Author Archives: J. Daniel

View Real Palace of Madrid IMG_0511_1024

So where did we leave off from part 1. Oh yeah, we had just arrived in Madrid. So we catch a cab to our hotel. We’re hoping an early check in is available because we are beyond tired.   We reach our hotel the Jardines de Sabatini. It has a small but cute lobby with a modern-looking foliage wall. There’s a weird faux-grass ramp thing next to a short staircase leading up to the lobby. I’m not sure why but I decided to go up the ramp behind my suitcase and let’s just say that my trip almost ended there. As I began to slide backwards down the ramp with my suitcase, I realized this was a bad idea. I almost ate it. I just pictured my face smacking onto the ramp and my body sliding down it as my suitcase slide down on top of me. The guy at the concierge desk saw this fiasco happening and came running to save my life.

The concierge told us that check in wasn’t until 3pm but he would give us a map of the city so we could explore until then while they held our bags. E who was waiting in the lounge area while I checked us in, looked like she just got news that our hotel was in the next city over and we would have to walk the 42 miles it would take to get there. Maybe the concierge saw this look and decided to have mercy on our souls because just then he stated that there was a room that might be ready now. The room was in fact ready. We checked in and were able to go take a nap. We reluctantly woke up in the early afternoon (still dead tired) and decided to head out to go purchase the train tickets we would need for the rest of the trip. But first we explored the hotel grounds. The back of the main elevator was all glass and provided an awesome view of the colorful mural that stretched the length of the exterior wall. On the rooftop was a lounge area and lovely rooftop bar, which overlooked the Real Palace of Madrid and the adjoining Sabatini Gardens. Fun fact: I had no Idea that’s what I was looking at until we returned from the trip and I looked through the pictures.

View Real Palace of Madrid MG_0508_1024

 

It was scorching hot outside so even our short walk was killer. We walked down the hill to the train station located in Prince Pio. The original train station was converted into a combo shopping mall and train station. Prince Pio is the main commuter station for the Renfe trains and metro. We decided to get something to eat and stopped at a restaurant called Colonial Norte Madrid. There was an outdoor eating area but there was no way we could bear that with this heat so we went upstairs. You couldn’t really tell by the outdoor seating area but upstairs was a beautiful restaurant. I used whatever little Spanish I knew while in Spain and while it definitely helped, at times the language barrier proved to be too wide. For example, at the restaurant I just mentioned, I thought I ordered tapas that included bread, soup and ham but all I got was the bread covered in some sort of tomato sauce and soup. It was tasty but I just sat and drooled at the appetizing looking rice dish E ordered.

Our waiter was adorable. His outfit was adorable and I think the blue apron brought out the blue in his eyes. I dunno (shrug), he was a cutie. He happily obliged when E asked to take a photo with him (actually when I asked for her in broken Spanish). We decided to change our shoes because we had a lot of walking to do and though cute, the thong sandals were already making us uncomfortable. We took the train to Puerta de Atocha, a large train station in the center of town. In fact it’s the largest railway station in Madrid. Within this massive building is the original building, which is no longer open for train service but now houses a breathtaking tropical garden, shops, cafes and nightclubs.

 

We purchased our train tickets for the other cities we’d be visiting and bought a couple of Red Bulls in an attempt to try to revive us and we then took to the street. We stumbled on some statues of giant babies just outside of the station posed for some pics and then walked to the near by Buen Retiro Park. This is one of the largest parks in Madrid and reminded me a bit of central park. I loved it. The park was littered with people simply enjoying a nice day out. Near a large statue in the center of the park, a group of people gathered practicing their inline skating tricks and a fitness class full of rock solid bodies worked up a sweat. Others took part in a yoga class, games of chess or just sprawled out on the grass and enjoyed the sun. We didn’t get to see it all but we did come upon this pretty glass house, the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), which was originally used to display flower species indigenous to Archipelago.

 

 

We left the park and walked the area just taking in the sights. By this time it was dark out and the city lit up as great Metropoles do only with jaw dropping architecture at every turn. We snapped a few photos in the street and then headed back to train station to Principe Pio where we had a delicious late night pizza dinner and drinks at Pizzeria La Estación. After dinner we went up to the rooftop bar for a bit before heading back to our room. Barcelona awaited in the morning.

 

Check back in soon for part 3 to see how we painted the town red in Barcelona.

Palace and Sabatini Gardens view madrid

So Spain right?  I have so much to say about Spain. But oddly enough half of the adventure might have been in just trying to get there. So me and my travel buddy, my BFF, whom I call E, decided on Spain this year for our annual girls trip. Though we have a good amount of experience traveling, this would be our first trip overseas. I was a little leery of traveling to France or England because of recent terror attacks but figured Spain hadn't had an incident in ages so we should be good.

