Ten Quick Things I Learned from Dr. Tererai Trent*

I just got back from the 2016 National Women’s Leadership Conference* and have returned with more laser-point focus than ever this year. I may have finally stepped far enough outside of my comfort zone to really connect with my tribe of awesome business women (and a couple men).

I still owe travel posts on my trip to DC but. . . this is still fresh at my fingertips so you’ll be reading it hot off the presses!

On the very first day of conference, very first thing in the morning, our speaker was “Oprah’s All-Time Favorite Guest”*, a writer, speaker, scholar, humanitarian, and – I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind me calling her this, a total bad ass.  I can’t write up enough to do her justice so read more about Dr. Tererai on her site.

I want to share with you the most poignant points that I took from her powerful talk. Of course I’m paraphrasing and she delivered it with a way better aura of owning it, but since you couldn’t be there, I hope you enjoy these snippets!  If you have a women’s / girl’s organization that utilizes speakers – she is sure to win them over and inspire them in an instant – definitely consider booking her.

Lessons from Dr. Tererai Trent*

Go for the great hunger

Dr. Tererai explained the two different hungers; the little hunger which is what you can resolve immediately like eating, and the great hunger which is more of a purpose like becoming educated. Don’t get lost in the little hungers, keep your focus on your bigger purpose!

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Don’t put up with the bullshit

Ok, this woman was a powerful and charismatic presence, with her accent from Zimbabwe, and the last thing I expected her to say was the word “bullshit” BUT, she did! She explained that where she grew up she could see the little boys being raised to be leaders while the little girls were being raised to be domesticated and she called that out for being exactly what it was, bullshit! She eventually grew to question that, and because of that courage she is now a humanitarian leader and scholar. You call out that bullshit and let it know you’re over it!

Sometimes it’s ok to say bullshit at a business women’s conference

I know this point sounds ridiculous and completely out of context for a general blog post but since it’s MY post and I’M writing it – let me explain.  I ran for a position on the national executive board of my organization in 2015 and I was at-odds the entire year with being completely myself vs. my “business lady-ish” self. The thing is, I swear sometimes. I use slang, I make laser sound effects, I dance – all the time, I have a unicorn phone case, I take stupid selfies, my mom says I have no “solemnity”, and again – I swear. When I was campaigning I would be myself around my campaign team – using “eff” and “ish” because Mary Jane (MJ) is over 70 and I just can’t say the real words around her. But to say “bullshit” on stage???  NO WAY! Let me be clear, Dr. Tererai only said the word twice and with complete deliberateness – and everyone laughed. And let me be clear, I’m not thinking I can go around swearing like a sailor – or that I would want to – I’m just saying, hey, she said bullshit and none of the women over 70 caught fire or walked out, huh, neat!

Say “no” to certain batons

Dr. Tererai told the story of how the “baton” of early, arranged, and abusive marriages in which girls were traded for cows had been handed down from her grandmother’s mother to her grandmother, on down to her mother, and then in turn to her.  This was another point where she used the word bullshit (AWESOME!) and told us that, NO, don’t accept that baton! Or if you have to accept it, make it a little different when you do end up having to pass it down. When you hand that baton down to your daughter, redefine it – make that marriage a chosen marriage, add in being able to get an education. Say NO to the arranged marriage baton in your life. Or if you’ve been stuck with a “bullshit baton”, do everything you can to pass on a better baton to your next generation.

Do not be afraid to fail

Dr. Tererai, who has received an actual Doctorate degree, written a book, built 11 schools in Zimbabwe, and has been the keynote speaker at several super important conferences (like mine!), said it took her EIGHT YEARS of failing her GED tests before she finally passed.  EIGHT YEARS.  If she gave up that first year – that third year – and you KNOW you’d be thinking about giving up after 5 years (I would!) – 5,000 kids in Zimbabwe would be without education right now. Because she stuck with it, undeterred from her failures, she made a big dent in her part of the world.

Tinogona

Tinogona, as Dr. Tererai explained it, means “it is achievable”. If it is something you can dream, it is something you can do. She came from a place of poverty, moved to the United States and continued to live in poverty while pursuing her degree, and through her determination she achieved her goal of higher education – and a whole lot more. It took a lot of work and a lot of time, but she made it happen. If you want to make this your mantra, it was pronounced something like teen-oh-gone-ah, at least that’s what I have in my notes. Double check with the internets.

