. Books I need to write. Classes I want to teach. Things my family used to own that I want to purchase back. But for people with big visions, it can often be paralyzing. We get lost in the caverns of our minds not because we procrastinate, but because with dreams that big, it’s hard to know where to get started.
The Adjustment: Nothing I want to do is going to come easily or quickly. I’m writing down exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it, and then visually reinforcing what that will look like. If I have time to engage with my Twitter feed, I should make just as much time to engage with my goals.
8. I let people into my life who were never interested in me, just how comfortable my potential made them feel.
Lessons of the heart are often the toughest to learn, but the easiest to remember. I’m a giver by nature, but the struggle has been learning how to discern who is actually interested in me as a person versus anything else. I tend to love people who don’t even like me, or worse, just want what I have. When I started to do things they wanted to do, they got upset with me. My ambition offended them when it wasn’t in line with what they thought I should be doing for them.
The Adjustment: I’m starting 2016 with fewer numbers in my phone, a lot more boundaries, and only one requirement: don’t tell me you love me. Don't say we’re friends. Show me what that looks like.
9. I said yes to things that were not priorities.
This is due in part to my desire to actually help people, but there is another part of me I don’t like to admit. I enjoy being liked. I care about it much less than I used to, but I still worry about it enough to do certain things that I shouldn’t. When I do that, I reprioritize the real things I should be doing because of it. It took time away from my family, friends and the plethora of ‘little sisters’ I have.
The Adjustment: “No.” is a complete and beautiful sentence. I’ll be using it frequently in 2016. I want to manage my life, not my calendar.
10. I was unkind to myself.
The issue with never not working is in the implementation, not the practice. “Working” applies to all sides of yourself, including the preservation of your body, mind, spirit and psyche. This affected every relationship I had. People were getting the worst of me because I wasn’t paying attention to what I needed.
The Adjustment: I’ll be making time for Jonathan to be Jonathan, unapologetically. I’m staying low and building with myself.
11. I never asked for help.
2015 has been wild. I’ve been spending time in rooms and places I never knew existed with people I used to read about and never expected to meet. Sometimes we try to be so self-made that we forget that our decisions actually construct who we are. Not asking for help doesn’t make your story any more authentic. It will definitely make it increasingly more difficult, especially when you are faced with things you’re unfamiliar with. I have mentors I never tapped into because I didn’t want them to think less of me. I conflated help with a handout, and in doing so, never got what I needed. Which is the same problematic thinking that allows us to blame black mothers for systemic issues that kill their sons.
The Adjustment: I’ll ask for help when I need it, because that’s what the greats do.
12. I succumbed to ‘information overwhelm.'
I right-clicked on anything that seemed like it could be helpful to bolstering my ideas or giving me a new perspective. I am always hungry for new information. That’s a good thing. The problem is that I didn’t take enough time focused on action, as I did on collecting resources. Libraries are only useful to the people who utilize what’s inside them. Otherwise, it’s a large building with sheets of paper glued together and organized on shelves.
The Adjustment: Less information collecting, and more action on things I think are important. I don’t need to know bits and pieces about everything all the time. I’m also working on an email course to help other people who struggle like I do.
13. I doubted my own vision so much I paralyzed my own ability to create.
This isn't so much a website as it is an easel. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I write. If they are very close to me, they will tell you I tell stories unconsciously. I always have. But the ones I need to tell double as the scariest.
The Adjustment: Significance will always trump success, but not if I don’t have an idea of what both should look like. I shocked myself with some of the things I did this year when I got clear and focused on what actually matters to me.
14. My net worth affected my feeling of self-worth.
I have people that actually depend on me, both fiscally and emotionally. With that comes a particularly strong pressure, because in some respects, things are absolutely about the money. There were times when student loans and bills had me wanting to crawl under my bed and not come out. I’m my own safety net, and there are often holes I’m trying to plug by myself. The truth is no one in my family really owns anything. We get to be the first generation to do that, which is exciting but incredibly daunting at the same time. There is a special type of pressure for those of us who are saving for our future and also funding the retirement of our parents. I embrace that pressure, but it almost cost me my sanity.
The Adjustment: If I never made another dollar from anything ever again, I’d still be enough. I’ve always been enough. I have to work on how I engage with money from every aspect and put it in its place, so it doesn’t knock me off my pivot.
15. I expected people to see my vision like I do, and act accordingly.
It's mine for a reason, so this was an oversight, mixed with some faith that I had to believe people were who they said they were. If you tell me “I got you,” I’ll believe it, because the price of not honoring that is a steep one. I never violate those types of understandings, but not everyone sees things the way I do. That’s fine. What isn’t fine is people perpetrating how hard they hustle, but not having any interest in doing the work .
The Adjustment: I’m starting to look intently on how people act and treat their words like guardrails: If they are swerving when they pull up, then ask me to ride with them, I’d rather take the train (or call an Uber).
16. I toned down my personality to fit in.
My code-switching crossed into dangerous territory this year. That is good and bad, as it traditionally allows me to persist past certain things I don’t have the energy to engage with. It’s also terrible, because I self-audit myself to be less assertive, because there are often invisible costs to being myself that most people aren’t aware of. I was quiet when I should have spoken, and I let my concern over how I’d be perceived win.
