4 Non-Negotiables I Use To Help Me Navigate Relationships with Men in the Business World

4 Non-Negotiables I Use To Help Me Navigate Relationships with Men in the Business World


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 threeDo 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Ok sir.

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

Why Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Work a 9-5 Job (and Shut Up About It Too!)

Why Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Work a 9-5 Job (and Shut Up About It Too!)

Girl, you’ve got to chill.

I can’t take any more complaining about your 9-5 job so I’m about to hand you a reality check and let you know why this season of your life has importance. The reason why you are not happy in your current situation is because you fail to find the beauty in your world of chaos. Not only do you fail to see the beauty through your lens but your narrow sight is delaying your blessings.

Why you sabotage yourself on purpose is beyond me.

The more you speak negativity into your life, the higher you build a wall between you and your destiny. Words have enormous power and if you don’t start filtering your language and talking to yourself with more respect, you’ll keep walking in circles. So my first suggestion is to start each day with 5-10 minutes of silence. At the very least, give God thanks for breathing air into your lungs. Be grateful for the fact that you have a damn job to wake up to when other people are still searching endlessly. Take a second to breathe and refrain from starting your day caught up in the false impressions of someone’s Instagram or Facebook profile. Give yourself 10 minutes to sit in silence and listen to the sounds of your breath and watch your chest rise. Wiggle your fingers and toes (still got ‘em? good). Bury yourself underneath the covers and just be.

Girl, you’ve got to chill.

I wrote a popular article about why my closet has not seen a track suit in nearly a decade and the main lesson was even if you don’t feel good, look great. Don’t ever bring yourself down to the level of looking like your mess. You may feel like one, but take a page from all the women we look up to. The one common thread they share is that positive thinking is always at the forefront of each of their success stories. It all starts with how you carry yourself.

When you get into the office, give your best effort. Not just some days, but every damn day. Because it’s real silly to ask for more when you haven’t even mastered less. You have big dreams and ideas, but don’t expect God to serve you blessings if you can’t master your current situation. If you want to be a success, there are levels to this. I don’t care where you work….

  • flippin’ burgers at McDonald’s
  • washing dishes at Burger King
  • sorting mail at the Post Office
  • operating coat check at the club
  • customer service at the bank

Doesn’t matter. You make sure you are the best at what you do and show others what you’ve got. I know you have it in you so don’t make a lasting bad impression. You don’t know who’s watching and what power they hold. I also know how much you despise your position, but consider this practice for the big win. At every stage and every age, you need to be productive. Master this season so you can take the lesson and move on.

Girl, just take the lesson so you can move on.

The lesson is what will open the door to the next level of your life. I would never be where I am today if I didn’t do the same damn thing. I remember one of my first jobs out of college. I worked at an interior design firm; a very prestigious – multi million dollar company. My boss was an old Italian man (his name was Gino) who yelled at me daily. Honestly, I think that’s the way he just spoke. Loud and proud. But it scared me to death. I just started navigating the working world and could barely stand on my own two feet. Sometimes you could even find me in the bathroom crying on the floor. I despised him. I wanted out but was even too scared to quit … until one day I did. I told him I found a new position and I was leaving. He told me to come into his office and sit down. He then told me that I wasn’t going anywhere and asked me my price. I replied, “if you can match my new job, I will think about staying but the real reason I’m leaving is because I don’t think I can handle this environment.” Of course he looked at me puzzled, but quickly understood what I meant and for the first time we had a heart to heart. He told me that I was old enough to be his granddaughter and that he’s hard on me because he could tell I am built for challenge. He wanted to build my character and told me that if I ever wanted to be as successful as him I needed to build tougher skin.

Girl, there’s the lesson.

I’ve had my fair share of 9-5 jobs. But most people feel how you feel so I understand. But it doesn’t have to stunt your growth. Today, I’m a #girlboss. I run three successful companies, manage 22 part-time employees. Gino (and many other shitty jobs) definitely had a hand in giving me the confidence to take leaps and bounds. There’s no magic formula to this. Allow your circumstances to push you not close you.

Life may be hard but prayer changes everything. Don’t be too shy to reach up and hold God’s hand a bit tighter. He will guide your steps and pave a path meant just for you. Last but not least, hold on to your truths. Your success will only be as big as your appetite which means you will need vision in order to get through this. So keep pushing, keep dreaming and do it for the love of the possibilities.

Peace & Love, 

Not All Mentors Are Created Equal

Not All Mentors Are Created Equal

A few months ago, Shonda Rhimes came across my Instagram timeline in a video promoting her MasterClass for aspiring TV writers. I almost jumped out of my seat. I’m not really interested in writing for TV per se, but writing in any form is a serious skill, and Shonda’s got it down pat. To get an opportunity to learn from the titan herself? Yes please! If there’s even a sliver of hope that she could make me a gladiator like Olivia Pope, I’m all over it.

In an ideal world, choosing a mentor would always be that easy. You’d get that spark and know immediately that learning form this person would revolutionize your life. But it’s rarely ever that simple, especially if you’re looking for a mentor online.

