This past Monday, I hosted my first event with Simply to Empower as the Mistress of Ceremony! It was super duper fun! I had the chance to meet entrepreneurs, work on my public speaking skills, and be inspired by the buzz of ambition in the room. The best part of the night was that I had the chance to introduce the keynote speaker, Karen Taylor Bass, one of the premier authorities in the public relations industry. And the funny thing is that I did not realize that we had met six years back in an African-Caribbean class until I started conversing with her later that night.
She was so nice and so down-to-earth and SO about her craft and money that I decided to share her nuggets of wisdom from her speech that night with you guys. I even bought her book “You Want Caviar But Have Money For Chitlins: A Smart Do-It-Yourself PR Guide for Those on A Budget” (and ya’ll know how I feel about unexpected purchases, but I thought it was definitely an investment in my business and my self-improvement) and followed her on Twitter @PRexpert and she followed back. You can also check out her site, TheBrandNewMommy.com for tips, motivation, and PR moves.
Technically, the focus of her speech was about the importance of branding and building buzz for business success; but essentially it was about the entrepreneur and his/her mental model for success., not entrepreneurship, per se. Anyone trying to build something from nothing will tell you (including myself) that much of the work of a business resides in the mind of the business owner: their belief in themselves, how they plan, and how they handle risk.
Make Your Dreams So Big that They Seem Laughable: She could have dropped the mic right there. I thought it was so deep that I am going repeat it: make your dreams so big that they seem laughable. For me, I took it to mean two things. First, forget about all of the awkward feelings that may come when you share your ideas with someone and they give you the sideeye. Consider it validation: you have been on the right path this whole time. So recognize. Second, for me, this statement gives you permission to put on and pull up your big girl panties and act like you know. If you put your dreams on the back burner for lack of self-belief, it is time that you brush those big dreams off and get to crackin’. And when you blow up, you can go back and say, “Remember that big laugh that you had…”
Here is my laughable dream: When I was walking out toward the subway that night, I saw an advertisement for Queen Latifah’s new talk show. And this feeling came over me. I looked at Queen’s smile, (and still feeling so good about my growing level of comfort in front of the camera) I told myself, “I’m going to be a talk show host in addition to life coach, speaker, author, and life changer for women of color.” What’s your laughable dream?
When Networking, Never Sit Next To The Person That You Came With: This was a very practical point. If you want to meet people, then stop sitting with the people that you come with. Divide and conquer and agree to meet at the end of the night. Karen also mentioned not letting energy vampires (my term, not hers) suck your energy during networking events. Aim for making three real connections, and pleasantly/respectfully separate yourself from people that you do not see a future relationship with.
Think About Where You Want Be To Be In Five Years: This could be applied to your current position, your side hustle, or your business. With the need to survive and get the day-to-day done, we can lose sight of where we want to go. Schedule monthly reminders for yourself to revisit your mission and vision. If you don’t have a mission and vision statement, let this blog post be the gentle
push shove that you need.
Don’t Give It Up For Free: If you are in business, stop giving it up for free. Without knowing it, you may be sending the message that the quality of your product is inferior and that you don’t have confidence in yourself. If you are intimidated or stressed out by the idea of negotiating, you can sic your lawyer on them. 🙂 Knowing Your Worth means putting a number on how much you want to make in 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and in the long term.
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone: This can be another trite, elusive saying, but Karen put it into real world context. If you are a woman of color used to attending events where everyone looks like you, try attending an event where at least one of those variables changes. Karen said that she learned a lot about people and herself when networking at an all Korean women’s business affair. When talking about business, she also recommended not being afraid to follow the money across seas. If you have the moxy to reach out internationally, you will be handsomely rewarded.
Frugalistas! What other advice would you add to this list?