Don’t make these mistakes at the office Holiday Party this year
Aw yes, its the time of year where we are preparing for the holiday party. I love a good party so I am typically excited to get dressed up and go however parties with work folks are tricky waters to navigate. You are there to have a good time on the company dime but you don’t want to have “too good of a time” and lose your job in the turn-up. Let’s run down the list of possible errors.
Leave the fashion nova dress at home. An office party is still work and you want to dress appropriately. This was an error I made once *hides face*… it was not that bad but it inspired this lesson learned. I went to an office party in lil strapless number that was not staying in place. I thought I was cute but after the drinks got flowing it was looking more like a freak’em dress. Be careful, Y’all. Every office is different. In some environments, my dress would have been ok but this time it wasn’t. If you are planning to step outside the box just run the dress by somebody else that has been to the party before. You don’t want to be “pulled aside” by your work bestie like I was.
Don’t bring extra folks. When the invite says plus 1, leave it at plus 1. Don’t bring extra people. People will notice and it looks bad. Company budgets for things like parties are not limitless so don’t be the person who adds to the headcount with uninvited guests.
Keep the drinks to a minimum. I have seen this mistake happen on more than one occasion. Just because its open bar does not mean you need to shut it down. At a company I once worked for, a guy who happened to be sitting next to the CEO was drinking too much and then trashing the company, he was laid off a week later. At another company, a girl got so drunk she was throwing up outside, she never lived it down. The same advice goes for your plus 1. The office party is not the place you want to be seen trashed. You don’t want to say or do anything in drunkenness that will have in the HR office on Monday morning.
It’s the one place to NOT do it for the “99 and the 2000”. I know its hard to resist backing that ass up when the cash money beat drops – DON’T DO IT. We, the other black girls, know you’re just having a good time but I don’t know about the other folks. I have a friend who almost didn’t get a promotion because she wore a pink tutu-like dress to the office party – the feedback was “she was immature”. Now, what would have been the story if she twerked in the tutu? People are petty, small and the competition can be fierce. Keep it classy and maybe hit up an after party spot if you want “get loose”.
Don’t have any sexual contact with your coworkers. At my first company out of college, I was on a team of other 20 somethings and this was a big issue. Don’t do it. It will never be the secret you think it is… bosses and other leaders get in on the gossip too. It looks bad … the worst. The fallouts are messy afterward and we are all talking about you because who will pass up this level of tea. When I get together with old co-workers today we still talk about “the girls that all slept with Todd (fake name but you get my point).
Holiday parties are a great way to “really” get to know co-workers and vice versa but you have to draw lines out of respect for yourself.
I want to hear about it in the comments. What are your holiday party horror stories?
Good money habits are not a thing you can learn quickly and move on. These baby steps can make it a less painful process.
It’s easy to financially “backslide” if you are not checking in with yourself.I will personally admit to being a hot money mess for many years before I started some of the practices I am going discuss this in this post and those to come. Like all of us, I am still learning. It’s a constant struggle to keep goals in focus when you want to buy dresses, bottomless brunch, and travel like a rock star… all the time.
It’s a thing no one talks about but everyone struggles with because being broke is not just a problem for the poor (think of all the broke celebrities). The more you have, the more you want. The truth is If you can squander $1000, you can squander $10,000 so let’s break some of these bad money habits before we become ballers. Here are 4 tips you can start today to help you break some of your bad habits: (Warning: Start small is said a lot – because I know yall 🙂 )
Finally… Get a TRUE Budget. I know you think you have one but how effective is it? Budgets typically fail because we write down where we want to be instead of where we are. Example, you may want to give yourself a $200 spending allowance for fun (drinks, eating out, club covers, events etc.) every pay period but in reality, you are spending $450. It would make more sense to determine what you are spending today and slowly move down to your goal of $200 rather than tell yourself that you are going to be able to cut your habit in half within two weeks. So on your budget start with going from $450 to $400.
Then work your way down month by month taking in consideration your budget will not be a one size fits all. Do not set it and forget it. Some weeks/months you may need more money because of planned events and obligations, build that into the process of planning for each month so that every dollar has a planned destination and you are not stressed about not having enough. Once you get to $200, you may still have weeks where you need $450 but determine that ahead of time. The overall point is to avoid those moments where you are scared to look at your account because you have not been paying attention.
Take a spending fast.I did this for the first time recently and it was great. Because I track all my spending, I was able to notice I had fallen back into some habits of eating out every other day. To break the habit, I took a fast on eating out for 1 month. It means exactly what you think – 30 days of ZERO eating out… not even the dollar menu.
The results were great. My diet got 95% better, I picked up some new recipes to make food interesting, started meal prepping and I spent the money I would spend at rushed lunches during the work day on new dresses for the weekend. Ayeee!
You can do this fast for any kind of spending habits you have. For some people its online shopping and others it’s rounds of drinks. If you tend to spend too much at the bar, skip the bar for a weekend or two. If you like to shop, I recommend a shopping fast of nothing new for one month, you will be surprised how much better at personal styling you will be when you are forced to “mix and match”. The key, again, is to start small, fast for two or three weeks and build from there.
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Determine your financial values. Have you ever thought about what you really would like to be doing with your money vs what you actually do? It’s a resource like anything else and it should have a predetermined destination. There is a quote, “If you want to know what people value, look at their bank book.” I am sure I did not get it exactly right but it’s still true. We say it’s important to save, travel and give to charity but what do your habits reflect? I can tell you when I was not paying attention my financial habits said I valued food, party dresses, and debt. My thoughts only began to change when I decided I have to get serious about the experiences I want to have at this age and let the stuff go.
You cannot do it all. Unless you are loaded, you cannot have the $600 car payment (plus the maintenance on that kind of car), go to all the hot spots each weekend, have a bloomies habit and go on the big, memorable vacations. Pick a lane, girl. Write down your values, start gearing your money to those things and let the other stuff go! You may look good in the nice car and $3,000 bag but if you are barely holding on to it – how good can it be and who is it really for? No shade on the “stuff” people either, you can value whatever you want. These are examples.
Automation is your friend. Let me preface this by saying automation is your friend if you have enough money to cover all your bills from month to month. If you find yourself living in the “red” on the essentials, I would focus on reducing debt/financial output first. But if you have your basic life essentials covered and want to save more – Automate it!One of the best things I ever did for myself to set up direct deposit into a savings account offline (I can not see it readily).
When you are just starting out – start small with something like $30/ paycheck. Then when you get a raise or a new job with more money increase it before the new money ever hits your account. For example, you have been informed that performance raises are coming and you will make maybe $60 more per check, the week before, increase your savings direct deposit by another $30 or so bucks… guess what? Now you are saving $60 per check… that is $120 a month.
Also, increase it as you pay off things – maybe you just paid off a credit card, giving you back $100 per month, consult your budget and up your savings even more. Keep doing this – every time you get a bump, bump the savings first. You won’t miss the money because you’re saving it before you have determined its “happy hour” money and before you know it you are living the real American dream… Living on less than you make!
Like a mentioned before, good money habits are not a thing to “get down” on move on, it’s constant tweaking of the process and monitoring your own behavior. You cannot set it and forget it…life is changing and your values will change.
You can start out saving for one thing and have to change on a dime and use the money for something else but how nice is it to have that money parked. It happened to me – I was saving for a nest egg and found myself needing to come out of pocket for unexpected medical expenses. Its a bummer but I am grateful I even had the money to pull from – and it taught me that I cannot passively save… it has to be intentional and a priority.
In this life we can only control about 20% of what happens to us but if you manage that 20% well, you are in a much better position to handle the other 80%. Saving, among many things, is a big part of that.
Pick a tip or two, and tell me how it worked out for you in the comments below.