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Leadership is action, not position

AMEN! I wrote this down in all caps and underlined it. I see a lot of people act entitled in certain ways just because they have a title. And I see a lot of people without titles being super bosses without the pay or recognition – and they could care less! Actions speak louder than words and a great leader doesn’t need the placard to inspire others.

Be grateful for what you have

At a point in Dr. Tererai’s higher education she was living in a trailer, working multiple jobs, going to school, and taking care of her kids all at the same time. She told the story of how her kids were getting cavities because the only food she could afford to buy them was processed and not real actual fruits and veggies, which were plentiful back in Rhodesia. One of her professors worked it out with a local grocer that they would leave a box of old fruits and veggies out for her by the door until 5, but at 5 it had to go into the dumpster. She would try to get to the dumpster every day after work by 5 but never made it there in time so she would end up digging out the box. But – she said to herself, “Who am I to complain? I’m getting an education, I have a trailer, these are free fruits and vegetables, I am in America. Who am I to complain?” So. . . think about that next time you’re sad you don’t have beer money until payday.

Do a little ritual with your dreams

If you have a dream, make a big deal out of recognizing it. I do new moon rituals every month. Dr. Tererai buried her dream in a can! She actually wrote a book about it, which my ma bought and Dr. Tererai signed while at the conference. Whatever your dream is, make it even more important with a ritual of some sort – make it your own.

 

and lastly, my favorite. . .

 

Your dreams will have greater meaning when they are tied to the betterment of your community

I don’t think I need to explain this one.

 

*Disclaimer: Absolutely no person, group, or association mentioned above endorses or is likely even aware of my mutterings – do not take this post as an endorsement.

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Finances are FUN 01 – Mint.com – DO IT!

Hey everyone, I’m here today to talk about a very sensitive subject. Some might say it’s the last of the taboo topics since so many people avoid it – when’s the last time you asked your BFF about their finances? But I bet you can remember when you last asked how their love life is doing!

This year I’m focusing on money management because I have the goal of getting out of debt in mind as well as working on my credit score. Today’s post is an introduction to a website (I get zero kickback from this, they are not a sponsor, I just really dig how helpful their site is) called Mint.com.

I’m gonna give you a super personal glimpse into my financial jazz because I’ll be an open book as I go on my journey to debt-free living to hopefully show others that this is something anyone can do – and there are tools out there that make it a lot easier on you. So without further ado, I present to you the very basics of Mint.com and what it can do for you!

  • Account Overview – this is where Mint tells you your overall cash value. I’ve linked my bank account, the only credit card I have, my student and car loans, my 401K, and then they have this neat thing where it estimates the worth of your car if you’re paying to own it. Note: Anything in pink is something I entered over sensitive information, Mint shows the bank name, etc.

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So you can see here that my net worth is a positive!  WOOHOO!  That is probably not a big deal to many people out there but for me, after being in credit card debt for a long time, as well as student loans then a car loan, this is a BIG DEAL.  This information on Mint is updated every time you log in, so if you put more on your credit card, your net worth goes down, but if you make payments on your debts, you get to see that number go UP!  It’s such a great feeling!

 

  • Account Transactions – This function is super helpful in that it forces you to LOOK at what you’re spending on.  Now, judge not lest ye be judged, dear friends!  Clearly I spent a lot on fast food during this time but by point this out, Mint is giving me the cold hard facts in a way that I can’t just avoid.  This also ties into an awesome budgeting feature where I tell Mint how much I’m allowing myself to spend that month on a certain category then it calls me out if I go over budget.

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  • Budgeting – This is the function that I mentioned just above. I set up this budget based on what I believed I would be spending every month in the categories below. Mint will send me a friendly email notice if I’m nearing the budget for the month, just to let me know “Hey, you’re getting awfully close to your budgeted allowance for fast food, perhaps you shouldn’t buy that cheesy bean and rice burrito on the way home!”  You can look at this information historically over several months to see if maybe you need to adjust your monthly budget on a certain category as well, for instance if you keep going over budget on groceries maybe you just set up the
    budget without actually knowing your true monthly expenses.