The Adjustment: I’m going where I am appreciated, not tolerated. The world doesn’t need me to be half of who I am. It needs me to be exactly who I was made to be. That’s the bravest thing I can do right now. I'm, more often than not, a human 100 emoji, and I'm proud of it.
None of my adjustments are radical shifts, because the rhetoric of massive change doesn’t matter if I don’t commit to adjusting daily practices first. What matters is the incremental shifts in daily habits and practices that lead to massive gains. We’ve done that with Blavity over the past year, and we will continue to. Leaders go first. They serve without expectation of reciprocity, and they make sacrifices because they understand that success has always been worth it.
The most dangerous part of my growth hasn’t been the pressure, the pain, or the confusion. It’s been the risk of forgetting the simple truths. In a world where everything is editable, highlight reels instantly become more interesting than authenticity. But the reality is much less glamorous. No one really knows what they’re doing. The ones that make it just persisted when other people stopped.
Your favorite founder has more insecurities than you know about. The dopest writer you know has more doubts than they care to admit. They just realized that they are worthy of their first draft and knew their story was just starting.
Mine is too.
I’m coming for everything I told myself in 2015 I couldn’t do. In 2016, you can have the artificial. I only want the real.
Maybe I’m the only one who had to learn some tough lessons in 2015. If I’m not, feel free to hit @Blavity with the hashtag #myadjustment, and let me know how you’re going to get...
Lemme start by saying, that I'm not claiming to be the spokesperson for all the men in the world. This is just my shared and experienced opinion. Take my two cents with multiple grains of salt. Neither I, nor Sway, have all the answers. With that being said... The proverbial "curve." Ahh, yes, the curves, ladies and gentlefolk. Discussed near water coolers and cubicles, hair and nail salons, barber shops and bodega corner stores the world over. There are probably a dozen or so definitions floating around the internet, but I think the Merriam-Webster's for the hood, Urban Dictionary, has summed it up best:
v: to (deliberately) counter, or otherwise reject an individual's direct or, more often than not, indirect sexual advances (especially when said individual assumes they will get sex or is attempting to lure/seduce you); to deny/reject an individual's expression of interest
n: the act of withholding or rejecting sex from an individual who has the intentions of having relations with you; the act of rejecting an individual's advances or expressions of interest
Noun AND a verb? Yeah, I can mess with that. Men get curved. Women get curved. Friend-zones get established ( we'll save that for a later convo), all o' dat. Curves vary, dependent on the relationship prior to the curve, the context of said curve, any historical elements pertaining to the curve... mad variations of curvature. I was once curved three times by the same woman. Again, another convo. I've been the receiver of and giver of a curve. It's a cold, cold world.
Sometimes there's a flat-out dismissal, for example, X: "Hey, how you doing tonight?" Y: "I'm good, thanks. I'm not here to meet anyone." That's a Curt Schilling curve. Hard, fast and right to the point. Walk away with ya' heart, 3 Stacks. You just lost one. There's no debating this kind of curve. I've seen brothers try, and it always looks like the kid flailing his arms in the fight we all know he's gonna lose, which normally results in the gentlemanly "well you ain't all that anyway..." — This would fall under the category of "f*ckboy" behavior, which I explain in more detail here.
Then there's the lingering curve. You've been on three dates, all of which have seemingly gone well. (And by "seemingly," I mean you've-had-the-walk-home-and-we-gon'-get-this-kissing-on type dates happening.) But then, he/she disappears. They could have found a newer, better, cooler dating buddy, maybe an old partner came back from Christmas past, or you missed that sign when you leaned in for the kiss on the third date and she gave you the "Nah I'ma just give you the halfway hug and I'ma move my face away from ya' body" move, which is clearly indicative of a loss of interest.
We also have the classic "what did I do to deserve this" curve. This joint is tricky, because you're not really sure how you ended up being curved, so you gotta stalk their social media to see if they'll sub-tweet you, post some clever-ass Instagram meme that points to a convo you had or something you did or didn't do, such as "I wish men understood why good morning texts are better than WYD? texts." And then you scroll through those text bubbles like, "did I do that?" with the Urkel face on. This is one is a hard and bitter pill to swallow.
Moral of the story? All of this is alright! It's okay. Chalk it up as an L and a lesson learned and keep it moving. Dust yourself off and try again. Everyone gets curved. Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Obama, Bill Clinton, Kermit the Frog... I mean, I don't really have proof that any of these folks have been the victim of a nice "it's not you, it's me," but I think it's safe to say that everyone has played the fool (or have played a fool) or whatever. It's all part of life. People meet one another, things work or they don't. We're human, we have emotions, and sometimes those emotions confuse interactions and our response to them.
I always compare love and dating to auditioning for a role as an actor. A casting director might love your performance but sometimes you're just not what they're looking for for that specific role, and that's okay. It doesn't speak to your lack of skills or talents as an actor, but rather the nature of the business. Not every role offered is meant for you to fill, even if at the time it might have felt like it was. Keep ya' head up, champ. Your home run is just one swing away. Until then, keep stepping up to the plate. I promise that's the last baseball reference I'll use for the remainder of the year.
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