New Year’s resolutions for career success in 2018

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By Eric Titner

A new year is often looked at as an opportunity for making positive changes, and we’re all familiar with the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions—as we end each year and look forward to the next, we take stock of the things we want to improve upon or change in our lives.

Those among us who are diligent enough to take things one step further set a plan for achieving our resolutions, and some among us actually follow through by putting in the time and effort to achieve our stated goals. And for the most dedicated and focused among us, sometimes a positive change and lasting result is achieved.

Our New Year’s resolutions can vary across an endless array of categories—from finding love, making new friends, and moving to a new city to acquiring a new hobby or skill set. Among the most popular resolutions that people make involve job- and career-related goals. However, while making a New Year’s resolution for career change and success can be the beginning of a wonderful new chapter in our lives, it’s really just the first step.

Positive intent can be a powerful motivating force for change and growth in our lives, but the truth is that it’s often not enough—this is the reason why the majority of us fail to completely commit and follow through on the resolutions we make each year. The truth is, most resolutions flounder in the starting gate without any real forward progress ever being made, and many others are met with a feeble, half-hearted effort that eventually goes nowhere. We need more than a positive attitude and hope—we need a plan.

According to a recent article on The Muse, “Those who took meaningful steps to achieve their resolutions—setting step-by-step goals or telling their friends and family, for example—were far more likely to achieve their desires than those who made no specific commitments… So if you really want to see results this year, it’s critical that you set your goals with sincerity, and set yourself up for success.”

What are your New Year’s resolutions for career success in 2018? More importantly, do you have a plan for achieving them? Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular career-related resolutions, and some advice for taking them past the “good idea” stage and closer to the “goal achieved” category.

I want a promotion.

Who among us doesn’t want a loftier position with a more impressive sounding title and a higher salary, regardless of where we currently work? The truth is, this isn’t always an immediately attainable reality for everyone—maybe you’re just getting started at your current job and it’s too soon to start thinking about a promotion, or maybe the place you work at is small and there’s no clear upward trajectory. Whatever the reason, if you’re seeking a promotion and there’s no obvious path for growth for you in your current job, perhaps this means you should make a more drastic change as part of your New Year’s resolution planning.

However, if there are opportunities for growth on the horizon for you, then take a step back and a deep breath and think carefully before blindly charging into your boss’s office and demanding a promotion.

Take stock of your current situation—have you spent the last year working hard to convince your boss that you are ready, willing, and able to take the next step to a new job with greater responsibility? Has your boss been giving you positive feedback all year about how valuable you are to the company and how everyone is impressed with the job you’ve been doing? If so, then you’ve already been working hard to achieve your goal of getting a promotion—the next step is choosing the right time, place, and method for asking for one. This is highly subjective and based on your individual job situation. Do you have annual review meetings with your boss to discuss such issues? If so, then this would be the ideal time to broach this subject. Or perhaps your boss is open to feedback and discussions whenever they arise. If so, choose a day when your boss seems to be in a good mood and go for it!

Maybe you haven’t been getting great signals that your boss would be terribly receptive to the idea of you asking for a promotion. If this sounds more like your reality, then it may be wise to concoct a more long-term plan. Spend the next several months—maybe even the entire next year—anticipating your boss’s needs, doing your job to the absolute best of your ability, and sowing the seeds for popping the big “promotion question” next year. Like we said earlier, sometimes you need a plan, and there’s nothing quite as defeating or draining as asking for a promotion before you’re ready and meeting rejection.

I want a new job.

Okay so maybe you’ve reached as high and as far as you can possibly go in your current job, faced every challenge, conquered every obstacle, and mastered every skill that you could possible acquire. It’s time–you’re ready for a change. It happens, and it’s a perfectly natural and healthy part of any career path. In fact, job changes are often great opportunities to climb to the next rung on your career ladder. However you should consider some advance planning before you race out of your current job screaming, “I quit!”

Get a feel for the current job market in your field and area. Are there a wealth of opportunities available, or is it slim pickings? Take a subtle poll of the folks in your peer network who work at other companies. Does it sound like you may be able to go after an opportunity through your contacts?

If conditions out in the job market seem great, then plan for your next steps—polish up your resume and cover letter, make sure your interview clothes still fit, and get out there! However, if you’re seeing some warning signs that right now might not be the best time to jump ship, then bide your time and plan accordingly. Don’t forget, you can do some subtle and covert planning for your next job while you’re at your current one so when the iron is hot you’ll be prepared to strike!

I want to make a major job or career change.

Perhaps you’re just not feeling completely happy or fulfilled in your current industry, and something is telling you that perhaps now is the time to make a major change. This could be a good thing—the truth is, job unhappiness is often a major cause of mental and physical distress and could have a wide range of negative effects on our health and well-being.

According to a recent Huffington Post blog post by Alexander Kjerulf, founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Woohoo inc, “Way too many people hate their jobs. Exactly how many is hard to say, but depending on which study you believe, somewhere between 20 percent and 40 percent of employees are miserable at work.” Kjerulf goes on to say that hating your job can weaken your immune system, make you gain weight, rob you of sleep, ruin your personal relationships, and even increase your risk of serious illness. Not a good way to ring in the New Year!

So, if you’re eager to make a major job or career change… you guessed it, make a plan. Consider making a list of pros and cons for taking the plunge. If everything in your life is pointing to making a major change, figure out what new goal makes the most sense for you. Take an inventory of your skills and experience, along with your interests and aspirations, and figure out which careers/industries you best align with. Do you have any friends or family who have jobs that sound potentially intriguing to you? If so, ask them more about it. Do your research—the Internet is a great source of information for researching new companies and careers.

