When a woman decides it’s time to leave the corporate world and head off for entrepreneurial pursuits, it can be an exciting time in her life. She gets visions of freedom and no boss or time clock in her head. She imagines what it will be like when she gets her first big six figure order. She even thinks about the day when her business is given an award for being outstanding in her industry. The first couple or months or even years are filled with wearing the many hats of the business and facing some hard realities. Then she hits that wall. You know that wall. Where you feel like a tons of pressure is on your shoulders. You’re doing the accounting, the marketing, the networking, the client development, the sales calls, the HR, and every other hat that comes along with running a business. And you stall out. There’s a disconnect between where you want your business to be and where it is at this moment.

Well, shortly after Thanksgiving 2009, 8 phenomenal women took a chance on me, their businesses and themselves and enrolled in the Next Level Business Coaching Program. Each had different concerns about their businesses and were at different points, but the common trait they had was that they were stalled. Between the intensive weekly one on one coaching sessions, monthly group calls, special guest education calls, etc, the ladies initially didn’t know what to expect. But as we got a rhythym going, each started experiencing phenomenal breakthroughs with their businesses. I am so very proud of the success they’ve all achieved and my only regret is that I don’t get to work with them longer. I made a promise to them at the beginning of the program that we would take this journey together and that I would be brutally honest. And I was. While it is a business program, we worked on strengthening their confidence and the way they looked at their businesses.

If you listened to my radio show this past Friday, Views From the Top, I had the ladies on the show (yes all 8 of them) to talk about their experiences in the program. They shared their initial fears, obstacles they had to overcome and the milestones their businesses (and they) have reached. Below is a brief introduction to the ladies and what they had to say:

Mel DePaoli is the president of Omicle, a change management company and author of CONTRACTORS: Doing it Right Not Just Getting it Done. She works with companies on the various aspects of how the core of their business directly affects the perception of their brand, which in turn affects their bottom line.

“Adrienne was a great resource for finding new technologies to help me grow my business. She also is very successful at making you step outside of yourself so you can look at how to approach situations in new ways.”

Quantane Higganbotham is the owner of Virtual Possibilities, LLC. With over 10 years of administrative, customer service, sales and legal experience, Virtual Possibilities, LLC provides administrative support solutions to business owners.  She supports business owners who are looking for me to partner and grow with their business.

“The Next Level Coaching Program has challenged me to take my business to the next level. I appreciate Adrienne for taking the time to direct me and challenge me to not only look at what my competitors are doing, but also what they are not doing. You have no idea how much you have helped me. You have carved years off the development time in relation to my concept. She is awesome. The coaching program is not mediocre. If you are not ready to take your business to higher heights, this program is not for you.”

MaryBeth Reeves is a busy mother of quadruplet 3 year old daughters and the Chief Executive Mamma of Scrapbook Mamma, a custom photo book company. When she found herself without a job a the end of 2008 she took the entrepreneurial plunge.  Scrapbook Mamma makes custom photo books for those who want to do something wonderful with their pictures, but don’t have the time or the inclination to do it themselves.

“Working with Adrienne was the kick in the butt I needed to put my business growth into overdrive. I had stalled in my pursuit of a major development of my company before working with her and I did not even realize it. In 2 months of working with Adrienne, I accomplished more than I had in 9 months on my own. Her direction, motivation, encouragement and deadlines propelled me to the next level faster than I could have imagined. I just hope I don’t lose the momentum on my own.”

Cynthia Coleman is the Founder of Coleman Communications is the media brand of Cynterprise. We have plans for cookbooks, magazines and other print media along with to television and radio broadcasts. Our first release, Sports Cynts, is a sports talk cooking show where listeners can follow along with her as she prepares recipes and engages her audience in sports conversation.

“The Next level Coaching Program has helped me to focus what I need to do to take my business to where I want it to go.  With the information I received, I have no doubt that my company will be a success and I recommend it to anyone who is thinking about starting a business, who’s business is already running and needs a boost or a business who is looking to grow and take it up a notch or to the next level.”

Esther Phahla is a Certified Public Accountant with broad experience in all phases of taxation and accounting . She works with clients in a variety of industries including:- Health care (physicians, etc), manufacturing, construction, real estate, distribution and service. She is interested in small businesses and their owners.

“This Coaching has helped me to get out of my comfort zone and take action in growing my business. By implementing the strategies that I have learned from Adrienne Graham, I have grown personally and professionally.”