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  • Spending / Graphs – As a very visual person this function helps me to see where my money is going in comparison to all other categories. There are a ton of other functions that I won’t go into here but they’re really fun (no, seriously!) so take some time to try them all out.

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  • Email Updates – Every week you’ll get an email from Mint letting you know where all your money went (if you opt to). I like it because it reminds me to go back and categorize my expenses (something you’ll have to do every once in a while to increase the accuracy of the budgeting feature). And again, it’s a nice colorful graph that makes me despise the fact that it’s numbers a little less.

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So there you have it, a very rudimentary introduction to Mint.com and how it can help you stay on track of your spending/saving/debt destruction! I really hope that if you haven’t started using this (or another similar site) you sit down and consider it. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me get my poop in a group (my dear friend’s way of saying “get your sh*t straight” around her kiddos) with something that has seemed so overwhelming for such a long time. Even if you just take 10 minutes a day logging into Mint and looking around to get used to it for the first week, every single baby step is a giant leap toward your financial success. I know so many people like me who have just been floating along down the river of “Meh, it’ll sort itself out” for finances and really, darlings, there is a much better way.

So do it!!!!  Sign up on Mint.com!!!!  Go and get your financial poop in a group!!!!

 

 

Jessie Does. . . Finances?

I hate to be one of those people who goes around saying “I heard on this podcast that ____.” but. . . I heard on this podcast, actually several podcasts, that retirement before 40 is a legitimate possibility if you actually plan and pay attention to your finances.  Sounds insane, right?

So now I have this crazy dream in my head to have enough money in savings and investments to be able to “retire” by 40. I’m 31 now and am in “ok” financial state when compared to peers my age who are still paying off student loans or crazy credit card debt. I’ve got a well-paying job that I don’t despise, no kids, no mortgage, no insane credit card debt, an affordable car that’s nearly paid off, and good health benefits so I’m off to a good start.

Come 2016 I’ll be implementing everything I learn from podcasts, blogs, books, and just good old-fashioned conversations to see if this whole retiring in 9 years is truly feasible.  I’m hopeful, but of course not merely blindly trusting.

I’ll be using my blog to document my path from debt, to becoming debt-free, to saving, and then hopefully investing!  I’ll share all my nitty gritty details with you like my current finances, my spending, and the steps I’m taking to remedy my bad money habits.  It’s not easy calling yourself out on your BS, let alone sharing it with whatever tiny part of the internet reads it, but I’m doing this for anyone else out there like me.  I’m tired of the consumerism hustle and I want to be free from working for the man; I don’t think I’m alone in that!

Stay tuned for my very first expose – on my own finances – this Friday!  I’ll be sharing with you the first step in taking control of your financial future.

Because. . . damn the man, save the empire!

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”

(Preliminary disclaimer, I am in NO WAY a financial adviser.  In fact, you’ll see first-hand that I’m not with each post, but that’s the whole point, come learn WITH me!)

How to Lose a Millennial in Ten Ways

I feel like I should have some sort of non-discrimination attorney present as I write this, that’s how heated I feel this discussion has gotten in the business world.

My name is Jessie and I’m a Millennial.  A Millennial with a strong work ethic, proven track record of success, passion for helping others, and all around positive attitude.  I will be the first to admit that I would not be the positive, business-minded person I am today without the guidance I’ve received from my Baby Boomer and Traditionalist mentors.  The experience that they are able to share with myself and other Millennials is invaluable and I try to tell them that all the time.

Now, I’ve got to put aside my “kitten mittens” and drop a few truth bombs here – because let’s be honest, there’s a lot of accusations flying around that I’m sure you’ve heard.  Millennials all think they’re so special!  Millennials don’t care about rules and only want to do things “their way”!  All Millennials do is text or email or spend company time on their phones or on Facebook!  Millennials have NO RESPECT!

Whoa whoa whoa!  Watch where you point those unkind and frankly, untrue words!  You know what Millennials truly are at their core, the only REAL thing you can say about us?  Millennials are different.  We are NOT Baby Boomers and we are NOT Traditionalists!  I have a secret to let you in on though, you Baby Boomers. . . you’re not like the Traditionalists either!  And you weren’t when YOU entered the workforce!  Remember when you Baby Boomers had your first jobs and you felt the cold, hard sting of judgment from your Traditionalist superiors?  It’s not a nice feeling, is it?