Although making a big career change can be a wonderful moment in your life, acting impulsively could really backfire. There are countless stories of people who made quick decisions to leave their current working worlds for new ones, only to discover that they were ill-informed and really had no idea what they were getting into and wound up being just as unhappy—or even unhappier—as they were before. Don’t become just another unfortunate member of this group. Plan wisely and carefully, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a real shot at positive and lasting change.
I want to build new job skills.

This is a great goal for most of us and can really help put you in a better position to achieve the other resolutions on this list in the future—getting a promotion or a new job, or even changing industries. And even if none of these goals are in your immediate future, acquiring new skills can be a rewarding and fulfilling enterprise on its own and help us feel more empowered and effective in our current positions.

If you’re looking to acquire new job skills in the new year, consider the following. Do you want to acquire skills that will make you more effective at your current job or a new one? Your answer to this question will help you determine which skills you should look at. Also, are you looking to invest money towards acquiring new skills? If so, there are a wealth of career and adult education/skill-development programs available across the country; a great place to start is researching the offerings at colleges and universities in your area. You’ll likely come across a wealth of options, both in class and online—you just need to decide which are right for you.

If money is an issue and you’re looking for a more cost-effective approach, there are some great free and low-cost options online. One great resource is Skillshare, an online learning community created, maintained, and curated by veterans and experts in their respective fields who are dedicated to teaching others the skills they’ve acquired.

Here’s the bottom line—many folks who are unhappy with their work lives or who are just eager for a fresh start or new challenge take the new year as an opportunity to make a change, and it’s a great time to do so! Because so many people are focused on career changes at the beginning of a new year, many companies and industries ramp up their hiring during this time—and those among us who are serious and dedicated can take full advantage of this reality. If this sounds like you, perhaps now is a great time to move forward—but do so wisely and plan accordingly. Good luck and Happy New Year!

Continue on  to read more articles like this on The Muse

How Deja Baker overcame long odds and finally landed her dream job

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Her title may be unremarkable—software engineer at a Chicago trading firm—but the journey she took to land it is a triumph that doesn’t fit neatly on a resume.

The phone call that ended the military career of Midshipman Deja Baker came on a rainy morning in Hawaii in late May 2017. Having recently completed her third year at the U.S. Naval Academy, Baker was on leave, one week into a month of R&R—hiking, beachcombing, and Netflix-bingeing at her fiancé’s apartment in Oahu. The voice on the phone was her company officer’s. He told her she was to return to Annapolis immediately and pack up her things. Her time at the academy was over.

“It put me in panic mode,” she says.

That spring, a mysterious bruise on her leg had prompted Baker to visit the doctor, a decision that tipped one unlucky domino after the next: The doctor ordered blood tests; the results were alarming, and he hospitalized her; after a five-day stay, she received a diagnosis of a rare blood condition she chooses not to reveal. Simply put, her blood didn’t clot right. The U.S. Navy insists that its officers bleed properly. So, even though she had already served a tour in Japan as an enlisted sailor, had completed advanced training in cryptologic intelligence, was one year from completing a computer science degree, and was aiming to work in the information warfare command far removed from battle, she was out. She had no job prospects, no cash, and as soon as she packed up her things back on the mainland, no home.

“For the next 24 hours, I just bawled,” she says.

By the next morning, however, Baker had regrouped. Having persuaded her company officer to let her finish the remaining three weeks of her leave, she spent that time researching coding boot camps she could apply to.

Recruiters and industrial psychologists stress the importance of attributes such as resilience and determination (a recent survey by LinkedIn identified four soft skills most coveted by companies—leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management), and employers are devising new methods to assess these kinds of intangible qualities, but the relentless drive Baker possesses can be hard to spot on a résumé. She doesn’t present as tough. She’s soft-spoken and doesn’t like talking about herself. She dresses in startup-employee casual—cropped jeans, Toms shoes, and hoodie. At 27, she still gets carded whenever she orders a beer. Baker’s most valuable talents, the formidable inner strength and insatiable curiosity she’s exhibited since she was a child, are traits that might only emerge over the course of the kind of probing face-to-face interview with a perceptive manager that seems to happen less and less often in this era of job application portals and chatbots. Does an algorithm yet exist that will discern the extent of Deja Baker’s tenacity?

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

7 Things to Know if You’re Applying to a ‘Reach’ Position

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Professional Black Man Standing Outside the Office

You spot your dream job, but it’s a reach — a reach beyond the next step in your career. It’s two steps or three steps or 10 steps removed from what your next job should be — and so, you stop just short of applying. But you should apply anyway. Why?

As career coach Hallie Crawford says, “Reaching is a way to grow as a professional and achieve new career goals”. Before you submit your and cover letter, however, there are at least seven things you should know about applying to a “reach” position. These insider tips and tricks will help you stand out from the crowd and score your dream job.

1. You’ll have to battle hiring managers’ assumptions.

It’s all but a fact: “Hiring managers will make assumptions based on your resume and cover letter,” warns millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. So, “It is your job to connect the dots for them before they place your resume in the no pile.” How can you do that? It’s easy, Jacinto promises. “Give them a clear understanding of not only why you are applying for this role but how your current skill set is a complement to the work that you will be doing,” she says.

2. Transferable skills will help you stand out in the right way.

You may not meet all the requirements of your dream job. But rather than focusing on what you’re missing, highlight the skills you have that will help you succeed in any position — and you’ll catch a recruiter’s attention in the best way, says Crawford. “Maybe you don’t have a specific qualification, but you’ve already been using the skills the qualification demands in another way,” she says. “Make those your star stories to show you’re up for the challenge.”