Bernie Frazier is the President of CareerVolution, LLC, a career navigating and job search skills training company, Bernie offers a comprehensive curriculum for people who are seeking their next career opportunity but aren’t sure how to make it happen.  She offers effective; “can do” insights that can help jump start a career, propel it to the next level, or catapult it in another direction.

“Adrienne has been a God-send!  Her willingness to share her experiences and ideas has been very valuable in helping me develop my own business.  She has an uncanny way of taking your ideas and stretching them and you beyond the comfort zone in order to reach the next level.  Adrienne is a walking “rolodex” of great resources; it’s remarkable!  I feel much more confident in where I’m going and what I can do, and I know Adrienne has played a key role in bringing this to life.  I can’t thank her enough.”

Kristina Cox is the Founder and CEO of Prime Accumen Creations. P.A. Creations is for business professionals and individuals seeking a lasting impression with their audience and is a one stop shop for marketing, design and communications.  Kristina was named VIP Woman of the Year for 2009/2010 by The National Association of Professional Women.

“The business coaching program has been a blessing. Adrienne was the miracle worker I needed to help me restructure my company. She brought out the six figure mindset that I needed to get to the next level.”

Maisha Hart is the owner of Legal Plus, a boutique staffing company in Los Angeles.  Legal Plus (also known as LP Staffing) has been in business since 1979 placing administrative support personnel with companies both small and large throughout the southern California area.  LP Staffing, offers temporary, temporary to hire and direct hire services and in addition to personnel services, they also offer our clients payroll services.
Now, don’t just think this was all about me “teaching” these ladies anything. It was a learning experience for all of us. They helped me put the finishing touches on this incredible coaching program. From well known special guests to candid conversations to the group interaction, this program is designed for women serious about stepping outside of themselves and focus on doing what needs to be done to get to the next level.

Not everyone can be accepted. There is an application process and only ten women are chosen each quarter. So if you’re ready to take it to a whole other level, stop by the website today and complete your confidential application. Applying is free and everyone who applies is interviewed and screened.

So, are you ready to go to the Next Level?

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

What are the common traits between Oprah, Martha Stewart, Barbara Corcoran, Sheila Johnson and so many other successful businesswomen? They continuously find ways to take their businesses to the NEXT LEVEL. They’re always looking ahead, and make adjustments as needed to achieve their goals. And they realize they can’t do it all alone. Most importantly, they aren’t afraid to make things happen!

Stop being stuck! Too many women, people in general, let outside influences keep them from growing their businesses. They let the economic circumstances keep them from making the right moves to improve business And some even let their basic business foundations crumble, resulting in them returning to corporate instead of fixing what’s wrong so they can prosper. Sometimes all it takes is stripping down to the studs and changing the way you do business.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, 8 women decided to take a chance on their businesses and me and joined the Next Level Business Coaching Program so that they could become unstuck. It has been an incredible journey and they are here to share their experiences with the program and talk about the transformations and revelations they’ve learned about themselves and their businesses. Tune in to hear all about it and to ask questions about taking your own business to the next level.

If you’re considering starting a business, or have a business that is stalled, or have a business that you are itching to take to the next level, you cannot miss this show. If you have a business and you are feeling like you need to go back to corporate to “make ends meet” you definitely cannot miss this show!

Tune in at 9AM EST http://www.blogtalkradio.com/viewsfromthetop and you can join the chat room during the show to ask questions. We’ll answer them live on air.

And if you tune in live during the show, I’ll share the special link for you to receive the special discount rate if you’re application is selected for the program. But you have to tune in to find out what it is.

“See” you then!

Adrienne Graham

23053737This year is indeed a year of change. Whether you were prepared for change or not, it’s happened. Whether good, bad or indifferent, it’s happened. Change is the one constant we can rely on to always rear its head. And no matter what, you better be prepared to meet it head on or at least position yourself to manage it. Sometimes change is subtle, requiring not much from you. Sometimes it’s dramatic, requiring you to make some adjustments. And sometimes it’s defining, requiring you to throw all conventional wisdom out the window to adapt to the winds of change.

