Month

October 2015

Why the November Issue of Essence Will Encourage You to Rock at Your Career

Essence 1115 Cover_2

Last night before watching my favorite tv show, I did a little reading. You know, something more enlightening before turning on the tube. My mom recently shared her copy of the Essence magazine November 2015 issue. (Good lookin out mom! 😉 ) And what a treat it is! Besides Taraji owning every pixel of that front cover, there’s so much great content inside. The “Our #Lifegoals Guide” gives a number of pointers on how to rock your career.

I’m not getting paid by Essence for this post (sad face). Though I thought the November issue was too incredible not to share (smiley face)! So I figured I’d give a few very brief summaries and takeaways.

Pause…I must alert the guys – many of these articles are geared toward the ladies. But it doesn’t mean the same tips and advice can’t apply to you. 🙂 End pause.

If you don’t already have a copy, please go out and purchase it. I promise it won’t disappoint!

How To Be Happy At Work (pg. 78)

Tips on how to be happier at work as told by a few very influential women.

  • Don’t Tolerate Complaints
  • Give Back
  • Envision Success
  • Be Authentic
  • Take A Break
  • Remain In The Moment

Takeaways:

  • “I find a quiet place to recharge, like my office or my car, before heading to a meeting.”

–Hattie Hill, President and CEO of Women’s Foodservice Forum

  • “Too much time spent thinking about the past can contribute to workplace anxiety.”

– Patricia Simon, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist at Yale University School of Medicine

Secrets to a Stellar Career (pg. 88)

Profiles of 5 professional women who offer insight on how they made moves in their careers.

Takeaway:

  • Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO TaskRabbit volunteered to do her manager’s work in order to get experience that would take her career to the next level.

5 Ways to Standout In a Job Interview (pg. 91)

Well I think the title is pretty self-explanatory. 😉

Takeaway:

“Show rather than tell.” Tameika L. Pope, Chief Human Capital Officer for Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System suggests to take a portfolio with samples of your accomplishments into your interview.

Women of the White House (pg. 94)

Talk about inspirational?! Kuddos to Essence for this treat of wise words from the outstanding Black women representing President Obama’s administration.

Takeaway:

“Never take a job that doesn’t terrify [you]. Those are the jobs worth doing”

– Adaeze Enekwechi, Associate Director for Health, Office of Management and Budget

What I Know Now (pg. 138)

These are my favorite. I love hearing words from the seasoned and wise. Museum curator, Thelma Golden, shares a few life lessons.

Takeaway:

The hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn was… ‘To be motivated by what I am drawn toward instead of what I am feeling pushed by.’ ”

 

A heartfelt thank you to Essence for this plethora of knowledge and inspiration in the November issue! Please go out and pick up a copy to read cover to cover. There’s so much more that I didn’t even get to dish on. So let me know what you think once you have a look for yourself!

Remaining Relevant In Your Career

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[Image from https://pixabay.com]

The idea of remaining relevant makes me think of popular brands and how they’ve continued to effectively market themselves and carry their credibility for long periods of time. Take for instance McDonalds and how they’ve improved their menu over time. When I was a kid I’d beg my parents to roll through the Golden Arches for a dinner treat. Back then there were limited menu items…burgers, chicken nuggets, fake ribs (no shade Mickey D’s). I’m probably missing a few items but over all I think it’s safe to say there were very few healthy items. And the milk in the McFlurry doesn’t count. But if you look at the menu today, there’s a variety…salads, yogurt, apples (minus the sugary caramel sauce). Now imagine if McDonalds never improved their brand with these healthier alternatives. They’d probably still be in business because hello, they’re McDonalds! But would they be suffering next to the competition? Would they have become “that unhealthy fast food place down the street”? Perhaps. So I’m sure that keeping up with the times which have displayed healthier diets and cleaner food options did great things for their brand.

Think of your career the same way. If you remain stagnant by not updating your skills or taking on new projects and possibilities, perhaps you’ll find yourself to be “that worker in the cubical down the hall”.

