All Articles Tagged "professional development"
Early in any young and ambitious career, you realize each action, connection and email leaves an impression that propels you down a path of advancement or keeps you stagnant. While our white (and male) counterparts have for generations had someone to guide them through the nuanced maze of professional ascension, aspirational African-American careerwomen are still self-navigating.
For young, Black professionals, especially women, finding a mentor can be a critical part of working your way up from entry-level status. While you seek out a mentor match, here are five tips for curating a celebrated reputation.
From the moment you land the interview, consider how you want to be perceived. In the absence of fact, all your superiors and peers will have to go on is what they can translate from how you present yourself. Always be polished in your appearance (well-fitting or tailored clothing, for instance), meeting the company dress code, or at least what looks to be the office standards if it hasn’t been put in writing. And take note of how coworkers respond to interacting with you.
You’re new, and unless 70 people start the same week, everyone can learn your name fairly quickly. However, if you’re not gifted with an eidetic memory, names and faces might not stick as fast on your end. Make an effort to be able to identify everyone in your department, as well as any other essential personnel. Once you have those people locked in begin making connections outside your pool. You never know who’ll be of assistance later.
Work styles and needs can vary from manager to manager, so make sure you adjust your habits to best suit the person who’ll be your direct report. Learn who likes in-person chats and who only wants to hear from you in an emergency. Playing to their preferences will give them the opportunity to recognize your strengths.
Whether going through daily tasks or taking on something outside of normal job duties, be sure your work brims with excellence, and take credit for it. Supervisors will remember who has earned a string of compliments and be confident in your ability to work autonomously. The more you impress, the less likely you are to plateau.
Make it known where you want your career to land. When superiors are creating a shortlist for a new opportunity, the only way to be named is if you’ve already tipped them off to your endgame. Even if that position takes you away from the team, many supervisors are willing to lose you to see you succeed. (Not to mention the pat on the back when you’re seen as an asset by an associate.)
Consider these tips the next time you begin a new gig. Whether you’re an entry-level in your first post-grad gig or an experienced contractor, these suggestions could help you break into the C-suite or build a client base.
Why give yourself a year when you can make significant progress towards achieving your goals in 90 days? That’s pretty much the basis of “The 90 Days of Momentum Challenge,” created by Black & Sexy TV’s “The Underground” host, YouTube personality, and QuÉrica Jewelry designer, Erica Lasan. “It’s my spin on encouraging people to think forward not just on the idea of having a dream, but actually taking action towards that dream daily,” Lasan revealed.
We had a chance to speak with Lasan about the challenge, as well as her QuÉrica brand.
MadameNoire: How was the 90 Days of Momentum Challenge sparked?
Erica Lasan: Back in February, I took a “Momentum Education” course in New York City, upon the recommendation of a friend. I found the course to be awesome and mind-opening since I have always been a dreamer but had hit a point where I was constantly thinking about what was holding me back from what I wanted. How could I propel myself forward? So I then enrolled in the three-month leadership program. …They say it takes 90 days to break old habits, and to form new ones. I decided to use my YouTube channel as a place to illustrate my journey to 1) prove that I actually accomplished these things in 90 days, and 2) show the little steps that made it possible. I also used the videos for accountability.
Around day 45, I realized that I wasn’t really putting myself out there so I began talking to people on the train about my journey and the idea of chasing their dreams, and I learned that many of them weren’t thinking this way. Fear and lack of urgency were keeping them from their dreams, so I created this tag challenge to encourage them to take action.
MN: Many of your challenge goals refer to QueŔica. What is the QueŔica brand?
EL: My brand is one that aims to touch, move, and inspire others to get out there and #LiveRi¢h! At the moment, it consists of my jewelry line and my YouTube channel, QuÉricaTV. I am also working on a documentary and I also hope to eventually branch into apparel, and have a couple subsidiaries of my jewelry line.
MN: What has been the most challenging part of building your brand? How have you overcome that challenge?