Making mistakes in the job search and interview process
In my youth, *adjusts readers* and recently I have made some pretty incredible interview mistakes. Some of them I was able to recover from and with others… I was just happy for it to be over so I could get home and lick my wounds. It’s awful but I am willing to rehash these painful lessons for your entertainment so let’s get into it!
Winging it. I have come to know that anytime I am doing anything and a voice in my head says “you can wing it”, it’s the devil with his devil wings. The first mistake I made very early on when interviewing was not properly researching the company. Y’all I am a marketer, the first thing I should have done was go to the website … I didn’t. I assumed because I had heard of the company that I knew what they did. Don’t rely on your layman’s logic about a company as so many of the giants are turning the corner into surprising new industries.
Example, What do you think of when I mention the company, Xerox? If you hear this name you think paper, copy machines, ink maybe… but they doing Parking now. (I didn’t interview with them but a great example). Google is free and you do not want to be blind sighted by free information when you just wrote a whole resume about being a knowledgeable, self-starter, who takes pride in their work cause guess what? You just showed them that it’s all a lie.
Not bringing/taking notes. I used to not take notes into an interview or take notes in the interview. I assumed that it would make it look like I had a script if I came in with a notebook full of notes and that if I took too many notes during the interview I was missing the conversational piece. This ended when I was laid off and had 20 interviews in a month. I couldn’t keep it all straight otherwise. I am a writer so I would come in the door with pages of notes and questions. It actually helped my interviewing skills because I had a few talking points with me but more importantly I had literally pages of questions that I got to really examine the night before. Hiring Managers were impressed by the thoughtfulness of my inquiries and how much research I had done. The whole time I was worried about nothing. Side note: I recently heard a story of a person not getting the job because they didn’t have a notebook or anything at an interview. That was actual feedback. The manager thought she “didn’t really want to job” because of a lack of note-taking. A very odd thing to assume but it’s an easy fix.
Not considering the people I was interviewing with. When you get to a certain point in your career you’re no longer interviewing once with your direct manager, more people are required to “buy in” to you as you move up the chain. My most recent experience was with 5 people with completely different viewpoints based on their job and how I was going to interact with them. The best thing to do is ask who you will be meeting with when the in-person interview is scheduled, find them on Linkedin and just take a peek at their backgrounds. I like to look at things like their current role, how long they have been in that role or at that company and if there is some kind of pattern. Patterns for me are has the person been able to do a lot at the company (do people moved up a lot), how long have most people stayed, do you have anything in common with them (same schools, experience, sorority etc). Consider all of this when you’re asking questions. And if you forgot to ask who you are interviewing with before the interview, adjust your general questions to fit the person you are talking to at the moment. The goal is to ask them questions that are in their scope to answer.
Not following up. I JUST started doing this in the last 5 years or so. I never sent a follow -up before that. Honestly, I knew it was a thing but I thought it didn’t matter. It totally does and because there are so many people like the old me out there – it gives you a competitive edge. How I do it? At the end of an interview with each person I ask for a business card and I also write down something specific that they said that I can connect to later. After the interview, I write a quick and personal “Thank you” email, including that specific thing I wrote down. Also, use their lingo in the email. If everyone mentioned the term “hit the ground running” … add something about your ability to “hit the ground running”. All of this just keeps you top of mind. Plus people are looking for a “good fit” for their team. Show them you are the “best fit”.
Pssst… The next step up from the email is the handwritten thank you note, just depends on what you’re going after and how quickly you’re moving.
Assuming the interview was for them, not me. This is a point that became clear to me in my moving from place to place. Companies have some crazy cultures and it doesn’t matter how much they pay… if someone is yelling at you daily or calling you all day and night, the cost to your peace it too high. Be sure to be completely clued into how the interviewer is speaking about the team, listen to the body language of the people around her. Consider the kind of person you are talking to. Also, ask about challenges and turn over in the role. Why is there an opening? It’s ok for the questions to go back and forth and if it’s NOT, you definitely don’t need to be there. Also, search the title on LinkedIn at the company… you can see who else had your role and if they all left after 6 months. Ask detailed questions about expectations, challenges, and exactly what does a successful person in this role look like? I also like to know what does 5 years ahead look like… what’s the company goal? Listen and closely examine the answers. If they don’t know – it’s a red flag to consider.
I could tell you stories of all the red flags I have missed in interviews. whew! I think that is going to a post on here soon…
And the biggest mistake... Not fully reading the job description in detail. I, like a lot of people, looked primarily at the title, company, and requirements. This is a BIG mistake. A lot of the gems are right there in bullets. I look for things like what the day to day functions are of the role, what kind of person are they asking for, do they list benefits or perks, and does the person they are looking to hire sound realistic? If the day to day functions sound like 5 people’s job or the type of person they are looking for sounds like a unicorn, you should ask about it in the interview. Employers often list benefits, perks, and clues about the culture. If you have trouble finding questions… ask about this stuff. A lot of the time what you need to decide if the company is a right fit for you is written.
Today, I print off the entire description (or paste it into a word doc) and highlight the what I like vs dislike so that I can be crystal clear in the interview. Onboarding and getting “up to speed” is always a sucky process, I want to make sure when I accept the offer it’s a job that I actually want (unless my motives are different like coming off a lay off).
This was a lot and I had so many more that I couldn’t get into to today. Interviewing is a skill that can only be mastered by doing it. If you are desperate to find of job or find yourself in the wrong job, its a costly mistake not to do it well. Think of the interview as a two-way street, don’t be so wrapped up in being likable and getting hired that you forget that you are also hiring them.
If you have any interview fails, I really want to hear about them in the comments below!
Getting the job was half the battle, now you have to let them know how you move. Let’s talk about how to impress your new employer in the first 30 days.
First of all ayyyyyeeee… You’ve secured the bag sis, congratulations! But, how do you hold on to it for the long haul? The Job market must be looking good because more than a few of my girlfriends (including myself) have gotten new jobs with a nice pay bump. We really need to have a “new money” party.
We’re excited, feeling motivated, and extra boss but let’s not get too carried away, how we navigate the first 90 days can determine how the rest of the tenure goes. But before we get to 90 days, let’s work on the now… the first month.
You may be asking yourself WHY are we talking about this? Why is this important? Well, first of all, it’s a fresh start! These people don’t know you and they HOPE they made the right choice in hiring you. No next steps are being mapped out, your only focus is to be able to do the thing they hired you for right now. The impressions you make on your boss, immediate team and outside teams right now set the tone for the next few years. They are trying to access if you are gonna be a rock star that they are going to want to promote to keep or are you going to be a person that fades into the background or at worse…doesn’t last at all. Plus, we always want to be moving to the next step, next title, next tax bracket, this is where the tone of all of that growth is set. All eyes are on you and girl…shine! Let the view be magical.
Ok you are with me now, right? So let’s talk about HOW we are gonna make it happen?
Basics. Let’s just get this out of the way for those who do not know (we have all levels of professionals here so let’s start at 101). The folks at the new job, don’t know you. You may not even be the first person they hired to fill your position. The other girl, who didn’t hack it, may have left a sour taste in people’s mouth. You really never know but you have to air on the side of excellence.
Get sleep. This is not the time for your grumpy morning antics. Get the sleep you need to be alert, happy, positive. Again, you’re a stranger right now. People may not get that you had a bad morning, they will take it that your just a negative person.
Be on time (early if possible) and leave on time. You have not built up the trust to be straggling in late and leaving early like the rest of the team. Unless you are dismissed, you stay.
Dress neatly. Even in a casual office, keep your casual cute. Ideas of you are being shaped, you are being introduced all day to new people at all kind of levels. Some people you will meet once and maybe not again for 6 months…meet them at your best. Y’all know, first impressions and all of that…
Be Friendly. You are too new to be closed off or to be bringing your personal issues into the office. Margret is going to ask you hella questions about your weekend on Monday morning before you’ve had your coffee. You have to be nice.
