Why Am I Not Reaching My Dreams? (Part 1 of 2)

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Watching President Obama’s Farewell Speech last night was so inspiring. I remember seeing President Obama during his Senate Campaign at the Bud Billiken Parade (an annual parade held since 1929 in the Bronzeville/Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, United States; it is the largest African-American parade in the nation). He was the most unlikely Presidential Candidate but he closed the gap between his dream of becoming President and the reality of being President.

For many of us, the distance between dreams and reality is talk. We talk about wanting to: get a better job, become an entrepreneur, find love, connect to more people, move out of state, get a degree, etc. As we talk the time passes, and the window (or door) toward change seems more and more distant. Perhaps for some of us, it’s not talk, but self-doubt. Sometimes when we doubt ourselves, we shift blame onto other things and other people to distract from our challenges. We’re in our 30s, talking about what our parents did to us. We’re in our 20s talking about elementary school teachers. We’re in our 50s talking about our first boss 20 years ago. I am not saying that we escape negative and traumatic experiences unharmed. I’m saying that we must do the work (get counseling or therapy, break cycles of abuse and self-destructive behavior, etc.) so that we can move on with our lives.

For many of us, the distance between dreams and reality is fear. What happens if we leave our current situation and the new situation is worse? What happens if we fail? The best way to mitigate risk is to plan for it. Check out this free tool here, that explores how to conduct Risk Management Planning. When it comes to fear, don’t avoid it. Try to identity what specifically is causing the fear and then methodically make a plan. If you are afraid of going broke, then you should create a savings plan and emergency plan if you start losing too much money. Sometimes it is helpful to think about the worst things that can happen short of death, and to create a plan for what happens if that happens. If you decide to pursue entrepreneurship, the worst thing that can happen is that you may not be able to sustain your business and return to working for someone else. So if you do have to pursue employment elsewhere, imagine where you would want to work. That way you’ve at least considered your options so it won’t be such a shock to your system when you hit your idea of rock bottom.

So now that we’ve explored inaction and those things that can prevent us from making our dreams our reality, tomorrow we can talk about what action looks like.

Systems: Implementing Office Hours

Last year, I piloted the idea of hosting Office Hours and I was surprised at how popular my Office Hours were within my work community. Office Hours are an expectation within the academic community and I can remember sitting with my professors for tutoring, to discuss gaining their support for my job hunting efforts, and to discuss my approval (or disappointment) with my grade.

Last year, I hosted my Office Hours in person. Participants came to do everything from discussing time management tips to working on grant applications to fund their creative projects. Since Donda’s House does satellite programming, we don’t have our own space, which would be ideal for Office Hours or drop-in support. We are planning to offer both Office Hours and Drop-In Services when our new space opens, but until then, we had to figure out a way to be accessible for our students.

Here are some of the benefits of hosting office hours:

(1) You already have built time in your schedule to address urgent (but non-critical) issues that may arise. When people call, text, or e-mail, you can send them the link to your office hours that way you can still keep a handle on your schedule and productivity.

(2) You have a place to direct incoming inquiries (requests for meetings, pick your brain sessions and status updates).

(3) You have built in “Research & Development” (in corporate its called R & D) time. Fortune 500 companies all have built in strategies to innovate and ideate. As an entrepreneur you have to make sure that you are investing at least some of your time to researching and brainstorming.

We recently switched over to G-Suite. Within Google Calendar, there is an option to set Appointment Times. Once you set your Appointment Times, you can then e-mail out the link for people to sign up.

We also have a Conference Call Line, and I included that in the “description” section that way individuals with appointments know which number to call. We utilize Free Conference Call.com.

In the case of my Office Hours, we can discuss whatever participants, staff or volunteers want to discuss and the appointment slots are 30 minutes. Participants are encouraged to sign up for two appointments back to back, if they think they need more time. Here is the participant view:

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Here is what it looks like on the page to set up the appointment(s):

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What’s great about this system is that you also have the option to e-mail those who have signed up for appointments from directly within Google Calendar.

Note: you have to have a G-Suite Account where you are either paying $5.00/user per month, or if you’re a nonprofit, you can apply for a free account via Google for Nonprofits here. The appointments feature does not work with the free Google Accounts.

You can also look into these tools:

Doodle

Need To Meet

And here is a link to Multiple Tools that you can use, if you don’t want to use G-Suite.

In addition to using this tool internally to meet with our participants, our staff and our volunteers, I also plan to use it externally for people who want to meet.

At work, one of my internal goals for Quarter 1 is to really design systems and infrastructure to streamline communications, and this is one tool/process that will help in that effort.

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Travel & Packing List – Part 2 

Check out my full list of packing & travel tips here.