Normally, I'm a stickler for planning my vacations. I want to get everything done ahead of time. I want to plan out all my activities, places to eat and see and put together a well-thought out itinerary well in advance of my departure. For this trip? Oh man. That cannot be further than what actually happened. I knew I was bordering on hot mess potential weeks before we left.  My schedule at work had been crazy and in the weeks leading up to my vacation it was absolute madness. I just didn't have the time to plan. Fortunately, our flights were booked but we were still trying to figure out hotel accommodations up to three days before our trip.

On the schedule of cities to visit were Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. The plan was to get from city to city via train. Luckily there's a discount for foreigners but unluckily for me you have to book with enough time in advance so they can mail you your passes. Mail? Who mails anything anymore? I thought we had all collectively moved on to E tickets. No? Whatever. So now I'm just praying that we can get the tickets we need at the train station for the times that we need and manage to stay on schedule. In the back of my mind if worst come to worst, I can rent a car (Fun fact: this is actually not the case, you have to apply for permission ahead of time to drive in Europe as a foreigner).

So here we are the night before our flight to Spain. I had flown into New York to meet E so we could fly out together. As a precautionary measure we were taking photos of our credit cards and passports but as we both looked at E's passport we noticed something. Hers had expired in June. Holy Sh&!+. " I asked you!" I exclaimed. Referring to the day we were booking our tickets when I asked her to check her passport to be sure it was still valid. At the time she told me it expired in September (funny enough, come to find out an expiration date that close to date of travel would have gotten her booted from the flight anyway. FYI: to be safe, when traveling internationally you want to make sure your passport will have at least 3 months of validity left at your time of travel).

So after my heart sank and the wave of anxiety hit me from the discovery, I tired to look up what we could do. I knew you could expedite your passport but I never heard of it being done in a few hours. Looking online, official sites say you need an appointment but I tried the site and it wouldn't let me book an appointment for the next day. I then came across a blog entry for a woman with a similar issue who stated she was able to get a passport for her husband by 4 o'clock the same day. (Our flight was at 3pm but this gave us a glimmer of hope). I looked up the main New York passport agency and told E she would have to go there at crack of dawn with everything they would need ready (forms filled out, 2 new passport photos, expired passport, additional identification, and payment.) “Lie and tell them you have an appointment. Tell a sob story. Cry if you have to. Do whatever it takes to get that passport by 1 o'clock the latest.” I told her.

Neither of us slept well all night. I even had a dream about someone having the heart to help her out at the passport agency. Off she went at around 5:30 the morning with multiple stops (get the photos, print the forms). By the time she reached the passport agency there were a ton of people already in line. Sh!+ We kept in contact but I was beyond concerned. I was already scoping out plan B. "Ok I can fly out and she can just meet me there. But if my mom knows I traveled to Europe alone she's gonna be a nervous wreck the entire time and she's old and fragile so I can't do that. I'm gonna have to lie and pretend she's with me (I know I'm a grown ass woman and this is crazy but it is what it is)." I start looking at ticket prices and they are around $3,000 and up. My stomach turns again. I call the airline to try and get an idea of what my options are and it doesn't look good. If she doesn't make the flight, the difference she's going to have to pay would be about $2,500 unless she waited and left in three days then it would go down to $600. I hang up, pray and hope for the best. As she made progress she would text me. I ran to the laundry mat to pick up the clothes she had dropped off. I get back to the apartment and surprise, I can't open the damn door. I hear and feel it clicking but it's not opening. Luckily her neighbor was around to help me out. I got in and threw everything that wasn't a bed sheet into her suitcase.

Then I got the call "I got it!" Glory hallelujah. Thank the Lord for giving this girl the gift of the gab. E didn't bother to come back to the apartment figuring it would be a safer bet if we just met at the airport. She called her favorite cabbie for me good old number "Forty Four". 44 arrived and the neighbor helped me to the cab. As we approached the airport… dun dun dun... the cab started to smoke. I mean, within about a minute the car was surrounded with smoke and it was starting to come inside. "Father God what message are you trying to send me about this trip?" 44 tried his best to get me to the terminal. " Oh no big problem” he says in a gentle Haitian accent. "It's the transmission". We barely make it off the exit and the car dies on the road outside. I get out, grab my bags and try to flag down a cab, only none of them will stop because, well obviously you aren't supposed to pick passengers up off the side of the freeway. One cabbie stops but looks really apprehensive. Sympathetically looks at the smoking cab behind me and tells me "We're not allowed to pick up passengers here. It's illegal". I tell him “Listen, the terminal is right there. I'm just trying to get to the terminal. I'll pay you in cash.” He reluctantly agrees. 44 helps me load my bags into the new cab and new cabbie gets me to the terminal in about 5 minutes. I give him $20 for this egregious criminal act and let him know “You sir are appreciated.”

