Updated: May 21

April 2020, marks five years since I was fired from a company that I planned on retiring from. Two months before I lost my job, a top tier Fortune 500 company offered me a position paying $40,000 more annually, but I turned it down for several befitting reasons. Once I unexpectedly became unemployed, I awarded myself a season of me-time. I spent a few weeks traveling, but most of my time off was spent in the confines of my home. The emotional roller coaster, previous hectic workload, and stress from the what if's, glued me to the couch longer than I initially expected.

Once I was ready to re-enter the workforce, I vowed not to settle for anything I wasn't passionate about. Sticking to my guns made me go eight months without finding a job. Four months into my tenure with a new company, I embarked on my first entrepreneurial endeavor. My podcast, which eventually hit the Top 200 list on Apple, opened my eyes to a new world. The flame for becoming a CEO of a pre-existing Fortune 500 company got distinguished once the fire was lit to build my own.

April 2020 also marks another anniversary for my professional career. On Easter 2017, I spontaneously quit my job to chase the dream that made me excited to get out of bed every morning. Once I hung up my corporate career, I found myself back in a similar scenario. I was relegated to the confines of my own home again.

The first time I was subconsciously quarantined, I didn't have a plan, vision, or routine, which are three essential elements for an effective quarantine. During my first go around, I got up whenever I wanted, ate whatever I wanted, and winged every day. Those were arguably the most unproductive days of my life. I often regretted that time period until I understood the opportunities within my obstacles.

My first quarantine allowed me the chance to learn myself better than ever. When you are living in isolation, your world slows down. If you are productive, you catch up with life. However, if you are unproductive, it passes you by. In a capitalistic economy, it is second nature to assume a person is talking about financial or educational advancement when they mention productivity. However, getting to know yourself, managing your mental and physical health, and not being self-destructive, can be coined as productive.

Getting to know myself on a deeper level, laid the foundation for me to grow organically. Schools and jobs are responsible for socially programming most of society to be more productive under a regimen versus an unstructured environment. When you are quarantined, you must create that structure for yourself.

Society has pressured many people into thinking they should be following a specific agenda during the Corona epidemic. It was impossible for me to have the same game plan for each of the three quarantines I experienced in recent years. Some can capitalize by being aggressive and playing offense economically, others may still be forced to go about their same routines, and another group of people may be primarily focused on their health. Although each of my quarantines differed, all were productive because I got to know myself and loved ones better.

One interesting thing about literature is that ten people can read the same information, and each person could have different takeaways. Aside from sharing my quarantine experiences, I would like to provide you with more tangible takeaways and practices I utilize.

Each morning I listen to something positive to set the tone for the day. Doing so will give you a mental head start. If problems occur, you will be armed with the upper hand because you mentally prepared for the encounter ahead of time.

Prioritize discovering what lights a fire under you to perform at your best. That spark can come from interactions or thoughts of loved ones, positive affirmations, listening to motivational speakers, or reflecting on memories that motivate you. I tap into this source of energy at the start of every day.

Audit your circle. This is a vital action during any time frame, but twice as important during times of uncertainty and chaos. Many people abuse their outlets during challenging times or become a dumping ground for other people's problems. It is important to be there for your loved ones. However, if all someone talks about is their problems, it's best to practice social distancing with them.

Reading books give you somewhere to go when there is nowhere to go. Utilize fictional novels and memoirs to take you to another world and give you a break from reality. Leverage non-fiction books to expand your mind.

I encourage you to share any of your beneficial quarantine practices with your friends, family, or social media platforms. We can't assume that smiles on social media correlate to real-life happiness, and that neglected loved ones are doing fine.

Updated: Apr 29

Beauty In The Midst Of Chaos

On August 20th, 2005, life moved at a slower pace than usual. Inner-city New Orleans is not a place where life moves slowly. Even those who didn't grow up in rough neighborhoods in the Big Easy are forced to grow up quickly because of stories about family members, friends, or local news headlines.