3. Hiring managers want people open to learning new skills.

You may believe it or not, but a willingness to learn what you don’t already know can be just as valuable as already having the knowledge when it comes to applying to a reach position. “Employers know that it will be almost impossible to find someone who can tick off all the boxes on their checklist,” Jacinto explains. “Instead, hiring managers are looking for people who are open to learning new skills.” In your application, “…highlighting the fact that you have been trained in other roles, have used new technology, or gone back to school to excel in a certain area helps show that you would be a good fit,” Jacinto says.

4. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Before you apply to a position that’s a couple of steps above your current pay grade, consider setting up an informational interview with someone who already has your dream job. “Find out what else is needed to be successful at that position besides the qualifications you are lacking, such as soft skills,” instructs Crawford, who adds that, “This will help you feel more confident in an interview [as well as help you] to showcase what you do bring to the table.”

5. You can’t avoid the fact this is a reach for you.

As much as you might like to do so, it’s not prudent to sweep the fact you’re “reaching” for this position under the rug. So, “Don’t hope that the hiring manager doesn’t notice that you don’t meet all of the qualifications, especially if they were listed in the job description,” says Crawford. Instead, be proactive and “bring up the fact you are aware that you don’t meet all of the qualifications on paper, but also that you are ready and able to take on the position.”

6. Some hiring managers don’t know what they want — until they meet you.

Don’t count yourself out just because you don’t meet all of the qualifications a job requires, encourages Jacinto. “Hiring managers often do not necessarily know 100% what they want in a candidate until the right one walks into the door,” she points out. So, “Use this as an opportunity to sell your background, skills, connections, enthusiasm, and references during your interview and within your cover letter.” And speaking of having references…

7. References really matter.

What you may lack in experience or previous job titles you can make up for with glowing references. “References are always important, but they’re especially important in this case,” says Crawford. “If a hiring manager is considering you despite your being underqualified, you want to make sure that your references will sing your praises.” Be sure to prepare a list in advance of your application, and don’t forget to reach out to each potential reference to make sure he or she is willing to provide a very positive review of your performance.

This article originally appeared on the Glassdoor.com

Why Women Should Invest and How to Get Started

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Professional Woman

by Madison Blancaflor

Lately, women hear a lot about gaps: how to combat the gender pay gap, how to avoid a resumé gap when you take time off to raise children, whether or not a thigh gap matters (it doesn’t). One “gap” that isn’t discussed enough is the gender investing gap.

Women Are Less Likely to Invest Than Men, and That’s a Problem. According to Ellevest, an investment platform created by women for women, “of all the assets controlled by women, 71% is in cash – aka not invested.” Statistically, women are less likely to invest, and even those who do invest tend to wait until they are older to start.

Most women don’t think they know enough about investing to properly grow their savings; therefore, they wait to start investing until they feel they’re more financially stable and believe they can risk the possibility of losing money. A common misconception around investing is that you have to be an expert in the industry to succeed when the reality is that there are so many tools and resources that make easy to start investing with as little as your pocket change.

Why Should Every Woman Invest?

According to a study by Merrill Lynch, 41% of women wish they invested more of their money. But why is it such a necessary part of personal finance?

Financial Equality

First and foremost, it’s important for women to be able to achieve a sense of financial equality and independence. In the face of issues like the gender pay gap and the pink tax, investing is one of the best ways for women to ensure that they have the potential to accumulate the same amount of wealth as men.

“It’s important for women to be able to walk away from situations that are hurting or not serving them – whether that’s a bad job or a bad relationship,” comments Ellevest’s Susan Thompson. “You should be able to have your own financial power to make decisions that enable you to care for yourself.”

Reaching Financial Goals

Whether you are looking to go back to school, save up an emergency fund, send your kids to college, save up for a large spend like a house or wedding, or just grow your overall wealth, investing is arguably the best way to reach those goals.

Saving for Retirement

Women earn approximately 83 cents to every dollar a man earns, on average. That means that even if we’re saving the same percentage of our income as men, we’re not going to save the same amount. In addition, women also tend to live longer. Basically, less money has to last longer when women simply save their money without an investing strategy.

Many employers do a match on a 401(k) or similar retirement savings plan. If you’re unsure about whether or not investing is really a good option for you, enroll in your employer’s program and watch as your savings grow.

Why Is a Savings Account Alone Not Enough?

Cash that sits in a checking account, safety deposit box, or under the mattress is actually depreciating in value year-over-year because of inflation. That means you’re essentially losing money when you aren’t actively growing your savings.

Check out the chart below, and you can see that a solid investments strategy can help you grow your savings exponentially over the course of 10, 20, and 30 years.

Men are five times more likely to name investing as their number one financial goal, meaning that more men are achieving those exponential returns throughout their lifetime than women. Investing allows women to earn more money than a savings account alone, even with small monthly deposits.

How to “Invest Like A Woman”

Despite the stereotypical belief that we aren’t good investors, women actually tend to possess quite a few qualities that give us an edge in the market.

Kiplinger’s article on the secrets of women investors puts it perfectly: “Studies show that men are more inclined to behave like baseball sluggers, who swing for the fences, even if it means running the risk of striking out far more often. Women, by contrast, are more like contact hitters, who are satisfied with a string of singles.”

Because women approach risk differently, we’re less likely to see large swings in our portfolio values, meaning a steadier growth over time.

Studies have also found that women are:

  • Less likely to trade investments, which translates into almost a 1% higher increase in investment earnings per year than men (who trade 45% more frequently than women).
  • Long-term planners, meaning we focus on our specific growth goals rather than chasing risky returns that may end up costing us.
  • More likely to ask for financial help. Just because 60% of men think they are experts at investing does not mean they know everything there is to know about the market. Women being more willing to seek out trusted financial advice from experts in the industry give us more opportunities to grow our wealth.