EL: The most challenging part has been trying to juggle everything, and the idea that I should focus on one thing. For a long time, I just focused on the jewelry until I was laid off from my fashion job in 2013. At that point, I decided to go for it, whatever “it” was. I had always wanted to be a VJ, so I decided it was time to go hard or go home. I didn’t want to settle down and start a family and think “I wish I would’ve …,” so this last year, I began focusing on both QuÉricaTV the jewelry. I learned that they both play off of one another, and I also learned to ask for help and let people help me. I am still working on it but I have built a small team, and I am allowing myself to be supported.
MN: What has been the most rewarding part of building your brand?
EL: I feel fulfilled because I am actually pursuing my dream, and not settling for what is expected or easy. Also, by seeing how it is actually affecting people in such a positive and strong way that they realize that they can step out and do the same!
MN: Since the first day of the challenge (it’s now day 72), what goals have you realized and what lessons have you learned?
EL: Two of my goals were to volunteer weekly and serve in an international organization supporting children in the arts for at least a week. By doing so, I have learned that I really enjoy volunteering and serving others, so much so, that I am going to continue to volunteer past my 90 days. I’ve learned the importance of committing to something, and how by doing something small each day, you could make a great difference to someone else.
I’ve also learned that when I dream, I dream hard. I set a goal for 30,000 YouTube subscribers, and so far, I have about 700, which is a really good increase from when I started. I’m still praying and planning on some additional support to reach the declared total. Jewelry sales have increased, but not as much as I expected, (there’s still three weeks left!). For jewelry sales, I was expecting a greater increase because I was promoting the jewelry site more on QuÉricaTV, but now I’m thinking of other avenues to reach the sales goals such as fairs, jewelry parties, Etsy, crowdfunding and other ways that are available.
MN: How can MadameNoire readers participate in the challenge?
EL: First they must subscribe to my YouTube channel. Watch the video which explains the challenge, and you can also watch my Day 1 video to see my personal goals. Then leave a comment mentioning three of your own outrageous goals under either of the videos.
Lastly, each day for 90 days straight, do at least one thing that scares you, you’ve been putting off, or that just puts you on track to reach your goals. I’ll check in on days 30, 60, and 90 to check your progress. You can also upload your own progress videos on day 30, 60, and 90, but it’s not mandatory. I strongly recommend taking the challenge with a friend so that you can support one another. It’s really about putting action toward your vision every day, and remembering to live rich!
To learn more about this project and other Erica Lasan initiatives, readers can visit www.EricaLasan.com. To purchase and view pieces from the jewelry line (15 percent of everything sold is donated to supporting the arts in kids of underprivileged countries), please visit www.QuEricaLiveRich.com. Erica can also be reached on all social networks at @EricaLasan.
Caressa Sanford is a Higher Education professional who enjoys inspiring the masses through interviews, essays, narratives, and her blog, CaressaWrite.com.
You do your work yet you seem to be stuck in the same place in your career. You often wonder why you aren’t being promoted, why others are advancing over you. The answer may be right under your nose. Take a real hard look at your daily routine and see what it is you’re doing — or aren’t doing.
Success isn’t just about putting in the work, but it is also about your personality, your quirks, and how you handle yourself in the office.
Here are 9 reasons who you aren’t succeeding at work.
Used to be if you were going to tell your parents you weren’t going to college you better be calling them from out of state. But now it seems a majority of Americans don’t think it is important to go to college. According to an annual poll about Americans’ education views, only 44 percent of Americans believe that getting a college education is “very important.” This is a major drop from 75 percent four years ago. This means most Americans don’t think it’s important to get a college education.
The poll is the 46th annual PDK-Gallup poll, and has been conducted with Gallup every year since 1969. PDK is a global association of education professionals.
Many parents find college costs too high. In fact, only 69 said it was “somewhat” or “very likely” that they would be able to pay for college for their oldest child. In 2010 it was 77 percent.
