Career Cues

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/

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.

Famous failures grid2

If you're building a business, searching for a new job, or making some other transition in your life or career, something you may come to realize is that failure and rejection suck; like seriously, they blow.

Now, I'm an infamous believer in the idea that "everyone's journey is different and you shouldn't compare your journey to anyone else's." and I also firmly believe that if you work hard enough and smart enough, that the goals you set will be all yours when the time is right. Though it’s hard to keep this mindset when it feels like you just can’t seem to win, what I’ll say to you (and myself) is this: Keep focused on your journey regardless of whether you feel like you're lagging behind in some sort of race to the top or not. This simple mantra of sorts is a byproduct of my faith in God and a personality trait that allows me to be relentless and suborn enough not to give up when maybe most people would. But even I sometimes get caught up in the low of the lows.

So what helps me get out of those lows when my Positive Patty philosophies just aren't working? Thinking about other "failures".  There's nothing like knowing that someone else has also failed to lift your own spirit. Yes! I’m not alone in this failing thing. Wait, what? Before you pass judgment, I'm not talking about the “misery loves company” feeling. What I’m getting at is, there is reassurance in knowing that experiencing failure is a normal part of the journey and someone or several someones have managed to find the way out through the failure and onto success.

Let’s take a look at some famous failures. Shall we?

 

Kevin Systrom Instagram

Kevin Systrom - CEO, Instagram

Unbeknownst to him at the time of his departure, Kevin Systrom was working for a company that would eventually become Twitter. His stroke of luck or misfortune (depending on how you want to look at it) landed him at Nextstop, a travel tip site that was eventually sold to Facebook. Systrom thought he’d missed out on both the Twitter and Facebook boats. In 2010 he co-founded the photo-sharing app, Instagram. In 2012 he was offered $1 billion in cash and stock for the app.

 

Brian Acton1 What'sapp

Brian Acton - Co-founder, WhatsApp

Back in 2009 after doing a lengthy stint at Yahoo and then taking a year off to gallivant across South America, computer engineer, Brian Acton applied for a job at Facebook. He didn't get it. Clearly an optimist, Acton tweeted about his rejection focusing on the apparent silver lining presented in the opportunity to “connect with fantastic people.” That same year Acton partnered with fellow programmer Jan Koum to co-found WhatsApp, an instant messaging application for smartphones. In August, 2014 Facebook acquired WhatsApp for approximately $19 billion, in a deal that reportedly earned Acton more than $3 billion in stock and cash for his share in the company. Oh the irony! Imagine how differently life would have turned out if he had landed the job he thought he wanted with Facebook back in 2009.

Brian-Acton-Facebook

 

According to his Twitter account, Acton was also rejected by Twitter.

brian2

I get it. Long commutes are awful.

 

JayZ

 

Shawn “Jay Z” Carter - Rapper/Entrepreneur

Some times we think the answer is in being granted some kind of opportunity when the answer is really in creating the opportunity for ourselves. Even with a considerable amount of street buzz, Jay Z couldn’t get any bite from any of the major record labels. With few other options, the aspiring rapper began selling CDs out of his car. In 1995 he partnered with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs to create their own independent label, Roc-A-Fella Records. In 1996, under his own label he released his first album, Reasonable Doubt, an album, which would eventually be included in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. To date he’s gone on to sell more than 100 million records and earned 21 Grammy awards for his musical work. He’s parlayed his musical success into various successful entrepreneurial ventures and assets, including entertainment company, Roc Nation, champagne brand, Armand de Brignac and most recently streaming service TIDAL, which just announced its expansion into Mexico. The self-made superstar currently boasts an estimated net worth of nearly $520 million. Funny how the record industry that once ignored him now has no choice but to grant him its full attention.