So, how do you leverage these qualities in your investments strategy?

Choose a Strategy That Works for You

Not all investing strategies are created equal, and unfortunately, most of the “gender-neutral” investing tools available to the public ultimately hinder the potential earnings for women.

Ellevest released a side-by-side comparison of a retirement scenario where a man and a woman both started saving at 30 years old, earning $85,000, and investing 10% of their salaries over the course of 37 years.

The study found that because of the gender pay gap and the natural progression of women’s careers (our salaries tend to peak at 40 while men’s salaries tend to peak at 55, and women are much more likely to take long career breaks), the woman would have about $320,000 less by the time she retires based on average market returns. That means she’ll have less money to live off of even though she’s likely to live years longer than the man.

Take these differences into consideration when you’re defining your goals, retirement plan, and investment strategies.

Figure Out Budget Allocation

Experts suggest a 50/30/20 philosophy when allocating your budget. You should strive to keep your “needs” at 50 percent of your income – food, rent/mortgage, clothes, utilities, etc. Then, 30% should be dedicated to self-care. Have some fun, get a manicure, go out to eat with friends. Lastly, 20% should be saved or invested.

Figuring out how much you should invest vs. set aside in a short-term savings account comes down to how much risk you’re willing to undertake. Year over year, the market has been steadily rising, but that doesn’t mean that a return is guaranteed. The golden rule is to never invest more than you’re willing to lose, especially if you’re going after aggressive or volatile markets.

Once you decide, Susan Thompson suggests setting up automatic withdrawals each month, even if it’s only $20 a month.

“In our mind, investing should be a ritual like any other that we undertake,” said Thompson. “Make a habit of putting money back towards your future, even if it’s a small amount.”

Know the Basics

Even though you don’t have to be a stock market expert, knowing the basics can help you communicate your goals and understand what’s happening with your money.

Some of the different types of assets you can invest in:

Stocks. They represent a part ownership in a company or corporation, also known as business equity. Basically, when a company performs well, the stock tends to increase in value. Stocks tend to be more volatile investments, meaning they can give you a high return on your investment long-term but tend to have larger swings in value in the short-term.

Bonds. Also known as fixed-income investments, bonds are one of the most popular assets for conservative portfolios. While they tend to be more stable than stocks or other volatile investments, they also have a lower return potential.

Money Market Accounts. When investing in these types of accounts, you’re allowing the bank to make low-risk investments into certificates of deposit (CDs) or government securities. The best money market accounts are low-return, yet stable investment assets.

Real Estate. Property has a tendency to rise in value over time, and there is a subset of investors who specialize in transforming real estate investments into high returns.
Cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and blockchain technologies are continuing to grow in popularity.

Conservative vs. Aggressive Investment Strategies

Investing and portfolio strategies are typically broken down into two main categories: aggressive and conservative. Aggressive strategies will put more money into stocks or other volatile markets such as cryptocurrencies. Conservative strategies will put more into bonds and money market accounts.

Aggressive investments typically get you a much higher return over time, but they’re also riskier. By contrast, conservative investments are more stable, but without the opportunity for the maximum return.

Your personal strategy can be a mix of both, and your strategy should ultimately be based on your financial goals, timeline, and risk tolerance.

If you’re looking at short-term financial goals such as saving up for a wedding or looking to pull together an emergency fund, a more conservative route will work best. This limits the risk of you losing money while still promising a good return.

However, if you’re looking to save for retirement over the course of 20 or 30 years, an aggressive strategy is going to get you the best return possible. While aggressive markets tend to fluctuate widely in the short term, the overall market trends upward an average of 10% each year. When you can afford to be patient in the market (something women are proven to be better at than men), an aggressive strategy can definitely pay off in your favor.

Also, remember that your investment strategy is not set in stone. As your financial goals change and as you get closer to when you plan on pulling money out of your investment accounts, it’s important to readjust your priorities and risk tolerance.

Choose the Right Investment Platform

If you don’t consider yourself an investment expert (and frankly, even if you do), getting professional help is a good idea. There are a lot of options out there for both the DIY-er and someone looking for one-on-one help. However, be careful about who you choose to trust with your money.

  1. Choose a fiduciary.

A fiduciary is a company or organization that is legally bound to do the right thing by their clients. Not all brokers or investment firms classify as a fiduciary, so make sure to ask before officially signing with anyone. If you find a great firm that isn’t a fiduciary, just make sure that they put client security and well-being above personal gain.

  1. Know their strategy.

Talk to any potential firms about their strategy for investments. Some firms craft personalized portfolios that you have a heavy hand in selecting. Others use a formula and automated system for choosing your investments. Every firm and platform is different, so make sure that the firm you choose uses a strategy that will work best for you.

For example, most robo-investment platforms use an investment algorithm that is based on a man’s salary projections and career lifetime, so they aren’t always the best choices for a personalized approach to fit a woman’s financial goals for the long-term.

  1. Consider your budget.

Take a serious look at the minimum balance requirements and fees for each platform or firm you’re considering. If you have a tighter budget, it will be worth it to find a platform or firm structured like Ellevest, where you can choose an account

  1. Trust your gut.

If you get an “off” feeling about a firm or platform that you’re considering, trust it. You are trusting a company with your financial future, and in order to do that, you have to trust that they are acting in your best interest. Take the time to find a platform or firm that serves you and your financial goals.

  1. Look for firms that support women.

While women investors are on the rise, there is still a gap between the number of men and women are in the investments market. Make sure you’re choosing a firm that will support your financial goals and understand the unique challenges that women face in the industry. Also take a look at the companies that these firms and platforms invest in. Are any of them led by women? Do they support women? While it may not immediately affect the return you get, choosing a firm or platform with a pro-women mindset will help us gain financial equality in the long-run.

Continue on to The Simple Dollar for the complete article

How Shavone Charles Created Her Dream Job In Tech

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Shavone Charles holds many titles. From being a musician and artist to her role as Head of Global Music and Youth Culture Communications at Instagram and recent founder of a passion project, Magic in Her Melanin, Charles is undoubtedly known to her peers and the surrounding tech and entertainment industries as being a renaissance woman and connoisseur of culture.

The term, “Do It For The Culture”, according to the Urban Dictionary, is a statement requesting that someone carry out a specific action for benefit of their shared culture. Charles is doing just that with not only her work in Silicon Valley but for black creatives globally. With her deep Trinidadian roots, Charles is passionate about maintaining her self-identity while creating an environment of inclusivity for women of color in tech.

Before she was trailblazing a new path for future generations, millennials and black women in tech, or creating her own job title at multi-billion dollar companies like Twitter and Instagram, she was a San Diego native and first-generation college graduate from UC Merced, just trying to figure it out. Upon graduating in 2012, Charles snagged several high-profile entertainment and communications based internships at Google, BET Networks, Capitol Hill and The Department of Justice. Her big break happened when she was the presented with the opportunity to create her own role and title at Twitter.

At Twitter, Shavone established her niche career focus on culture-focused communications and social marketing, business partnerships and data analysis with a close lens on music, online communities and youth culture. Upon joining the Twitter team, Shavone created her own role, as the first person to join her team and head up the company’s global music and culture communications, with a focus on data, often working on efforts tied music partnerships and high-priority product launches and acquisitions (including Vine and Periscope). During her time at Twitter, Shavone also remotely oversaw all of the company’s communications efforts for Brazil and Canada out of San Francisco and employed a number of successful global culture-driven communications programs tied to major entertainment and consumer moments in market (including Rock In Rio, Brazil’s Fashion Week, Juno Awards and more). She led content management and curation for the official @TwitterMusic account and helped grow it by over 5 million followers, as result of social campaigns with talent and highlighting the best uses of Twitter and Vine in music.

In addition to launching PR and social campaigns, Charles had the unique opportunity to create the first-ever employee resource group for African-American employees, aptly named Twitter BlackBirds. Her role at Twitter, catapulted her into a new realm of visibility and influence, leading her to head up communications and culture at Instagram. Charles has always been intrigued by the notion of connecting diverse groups of people through social media and cultivating an accepting community for people to have the choice to share commonalities.

Technology has allowed the culture to be seen on a global scale, with creatives now at the forefront of the movement and art form. It’s not a “niche” community anymore and people are using the internet to build a community around their interests,” which she said at Forbes I.D.E.A Summit.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

We’re Loving It: Meet The Youngest Black Woman To Own A McDonald’s Franchise

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Jade Colin is making waves in the restaurant franchise business as McDonald’s youngest black woman to own one of the popular fast food eateries.

No doubt an impressive feat, the New Orleans native has been preparing to run her own business for years. In 2010, her parents purchased their first McDonald’s. She began working in her family’s restaurants in 2012, after graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a bachelors in Business Management.

The next step in her journey towards owning her own was joining the Next Generation program. The program helps train children of McDonald’s franchise owners in hopes of one day running their parents’ investments, or franchising a new store themselves. Uniquely, a parent can’t simply pass their franchise down to their kids; they have to go through a process where they’re accepted to take it over, or, like Colin, start their own.

Colin excelled in the program, receiving the Outstanding Restaurant Manager of the Year Award for her region, as well as the Ray Kroc Award, which recognizes the top one percent of restaurant managers in the country.

In 2016, Colin opened her first McDonald’s location, marking her as McDonald’s youngest black franchise owner, at 26 years old.

Now 28, and still McDonald’s youngest black franchise owner, Colin is thinking long term when talking about being black and running your own business. Speaking to The Black Professional, the millennial franchisee said, “As an African American community, we need more men and women to know it’s not just about right now, but it’s about the generations to come.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

RuPaul Charles: Creating Opportunities for the LGBTQ+ Community

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RuPaul speaks at the LA Pride Resist March

by Mackenna Cummings

You may recognize RuPaul Charles from his global phenomenon hit show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, or as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

RuPaul has been paving the runway and the world for tolerance and education of the LGBTQ+ community. He is a prominent figure and has supported LGBTQ+ rights and has fought for equality throughout his career.

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community credit RuPaul with bringing drag into the spotlight. In 2018, he was the first drag queen to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. RuPaul paved the way as the first openly gay national television host on The RuPaul Show on VH1 in 1996. Currently, as the host of RuPaul’s Drag Race, he has helped launch the careers of more than 120 drag queens. He was also the first face of M.A.C. Cosmetics and, as its spokesperson, helped raise money for AIDs epidemic awareness. The fund has raised more than $400 million to date. While changing the world through tolerance and representation is one thing, it is all done while looking flawless and being true to himself, which makes RuPaul stand out even more.

RuPaul makes a surprise appearance onstage during "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 9 Premiere Party. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
RuPaul makes a surprise appearance onstage during “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 9 Premiere Party. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

RuPaul’s mantra for his entire career spanning more than 35 years has been to “love yourself.” During his sendoff at the end of each of episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, he addresses fans and contestants alike with the advice, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?” He is an avid promoter of self-love. His fans are of all ages, races, genders, and sexualities, and these lessons and this encouragement to embrace and accept oneself are critical for the LGBTQ+ community that is often misunderstood and criticized.

Not only does RuPaul continue to empower the LGBTQ+ community through championing for rights on each of his platforms, but he has also created an environment of support and growth for those on his show. He recognizes the need for finding “your tribe”—as he calls it—a support group of others who share your passions and interests, which is why he has created other outlets for people to connect outside of his shows and podcast, RuPaul: What’s the Tee with Michelle Visage. Another outlet is RuPaul’s DragCon bringing people together in both Los Angeles and New York, where RuPaul says that many of his younger fans are able to attend, represent themselves, and find their community. At the Los Angeles 2018 event, RuPaul said, “All the queens here represent the American spirit of being an entrepreneur and following your dream—no matter what anyone else has to say about it.”

RuPaul Performs at the World Theater. (Photo by James Crump/WireImage)
RuPaul Performs at the World Theater. (Photo by James Crump/WireImage)

RuPaul’s Drag Race is helping both the contestants and the viewers understand how to love themselves more, which is why the show has become such a celebrated part of television. RuPaul coined the phrase, “You’re born naked and the rest is drag,” advocating that for all of us, our clothing is a means of expression, and everything else we put on our bodies is drag.

RuPaul’s Drag Race brings forward authenticity by showcasing what contestants create, and because of that, how drag is a part of themselves. “Drag can help you understand what you are, how amazing it is to have a human body, and what you can do with it,” he said in an interview with Oprah for the February 2018 issue of O Magazine. RuPaul highlights the beauty and art behind drag culture in his show, airing on VH1, which has drawn in millions of viewers.

Ru Paul attends the signing of his book 'Workin' It'. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
Ru Paul attends the signing of his book ‘Workin’ It’. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

RuPaul also says that drag is helping fight the patriarchy and the dangers of strict definitions of masculinity. Through drag, no one else has to adhere to one identity, which allows people of multiple races and orientations to fit in by standing out. By not being afraid to embrace who he is and share that with the world, RuPaul has given so many others a platform to also represent their non-conforming and beautiful selves. In addition to RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s DragCon, he will be starring in the new Netflix scripted comedy series AJ and the Queen, his book GuRu will be released in the fall on Dey Street Books, and he will be releasing a cosmetic line with Mally Beauty in 2019. An ever-positive figure, RuPaul shows no signs of slowing down his success and support for self-expression and love.

Stacy Brown-Philpot of TaskRabbit on Being a Black Woman in Silicon Valley

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The Detroit native studied at Penn and Stanford, worked for Goldman and Google, and now runs the gig economy pioneer that Ikea acquired in 2017.

Stacy Brown-Philpot didn’t grow up aspiring to be the chief executive of a technology company. Instead, she wanted to be an accountant.

While interning at an accounting firm in the 1990s, Ms. Brown-Philpot — who was raised by her mother in Detroit — worked for a partner who happened to be African-American. “I was like, ‘OK, there’s a black person who is a partner at this firm. This is something that I can accomplish.’”

But as Ms. Brown-Philpot acquired more experience and education, her ambitions grew, too. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1997, did a stint as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, then became an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in 1999.

She went back to college to get her graduate degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, then in 2003 joined Google, where Sheryl Sandberg became a mentor. At Google, Ms. Brown-Philpot assumed a series of leadership roles and founded the Black Googlers Network, an employee resource group.

After nine years at Google, she joined TaskRabbit — which lets people hire freelancers for odd jobs — as chief operating officer. She became chief executive in 2016, and last year, she sold the company to Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted at TaskRabbit headquarters in San Francisco.

Tell me about your upbringing.

I grew up on the West Side of Detroit. My mom raised my brother and me by herself. We didn’t have a lot. My mother worked a job that didn’t pay a whole lot of money, so she had to make a lot of sacrifices. But she prioritized education. She would fall asleep helping us with our homework at night. She always taught us that no one can take your learning away from you. And with that, you can go anywhere and do anything.

So I focused on getting good grades. I wasn’t always a popular kid. I didn’t have the best clothes. But I was a smart kid. It’s cool to be smart in Silicon Valley. It’s not cool to be smart on the West Side of Detroit.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route with my brother. I would help him collect the money. I was like the C.F.O. of that operation, making sure we got paid.

And then you went to Penn.

I had no idea what an Ivy League school was. I was a fish out of water. My high school was 98 percent black. Penn was 6 percent black. So I had to find community. I had to figure out how was I going to succeed in this environment where most people don’t look like me, and don’t come from where I came from.

So where’d you find community?

There was a black college house. I didn’t live there. I would just go over there and spend time just sitting around with people that, you know, ate collard greens and fried chicken, just like I did growing up. It just made it safer for me and more confident for me to walk into a classroom and know I knew the answers and speak up.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

Black-Owned Alkaline Water Brand Becomes the First To Be Sold At Walmart

LinkedIn

Dr. Shayla Creer and Robert McCray are the founders behind Live Alkaline Water, which is now the first Black-owned water brand to be sold in Walmart. 

With its headquarters based in Jacksonville, Florida, the company uses water that comes from a natural alkaline water spring that McCray’s family has owned in North Carolina for more than 100 years. McCray told First Coast News that his aunt once took him out to the spring and said “you’re the blood of your ancestors crying out for you and you’re responsible for this.”

According to Black Enterprise, “the water is sourced from a natural underground spring, an aquifer, and a mineral rock bed that lies 800 feet below the ground making it extremely pure and fresh to the taste.”

McCray went on to team up with Dr. Creer to develop the water brand. “I called … many Walmarts, and finally we got a hold of one who allowed us to do a presentation,” Dr. Creer said.

After a successful presentation, the water went on to sell out within a month of hitting shelves, and is now sold in a total of three Walmart locations in northern Florida. The retail giant intends to continue to sell the water and hopes to add the products to even more of its stores.

“Healthy people make a healthy community,” McCray said. “Eat right, drink right and you begin to think right, as a people.”

Continue onto Because Of Them We Can to read the complete article.

8 In-Demand Skills That Will Complement Any Resume

LinkedIn
black woman at desk

By Megan Ruesink

You know it’s time for a change—a pay bump and a position where you feel more like an actual professional—but you’re not quite ready to commit to pursuing one career over another. That’s okay.

There are still some things you can be doing to invest in your future right now.There are plenty of skills to learn and implement into your life that may help you when you’re finally ready to apply for that new job or join that program. Take a look at what these employers, business leaders, resume professionals and more are saying about skills to learn that will help you grow and complement your future resume.

4 in-demand ‘soft’ skills

“Future professionals—no matter the field they are entering—need to focus on soft skills that are easily transferable to any position,” says Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications.

Take a look at these four “soft” skills that can help you grow as a person and bolster your resume for nearly any career.

  1. Relationship-building

“Recruiters and hiring managers consistently seek those employees who can relate well to a variety of co-workers, partner with customers, establish ongoing relationships and demonstrate exceptional communication skills,” says Rothbauer-Wanish.

No matter the career you pursue, it’s a safe bet that you’ll end up working with others. This doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone you interact with, but the ability to understand and relate with others is an important foundational skill.

  1. Communication

Communication skills—both written and oral—are also desirable traits among potential employees. Every career requires communication. Whether it’s responding to client emails, collaborating with teammates or presenting in front of team leads, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely is an important skill to possess and refine. If you’re looking to improve your communication ability, organizations like Toastmasters are a great way to get yourself into form.

  1. Critical thinking

Critical-thinking ability is a universally useful skill—practically every job requires you to evaluate situations and make decisions that might not always have a clear right answer. The ability to weigh evidence and project potential outcomes will play a key role in your ability to perform well in nearly any role—whether it’s as a nurse or financial advisor. While this ability isn’t something that can be honed with the snap of your fingers, there are strategies you can employ to refine your critical-thinking skills over time.

  1. Adaptability

Adaptability is important to both small and large companies, says James Kemper, president of W.H. Meanor & Associates.

“Due in part to greatly improved communication and data collection capabilities, events that would take months or even years to develop are reduced to weeks and days,” he says. “So it is important in your resume that you can demonstrate how you’ve encountered or were tasked to resolve challenging situations that may not have been in your scope of understanding, and how you dealt with them.”

4 in-demand ‘hard’ skills

Obviously, when it comes to your future resume, you’ll need industry-specific skills to jump out at those reading it. But in the for now, as you figure out what you really want to do, why not work on some “hard skills” that will look good on a nearly every resume and likely play some part in your future career.

  1. Coding

“In a technology-driven world, having technological skills are highly sought after. The basics of Microsoft Office are a necessity,” says Ajay Prasad, founder and president of GMR Web Team. “But other skills, such as coding, can be very attractive. Even in positions where you don’t expect to need to know coding, it can still come in handy.”

Prasad uses the example of an HTML newsletter or email in need of edits or a website that could use a little tweaking. Knowing some codes in these areas can easily be put to good use. Additionally, coding skills can be used to automate simple repetitive tasks—which can be a huge time saver.

  1. Data analysis

“A lot of today’s jobs revolve more and more around data,” says Bradley Shaw, president and CEO of SEO Consulting Inc. “And even in jobs like content marketing or customer support, you’ll be dealing with some data on a regular basis. Showing a future employer that you’ve used data to make decisions at work in another industry, or even to do something like grow your social media can go a long way.”

While not every job in the world will require a deep statistical analysis of data, being able to identify trends and interpret changes in data can help you make informed decisions.

  1. Software skills

Gaining software skills within your area of study or industry can be helpful skills for your future career and a great way to pad your resume.

“If you want to obtain a job in accounting, get training in accounting software packages; if you want to get into HR learn as many Human Resources Information System (HRIS) software packages as possible,” says Dawn Boyer, PhD, author and consultant.

  1. Budgeting

The ability to set and adhere to a budget is a versatile and valuable skill. While the benefits of being able to manage a budget are much more obvious for business-related careers, there’s still good reason to develop budgeting skills. For one, budgeting is a great skill for your personal life. But beyond that, even careers that have very little to do with business or money management have the potential for you to reach a management position that may require careful management of finances.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Source: Rasmussen.edu

5 Things Your Shoes Say About You

LinkedIn
Cedrick McDonald

What you wear on your feet reflects your personality, status If there is one thing that most women love, it is shoes. Look in the closet of most women and you will see a collection of shoes that they are proud of. Online shopping opportunities for shoes have even further pushed the growth of the industry, with IBIS World reporting that in the last five years shoe sales online have surged, with the revenue now reaching $14 billion. It’s an industry that will continue to thrive, and for good reason. Shoes say a lot about the person wearing them, even if you have to temper what you wear with them, they always give people a way to let their personality shine through.

“I believe that shoes are a work of art and should express something profound about the person wearing them,” explains Cedrick McDonald, owner of Exotics by Cedrick. “That’s why I put my heart and soul as an artist into every pair of shoes I design. I want the person wearing them to feel like I captured the essence of their personality with every shoe.”

McDonald is a bit of a pioneer in the shoe industry, having created a style that is unique enough to earn a U.S. patent. His line of designer footwear features high-fashion pumps with 4-6” heels that have an eye-catching snakeskin outsole that is encrusted with Swarovski crystals on the bottom of every shoe. They are shoes that help make a statement not only about the designer, but about the person wearing them.

Our shoes give non-verbal cues to those who see us wearing them. Those symbolic messages give woman wearing Cedrick designer shoeclues as to what type of personality you have, as well as how successful you may be. Here are 5 things that your shoes say about you:

1. Designer shoes. Those wearing designer shoes make a bold statement about status. Designer shoes are a status symbol, and these people are comfortable with being in their own skin and are not afraid to show off their high level of success.

2. High heels. It takes a confident, driven woman to wear high heels. They are for those who are attractive, have excellent taste, and have endless determination. If anyone is running the show, it’s usually the woman in the designer high heels.

3. Expensive shoes. The amount someone pays for their shoes says a lot about what they can afford, their level of success, and their taste for the finer things in life. Expensive shoes are synonymous with good taste, success, and earning a lot of money.

4. Colors and prints. While shoes come in all types of colors and prints, those who opt for the bolder options are not afraid to be bold themselves. They could be extroverts who want to be heard or they could be introverts who are silent, yet very confident and comfortable with who they are. Even the quiet ones desire to be noticed, and bold colors and prints will help them do just that.

5. Custom designs. Those who seek out custom designs or unique shoe lines are leaders, rather than followers. They want to help set the trends and styles and want to be seen. They love how custom designs ignite conversations, giving them a chance to flex their forward-thinking fashion moves.

“Your shoes should help make you feel beautiful,” added McDonald. “If they are not doing that, then they are not worth your time. As an artist who designs shoes, it is my mission to bring out the beauty in every step my customers may take. I want them to truly live life through their soul!”

Cedrick McDonald designerStarted in 2016, Exotics by Cedrick is high-fashion shoe line that has been turning heads from the Golden Globes to the MTV Movie and TV Awards. The company motto is Live Life Through Your Soles, and he’s created unique-looking soles that stand out and make a statement. McDonald is a serial entrepreneur who owns several businesses in addition to Exotics by Cedrick. From the Tampa area, he aims to help set the trends in the high-fashion world. To create his shoes he starts with a hand sketch, usually in the middle of the night, and then creates the rendered design on CAD. Cedrick is also dedicated to giving back to help causes he cares about, donating proceeds from the sale of the shoes to the AIDS Foundation to help combat the global disease.

About Exotics by Cedrick
Owned by Cedrick McDonald, Exotics by Cedrick, a celebrity fashion and footwear designer, is a Tampa-based high-fashion high heel shoe company. The company has a patent for its unique design, which features a snakeskin outsole that is encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Since the company was started in 2016, the trend-setting shoes have made their way into many celebrity hands. To learn more about Exotics by Cedrick, visit the site at exoticsbycedrick.com.

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Source:
IBIS World. Online shoe sales. ibisworld.com

How this 23-year-old became the only full-time woman trader at the New York Stock Exchange

LinkedIn

Working in an industry where you are one of very few women can be challenging enough — but imagine what it’s like to be the only woman on staff.

That’s the case for New York Stock Exchange trader Lauren Simmons. The 23-year-old is an equity trader for Rosenblatt Securities, and she is both the youngest and the only full-time female employee to hold that position at the NYSE.

“When I tell people what my job is they are always surprised,” she tells CNBC Make It. In fact, Simmons says that if you had told her five years ago that she’d end up working on Wall Street, she wouldn’t have believed the news herself.

“It’s surreal,” she says.

Hitting the Street

Simmons moved to New York after graduating from Kennesaw State University in December 2016. The Georgia native had interned at a local clinical treatment center in college while earning a BA in genetics with a minor in statistics. She had planned to pursue a career in the medical field, but after realizing that medicine wasn’t her passion, she started searching for opportunities in other industries.

Simmons started applying to positions in finance — she had loved numbers since high school — and eventually secured her current position at Rosenblatt Securities by applying to an opening posted on LinkedIn.

“The one thing that I love about numbers and statistics, and kind of one of the reasons I came to the New York Stock Exchange, is because numbers are a universal language,” she explains. “When you put them on a board it connects everyone, which is probably one of the reasons why the New York Stock Exchange is so iconic.”

She started her role in March 2017, but says her employment was contingent upon passing the Series 19, the exam all floor brokers must pass to earn their badge.

“I had a month to take the exam,” says Simmons, “and when I tell you a lot of people did not think I was going to pass, they really did not think I was going to pass.”

The exam is rooted in financial principles and concepts. Despite her math background Simmons had not studied finance in college, and had to hit the books — hard. When she passed (“It shocked everyone”), she says it eased her doubts about whether she could manage the role. It also proved to the men on the floor that she was equipped to work alongside them.

“When I see statistics that say ’80 percent don’t get through,’ I look at the 20 percent,” she says. “So when everyone kept saying, ‘It’s a hard test. Don’t worry if you don’t pass,’ for me, I needed to pass to prove to myself that I could do this.”

Continue onto CNBC to read the complete article.

Mellody Hobson Will Become Starbucks Vice Chair After Howard Schultz Departure

LinkedIn

Mellody Hobson, president of Chicago-based investment firm Ariel Investments, will be moving into a role as Starbucks’s vice chair following Executive Chairman Howard Schultz‘s departure on June 26.

A Chicago native, Hobson worked her way up after joining Ariel as a college intern in the 1990s, going on to become the company’s vice president of marketing, then a senior vice president, and eventually president at the firm. Ariel’s holdings include MSG Networks, Northern Institutional Treasury Portfolio, First American Financial Corp., and Kennametal, among others.

A member of Starbucks’ board of directors since 2005, Hobson has also served on the boards of Estée Lauder, DreamWorks Animation, and Groupon.

Throughout her career, Hobson has made financial literacy and community outreach a priority. Currently, she serves as chair on the board of directors of The Economic Club of Chicago, as well as chair of After School Matters, a Chicago nonprofit that provides teens with out-of-school time programs.

Continue onto Fortune to read the complete article.

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