“On the whole, Americans are doubtful about students’ career readiness. Just 3 percent of Americans say a high school dropout is ready for the world of work, and just 13 percent say a high school grad is ready. Thirty-seven percent of Americans agree that college grads are ready for the work world, and fewer (31 percent) agree high school grads are ready for college,” reports The Washington Post.
The two-part poll had other interesting findings: Six of 10 Americans said entrance requirements into teacher preparation programs should be more rigorous; 61 percent of Americans opposed using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers; and 58 percent said the curriculum used in their community’s schools needs to change.
Surprisingly, Americans believe in the public school system. Some 64 percent of Americans (and the same percentage of public school parents) says they have “trust and confidence” in public school teachers. This was down a little from 78 percent in 2013. But 81 percent said that new teachers should be required to take a test similar to a “bar exam” that prospective lawyers must take before practicing law.
The pollsters also asked whether Americans believe the country should provide a free public education to the children of undocumented immigrants. Forty-nine percent said yes, a slight increase from last years 44 percent.
Let’s ask you: How is important is college?
During my last two years at the Missouri School of Journalism, I learned some interesting things about media careers. The lesson that made the most impact: hierarchical promotion is not a thing. In fact I saw that in practice with my mentors, who often had to change companies or departments to move through the ranks or otherwise be caught in parallel reassignments. It seemed cruel — magazine-hopping to reach the ultimate career status. But after having my title changed three times in under two years, I have a new understanding of the practicalities of promotion.
The summer following my graduation from college I got a phone call from a high school friend. Our relationship during the past five years had been sketchy at best — mostly congratulatory tweets when something good happened. But we’d remained easily amiable and had landed in the same field, so when this young award-winning, Twitter-verified journalist invited me to be part of her new venture, I agreed.
At the launch of the new media platform, I was declared Deputy Editor. I oversaw the most timely news section, set up a copy flow for the section editors and generally supported the Editor-in-Chief who still had a full-time job. At the time, I was working just part-time and it made more sense to funnel content through me. But six months later, I was working full-time as well and the site was approaching a temporary shutdown for an essential redesign. Just before we relaunched I received several emails and a phone call that ultimately ended in a reassignment. During the course of executive communications, my comments had become more business-oriented and, as such, so would my role.
Becoming Managing Editor was not actually a promotion. In fact, my spot among the executives didn’t move at all. No one replaced me at the deputy level and direct reports stayed the same. But now rather than managing the content, I was managing the editors. My new duties focused on driving editors to schedule content to make the startup more viable to investors.
And things continued change. As the direction of the site became more focused so did the roles of the staff. The founder was discovering new things about what needed to be done and less than a year later we dialed into another long talk about the company. Somehow, at the end of the conversation my role shifted again. Although still very much a media neophyte, my concerns are always effective dissemination of content, workflow and separation of editorial and marketing strategy. Playing to my strengths and interests I was made Publisher.
This elevation was not a pat on the back for good service or dedication to her vision. As any ambitious entrepreneur should, she promoted me to reap the benefits of what she already saw. It was a pragmatic decision. My title grows with my skill set. It’s earned. And it’s better than adding senior to something I’ve already been doing because it shows the role is something different. All I have to do is meet the expectations.
People on top of their game have the rest of us thinking they’re moving and shaking with the greatest of confidence. But even the most successful among us have moments of doubt when they second guess themselves, their judgment, and their status. The term for this is “impostor syndrome” and Dr. Tara Kuther Ph. D. explains this phenomenon:
The impostor syndrome is feeling that one hasn’t earned his or her achievements – that the achievements are the result of luck. It is very common among high achieving persons, particularly women, who worry that some day they will be “found out” – that others will discover that they really do not know what they are doing. A professor who experiences the impostor syndrome may feel that he or she is faking it and worry that others know that they are really a phony and that their achievements are simply a matter of luck, not ability.