One of the first things I do is check the weather and then I look up the Fashion & Style Norms for the country. Next week I will be traveling to London, England for the first time. I went on Pinterest and searched:

“London Outfit Ideas”

“London Street Style”

“London Fall Outfits”

“London Work Outfits”

Here are some of my favorite outfits, which will be used for inspiration when packing my clothes:

10 Ways to Steal Your Time Back

10 Ways to Steal Your Time Back

1. Wake up early or stay up late – if you have a big project to finish, consider waking up an hour early or staying up an hour later to finish it.

2. Delegate to someone else – if you have a busy week at work, as your partner or your children to do some of the household things.

3. Prepare the night before – pack your bags & pick out your clothes the night before. Plan your meals the night before. You will shave off some of  valuable time in the morning, leaving room for other things.

4. Organize your things – so much time can be wasted when you have to look for things. Your keys, your charger, your phone. I have a “command center” in my entryway where we drop all of our keys whenever we walk in the door.

5. Make a list – if you are feeling overwhelmed, stop everything & make a list. It’s a quick & easy intervention to get caught up.

6. Take a walk – sometimes your brain & your spirit need time with nature. A walk helps you take your mind off the stress & it releases valuable oxytocin – the feel good hormone.

7. Turn off the notifications on your phone. – this changed my life. Notifications on your phone can interrupt the flow of your work. They are like a ringing doorbell for your brain. Instead, I only check email at key moments of my day. I do receive text notifications for emergency or urgent messages. Everyone in my life knows to text or call me if something requires my immediate response.

8. Ask for help. – never feel like you have to keep it all together. Speak to your colleagues, friends & family to share how they can help. Also, don’t be afraid to outsource (hire) help.

9. Divide & conquer. Next year will be my 7th wedding anniversary!!! My husband & I have mastered this. From household chores to business affairs, we work together to get things done. If one person cooks, the other cleans. I do the laundry. He handles the trash, the litter box & the yard. It’s a perfect system.

10. Eat a good meal. Sometimes when things are stressful, you just need to slow Time down. Go out for lunch. Go grab a cup of coffee. Eat a savory snack. Your body will Thank you.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Earlier this year, I was selected as one of NAMAC’s (National Alliance for Media, Arts & Culture) Creative Leaders. This week, we were all invited to the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, in order to participate in a Creative Leadership Lab. We were able to learn new leadership practices, connect with each other and receive medicine from this powerful land. There is something very profound about being able to “elevate” approximately 5,000 feet, to really gain perspective and see the bigger picture.


Here are ten of the quotes I’d like to remember, from my fellow Creative Leaders and our facilitators. You can learn about each of the people listed below and their work here (scroll down about half a page to see their photos and read their bios).


(1) “Strategy is about not doing things so you can decide what to do.” – Melinda

(2) “Reach from the place of injury.” – Jane

(3) “Keep asking the question in different polite ways.” – Pamela (Actually nails a dictator).


(4) “To conspire, means to breath together.” – Gibran

(5) We live in a world of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). – Gibran

(6) “Vida es arte.” (Translates into life is art) – Marisol


(7) “In the final analysis, when the s*** hits the fan, you do a show.” – Vashti

(8) “As we lose civility, we lose respect.” – Pamela

(9) “It is ok and necessary to take care of myself.” – Natasha


(10) “Who you really are, is all you have to offer.” – Vashti

Here are other things I’d like to remember: 

(1) The comfy linens – I literally slept like a baby!

(2) The crisp (and clean) mountain air.

(3) The love of Colombia (specifically Cartagena, which is a place my husband fell in love with earlier this year. I’d call that confirmation!)


(4) The power of story

(5) The power of solitude

(6) The power of eye contact (and looking at and into a person rather than through a person).


(7) The healing and refreshing power of tears.

(8) The power of breath (I think I am going to incorporate meditation into my daily life).

(9) The importance of community and feeling connected.


(10) The privilege of time and space to step away from the daily routine.

Over the next few weeks, I will delve deeper into my experience and process what I’ve learned on my trip, but I wanted to share.

 

Transformational vs. Transactional Relationships 


Transformational– Someone gives you something without expecting to receive something.

– A person shares their gifts with you free of charge or in exchange for something you do for them. 

– A person “consults” with you by offering you knowledge, resources and advice to help you. 

– A person makes an important introduction to someone in their network to help you. 

– A person listens to you & provides you with emotional & social support during difficult times. 

Transactional 

– Someone only calls when they want something from you

– Someone takes no interest in your goals, wishes, victories or challenges. 

– You’re always footing the bill (for meals, activities, etc).

– Someone feels entitled and gives you an attitude when you don’t/can’t give them what they want.

– You’re reluctant to speak to/spend time with a person because you feel like they always want something & the relationship feels unbalanced. 

Transactional relationships are not necessarily bad. It is important that both people understand what it is… an exchange of goods or services for goods or services. There is very little “personal” time and the exchange usually happens at the same time or within a short term window. 

 Transformational relationships are relationships where there is an exchange of energy, commitment & values. One person may receive goods, services, knowledge or resources, while the other has no expectation of the “favor” being exchanged. 

Transformational relationships are not usually bound by time. The glue that holds them together is love, respect & unity. Some relationships are more transformational than others. 

I try to maintain transformational relationships by always keeping my eye out for opportunities. For example I frequently share employment resources & information about free family friendly events. I’m also a good writer & editor, so I’m always willing to edit documents, help people write essays & brainstorm with people. 

When it comes to coming in contact with people who I feel just want to use me, I usually make the decision to just give them what they want & quickly move on OR I simply decline their request & let them know why (e.g. I’m not going to make that connection because I haven’t known you long enough & don’t want to jeopardize the relationship) or (I’m not interested in doing that or going there for this reason, let me know if I can be helpful in another way).

Finally, when it comes to connecting people, I usually check in with the person being connected to first, to make sure they are ok with me sharing their contact information or making the connection. It’s so important to ask someone first before making a connection because you never know what type of relationship an individual has with another person or brand. You could damage your reputation by connecting someone to another person they do not want to be connected to, for whatever reason. Never pass on someone’s contact information without getting their consent first. 

Feel free to share more tips in the comments section! 

Pins of the Week 


These painted pine cones are adorable for a table centerpiece or they’d also look great in glass vase! 


For all my side hustlers & entrepreneurs, this is a handy guide to writing a business plan. 


Radical love… I believe that God’s love is radical & try to practice radically loving others. 


Love this outfit! I’d save the pants for Fall. I’m in love with the leopard bag!!! 😍😍😍


Cute desktop wallpaper that also has an inspirational message! 

Click here to follow me on Pinterest!!! 

Preparing to Pitch: How Nike Lost Steph Curry To Under Armour 

  
I’m obsessed with studying business trends. I’m always looking for little nuggets to try to improve! I came across this article regarding how Nike missed out on Steph Curry & it’s interesting. Read the rest of the article here. When pitching, it’s important to:

1. Personalize the pitch. Whoever you are appealing to should feel like the opportunity, product or service was individually made for them. This means you have to do research in order to prepare a personalized experience. 

2. Make sure you know how to pronounce names & spell check! When you first sit down with someone, ask how to pronounce their name! You have maybe twice to make corrections before you start looking like you just don’t care. If you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation or you have handouts, double check the names. 

3. Be prepared to compromise and to ask the other person what are their wishes or expectations! Don’t assume that you know.

4. Industries are small! People talk! It’s important to be fair, equitable & intentional about your deals. You don’t want to have a reputation that you try to take advantage of other people. You may win initially, but word gets around quick. 

Read the article here! You don’t want to lose out on your own MVP! 

Why Your Team Is More Important Than You…

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Caption: Photo of Beyonce in my Home Office, purchased the day she dropped the surprise Beyonce album. 

A few days ago, I came across this article regarding Beyonce creating a new management team.

As the article states, ‘Beyoncé’s rep, Yvette Noel-Schure, said in a statement: ‘Last year, Parkwood Entertainment created new departments and recruited new executives from the tech, business and entertainment sectors who joined the team to help grow Parkwood and its interests . . . Some senior staffers were given the opportunity to reposition and stay on. Some members . . . awakened [to] new interests and decided to follow personal routes.'”

It was another reminder for me, that when it comes to accomplishing goals, the team is more important than the individuals. If you’ve ever been to a concert, Beyonce is the “face” of the brand, but there is an entire team of people – her costume designer, her make-up artist, her sound engineers, her dancers, the people selling the merchandise, the lighting crew, etc. working behind the brand.

On social media, people were throwing so much shade. “What else could she possibly want?” “How can she get any better?” “Seriously, for why?” But the shade always follows, or in this case, precedes, the slay.

I’m so grateful for the people behind the scenes of this:

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The people who process the applications (and interview the candidates), the people who create the flyers, the people who have literally breathed life into the logo that means so much to our participants, and that means so much to me.

I’m a success seismologist… I like to study the economy, individual brands, and thought leaders, because I am constantly taking notes and attempting to learn because the world we are living in is changing soquickly! Interestingly enough, I brought up the article that I’d read about Beyonce’s new team in our Donda’s House meeting today, only to get out of the meeting to learn that she’d literally dropped the new song and the video “Formation.” I wasn’t surprised, because the super bowl is tomorrow and I’d already felt the first wave…

#formation

P.S. I’m a card-carrying member of the Beyhive. 18 year fan, so you know it’s real 😉