MEET: Travisha Rudder
As a Capricorn at heart, crying is naturally not easy for me to do. This year I joined New Girl on The Block to help me focus on what is most important to me. But like anyone else in the world, problems and conflicts always arise. The NGOTB mentor program has helped me overcome my personal issues and focus on myself and my business. But I also struggle with depression and sometimes issues can seem to be above what is really most important to you.
The past two weeks, feelings of depression have been overwhelming me, and naturally I fell back into old habits and did nothing about it. I forgot all about my journal, and all the self-love practices NGOTB has taught me. I then started stressing about things that are out of my control like money, and the fact that I hate my living situation right now. I also sat on my ass during all of my free-time moping about what should be, instead of doing all that I can in that very moment.
As the week carried on, I did begin to uplift myself again, but talking to Pauleanna was really all I needed. She said something to me that I feel will stick with me forever. “Sometimes, all I need is a good cry, a bath, and a nap.” My whole life I have felt like it’s not okay to cry. Even though crying has many benefits like, relieving stress or simply improving your mood. Even while I was talking to Pauleanna my eyes started to water and I was telling myself, “Travisha do not cry right now!” One, because naturally I feel it’s weird to cry in front of people, and two because I wanted to listen to what she was saying because we only had 30 minutes together. But when our conversation ended, I was like why did I feel it wasn’t okay to cry? And I remembered all the times in my child hood when I would repress my feelings. I then felt a rush of sadness and I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t! I realized what I need to do is cry a little bit more often, not for sympathy but just to let out all the emotions that we tend to hold onto, that prevent the hustle of our success.
I came across a wikihow called: How to Cry and Let It All Out. I know Wikipedia is not the most reliable source for information and it does state some pretty “common sense” tips. But sometimes all you really need is for some else to reassure those common sense ideas.
I hope that this blog helps anyone who is dealing with depression, or anyone who is having a hard time dealing with all the shit we got going on in our lives. I know when I go home later tonight, I tend to have myself a good bawl.
MEET: Tiffany C. Brown
You never realize until life comes back full circle; until it makes you uncomfortable and makes you dig deep and re-evaluate your life.
I’d been fired from my job, where I thought I would spend the remaining of my adult life. Everyone told me that I was so lucky and should make sure I kept this job. “Girl, you have a government job with great benefits and retirement.
And for the 1st time in life, I feel free. Granted, I understand I need money. Something just lifted from me, I feel renewed. I feel ok about being in any uncomfortable place in my life, unsure of my next move or destination.
The past 12 years I honestly felt trapped. After spending five years stressed out and sick while working at a very popular cell phone provider, just to get fired because they refused to accommodate my medical problem.
Being hired as a government contract two weeks and the day of being fired in 2010 where I spent the last 6 years excelling and providing for myself just to be turned down for every promotion, even though I had the time and experience. To be accepted into a competitive student program for a sector of the government in 2016 to be fired 2017. I was hurt, and I realize there are some things that I could have done differently, but I also felt like I had no support. But I believe everything happens for a reason and a purpose, and everything is a lesson.
I always knew there should be something else I should be doing. I didn’t realize the universe would force me into it. Now, here I am 34 years old, seven months from my 35th Birthday, and I am back to square one. It’s never too late, and never be ashamed to start over.
- Tell us about yourself (name, age, where you live, school, what you are studying, etc.)
My name is Kayla McLaughlin, I am 20 years old, and attending Ryerson University for Journalism with a minor in English. Throughout the school year I commute from Stouffville, Ont., which is approximately an hour North East of Toronto.
- What made you decide to raise your hand and apply for the NGOTB scholarship?
I decided to apply for the scholarship because after hearing about Pauleanna Reid and speaking to her on the phone, I felt like NGOTB was a great organization, empowering and strengthening women; a sisterhood I would love to be a part of. When I realized that I met the qualifications, there was no reason for me not to try. Commuting to school, paying for books, food and transportation can really take a toll on the university student. Recognition for hard work can really be the push you need to keep going through the stress of exams, essays, and all of the other university bliss.
- How did you make use of the scholarship money?
At the beginning of the year, I went to meet my friend in Germany who was studying abroad. We travelled Europe for almost a month, which ended up being very costly. The scholarship money mostly went to this, because so much learning and life experience is gained outside of the classroom. The trip and experience has inspired so much of my writing since then, as well as my outlook on life. Travelling has always been important to me, so the extra money certainly helped me to take advantage of the opportunity.