The 7th ward of New Orleans snatched my childhood innocence during a scorching August evening in 1996. While I stood on the front porch of my shotgun house where I was born and raised, I watched two teenagers run full-speed up my block. The chase ended when the guy trailing pulled out a handgun from his waistband and fired three shots into the back of the person he ran behind. Once the shots that were loud enough to be heard over the passing train ceased, I looked up, and the killer was gone along with life as I knew it.

Nearly a decade later, I stood on my porch, eyeing the scene where the tragedy occurred, and memorable chills shot through my body as my mother and I prepared to evacuate for Hurricane Katrina. Those unforgettable shivers delivered me a sense of tranquility instead of grief. For nine years straight, I avoided looking at the murder scene that lingered in my mind throughout my upbringing. This time I was able to see the beauty in my pain by facing it and learning from it.

Moments after hurdling a nine-year obstacle, my mother and I evacuated to Houston, Texas. After we pulled off, I rolled the window down to feel the summer breeze. Typically, I embellished the opportunity for a hurricane evacuation, but something in the air felt different about this go around. Growing up across the street from a barroom and a public housing project made loud noise a normalcy, but the only sounds that night were strong winds and loose items ruffling into each other. As we drove through the neighborhood, I noticed things I never saw before, and visuals of leaving my community became permanently planted in my memory forever.

Once we merged onto the interstate, I fell into a deep sleep and awakened when we arrived at my brother's house in Houston, Texas. Those indifferent moments in my neighborhood while evacuating were my final ones living there.

The floodwaters left rings around the top inside walls of my house as if it was a dirty tub. The Katrina water residue markings were nine feet high and destroyed all of my baby pictures, childhood writings, family photo albums, and belongings. From the outside looking in, it's easy to assume that occurrence signaled rock bottom, but the misfortune marked the beautiful start to a new beginning.

If I weren’t able to look my pain in the eyes, then I would have only seen the problems instead of opportunities. The grief of losing priceless memorabilia couldn’t compare to the affliction of not seeing my mother every morning, as I did my entire life until Hurricane Katrina. She remained living in Houston, and I moved back home to finish high school and graduate from Tulane University. The unfortunate circumstances awarded me the chance to meet new lifelong friends, live with my beloved father, and exposure to life outside of my natural surroundings. The category five hurricane taught me lessons that a sunny day never could and made me conceptualize the most important aspects of life.

Previous to Hurricane Katrina, it was fair to say that I coasted through life. It was impossible to carry on with that mindset after having everything washed away overnight. Searching for tangible takeaways helps a person find beauty in the midst of chaos. How can life carry on the same after the Corona epidemic is over? It can’t.

Some of the economic and political actions in play should have been measures taken a long time ago, but it’s best not to stress over what can’t be controlled. What can be controlled has been the most remarkable highlights of this global crisis. Quality time with family, prioritizing health, conversations with distant friends, and loving humanitarian acts should have been more significant focal points in society before the Corona epidemic.

Wake up calls are opportunities to rise to new levels. Unsanitary habits were previously the elephants in plenty of rooms and bathrooms. Seeing someone use a public restroom and carry on without washing their hands became an overseen occurrence in society. People who have such trifling habits are now forced to think twice about actions that were once second nature.

Tangible takeaways and positive changes appeared in other areas of life, aside from cleanliness. Economic adjustments have created an awakening amongst employees, entrepreneurs, and potential entrepreneurs. Many jobs that were previously hated are currently needed and no longer taken for granted. More books and business plans will be written now than ever. Business owners have no choice but to see the importance of sustainability over immediate gratification.

Previous to the Corona outbreak, life was no short of its tragedies during my lifespan. Mudslides, hurricanes, bombings, earthquakes, plus more unfortunate events caught international headlines, but the Corona epidemic is a beast of its own. Experiencing Hurricane Katrina first-hand made me grasp the difference between second-hand experiences and personal ones. The further away from the impact, the less it hits home. The Corona virus hit the television and cell phone screens of everyone across the world. Everyone is experiencing this first-hand. Therefore, it’s a collective opportunity to see the beauty in the midst of chaos and take our world to new heights.