But fear not, my Baby Boomer and Traditionalist colleagues, I am here to help!  I’ve compiled a guide to the Millennial Mind, How to Lose a Millennial in Ten Ways, so that you can equip yourself with this easy-to-follow list of what NOT to do to the Millennials in your workplace!  Enjoy!

How to lose a millennial in ten ways

  1. Don’t show us the big picture
    It drives us nuts to work on one tiny piece of the puzzle without knowing how it fits into the grand scheme of things.  You don’t need to walk us through the entire assembly line, just take some time to explain how what we’re doing fits into the overall goal of the company.
  2. Micromanage everything we do
    If a Millennial has shown competency in their ability to perform their work tasks then let them do their job, just like you would expect to be allowed the freedom from strict oversight in your own job!  As long as a Millennial gets the job done right and on time, there really isn’t a need to micromanage them, is there?  I’ve quit two jobs because of that horrible boss named Mike Romanager.  Awful guy, that Mike, constantly breathing down your neck.
  3. Don’t acknowledge our accomplishments
    Rumor has it other generations may be operating under the assumption that Millennials “think they’re special” and expect praise for everything.  Yeah, because you taught us that!  My Baby Boomer mom and dad taught me that I was special and they raised me with a healthy dose of praise (when warranted) so yeah, I guess I would have to say I do fall into that generalization.  I don’t think it’s such a bad thing, when a Millennial performs above and beyond or solves a previously unsolvable problem, to give them the kudos they deserve!  It will go a long way!  Feeling like we contribute to something that matters, especially when we’ve worked our butts off, gives a big boost to job satisfaction.
  4. Stifle any and all forms of creativity
    Millennials are used to solving problems creatively.  We are not ok with the “This is how it’s always been done” logic because if there’s a more efficient way to do something we want to improve the process, for everyone (including the company/bottom line).  Creativity goes beyond problem solving to cube decor (or perhaps try hoteling?) and even to the dress code.  While I do not have any visible tattoos (ok, one on my foot if I wear heels, flats, or sandals) I do enjoy them and I do have a fondness for fun-colored hair.  I work as an office administrator for an engineering firm and am fortunate to have proven my worth (and perhaps have a rather understanding, or at least permissive, Baby Boomer boss) so that I can have a fun pink streak in my hair.  I don’t see clients, I have met our company’s CEO (whose son’s fiance also has fun-colored streaks in her hair!), I work in my cubicle relatively quietly, and I do a good job.  Why should my having a pink streak of hair matter? It shouldn’t!  So loosen up a bit and allow your Millennials to express themselves more freely (within certain parameters of course, see point 5 below).
  5. Don’t give clear expectations
    Millennials grew up watching Youtube videos and reality TV as primary examples of how to “adult” so it’s no wonder that we require a more direct approach to direction.  If you want something done a certain way or you have certain expectations you would like met, make that very clear from the get-go.  Millennials are not mind readers; just spell out what you want, when you want it, and if you remember point 1, give us a little piece of the why too.
  6. Communicate on YOUR TERMS only
    I’ve heard so many people say that Millennials just don’t know how to use a good old-fashioned telephone any more.  Well, that’s just a lie!  We do use them; sometimes as vintage decor or to pose with ironically when running into a payphone out somewhere.  I’m only kidding.  The truth is, there are so many ways to communicate.  Personally, in the administrative field where I’m talking to dozens of people about any number of topics, I use email because it’s a CYA deal where I have that email as a backup if someone asks me to prove I said this or someone did in fact send me that.  At my company we have a communication system that includes a messenger application and I love it!  Sure, I could walk over to So-and-So’s desk to ask a question (or more likely just shout over my cube wall to them), but why do that when I can shoot them a quick message?  Sometimes a phone isn’t the best form of communication (I even have internet backup on this one).  Also, meetings are usually a waste of time.  This is based on extensive research that I’ve performed (happy hour conversations with many friends from various different companies) so it’s pretty much a fact.  The other generations seem to LOVE MEETINGS!  But us Millennials are over here working on ways to more efficiently communicate the ideas.  Creative problem solving in action!
  7. Don’t ask us questions
    If you’re a Baby Boomer or a Traditionalist and you find yourself wanting to learn more about Microsoft Office applications or anything on the internet, WE CAN HELP!  Millennials love being useful and technology is our specialty so please make use of our skills and allow us to help!  I heard a Baby Boomer colleague say they don’t have texting on their phone and when I investigated further I ended up showing them that they do in fact have texting and gave them a mini tutorial, Texting-101.  I’ve also helped the Baby Boomer and Traditionalist members of my business women’s group to learn how to use Facebook to keep in touch with their grand kids.  It was so nice to share something with them that I actually had MORE experience with after they’ve mentored me on so many facets of my career.
  8. Create an atmosphere of fear/hostility
    I once worked in an office where the boss yelled frequently, causing my coworkers and I to break out in tears more than any employee ever should at a job.  It was a horrible work environment but that angry boss did pay well so a lot of people had been with that company for several years.  I lasted less than a year.  Millennials don’t see a point in staying somewhere that we are unhappy.  Life is too short to cower in your cubicle every time that mean boss storms by, or to stick around when the majority of your coworkers are Debby Downers and office morale is into the negative digits.  We’re the generation of social media so is it any wonder we want to encourage office morale?
  9. Don’t challenge us
    Despite popular belief, Millennials are hard workers.  This generation has come into the workforce ready to prove our worth.  We want to be an asset to the company we choose to work for so don’t just give us a “job”, give us a challenge where we can contribute our unique skills to solve a greater problem, something they can strive for.  Try to find a way to view a position in a different light.  I work with numbers all day (I hate numbers) but when I look at them as a puzzle I need to solve they become a challenge that I can achieve.
  10. Treat us like we’re inferior (and talk behind our backs)
    The worst way to start any relationship is with a negative impression. Millennials, like all other human beings, can tell when someone is judging them.  If you want to have a positive, reciprocal, relationship with a Millennial simply treat them as an equal.  Yes, you likely outrank us in years of service and experience, but if you show us that we’re no different than someone of your own generation in your eyes, you will have our trust and respect.  I strongly advise against talking badly against Millennials, which I have overheard so many of the other generations do, even within earshot!  How do you expect me to want  to work with someone who openly badmouths my entire age bracket?  Keep your judgments to yourself!