- What have you been up to over the last six months?
When I returned from my trip, I completed my third year of university, started building a website and put together a promo video of my broadcasting capabilities. I volunteered for the iHeart Radio Much Music Video Awards for the second year in a row, and have been working two jobs to save up for my last semester of university in the fall.
- Best lesson learned this year?
The best lesson I learned this year is that preparation is key. Life has a funny way of throwing opportunities at you whether you are ready or not. By constantly perfecting your craft and staying up-to-date, you can embrace change and opportunity instead of running from it.
- What’s next for you? What goals are you aiming to achieve for the remainder of this year and 2018.
I will be completing university this December, a semester earlier than expected because of the extra classes I took each year. One of my final requirements is doing an internship, which I am very excited for, and hoping to gain journalistic experience, network with industry professionals, and continue building toward my career. Throughout this year and in 2018, I hope to be more diligent in maintaining my website and building my brand through business cards, promotion, and online presence. Lastly, financial stability has been a big goal for me this year; I plan on continuing to strive toward my savings goal for the year, being very conscious of my monetary decisions.
It’s common for us to wish that any journey that we take in our lives will be smooth, straight forward and easy.
But it’s never like that.
Self-doubt, negative self-talk and fears that are within our own minds often hold us back from taking chances on the new beginnings we deserve to have.
That’s why many people complain about the state that their life is in without making any moves to drive themselves towards the life they deserve to have.
Just a few years ago after graduating from university, I found myself in that same position.
I had dreams of becoming a lawyer, but knew I would be burnt out in that career by 29, so I decided to land a ‘good job’ in finance for two years to figure out how to navigate in the world.
As much I as loved the people around me at work, I knew there was something bigger and better out there for me to pursue, despite everyone around me telling me that I should be comfortable with ‘security’ that wasn’t even secure.
So one night, after tossing and turning in my sleep after having a day from hell at work, I decided to choose faith.
At that point in my life I knew I was too young and gifted not to follow a path that God had destined for me when I had conversations with Him crying and pleading about leaving everything in the midst of figuring out why He wants me here.
With no immediate plan, I typed up my resignation letter, put it in an envelope and gave it to my boss the next day.
Was I scared out of my mind? Of course I was an emotional wreck knowing that my family would tell me how disappointed they would be knowing I left an opportunity that only they saw as being life changing for me.
But leaving the job I had gave me the opportunity to discover not only who I am, but why faith is so important in my journey – no matter the ups and downs, bad days and good ones!
My journey to develop my own personal brand, which is to inspire other millennials like myself who want to take the leap of faith but are afraid to do so, helped me understand that having a mentor will help to make sense of things when it feels like it doesn’t.
Taking on a new journey requires someone who’s been through the journey before. They can tell you how to avoid the some of the mistakes they made so you can learn and grow from them too, while providing the opportunity to build a relationship, gain confidence and learn how important your progress is to someone else.
So when you choose faith over your fears, have someone who will hold you accountable, guide you through the process and show you the way to get to where you need to be on your journey in life.
– Laura Opoku
Always remember, how you let a man into your space will determine how he behaves once he gets there. Years ago when I worked as a stylist in the music and entertainment industry, I constantly stood at a crossroads between right and wrong. My moral compass was always being tested. Working in a male-dominated industry definitely teaches you some things. Not only did it test my patience but it also helped me get a backbone. I was young, curious and exposed to sex, drugs and (business) politics on a regular basis.
Not actual sex. But what I mean is that I was in an environment where women are seen as objects and not heard. Just to give you some context, I’ll tell you a quick story.
I was working on the set of a music video (girl, 24hr video. Ugh. Set life) and getting a girl dressed for her scene. It was a bed scene. Bikini shot by a sunlit window and her only job was to roll all over the sheets and look sexy. While tying her strings together, she started crying. Of course I panicked because this had never happened before. For the most part, the talent keeps it pretty profesh. So I asked her what’s the matter and she replied that she didn’t even know how she ended up here in the first place. She continued to tell me how she got the role and all the things she had to do to be the lead vixen. It was the first time in 6 years that I was so disappointed with myself. I felt like shit and I hated that my part contributed to the downward spiral of girls I met on a regular basis. It was the first time I questioned the work I was doing. Moral of this story is that I’ve heard and seen many things .