 

Diddy2

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs - Rapper/Producer/Entrepreneur

Kayne West isn’t the only college dropout in the hip-hop world. Combs attended the illustrious Howard University as a business major but dropped out in 1990, after only two years. He became an intern at Uptown Records, eventually working under founder Andre Harrell as an A&R rep, helping to develop acts like Jodeci, and Mary J. Blige. In 1993 with continuous problems arising from trying to control the rebellious youngster and disagreements on creative direction of acts like Heavy D and The Notorious B.I.G., Harrell fired combs. Shortly thereafter Combs established Bad Body Records, taking B.I.G. with him. He soon landed a $10 million deal with Arista Records and launched the career of The Notorious B.I.G., who would eventually be widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time. Today Comb’s estimated net worth is approximately $735 million, deriving from his ventures in music, spirits, clothing, media, and startups, which include clothing line - Sean John, alkaline water brand – Aquahydrate, tequila brand - DeLeon and a huge stakes in multi-platform television network - Revolt. In an ironic turn of events, after Andre Harrell was fired as the head of Motown in 1997, Combs brought him on as president of Bad Boy. Harrell is currently still serving under Diddy as Vice Chairman of Revolt. Combs was once quoted as saying: “I’ma shake the game up. I’ma make MCA and Andre regret firing me.” I would say mission accomplished and in the famous words of Diddy himself, “Take that. Take that.”

 

JK Rowling Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling - Author, Harry Potter

At one point in her life mega-successful author J.K. Rowling was just a single mother living on welfare trying her hardest to make ends meet. She’d once worked as a Secretary for Amnesty International but was fired after spending too much of her time day dreaming about being a writer. In her own words: “I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

In 1990 she came up with the idea for Harry Potter while on a delayed train. Her first book was written on an old manual typewriter. It took her five years to complete the book about the adventures of the young wizard and it would take an additional two years before the book would be published. In 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released. The book would climb it’s way to the top of the New York Times best-selling fiction list by 1999 and remain there for much of that year and into the next. Today the Harry Potter series is the best-selling book series in history with sales of more than 450 million copies worldwide. From welfare to near billionaire, J.K. Rowling has earned a seat among the richest women in the world and is reported to have an estimated net worth just under $1 billion.

 

Steve Jobs Apple

 

Steve Jobs – Co-founder/CEO, Apple Inc.

Steve Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976. Together they would deliver the Apple I and Apple II personal computers. Life was good. The Apple II dominated the personal computer market and Apple was winning accolades like "Machine of the Year", a Time Magazine alternative to "Person of the Year". And then... enter stage left, Bill Gates and Microsoft circa 1981. The introduction of cheap IBM-PC clones that ran on Microsoft MS-DOS destabilized Apple. As the Windows user interface improved, it increasingly took more and more market share from Apple. With the board planning to oust Jobs from the Macintosh group and render him powerless (read: fire him), he resigned from Apple in 1985 and started NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in state of the art, higher end computers for higher-education and business markets.

Whadd'a ya know, by 1997 Apple was nearly bankrupt and found itself at the mercy of Jobs. Apple would purchase NeXT from Jobs and the NeXTSTEP platform would eventually become the foundation for Mac OS X. Steve retruned to Apple as interim CEO and ultimately CEO, returning the company back to profitability by 1998. In 2005 Jobs was quoted as saying: "I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

 

Bill Gates 2

Bill Gates – Co-founder, Microsoft

While we’re on the subject of computer geeks and college dropouts, let’s talk about one Mr. Bill Gates. It’s widely known that Gates was a Harvard dropout but before that, actually at the tail end of his high school career, he and friends Paul Allen and Paul Gilbert started a company and began work on a project called Traf-O-Data. The company would build specialized computers for evaluating traffic flow data. The computer would allow for the data captured on paper tapes to be retrieved without having to unroll them and process them by hand. However, Traf-OData was a true failure and only one functional machine was ever sold. Bummer.

Allen notes that "Traf-O-Data was seminal in preparing us to make Microsoft’s first product a couple of years later. We taught ourselves to simulate how microprocessors work using DEC computers so we could develop software even before our machine was built." In Bill Gates’ own words: “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

 

Walt Disney2

 

Walt DisneyCo-founder, Walt Disney Company

Disney dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen to join the army but was rejected for being too young. He moved on to plan B and joined the Red Cross where he drove an ambulance in France for a year. He moved back to Kansas City in 1919 to start his artistic career. In what is probably the most ironic of his failures, legend has it that Disney was fired from The Kansas City Star because in his editor’s opinion, he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas." Dude? However, according to The Kansas City Star, he applied for a permanent job with The Star as a cartoonist, clerk and even truck driver - but the newspaper turned him down each time.