I meet E curbside. She's cool calm and collected, almost glowing even and already checked in. Meanwhile I'm a hot mess. How? Anyway. I get checked in and we make our way to the gate. Apparently, we can’t just walk to our gate or take some sort of tram. We have to go out of a special exit (literally exit the airport) and go down to a bus that’s waiting on the tarmac. We then realize there’s a delay and we can’t move yet because there’s a military plane and bus directly behind us loading passengers. We’re waiting on the bus for about 15 – 20 minutes when I get a text from my coworker. She had just seen the news about what happened in Spain and wanted to know if I was okay. “Okay??? What do you mean okay?” I thought. I hadn’t heard any news. I quickly checked the news and saw that there was an attack in Barcelona. The bus to our gate finally starts moving and I start getting texts from everyone who knows I was on my way to Spain. I can’t tell my mother this. She’s going to freak. I’ll tell her when we connect in Boston so she can’t tell me not to go. (Once again, I know I’m a grown ass woman and this is ridiculous. Don’t judge). In the mean time a get a nervous call from my young nephew who has just been stopped by the cops while driving my mothers car and can’t seem to find the registration or car insurance info. So I have to help troubleshoot that mess.

 

Coworker text message

We finally make it onto our flight. When we arrive in Boston we are made to completely exit the airport, ride a tram to another gate and go through the entire boarding process again minus our checked bags. We have to go to the ticketing desks to get boarding passes because the first flight could not provide them to us. No one bothers to tell you that the ticket desk will be closing in a few minutes so you better hustle. Luckily we asked someone for directions and they told us to hurry the hell up. We run to the ticketing desk and the agent decides that she wants to move as slow as molasses today. Even the toddler of the couple she was attending to ahead of us had enough of her at one point and told her to hurry up. “Hurry up the plane is going to leave us”. Amen sister, Amen. We get our passes and run to security check in. We get to the gate with a few minutes to spare. We make our final phone calls and texts in the states and off to Madrid we go.

In flight meal Iberia 2
The in-flight meal was curry chicken.

We flew Iberia airlines. I’ve seen mixed reviews but our experience was great. The plane was huge, modern and neat. The flight attendants were friendly and helpful and something about their disposition just made them seem a little more elegant than I was used to. As they moved through the isle in synchronization to demonstrate the safety procedures, it looked like a well-choreographed dance. They reminded me of flight attendants of yesteryear (Think Pan Am type of classy). The food service was also great and even their little pillow and blanket set was of a pretty good quality.

The flight was long but good and we arrived safely in Madrid at around 9:30 am. Madrid airport is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. First of all, its ginormous. Secondly, the architectural elements of the ceiling of the entire structure are amazing. It was a little bit of a maze to get through but we got through customs and made our way outside to find an orderly line of cabs waiting.

Madrid airport2
The ceiling of the Madrid airport.

 

Now for the actual vacation portion of the story. We’re in Spain. What next? Check back in soon for part two of the adventure.

words are just words quote Jackie R Daniel

So I absolutely love a good quote. If I could end all of my arguments and make all of my points in quotes, I probably would. Why? People have short attention spans and language is complicated. There’s so much satisfaction to be had in using a simple quote to paint a clear picture of a complicated principle. For that same reason, I find that quotes actually help me settle many of my internal conflicts. “Should I take this risk?” “Yes, of course you should ‘Just do it’. I have been motivated time after time by simple quotes that have somehow altered my way of thinking and thus changed my life. It may seem far-fetched but some words are just so powerful, so impactful, that they not only resonate in that moment but the clarity they provide, the epiphany you experience, can last a lifetime. Here are a few of my favorites and how they have and are currently impacting my life:

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. — Mark Twain

I heard this one while in high school. As an introvert, it was a total confidence builder. What it meant to me: As long as you have the heart you can conquer the biggest and the toughest obstacles. I’ve built a mental toughness over the years that has served me much more than my physical fitness ever has.

 

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. — Confucius

My Professional Development professor in college put me on to this one. It struck a cord the moment it left his mouth and I’ve been chasing it ever since. I still haven’t found this utopia yet but I’m relentless in my pursuit of it.

 

You teach people how to treat you.  Dr. Phil

This may or may not belong to Dr. Phil but that is where I heard it first. The other version is longer and attributed to Tony Gaskins. That version states: “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” Sure the person in question might have been raised by wolves but what have you been teaching them about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to you? This quote is a constant reminder for me to not accept the unacceptable. Life changed for me when I grew some metaphorical balls and started putting my foot down.

 

Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open. Elmer G. Letterman

I’ve always been drawn to a magnetic personality. After struggling to understand why someone who seemed so great on the surface was eventually sickening to be around, I understood that I put way too much weight on personality. Yeah… I don’t do that anymore.

 

A liar should have a good memory. Quintilian

Alternate version: “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” – Abraham Lincoln. Recalling memories is easier then recalling stories. I learned to play close attention to the things people say especially when trust is in question. I learned that my silence was my most successful bait when trying to catch a liar. A liar will fill uncomfortable silence with tall tales, fables and details that may or may not be available to his memory later. I just learned to pay close attention.