Let’s say you’re comfortable with your job and you aren’t really worried about the next step. Maybe you consider yourself to be as relevant as you need to be. And being “that worker in the cubical down the hall” makes you happy. Well that’s great but why wait until when you want to get that promotion or find a new job to try to step it up? Look at it this way…

You may be sought out before you have to do the seeking.

If you keep up your skills now, you may find yourself in this position. Perhaps that recruiter or future employer is secretly scoping you out on Linked In. Or maybe one of the higher ups in your own company sees how your new skill set can be an asset in a promotional role.

It will build your confidence.

Learning a new skill may get frustrating at times. The learning curve can take a toll on the best of us. But once you master that skill, it’s a great feeling. Take for instance, learning a new computer system. And those can be challenging. At one of my previous jobs I came in with a very basic knowledge of the computer program I used daily. Eventually I grew my skill set to the next level by learning how to run reports and complete other tasks on the system that weren’t required but proved to be very helpful. I was feeling like the [wo]man when I walked through. (Hip hop reference.) In other words, it boosted my confidence level in the workplace. 🙂

So right about now you’re probably thinking “sounds great but how do I learn?”. Or “when will I have the time to learn?”. Glad you asked…

Seek out professional development opportunities.

Most companies should have a budget for employee’s participation in professional development. Never hurts to check the specifics for your own company. I once shared with one of my former supervisors that I wanted to become an “expert” at Excel. He suggested that I use the online learning system Lynda which the company had a full library of materials on. And I see that Linked In is now offering a free trial. Definitely worth checking out especially if it’s hard to get away from the office. But if you can get away, conferences are always great. In addition to the knowledge you gain, there are so many networking opportunities. And who could refuse a day away from the desk?!

Ask a friend who is knowledgeable.

Another Excel example. (Guess I’ve come a long way with Excel over the years.) At the time that I was trying to learn more in Excel, I had a co-worker buddy that was a little more advanced than me. I remember her talking to me at my desk one day while I thought I was putting my best effort into completing a spreadsheet. She looked over my shoulder and said with no hesitation “Why are you doing it that way goofball?!”. She then proceeded to show me a short cut. (If you’re reading this, yes you called me that. But it was in a very loving way. 😉 ) Since that day I would email her or shout into the office (because it was only 2 feet away…right, sad) when I needed help.

Teach yourself.

This method has been the story of my life these last few months. They don’t exactly have blog school for me to learn every single aspect of blogging. And even if they did, I’m not exactly in the market to tack on more student loans right now. (That’s a whole separate post.) One self-taught class I love to hate is Photo Shop 101. Photo Shop can produce so much for those like myself with creative ventures. But it comes with its complexities. Despite, I force myself through because it’s a great tool for my brand and would look great on a resume. In the meantime, “p” is for Photo Shop AND patience. Because the two are needed together!

 

The list could go on with this topic! So feel free to let me know if you’d be interested in a part 2. And as always, if you have any tips that are helpful, feel free to share in the comments. 🙂

Sleepless In LA

Sleepless Post Pic

[Image from pixabay.com]

Lately my sleeping patterns have sucked! I know as an educated woman my vocabulary should be a bit more expansive than the word “sucked” but there’s just not a word equivalent to describe it. And when I say “lately” in reference to the time period, I mean for the past few months. Much of that is attributed to waking up in the middle of the night with plans to take over the world. Okay, maybe not that deep. More like projects, dreams and the like that I’m forcing on myself to make happen…like yesterday. (Yipes face)

I’m not sure if any of you have seen the movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” starring Sarah Jessica Parker. SJP plays a working mom who can barely remember where she placed the glasses on top of her head let alone to make cookies the night before her daughter’s bake sale. But somehow she manages to. Onto my point…there’s a scene where she awakens from her sleep in a panic, creating a mental to do list. Well the movie producers have some sort of sense of humor because as she thinks of the list quietly in bed, her voice is narrating out her thoughts as the list is scribbled on to the ceiling. Boy do I wish my brain to ceiling connection was that on point! I’d have my whole life staring down at me while I sleep. (Kind of a creepy thought now that I consider it.) I may not have the technological advancement of the illustrated list but there’s definitely one being noted in my head many times in the wee hours.