Disney would later acquire Laugh-O-Gram, an animation studio, which he ended up driving into bankruptcy because of his inability to run a successful business. Finally, he and his brother moved to Hollywood, California and began producing successful cartoons including Alice comedies and Mickey Mouse. His success to follow would include development of Disney Studios, Disneyland, Disney World and EPCOT among others. Imagine that!

 

Anna Wintour

Anna WintourEditor, Vogue Magazine

Even the devil wears failure. Wintour landed a job as a junior fashion editor at renown magazine, Harper’s Bazaar in 1975. What more fabulous way would there be for a girl to start her career in fashion? Now if only she wasn’t fired after a measly nine months of working there. Her edgy shoots may have impressed some but editor Tony Mazzola wasn’t among them. Her next opportunity was as an editor at Viva, a women’s adult magazine. After that publication was shut down she had stints at Savy and New York before eventually ending up at Vogue in the early eighties where she’s reigned ever since. She’s described getting fired as a great learning experience even going so far as to say: "Everyone should be sacked at least once in their career because perfection doesn't exist. It's important to have setbacks, because that is the reality of life."

 

Oprah3

Oprah WinfreyChairwoman and CEO, Harpo Productions

Winfrey got her start as an evening news anchor for local Baltimore station, WJZ-TV. After only seven and a half months as co-anchor she was fired for becoming too emotionally involved in the stories. What? Oprah? Emotional? No? Heartbroken, her next position was a much lower-profile role reading news headlines on a morning segment. She would eventually go on to host “Baltimore is Talking” which became a hit and then on to host a low-rated, half-hour morning talk show called “AM Chicago” in 1984. The show quickly became the highest rated talk show in Chicago. Oprah eventually parlayed these opportunities into the Oprah Winfrey Show and well, you know how the story goes from there. All the rest of the world could do was sit back and watch as she built her empire. She revolutionized the talk show industry and we ate it up like fresh apple pie, emotions and all.

Top companies for women climbing the ladder wide

We all know women are under represented when it comes to holding leadership positions in corporate America but there are a few companies who are raising the bar.   I stumbled upon a Forbes article from early this year, which gave a great run down of some of the companies where women are really making some moves. Here are some of the companies in the top 10:

Abbott:

Percentage of employees who are women: 47%
Percentage of senior managers who are women: 42%

Ernst & Young:

Percentage of employees who are women: 46%
Percentage of senior managers who are women: 46%

Marriott:

Percentage of employees who are women: 54%
Percentage of senior managers who are women: 40%

State Farm:

Percentage of employees who are women: 59%
Percentage of senior managers who are women: 39%

*Also noted on the list were General Mills, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, Mass Mutual Finance Group, and Procter & Gamble.

 

So senior management is great but what about afterwards? I would guess that even at these great companies there’s likely a very significant drop off when we look at director level and above. The NY Times notes that women make up only 16 percent of directors at Fortune 500 companies, 4 percent of chief executives at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies and 10 percent of chief financial officers at S&P 500 companies1. So while there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the senior management tunnel, it’s still pretty dim if you’re attempting to look further than that.  However, the positive Patty in me maintains that while it’s difficult to get there, it’s important to remember that it isn’t impossible.  And between you and me, if making it to the top of your Fortune 500 isn’t for you, you could always work on building your own Fortune 500. Hmmm… some food for thought.

 

To read more on the top 10 visit:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2015/03/03/ten-great-companies-for-women-in-2015/

 

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

 

1 http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/why-so-few-women-reach-the-executive-rank/?_r=0

Heart candies - it's not me it's you

 

A report from Bain and Company explores frontline managers and their impact on women’s career aspirations.  What the study brings to light is that a significant number of women have nearly the same story. At the start of their careers women are ambitious and confident. As they progress and attempt to work their way towards the C-suite they gradually begin to lose confidence. What’s the confidence killer? Well, that can partially be blamed on the lack of women in upper management to serve as examples as well as working for direct supervisors who are of little help. 

All that ambition you’ve got… it’ll last about 2 years.

The study shows that 43% of women aspire to top management when they are in the first two years of their position, compared with 34% of men at that stage.  Wow, look at how ambitious we are. It’s not surprising that fresh out of school we are bright eyed and bushy tailed. We’re equally confident as men. We aim for top management and are ready to kick ass and take names to get there.

