My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me

valedictorian medalI was the valedictorian of the Class of ’89 at Cresset Christian Academy in Durham, N.C.

Although, I had always loved school and did my very best since kindergarten; I’d worked extremely hard to “prove” myself once my mom enrolled me in a Christian school my eighth grade year. I was the only student of color in my class, so I felt this insurmountable pressure to show my classmates that I was just as smart as or even smarter than they were. I never imagined that my hard work would position me to have the highest GPA. It never even crossed my mind.

So, when I found out that I was valedictorian, I was so shocked. You might say I was flabbergasted.

Well, you may have thought that I would have gone on to some Ivy League College or at least gone to one of the larger more competitive public universities in North Carolina or some other state.

You may have thought that I would have pursued a career that would have paid me six figures, easily, in the mid ’90′s like law, accounting, computer technology, marketing and advertising, or even medicine; but, I didn’t.

In fact, when it came time for me to choose a career and an institution of higher learning, I settled.

I settled because I did not go to the college that I really wanted to go to and I did not choose the career path that I really wanted to choose. I chose to play it  safe in both regards. I chose to go to a very small HBCU (historically Black College or University) in North Carolina and I chose to major in elementary education.

SAFE. SAFE. SAFE.

I now know that what fueled my logic, what fed my sense of inadequacy, even though my entire scholastic record said I was highly capable,  is something called the Impostor Syndrome. It is the reason I literally talked myself out of taking risks and really pushing myself after high school.

But, don’t cry for me. :)

Even though I  may have short-changed myself to some degree, this post is not about obsessing over the past. It is about acknowledging a mindset that is very prevalent in successful people–particularly women.

The Impostor Syndrome is a very real phenomenon that successful women, professional women, and women who are climbing the-bring-home-the-bacon-fry-it-up-in-a-pan-I-am-every-woman-ladder struggle with in spite of their abilities, education, salaries, and accolades.

This post is about resetting our minds so that we do not allow this syndrome to overtake us and keep us from joyfully fulfilling our divine purpose.

Assess Yourself

Do you suffer from listening to the “private voices of self-doubt” even though you are an accomplished leader in your field? 

Have you obtained the education, accolades, awards, and salary of  an expert in your industry but yet you struggle with believing that you really deserve any of it?

Do people consider you a role model or look to you for great counsel and advice; yet, inside you are still asking yourself questions like “What if they find out I’m not as smart as they think I am? or “Can I really pull this off?”

If so, you may be suffering from the hidden fears and insecurities that millions of successful people struggle with known as the Impostor Syndrome and it is time that you are SET FREE.

Interview with Dr. Valerie  Young Valerie-Young (1)

On Friday, March 29th, I had a wonderful discussion about this subject with Dr. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How To Thrive In Spite of It. She shared strategies that will help you transform your thinking so that you can “reach new heights” and “positively thrive.”

Dr. Young is an accomplished speaker and her career-related tips have been cited in publications around the world including The Wall Street JournalUSA Weekend, More magazine, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Psychology Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Mail, The Irish Independent, and Entrepreneur to name a few. You can learn more about her at www.impostorsyndrome.com.

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Thoughts From You

  • What Do You Think About This Phenomenon?
  • Have you experienced it or do you know someone who has? Please share your thoughts below. I love to hear from you! :)

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Peace and Blessings,

It’s  4:37 a.m. and I am wide awake.

Don’t worry. I took a very long nap yesterday evening….slept from 5-8:30 p.m.

So, after my daughter went to bed, I decided that I should get my all new vision board done….finally. (After all, the first quarter of the year is almost up.)

It had been leaning against the French doors in my great room, as they call it nowadays, since January–almost blank, with images just on the left side. The images reflected my future physique and the verbiage I’d so carefully cut out of my Oxygen magazines reinforced my goals.

The incompleteness of the board would not be so obvious if it were the normal poster size. But, I had to be all I could be and get the absolute largest size that Office Depot had to offer. You may not believe this but the foam board is the size of a mini billboard….honestly.