Each generation comes into the workforce with different challenges and a unique set of skills to address them with.  It’s up to the more experienced generations to help the young whippersnappers to succeed. I’m calling upon our Baby Boomers and Traditionalists to be mentors, not anti-Millennials.  Complaining will only make you look like a jerk but if you volunteer your expertise and a little of your time, you can help us Millennials (and in turn, your company) to grow and succeed.  Perhaps you didn’t have that kind of good fortune when you were starting your career, but is that any reason to withhold it from Millennials?  No!

Just Pick a Dang Fig Already!

My dreams and goals have been far-stretching ever since I can remember.  I’ve wanted to be a little bit of everything with the combination in a constant flux which has caused this paralysis of sorts.  I haven’t wanted to commit to any one thing lest it not be THE ONE thing that my heart truly desires to do for a living.  It’s not that I’m aimless, it’s the exact opposite, I have too many targets and they’re all moving!

I’m like the boy who cried wolf, but the girl who cried “This is my life’s passion now!  Watch me do it!” then did that thing for a while until realizing it wasn’t actually making me happy.  I’ve done multiple reincarnations of Etsy shops and craft fairs, social work, interviewing women in business, and just making up titles for myself.  But most of my time has been spent THINKING.  More like WORRYING that I’ll choose the wrong thing.

I was talking to a friend about this dilemma and she mentioned a quote from the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath that I had never heard (nor read, too dark for my cheery tastes).  It goes a little something like this

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Talk about hitting the nail on the head!  Why am I sitting here wondering which one I want when I could simply choose one fig at a time to take a bite out of then either devour entirely or simply spit out and throw away?