But then…

Over time, women’s aspiration levels drop more than 60% while men’s stay the same. Among experienced employees (those with two or more years of experience), 34% of men are still aiming for the top, while only 16% of women are.

To be frank, the “It’s not me. It’s you.” statement above isn’t completely fair. Understandably, sometimes this drop off occurs as women get older and start putting more emphasis on marrying and having children. What’s interesting is that the study’s findings suggest that marital and parental status do not significantly differ for women who aspire and women who don’t. The picture improves only slightly for more senior female employees.

What’s happening?

As far as education, the population of women seeking higher education continues to grow. Currently, women account for more than half of all college graduates and are earning approximately 40% of all MBAs. Yet our numbers at the top of the corporate hierarchy remain abysmal. Women number only a slim 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 17% of board members.

For women the confidence gap is real and not simply because we don’t believe in ourselves. We don’t believe in our leadership or our companies to make this issue a top priority.  Women, just don’t believe they have an equal opportunity to advance. There are three critical areas that help incite this feeling of inequity: a clash with the stereotype of the ideal worker, a lack of supervisory support and too few role models in senior-level positions.

To sum it up, too many women believe their supervisors don’t know where they are in their career aspirations, aren’t supportive or don’t know what to say or do to support them. The end result is a decrease in employee engagement and loyalty and missed opportunities to develop female talent (all bad for business if you ask me).

To read more on the study  and suggested remedies click here

2015 ES SM BANNER-TWITTER 1500x500

It’s that time of year again. The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit is right around the corner.  If you haven’t already registered, now is the time. The summit takes place May 13th through the 16th in Atlanta, GA.

If you remember how a little while back in early March, I went on and on about how great this year’s BE Women of Power Summit was.  That’s because it was honestly one of the few events that I've experienced that I would classify as life changing.  With that in mind, I’d be willing to bet good money that this year’s Entrepreneurs Summit will be nothing short of amazing as well, equipping you with important entreprenurial tools and helping you make the connections that will help further your business. This year the summit boats speakers like:

    • Steve Harvey
    • Lisa Nichols
    • Roland Martin
    • Cris Carter
    • R. Donahue Peebles
    • Jermain Dupri and more

Unfortunately, prior commitments mean I can’t attend this year’s conference but I can certainly help you get there.

Special Offer for Power Moves and Pumps readers:

es2015-728X90

$100 off

Receive $100.00 off the full registration rate of $495.00

Power Moves and Pumps readers use discount code: PMP

Visit blackenterprise.com to register

Also see the BE Entrepreneurs Summit Facebook page for more.

 

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

girl what's your number

I was watching a Ted Talk not too long ago entitled The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get by Susan Colantuono.   The Talk, which was targeted to a female audience, focused on building a reputation where you are known for your leadership skills. What Susan meant by “leadership skills” wasn’t the common notion of leading a project, delegating responsibility or decision-making.  Leadership skills, as she defined them are determined by results. Oh, so you have great leadership skills do you? How good are you at achieving and sustaining extraordinary outcomes? This isn’t just about looking like you’re working really hard or doing a seemingly great job. It’s about being able to share the numbers that prove it.

Though this isn’t a foreign concept (many of the career development materials I’ve read advocate tooting your own horn to some degree), it’s still not a very popular idea to most women. What men get that women often don’t is how important it is to show off your business, strategic and financial acumen. For a business leader your personal greatness and ability to engage your reports is great but what does that mean in terms of the bottom line to my business.

I once Googled one of my bosses. Actually, he was my boss’s, boss’s boss. I stumbled on a panel he sat on with another gentleman and two other women, all from notable organizations. Right off the bat I noticed a distinct difference in the way the two men presented themselves. The women were sort of closed in while the men took up space. The men called attention to themselves with their disposition and gestures and made sure to call out their numbers. When asked to introduce themselves, they proudly informed the audience of recent business successes and what that meant to their respective companies in dollars and cents, when clearly no one had asked them, but this is the disposition of what we recognize as great leaders in business.  If you’re doing great work and achieving extraordinary outcomes, people need to know about it. Go ahead and give out your numbers girls. Don’t be shy. It doesn’t mean you’re fast, pretentious or self-absorbed. It just means you’re a great leader who can prove it.

To view Susan Colantuono’s Ted Talk click here.

 

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