On Being a Corporate Creative

I’ve teamed up with State Farm® as part of their Color Full Lives campaign, an initiative that promotes positivity & empowerment and celebrates all women in the African American community through a multitude of experiential and digital engagements. You know how this works-views, opinions, and musings of the unscripted kind are all my own. 

Somewhere along the line, I threw away either/or and picked up this and that. Somewhere along the line, I quit trying to commit to just one, linear, easily identifiable road and instead started making sense of my identity as a corporate creative. To paraphrase a tweet I recently read, I started to realize my plurality. I began to understand that the path I’m sculpting is complete with twists and turns, but it does not necessarily include some sort of fork in the road that will require me to choose one route.

My heart doesn’t vibrate accordingly to one passion. Instead, I am an assortment of layers. Interests. Skills. Talents. I am equally invested in my career in corporate communications and my creative journey as a writer. So, these days, my mindshare is devoted to everything from considering heading back to school to get my master’s to outlining what’s in store for my second book. And while I’d like to think this path, its consequences, and its sacrifices are unique, they are not. Instead, more women–both those close to me and those I observe from afar–are balancing multiple businesses, deriving income from various sources, and leaving their mark in more than one way.

I listened to strong examples of women like this in the latest “special edition” Color Full Lives podcast episode. As you may recall from this blog post last year, the Color Full Lives podcast, sponsored by State Farm, combines the influential voices of American radio personality Angela Yee, self-proclaimed “Duchess of Tech” Tatiana King Jones, and lifestyle influencer Francheska Medina, known for her brand Hey Fran Hey. The ladies are back with a limited edition run of the show, and they kicked it off by giving us a glimpse into how they’re running businesses, taking risks, and making headway on their goals.

We reunite with the ladies just as Angela has recently opened a juice bar, Fran is planning an 11-city wellness tour, and Tatiana is beginning work on a science fiction novel. Outside of these key projects, they are all also nurturing their personal lives, developing self-care and wellness regimens, and growing other professional endeavors. I identify with each of their demanding balancing acts and gleaned several gems from their conversation.

 

On writing“You have to allow yourself the slot to write, but allow yourself the slot to think. There will be times when you set aside time to write and that whole time, nothing comes out. ” – Tatiana

While I once considered writer’s block to be a complete cop out, Tatiana’s words now ring more true than ever for me as I work on my second book. Curating a body of work from the ground up is equal parts thinking and writing. A book is ultimately just as much what the author thought and felt as what that person ended up pouring on to the page. I’ve learned how to be more graceful with myself so that the thoughts and feelings have time to take shape, trusting that the words will always follow.

On understanding your worth and the value of your work:  “You can’t work for free forever; it’s just not sustainable. But how can I do that and still be fair and still be a businesswoman?” – Fran

This was one of those quotes that stuck with me long after I listened to the podcast. Fran, like many other bloggers and online content creators, has offered tons of quality content for free for years. She’s now transitioning to offering services at a price. It can be a tough and uncomfortable passage to move from free content to paid products and services, but I have found most people, myself included, usually reach that tipping point. It’s a natural evolution if whatever you’re offering is filling some sort of void in the universe. So, I’ve learned it’s important to confront your value head-on and stand firm in what you know you’re worth. When you do that, your magic reaches the right people.

On remembering to show gratitude:  “With the people that work with me, I just like to make sure I’m very grateful…when people mess up, we’re so quick to get upset, but it’s really important when people do things well to let them know they did a great job.” -Angela

I’m a sucker for handwritten notes, and thank you notes are no exception. I just recently sent out a slew of them for everyone who participated in the Love Me Well project and also dropped a few on my colleagues’ desks after a big event we hosted last month. It’s easy to move through life at hyper speed and forget to thank people along the way. But, I’ve never seen a boulder pushed uphill without at least three or four pairs of hands behind it.

I’m unsure where my windy corporate creative path will take me. I can’t quite pin down what’s next or even what it will take to get there. But, I do know that there are timeless tenets like allowing myself time to think, acknowledging my value, and remembering to show gratitude that will always keep me lifted and move me through.

