Show Up. Dive In. Stay At It.

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Photo courtesy of hindustantimes.com

Barack Hussein Obama is the only president that I had ever voted for until 2016. The same goes for many of my peers. I know that this experience has been a privilege that many of us have taken for granted. This man, born in Hawaii, former resident of Indonesia, child of a Black African Father and White American mother, from humble beginnings and a self-seeking journey that lasted well into his 20s, is my president, and the only one that I have ever voted for until this past election. There is so much weight to that experience that no matter how I feel about those who chose to sit out this past election, I understand.

Show Up. Dive In. Stay At It.
Last night, Tuesday. January 10th, 2017 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, President Obama gave his farewell address. An address that serves as the conclusion of our 44th President’s groundbreaking, immensely challenging, and always controversial, presidency. Many say that no other president has been disrespected like our first African American president, and I agree. From congress to media outlets to the racist Joe Shmoe on the street, combined with tackling the obstacles left from his predecessors, President Barack Obama’s two terms in office were filled with graceful perseverance in the face of severe ugliness.

“Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It has been contentious. Sometimes it has been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some. (Barack Obama, Farewell Address 2017)”

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back. A struggle too familiar for many, especially, those attempting to do work that improves lives for others. How must it feel to win marriage equality, secure health insurance for 20 million citizens, extend clemency to 1,324 individuals, and much more, only to be succeeded by someone with starkly different values and the desire to undo everything you accomplished in office, arguably due to the public’s fascination and admiration of money, celebrity, and classism? I can’t imagine, but I know many of us can relate on all smaller scale. On the scale of sacrificing your time and dedicating your energy to a project or idea that you believe will improve your community, and therefore the world, only to be overlooked for what is popular, flashy, and trendy in the moment. It is difficult to persevere in your purpose when the work of substance is often ignored and the creation of facades, gimmicks, and “personalities” is celebrated. Throughout his presidency, President Obama has emphasized through his platform his love and service for everybody, and throughout his presidency, we have witnessed firsthand, that everybody was not for him. However, last night, as he gave his farewell address, eyes in the audience filled with tears, social media was somber, and his approval ratings at a seven-year high, many are beginning to realize how great of a servant Barack Hussein Obama was and is for our nation. Many are moved to see this man step down with grace after such a challenging presidency. Many are realizing what it looks like to witness someone stay true to themselves and walk in purpose.

“Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands. (Barack Obama, Farewell Address 2017)”

Barack Obama was the first president many of us ever voted for. Is there a connection between Barack Obama’s elections and “Yes, We Can” campaign and the emergence of this altruistic generation? A generation that dusted off their grandparents’ picket signs, raised their voices on social media to fight for equality, and popularized crowd-funding platforms to support the needs of others? Is there a connection between “Yes, We Can” and the influx of blogs, posts, life coaches, motivational speakers, and others who push positivity, support, and love?

Our president, President Barack Hussein Obama, has undoubtedly left the world better than he found it, and we will too, just remember to Show up, Dive in, and Stay at it.

“Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been part of this one and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. (Barack Obama, Farewell Address 2017)”

Women in Radio: Cathy Hughes

Women in Radio: Installment 3 of 3

As a child in the 1950’s, Cathy Hughes always knew that she would one day impact radio in a big way. Even in segregated Nebraska, Cathy had dreams of becoming the first Black nationally syndicated radio host. Although her siblings and family and friends thought her dreams were impossible, Cathy continued to hog the bathroom as she practiced her radio voice in the morning. Cathy’s reality surpassed her dreams 10-fold, as she became the founder of Radio One, a publicly traded company that now owns over 75 radio stations.

In September of 2016, Cathy Hughes shared her story with Guy Raz on NPR’s How I Built This podcast. Ms. Hughes’ story of overcoming discrimination, rejection, and teen pregnancy is inspiring for any entrepreneur or professional, but more than her story, I was inspired by her positive energy and resilience. Read on for 3 Gems from Cathy Hughes’ How I Built This episode on NPR.

  • Put your adversity to work as a motivator.

Cathy Hughes was a Teen Mom. After her first time having sex at 16 years old, Cathy learned she was pregnant. She admits that she was in shock, but she used the pregnancy as a motivator to work harder, and realize her dreams. Determined that her son would not become a statistic, Cathy Hughes went on to attend The University of Nebraska-Omaha with her son in tow. That’s right, she brought the baby to class. This is the first of many times in the interview where one would expect Cathy to negatively reflect on a challenging situation but she doesn’t. Instead she happily explains how easy it was for her to work and pursue her studies while her son was a baby because all he did was eat and sleep. There is no doubt in my mind, that being a teen mother, working full-time, and pursuing a degree was challenging, but Cathy’s resilience and positive energy once again outshine the negatives in the situation.