I think of change as a way to reinvent myself. In the last ten years, I’ve had to adapt to change in ways I would have never imagined. I’ve found myself getting back into the business of recruiting, after I swore I was done. I have had to deal with the change in my son as he went from a child, to a teen and now to a young man. I’ve had to adjust to not having a Dad any more when he passed way in 2002. I had to adjust from apartment living to becoming a home owner. I’ve even had to adjust each time I decided to take my business and career in different directions. I’m not saying these changes were a cakewalk. Far from it. Some changes in my life were smaller than some, but the one constant was the way in which I’ve dealt with change. As a child, I was a little afraid of change. I preferred things to be comfortable. As I got older, I learned that change was consistent and if I wanted to succeed, I would have to learn how to deal with it, manage it and embrace it…good, bad or indifferent.

With the economy going through constant change, you must be prepared to take adversity and turn it into your competitive advantage. Someone once said that challenges are merely forms of opportunities in the making. I strongly believe in that. But the caveat is you must be willing to accept it and keep it moving. People who assumed their jobs were secure have found themselves on the unemployment line for the first time in years (and in some cases, first time ever). People say that now is a scary time and that nobody should take dramatic chances with their lives. I say bull. This is the perfect time. I dare you to step out on faith and do something you’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t because a job held you back. I dare you to challenge yourself to define who you are, then develop a plan to take your career and/or business to the next level. I dare you to take a chance on yourself and your passions. Now is the perfect time to just start doing.

Now is the perfect time to lay the ground work on that new career you’ve always wanted to try. Now is the perfect time to start that business you always dreamed about (even if only part time or on the side). Now is the time to go back to school and get the training/education/degree/certification/diploma you need to take your career to the next level. Opportunities are all around you. Don’t pay attention to the news and reports of massive layoffs and career destruction going on. Focus only on yourself and what you bring to the table. I dare you to pull together your own personal advisory board and start bouncing ideas of them. But only allow positive people on your board. Don’t confuse this with yes men/women. Only people who have your best interest at heart will tell you the truth. I dare you to get out and start making contacts to build your network. People like to hire/do business with people they know. I dare you to put together a presentation outlining your key attributes, interests and successes, then go to your boss and ask for more responsibility (or projects or a shot at higher level work). I dare you!

Don’t let fear paralyze you and keep you from all of the potential opportunities in your midst. Get out of your own way and dare to grow. Figure out what you want out of this life, then make it happen. I DARE YOU. What do I dare do for myself? I dare to step out on faith, expand my recruiting business, build my media company, and be the best Me I can be. I dare to learn new languages, complete my education, travel, expand my network and not accept anything less than the best for myself. I dare to continue writing and sharing my knowledge and gifts with the world. I dare.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

businesswomanI was listening to the pastor deliver his sermon yesterday and a few things he said struck a chord with me. His words moved me to blog, but I had to get my thoughts together before blogging.  The one consistent message he delivered was about changing your circumstances and making your own way. If you don’t like the circumstances you’re currently in, CHANGE THEM.

I’ve always been a firm believer that nobody should be stuck in a job that they can’t stand. Yes, I understand that REALITY dictates we need a paycheck to pay the bills. But I choose not to live my life by that edict.  I was never the type to commit to a long term position with any one company. My agenda was to get in, do the job, learn all I could and make as many contacts as I could before heading off to another position. This kept my skills from getting stale and kept me from getting bored. Once I’ve mastered something, or have completed my goals, it’s time for me to move on and find another challenge.  With a full time permanent position, in recruiting anyway, this was not possible.  My job has a beginning, a middle and an end. Once the mission is complete, there really isn’t much more for me to do. Many companies don’t want someone to come in and change the way things are done. Shame on them. I’m all about innovation and change.  That is why I love being a contractor.

Being a contractor allows me to create my own work opportunities. I get to pick and choose the companies I want to work with and how long I work with them. I can work on just one or several projects if I like and as long as my work is done and my deadlines are met, I don’t have anyone to answer to but me. I wasn’t always a contractor though.  When I first took a chance on contracting, I was what is referred to as a Temp.  Yes, there is a difference.  A temp is someone who works a job for a specific period and is in a sense “owned” by the agency who places them.  The agency sets their rate, places them with a client, and handles their payroll and taxes.  A temp also has specific work hours they have to honor.  A contractor is one who works with companies independently, handles her own billing, files her own taxes, and, in a sense, is running her own business.  As a contractor, I determine the number of hours I want to work and what hours I will work.  A temp works for someone else, a contractor runs her own business and manages her own projects and clients.