Thus begins this new adventure!  I’ve chosen the writer/speaker fig and am currently working on a book idea (secrets!), writing this bloggity blog, making up Power Point presentations on stuff I know to add to my arsenal of prepared speeches, and I’ve joined my local Toastmasters club to master those speaking skills.  I gotta admit, I’m feeling pretty good about this fig.

FWB – Sparkle Science

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Let me paint you a picture of a young and enthusiastic Jessie, sophomore year biology class. . .

I LOVED Gwen Stefani of No Doubt fame and even dedicated 20 minutes of my mornings to creating elaborate bindi patterns in between and over my eyebrows to wear sometimes to school or friend’s band’s shows.  If my dad didn’t insist that glitter was really just tiny pieces of shrapnel I would have rocked glitter makeup daily.  Anything that had a surface I could alter was permanently colored/glittered/stickered/covered in whatever was totally “me” at the time.

Now. . . imagine I’m in biology class where I really dig learning about science and how things work (not so much the dissections, I tried to get out of those based on being vegetarian and not wanting to for moral reasons but NOPE – I HAD to) when we start learning about the cell.  How freaking cool!  This tiny microscopic thing is made up of all these other tiny microscopic things that all work together to perform specific functions and support life and stuff!  Awesome!  Of course came the assignment of creating our own three-dimensional cells to present in class and I was stoked.  Science + crafts = homework I was actually excited about.

So my dad and I hit up a Michael’s where I load up on all kinds of pink, red, and purple craft foam as well as glitter of all colors and various other supplies needed to make the most epic cell my teacher, Mr. Shelley, had ever seen.  I spent 2 whole nights working on that cell – getting the Golgi apparatus perfect and squiggly, making sure the mitochondrion looked super. . . mitochondrion-ish, and basically just focusing my attention on earning the highest grade this amount of glitter could get me.

The due date came and I must say, my cell was at least in the top 3 – I had everything labeled correctly, mine was very creative, and you could tell I spent more than just 10 minutes on the damn thing.  I was pretty proud of that beautifully made sparkle cell.

I went to bed that night excited to see my hard work pay off the next day when I would collect my A and get to take home my scientific piece of art to perhaps convince my parents to display on our mantle piece (it would have looked dazzling next to our family photo).  Alas, the next day would not be so kind.  I arrived in biology class and ran to the back where our cells were all displayed.  I easily found mine – it kind of looked like a disco ball from a distance – and found that I had received a C.  For a minute I thought maybe Mr. Shelley just graded everyone harshly and my sparkle cell was no different.  NOPE!  I looked around and saw that other cells – some with half of their parts mislabeled or not even labeled at all had gotten A’s and B’s.  I was confused so I asked Mr. Shelley straight away if there was a mistake and he said to me, which I won’t ever forget, “No mistake.  This was a biology assignment.  Not an arts and crafts project.”  It didn’t matter that I had gotten everything correct or that it looked exactly like a cell (just with more glitter admittedly) – it only mattered that my personal sparkly interpretation was not up to his “scientific standards”.

I sat in class and fumed for about half of the time he was lecturing.  I stopped paying attention.  Who was this guy to say that my hard work deserved a lower grade than anyone else’s?  Why did the use of glitter negate the actual scientific accuracy of my model?  Then the anger was replaced with confusion and embarrassment.  Maybe it was stupid to have thought I should use glitter in biology class.  Did I even really know what I was doing in this class?

If I could go back I would tell my 15 year old self not to let that jerk of a glitter-hating teacher tell me my awesome cell was anything less than amazing.  When I was 9 or 10 I wanted to be a marine biologist and unfortunately, I let that year in biology class with Mr. Shelley convince me not to pursue learning any hard sciences.  I shut down that desire because I felt like there wasn’t a place for my interpretation of it.

Now. . . on to the modern-day news. . . late last year Carnegie Science Center offered “Science with a Sparkle” STEM learning opportunities for Girl Scouts – umm. . . AWESOME!!!  Do you know how quickly I would have signed up for that??  If you had told me when I was little that I could be a chemist and make plastics I likely would have said “ok” but if you told me I could be a chemist and make nail polish I would have asked you where to sign up.  It’s cliche, I know, but I suppose I was a gender-conforming sellout as a kid.  I do have to say, the bad thing about Carnegie’s pretty rad offering for the Girl Scout’s is that while they offered them that one opportunity they were offering a long list of STEM opportunities for the Boy Scouts.  I know, total bummer that they couldn’t have just listed ALL of the STEM opportunities for BOTH the GS and BS, but not everyone is perfectly aware of their biases.

The New York Times published this great defense against the attack on Sparkle Science because really, if it sparks interest in science for girls (or boys) why do you care what it’s called or the focus of the material??  Yes, one could see it as gender stereotyping but if you get your head out of your butt for two minutes you could see that some girls like sparkles – so why would you want to leave them out?

Providing something called “Science with a Sparkle” is a small step toward getting girls interested in STEM education.  Of course, an even bigger step is to not exclude them from all the other STEM education opportunities (duh) but by trying to appeal to something traditionally geared toward young girls, they are at least opening the door to STEM in a different way.

It’s not perfect yet, but with more encouragement, greater opportunities, and perhaps different approaches I believe we can see the amount of women in the STEM fields grow exponentially within the next generation.

Let’s DO THIS!

FWB – The Sea of Self-Discovery

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Here I am, drowning in the sea of self-discovery.  My tired arms are desperately flailing to find THAT ONE life preserver that’s just screaming for me to dedicate my life to grasping it.

I NEED to help people.  I have been altruistic since childhood when I would gladly give up my “things” to children who wanted to share them.  I rummaged through my parents’ box of my old school things and found a stack of notes sent home from preschool, one after the other informing them that I had been bitten again that day.  Apparently if a kid needed to let out anger I was a willing target, repeatedly.  Some may see that as a pushover but I would retort that they were perhaps just not as willing to “take one for the team” as I was.  (ok, maybe I was a little bit of a pushover/ninny)

My major and I found each other in college when I suddenly decided to take 3 psychology courses in one semester just because – having never taken one before.  I fell in love with the subject – the human mind is a fascinating thing that I could dedicate my life to learning about.  I also felt this incredible enveloping sense of comfort when we studied disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar because inside I was screaming “OHMYGOD!  They’re talking about ME!!!”  But then there came the inevitable “psychology student syndrome” that every undergrad psych student experiences and I started to wonder if I would become a serial killer because yeah, sometimes I had dissociation, or maybe I was OCD because yeah, sometimes I have rituals and can’t stand disorder.  But there it was, psychology, a field where I could understand people and help them understand AND help themselves.  I was in love.

I graduated college with the BA in psych and double minors in women’s studies and sociology (overachiever!  and truly I would have loved to have double majored in women’s studies but alas that was not available at the time) and set out into the world to help people.  I started right out the gate working with juveniles on probation for substance abuse performing their intake evaluations as well as running group counseling for them.  I loved it for a while.  I was young enough to relate to these kids and try to reason with them rather than yell at them.  Then I met the horrible parents who could care less about their kids.  Some of the kids didn’t give any shits about my help and continued down the path of self-destruction.  One kid ended up collapsing his lung from an overdose.  I think my boss saw what the job was doing to my soul and he suggested that I try working on a preventative program.  He gave me complete free reign to create my own program to teach at the local EBD school (emotional behavioral disorder).  IT WAS AWESOME.  Holy crap.  I carefully crafted a six week program covering how the brain develops (because it’s important for teenagers to know that their frontal lobes which are responsible for reason are not fully developed until early-mid 20’s), nicotine addiction, alcohol and substance abuse, peer pressure, and how it’s awesome to be yourself and say no to those things.  I had so much fun going to that school once a week and teaching 3 classrooms of about 10 kids each.  I’m pretty sure only half of them listened but it felt amazing to even be trying to make a positive impact.

Since that job I have only had one other psych-related position – working at a residential facility for girls who had been removed from several other facilities due to misbehavior (meaning this place was almost the last resort before prison).  This one was tough.  I got bit.  I had to physically restrain girls.  I got to teach art therapy (yay!) only to have some of the girls throw their crayons at me (sad).  I got yelled at and called some very nasty things.  Yet again I saw parents that were worse than SCUM.  It was heart breaking.  There were a couple of girls that I connected with and happily saw them successfully leave the facility – but it wasn’t enough to make me feel like I made a difference.  Soul.  Crushed.