Any who, I did some thinking about factors that might be hurting my sleep patterns and came up with a few alternatives. A little root cause analysis if you will. So here’s what I came up with…

4 Great but Not So Great (Negative) Things I Currently Do Before Bedtime

1) Browse social media

I think most of the time it’s just a way of avoiding sleep more so than me actually being interested in scrolling through feeds. Well when it comes to cute outfit posts on Instagram, that may be a different story. Scroll on!

2) Stay up late sending screenshots of funny memes

Because who can resist a good laugh before bed? Or worse…make it wait until the morning.

3) Partaking in late night chats with the roomie

#2 is especially true when you’re sending these to the person in the next room. Which leads to a conversation about the meme then you end up talking about everything under the sun. Or should I say the moon…cause it’s night time, right? 🙂

4) Try to pack in everything I didn’t do that day

Around 9 o’clock I take a look at my “to do list” for the day. Not that it’s the first time I looked all day. Just that it’s the first time I decided to act upon it. So yeah…things like cleaning the bathroom, typing up a new blog post, etc. become crucial shortly before sleepy time. Sigh.

 

4 Ideal (Positive) Things I’d Like to Begin Doing Before Bedtime

1) Drink Chamomile (aka “Sleepy”) Tea

I recently purchased Chamomile tea containing the herb valerian. Valerian is a sedative also known to help with anxiety. (Read more in the hyperlink.) I’ve tried it a couple times and didn’t notice a huge transition in the shut eye department. But perhaps I need to drink it more consistently to see better results.

2) Take relaxing spa-like bubble baths

Any time spa and bubble bath are used closely together it’s pretty much guaranteed a relaxing treat will result. Which would make you think I sign up regularly. Nope…not the case. So I need to incorporate that into the routine.

3) Practice unwinding activities (yoga, reading, jazz music)

There’s yoga mat rolled up and leaning against the wall in my room. Multiple books have been put to the side and replaced with audiobooks for car rides. And the jazz music…I paid top dollar (okay not top dollar but it wasn’t cheap) for a John Coltrane “vintage” record at Urban Outfitters awhile back. Mr. Coltrane and the record player are currently hibernating in my closet. So I think you get my point by now? It’s time to bring those mellow vibe items back to life.

4) Committing to regular devotion and prayer   

This one is interesting. I’ve gotten better with the devotion. Lately I’ve been picking up a couple new devotion books and reading every night. It’s helped me to relax and go to sleep with positive thoughts. (So maybe I’m getting something right.) But as for the prayers they’re kinda struggling. They start off good and end up somewhere in delirium. Hinting that I should be more committed to setting aside a designated time and consistent schedule with this. Perhaps this will be a small yet huge calming factor in my sleep transition routine. Not to mention a more trusting approach to my plans to take over the world. 😉

 

I’ll be checking back in on the progress of my journey to better sleep. In the meantime, feel free to let me know what helps you prep for a good night’s sleep. Currently taking suggestions.

Overworked and Underpaid

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[Image from pixabay.com]

I’m sure the title of this post caught the attention of quite a few people. Well the sad reality is this is more often than not the song that many working individuals sing. Especially through the after effects of the recession as employers have been forced to do more with less. This set back then translated into one person doing the job of two…maybe even three…people.

Well I’ve been in this situation a few times over. And no…I’m not playing the “woe is me” card. (Unless it can get me a few perks…just kidding. 🙂 ) But I’m here to say I completely understand. If you’re currently going through this, you are not alone. In fact, I’m sure there’s quite a few folks sailing in that boat with you.

In one particular position I found this to be true way more often than not. In order to protect the identity of the innocent (or any agreement I may have signed upon leaving the company), I’ll avoid too much detail about the employer. Also note that I’ll leave the sex of those involved ambiguous in efforts to further conceal the innocent. (Starting to sound like an episode of Law and Order.)