As I learned the difference, I had to make the business decision to outfit my home office to accommodate my business and clients.  As a recruiter, there are certain tools I need that big companies often have exclusive access to. Thankfully, these tools have been made affordable for small businesses and independent contractors.  One such tool is an applicant tracking system. I use this to manage not just my candidates, but also my projects and clients.  Since this was a vital component to my work, it made sense to get it.  I also have the other standard tools (computer, internet access, headset, Blackberry, etc). Not only can I be independent, I can also work anywhere in the world I want.  With my recruiting business and the work I do as a writer, coach and webinar facilitator, I can create my own opportunities.

I have always been entrepreneurial in spirit.  This is not my first business nor will it be the last.  I have had a catering business, promoted career fairs and seminars, and I even had an adult toy business. Yes, I did.  But it wasn’t through that Passion Parties or any of those other vendors.  I found my own distributors and  did my research so that there was no middle man.  I made my own way.  My point in sharing this is that I don’t like to wait for opportunities to find me. I make my own. And you can too. You just have to step out on faith and make a conscious choice to make your own way.

Take an inventory of your skills. What can you do well? Are you a whiz at cooking? Start a side personal chef or catering business.  Are you a math genious? Well, if you don’t have a CPA, start a part time bookkeeping and/or payroll company. If you’re great at taxes, you can do taxes part time.  H & R Block has a course you can take to become certified as a tax preparer.  Or if those kinds of numbers don’t appeal to you, start a math tutoring business.  If you’re a teacher or aspiring teacher, a tutoring business may be right for you.  If you have strong organization or administrative skills, a virtual assistant business is a good idea.  Have a bunch of grandma’s home made soap and lotions recipes sitting in the draw collecting dust? Start your own product line.  If you have skills with jewelry, start your own line. Can you channel your skills into consulting? Do it! Just make sure you investigate all of the logisticvs and legalities of starting your own enterprise.

There are a million and one ideas out there.  All you need to do is tap into your self. Bring what your good at to the surface and you could be making your own way.  Never settle on “just a job” or “just a paycheck”. That line of thinking keeps people poor or just getting by.  You must not be afraid to stretch your limits and do what you love. Maybe your side venture will only serve as just a side venture to go along with your day job.  That’s ok. At least you’re still creating your own opportunity. Or, if what you do doesn’t make a good business for you, figure a way to apply those skills to your current job.  Set your mind for achievement.  Don’t be content with staying in that one job.  Always look for ways to move up and out.

Some people are destined to be in the corporate world.  And that’s ok too.  But if you choose to remain in corporate, have a plan for advancement.  Don’t get too comfortable in any one job. When you see yourself getting complacent, or stuck in routine, it’s time to explore growth opportunities. Find mentors who are willing to help you advance. Get more visible within the company. I know you’ve read my other blog posts about branding and networking. Establish yourself as an authority in your area of expertise.  Get others to see and believe in your work so they can be legitimate references for you.  Volunteer for more projects and always continue your education.  And the most important thing you can do is surround yourself with positive people. That is self explanatory.

We all have the capacity to do more. Not everyone has the desire. If you have the desire, keep that going.  As long as you train yourself to not settle, you will be able to achieve and good enough will no longer be good enough.  Don’t be resigned to complain about your circumstances. You do have the power to change them.  Lie throws some unexpected curves at us all. But how you adapt and recover is in your hands. You can remain a victim and always wonder why you can get ahead, or you can be a proactive agent for yourself and achieve any professional goal you want. Read inspirational stories about other women who have taken their fate into their own hands.  Magazines like Black Enterprise, Working Mother, Inc, Fast Company, etc. often showcase stories of women who did it. Maybe this will inspire you to step out on faith.  For me, those stories are affirmations. But the real motivator for me is wealth building.  I’m building professional capital for myself and wealth for my family.  Marinate on that for a little bit. Then go out there and make things happen. You can do it.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Hi all.

This year I decided to do things a little differently. I’ve been writing this blog for about two years and all you’ve had to interact with were words on a screen. I decided it was time to add video to my blogging. I wanted to give you an opportunity to see the person behind the words. Now I must warn you, I am not used to this. I can speak in front of hundreds of people, I can teach a class, I can interview people via video conferencing. But there was something nerve wracking about getting in front of the camera. If you can’t tell by watching, I was a nervous wreck. I did at least 15 takes before deciding on this one.