Keynote: It’s all apart of your story. Don’t let it stop you, let it fuel you! Too often we sit around and hold pity parties about every challenge that could possibly deter us from our goals. Let’s let that habit die! Embrace the challenge. Move with it! Your story is yours and no one else’s, so don’t allow the challenge to shape you, allow the challenge to propel you either farther into your purpose. Ready, Set, Grow!

  • “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well. “(Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

When asked how she got to where she is today, Cathy Hughes referenced the aforementioned streetsweeper quote by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Through interning at University of Nebraska’s radio station, and capturing the attention of Tony Brown, a visiting African American radio personality, to being recruited by Brown about 10 years later to work at Howard University’s radio station, as he was beginning his position as the school’s first dean for the newly established School of Communications, to creating the station’s highly successful radio show,The Quiet storm, and also putting one of the first openly gay radio personalities on air, Cathy Hughes consistently did her best at the job she was given. Cathy did such a great job at Howard, that she was recruited to rebuild another station and then run it. It was at this station that the idea to own a station was sparked.

Keynote: Are you discounting part of your story because its not glamorous? Stop it! Trust that there is value in your life, and everything in it. You may not be where you thought you would be at this point in your life, but it is part of your path. This stage, this place is preparing you for what’s next. You are there on purpose, so don’t wait to tomorrow or for a more glamorous title to do your best. Do your best now, not for your boss or your company, or even your family, but for yourself. RESPECT YOUR PATH.

  • If you think you’re smart enough, do it yourself!”

These were the words that a station owner spoke to Cathy Hughes when she asked for equity in the station. After turning the station around and running it successfully, the station owners asked her to reach out to financiers on behalf of the station because they were running out of money. Knowing her worth, Cathy explained that this was well beyond her job duties, however, she would be willing to do it, if she was given equity in the station. Appalled that Cathy, young, Black, and female, thought that she could own a radio station, the owner told Cathy that if she thought she was smart enough, she should go own her own radio station. Rather than take it as an insult, Cathy took it to the bank! After 32 rejections from lending institutions, and everyone around her telling her she was crazy, she got the one yes that was needed to buy a station. After that yes, Cathy went on to experience her share of struggle from losing her marriage, living in the radio station for three years with her son, and not being able to pay her debt, however she never looked back, and she never lost her faith in God or herself.

Keynote: Cathy speaks on her spirituality throughout the interview. If you are a spiritual person and you truly believe in God, how can you not believe in yourself? Its important to know your motivators and intentions for your work. If your motivation is to impress people, then your belief in yourself and your work is based on the opinions of others. When trying to build something new or do something different, you can’t be fueled by others’ opinions or you will never get there. If God put a seed in you, a purpose, then you have to believe that He will help you achieve it. Don’t be distracted. The only person whose belief in you is vital to your success is not the lender, your boss, your mother, or your spouse, the only person who HAS to believe in you is YOU.

When Guy Raz asked the question that I wondered about throughout the entire interview, “Is this unshakable belief in yourself and positive energy and passion in spite of all of the challenges an acquired skill that others can learn or is it just something that you are born with?” Ms. Hughes responds that it is definitely an acquired skill. She explains, ” If you allow yourself to be bogged down and lose your enthusiasm, you are dead in the water. But if you remain optimistic, cheerful, and committed to your goal, there is nothing that can stop you.”

 

Checkout NPR’s “How I Built This” podcast at http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510313/how-i-built-this .

5 Gems From Angela Yee on The Combat Jack Show: Old Interview, Still Relevant

Episodic Introduction Of Darnaa Hosted By Angela Yee at Le Foret New Orleans on February 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Echoing Soundz)

Women in Radio: Entry #1

Most recently, I came across an old interview with Power 105.1 Radio Personality, Angela Yee, on The Combat Jack Show, and as an Angela Yee fan, and lover of Entertainment and Media (fyi, my educational background is in Mass Media and Communication Studies), I found the interview to be entertaining, as well as inspiring for those who may feel lost on their career journey. For the first post from my 3 post “Women in Radio” series, check out my 5 Gems from Angela Yee on The Combat Jack Show.

1) If they don’t get it now. They’ll get it later.