But anyway, my point is that every woman should have standards or what I like to call non-negotiables. I don’t need to tell you this, you know it. However, a simple reminder never hurt anyone. I want to replay some scenarios I’ve experienced and explain how I practice what I’m teaching.
- Set strict boundaries
Funny enough, I was in an uber with a girlfriend yesterday evening (around 8pm) and she was on her phone replying via email to a male colleague. She was scheduling their first meeting and looked over and asked, “Should I tell him I’m available now?” I said hell nawl. He can wait till sunrise. Don’t give him any leads to assume it’s anything more than what you intend this call to be. There were two other gentlemen in the car who laughed so hard. Then my girl and I joined. I wasn’t surprised when the two gentlemen agreed with me. They knew exactly what I was talking about. Unless absolutely necessary, I really try to keep all meetings during the day – coffee or lunch at best. In my personal opinion, dinner is suggestive. Give him an inch and he just might stretch it. Nawl. I’m not here for it. I’ve had instances when it all went left. In addition, whether man or woman, I also mention that I have another appointment afterwards (which is sometimes a lie – oh welp) so they understand that I don’t have time to waste. It creates a sense of urgency and tightens the agenda.
- You don’t have to bend
On another set of a music video I was working on, one of the rappers started rolling a blunt. I thought three things. Number one. Smoking is lame (personal opinion). Number two. I have thousands of dollars worth of clothes here and I can’t return them to designers smelling like smoke. I wish he’d try it. Try me. Number three. Do I say something or play it cool?
Girl, nawl. I definitely said something and the crew and artists definitely did not like it. I came across as the goody-two-shoes but this was something I wasn’t going to compromise on. I told him to take it outside. He looked at me like I stuttered or something. I told him that if he didn’t I’d walk and he wouldn’t have anything to wear in his video.
He took it outside.
But don’t get it twisted. Not every story will have a happy ending. Taking a stand for things I believe in is hard bruh. I’ve been called all kinds of names and have been mistreated because of it, but stand tall and stand strong. If it’s important to you – do not bend.
- Pick a location wisely
I can’t even tell you this story without laughing because this guy really tried it. A very well-respected businessman in Toronto requested a meeting with me. I know (of) him pretty well because we have many mutual friends. So I suggested a cafe that was mutually beneficial from a distance standpoint and his response was as follows:
“My accountant has me on a budget. I’d much prefer to meet at my home office.”
I’m sorry. Wait. What.
Oh Sir. Hell nawl.
He could really be telling the truth, but honestly, I don’t care. I don’t like how it came across and declined the invitation immediately. I lost money. I lost a potential client. But don’t care – I kept it pushing.
- Charge what you’re worth and don’t feel bad about it.
Girlfriend. I be chargin’ a bag of money PLUS tax. I do not play. This is what I do for a living. I’m confident in my abilities and I make every effort to deliver quality so I really don’t like when anyone, be it man or woman, requests a discount or doesn’t come correct. I’ll give you another scenario that recently happened. Someone reached out to me via Facebook to do a radio interview. I am always flattered whenever someone wants to feature me on their platform. If the initial touch base is on Facebook, I’m cool but I typically like to keep all business correspondence via email. So I asked him to email me. He #swerved and continued speaking to me on Facebook.
So he proceeded to send me details on the interview such as the theme, time, date, etc. however, before I could confirm the interview, I responded with a few questions of my own: Number one. May I see your website? Number two. Can you tell me more details about your audience? Number three. Who else has been featured on your show? Number four. Tell me more about your daily/monthly views.
Simple questions. It’s business, not personal.
His reply *Crickets*
Ok sir. We’ll leave it there. My assumption is that he felt some-type-of-way by my questions and that I should’ve already assumed ‘he’s poppin’ and should’ve agreed.
No sir. Keep it pushin’
Listen, you get what you expect. People need to know where you stand. I’m more than happy to contribute to your platform but I have a protocol that I follow. Sir, it’s called being professional.
Below is a video clip of Nicki Minaj that I really love. She speaks a lot of truth in this interview. Take it in.
“When I am assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss.”
These are only very few instances that shed light on how I navigate my business relationships with male counterparts. But don’t get it twisted. All men are not dogs. All men are not assholes. Some are really awesome and have your best interest. Either way, keep an open mind and heart always. Just don’t lose your head. BOSS UP. Don’t get weak. Boss up!
Peace & Love