 

Trying is lying. Unknown

When I first heard my brother say this I thought he came up with it but it looks like this one’s been around a while. After responding to a question with “I’ll try”, this was his not-so-subtle way of telling me that my response was a cop out, a set up for failure, if you will. Nowadays I’m more conscious of replacing “I’ll try” with "I will.” As you can imagine the “I will” has been more effective in helping me get sh!# done.

 

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't.” Student of Warren G. Tracy

Honestly, I owe one of my biggest accomplishments in life to this quote.  While going through a tough financial period, I made a decision to deal with my discomfort instead of chasing comfort in order to save money. It was difficult, sometimes near torturous but I knew the sacrifice would pay off in the long run and it did. I crossed a major item off of my goals list and continue to make the sacrifices that I know may be uncomfortable today but will allow me to luxuriate in comfortable later.

 

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. — Mike Tyson

I’m a planner by nature. I plan the hell out of everything. Give me an obstacle and I’m working my way though it in a spreadsheet with considerations for different scenarios. But no matter how detailed your plan there is still a chance that you’ll get hit with an unknown variable and variables sometimes feel a lot like being punched in the face. What I learned: preparation won’t make me invincible and I’m going to have to deal with some BS when I least expect it. I can’t feel sorry for myself. I just have to take the blow and keep it moving.

 

I got my start by giving myself a start. Madam C. J. Walker

I’ve just added this one to my list. If you read my last post on Madam C. J. Walker, you’ll understand where it comes from. It might be a little too early to determine if this quote actually helps to change my life but it definitely feels like it provides the type of clarity that can be life-changing. When it comes to career or success, I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of waiting for someone to give me a shot. My new outlook is to give myself a shot.

 

There you have it. A couple of quotes that have helped change my life. There are a couple of others that I didn’t mention and I’m sure there will be more along this journey I call life. Let this be a friendly reminder that words are powerful. Listen closely – apply them wisely.

 

Thank you for reading. Now… Let the power moves continue.

madam cj walker at Villa Lawaro with quote

You may not ever discover the ever-mythical secret to success but if you play close enough attention to successful people, you’ll quickly come to realize that the secrets are often hidden in the obvious. In honor of black history month I thought it was only right to explore not only one of history’s greatest black entrepreneurs, but one of history’s most successful female entrepreneurs, period, Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female, self-made millionaire.

Born Sarah Breedlove, daughter of and sister to former slaves, she was the first person in her family of eight to be born into freedom. Her life was plagued with hardships, from abuse, to failed marriages to hard labor. So how did Sarah Breedlove go from being born on a plantation to becoming the wealthiest and most successful female entrepreneur of her day? She’s often quoted as saying “I got my start by giving myself a start.” Well Amen sister!

Rather than try and write a short-form version of a biography that has already been written (please check out Walkers official biography On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker by great great granddaughter A’lelia Bundles), what I want to do is highlight some of the strategic moves that helped make Walker a success.

 

1. Learn From the Best — Then Do It Better

Forget a formal education. All Walker needed was an unofficial apprenticeship to get the ball rolling. She went to work for Annie Turnbo Malone, owner of the Poro Company, one of the times most successful African American hair-care entrepreneurs. As a commissioned sales agent, one could say she received on-the-job training while also working to develop her own product line. Walker would work for Malone just one year before branching out to start her own line and subsequently become Malone’s biggest rival in the industry. Sneaky? Maybe, but she positioned herself to learn from the best at the time and as a result, most likely identified a weakness and seized an opportunity to capitalize on it.

2. Make Them Remember Your Name

Madam C.J. Walker understood the importance of Personal Branding and Brand Identity before they were buzzwords. She didn’t just sell product she sold a brand. In an era where white people commonly disparaged black women by calling them by their first names or the further belittling “Auntie”, she adopted the moniker Madam C.J. Walker after marrying husband Christopher Joseph Walker, mimicking the distinctive naming convention often used by elite French hairdressers.1 By design, Walker’s reputation preceded her. Her brand had a distinctive look and she, not a paid model or spokesperson, was the face of it.

3. Surround Yourself With Excellence

From the start Madam C.J. Walker surrounded herself with extraordinary talents. From her start with Mahone to her partnership with husband Charles Walker who was an experienced sales and advertising professional, to long-time employee Marjorie Stewart Joyner, a legend in her own right, who was responsible for patenting the permanent wave machine while working for Madam Walker. She would align herself with several other history-making African Americans throughout her career.

4. Become a Master Seller

Madam CJ Walker sales agents at her home villa lewaro
Photo courtesy of Madam Walker Family archives www.madamcjwalker.com

Widely recognized as a master seller and expert marketer, Madam Walker understood who she was targeting, where she could best reach them with her advertising and showcases and how she needed to speak to them. She brought drama to the sale, using live demonstrations to engage potential customers. Perhaps learning from Malone before her, she was one of the first to successfully institute a multi-level marketing or direct sales marketing organization which trained thousands women on sales principles and tactics, appearance guidelines and brand advocacy.