Angela Yee’s parents weren’t the most supportive of her career choice. Angela says that her parents were always big on education, so one could assume that her pursuit of a career in entertainment wasn’t what they had in mind when they sent her to the best schools. However, Angela says that now that she is successful, she gets along with her parents just fine. In fact, she recently bought her father a new car.

Key Note: Don’t wait for people to support you, or give you the “okay” before you chase your dreams. You have to believe in yourself first. They may not believe in you now, but they can’t deny the WORK.

2) Reject The Lie That Quitting a Job is Career Suicide.

Angela Yee worked several jobs, not only before landing her current position with The Breakfast Club, but before ever working in radio. Graduating with a degree in English and goals of becoming a writer and photographer, Angela Yee worked in a variety of jobs and industries, before landing in radio. In fact, her first job after college lasted two days. She hated it so much that she quit. Now, Angela Yee is a millionaire, working in a job that she loves but was not her dream job in college. She still has plans to write a book one day, but her path to getting there, has been full of even more fun twists and turns than she imagined.

Key Note: Don’t stay anywhere you aren’t being fed. If you can take care of yourself, don’t feel guilty for quitting jobs and trying new things until you find your perfect fit, and remember, what fits you now, may not fit you in the future. You have the right to explore, grow, and live your life. Never, ever live your life in fear of what others will say.

3)Take a Chance! 

Angela Yee was terminated from the job before her jump into radio, and a “jump” is exactly what landed her into the role that is responsible for catapulting her into the powerful voice you hear through your speakers today. While Angela was looking for her next job, and interviewing for other gigs that fell in line with her past experiences, someone told her about an audition for a radio personality at Sirius. Angela, who had no radio background, thought “Why not?”, took a chance, landed the gig, and is now one of the biggest radio personalities in the country.

Key Note: Are you playing it safe? Did an opportunity present itself that doesn’t make “sense” but it invigorates and excites you? Go for it! Take a chance and step out on Faith. Plans change, and your path is never as direct as you map it out to be. Don’t be afraid to change course in search of something better.

4)Brand Name? Know Your Worth.

Angela was offered a job at the famous, Hot 97, while she was still working at Sirius. Hot 97 offered Angela less money than she was making at Sirius, a show where she would have a limited voice, and no visibility or presence in the name of the show. Why would they think this was acceptable? Well, Angela believes Hot 97 considered the station’s reputation and popularity to be enough for Angela to join “the winning team.” Angela turned down the offer, and decided to stick it out at Sirius where she had her own show until a better offer came around. Shortly thereafter, Angela Yee joined Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” and now it’s one of the biggest radio shows in the country.

Key Note: From personal experience, I cannot stress enough how important it is to not be fooled by the “brand” when accepting a job. Too often we fall in love with the status of a company’s brand and what they appear to be, only to find out after joining their team that their company culture or the job itself is no where near as glamorous or progressive as we may have thought. Remember to base your career decisions less on Brand Names and more on how they fit with your personal path and desires.

5) Competition? None.

The Breakfast Club personalities don’t try to compete with other stations and shows. According to Angela, she doesn’t even listen to other stations. They focus on doing what they do the best. Whether it is Charlamagne The God going farther than most are comfortable with in his quest to get genuine interviews and be transparent, or DJ Envy maintaining a presence in the clubs to play the music that people really want to hear, or Angela Yee providing the details on some of the biggest stories in pop culture while keeping the peace during dynamic interviews, The Breakfast Club and Angela Yee have mastered the art of staying true to themselves.

Key Note: Don’t crash because your head is turned worrying about what’s going on behind you or in the next lane. Your path is yours alone, so the only person you must compete with is the person you were yesterday. Be successful at being you!

 

If you don’t mind a little profanity and a truly raw conversation (Rated Mature), you can check out Angela Yee’s interview on The Combat Jack Show at https://soundcloud.com/thecombatjackshow/the-angela-yee-episode .

UPDATE: Angela recently interviewed with Combat Jack for Hennessy’s “Never Stop, Never Settle” podcast. Check it out here.

