Thursday, April 28, 2011

Proving Yourself

For some people, your best will never be enough.No matter how intelligent, charismatic, kind, or whatever other positive attribute Unfortunately, such is the case with our current Commander-In-Chief, President Obama. Yesterday, after years of brushing off the "birthers" who refuse to believe that he is a US citizen by birth, he presented his long-form birth certificate.

As if it weren't all verified before he became a serious candidate. As if he owed these birthers something. As if a Black man could not attain that level of power without it being part of some deep-seated conspiracy to change the America "we know and love."

In the words of @JamilSmith, "This reminds me of is a Black man being forced to show his papers proving he's a freed man. It's not equivalent, but reminiscent." 

But of course they aren't satisfied. As I tweeted yesterday, they will never be satisfied because he can never change his skin. And this morning I read a post of 20 examples of Birther/Tea Partiers bitching about the legitimacy of the document, how long it took him to release it, now stating he needs to show his grades from school.... Really? Fuckin really, America?! Have a seat boo, you're bigotry, hatred, fear and racism are showing. And everyone sees it.

I'm too disgusted to finish. Part two when I'm more composed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

YPW: The YP Bookshelf

*due to several factors I wasn't able to get this posted yesterday but I wanted to make sure I shared it!*

One thing I have learned is that no matter how long you've been working, how well you know your job, or whether or not you went to school for a certain field, you can always benefit from reading more about the business. There is plenty of material out there pertaining to specific areas (such as the two real estate books I should have finished long ago but am still I'm reading, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent and Shift). But even better, in my opinion, are books that teach you about managing your career and how to deal with different aspects of business regardless of what your business is.

Once we make the move to the new blog (more on that to come) there will be a section entitled "From the Bookshelf," which will feature book reviews, discussions, etc. I thought I'd get a head start on that by listing just a few books that I think would be beneficial for young professionals. Of course it's likely that they won't all fit you, but you should be able to find something relatable in this list. It isn't complete, and some of them are still on my to-read list, but have made it here by virtue of the excerpts I have read. Full reviews coming later!

Already Read

1. You're Too Smart for This: Beating the 100 Big Lies About Your First Job
I wish I'd read this before getting my first "real" job. It would've prepared me for some of the things that I encountered as a fresh young grunt.

2. Who Moved My Cheese
When I read this in college for one of my business classes, it didn't make much of an impact on me. However, after getting out in the real world and dealing with change on the regular, this book proved to be pretty valuable.

3. The Girls Guide to Kicking Your Career in Gear
Great book on how to take control of your work life, even when it looks like the boys club has things on lock. I enjoyed this one and revisit it from time to time.


1. Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less
2. Z.B.A.: Zen of Business Administration--How Zen Practice Can Transform Your Life and Your Work
3. Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations (complementary books)
4. 32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business
5. Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business and Life

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

YPW: What Is Your Online Reputation?

How fitting that this would fall on 4/20, as I see many on my Twitter timeline publicly discussing their drug use. Some even have their real full name in the profile. O_o

More and more, employers are checking out their employees and potential employees via the web. According to an article posted yesterday on, "A 2010 study by Microsoft and Cross-Tab, a market-research agency, found that 78% of surveyed U.S. companies examined the search-engine results of prospective hires. The study also found that 86% of employers reported that a positive online reputation factors into their hiring decision." They want to see "the real you," not just your representative from the interview. What will they find when they Google you?

Take a moment and do a search for your name. Go ahead, I'll wait. *plays hold muzak*


So what did you find? When I search my full name, I get my results related to my business: the real estate website & blog, a professional Twitter handle, and my LinkedIn account. There are also a ton of results that have absolutely nothing to do with me. Guess my name is more common than I thought, which can be a mixed blessing.

The Internet makes it easy to give TMI, sometimes without even realizing it. If you find some not-so-great results for yourself, you may be able to do damage control. Facebook is the biggie here. You notice I didn't list Facebook above. That's because I am militant about my security settings; I check, check and check again. So no, you won't find that by doing a public search. However, that is not necessarily foolproof, so you still need to safeguard your account. Un-tag pictures that may cast a negative light (drug use, extreme drunkenness, displaying weapons), monitor what goes on your wall (keep profanity to a minimum and discourage profanity and hate speech from others), and refrain from the negative comments about your boss, coworkers, customers, etc. I know the last one is tempting! But trust me, managers tend to look down on those kind of things. The same is true for Twitter, Myspace if you haven't stepped out of 2005, and whatever other social networks you may be on. (If you just must have an online venue to vent, I suggest a Twitter or Tumblr account under an alias with a different email address than what's listed on your resume. Can't be too careful!)