After all of her accomplishments, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg struggles with the thought of her accomplishments being unwarranted, despite being a tech leader (an area where women have a hard time excelling), an author, an executive, and founder of a group dedicated to the professional advancement of women. When I read this in her book Lean In it was comforting to know that someone in Sandberg’s position wrestled with similar feelings that I have faced throughout my career. As I have made my way through the corporate world every promotion, raise, and bonus has been heavily scrutinized by my worst critic: myself.
Many minorities experience the impostor syndrome, convinced that their achievements are only due to affirmative action. Many people who deal with this syndrome actually turn out to be pretty good employees, but just won’t take the credit for it.
Evidence of working women underselling themselves is everywhere. Studies show that female employees apologize more since they have a lower threshold for thinking they’ve committed an offense. They give themselves duller performance reviews, even when their supervisors rate them more highly than their male peers. A 2012 survey of thousands of political candidates revealed that “men were 60% more likely than women to say they were ‘very qualified’ to run for office,” according to Forbes.
The ironic part of all this sort of self-doubt is that most women don’t even apply for positions unless they’re certain they meet 100 percent of the prerequisites, while men tend to send in their resumes if they possess only 60 percent of the job qualifications.
Moreover, women fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others. With so few women in positions the further up you go, there’s the feeling that there’s only room for one or two. So what makes you more special than her? This kind of comparison, says Iyanla Vanzant is “an act of violence against the self.”
“Acutely aware of how hard we’re working to keep our head above water and fulfill expectations, we often mistakenly assume others are getting by more effortlessly. The reality is that many many people are stretched and struggling just like you,” says a separate Forbes article. “Perhaps not in the same way, but in their own way, with their own unique set of challenges, insecurities and internal struggles.”
With this in mind, you can clearly see how anyone suffering from imposter syndrome can miss out on career advancing opportunities, thinking they are undeserving of them. What I have learned is to just do whatever I do and own it. Acting more confident will lead to actually feeling more confident, and affirm that you have worked hard and deserve everything that has come to you, and then some.
Over the last month, I have had the opportunity to attend some of the most fulfilling and rewarding conferences. Last weekend, I was at the 6th Annual Get Radical Conference, an empowerment event founded by businesswoman Doreen Rainey.
Rainey challenged women to be honest about the root cause of their personal and professional inertia. I found the discussion rich and thought-provoking and wanted to share some of these nuggets with you.
Can you relate to any of the following reasons for why you can’t move towards the life that you want?
You love being busy: You love to talk about how full your plate is. You are doing this, you are doing that, but you really aren’t tending to your primary goals and objectives. The things on your plate are distractions. When thinking of ways to get unstuck, it is always important to remember that you control what comes on and what goes off your plate. Have the courage to choose what you need have the courageous to move it.
You suffer from the Bright, Shiny Object Syndrome (BSOS): When you have a case of BSOS, you move on to one thing before you finish the first. One year you are about #thatbloggerlife, the next year you want to sell real estate, and the third year you want to open a bakery. While we all have varied interests, make sure you are not abandoning one thing for the other when things start getting hard and the shine is not so bright anymore.
Your own opinion does not really matter to you (even though you say that it does). After a conversation with your best friend, your coworker, the bus driver, or your stylist, it’s not long before you are feeling meh about something you were so stoked about. When we value someone’s opinion more than our own, other people’s priorities become yours.
You are overthinking it: Nothing replaces action. Nothing. If you are hiding behind the need to do research and analysis, then you will never pull the trigger and get what you want out of life. You will never take the leap. You will never take the risk. What’s keeping you from the life that you want is your inability to make a decision. Make a decision and see how it goes. Even if the outcome isn’t ideal, at least you would have made a decision.
Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com
For employees who find that their manager is in a similar age range and showing no signs of leaving anytime soon, you’ll need to think creatively to find ways to craft your own opportunities for upward movement. Here are some strategic steps to orchestrate your own push forward:
Identify the pain in your organization- Look at your company through a wide lens. What are the issues you see that you believe you can help to correct? Identify the ways you are uniquely suited to solve the problems from your current position.