I will try to bring a video entry to the blog 3-4 times per month. This is a year of change, new beginnings, new opportunities. That’s why I decided to shake it up a little bit.

Well here we are. I just wrote about us sucking it up and getting past these tough economic times.  Some people thought it was a bit harsh while others praised and agreed with me.  Instead of reprimanding everyone and complaining about this crisis, I figured I’d give you some tips on weathering these times.  I’ve pretty much given tips for career women, but now it’s time to help out our entrepreneurial sisters.

I believe obstacles are really opportunities and God’s way of telling you to take another road. Every time I had an obstacle, I tried to rise above it or go through it. Some times I managed to do it.  But some times I couldn’t.  I learned that I needed to step back and let God guide me the right way.  Always follow God. For every obstacle you encounter, search for new opportunity because He may just be leading you to the right opportunity.

Disaster and crisis can hit at any time out of no where with no warning. It is up to you to create a disaster plan way before times of crisis so you’re not caught off guard.  Make sure you share this plan with your staff or team and make sure they understand it.  The last thing any business owners wants to to be totally immobilized during a crisis. Make sure you create a printed document and keep it onsite, online and someplace offsite that you or a staff member can get to if necessary.  Be sure to outline policies, directives for key staff members, how to handle client concerns, where to find critical data that will keep the business going, and a location for your staff to go to regroup and await direction. In addition to a written disaster or crisis plan, it is vitally important to keep data secure and accessible offsite.  For instance, I keep my data on two computers (one is used as a server) and on a few flash drives.  I also have a company that backs up my data offsite.  So I know that I can access my data should any number of crisis occur. Now a financial crisis isnt the same as a natural disaster, the ruleso engagement are different.  But it helps because you never know what can happen during a crisis.  An employee can go rogue and steal data.  People can make mistakes that are costly. Be safe rather than sorry.

I went to the Black Enterprise conference in May 2008 and the CEO of Liberty Bank & Trust, Alden McDonald shared his experience during the Katrina tragedy.  He lost several branches of his bank, which had been doing outstanding from a financial and business standpoint.  Six branches were lost under water and two were vandalized.  80% of his customer base was under water and his entire computer system was shut down.  Nobody could have ever predicted the disaster that Katrina would cause, but a lot of businesses ended up destroyed and/or closed.  What saved Mr. McDonald was not a disaster plan, but his overall treatment of his employees.  He lives by the premise that loyalty to employees gets loyalty in return.  His employees remained dedicated to the company. As an example of loyalty, Mr. McDonald guarantees a summer job for employee’s children 16 years old and older. Employees with five or more years of service are guaranteed home ownership.  He invests in trainers to make sure employees stay healthy.  So while a solid disaster plan would have made sense, the fact that he had loyalty made a bigger impact than a plan.

For people who have “been there before” understand the logistics of having no capital.  Nothing beats the experience of being poor or broke (two words I don’t allow in my home or in my presence).  You are forced to make things work on limited dollars.  So those of you who have been there before, you understand. Nothing trumps the experience of bootstrap living than actually going through it.  For those who haven’t gone through it, it may be a little tougher for you because you are not equipped in dealing with these economic times.  But I’m telling you that you can make it through.  Now is the time to think about multiple streams of income.  That insures that money will be coming in from somewhere. Now is the time to start thinking about complimentary products or services that work in tandem with your existing products or services.  For example, someone who owns a salon may look at adding products.  If you or someone on your team makes outstanding hair products, work on developing them and offering them to clients.  If you are a recruiter or own a staffing company, think about offering resume development services or training in whatever your area of expertise is.  If you are a caterer who also bakes like nobody’s business, think about adding desserts to your menu.  There are always ways to make additional money.  You just have to tap into your inner passions and expertise and bring them to fruition.  Don’t let the fact that cash flow is low deter you.  Bartering (if done responsibly and fairly) can get you over the hump of a cash crunch.  But be sure you can offer something of value in return when you barter.  But whatever you do, don’t get stuck in being broke.  Let that serve as your motivation to make money and keep cash flow going in your business.