“Having a good article for the market is one thing. Putting it properly before the public is another.” − Madam C.J. Walker (1916)

5. Be Bold

Meekness was not a trait one would associate with Madam C.J. Walker. She was humble in some regard but also audacious. There was a confident swagger about her and she wasn’t afraid to make an example of her success. Who could blame her? To accomplish what she did during the time period in which she did was an extraordinary feat. When she commissioned New Yorks’ first licensed black architect, Vertner Woodson Tandy, to build her 20,000 sq. ft., 34-room mansion in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York among some of the countries riches families including Wall Street’s elite such as the Rockefellers, she asked him to position it close to the village’s main thoroughfare so it was easily visible by travelers en route from Manhattan to Albany.2

6. Give Back (the bonus power move)

Madam C.J. walker was a successful entrepreneur but perhaps more importantly she was a dedicated philanthropist. She gave regularly to causes that benefited the lives of African Americans. She set a precedent by giving generously in amounts that were nearly unheard of at the time. For example in 1910 she donated $1,000 (present-day value: approx. $ 24,500) to the building fund of the “colored” YMCA in Indianapolis and in 1916 she gave $5,000 (present-day value: approx. $111,400) to NAACP’s anti-lynching movement. She sought to be an example inspiring others to give back as well. In regards to her $1000 gift to the "colored" YMCA she wrote: “… and do not say that I am the only one. You might say that I was the first and caused others to awaken to the sense of their duty in helping deserving causes for the benefit of the race”.

Her organization also proudly advocated for the empowerment of women and sought to help them become economically independent. The Walker Company not only trained them in sales and grooming but also provided guidance on budgeting and building their own businesses. Additionally, she made a point of placing women in leadership roles in her company. With the exception of legal counsel Robert Lee Brokenburr and Freeman B. Ransom, many of the key executives and those in management roles were women.

I didn’t write a report on Madam Walker in middle school. I never got to draw her name out of a basket of carefully-chosen, African American, historical figures and I didn’t get to stand in front of my social studies class and confidently share what little information I knew about her to a group of my peers who likely knew even less than I did. Today, I’m grateful that I didn’t. I somehow doubt that as a tween I would have truly appreciated the complexities of this remarkable woman. Nor would I have realized how I could apply her leanings and accomplishments to my life. America’s first female, self-made millionaire was a force to be reckoned with and I’m determined to be one as well. Thank you Madam C.J. (Sarah Breedlove) Walker for empowering me and women like me long after your departure from this earth.

 

Thank you for reading. Now… Let the power moves continue.

 

  1. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/100-amazing-facts/madam-walker-the-first-black-american-woman-to-be-a-self-made-millionaire/
  2. Madam Walder Essay  — A’Lelia Bundles  http://www.madamcjwalker.com/bios/madam-c-j-walker/

There's no doubt in my mind that this little girl went off and had an absolutely amazing day. Why? Because she drew that energy to her. How many of us drag ourselves out of bed in the morning dreading the start of another lackluster day? We may even sit at the edge of our beds in deep thought. Scratch that, in deep, negative thought, already dissatisfied with a day we have yet to begin (I'm not judging you. I've done this). If we only stopped to think about how powerful our thinking is and how much of an impact our thinking has on our daily lives and wellbeing in general. Everyone always says "You are what you eat." but equally as true is, "You are what you think".

I've always liked the idea of positive affirmations but after reading and watching a couple of inspiring books and videos recently, I’ve started to really make the act a habit. The root of so much failure and dissatisfaction in our lives often comes from how we view ourselves and how we think others may view us. Self-esteem is a large determinant of our success and happiness. You're a lot less likely to become successful if you're viewing yourself as worthless or less than and you're definitely not going to be happy or satisfied in life with that mindset. The good thing is, you have the extraordinary power to change that with one simple thing: positive thinking.

natural hair girl kissing herself in the mirror

I have a couple of daily morning rituals that I've enacted recently that have really started to make a difference on my outlook on life. One of these rituals is my positive affirmations routine. In the morning after thinking about and expressing gratitude for the often-overlooked blessings in my life (sight, hearing, mobility, etc.), I begin to speak, out loud, positive things about myself. I begin with "I am..." And complete the thought with a positive attribute. Some of the statements I believe wholeheartedly, 100%, others I may need some work on. But the point is to remind myself of how great those attributes are and speak those iffy ones into existence. I won't delve into all of my affirmations but to give you an idea, I may say: "I am smart. I am compassionate. I am creative. I am beautiful. I am successful. I don't have them memorized. There isn't a script. Sometimes some new affirmations creep in. Sometimes I forget some of the old ones. I usually remember the one's that are most important to me and I think that's what makes the major difference.

If you don't already do this exercise, I implore you to get started. It's a simple activity that can make a huge difference on your life. Take my word for it. There are few things more powerful than the power of positive thinking.