Be a sponge. The most annoying part of getting a new job is the ramp up process. You want to get up and running quickly because how are you gonna show off if you don’t know anything. Read the website, watch the marketing videos and read the whitepapers. You want to quickly get a sense of what the company does and how. Get yourself inside the fold as soon as possible.
Pay attention to the hierarchy and the vibe. At every company I have worked for, you have who thinks they are in charge and who is really in charge. Who does all the work? Who gets the credit for all the work? Who do you need to impress? Who is going to be a problem? This is where you are picking your people and determining how the place works. This will help you fall into the culture of the place and it will also help you find know who is going to impact your future, who to ask questions and who to flex on.
About the question of “who is going to be a problem?“, it sounds negative but it’s not, it’s strategic. Companies are made up of people and sometimes you don’t jive with every single person and that is okay. Determine how you are going to navigate folks who are “not your cup of tea” but also give them a chance to change your mind.
Personal Story: I was in a group interview a few years ago, three people interviewing me and 2 other candidates. They (management) had a group and we (candidates) had a group. One of the managers kept throwing digs at everything any of us (the candidates) asked. You can tell she was new to managing people and had something to prove. The opportunity was good and the CMO was exactly the kind of person I wanted to work with and for. When I got the offer I knew that a big hurdle was going to be the manager with the power trip. She was the worst type…insecure, power seeking and a bully. My plan was to Olivia Pope her whole shit. I came in hot with fresh ideas, catching her mistakes and anything she gave me to manage, I completely upgraded. I made sure I was overly professional and confident. It worked, after a few weeks she chilled out. By the end I’m sure she thought we were friends, we’re not but that was not the point. I wanted her respect and for her get out of my way. Gotta play it smart, y’all.
Ask good questions. Good questions are a sign of engagement and understanding. You do not need to over think this but make sure you are reading and researching enough that you can examine what is being presented and ask questions to better understand. If there are no questions, great comments work too.
Run with everything. One of the best ways I have found to shine at work is to completely own everything I am given, even the parts that aren’t exactly yours to do… at least in the beginning when you are not too swamped. Think about the next steps and take care of them if you can. I learned this from one of the best bosses I’ve had early on in my career.
Personal example, I used to have a job that required pulling reports on certain days. It was simple because the reporting was built to auto format from excel. It required very little cleaning up and my role was to download it and email it out. After a few weeks, my boss advised me to take it a step further. We were sending these reports to upper management, he knew that a couple of the people at the top were “print everything” people and were having their admins reformat the report to print every time. So I started formatting the report for both print and reading online. This is a super small thing but the response back on the time saved was great.
I took that as a lesson in everything I do until this very day. Take it to the next step and if you don’t know the next step ask the people you are working with what they are doing with your work. Ask questions about what part makes more sense for you to knock out? Can the entire process be upgraded so you’re working smarter? So much of what we do is done the way “we’ve always done it” … the processes were created in chunks and no one is looking at it as a whole. You are new – you have fresh eyes and the time to take it all in and make suggestions. Do it and take all the glory!
That it. Those are the things that have worked for me. I say 30 days because these are things you can do immediately and they really require little extra effort from you. If you keep this up by the time your 90 days rolls around you will have planted the seeds of letting hoes know … I mean… setting yourself up for success.
I am sure most people have some kind of plan of action when they get into a new job. Career girls, what other things do you do to set the tone at a new job? Comment below.
Asking for more money requires you to get clear on your value and be unapologetic in your request.
Do you often find that you leave conversations wishing you had asked for more? In so many situations we find ourselves kind of getting what we want but not really. It’s frustrating because you know better but sometimes you lose your voice listening to the self-talk in your own head.
Maybe you don’t want to seem greedy, hard to work with, difficult, unappreciative of the opportunities you have been given, angry (The Angry Black Woman) or maybe you have been telling yourself that someone will see all your hard work and decide to just give you what you are worth. I have some truth for you, this almost never happens.
No matter what you tell yourself about why you don’t ask at all or don’t ask for enough, you should start. No one will ever give you more than what you ask for … even if they know they owe you more. And I have a few tips on how to fix this problem.
Get crystal clear on your end goal and why. Before you step into the negotiation or an “ask” situation know what you want. In a salary negotiation, make sure you have done some research on the market rate for your role. Ignoring your previous pay (#levelupsis), decide what your work is worth right now. What value do you bring? Make a list. This list is for you, it will give you the nerve you need to shoot high and walk away with what know you are worth vs the “good enough”. If you get nervous, you are most likely on the right track...keep going.
Do not pile on the “explainers” – Make the request and shut up. Have you ever been hit up by a person asking for money and they keep talking in circles and in your head you just want them to get to the catch? Yes? Well, now you see my point. Make your request plainly, state your well-researched facts and stop talking. Allow the silence to linger. Keep follow up answers brief. Sometimes when you think you are proving a point, you are just clouding the conversation and giving cues that maybe you are not sure of what you want after all.
All they can say is “No”, so relax. You’ve done the search, you’ve made your points clear, you’ve done your part. We know what “Yes” means but what is your action plan if the answer is “no”. Prepare yourself for both. I don’t know about you but a game plan for the worst always makes me bolder. The worst part is to never ask at all, then you’re sitting in a position you’re not happy with and wondering “what if’. Asking for more means rocking the boat but the outcome is a better boat. You’ll have all the information needed to make a choice.
Practice some full-bodied listening to the response. After you have stated your request and answered questions etc. really listen to the other person is saying. This seems obvious but often, instead of really hearing the other person we are preparing our next response. This is important. Depending on the ask, maybe the “yes” comes with some strings attached that change the game. In a salary negotiation, maybe the “yes” comes with some other caveat, like forfeiting a future raise or more duties. If it’s a no, listen to the reasons why? Can you get what you want later or is this a dead issue? Both matter.
Getting to a place where you can always ask for what you want takes time. This is certainly not the master teaching the student, I still struggle to find the nerve sometimes.
The more you do it, the easier it becomes to just be frank about the things that are important to you. If you have an “asking for more money win”, I want to hear about it. Comment Below.
Like many of you, I have been sitting on what happened with Serena Williams this past weekend. All of this and the media response lead me to think about all the things I know of that happened to and because of Serena in tennis lately.
To bring you up to speed, Serena played against Naomi Osaka in the U.S Open. It was a huge match for both ladies. Serena was accused of receiving coaching because of an ill-timed thumbs up to her coach. She was then docked points for cheating. Serena lost to Naomi and things just got messy.
If this were the only thing that happened we can maybe see past a terrible rep call but when we look at all the things that swirl around this woman who is at the top of her game, its hard to let it go.
After enduring a tennis world rife with racism and racist acts against her, this sister has come to completely own the sport. However, she is consistently the only female player drug tested at nearly every “random” drug screen, she is constantly depicted as a “monster” in the media, they banned her cat-suit (meant to help with her blood clots), she is touted as too aggressive, too strong, too big, too loud and on and on.
All of this brings me back to career advice we get from nice white ladies about leaning in, taking a seat at the table, advocating for yourself, self-promotion etc and how incomplete that rule took is for black women.
What is the advice when you are seen as a threat no matter what you do? Mellody Hobson, a black woman, a fav, and the president of Ariel Investments, says “Sometimes when you are a black woman you have to crouch to conquer“. What I take that to mean in theory is that sometimes you have to shrink yourself and be more tactical and strategic in approach to get what you want. I don’t like what that implies either.
As black women in any business, we are judged by a completely different set of rules. Leaning In makes us a target and as much as I get Hobson’s idea of crouching to conquer … I am not sure all that slumped posture is good either.
We have no rule book and I am coming to see that as a good thing. It’s an opportunity to blaze a new trail. When Serena is done, I am sure people will pretend they loved her all along like they do Muhammad Ali. But, for now, she is winning on her own terms, in a tutu, and not accepting anything less than respect.