 

Company Culture VS. Departmental Culture: Why You Should Know the Difference

photo by https://unsplash.com/@eddyray

photo by https://unsplash.com/@eddyray

 

You’ve read the Human Resources page through and through, and you are convinced that this is the company where you will not only fit in perfectly, but thrive and grow. We are dedicated to a promoting a culture that encourages Work/Life Balance.” you read, while smiling. Great, because I am dedicated to having work/life balance.” you think. You read on and on about open door policies, promoting from within, professional development, and the immense value this company places on its employees. You, my friend, are sold. Before you sign your name on the dotted line of your Offer Letter, be sure to take the time to try to gauge the departmental culture, because it can be very different from the bigger picture promoted in the Employee Handbook, in your interview with HR, and from the company website. Here are 3 things to consider when assessing departmental culture with a potential employer.

1.Who is your boss?

Look behind the smiling face or stern look from the interview, and really research your boss. With industry publications readily available online and LinkedIn at your fingertips, there really is no excuse not to research your boss, because guess what? Your boss has definitely researched you!

How long has he or she been in this role? What was their previous experience? Have they been in management before? These are all great questions to ask to help determine whether or not your departmental culture will be as great of a fit as the company culture. For example, if your goal is to learn as much as possible about the industry, and your boss is also new to the field or industry, this particular position may not meet your professional development needs.

Although it is not too common, if you have access to others who have worked with or for your boss, it would be valuable to gain some intel on how your boss works. Is he or she a micro-manager? What does the turnover look like for you bosses direct reports? What is his or her professional reputation? Just like company culture, bosses come in a variety of styles, approaches, and quirks. It is important for you to find one who brings out the best in you.

 

2. Communication: Who said what to who and when? Why?

Remember the game of telephone where everyone sat or stood in a circle and whispered the “same” message, and the last person to receive the message shouted it aloud? Usually it started with something like “The elephant is pink.” and ended with a version of “L-M-N-O-P in a sink.” Well, in the professional world, many messages are communicated throughout the department and company daily. The accuracy of the message by the time it gets to you can dictate how effective you are in your job. For this reason, it is important to gain a sense of the communication protocol in your office. Does everything trickle down from the top to the bottom? Are you allowed to communicate directly with your boss’s boss? Is the department’s primary mean of communication emails or conference calls or meetings? Try to gain a sense of departmental communication protocol before saying “Yes” to that new position, it will save you from many headaches after the fact.

3. Morale:How is the energy?

Trust me when I tell you that a company itself can be great. The company can have a strong mission that aligns with your own, company-wide employee appreciation events, professional development opportunities, and more, and your department can still be a dark, miserable place. We all know that one co-worker who always has a complaint, is never happy, and is determined to make everyone else miserable as well. Be careful when accepting your new position that you are not joining a team of unhappy people who take pleasure in stirring up discontentment. Although you may be mentally and emotionally strong, negativity is contagious. Avoid a misery infested department by all means. How do you do this? By meeting the team before you accept the position.

I, personally, believe that departmental culture is way more important than company culture. After-all, your department is “really” where you work. You will have more contact with your departmental team than anyone else in the company, and often outside of the company. With Americans spending more time at work than with their families and friends, it is important that we practice self-care by choosing to work in environments that uplift, fulfill, and encourage us to be our authentic selves.

 

 

 

Asking The Right Questions: Researching Company Culture

Photo Courtesy of https://unsplash.com/

Photo Courtesy of https://unsplash.com/

Part 1 of our 3 Part Company Culture Series

Imagine it’s Monday morning, you have just adjusted into your slightly uncomfortable desk chair and you are waiting for your computer to boot up when into your cubicle walks your boss. Take a deep breath, you remind yourself. It’s not that you’re nervous as much as you were not yet mentally prepared to deal with her at this point. “Tameka, I need you to do …” and she continues to rattle off a list of mundane, busy work for you to accomplish for the day as she does every day, all day. If you are like me, what do you do? You scroll your favorite job site as soon as she walks away in hopes of finding something more fulfilling, but before you jump to apply to that cool position that seems to utilize your gifts, be in line with your purpose, and pay you a salary worthy of the talented and skilled professional you are, STOP. That’s right, do not collect twenty dollars and do not pass go. It’s time to research your prospective company’s culture. Here are three questions to consider when researching a company’s culture.

1.What necessary traits must my next company have for me to feel like I belong?

This may sound simple, but as minorities, we have all been somewhere where we just didn’t feel we belonged. A big part of creating a sense of belonging and community is feeling completely comfortable being yourself, uncompromisingly in your environment. Does this new environment embrace your differences? Do you need a community of others who look like you to feel at your best at work, or are you perfectly fine with being the only person of your background in your department or company?