Thank you for reading. Now… Let the power moves continue.

 

mardi gras mask be yourself rec

So who are you going to be today? In my quest to capture success there have been many an instance where I've found myself putting on airs so that I exhibit certain qualities or attributes that I think the person on the receiving end of my personality may be more comfortable or impressed with. I was determined to show people how outgoing, talkative or high energy I could be. Why? Because people really buy into that stuff. People in general, have a tendency to think that these characteristics are some of the strongest indications of ones ability to lead. The trouble is these traits aren't second nature to me. I'm chill ­– mellow – easygoing. I don't bounce off the walls I lean on them with dark shades on, a la The Fonz from Happy Days. I don't raise my voice to get my point across. I don't interrupt others to assert my dominance and thus prove my leadership. I don't blurt out ideas without taking at least a few seconds to think them through. That's just not how I roll.

 

mask be yourself

I used to spend far too much time concerning myself with how I would standout from or compete with these people who exhibited these in-your-face implications of leadership potential. The funny thing is, even though I feel like I don't naturally exude everything I thought I needed to command attention, I've come to learn that when I speak people listen. People have no problem taking direction from me or trusting my judgment.  I realized that I had my own set of characteristics that implied leadership potential. They may not be in your face but they are plain-as-day visible for anyone who is at least somewhat receptive.

I made a decision to shine the way I shine and let others shine the way they shine. I am at my strongest when I'm holding true to what makes me unique. There is no one way to lead. There is no one way to be successful. There is no one personality that is fully harmonious with all other personalities. So even though it may sound cliché, I would say put away the mask and just be yourself. Really, just be yourself. The key is to know your strong suits and lead with those.

Thank you for reading. Now… Let the power moves continue.

Girl Boss New Mission web

 

I'm on a new mission. We'll sort of. The thing is, I really need to acknowledge and nurture my passion, my raison d'être. I want to pay more attention to the things that feed my soul. If only I didn't want to do a million things at once. Lets talk about the blog. Shamefully, I've been neglecting it. Something I started with so much promise and excitement has fallen by the way side so I can be more productive in other areas. At first it was the struggle in trying to balance it all, a heavy workload from my "day job",  juggling a slew of personal projects and just the regular trappings of every day life. However, once I got into the habit of neglecting it a little bit, it became easier to neglect it a little more and a little more until I reached the point where someone should have called child protective services on me for neglecting this baby of mine, as I so often put it. She is malnourished and I am now an unfit parent.

The good news is I’ve pinpointed a problem and I'm ready to fix it. Part of the sorta-new mission that I mentioned before is really to conduct a self-evaluation and in the process be honest with myself about what I want out of life. Career, family, spirituality etc. What is going to make me feel whole? I have so many different interests that it's hard to pinpoint where it is that I should place my focus. I've tried to do everything at once before and have learned that spreading myself too thin gets me a whole lot of nowhere.

It might be time to pull back a bit from my mission to reach the upper echelons of the corporate ladder and come up with a definition of personal success that really means something to me. What does that mean for the blog I created with a heavy focus on taking corporate America by storm? The power moves and female empowerment are still important to me but those things may take on a whole new meaning as I really define my true mission and vision for my life. The power moves I make going forward don’t necessarily need to be confined within the walls of a mega corporation. Why not explore making power moves in entrepreneurship, real estate, stocks, investments, social responsibility, powerful connections and more. If you're reading this, I'm glad you're still with me on this journey. I apologize for leaving you hanging. I'm talking to you and myself. You hear me self? I apologize for leaving you hanging. We're gonna get this together. As always...

Thank you for reading. Now… Let the power moves continue.

How to Create a Vision Board

It's the beginning of a brand new year and if you've never created a vision board, now is as good a time as any. For those of you not familiar with what a vision board is or its premise, the concept has been around for a while but was made especially popular by the book The Secret.  In the book, the principles of the law of attraction are discussed. Essentially, the idea is that we have the ability to attract the things we want out of life through positive thinking and more specifically, visualizing precisely the very thing(s) that we would like to have or would like to have happen to us.

To be honest, I don't completely buy into the idea that just thinking of something incessantly will actually make that thing appear before you. However, I do believe that keeping your vision prominent in your train of thought can be an extremely useful tool in helping to keep you focused.

Some people have the ability to envision what they want and just go for it, while others need a precise plan of action. I'm a planner, so for me I make it a point to not haphazardly place items on my board without thinking about what I can do to make them happen. The goal is to look at my board in terms of vision and action. I'm not just thinking about how bad I want those things but also thinking about the actions that I can take to get me those things. The board itself is a daily, visual reminder to put in the work (and prayer) for the things I want.

How to Make a Vision Board

If you want to get started on one but you're not quite sure how to make a vision board, rest assured it's fairly easy. First get your thoughts together. What is it that you want to accomplish? Think about what you want to see happen in your career, family life, health, etc. Once you’ve put some serious thought into that, you can get started on building your board. You’ll need the following supplies.