As far as the company I worked for, I loved it overall. Matter of fact it may have been one of the best employers I’ve worked for to date. However, we were small in numbers but had to produce an incredible amount of work. And during busy periods I barely had time to hear myself think…maybe even breathe! It was that “cray cray” (crazy).

Luckily I happened to have a very open and supportive supervisor. (I know some of you are saying “Well I don’t!” but stick with me here.) He/she was very understanding that my work load was intense but due to the budget (yeah…the “b” word) there wasn’t much he/she could do. So this left me to be very strategic and practice an extreme amount of patience in order to make it work during my time employed with the company.

Here are a few tips on moves I made to help me cope with the pressure.

1. I asked for a title change.

If you find yourself in one role but are doing work beyond that position, ask for a title change. What that potential title may be depends on your department and what the chain of command structure may look like. In my role with the prior employer I was hired as a coordinator and reported to a director. There was no other stair step position in between us. So I asked for my title to be changed to a manager. At the time, I didn’t mind if I got the title without the increase in pay. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely thought I deserved more money for the work I was doing. Though my sights were set on the experience it would allow me to put on my resume.

Fortunately, my supervisor was able to receive approval for my title change and an increase in pay. (Score!) However, you should be aware my friends, most people find themselves in a situation where they are overworked and underpaid (more than likely) because there are financial limitations within the company. So let your goal be the more senior title and the pay increase will come when the timing is right. If you can get the increase now, super. If not, don’t trouble your little heart…it will come. Who knows, that title change may land you your next job which may be a better fit and a significant amount more in pay.

2. I talked solutions.

While I wanted to complain so badly to my supervisor, I didn’t. Now my colleagues that I had a close relationship with, that was different. (Shout out to my former lunch and happy hour buddies with listening ears!) But when it came to the professional relationship with my supervisor and getting him/her to hear me out, there was no time for complaining. I went into our one-on-one meetings undoubtedly with an agenda to talk solutions in an effort to make the work more tolerable for me. But on a larger scale I had hopes to make the department more efficient and not to mention more manageable for my successor. I had a number of solutions but focused on two that would be most helpful to me in that particular role:

a) I asked what options were available to get more help.

I didn’t care if this meant a temp, a part-time employee or a full time employee. I just needed help! It was my effort to show understanding that budget restrictions may not have allowed for the type of help I truly needed but I was willing to compromise.

b) I requested accommodations to my work space.

Now before you judge me to be some spoiled brat that asked for an office on the penthouse suite with a view, that’s not exactly how it went down. My priority was to minimize traffic flow and maximize productivity as a result. To keep it simple – I just needed a more controlled environment so I could do what they hired me to do…work!

Unfortunately I didn’t get the additional staff support or accommodations to my work space. Though I did find that my supervisor had a readily available listening ear when it came to my solutions. Not sure this would have been the case if I had become the chronic complainer of an employee. I didn’t see the benefit of the solution approach when it came to these requests but saw rewards for my good faith efforts manifest in other areas.

3. I took time for myself.

Whether this meant leaving early on a random Friday or taking a staycation, I made sure to take time for myself whenever possible. Since this was quite a demanding job, I didn’t always have the luxury of being able to take off at any moment. Though I always made plans in advance to have some sort of vacation time locked in. It really helps to recharge and escape the daily routine no matter what job you work.

4. I updated my resume.

Now I’m all for trying to make the most of a job before walking away. There’s nothing worse than leaving one undesirable position only to go to another position that will leave you worse off. But when you’ve tried it all and you still find your head in your hands, it could just be time to start thinking about your next move. So document the additional duties beyond your basic job description (hopefully the title change will be included in the update 🙂 ). Tailor this to the types of jobs you want.

 

I hope you found these tips to be helpful. I know this is an issue that plagues a number of those in the workforce. Stay focused and encouraged. And of course…if you have any tips to share on this topic, please feel free to do so. This community is here to help each other!