If you don't have much info coming up, or if you want to add more positive results, there are several things you can do. Create a LinkedIn account and be sure to update it at least twice a week. (For the uninitiated, LinkedIn is sort of like Facebook but specifically for the purpose of networking with other professionals). Do the same for Twitter. If you don't want to go through the hassle of creating two Twitter accounts, don't! You can make yours what I call a blended account where you discuss business and share select personal information (basically, remember yesterday's rule of not over-sharing and apply it here). You may also want to create a blog to get your name out there. Do one that is strictly professional, or follow the same format you would for the blended Twitter account. It may take a little time to get listed higher up in the rankings, but with regular activity it will happen. (Let me pause here to say that I am ignorant when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. I'm learning, but I can't tell you a thing about it right now, so do like me and do some research on how SEO can be helpful to you.)

Lastly, if you need help burying negative info that you have no control over, you need to bring out the big guns. The professionals. Companies like and Integrity Defenders work to bury negative info (because it's almost impossible to erase stuff from the 'net) under a ton of positive info. These people know all about SEO, search algorithms, all that good stuff. Of course, it will cost you and it can be pretty pricey, so this is not a quick fix because you don't want to change your Facebook privacy settings. This is some in-depth damage control.

So fellow young professionals, how well do you manage your online reputation? Now that you are in "the real world" have you changed your perception of social media and how it's used? Speak on it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

YPW: Make Yourself Marketable

There is an uncomfortable truth that young professionals--and even the not-so-young--have to come to grips with. The days of remaining loyal to one company for 30-something years and retiring in comfort off of your pension plan are long gone. These days, one must often move out to move up, and simply being "good enough" is not enough to get you where you want to be. You have to make yourself marketable, make hiring managers want you on their team because they see you as an asset. The most effective way to do this is through education and training.

You may be thinking, "No no no, I'm not going back to school! I've got all the degrees I need/want for this job." Understandable! I am right there with you (at least, for the time being). Although having x number of degrees is pretty impressive, that's not the only type of education out there for you. Don't think that you can only gain knowledge by sitting in a professor's classroom for a couple semesters. There are other avenues through which you can learn and make yourself more valuable to your current company, future companies who may be looking to hire you, and yourself should you decide to branch out on your own.

Of course, one of the biggest, easiest ways is by looking for information online. If you're like me, you've got access to (and take advantage of) the Internet 24/7. Why not take a break from Twitter to check out an article written by some of the leaders in your industry. Not sure who that might be? Google is your friend! Search for "trends in [industry name]" or "[your industry] industry leaders." The names that come up first and most often are usually the ones you want to go with. However, you must exercise some caution and common sense; there are scams almost everywhere. Beware of links that try to sell you something or that go to shady looking sites. There is also a wealth of information to be found in publications that relate to the type of business you do, such as industry journals and business books. Sure it may seem archaic, but crack open a book sometime to learn more about your business. You'd be amazed at the "a-ha" moments you have once you understand the ins and outs of what you do.

Reading and doing your research is excellent, but that's not the only type of education you need. If you are fortunate enough to work at a company that provides or pays for training, attend as often as possible. This is especially important when the training involves people from other agencies or companies, because they offer benefits beyond the obvious. For example, I am taking part in an Administrative Support Certification Program (ASCP). Of course I don't plan on working in an administrative assistant position for the rest of my career, so why am I taking it? Well, the obvious reason is because it will allow me to learn skills to enhance my current job and make me eligible for a little raise. However, the big bonus here is networking. Some of the instructors work or have worked in fields that interest me: grant writing & management, publishing, consulting, music! And some of the other participants are working in agencies that I would like to work for. I've even connected with other real estate agents and gotten leads from them. Networking with others gives you a chance to pick their brains for ideas that you may be able to implement, leads for job opportunities, and new lunch spots to try.

I would also advise not limiting yourself to the training your job provides. After all, what if your company can't/doesn't provide any at all? You have to take the initiative and find the training that will be beneficial to you. And think outside of the box! Are you in a position or one day hope to be in a position that requires making presentations? Become a part of your local Toastmasters Club. While it's not a traditional "training" you get the experience of making presentations, and mistakes, without having it affect your career. Find conferences and other training opportunities that interest you, then find a way to incorporate them into your work. If you're passionate about it, it will show!

Finally, find professional organizations related to what you do. Some of them may be free, or you can get your employer to offset the cost for you. If you are in the industry that you want to work in long term (or at least one you can see yourself in for a couple years) it would most likely be worth the annual fee. The benefits of being a part of a professional organization are basically the same as the other benefits we've discussed: networking (on a large scale this time) and more training opportunities. Even if you cannot find a professional org that specifically relates to your field, you should try a generic professional group, such as NBMBAA or Young Professional Alliance if there is one in your area.