  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Magazines/photos/printed images
  • Glue or tape
  • Markers/pens

Traditionally the base for your vision board is a poster board, which works great but some people choose to get creative and use things like corkboard or presentation board, or even dry erase boards. Corkboard is great because you can pin things on and swap items out as you please without ruining your board.

You’ll want to gather a couple of different magazines covering different topics or interests so you can find and cut out all of the various images you want to have represented on your board. Some of the things or events you want may not be well represented in the magazines you’ve chosen. That’s okay. For hard-to-find imagery or very specific ideas you have in mind, you can always do a web search and print out the best images you find from there. Start gluing/taping/pinning your selected images to the board. There doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason to placement. Do whatever feels right. I don’t like for my board to feel cluttered. I want to see everything clearly so prefer to have plenty of white space around my imagery.

What Do I Put on My Vision Board?

Put whatever you want on your vision board; short-term goals, longs-term goals, emotions, material things, spiritual things, words, phrases, drawings. This is your board to do with as you please. Use images from your magazines, personal photos, word cutouts and hand drawn messages that will inspire you.

Where Do I Put My Vision Board?

Put your vision board where you can easily see it everyday and take a moment to reflect on everything displayed. This can be on your closet door, next to a mirror, above your office calendar, or any other can’t-miss area. Mine currently sits right above my monthly dry erase calendar.

In today’s digital age, many people are creating digital vision boards using creative software or mobile apps like Wishboard or iWish. In this case, your vision board can literally be with you anywhere you go. If you’ve created a traditional vision board but would to keep it handy, you can do as I’ve done and take a picture of your board and use it as a screen saver for your laptop and/or mobile devices.

There you have it. You now know how to go about starting your vision board. Good luck and may all you’ve envisioned come to fruition!

Thank you for reading. Now… Let the power moves continue.

 

Swizz Beatz and Jackie No Commission Dean Collection Art Basel 2015 IMG_0126

So Art Basel/Miami Art Week has come and gone.  If you missed out, well, you missed out. About the same time every year, the most wonderful time of the year, the Magic City comes alive with its yearly art festival. Artists, art dealers, art enthusiasts and celebrities from all over flood the city for Art Basel and satellite fairs in Miami Beach and Wynwood. I love Basel but unlike last year where I attended a different event every night for a week straight, this year I played it slightly low-key but I enjoyed it immensely nonetheless. Here's the round up of how my Art Week went.

Conception Art Fair

Beyonce Conception Art Fair Art Basel IMG_9832_1024

Wednesday was the press preview for the Conception Art Fair. Conception was billed as the only art fair founded, owned and run exclusively by women. I thought this would be a great fair to cover for my audience because I know we are all about girl power. With the event scheduled to begin at 6 o'clock, my colleague and I arrived with five minutes to spare. Unfortunately, when we arrived full-fledged construction was still underway on the venue (picture giant ladders, power tools and hammers).  There was no one up front to check in with the visitors and the place was essentially a holy mess. However, once you got past the fear of a large object potentially crashing down on your head, there were some really great pieces to take note of.

Conception Art Fair collage
Much of the art work featured images of strong women including the center image dipicting Frida Kahlo as Wonder Woman.

Vibes 305

Vibes Art Basel 2015 Toe Jam Gil Green IMG_0008v2

Each year this is the one party I vow to not miss.  You may not know Gil Green by name but if you're a fan of hip-hop music, you definitely know his work. The mega-successful filmmaker/video director has worked with many hip hop legends and today's brightest stars including Nicki Minaj, Usher, P. Diddy and more. Each year Green and friends host the unconventional art party at the ToeJam Backlot in Wynwood. This ain’t your artsy-fartsy art party with wine and assorted cheeses. Food trucks however, those were aplenty.

Ace Hood Vibes Art Basel 2015 Toe Jam Gil Green IMG_0032
Rapper Ace Hood performs.
Shaggy Vibes Art Basel 2015 Toe Jam Gil Green IMG_0087
Reggae artist Shaggy performs new and old school songs.

I've seen the event change and grow from its first year where it was much smaller with a very eclectic crowd of hip-hop lovers (young and older), appreciators and newbies to the scene, to a massive crowd of attendees who pretty much all look the same. Vibes 305 used to be more of a hidden gem. Like your favorite little bakery before they became super popular and started lining up customers down the block and skimping on the cupcake icing. Don't get me wrong Vibes is still a good ol’ time, but for me it's just not what it used to be and for some that's great. I however, look fondly back on being able to casually run into one of my absolute favorite Miami Heat players, and seeing local celebrities hanging out among the crowd sans security vs. this year watching rappers race by with a 6-person security detail/entourage. Oh, and let's not talk about the chaos at the door, hour-plus long, line to get in, and the non ticketed line that was three times faster than the ticketed line (side bar: Thanks to the young lady who eventually helped with my guest list fiasco).