This post was sponsored by State Farm, as part of their Color Full Lives campaign. For more information, or to contact an agent, please click here.   

On Love and Podcasts: The First Half Of 2016

 

The brisk January day when I said I was open to love
The brisk January day when I said I was open to love

I’ve teamed up with State Farm® as part of its Color Full Lives campaign, an initiative that promotes positivity & empowerment and celebrates all women in the African American community through a multitude of experiential and digital engagements. You know how this works-views, opinions, and musings of the unscripted kind are all my own. 

Somewhere in between our tapas and bottle of wine, I told my friend that this was the year I would be open to love. That was back in January, when the air was brisk and my heart was wide open. Like everyone else around me, I was pumped up with the kind of blind and inflated hope that ushers in a new year.

It’s August now. The air has grown thick and humid, and this heart of mine is more of a spectator to love, than a veteran recipient of it. Since that dinner in January, I moved my twenty-something self much closer to the District of Columbia, started swiping left and swiping right despite vehement declarations that I would never download Tinder, and watched time tick in the weeks that one man stopped texting me. And through it all, somehow, I’m still open to love – less as an eager pup hoping it manifests for me romantically, and more as an ardent and spirited observer of how that love has taken shape for people in my orbit.

The June day when I celebrated love, also known as my sister's wedding (photo credit Jazzmin Awa-Williams and Dejah Greene)
That beautiful day in June when I celebrated love, also known as my sister’s wedding (photo credit Jazzmin Awa-Williams and Dejah Greene)

Perhaps what I’ve learned most is that being open to love means just that – being open. It means extracting lessons from both the monumental and the molecular, keeping an ear out and an eye open for any pebble of wisdom you can garner from anywhere. I’ve collected a lot of that wisdom this year from podcasts. From the essayists behind the Modern Love podcast to the rapport between husband and wife duo Danyel Smith and Elliott Wilson on #RelationshipGoals, there’s always something new to be gleaned from people’s perspectives on human connection.

And then there are the ladies of the Color Full Lives podcast.

Color Full Lives, a new podcast sponsored by State Farm, combines the sharp and influential voices of American radio personality Angela Yee, self-proclaimed “Duchess of Tech” Tatiana King Jones, and lifestyle influencer Francheska Medina, known for her brand Hey Fran Hey. During each episode, the women share their perspectives on everything from branding to diversity in tech. But, the episode that tugged at my heartstrings was episode 3 where the women broke down the raucous, unpredictable, and grey world of dating and relating. You can listen to it here.

 

Here are a few standout gems from the episode.

On trusting your partner in the age of social media | “If you have to look, you already know what it is.” – Angela

On balancing a public online presence with your private life | “I have a duty to protect myself and my family. They are people who did not sign up to be this public person.” – Tatiana

On dating a man’s potential instead of acknowledging his reality | “I’m a sucker for some potential. But, lesson learned. I’ve been burned too many times with that one.” – Fran

On not settling | “I’d much rather be single than be with the wrong person.” –Angela

On reconciling what a person looks like on paper with who they are in real life | “We tend to assume markers of success mean something about the mind of the man, but it’s not the case.” – Fran

On relinquishing the idea of saving or changing a partner | “Put your capes away! Why bother?” – Tatiana

These are all lessons we learn along the way if we are lucky, and early on if we are smart. But, we’re not always that smart. If there’s anything I’ve learned and heard reaffirmed from the women, it’s that the cobblestone road to love is a hands-on experience, a fight in the ring, a jump in the mud, and a dance with the devil. But, like the three of them, I am trying to both learn from my mistakes and laugh about them along the way.

That hot July day when I was surrounded by love
That hot July day when I was surrounded by love

I’m not sure how else “being open to love” will manifest this year. I don’t know if it will crystallize in some way or remain shapeless, coming to me through sound bites and spectatorship. But, what I do know is that I’ll remain open to whatever love – or podcasts – have to offer.

This post was sponsored by State Farm, as part of its Color Full Lives campaign. For more information, please visit https://www.statefarm.com/finances/