We are navigating new spaces every day and all we can do is kick down the doors and hold them open with an instruction manual for the girls that follow us.
If I asked about why I write this blog… this is it. It’s my instruction manual for the black girls that will follow me.
If you have another perspective or comment, let’s talk about it in the comments below.
Bullying is not just a term for back to school specials, they also show up in the workplace, with a handshake and a smile.
The topic of work bullies first came up when I was talking to a woman in my family (keeping the person vague, just in case). She got a huge promotion and was now playing in a different league within her company, she was happy but there were just a few folks that would not let her be great. They were pulling out those old school bully tactics like…
Copying every manager they can think of to blast you on what they think is an error, then after you explain why X could not happen, they call you privately to apologize so they don’t look crazy…
People literally screaming at you over the phone and saying things like … “Can’t you do anything right”
I gave her tips on handling these people and gathered her for even allowing another person to yell at her over the phone. In case you’re wondering about the “Copy all” solution, I told her to never allow a person to make her look crazy but call you to clear the air. If they copy everyone to blast you, you should copy everyone to respond (professionally) and if they try and call… still copy all and say “Per our conversation… add detailed account and why the outcome”.
Protip: If the situations/requests are often the same, with the same reasons why things can or cannot be resolved, write it really good and detailed once, save it to word doc of responses and just copy-paste. Bam! You have just automated a read.
Why? Most people seldom work directly with top-level management and if the only way they know your name is when you’re being blasted by someone trying to make you look incompetent, guess what they think about you? Right. By copying all and explaining… it lets management know that you’ve resolved the issue and that the other person is doing the most. That applies to everyone but specifically for the family member I am talking about because she is in a position where advancement is determined by yearly reviews. Her bully was literally gonna cost her coins.
I have definitely had my share of work bullies and so have my friends. I surveyed the black girl group chat and the stories were endless. One friend got a new boss that hated ideas that are not her own and proceeded to demean the giver of the said bright ideas. Another friend told me about her hot/cold boss who’s temperament changed with the weather, leaving the entire department on eggshells.
There were plenty of stories but one friend, a much better writer than me, really laid it out from another perspective that I thought was worth sharing in raw form…
“Bullying isn’t always aggressive. I think that is an important distinction to make. Especially when race and gender are important components in your interpersonal workplace interactions.
I work in Boston. A city not known for its racial diversity nor tolerance. And that bleeds into all industries. Especially mine: advertising.
As the only black woman (and one of only a handful of women of color) in my former employer’s creative department, I experienced bullying in the form of microaggressions daily. From being accused of being angry and in a bad mood, to being on the receiving end of poorly timed jokes, to being completely ostracized from social gatherings, I felt consistently on the receiving end of childlike bullying executed in warm tones and with bright smiles.
Bullying, to me, is any form of harm done intentionally and precisely as a result of the bulliers (bullyers?) own internalized self-loathing and low-vibrational existence. In other words, my black womaness (and all the greatness that comes as a result of such) was a constant reminder of my bullies’ own lack of self-worth. By merely being there and daring to excel, I was a mirror to their own mediocrity. And I paid for it via death by a thousand paper cuts.
The individual infractions are too many to name, and to be honest, I don’t really desire to relive them because I’ve made huge strides in not carrying around that resentment. However, I will never forget how I was constantly made to feel like I was inherently wrong simply because Northeastern white people have limited experience with and knowledge of Black people.
The silver lining is that I am now afraid of no one, at least when it comes to my career. I know now that I have a right, at all times, to stick up for myself, to demand my worth, and to reject the misplaced neuroses and insecurities of fragile white people.
I hope that anyone being bullied, regardless of age or setting, understands that they are being bullied because something within them shines so brightly that the bully is reminded of their own dimness.
Sis, said that! Bullying can come in so many different forms, some of it is personal to you, some of it is how people behave generally and sometimes its rooted in gender/race/age discrimination. I have found in 90% of the cases, setting boundaries up front, making sure people know “you got this” and not giving folks the rope to treat you crazy the first time tends to resolve it, quickly.
And in the 10% of cases where you cannot do anything, you’re in a truly toxic situation and should be looking to move on because your peace is too high a cost to pay.
Have y’all ever had a bully at work, a person that cannot stand to see you shining? Does your melanin magic tend to piss Becky off? Tell me about in the comments below.
Protecting Your Peace at Work is Key to Your Performance and Personal Health
One of the things I wish I knew when I started my career was how to draw a line between work and my personal peace of mind. It is so easy to get completely wrapped up in the grind of the work and the office politics. This is not just a hard task for a ‘challenging situation”, it’s also hard when you love your work and coworkers.
However hard we find it, drawing clear boundaries around your peace of mind is imperative, especially if you are in a more idea-focused field such as marketing. Lack of peace usually comes from fear and fear is the greatest enemy of the creative mind. If you are mentally wrapped up in the fear and/or anxiety of your idea being wrong you will never have anything to contribute.
A personal story: Early in my career I worked in a place so toxic that I still refer to it as being in the “lion’s den”. I was completely overworked, underpaid and too new to know it. Even though I was doing the work of 3 people and crushing goals, nothing I ever did could satisfy my manager. I was completely wrapped up in the work and viewing my self-worth through the lens of a completely irrational being. I left that place thinking something was wrong with me and that maybe “I just wasn’t creative”.
You may say the problem was the manager and it was but it was also that I allowed this person to control how I felt about my myself, not just professionally but personally. I had zero boundaries and it completely killed my confidence, taking me years to fully recover.
Now that you have heard why you have to protect your peace, let’s talk about how we go about it.
Get a freelance mentality. Instead of thinking about a job as a place you have to be or else, start thinking about it as a place that pays you to learn new skills and explore new ideas. Every company you work for gives you a chance to sharpen the skills in your toolbox (even the bad ones teach you something). As you go about your day, intentionally change the way you see your job functions.
This change in thinking not only helped me draw some boundaries but it elevated the quality of work I did. I was no longer “trying to get it done”, I was more focused on creating something I was proud of and surprising myself. Yeah, the job loved it but in my head, that was just a byproduct.
Build that “fuck it” fund. Why do we stay in jobs we hate? Money. Nothing kills your peace like being stuck. Start socking away money as soon as you can, its the best way to get some personal leverage. Think about how much freer you will feel if you know that you can survive a good 3 – 6 months on savings.
Nothing is personal. People will be people and they come to work with all of their childhood trauma, PTSD, relationship problems and daddy issues. Even if they make it about you, its never really about you. You will find that toxic folks are never just toxic for you, they kill the entire vibe. Try your best not to allow this person’s reaction to your work, impact how you see your work.
Not your circus, not your monkeys. I think this often and try to never say it allowed because I have found that people think it means I don’t care but …. yeah that’s pretty much exactly what it is. No matter your position in a company there are certain levels of problems you cannot solve, no matter what you do. Stop trying. In these situations, I build some guardrails so that I can do my part and move on.
Personal example: As a marketer, I know that people always want you to do something last minute. I figure out early how long certain projects take (a guardrail) and I can quickly say “that campaign is gonna take X weeks to complete and here is why.” I cannot control when they show up.. that’s not my circus but I can make sure I know enough about the circus to set some expectations.
Take your damn Paid time off (PTO). I don’t know where y’all got the idea that you get a gold star for not taking your vacation time but I am here to tell you, it’s a dumb idea. There is no honor in working yourself to death. What is the end goal? Do you want us to put “perfect attendance” on your gravestone? You need the disconnection. It keeps your mind fresh and your approach agile. It feeds the relationships you have outside the office and it makes you less bitter at those of us who take all of our vacation time. Stop gloating about never missing a day, no one cares. Even if its a week on the couch, take it! (And don’t check in on any email while you’re away…. please)
As I said earlier, protecting your peace is imperative to work life. And finding that Balance is not just about leaving on time every day, its also about keeping work and office politics in its appropriate place in your life. It actually makes you a better employee when you can take you can separate your personal ego from the work. Try it and let me know how it works out in the comments below.