There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there trying to get people to spend money on “Business Opportunities”.  They feed off the fear of people with cash problems by promising you can make tons of money with no money down in real estate, you can make tons of money by joining an MLM program, and my favorite are the seminars that lure you in under the guise of giving you some earth shattering secrets of becoming wealthy.  Only thing is they are the only ones who get wealthy because people think by buying these seminars, books, tapes and “coaches” that they too can become wealthy.  Not all coaches are unscrupulous.  But you must be careful.  Starting a business is not as easy as people make it seem.  Why spend money on books when you can surf the internet for free to get all the information you need.  If you’re going to start a business, I would much rather you take your money and invest it in your own business, not someone else’s.  So beware of the “call to stop being poor” by these snake oil salesmen.  Do you research and make the decisions based on your needs and gut feelings.

Don’t be afraid to trim the fat.  This is the perfect time to get rid of dead weight.  Demand that your employees step up and reach their true potential or be let go.  You are throwing good money out the window by keeping people who under perform.  They are depleting your cash and not doing anything to help improve your business.  Cut that expense loose and don’t have an ounce of remorse about it.  Remember, your business pays your bills.  You wouldn’t just give money out of your pocket to just anybody.  Protect your business.

Look for low cost ways to market your business.  You don’t need thousands of dollars to market or advertise your business.  Look for tie ins and niche mediums (websites, social networks, magazines, etc) to have a platform for your business.  Sit down and create a marketing and public relations campaign that will get you maximum exposure for the least amount of dollars.  Take advantage of You Tube and podcasts to showcase your expertise and never let an opportunity go by where you don’t mention your business.  Make your staff your campaigners.  Barack Obama has one of the most phenomenal marketing campaigns ever seen in a political race.  Fast Company Magazine featured a story about Brand Obama.   It is definitely worth reading.  He has taken to new media and social networking and created a hard hitting strategy that has worked for him.  Take a page from his book.  Whether you’re voting for him or not, the one thing you have to agree with is he has been very effective and has phenomenal momentum.  Remember, this is the age of the new generation of technology.  Embrace it and use it for your own business.

Finally, I would tell everyone keep a cool head.  Now is not the time to take big risks if you are not equipped to handle the outcome (good or bad).  Find ways to budget better and don’t spend money recklessly.  Invest in the technology and people who will help grow your business.  Treat your people right and they will stick with you through the bad times. Stay true to your clients and give them the truth coupled with exemplary service.  You stay true to them and they will reciprocate that loyalty to you.  Don’t panic and stop watching the news.  This crisis doesn’t have to be as detrimental to everyone as the media claims it is.  As long as you remain calm and use this as an opportunity to stretch your creative mind.  And most importantly, when this crisis is over, and it will be, keep this experience in mind and take the new skills you learned and keep them in practice.  That way if a crisis were to hit again, you’ll be well prepared to handle it.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

OK ladies. The pity party is over. Yes, I am well aware of this fast sinking economy, foreclosure landslide and job eliminations. I hear about it from many people, see it on every news channel, read it in every paper and magazine I encounter. I’m only 39, but haven’t we been here before? I’m pretty sure we have been, and this won’t be the last time. I too have been affected by this crisis and I’m as mad as anyone else. But I’ve decided to rise above it and take care of myself in the process. I know I will be better than OK when this is all over.

I come from a family that values long term dedication to one job, one company. The entrepreneurial bug skipped a generation obviously. I was told that my grandparents were entrepreneurial. They had to be because of the times they lived in. But my parents come from that 25+ years of service retiring with a gold watch line of thinking. But that ain’t me! Employer loyalty flew out the window a long time ago. Companies are giving people the axe left and right. Thankfully this generation is full of free spirits and entrepreneurs who look at this crisis as opportunity and not as disaster. That is who I am. I don’t wait for opportunities to find me. I evaluate the situation and start planning as soon in the game as possible. I don’t let someone’s decisions dictate my future or my fate. That mindset will get me through this crisis. And it will help you too.

There are tons of people flooding the job market through no fault of their own. We have crooked Wall Streeters and Government to thank for that. People who were secure in their cushy jobs with their plush bonuses thought the world was fabulous. But when the rug was pulled out from under them, they found themselves in tough situations they had not prepared for. Now, those who were living check to check or barely getting by were affected too. The only difference is they were used to being without. Naturally there is a huge panic (spurred on by the media no doubt) that the world is going broke and that we’ll all be on the soup line soon. Comfortable people are terrified to death. The budget conscious are cautiously guarded. So where does everyone go from here?