Build a plan- Take the initiative to write a business plan for a new role, department, or service you could lead. Keep the role, department, or service in line with your company’s goals and be sure to expound upon how the addition will benefit them in the long-run.
Communicate with key players- Don’t suddenly burst on the scene with reams of papers stating the issues in the company or a new role you’ve cooked up. Instead be sure to speak with important people, with whom you are comfortable, letting your intentions to move up in the company be known. Gain their support in order to have additional collateral when presenting your ideas.
Although it will take persistence and creativity to spot an issue and come up with a viable solution that utilizes your various skills, if you are hungry for that shift, stay confident in your ability to make it happen. Keep in mind that your ideas may not result in an immediate promotion. You may work informally on the task at first, but stay encouraged. If the idea has value it will take off and you’ll be rewarded in the end.
I have been to many a women’s conference where a central hot topic has been charging attendees with the task of defining success on their own terms. The logic goes as follows: once a woman identifies her own measures of success, she will live in accordance with them, and essentially have a happier, more fulfilled life.
I was at an event this weekend and had the pleasure of grappling with the concept—the act of defining success. I grappled with the concept because I was confused.
To be clear, I was not cognitively confused by the call to action. As women, we have to figure out what our values are, what our interests are, what our passions are, and then move in the direction of one, if not all of them.
Rather, I was confused by the rationale and validity of the exercise. I mean, how could I definitively know what success may mean for me five or 10 years in the future based on what I value now? Wouldn’t I be a different person?
At the conference, I stood behind a woman who appeared to be in her 40s who openly told me that she was voluntarily unemployed because she had yet to figure out what she wanted out of life. But I wondered if she were being fair to herself. Maybe she had outgrown her former measures of success and was in the process of identifying her new ones That is how measures of success roll. They evolve, predicated and are informed by experience.
In my 20s, I wanted to explore the world. So I did. My measure of success focused on getting as many stamps as I could on my passport.
When I got tired of travel and exploration, my measure of success became money and career. Period. I worked as a teacher and any other position that would bring me money to pay off debt, to buy stuff, and to prepare for my retirement. Money and career have been my measures of success for a while now, but I already feel my definition of success shifting.
Kara’s “Era of the Hustle” is coming to an end.
I am not the first to jump at opportunities to work overtime on the weekends anymore. Instead, I want more free time to pursue my personal interests, my entrepreneurial goals, and deepen my relationships with my family, current friends, and friends yet-to-be made.
And so goes the cycle.
I left the conference a little early. I had a chance to sit in a sushi spot, read, eat and people watch. After a little while, I spotted that same forty-something woman walking by with a companion engrossed in some type of conversation. It looked pretty deep. As she passed by, I wondered if any of those discussions helped her realize that she did not need a definite answer to that question. The meanings of success come and go and most definitely have expiration dates.
Kara is a life coach, motivational speaker, author, and founder of The Frugal Feminista, an online home created to inspire and inform women of color about financial empowerment, girl power, and “juicy” living. Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com
Some of us operate like we have tunnel vision. You get to the office, turn on your computer, sit, work until day’s end, and go home. Repeat the following day.
Instead, take a moment every once in a while to say hello to your next door neighbor. You don’t have to talk about something every day. And hopefully, this isn’t a forced interaction where you’re bringing up the weather or what you’re eating for lunch each time. But you should take a moment to speak with the person (or people) in your vicinity about what’s happening on the job, a great book you read, or a movie you saw.
Speaking with your colleagues makes you accessible. When you’re accessible, you’re asked to participate in projects, you’re asked for your expertise and you’re invited to join in on different office activities. All of this paves the way for you to interact with people who might open doors to other opportunities, whether at the company you currently work for or with other outside interests and organizations.
Basically this is another form of networking. And as we’ve stressed here time and again, networking is an important part of the career development process.
So take a moment on your way to the water cooler to say hello to the person at the next desk over. It may be the start of something good.