Updated: Feb 25

Are you fishing in the right pond?

That's a question you must ask yourself when conducting a job search. Five hours on the wrong job board couldn't equate to the value of thirty minutes spent on the right one. Some job boards are oversaturated with job openings that only serves as interviewing practice and opportunities to find out what you don't want in a job.

An illusion can occur that you are having a successful job hunt by fielding inquiries and interviews, but in all actuality, you are in a predicament where the job market is playing with your feelings. There aren't many more frustrating things on the job hunt than finding out a position is nothing as advertised while you are on an interview.

I highly recommend concentrating your job search efforts on LinkedIn. The platform is second to none because you can build advanced rapport with recruiters during the early stages of the interview process. Features such as mutual connections, education listings, recommendations on your profile, and its reflectiveness to other popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook make it easier to build relationships with recruiters versus other job search platforms.

Are you more comfortable with a friend request from a person with no mutual friends or one with plenty mutual friends? How insightful would it be to see a mutual friend have feedback written on their profile about the person that just sent you a request?

Example: When you get a friend request on Facebook or Instagram there would be a section where their social media friends say how they feel about the person sending you a request. There would be a section on their profile that says, “This person is full of drama” or “This person is a great friend to have.” That would save a lot of time and headaches.

The recommendations section is an opportunity to leverage on LinkedIn. It would go a long way to have recommendations on your profile that vouches for your work ethic, character, or abilities. A recruiter would be more enticed to call you in for an interview if seven people have great things to say about you in the recommendations section of your profile on LinkedIn.

A primary focus should be standing out from others who want the same position as you. Most people have between 0-3 recommendations on LinkedIn, and some don’t even know there is a recommendations section. Why not go above and beyond and acquire 5+? It would be worth setting aside time just for that. Also, think of how you consider reviews when making a purchase. If you don't worry about reviews, keep in mind that over 3/4th of shoppers consider reviews when shopping.

Remember that you are interviewing them also.

Do your homework on the company. Is this company looking to merge or get acquired in the next few years? Is this company facing any major lawsuits that could force it to go out of business? Does this company value your core principals? Do you believe in work-life balance, and does the company you are applying for believe that work is life and that the job is never truly done? All of this is researchable. Many times we wind up with jobs we don’t want due to our own fault.

Time is one thing that you don't want to waste. As appealing as a few paychecks may sound, it could set you back from a long term payout and happiness. Would you sacrifice two paychecks for a job that could fulfill your happiness and provide you with a sustainable career? Sometimes we make sacrifices like this when we reach for immediate gratification on the job hunt.

Move Strategically

Try to build a bridge in the company. That can come from an employee referral, showing up at a company based event or job fair to have a face to face interaction with company personnel, or having a personal connection with the company.

A company referral will go a long way with the decisionmakers, especially if it's from a reputable employee. Did you have a friend that worked there who didn't have a great reputation? You might not want to bring them up.

Face to face interactions are a lost art. It is much easier to leave a lasting impression in-person versus on the phone or via the application. Search job fairs or track the company website for events to get this face to face interaction with your prospective company. Even if you were denied by their computer system or on a first-round interview, this might be your second chance. Take advantage of it.

Do you have a personal connection with the company, or did you learn some recent news about the company? Communicate that with the recruiter to let them know your level of interest.

Chip away at the right job and track your efforts. I highly recommend applying for a certain amount of jobs consistently versus applying for a ton in one night. You can learn more about the market and be updated on fresh opportunities if you are consistent with your efforts. Each person's available time and need for a new opportunity differs, but hypothetically speaking, if you applied for 20 jobs a day, I am confident that you would at least come across five great opportunities a week.

I wish you the best of luck on your job search, and I hope that these strategies provided value for you!

© 2018 Williams Commerce LLC by ITG. 


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