Well first of all, the pity party needs to end now. Stop listening to the news and the pundits. You can survive this. You should be writing down your goals, reviewing your skills and accomplishments, surveying the job market, and reaching out to contacts. There are opportunities out there, believe it or not, but they are not going to find you. You have to go out and find them or better yet create them. Anger, sadness, bitterness are all understandable emotions. You should be all of those. But don’t let them keep you in bed under the covers. You get one week maximum for that. Use those emotions to fuel your next move. Think about your idol or role model. What would they do in this instance? Once you’ve figured that out, take on that mindset yourself. Don’t let this economy fool you into believing that there are no opportunities out there. We live in the internet and information age. You can make money, start a new career and start a business with little or no money. We are a capitalist society. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. You can control your fate and keep from crashing.

Once you’ve taken inventory on what you can and like to do, and what’s available, start going for what you want. Talk to people. Tap into your network and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Listen to what people are telling you but take it with a grain of salt. If anyone wants to speak negativity in the air, cut ties with them. Now is the time for positivity and support. Align yourself with power players. If you dig deep into your network, I’m sure you can find some. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all need help from time to time. Don’t let your pride or fear keep you from reaching your goals. If you’re not comfortable starting a full time business, try it as a side gig. Go to the SBA and get a mentor to guide you through start up. Once you’re comfortable going out on your own, don’t ever look back. You can take your skills, experience and contacts, and turn that into a business. But be sure you are up to the challenge of running a business. Not everyone is meant to have a business. It takes a passion and dedication to start and maintain a business. If you don’t have what it takes, don’t try it. But be honest with yourself.

If starting a business isn’t your thing, start planning your next career move. There is no law that says you have to be married to one career for all of your adult life. Start looking at how your skills transfer to another industry or career. Don’t be afraid to seek a career coach to help you put it all in perspective. I would take those career personality tests with a grain of salt. You know what your likes and dislikes are. Trust in that and stay true to your heart. Career Coaches are great allies, but be sure they are guiding you and not telling you what to do with your life. Anyone trying to push you into something doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Again, reach out to your network. Set up meetings with trusted individuals and ask about their industry and company. Research as much as you can. Ask to shadow someone to see if you would even like the new career. Look at the good and the bad. There is a very real chance that you’ll have to start from the bottom up. You must be willing to do what it takes to succeed. You have to take it all into consideration when making your decisions. Whatever you do, stick to your guns. If a new career is what you want, then go get it because it’s yours to have.

It’s easy to crawl up in bed and cry about the state of the world. But you have to decide if you want to be a part of the recovery or a victim. I choose to be part of the recovery. You learn more about yourself when you go through tough times. Money can be made, lost and made again. Don’t think of your life in terms of your paycheck or even title. Think about it as a wonderful adventure, an opportunity to learn what you’re made of. If life was meant to be easy, none of us would ever have to make decisions or think for ourselves. I say bring on the tough times because I’m prepared to beat them. Are you?

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

How many times have you been at a job where you felt nothing but dread each day you got up, and even worse on Mondays?  How many projects did you work on where people stole credit for your ideas and received all the glory?  How many times have you bumped heads with your boss and didn’t receive that pay increase you know you deserve?  Well maybe the universe is trying to tell you something.  Perhaps you need to stop talking and just sit and listen.

We are a long way from the days where loyalty is rewarded in the corporate world.  The average corporate climber stays at a job a maximum of 3-5 years these days.  It is no longer seen as a stigma by recruiters to prefer to work temporary or contract positions or to change jobs (for advancement purposes) often. So why do so many people stay in jobs they hate?  A job can be a lot like marriage.  You come into a committed relationship and vow to uphold your duties and give your best effort.  Some where along the line, the relationship starts to break down because you’ve outgrown it.  But the reasons why people stay in jobs and remain miserable vary as much as there are people in the world.  The single mom who is raising her kids all alone may not have the luxury of just quitting to start over.  The older woman who is looking to shift gears may encounter ageism when she tries to find something else. The high school graduate who chose not to go to college may not have the education requirements demanded of a new job.  But the number one reason I often hear is fear.