Fast forward today where I’m an office administrator not-so-sneakily trying to stack more HR responsibilities onto my plate because that’s what makes my soul feel more whole.  Yes, I mostly punch calculator buttons and stare at Excel sheets, but today I got to work on making up our employee review process including using SMART goals both given to the employee and that the employee makes for themselves that they truly want to accomplish.  My hope is to help our employees feel valued here and feel like they have a purpose – as well as educate their managers on how to give them SMART goals.  I’m pretty nerdily excited.

Now, do I want to be a paper pusher for the rest of my life?  Or the rest of my 30’s?  No way!  But this is paying my bills while I cook up my master scheme and continue to flail through the ocean of options that is realizing my purpose in life. . .

keepin it real – Jessie

FWB – The Crushing Weight of Possibilities

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Is it possible to feel like everything’s impossible because there are just too many possibilities?

I am feeling majorly weighed down by the wealth of options and directions that my multitude of passions is pushing me.

I’ve been burying myself in random life/business coach advice, internet articles, TED talks, and lists upon lists of my topmost goals.  SO MANY THINGS!

I have been overwhelmed with. . . with EVERYTHING.  I have no idea where to start.  It’s like being so ready to run a marathon – hydrated, excited, trained, and mentally prepared – then you get to the starting line and there’s 30 different race paths to choose from, each one leads to a finish line but which is the RIGHT finish line?

Sigh. . . pardon me while I dig myself deeper into the rabbit hole of self help paraphernalia.

FWB – Resource Brokerage

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

At a recent Ringling ABWA meeting I was talking with our awesome speaker, Gayle Dehann-Garland, and she said something that I thought was GENIUS!  She mentioned all these connections that she’s been making between her business associates and friends as well as fellow ABWA members and joked that maybe her business card title should read Resource Broker.

I think that’s an awesome thing to call yourself.  What could be more useful than someone who can connect you to any given resource you’re needing?  Of course there’s the internet or asking a few friends, but what if there was one reliable source of information?  Like a matchmaker of sorts.

I hope to use the website I’m making as a way to connect women to the invaluable resource that is fellow women – help the inexperienced by giving them interviews with women experienced in the field they want to enter. I’m actually really excited about this and can’t way to see what kind of meaningful connections I can help create!

FWB – Cart Before the Horse

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

There’s no one way to do something.  Each person has their own ways and signature moves that affect how their results unfold.  I myself don’t think that I’ve quite nailed a process down so my endeavors tend to be all over the place.  For example, my absolute urgency to create business cards for a business I didn’t even fully understand before the National Women’s Leadership Conference so that I would have SOMETHING to show for myself.  I called myself a Creative Consultant for lack of a better explanation as to what I can do for people.

After I had the cards printed I tried to figure out what it was that I wanted to do.  I decided that I would be a business coach-consultant.  Then I did research and discovered that those two professions were seen as mutually exclusive.  Ok, fine, I’ll just be a coach then, whatever.  That’s when the boo and I have a serious heart to heart where he points out that most people who are coaching have already succeeded in their own business before claiming they can help others.  Whatever!

Seriously though, it was a swift kick in the pants and ended up with me admitting it wouldn’t work.  Letting go of that delusion opened me up to starting the brainstorming process all over again with a fresh slate.  I tried to explain what I wanted to do – connect women experienced in whatever given occupational field to another woman/teen/girl contemplating going into that same field.  I definitely do not have all the answers myself therefore I can’t provide them.  However, if I connect these women, they can exchange their own personal answers in a sort of mentorship.

Turning the wheels a few more times I came up with a website where I can post interviews that  I conduct with those women in all occupations that I KNOW have great stories and advice to share.  I can link my blog to the site in case anyone wants to read all these sporadic posts.  I would love to eventually have a forum on the website where “mentees” can find mentors and connect on a one-on-one level.

I think that had I stuck to my original idea of being an inexperienced business coach this whole other idea would have taken a much longer time to formulate.  Looking back, I’m not sure what I would make my beautifully printed cards say but I am definitely a little bummed that they say Creative Consultant. . .  You really shouldn’t put the cart before the horse, friends, because crossing out your title on a business card and scribbling one in just doesn’t look professional.