Vibes 305 Art Basel Party Crowd Toe Jam

It also seemed like the art used to be much more prominent. This year seemed to lack a little in newness, showing several pieces that were on display last year. I had one guy come up to me and ask me where the art was? He was being facetious of course and obviously not of the culture so it was hard for him to get it but it speaks to the sense of lacking. I think part of the problem is we were all packed in there like sardines. If you really take a step back to look at the venue, the ToeJam Backlot in and of itself is a work of art. Every square inch of the actual building is covered in some eccentric "thing" for lack of a better word. You have to think beyond seeing something hanging on a wall. I mean there's an actual cockpit and hallowed out school bus in the backlot for Christ sake but that may be hard to appreciate when your vision is obstructed by a thousand people. Maybe.

Bottom line: Cool event. Cool venue. Great music. But... gone to the masses.

 

No Commission Art Fair X The Dean Collection

Swizz Beatz and Jeffrey Deitch No Commission Dean Collection Art Basel 2015 IMG_0165
Swizz Beatz gives art world legend, Jeffery Deitch the tour of the No Commission fair, stopping to discuss a piece by Sandra Chevrier.

 

So you've probably heard of mega producer Kasseem "Swizz Beatz" Dean but what you may not know is that the musical superstar is also a passionate art lover and collector. Last year he was asked to curate a collection for the Scope Art Fair, which he branded The Dean Collection. This year he branched out and expanded, partnering with Bacardi to launch his own art fair and concert series entitled No Commission.

The interesting thing about Art Basel is some events are free, some are pricey, some are open to the public, some are super exclusive, some are of the highest quality and some are a damn joke. How Swizz managed to create an experience that was, of the highest quality, free, open to the public while also being exclusive says a lot about how much effort was put into this project.

Sue Tsai No Commission Dean Collection Art Basel 2015 IMG_8376
Artist Sue Tsai poses next to her piece entitled "Rooted in Love", inspired by the quote: "You fell in love with my flowers but not with my roots. So when Autumn arrived you didn't know what to do." One of my top two of the entire week.

The No Commission fair afforded the participating artists the opportunity to show and sell their work at one if the worlds biggest art events without the burden of having to pay a gallery a hefty commission, hence the fair's title. Swizz curated the collection himself, handpicking the artists for the showing but giving them the opportunity to pick the pieces they wanted to show and set their own sale prices. Up and comers showed alongside more established artists like Sandra Chevrier for a collection Swizz describes as "by the artist for the artist”.

Sandra Chevrier No Commission Dean Collection Art Basel 2015
Amazing piece by Sandra Chevrier. Close up look at the intricate details.

Sandra Chevrier No Commission Dean Collection Art Basel 2015 IMG_0159v2

I for one ate it all up. I loved the concept, loved the execution, loved the pieces selected, loved being able to chat with all the artists, and loved how gracious a host Swizz Beats was. This clearly wasn't something he just slapped his name on and took credit for. It was quite evident how passionate he was about making his vision come to fruition.  Hat's off to you Mr. Dean.

Simply Gallery

Simply Gallery Wynwood_IMG_0198

So I ventured to some other galleries after the Dean Collection and found some really great pieces. The Simply Gallery hosted by Simply Jess, Alessandra Gold & MJA, mixed art with fashion, showing off paintings sculptures and a couple of boutique-like setups with unique articles of clothing and footwear. One of my favorites included one from artist Aaron Maybin who I discovered at Basel two years ago and a crazy bullet-themed piece from Charles Soto aka Soto Ink.

Simply Gallery Aaron Maybin paintings

Alexander Mijares

Alexander Mijares Art Basel 2015 IMG_0210

Near by was an absolutely amazing gallery exhibition by Cuban-American Artist Alexander Mijares. The exhibit entitled, Freedom was centered on history, exile and redemption and featured a large-scale installation of a Cuban refugee boat that recently brought 16 exiles to American soil. Displayed with the original contents still left inside, the boats sail was painted in customary Mijares fashion.

Alexander Mijares Art Basel 2015 IMG_v2

Gallery 212 & Wynwood Walls

Gallery 212 Art Basel 2015 IMG_0235

I also managed to stop by local spot, Gallery 212 and Wynwood staple, Wynwood Walls. If you’re unfamiliar, Wynwood Walls was born in 2009 when a section of warehouse building walls were turned into giant canvases for graffiti and street art. It brings in all kinds of artists from around the world. For this year’s Art Basel, 14 new large-scale murals and installations were included. As usual, Wynwood Walls was a sight to behold.

Gallery 212 Art Basel 2015 IMG_v2
Cuteness at Gallery 212
Wynwood Walls Art Basel 2015 IMG_0240
The infamous Wynwood Walls

Another great year of Baseling as I like to call it, has come to an end and I’m going to miss it. I already can’t wait until next year. See you there!

Check out more photos below: