There have been a ton of charges in my career lately. Most have been amazing! While others have been shall we say slightly uncomfortable. So when the Lemons 2 Lemonade mixer series made a triumphant return to the tri-state area I was first in line to pick up some advice. Founder Brittney Oliver gathered together a group of her fellow millennial women to discuss the intersection between the thriving beauty and technology industries but what I wanted to know was how to navigate professional relationships and deal with having a lack of corporate experience!
The group of women assembled by Oliver proved that one can still be a disruptor inside of an organization (something I really needed to hear as someone who works for other people) and thrive will being imperfect. Moderated by Dreams In Drive podcast host Rana Campbell the panel provided some key takeaways for attendees to take in as they sipped on the custom Ciroc cocktails prepared by a black owned bartending service at the offices of Splash That!Here’s some of the major lessons I took with me down twenty-sixth street rushing to catch NJ Transit that I’m putting to good use.
Who Trusts You Is As Important As Who You Trust
President of LinkedIn’s black inclusion group Ty Heath said trust was the key to her fostering meaningful change with the help of her team was trust. She told a colleague, “Sometimes I’m going to say things that you won’t like or might even be uncomfortable with but I’m doing it because I have responsibility to represent the community.” Now she says, “I trust him and he trusts me.”
There are Still Spaces Being Filled
With Social Media altering our perceptions it can seem like every lane is filled but there’s always a unique space waiting for someone just like you to fill it. Janel Martinez founded Ain’t I Latina after “Not seeing an intersectional identity” that “fully represented” who she was as an afro-latina woman. “Sometimes when you’re waiting it’s an invitation for you to just go ahead and do it,” says Martinez. Growing up the creative “ would run to a different magazine for one part of my identity and run to another for another part of my identity.” Now she’s created a space so other little girls won’t have to. It was nice to be reminded that identity can help your career and not just get in it’s way.
Only We Can Defeat The Myth Of The Talented Tenth
“They are responsibility for educating themselves they do have to invest but we also have to meet them where they are as well,” says Heath of people outside of our community. If we want them to see what our life is like san privilege we have to show them and maybe extend a little grace during that process.
Failure Doesn’t Equal Dismissal For Everyone
The media and beauty industries play musical chairs so often that people in leadership positions are rarely given the space to gain their footing. And somehow when those people are black and female the space is even smaller. “I’ve launched things that were flops and I still have a job” said CoverGirl’s Erika Woods. I was shocked! It really put me in the right frame of mind for when I accidentally messed up on an assignment for a major publication. Instead of assuming I would never get booked again I sought and integrated feedback.
There’s Power In Data
Outside of the dates surrounding my overdue freelance direct deposits I’m not really a numbers person. My opportunities have most come from face to face encounters not social media followers but the panelists talked about using the numbers to your advantage because unlike attitudes they can’t be disputed. “We have so much data available to us and it’s very objective,” said Woods, “When you have the data you can’t argue with that.” She said you should use data to “change the conversation.” “I would push everyone who is creating content to be data literate because the numbers don’t lie,” said Shani Syphrettfrom Forbes. Martinez reminded everyone that Google analytics and the insights it provides are free. “You don’t have to be a big company to track what you create,” she said.
I’m Not The Only One Tired Of People Feeling Entitled To Others Accomplishments
Rana Campbell called out all of the faux friendship and unreasonable expectations that come with the age of clout chasing. “There can be this ‘hey girl put me on’ but if you don’t give me anything to put you on with how am I gonna put you on?” said Campbell. I felt this in my spirit! Since I have been “leveling up” I’ve gotten this a lot and it makes me really uncomfortable. I’m always worried I’m going to seem like I’m big headed when I say no drinks or brunch to a stranger calling me “sis” but knowing it happens to others is helpful.
Also please stop people sis if ya’ll don’t hang out (or haven’t hung out since the last time you wanted an invite to a party or mention in an article) like Syphrett said “I get a lot of hey sis I know what you’re doing!”
Some Of My Current Favs Have Had Doors Slammed In Their Faces
So we all know that Oprah was fired from her first job, Charlamange was let go four times, and Ava DuVernay didn’t pick up a camera until she was 32 but stories of failure preceding someone’s success are a lot closer than cliche inspirational memes. “You can’t stop, you can’t get defeated. You will get told no” said Sojourner Elleby when talking about getting met with resistance. When Campbell asked how to operate when “Brands are not putting our stories at the forefront” Elleby said “It’s about not letting those hire ups or the ‘they’ in those companies stop you. I’m committed to empowering black people with a special place in my heart for women of color.”
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