Keeping your resume updated is a smart and savvy professional practice
According to recent data, our generation will have 12 -15 different jobs in our lifetime. Assuming most people work between the ages of 18 -65, this means we are changing jobs every three years…on average. I would wager corporate creatives, such as marketers, graphic designers and the like, are changing jobs even more as your skill set or role changes. You do not have time to “Get ready” when it’s time to move on, you have to “Stay Ready” by never actually leaving the job market.
Staying in the job market does not mean actively applying for jobs at mass for all 47 years of your working lifetime. It does mean making sure you are ready for the next step when you need or want to take it. It sounds like a lot of work but it’s easy. And when/if you are ever laid off, fired, and just ready to bounce – you are not starting from scratch. Ok, the How?
Update your resume in real time. When you get a win at work, add it to your resume at the time it happens. It does not have to be perfectly worded – just toss it on there and edit later. How many times have we been doing evaluations or dusting off the resume and then asking ourselves – “now, what did I do over the last 2 years”? All the time. We often jot down some low hanging fruit and miss those big wins we have forgotten from past years. Keeping a record in real time gives you a running tab of badass achievements to cherry pick when it’s time to move on or simply show your worth.
Maintain a solid Linkedin profile. Like or not, your online presence matters. While we cannot all be perfect on Twitter, a solid and professional LinkedIn profile that is job search ready speaks volumes to employers and peers who may refer you. keep a current and professional photo (easy on the selfies and party pics girls) And don’t forget tomake sure the information provided is always correct, including your best contact information.
Keep Learning. One thing is true for marketers – new apps, email platforms, social networks and methodology are always popping up. Unless you work for a large marketing focused organization, you can find yourself left behind if your past role only involved direct mail. It’s frustrating but you can combat this. Periodically, check out the job boards and pay attention to what skill sets other organizations are asking for from candidates. Then, seek out opportunities to learn those skills and if you can, implement them in your current role. So read the books, ask your current organization to support you and check out local classes and workshops.
Engage your Network. So many of us are bypassing the entire “submit, wait, and interview” process through referrals. According to recent data, referrals are representing 50% of organizations workforce these days. So keep your network tight and check in with people here and there – be useful and share info (do not just wait until you need help). This creates a network of peers that you can possibly reach out to when you need to move on.
Over the years keeping my resume updated has been a huge help when its time to move on or just write the story of why I deserve more. Try it this year and let me know how it works out. Tell me about it in the comments below.
How “Code Switching” Can Trip us Up in Corporate America
Being your whole self is vital to your self-care and development… even in corporate America. It can also be a key to success in business. If all your focus is spent trying to be someone else you cannot be focused on doing a great job.
“If Oprah was afraid to be herself when she started in the 80’s, we would not have Oprah today”
This is not new information to us. We have been hearing “be yourself” since we were kids from one well-meaning adult or another. If you are like me, I never thought I needed this advice as a fully grown adult.
How does faking it, show up as an adult? You don’t speak up when offended by co-workers because you pretend to be “easy going” or don’t want to be the “Angry Black Woman”. Also, you just find yourself performing for people – trying to make sure they think you are perfect and have “it all”. It happens. This kind of self-editing is automatic and happens far into adulthood. We are all trying to seem together. We want to know if “they” like me.
This realization hit me, like a ton of bricks in the most unexpected place. I was attending a co-worker’s baby shower where one of the girls invited a medium. I had never encountered a medium and kind of thought it was all bullshit. Well, I asked her to read my energy (I was full of snark this day). We sat down, she took my hands, closed her eyes…and when she opened them she told me “shift but don’t edit”. I looked at her and my eyes welled with tears.
So backstory – At the time I was working at a company for maybe 8 months (new but not really). I was one of maybe five other black people in the company and the only black person in the entire marketing department. Everyone was blonde, republican and perky.Imagine working in an office full of Tomi Lahrens’. I felt like no one liked me (this mattered to me back then).
“I thought it didn’t bother me but in reality, I was performing every day and it was killing my confidence.”
I was tap dancing around myself and trying to give off signs that I am “cool” to be accepted into this little click. But after the encounter with the medium and I finally dried my tears, I began to shed the weight of needing to be anyone but me to impress anyone else.
I started the process by being honest with myself and first admitting that I needed to get back to my center and find my own baseline again. I surrounded myself with people outside of work that knew and loved me. I made time to access my own heart and mind when I was feeling anxious or out of sorts in any way about anything. I would (and still do) stand in the mirror and talk to myself/ask myself questions out loud like:
If I wake up sad or heavy...How are you really feeling today and why?
If I am concerned with being liked at work...Your only responsibility is to be who you are and do good work.
Meeting new people/interviewing…Stop wondering if they like you, Do you like them?
When I need to apologize or backtrack… Did what you said/did speak to who you are?
When I find myself performing…Pedestals and perfection are a trap, so be you.
There are many ways to get centered, this is just mine. And like everything, it’s a process. It’s been years since a medium took my head and heart into her hands and set me on a path back to myself. But I never forgot her words and I share them to people often – shift into professional you and leisure you but never edit who you are for anyone.
P.S And if you find yourself in an office full of Tomi Lahrens’… just quit.
New Year, New Job? According to all the people that measure this stuff, this is the best time to find a new job. It is also that time of year where we start looking at all our current situations with critical side-eye. There are many reasons why you should go but these are the top reasons to put “new job, who dis?” on your vision board this month.
Consistent boredom. All workplaces have cycles of more or less interesting work but if you have been completely bored for an extended amount of time, its time to go. At one point you may have thought to yourself “It’s great to be paid to goof off all day” but in truth, the skill set that you have fought so hard to build up could be declining. Pro Tip: We are always only getting better or worse at what we do. By not growing and using our skills we are getting worse at them.
Pay. Listen, lots of people will tell you money does not matter, focus on the work… blah, blah, blah. I have another thought, do both. The way I see it, we are in our late 20s or 30 somethings and young enough to be risky and go after big opportunities. There will come a time when you cannot chase the check because companies will be looking at your age as a barrier to hire you. Do not waste your prime years sitting in one spot waiting for a promotion that is not coming and at a job you do not love. This is the best time to make smart money moves.
Flexibility and balance. As we go from young people able to work longer hours to people with families of our own, we have to think about the flexibility and balance of the place we are working. Do you have the flexibility that will allow you to do what you need outside of work? Do you have enough work/life balance to feel like you have a life? If this is important to you, consider it in your next move.
All of these things we discussed can be rooted in company culture. Competitive pay, great use of the professionals, and a job that can grow with you are all things that we need to think about. If you have other ideas on how to determine its time for a job change, I want to hear about them in the comments below.
When Work and Play Mix, There are Some Rules of Engagement
Nothing is more sticky than trying to make friends of your coworkers, especially if you are in the same role competing for the same opportunities. But before we get too far, let’s define how we mean “friend”. A friend is a person you can totally allow in your personal life without limits. They share your joy and pain. You can be friendly and not actually friends. That is not a negative thing, it’s just defining the nature of a relationship and making sure you have healthy boundaries.
Work relationships are tough to manage. You work every day and over time you build bonds. Sometimes those bond hold even after you no longer work at the same place but I would argue that trying to make your coworkers, besties should come with certain rules.
As a general rule, I think of work friendships like being in the mob. It is all good until it is time for someone to get “whacked” (You’ll learn why soon enough). Because of this, I have a few rules for co-worker friends if I decided to make them at all.
You are coworkers first. I do not care how close you think you are when it comes down to the wire your co-worker is a coworker. You and this person were hired to do a job and nothing more. Expect that in a sticky situation they will not be considering their lunch buddy in their decisions. Personal Story: At my very first “real job” I worked with a very tight team. We ate lunch together and partied on the weekend together. I really thought we were all cool. But our manager needed to trim down the team, keeping only 2 of the 4 people in our little click. And he made his decision by sneakily asking us little questions about each other here and there. Needless to say, we were friends no more and everyone was trying to save themselves. Terrible management tactic but the point is… no matter what, people are at work for their livelihoods, not the friendship. It will always be the first to go.
Draw some real boundaries. As a general rule, I do not do current coworkers and social media… even when we are actually friends outside of the workplace. If you friend one, then you have to answer questions about friending others and it gets touchy. I know that people think “well, I never post anyway”…. does not matter. You can easily see the pages people like, their comment on posts and what their friends post on their page. And yes, privacy settings work but why even do it? If your coworkers need to link with you on social – make a work facebook page. Think about it, our country is incredibly divided and don’t you want to be able to say good morning to, Karen without wondering why she commented that the most recent police shooting was justified because *insert black man name* should not have jaywalked. I think you do, so just don’t do it. Linkedin is enough of a connection for all of us.
Watch Your Mouth. I often fail at this one so we are all working on it. You should assume nothing you say is private. Even when you are listening and not talking it can be a problem. This is particularly hard at places where you are bonded over shared “what the f***”. It is so hard because you hear someone going off and all you wanna do is say your own peace. You gotta resist the urge to pile on or be ready to stand by your statements if needed.
I am sure I can do a part two on this topic but I will stop here for now. I am anxious to know – what are your rules about making friends at work? Tell me about them in the comments below.
It’s tempting to want to share all your personal stories with co-workers but it can come at a cost
The office over-sharer, I have worked with so many…
The blonde who admitted that she wears leather, crotchless panties to work
The guy who gave us weekly play-by-plays on why his baby mama is trash (or so he says cause…men)
The older woman who told me that her ex-husband was in jail for child molestation but “did not do it”
The only other black girl who needed to tell me how much money all her stuff costs and how she put 15k down on her car
The lady who tells everyone everything about her adult kids … EVERYTHING. It is all sex, drugs, and mess in her camp
These are extreme (and funny) but oversharing is not only done by idiots… sharing that you are looking for a job, salary information, etc counts too.
Do not get me wrong I love some tea… especially when it has nothing to do with me but work is just not the place to spill it on yourself. How it hurts you…
We are not listening to your uncomfortably personal story because we care, we a listening to relay all your personal details to the group chat or for further conversations over lunch (without you) where we say “well that was awkward”.
Even if you are sharing a story about your trashy boyfriend, it all says something about you. If he is trash and you are with him… I mean… do I need to spell it out? If you are going through something, talk to a friend…not your entire floor.
Being the person always at the center of a shit storm impacts how people view you professionally. No one wants to work with or for you if they think you are a mess.
You are shaping how others feel about your loved ones. Be careful how much negative you share about your people. We work with you and do not see the nuance so if every day you are complaining about your girl…we start to feel like she is awful. Next thing you know you are showing up to the company Christmas party with her and she is wondering “why all the side eye”.
Girl, listen. We work 40 hours a week or more … keeping yourself a “mystery” is not going to happen. (I have tried it…trust me) Some days your personal life just spills over and we share things we maybe should not share. It is ok and healthy to share yourself a little but work is still work. Every company I have ever worked for claimed to be a family and it is a trap, watch yourself. You never know how people are reading what you are thinking of as a simple story about “this one time at band camp”. You should always assume the story will be spread and modified…cause exaggerations make tea better. Make a work friend or two so you can chatter in safer space with a person who knows you and not just your stupid story about a flute and a band director.
I wanna hear the tea. What is the craziest thing a co-worker has overshared with you? Comment below.
Knowing When to Speak Up for Yourself is a Lesson We all Have to Learn the Hard Way
I had always thought of accepting blame even when it was not all mine was a way of being not “passing the buck”. Isn’t that what they preach to you when you get your first job? Well like most things we are told – it’s a lot more treacherous than any of us ever knew.
Taking responsibility for errors not your own can be detrimental to your career growth. When it first occurred to me that there was a lot of politics in shouldering stuff that was not mine I was a new marketer, working for a crazy woman. I would work with my boss on a project … sometimes literally just doing what she said. If it flopped, she would blame me and I would own it. I thought I was being honorable (or something) but it just opened me up to be the “whipping girl”. Pretty soon I was shouldering things above my pay grade… and she was saying stuff like “You should have known I meant X when I said YFV with a side of Q”. *Blinks hard, twice*
Listen. Let people carry their own weight. I found that in a move to save themselves, they will point the finger to whoever will accept it. When a problem or mistake happens really think about which parts you need to own and improve, what is broken and speak up often! The office is not the streets, be a snitch. If you are taking direction from another person and that person sends you the wrong way… it is ok to say so.
This lesson cost me a lot to learn and I hope it helped someone. If you have a story about taking the blame and it backfiring, I wanna hear about it in the comments below.
In my quest to get myself back on track and learn something new I have been listening to “Mistakes I made at work by Jessica Bacal on Audible. The book interviews 25 successful women and asks them about what mistakes they made in their climb to the top. The women are diverse and speak candidly about the things they would tell younger women about the many pitfalls they found themselves in professionally.
I found this interesting because telling people how you screwed up is never easy. Lots of the lessons were things we have heard before – things like speak up, ask questions, and be yourself. But there were a few things that I did not expect to learn that I thought were game-changing for career girls of color today.
The Glass Cliff. At the start of the book, Bacal talks about the “Glass Cliff” and it is as terrible as it sounds. It is basically the thought that women are looked at as incompetent for making the same mistake as men.
I was reading this and shaking my head. As black women, we often find that even more than white women, we cannot take risks that will leave us open to our colleagues thinking less of us in any capacity. I have found that doing the extra work of creating the right relationships can combat this but that does not mean it does not piss me off all the same.
Take Charge of Your Narrative. I have only begun to really dig into this one in my own work life. Like many hard-working girls, I always thought my work would speak for its self. Nope. Yes, do great work but be very careful how you talk about yourself. If someone says, “You did great on that presentation, I can tell you worked really hard on it”, DO NOT say “It was nothing or I can do it in my sleep” or anything of the like. Even if it was easy for you now, getting to that place took skills and if you are like me battle scars from all the losses it took getting to a place of easy. Do not be modest, confidently say “Thank you” if you are at a loss for words.
Also, do not wait on anyone to “big you up”, self-promotion matters. Let it be known when you come up with a great idea, save the company money or have some rock star results. I do not mean just in the review, talk yourself up when you see a window to do so. It is all about controlling people’s perspective of you. Many of us do not talk to leadership day to day, so when they hear about you make sure it is tied to a win as much as possible.
You Cannot Ignore Office Politics. I am rolling my eyes at this one because as much I hate it …. it is so damn true. ARGH! We gotta play the game more. I have worked with many talented black women… I mean girls who work not just hard but smart and I have seen them let go just because other people were “just not into them”. I am sure I will have more to say about this in its own post but for right now, I will say again… work is not about work as much is about how people feel about you personally. Play the game and keep how you really feel in the black girl group chat. #Shoutouttothegroupchat
Treat Every Job Like Freelance. This is my favorite advice to give everyone. We know that it is unlikely that we will have one job for 40 years and retire. We also know that companies are looking more at experience than education. Because of these two facts, every job is a chance to grow your skillset. I like to think of work like getting paid to learn and add to my toolkit. Personally, I love being a marketer. It is a key component to any business I may want to have in the future so I look at any opportunity to get better like a chance to master a craft that will help me do anything else I want to do in life. Turn the tables on how you look at your job and it will help you pay a lot less attention to all the petty BS that is bound to happen anytime a group of strangers are forced to work together.
You Need a Professional Sister Circle. You need a group of women who know you and your motivations professionally. I can personally attest to this one. Our personal sister circle is great for overall well-being but having a few great people on the side who know what you do and are in the industry help to gain perspective. As a marketer, I enjoy calling up another marketer and spitballing next moves, working through problems, and trading know-how.
Do Not Be Afraid to Quit. Are you also a queen of the safe footing only club? I hear this lesson but it is hard. I have no problem making a strategic move but just giving up because it is hard is just not my style. But I have learned that sometimes trying to prove you can take it only drains you of your energy. Learn when to stay the course and when to step off the course and have a seat. You do not have anything prove (I am saying that to both of us btw)
Overall Jessica Bacal’s “Mistakes I Made at Work” was pretty good. It is rare to hear professionals talk specifically and frankly about all the errors that made and continue to make at work. We live in a world that awards the perfectly polished picture more than the one we are all living.
I have made many errors at work and some of them are still happening. I often fail to ask for help and I make the error of thinking I can avoid “playing the game”, both are constant lessons.
What kinds of mistakes have you made and are still making at work or in your business that we can learn from?
The itch to bounce always happens around the three-year mark, doesn’t it? By this time you have gotten a true sense of your career path at your company and it’s time to decide if you are going to dig in deeper or leave. Honestly, unless the company has a great development and growth plan in place (not in development, because it’s ALWAYS in development) you should really be evaluating your future.
Long gone are the days of getting a job at 22 and retiring with a pension and Rolex at 65. As much as companies complain about “millennials” (I hate this word ) not having loyalty, loyalty does not serve our skill set or our pockets.
How it hurts your skill set? As a Marketer, technology rules so much of our work life. If you park yourself long term at a job where you are not exposed to the new programs or methods, you are screwed. Think about it like this… you are going to lose your job at some point, that is just facts, but what happens when you are suddenly dumped into a job market after 12 years, competing against people who can do all the latest and greatest. No one is going to look at your resume and say ” she cannot do any of the duties but that loyalty deserves an interview”. It does not happen – make sure you are growing and learning in your expertise.
It hurts us financially as well. A recent study by The HBR group, says that if employees stay at a job more than 2 years they are likely making 50% less over time than the incoming employees. That is insane but think about it, the average raise is 2k or 3k… but a good strategic move can yield you a lot more than that coming in the door.
No matter what the data says lots of hiring managers consider job hopping a bad thing but it does not have to be. How can we get in, get what we need and leave on a high note (with glowing references)?
Step 1: Interviewing around the stigma
Wow, them with value. Before you interview with a company, do some research on the company. Bring a few ideas and tie them to your catalog of success. The beauty of being a job hopper is you have a ton of different experiences and hopefully you have been able to interact with your industry from lots of angles. Tell them all of the stuff you have done and the results you achieved.
How to overcome questions like “well why did you leave your last job?” – I am an advocate for honesty but not the kind where you tell them “my boss was a jerk, so I left”. Choose the other brand of honesty where you say “ I left for growth and a new opportunity to broaden my skillset” *Smile*. If you are a marketer like me, they should get it. If you have been sending direct mail letters and the rest of the world has gone digital …you have to grow or be left in the dust.
Step 2: How to get the growth you were seeking in your new company.
Come in the door blazing. What I mean is come into the job armed with ideas and a critical eye for the improvements you can make to processes and procedures. And be ready to showcase the value you can add. In the first 90 days, you should be proving your rock star status, signally that you can do more. Then asking to do more – a great boss should see this as a positive.
Don’t skip opportunities to learn for free. If your company allows you to go to conferences, workshop or classes that can help you expand your expertise – DO IT. These are typically very expensive for individuals, so doing them later is not going to happen.
Step 3: How to leave on a high note
Be classy. People leave for all kinds of reasons, it could be just growth or it can be that your boss has just tried your patience for the last time. But, you want to leave in a way that makes your boss want to leave you a good recommendation. Do things like, give a full 2-week notice or more, offered to support the incoming person, and continue to do your best work – finish strong.
The rules of the game are changing and while companies are slow to turn the corner, often times we can not afford to be slow in our approach. The key to job hopping is being measured. If your company has solved for stagnation and is making sure you are trained on the best ways to do your job in today’s world, lucky for you. But, if you think you are not getting the growth you need, it may be time to think about the next step.
Chasing the bag is only half the battle, its keeping that will make it all worth it. Save more money with these quick tips.
Whenever people talk about getting financially fit, the first thing they recommend is to save. It’s basically the low hanging fruit of adulting but telling someone with bad money habits to “just save some money” is not the best way to help.
For starters, taking the money you have come to depend on and saving it is a hard adjustment. Even if you manage to get some money put away, it almost always gets taken back out before you have amassed anything real. I was one of these people – you get a few hundred bucks stashed finally and one financial hiccup sends you back to the savings account to retrieve your hard-won savings. It’s a revolving door but there are a few tips that helped me get some money saved and keep it that I want to share with you.
All Savings Accounts Are Not Created Equal. Of all the things I am going to tell you, this the one that was most important to changing my financial behavior. When most people start out they have one savings account and no goal other than to save something. It’s a doomed approach. Instead of having one catch-all account – have accounts with goals attached and segment the money.
For example, you have determined that you can afford to save $150 per month. Instead of directing the total $150 to one account for an emergency fund, break it up to cover multiple purposes. To start, try directing $75 to a mishap fund and $75 to an emergency fund. What is a mishap fund? It’s a savings account for things that are inevitable but low level like car repairs, covering unexpected bills, traffic tickets, etc. The biggest threat to our savings account is always the mishap stuff, right? So plan for it. Keep this account at $500 – $1000 (more if you can or have a family… cause kids).
Then you can take the other $75 and have an emergency fund for the really big stuff like a loss of a job or illness (it’s untouchable otherwise). As you earn more you can have more accounts with other goals like a travel fund.
The point is to save for the smaller things that used to wipe out your total savings and still have money for the big issues should they happen. Yes, it will grow slower but at least it’s happening and because you have a fund for that traffic ticket or blown out tire, they will not devastate all your efforts.
Automate it. The worst way to start to save when you have never done so before is to assume you are going to move money manually. It’s 2018 and a better life exists so get with it. Set up a direct deposit to a savings account with your bank or employer. It’s super easy and on payday, you will have saved money before you buy that round of drinks at happy hour!For more on this read my post, 4 Quick Ways to Break Bad Money Habits.
Pay yourself FIRST… no… really. When I say pay yourself first, I mean when you get more money put more money away before you determine that new car is “doable”. The worst mistake we make is spending more because we make more.
At this age, we are relatively early in our careers and just starting to climb the ladder and with that comes more money. Once you have gotten out of the check to check and value meal phase of your life – start to think about how much more you are spending with every increase. Enjoy the spoils but remember the more we earn, the bigger that 6-9 month emergency fund should be.
I am under no illusion that this goal is easy to reach but it took me 8 years to be laid off one time. Think about that, for 8 years I could have been putting away money every paycheck to get to this emergency fund. Start working towards this goal today, even if you only get to 2 or 3 months – at least you know for 2 or 3 months you are ok.
Like many of us, it took me a long time to realize I was living life wrong financially and I have still not mastered it (I do not expect to either). It’s hard because the older you get your needs change, you want more – you tell yourself “I deserve this”… more. The turning point for me was being faced with medical bills and later being laid off as I mentioned. My head was totally in the sand – I looked around and noticed I was maxed out and blowing money fast on things I either could not remember or was bored with already.
When you are thinking about your goals for 2018 making sure you have a plan to save more is critical because it supports all other goals. New businesses, better travel, better fitness all work better when you have made plans to be able to afford them.
If you have used these or other methods to save more in 2018, let us know in the comments below.