On Why I Loved the New Film “The Intern”

The Intern

[Image from Wikipedia.com]

I recently watched the new comedy film The Intern with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. It made me laugh…and cry. (Grabs a tissue.) But most significant to note, it sparked a few realizations about careers, life and everything that comes up somewhere in the middle. Here are a few reflections I had on the movie. I promise I will not try to spring any spoiler alerts on you. I’ll keep it vague enough to not give anything away but convincing enough to make you want to go out and see it.

I’ll give a quick summary (again…without all the details) to make this easier to follow. Robert De Niro’s character, Ben, is a retired widower who is getting a little bored with life as a retiree. He loves the grandkids and traveling but is looking for something a bit more stimulating to do day to day. He hears of an opening for a Senior Intern at Jules’ (Anne Hathaway’s character) e-commerce fashion company “About the Fit”. He applies, is granted an interview and presto…gets the internship. Then the rest is history. Okay, actually I’m trying to say that for the rest you need to go out and see the movie! 🙂

So on to my reflections…

Retirement is a real thing.

I mean like…for real. I think as I’ve become older I’ve become more afraid of it. Retirement might just be the adult equivalent to the boogie man when you were little. Or your mom making you go to the dentist. And note that this ending will not result in a new glittery toothbrush. I digress. We’ll get more into “The Big R” in a future post.

Ready or not, the time will come to retire and the timing of when that will happen depends on each person’s preparation. But regardless, you better be ready when the time comes. I love H&M and all but I’ll be darned if I’m 90 years old folding striped v-necks and dressing the mannequins for Fall’s hottest looks. Translation: I need to put my plan into over drive so I don’t end up working later than I’d like. I’m trying to channel Ben’s character…work (preferably volunteer) only if I’m trying to keep myself busy. Not to scrape for Post-Corporate America change.

Professionalism is contagious. Practice it in the workplace if you’d like to see more of it.

So Ben’s character is obviously more experienced than his millennial colleagues. He’s already had a corporate career and mastered the 9-5 routine. Throughout the movie he teaches a few of the young men in the office various lessons like how to dress professionally, dealing with love in the workplace and a few other lessons from the older but wiser.

It’s always nice to have more professional minded people in the workplace. The person that dresses appropriately, thinks before they speak, actually works the 8 hours they get paid for (side note…we’re all entitled to those 5 minute “brain breaks” when needed), etc. We all need to be reminded that the work place is exactly that – a place of work, a professional establishment. So coming in with your gym clothes on or rocking your bed hair probably isn’t the greatest look. Again, more on that in a future post. But for now, I’ll commend Ben’s character for serving as a gentle reminder.

Career growth may present conflicts with your personal life. Know what you are or are not willing to sacrifice and act accordingly.

With Ben’s wisdom comes the task of helping Jules through some very challenging career decisions which have a direct affect on her family life. Jules, like many career minded women, wants it all. Though she is reminded that her husband and young daughter at home may be feeling neglected as a result of her drive. Ben helps guide her through the balance of the two while she shares a few emotional moments with him.

I don’t have a family yet but I pray that I have a few things mastered in my career by then. I would hate to work overtime only to come home late to hear some little person’s stomach rumbling in the bed due to a lack of dinner. 🙁 Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But seriously, career choices can be more crucial once you have a family or any other significant external obligation for that matter. Being able to make those tough decisions for the interests of all those involved is key.

Owning your own business may not always be glamorous but the rewards could far outweigh the trials.

I think anyone that has seen the movie would agree, Jules was a real boss! (Like literally and figuratively that is.) She rode around the office on a snazzy bike (you have to see it to believe it) while sporting the trendiest office wear. Not to mention when she needed to go out and about on business a sporty Audi truck equipped with a driver would be outside waiting for her. Sounds amazing, right? Well they also showed scenes where she was working late at the office. Or had to turn down dinner dates with her husband and friends because she had work to catch up on. Being the boss is great but also means you have to put in more challenging work to hold the title.

I hope to one day be a certified boss just like Jules. But I realize that may mean having to work the weekends. Or excuse myself from the Thanksgiving dinner table to prep for a deadline or close a deal. Cue in the classic phrase “comes with the territory”. Though I imagine seeing the fruits of my labor will probably bring a priceless feeling of satisfaction. Much like that which Jules experienced as she saw her brand continue to grow and was able to hire amazing people like our buddy Ben.