To the young professionals reading this post, what have you done to make yourself marketable?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Young Professionals Week (YPW): Presenting Yourself Professionally

Although I am an artiste at heart, I am also very business oriented. One of my greatest goals in life is to help others, minority girls in particular, to understand and excel at business. True, not everyone will be an entrepreneur or even work in an industry that involves your typical "business." However, the majority of us will have to work for and with someone else, and in doing so we must learn how to present ourselves professionally. It is critical to our success--and our paycheck!

So how exactly do you present yourself professionally? There are a couple of simple things you can do to show the more refined, business-minded side of yourself, regardless of the nature of your business.

When it comes to jewelry and makeup, less is more.
I was recently in a training where an older woman had multiple rings on every. single. finger. Add that to the earrings, necklaces (yes, multiple) and bracelet she had on... When she spoke, where do you think all of the attention went? To the mounds of jewelry, not to what she was saying!  Accessorizing and using makeup to enhance your appearance is great. It projects the image that you care about your job and how the company is presented. However, too much of a good thing really isn't a good thing at all. Practice moderation when it comes to the makeup and jewelry.

Be 110% sure that your clothing is work-appropriate.
Whether you are working with kids, working with power brokers or working with power tools, there is appropriate attire for your job.Since I'm still in the confines of a traditional office job (for now) I focus on that area. Of course, your employer will already have a dress code--most likely written in the policy, but some places it is simply implied. If you're not sure, remember: if you wear it to the club, it's a no. That means the low-cut, super-short, and tight tight outfits are a no-go. After all, you're there to handle business, not sleep your way to the top, right? Also, if you wear it to bed, do NOT bring that to the office! Yes, I have seen some people in places of business dressed as if they were lounging around the house. I can't imagine they were there long. Please leave the sweats, PJ bottoms and Pajama Jeans at home... even if they are comfy. And guys, you aren't off the hook either! The loud Steve Harvey suits with the jacket to your knees? Sir, just say no. I would advise you to say no to buying them at all, but if you must buy them, relegate their wear to Easter service and the Playa's Ball.

Don't over share.
Sure, you're an adult and expected to enjoy adult activities. But do you really think it's appropriate to share how drunk you got over the weekend? Or how good your partners *ahem* skills are? Or how you're gonna whoop so-and-so's behind if they cross you again? Not in the office, it's not. If you've got a coworker that happens to be a good friend, feel free to talk about all of that after hours, preferably at happy hour. Better yet, leave the sordid details of your life outside of work to convos with pals with different employers. Be cordial, of course, but know when and where to draw the line.

Check and double-check your work.
The most important part of your professional presentation is how effectively and efficiently you do your work. No matter how polished you appear physically, if your work appears sloppy, you appear unprofessional. If you are sending out any written document, you need to double check for clarity as well as spelling and grammar. Make certain that presentations meet any guidelines that have been given (such as an allotted time) and that your message is clear and concise. Don't simply rely on spell check to catch errors. If at all possible, have someone else proofread your work

Of course these aren't the last word in professionalism, so what do you have to say? What advice would you give other young professionals? What, in your opinion, is a definite way to portray yourself as unprofessional?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Morning Quickie: Theme Weeks

I'm going to try my hand at something that I've never really done, save the Seven Deadly Sins challenge. I'm going to start doing theme weeks from time to time, with random posts done on the "off" weeks. The idea behind this is that a theme will 1) force me to post more, 2) help me to develop topics easily, and 3) allow me to write more about my readers' (and my own) interests. A few themes have come to mind, like Greek Week, Tweet Week and Week of the Ex to name a few. I will also be taking topics from The Daily Post, Blogging for Branding, and any other sites, articles, etc. that inspire me. (If I lift an idea from another blogger or site, trust that I'm giving credit where it's due.) I'm also open to challenges suggestions from readers. If you have a topic that you think would be interesting, send it to me! Feel free to leave it in the comments or email me at First theme week starts on April 17. I'm excited. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Did They Die in Vain?

Forty-three years ago today, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN. His legacy of fighting for equality and civil rights lives on to this day. He dreamed of a better day for his people and for all people. Some would argue that this has happened, in that we cannot legally be discriminated against based on color, nationality, and gender. Some go as far as to say the fact that President Obama is in office the the culmination of Dr. King's dream. I am not one of those with rose-colored glasses. I know that the dream has not been fully realized, as racial profiling, economic inequality and the "glass ceiling" that minorities face in business is still very real.

But we must take a look inward to see what we have done to either further his dream or hinder it. Have we as a people lost focus of what's truly important? Does equality and the chance to achieve the "American dream" hold as much weight as the latest dance or what our favorite reality TV stars are doing? Do we as a people still have the sense of unity and community that we once had? When we remember the legacy of men like Dr. King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Rosa Parks and countless others--known and unknown--it is not enough to say "thank you." We must show that we are thankful for their sacrifices by living up to our potential, continuing the fight for equality and refocusing on the things that matter most. Every day that we don't, we are saying that they died in vain.