Being Laid off SUCKS, But it Was a Major Moment of Growth as Well
I was laid off for a month almost two years ago. The experience was the oddest mix of emotions I had ever felt… relief (the company was bad), anxiety, fear and whatever you call that feeling when you are asking yourself “is this a dream?”. I had never been laid off before then but I thought I knew how it would go if it ever happened – Nah. I was sitting at my desk on a Friday morning (before coffee) cruising facebook and HR walks over. “Can I see you for a second?” he says. I was always being pulled into something so I got up and pranced into a room, ready to take on some unexpected project. Girl… there was a box of tissues and the other HR girl in the room and I still had no idea.
When they delivered the news I was thinking they had the wrong person because who gets laid off like this? My boss was on vacation, this is was super odd. Anyway, I packed up my stuff and left – there were no tears, no sadness (for me anyway), I smiled even… the relief thing I guess. I recovered quickly with a much better company and role but in hindsight, there were a few things I wish I had known before I was laid off.
That “the writing’s on the wall thing” is BS. Before this happened I thought I would have some lead time because, unless I am fired, leadership would give us a heads up about cuts or I would sense some new volatility. There was none -nada. This does not always happen apparently and layoffs do not always make sense to you at the moment. Example, I knew that the company’s best days were behind them and I was not busy but it was like that when I was hired nearly two years prior and I, nor the girl I replaced were ever busy. Silly me, right. Anyway, my point is you do not have time to get ready and there are not always “warnings”, you literally can be here today and gone tomorrow. Trust no one and nothing in Corporate America.
The needs for a “fuck it” fund/emergency savings/nest egg are so real. This is the one that makes me most angry when I look back. I had a savings but not what I should have/could have had if I were financially ready for a layoff. It took me 8 years of working to be laid off once. In that time, I could have had enough savings to slow it down and have more #Funemployment. A good amount saved would have given me options and opportunity to travel, wait a while to look for a job, and/or just go hang out with my grandma for a few weeks. Because I did not save well, I was too scared to relax and missed that rare window to take a breath (with severance pay).
Second streams of income matter. Before being laid off I heard about this a lot and did not give it the attention it deserved. Finding your own leg to stand on, even partially can be a lifesaver. I made the mistake of having all my eggs in someone else’s basket. Having other ways to make money at the ready could have given me some independence and freedom to take other opportunities as well.
Unemployment pay is a joke. I do not know what I was expecting from this, but it was more than what I got. All I am going to say here don’t look at this as any kind of safety net. Sign up for it if you get laid off/fired etc but save your own money, girl.
Do not suffer in silence, You need your village. Being laid off is embarrassing – especially if people think “you have it together”. That pedestal life sucks! Get off of it and burn it down. Now, I try to burn it down often – as soon as someone starts talking to me like I have all the answers, I mentally light a match. But be smart about it – if you are at work and the authority on something, that is different. I am talking about with your people – your village. Keep those lines of communication open and tell people when something is going on. All too often strong women want to be the pillar of strength for all these people, do not be afraid to call in some of those emotional debts.
I had no idea how vital my philosophy of “staying ready” would be. I have said this before… many times and many ways to my friends, family and you… you do not have time to “Get Ready”. I may not have been financially ready to be laid off but because I never fully left the job market, I was able to pick up and move quickly to the next thing. If you have not read my post on this, do yourself a favor and do it now! Why You Should Keep Your Resume Updated
Nothing shakes up life like an unexpected job loss but, I have to tell you – it’s odd how much less you are afraid of it after it has happened to you. Facing that situation gave me a deeper sense of confidence than I had ever had before. It’s like you have looked that fear square in the eye and slayed it! #WhoElseWantsSome (I am kidding, let’s not tempt the universe) My point is being laid off is not the worst thing to happen, it’s the catalyst for a lot of entrepreneurship, side hustles, travel, and blogs … so get scrappy. You got this!
You may be burned out now, but you don’t have to stay that way
When a relationship goes sour, checking out is all too easy. It happens. You have tried all you can but by the end, you just want out. This is interesting for work relationships because unlike a bad friend or bf, you cannot just walk away. You work for a living but never the less we are over it and not smartly so in most cases. Before you have started a job search, interviewed or been offered anything, you have started to visualize telling your boss to “miss you”, packing your stuff and getting more money someplace else. It becomes almost impossible to care about the work you are currently doing.
If this were only mental it would not be a problem but it is almost never just mental… even when you think it is. It starts to show up in everything you do. Even if we cannot admit we have done it, you have seen a co-worker do it. You know because she is suddenly late all the time, negative about everything, her work gets sloppy and then the whispers about them from other co-workers start to happen. It’s a bad look – even if you don’t care about the job anymore.
To be honest, I have felt this shift in myself, which is why this post exists. But, a realization hit me one night, do not leave until you leave and here is why?
It’s about the work, not the place it happens…if you love it. No matter your industry, at some level, you work there because you are good at it and enjoy the work. When you decide to leave it is almost always about the people but your body of work speaks to the type of professional you are and that has nothing to do with outside forces. Stay engaged, plug into the work because if you get into a habit “don’t care anymore”, it may be hard to break when you finally do move on.
Your co-workers are watching and talking. You may think that checking out only hurts you but it’s doesn’t, someone has to pick up your slack. I know what you are thinking, who cares? Right. The answer is, you should. Most organizations are getting a large percentage of their hires from referrals, especially if your industry is connected, like marketing. Your co-workers are your potential network, even people do not work directly with. If and when people move on, you may find that someone moved on to a company you want to work for, but now they do not want to risk their personal brand referring you.
And finally… you do not know how long it will take you to move on. For some people, moving on is quick but for others, it can take 6 months to a year. You do not want to check out, start to suck at your job and get fired.
A way to combat the urge to “check out” is to get to the root of why you want to out and give it less power, while you are looking for something better. If it is about a boss or co-worker, just resolve to put your head down and be 100% about the work. If you are not growing, take growth into your own hands. The truth is work is always full of flaws, even in the best organizations. I am sure there is an employee at Google right now that is ready to bounce because of their direct report. It happens, you should move on but do not leave mentally until you have an offer (in writing) to leave physically.
When it comes to goal setting, the truth is most of us are just doing it wrong. Our list of “to-dos” are too long and too much of a reach from where we stand today. But I get it, we want a lot out of our lives. We want a body like 90’s Janet, to start a profitable business, go vegan, and go from super single to married all within one year. I am not saying it’s never happened, I am saying it’s probably not going to happen to either one of us.
If the goals you have set are not working out so far, let’s take a step back and consider the real importance of the goals, where you are today, what is your vision of success and what are some action items you can take to achieve your goals.
Before you set goals, you have to decide what is important to you. I am not talking about the things that should be important, but what you really care about. For example, you may know that you need to lose weight, but you cannot seem to get moving on it. Yes, It could be that you are too “comfortable” but it can also be that it’s not important enough to get you going. There is value in forcing it maybe… but be really honest with yourself.
What are you fired up about? Maybe it’s reading more, saving more, or wearing less and going out more. I have found that reaching for the things closer to the top of my list get the ball rolling a lot better than…. for example, being skinny by my birthday; when, If I am honest, I was not skinny last birthday and did not care. Let it go for now. Find the real goal…the fire starter. It’s odd how it works, you will start to feel “together” in one area and before you know it, you are taking action in other areas because one fire feeds the other.
After you have decided on your goals … the real ones,figure out where you are today. If your goal is to read more, when was the last time you read a book? If your goal is to save more, are you saving now? Access your starting point really well, then figure out what success looks like. Craft a vision of what you want. Your specifics will depend on where you are starting. These two steps are important to do together. By considering these two factors you are taking stock of where you are and then deciding what would make you happy.
And finally, set some action items. Based on your starting point you may start small or go big. If you are starting small, focus on your baby steps. You may want to go 100% Vegan today but start with some Meatless Mondays. If you are going big, blow it up and create a path to success that gets you to your goals faster. Also, Do not try to work on 10 things at once, pick 2 or 3 goals, prioritize them and get moving.