 

Let me know if you’ve had a chance to see the movie and what your thoughts are. If you haven’t, I hope this post encourages you to go check it out.

Dating In the Workplace

dating in workplace pic

[Image from pixabay.com]

I know this can be a pretty hot topic. Perhaps even taboo for some. (Don’t shoot the messenger. *Backs up slowly*) Since I don’t have personal experience in this area, I had to call in the experts!

I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Eddie and Erica Williams who just celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary. And guess where they met? Work! Eddie and Erica were able to offer some great insight on this topic: the good (their personal experience), the bad and the ugly (the backfires they witnessed). Let’s listen in! 🙂

*****

9 to Fly Girl: Where did you meet? Well…seeing as that I you both personally, I know you met while working at Enterprise. But can you expand on that?

Erica: We worked for the same department but on different teams. I was based in the Irvine office but started working from the Long Beach office two times a week.

Eddie: I started 4 weeks after she began working at the Long Beach office.

 

9TFG: How did you meet?

Erica: Well I remember an email going out about a new guy joining the team. When I came to work the next day, I first noticed his car…rims, tinted windows. And I said “this must be the new guy’s [car]”.

9TFG: Right (laughs)

Erica: So when I walked in and saw him the first thing I asked was “Is that your car?”.

(*Community laugh*)

Eddie: We actually had our first “date” a few weeks later. It was a Casino night for work. We were inseparable.

 

9TFG: Did you work closely together?

Erica: In the beginning we were on different teams but worked in the same department. We ended up being on the same team and we were already dating by then but no one knew.

 

9TFG: Had you ever dated in the workplace prior to each other?

Erica: I went on one date with a co-worker but avoided it for the most part. I had a rule against it.

Eddie: Yes, both in and out of the workplace.

Erica: For me, pretty much social settings…through friends, church…

 

9TFG: What was most awkward about dating in the workplace?

Eddie: Nothing for me.

Erica: It was exciting because we were dating without anyone knowing.

9TFG: (*gives the “do tell more” look*)

Erica: I think being in meetings were funny but not awkward. Only our boss and close work friends knew for awhile.

Eddie: I actually trained her while we were dating but no one knew.

9TFG: Oh wow!

Erica: We actually got outted. Someone found out and told on us so we had to be separated.

 

9TFG: Did you know other couples dating in the workplace? If so, what was the outcome?

Erica: Yes..a lot…that turned out bad!

(*Another community laugh*)

Erica: There were 2 managers dating that lived together. When they broke up they were still living and working together. It was very awkward for the employees because they’d often put us in the middle.

9TFG: Yeah, that’s really awkward.

Erica: But there were good outcomes. I know of like 5 couples that met at Enterprise and got married.

Eddie: There were actually 2 executives that were married. But the marriage in the workplace made it harder for them to move up.

9TFG: Oh right…nepotism.

Erica: Yeah

 

9TFG: What are some of the challenges you experienced?

Erica: Dating Eddie was easy. We were upfront with each other from the start. But now our circles were blended. We were dating but still worked together and had to remain professional.

Eddie: Yeah.

Erica: When we had fights, we still had to go to work, attend meetings…You just have to try your best not to show emotion.

 

9TFG: What advice would you give someone interested in dating in the workplace?

Erica: Well I always had a rule against it before meeting Eddie. But I’d say if you like someone and your gut says yes – go for it! Keep it to yourself though. Don’t spread your business.

Eddie: If you are interested, know to what extent you’d like the relationship to go. Be on the same page about that and be upfront.

Erica: Do your research and observe. If they suck as a worker then chances are you don’t want to be with that person.

9TFG: Oh…good point!

Erica: Also be ready for the consequences. Be mindful that you may not be the first person they’ve dated at the job.

*****

So now I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever dated in the workplace? What was your experience? Have you witnessed a good or bad experience amongst other co-workers?

Also, if you have any questions for Eddie and Erica, please feel free to post them in the comments.