2. Does this company fit my lifestyle?

This question kind of piggy backs off of number one. Are you a parent? Do you need an employer who is understanding and flexible given the needs of your child or children? Maybe you are a caretaker for a parent and you occasionally need a late start or to leave early to take your loved one to an appointment? Maybe you need to work evenings because you have other responsibilities during the day. It is important to think of our careers as a part of our full life, and not as our life.

3. Does this company respect my boundaries?

Some of us have no problem working late with little to no notice, others? Not happening, and guess what? Both responses are right. Your boundaries in the workplace especially how far outside of your job description and duties you are willing to go is completely up to you. How often do we hear that voicing the infamous 4-word phrase “That’s not my job” is career suicide? Or makes the person saying it the worst type of employee? There’s reasoning behind these beliefs .Employers want employees who are as invested in the company’s success as possible. They want people who can cover all bases, and have a great attitude while doing it, and while this makes complete sense, it is not to say that we, as employees, don’t have the right to set boundaries. After all, we are defined by more than our jobs. The problem falls in not choosing companies that will respect our boundaries. A great example of this is a company in my past that really valued work-life balance. Although salaried, with this company I was able to come in late on days when I was expected to work late. There were also a variety of employee time-off benefits such as flexible scheduling, comp time, vacation time, company holiday breaks, and Summer Fridays. In this position, I did not have to make a stink about working long hours because the company culture reflected my value of work/life balance.

 

Whatever is important for you to work at your best and be at your best are all things that you should consider when researching a potential employer. Like families, neighborhoods, cities, and different groups, each company has a unique culture. Because you don’t feel “apart” of a certain culture does that make it wrong? Not necessarily, it can mean you need more time and to be more open to adjust, or it can simply mean it’s not the best place for YOU to thrive. There is so much more to consider in regards to company culture including politics, mobility, and communication structure. Although we will cover those areas in future posts, please check in next week for the 2nd part of our Company Culture series to learn of 3 great research tools, and to answer the question of “How do I get the real deal about a company’s culture?”

 

Every Piece Will Get You There

Photo Courtesy of http://www.freeimages.com/

Photo Courtesy of http://www.freeimages.com/

 

As a first-generation college graduate and professional, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the work-a-holic culture that is extremely popular in the era of start-ups, remote access, and #TeamNoSleep, however, it is equally as important to remember that those experiences outside of your 9-5 not only make you unique, but they also serve as building blocks for your life.  The goal is not to just be an expert at our jobs, and fail miserably at all of the other roles we occupy, but rather to live up to our fullest potential. To do this, we can’t ignore the things about us that make us who we are.

I’ve loved writing since I learned how to hold a pencil. The way that I could paint pictures with words excited me. I was so entranced by the written word, that at around age five or six, I announced to my family that my new writing name was Dasia (pronounced Deja) Deveroux. With a subconscious love for alliteration and the last name of my favorite Golden Girl, I went on to write composition books of poems, stories, and random lists and shared them with my family for years until I grew up and learned that living in “La La Land” was not going to help me get into college or be successful. Dasia was dead.

It wasn’t until I after a stressful period in my life, right after college, when I couldn’t find a job, my confidence was nonexistent, and I was at one of the lowest points in my life, that I decided to write again. First, I started writing a bunch of depressing journal entries, and although when I read them now, I think “ Girl, take a chill pill. This is far too emo”, at that time, writing in the journal helped me to see my life more clearly, vent my frustration, and ultimately, find peace. As I began feeling better, I would write advice to myself, much of it business-related, as at that time I was job searching and studying best practices for finding a job for hours on end. One day, I had the bright idea to share some of the thoughts I was having during my job search with one of my favorite online magazines, Madame Noire Business, and a few weeks later, I was published. I ended up freelancing for that site for a couple of years and it built my confidence and was a great talking point when I interviewed for jobs in my desired and completely unrelated career field.

Writing may not be something that is a MAJOR part of my career right now or in the future, but does that make it less valuable to me? Not at all. Writing finds me when I’m lost. Writing is my interesting portion of the “Tell me about yourself” answer. Writing is an outlet for my creativity, creativity that serves as an asset in every job I do. Writing is how I best express my love to my family. Writing is a part of me.

Which one of your passions is not perfectly at home in your 9-5 but adds to the value of your life? Are you nurturing it? Do you trust that even in times when you do not see how it is benefitting you, it has, is, and will help you get to where you need to be? Remember, every PIECE will get you there.

 

Be Love!

 

P.S. Writing this made me think of the following Bible Verse: Romans 8:28King James Version (KJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.