The internet is brimming with “experts” on everything from blogging to small business, and all of them promise to help you slay at one thing or another. But online, it’s easy for nearly anyone to look like a pro and hard to tell what you’ll really be paying for. How do you know who to choose when everyone’s got polished websites, cutesy inspirational Instagram posts, and a couple thousand followers singing their praises?

Naturally, everyone shines the spotlight on their brightest moments. Even Beyonce only posts her finest selfies. Mentors are no exception. Of course they’re going to show you their highlight reel. But don’t get too caught up on pictures of vacation getaways and captions full of inspiring words and forget what you’re really looking for. Sometimes the hype is just a cover up for a lack of real success.

Look for proof that your potential mentor is actually good at what they do. A business coach should have a history of business success. A personal branding expert should be able to point to brands they’ve helped develop. If all you want is #inspiration, search it up on IG, but a true mentor has real wins they’re able to translate into applicable knowledge they can use to coach you.

If you’re worried your own judgment isn’t enough, don’t be shy about getting feedback from people who’ve worked with these mentors. If you wouldn’t buy a new foundation without checking out Youtube reviews, you shouldn’t pick a mentor without getting the inside scoop from someone who’s learned from them. Ask other clients what they got from the mentorship experience and how they felt it impacted their success and use those answers to help you gauge whether their mentorship is worth your investment.

Another great way to spot a good mentor is by looking at their freebies. Most online coaches and mentors offer loads of free content–newsletters, blog posts, printable worksheets, even social media posts. Consider this your taste test. Good mentors aren’t scared to deliver gems in their free content because they know they have plenty more to share. So if your potential mentor’s free content is a mess, feels empty, or doesn’t inspire you, there’s a pretty good chance the stuff you’ve got to pay for isn’t going to be worth your coin. If the sample doesn’t leave you hungry for more, keep it moving.

If an online mentor passes all these tests, you might have a winner on your hands! There’s just one more thing to consider. Not every good mentor will be the mentor for you. Mentorship is a pretty personal relationship. Chemistry matters. You’ll want someone whose values and worldview align with yours so they can use their expertise to guide you towards what youwant. After all, you’re choosing a mentor as an investment into your goals, so it should absolutely be about you.

Somewhere out there in the big, wide digital world is your perfect mentor — your Shonda. You’ll have to squint past the hype, ask the tough questions, and do your research, but it will all be worth it at the end when you find the titan to your gladiator.

Let me know your thoughts on mentorship by dropping me a line at safiabartholomew.com! I’m @safiajb on instagram & snap!

How I Made Over $40,000 from My Side Hustle In 1 Year

How I Made Over $40,000 from My Side Hustle In 1 Year


The actual dollar amount is $41,559.00 – which is the gross income I earned in 2016 (this does not include my income from my corporate career – strictly my side hustles). If you don’t know what gross income means, it is the amount of salary or wages paid to the individual by an employer (my clients across various business ventures) before any deductions are taken. (more…)

How to Get People to Fall in Love With Your Brand

How to Get People to Fall in Love With Your Brand

You work hard to build your brand and you shouldn’t be the only one who loves it. In fact, it’s important that your target customers do. They are the ones who continue to make you successful. Some brands have managed to make people fall in love with their work and obsess over the effort they put in giving them huge popularity. Having an emotional connection to a brand sparks interest for the customer and allows them to stay engaged in your work.

Shoutout to the loyal fans who are committed to your brand, but in case you’re in need of more love, here are some tips to get customers to fall for you and what you do:

Make your work relatable
People love to know they are not alone. Connecting to your audience builds attachments and a sense of belonging that people seek out in their lives. Know who your audience is and understand what they like or don’t like so that your brand suits them.

Bring joy in your message
Happiness is a MUST in your work. Happy work makes for a happy customer, which will impact the way people perceive your brand. Not only will your customers be happy, but this will increase profits, especially if they recommend you to other viewers. A loveable brand makes their audience feel valued and respected, making for a happy you, as well.

Show people what you got
The first impression is everything and people will connect more with your brand if they like what they are seeing. Organizing a clear and compelling platform will lure customers in and keep them interested in what your brand has to offer. Allow your social media to do some of the talking for your brand by displaying eye-catching and inspirational images /designs that your audience can identify with.

Let your audience see you
Don’t hide behind your brand. Show your costumers who you are so they can have a stronger connection with the brand they love. Put your personality into your brand and prove you are just as emotionally involved as you are professionally.

People LOVE a brand they can trust
Your customers are relying on you to be genuine. It is up to you to make sure your work benefits your audience and is a reliable business for them to be invested in. Forbes released a list of ways to help build trust in your brand including listening to your audience and keeping your messages concise. Trust is hard to build but do not let that discourage you. Be patient and let your customers grow to love what you have to offer.

Don’t make love complicated, use these tips to encourage and engage your audience into falling in love with your brand. But don’t forget to fall in love with it too.