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A List Of Things I Know for Sure

You all know how much I love Oprah. She’s got this thing called, “What I Know for Sure.”

Over the past few days, even a couple of weeks, a lot of things have become very, very clear.

One of the things that keeps hitting me over the head is, new job. New job. New job.

Thing two is I’m totally voting for Obama. These things are tied together.

Thing three is nothing on this planet belongs to us. We are borrowing and sharing from and with the rest of humanity. We are borrowing from the future inhabitants of the world, we are sharing with those of us alive at the same time. Nothing belongs to us, because anything we have can be taken from us at any moment. So there’s no need to be greedy, or stingy, or so protective of what we have, because you’ll learn the lesson the hard way. Keep on doing what you are doing if you fall into that category.

Thinking this way this last week, wondering if I’d even have a job this week when others were laid off, it makes me want to give more. It’s not mine anyway. Whatever I do have in me, it’s time to give. When we do that, we are opening up opportunities for others and in turn, opening up more opportunities for ourselves. Hell, when my car almost broke down and I had to fork over a couple hundred dollars to fix, I just said, God this all belongs to you, I’ve been through enough, I just want my car to run and thank you that I didn’t break down on the road this weekend somewhere between Brooklyn and Maryland.

Back to the point…

The company I work for was sold.

Fine. We knew that was coming.

But we got sold to a smaller company that has not so great benefits, will make us pay more for our share of health insurance (some folks with families will be paying $1000 a month, like who has that and other bills too?).

Oh, the kicker?

A 7.5% decrease in all of our salaries. Yes folks, so here’s why I’m voting for Obama.

Republicans would argue that the government takes money from hard-working people who earned it to give to folks who don’t deserve it.

Well, in this competitive market, a COMPANY, not the government basically said, you make too much and for this company to grow, yeah we have to take almost 8 percent of your income that you did earn, and on top of that make you pay even more for healthcare… don’t worry, we will grow now because thanks to how awesome you all are, we’ll see profits down the line.

I sir, call bullshit. Please vote. Please take someone to vote. Do not believe this trickle down shit. Big companies are only going to look out for themselves. Period.

This is what companies and these businesspeople the Republicans want to give bigger tax breaks do, they fuck other people so they can keep their OUR money. We cannot let this happen.

Shit is so real. So I’m on the grind looking. This is downright scary.

I feel horrible for the pregnant woman on my job who basically said, with the new plan, she’s basically going to have to foot the entire bill for her pregnancy. She’s in a panic. And I don’t blame her.

So even working people, with damn company insurance, really need help. This ain’t no game.

Now that I’m done with the really bad news, the other thing I know for sure is that seeing my vision come to life fills me with joy. I’m determined to keep going.

I had the photo shoot for my tee-shirt line in Brooklyn, NY this weekend with fabulous, beautiful, hard-working talented friends.

I learned, when you let people in on your dreams and let them take a part of it, it not only lifts you up, but makes you accountable to really not give up and make it happen.

Why? Because these people believed in you enough to give up their time, their energy and sweat because they believe the dream too. Your real friends and loved ones are invested.

We were up at the crack of dawn, and I was doing every menial job possible, but I didn’t care. I loved every minute. I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of my friends who helped me. I can’t stop looking at the photos I took and video. I’m going nuts waiting for the photos  my professional photographer homie took. They are going to be insane.

Even just seeing how the shirts looked on other people filled me with pride. My models were beautiful, they were just being themselves, and from the photos I did see, they were just amazing. AMAZING!!!

I learned I do want to work for myself, and provide others with opportunities. I don’t want someone to evaluate me every year and give me their opinion of how I work, whether I suck or whether I’m awesome, then toss me a few pennies or not toss me any pennies. I want to give somebody a job so they can be independent, and feel good about themselves.

I’ll let my customers tell me, and I’ll tweek my product and services until they are happy and I get the value of those products and services. That is the American way. Not this world I’m living in right now.

I don’t want to be at the mercy of some large company that has the audacity to assess my value and then say, “you make too much.” Or, “You should be happy you have a job.”

Those are the options now?

Yall better wake up. I’m totally awake. Bright eyed. I got comfortable. I did.

If I didn’t get my promotion a few months ago, yall, with this cut, I would have been making a little over what I made when I first started at my job five years ago. That’s how real this situation is. My second year into my job, I had to take a second job. So taking a nearly 8 percent cut ain’t no joke. NO JOKE.

The next thing I know for sure is I’m developing feelings for the older gent.

He is supportive, kind, caring, funny and when I was having these crappy days, he was the first person I wanted to see.