Don’t ask me why.

Word Wall

Word Wall

Okay, so here’s why….:)

Well, the day that I was in Office Depot and I spotted the huge foam board, I got this bright idea. If I were to take that huge board home with me, it would be large enough for me to include the vision for all areas of my life—family, health, business/finances, and spirituality/relationships. That would alleviate the pain of having to be so selective when I chose pics and phrases and would also keep me from having to create several boards.

Thankfully, I was driving my mother’s Dodge Caravan that day because I would have never been able to fit it into the backseat or trunk of my G35.

And so it is that just a few hours ago, around midnight, I pulled out two of my favorite movies that I’d purchased but never had a chance to watch at home—The Devil Wears Prada and The Lake House—rounded up 20 or more magazines and my favorite pair of scissors and got to work.

While I was working, it suddenly dawned on me that I was finding more words, more phrases than actual images that depicted my vision. And, then a great idea came to mind.

Creating a Word Wall

When I taught elementary school, one wall of my classroom was dedicated to the Word Wall. It was a wall that had each letter of the alphabet from A to Z spread across the top in a straight line. Each week, I would choose five words as the focus of our spelling and word activities. We would play all kinds of word games with the words, discuss their definitions, create sentences, etc. etc. On Friday, I would give a quick assessment of the words and then post the words to the Word Wall under the letter that each word started with. By the end of the year, the wall looked like a living, breathing dictionary on the wall and I just loved seeing how many words my students had mastered in just one year.

The grand idea that came to mind was what if I created a Word Wall of sorts? What if I focused first on just finding words that express who I am becoming, what I want, where I want to be, how I want to impact the world, and so forth and so on? What if I then, designated a notebook for declaring my future via my Word Wall?

I could choose one word or phrase every morning or every night and write a sentence in my Word Wall Journal about my future. For example: Blast calories and burn fat! is a phrase on my foam board right now. I could write a sentence that reads: Each day, I will blast calories and burn fat by doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and weight training five days per week.

This idea got my juices flowing.

I became so excited that I had to stop myself because finding these descriptive, inspiring, life-shaping words was getting too good and taking me to where I am now—into the wee hours of the morning.

So, here I am asking you to consider trying this spin on your vision board with me. It will suddenly make the board interactive, meaningful, and vocal; and in a strange way, it will hold you accountable to what you have promised yourself, making sure you don’t push the board in a corner where it will collect dust.

Each day, your Word Wall will be at the top of your mind either when you wake up or when you go to bed at night. What a great way to program your mind!

Pics of my Word Wall

Here are pictures of the makings of my Word Wall. I am not quite finished. I am going to devote 30 minutes a day to it until it is done. I really want to find more words and then find some compelling images to associate with them. I think I am also going to have to do an “And all these things….” Word Wall. It will be devoted to those brand names, the fashion, the dream home, the vacations, the philanthropic efforts, etc. etc. that will come as the vision becomes my visual reality. :)

 The Left Side

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                                          The Center

2013-03-17_04.00.14

2013-03-17_03.58.47

                                                                                                                  The Magazines

It’s Your Turn :)

Join me in shaping your life with words every single day—words that will inspire you to never lose focus of your vision.

 

Peace and Blessings,

What Can You Do To Dominate Your Niche?

OwnYourNiche_cover_final (1)Do you know exactly who you have been called to serve?

I mean, if I were to ask you to list all of the characteristics of your ideal client, would that be easy for you to do?

And if you can do that, do you know how to position yourself  as the authority in your field so that when your ideal client is looking for a solution to the problem that you solve, you are their ultimate problem solverwithout reservation?

Well, yesterday’s show is entitled How to Dominate Your Niche and I was blessed to have Ms. Stephanie Chandler, author of Own Your Niche, on Books That Transform for 47 minutes.

Stephanie shared some of the incredible, results-oriented tips and strategies in her book that focus on choosing the right audience, demonstrating authority in  your field, showcasing your unique skills, and bringing value to your audience.She talked about building loyalty, community, and brand recognition, giving more than receiving, and about growing your business.

All About Stephanie Chandler

Stephanie Chandler is an author of several books including Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to stephaniechandlerEstablish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business, From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, eBooks and Information Products, and LEAP! 101 Ways to Grow Your Business.

Stephanie is also founder and CEO of BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs, and Authority Publishing, a custom publisher specializing in non-fiction books. A frequent speaker at business events and on the radio, she has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, BusinessWeek, and Wired magazine, and she is a contributing blogger for Forbes. To learn more about her, visit stephaniechandler.com.

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Share Your Thoughts & Spread the Word

Wasn’t that some great, applicable content? I had so much fun talking to Stephanie, but more than that, I know that the information that she gave in that short amount of time is really simple, powerful, and effective.

Share your thoughts on the interview and go tell a friend (who wants to sustain a relevant, profitable business enterprise but needs a little direction on how to increase visibility and loyalty with the right audience) all about it. :)

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Questions I Asked Stephanie

Stephanie, since your book is entitled Own Your Niche and the show is entitled How to Dominate Your Niche, I’d love for you to “educate” us on a couple of things—

  • What is a niche?

  • How does a small business entrepreneur or solopreneur choose a profitable niche by which he or she can dominate?

Now, that you have defined niche for us and we have a clearer understanding on how to select a profitable one, how then do we establish or niche identity and why is that so important?

Stephanie, on today’s show, I promised the listeners that they would learn online and offline methods that would get them the kind of exposure that will establish them as leaders in their industries. I am counting on you to be our tour guide on this journey. So, let’s divide our discussion into two parts—online strategies/tactics and offline strategies. Is that okay with you?

 Great! Well, let’s start with online tactics first.

 One of the things that made me want to really get into your book was when you began by addressing some of the unethical behaviors that are going on online these days. Stephanie, explain to us the difference between the kind of marketing tactics that most of us are bombarded with today and the kind of marketing that you advocate?

Stephanie, I’d like to share a website with you and the audience and that is www.guzymusic.com. It is the website of a music producer in the Greensboro area where I live named Luguzy Atkins. Now, Luguzy just created his website this year and he is open to any advice you might give him. So, let’s use his site as our model for this portion of the show.

Share with us specific online strategies that he could implement that would—

  • Establish his authority as a producer

  • Build his audience & engage his community

  • Turn his website into a “client conversion machine”

  • Increase his website traffic

 In chapter six which is entitled Blogs Rule, you say that “A blog is hands-down one of the most important elements of a successful website.” What are entrepreneurs who do not consistently blog missing out on?

 While we are in this vein, let’s talk about content marketing. If you were starting your business from scratch in 2013 what would be the top two types of content marketing you would implement consistently to establish yourself as an authority in your industry and why?

 Stephanie, I love the fact that you devote an entire chapter to internet revenue streams—multiple streams of income. Give us an example of a client or an entrepreneur in your book who has mastered the art of creating multiple streams of income online.

 Stephanie, now it is time for us to delve into becoming a rock star offline. Professional Speaking is the first offline method that you address. What would you say to the person who 1) does not know exactly how to create interesting speaking topics, 2) needs pointers on how to actually get on the speaking circuit?

 Another method that you address is event promotion. Betty Brand Specialist is only interested in hosting paid events. What are the pros and cons of having this kind of perspective?

 Stephanie, there is no way we could touch on all of the offline strategies that you cover in your book, but if I gave you an apple pie and I asked you to divide it into pieces that represent the fresh new marketing plan of a start-up or start over entrepreneur, how many would go to online strategies and how many would go to offline strategies?

Peace and Blessings,

In 2010, women comprised 47% of the U.S. Labor Force.

Today, it is said that figure has tipped over the 50% mark.

Even with so many women at work, it appears that we have yet to obtain the positions of authority in our work or business Rezvani - PUSHBACK - Cover (2) (1)environments. According to Selena Rezvani, women’s leadership author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask For and Stand Up For What They Want:

Despite some of our gains, women continue to make up a meager portion of senior leaders in government, business, and even those fields that are female dominated. Our low presence in top decision-making roles diminishes our contributions, gives us little say in corporate and societal directions, and reduces us to mere observers.

 

Hmmm…..Ladies.

I say, it is time for change. It is time for us to do what COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg advises--Go Get It!

The only way for us to go get it is to ask for it. In other words, we must first change our mindset about what we deserve and then hone our negotiating and self-advocacy skills.

To get a better understanding of the negotiating process, I called upon women’s leadership author, speaker, and consultant, Selena Rezvani.

selena rezvaniWho is Selena Rezvani?

Selena Rezvani’s goal is to propel more women into the top echelons of businesses — an objective she achieves through her writing, consulting, and speaking engagements. She is the co-owner of Women’s Roadmap, a consulting firm that elevates women into leadership through assessment, the design of gender-inclusive policies, and coaching. Outside of her consulting and coaching work, Selena promotes her message through training programs, teaching some of the brightest minds in business at eBay, Harvard, Accenture, Princeton, Duke, Johnson & Johnson, The Clinton Foundation, and many others. 

She has been quoted, interviewed, and profiled by The Today Show, CareerBuilder, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ABC, and NBC. She is a regular commentator on NPR’s syndicated 51 Percent: The Women’s Perspective, blogs for Forbes.com and writes an award-winning column on women and leadership for The Washington Post. She is the author of the acclaimed career guidebooks PUSHBACK: How Smart Women Ask–and Stand Up–for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School (Praeger, 2009).

Selena received her bachelor of science and master of social work degrees from New York University, and has an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, where she graduated first in her class. She lives near Philadelphia. For more information, visit: www.NextGenWomen.com or www.WomensRoadmap.com.

 

Listen to Our Discussion Now to Learn the Four-Step Model of Negotiation & The  Importance of Self-Advocacy by Women in the 21st Century Workforce

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Questions I Asked Selena

  1. Selena, one strategy that authors are given to help with crafting their message is to visualize that one person they are writing to. Describe for us the ideal reader you were thinking of when you wrote Pushback.

  2. Selena, to some, the term Pushback may sound a little combative and therefore have a negative connotation. Give us your definition of pushback and share a few examples of some “pushback scenarios.”

  3. I love the fact that you did your own research for this book by interviewing what you call “a new set of 20 women leaders in the top echelons of their fields.” As you analyzed your data, what was the most shocking thing that you learned from this experience?

  4. Selena, it is apparent that women struggle with pushing back, even today when there are more of us who are educated, more of us in the work force, and more of us as even head of our households. What would you say are the top 3 reasons that women shy away from pushing back?

  5. Selena, for older or more seasoned women who say, I am sorry, I am just not going to risk negotiating or advocating for myself given today’s climate, what would you say are the consequences of such a decision?

  6. Selena, you say that “One of the best investments you’ll make in your career is spending time learning a reliable and effective system for negotiation. As you build your skills and learn the art of negotiating, you’ll begin to see it not just a one-time or occasional (and somehow mysterious) transaction but an everyday necessity.” So, in the book, you give us a four-step model of negotiation. Please take your time and breakdown those four steps for us.

  7. You provide an assessment in the book that can help women pinpoint the areas of strength and identify their weaker areas. Give us an example of how a woman would use this information to become better at asking for and standing up for what she wants.

  8. Selena, as I was reading your book, I immediately thought about Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and how she states that women hold themselves back by lowering our expectations of what we can achieve. And, then, as I read on, lo and behold, you actually talk about the speech she gave in which she urged women to “go get it” rather than waiting for permission. Why is it so important for young women who are just entering the workplace to possess the pushback kind of mindset?

  9. Selena, you have registered for my English 101 class, and your first assignment is to write a persuasive essay. This is your writing prompt: This is a great time to elect a qualified woman for the presidency of the United States because…..

 

Please share your thoughts about the interview below and if you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to Books That Tranform! :)

 

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Peace and Blessings,
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