One of my friends just suggested going speed dating, and I kind of don’t want to go. I don’t feel like I’m ready for a serious relationship with him right now, but I’m happy where we are. I think of him often.

So these are the things I know. These are the things I know.

What do you know for sure?

Tired But Inspired: A Quick Conference Wrap Up

Apple’s Eyes Studio/freedigitalphotos.net

So I went to a fabulous leadership conference held at Columbia University by an excellent group of NY-based go-getters called Rising Affluent.

There were a number of speakers and panel presentations that were geared toward inspiring folks to step their game up either in their current profession, or if they want to completely change directions and do something else.

No matter what you were there for, there were a number of recurring themes that popped up throughout the day that stuck with me and was totally worth the price of admission, and then some.

I met wonderful people who were highly intelligent, driven and just downright interesting, from a variety of backgrounds. It was repeated throughout the day that it takes a special kind of person to get up early and spend an entire Saturday talking business and self-improvement. So the folks who showed up did have something special about them and we all had a common goal.

Even the wildly successful people leading the panels and keynote speakers were personable, fun, and brutally honest about their challenges and setbacks.

So, I’m going to quickly breakdown some of the most valuable themes that I’ve still been thinking about in terms of my career and small business. My brain has been going full throttle, and I’ve been scribbling new ideas all weekend long. It’s time for some new vision boards. It’s going to take me no time at all to fill them up after getting so much info and inspiration this weekend.

Honesty: You shouldn’t be fudging your credentials or your skill set. Pump up what you know, learn more about what you don’t know, or have people on your team who know what you don’t know well to help propel you, your project, business or mission forward.

Connection to community: How is what you are doing connecting to the greater good? What are you doing to help others either through your professional life, or in your personal life just to feed your soul and serve others? Derek Fleming, who is the director of business development for the Marcus Samuelsson Group  said keeping the community, culture and residents of Harlem in mind at all times was crucial as he and his partners brought fine dining restaurant Red Rooster into the rapidly evolving (i.e. gentrifying) neighborhood.

Networking: This one was huge, well because it was a networking event. Don’t look to gain something from everyone you meet, what do YOU have to offer them?

Sponsors: This one was a funny one, because the joke was to find a powerful, older, white man (the folks who are usually in power) to align yourself with and mentor you. But it doesn’t always have to be an older, powerful, white man. You just have to align yourself with people who are where you want to be and get them to like you so much, that they want to bring you along for the ride to the top.

Support: You need a support system of like-minded people who will say, “yes you can do this and how can I help you?” These people can be family, friends and mentors. Some of these people may even help you raise funds for your endeavors and you shouldn’t overlook that even if you want to do everything on your own. Author and global spokesperson for LinkedIn, Lindsey Pollak said “It takes a village to be successful.” And sometimes that village has to include a life/career coach and or therapist. Get the support you need professionally, mentally, spiritually and for your health and fitness.

Hard work: You can smooze all you want to and make friends with the big boys, but you have to be a hard worker, you have to be knowledgeable, prepared and confident in order for everything to truly come together. Fleming said if you’ve put in the time, the hard work, the research and you are over prepared, no one can deny you when your opportunities do arrive.

Patience: It’s not all going to happen right away. I was particularly impressed with panelist Tricia Lee Riley, the owner of Polish Bar. She was grinding for years with makeup giant MAC, and then it still took her six years to get from business plan to opening her first Polish Bar store. That entire time, she was grinding, planning and saving and sacrificing to make her dream happen.

Risk: Sometimes you have to leave a comfortable situation to go for whatever it is that is pulling and tugging at your heart. Demetria L. Lucas of the Belle in Brooklyn blog/book fame walked away from a full-time glamorous gig with Essence Magazine to write her own destiny as a writer, t.v. personality, advice columnist and life coach. Riley probably could have stayed with MAC, continuing to build their brand and make it better, but she knew it was time to do her own thing and she did it.

The last that really resonated with me is to take my side hustle seriously and not to apologize for it. It hit me like a ton of bricks with Pollak gave this advice to a person asking her a question.

She said to stop saying, “I do this but I do this too. Say I do this and this.”

I was totally doing that all the time. I was downplaying my small business because it hasn’t officially launched yet, and well because it’s scary. It’s time to own it, after all I’m putting so much time and effort into it. Why not?

So I’m retraining myself to say AND!

I’m a journalist AND tee-shirt designer launching a website devoted to women’s empowerment. Whoo hoo!

Love it.

Now, I need a nap.

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