Fear can make you do some strange things.  It can make you accept situations that under normal circumstances you would never tolerate.  It can make you doubt yourself and talk yourself out of stepping out on faith to start a new business.  That fear is nothing to sneeze at!  But you can contain it.  Instead of letting the fear drive you into a safety zone or give you a case of paralysis, tap into it.  I know that a lot of things scare me, but I don’t let them dictate how I will live my life.  If anything, I’ve found that fear has forced me to make some tough decisions and take chances I may not have ever taken.  You can’t let it control or consume you.  You have a right to be happy and enjoy the work you do.  You don’t have to put up with jerks in the office or an overbearing bitch as a boss.  Start by taking an inventory of your solid core skills.  Use them as the foundation for starting a new business or going after that dream career.

The internet levels a whole lot of playing fields. Take that time you would have spent surfing the web, reading OMG for celebrity gossip or shopping online and start researching opportunities.  See what types of jobs are posted in your chosen field.  See who the industry heavyweights are and reach out to them.  Read up on the latest happenings in the key player companies in the industry so you know what you’re getting into.  Start creating your professional profile so that as you begin making moves, people can learn more about you. Investigate blogging and start writing about your expertise.  No, don’t create a brag blog.  Just begin sharing your thoughts and knowledge on what you know about best.

If you are really unhappy in a position, consider returning to school or enrolling in a training program that will allow you to take courses online or in the evening or weekends.  If education is a critical component of your future success, go for it.  Don’t think of it as more money spent or time you won’t get to sleep.  Think of it as an investment in your happiness. And make sure that you find the appropriate courses and programs and that they will be beneficial to your career.

Finally, give some thought to going out on your own. I am, always have been, and always will be a staunch supporter of entrepreneurship.  Because of and in spite of tough economic times like we are in, I believe building your own business gives you the control and final word on you professional life.  I can tell you without hesitation I never liked working for someone else.  Dare I say I hated it.  I always knew I had certain talents and hated to have other people pigeon hole or decide for me what I should do.  I guess you can say I am anti-establishment! LOL  But I use that plus fear to keep me motivated to never have to return to someone else’s office again.  But running a business is hard work and not for everyone.  If you have the passion, professional or creative skill and overwhelming faith and passion, then I’d say give it a chance.  But if you’re undisciplined and slack off at every chance you get, entrepreneurship probably isn’t for you.

The bottom line is you are in control of your professional destiny. You can’t lay that at someone else’s feet. Yes, others may be in a position of authority over you (like a boss), but ultimately it is up to you to show them why they hired you and ask for what you want.  Require respect and set expectations from day one.  That way nobody can say they didn’t know.  When you feel that you’ve maxed out at a job, start looking elsewhere.  Don’t stay out of obligation or because you’re scared you won’t find something else.  Trust me, you will.  But you have to make it happen. Life is too short to be miserable or stuck in a job you hate.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Ladies, I’ve been in “career mode” lately.  I’ve been neglecting my entrepreneurial sisters!

Entrepreneurship is a wonderful thing.  I myself have had several business ventures in the past and currently running two to date.  My first business was a recruitment firm (surprise, surprise), then I had a part time catering business, a part time adult toy business (yes, my momma knew! lol), a virtual support business and an online eBay business.  Currently I run my recruitment consulting & career management firm as well as Empower Me.  I am very proud of both.  Empower Me! celebrates its 10th year, while Hues Consulting & Management, Inc was officially launched a little over a year ago.  Both are thriving.  HCM actually came about after several years of contracting.  I have plans for a Shoe store in a year. Multiple streams of income.

We live in the land of entrepreneurial opportunities.  Every day tons of people, especially Black Women are starting businesses at record rates.  Some successful, some not so successful.  The one thing that stands out above all else is that not everyone is cut out to be entrepreneurial.

I love to see my sisters succeed.  Part of the reason I started Empower Me! was to give us a forum to learn and grow. I look back to the days where we had no choice but to start our own businesses.  Madame CJ Walker is my idol.  For that time period, her entrepreneurial prowess was phenomenal.  She paved the way for Lisa Price (Carol’s Daughter), Janice Bryant Howroyd (Act 1 Personnel), Oprah Winfrey (Harpo) and the like.  And yes, even me too!  I’ve always been a free spirit, an entrepreneurial type.  My parents never understood it. They wanted me to settle down and get that 9-5 and stay until I retire. That’s not me.  Ever since I could read Black Enterprise, I wanted my own business.  From selling brownies to girl scout cookies to icees in the summer time.  I was always a mogul in the making.

Ladies, if you have that entrepreneurial spirit, don’t hinder it.  Explore it.  Don’t let a job or a steady paycheck keep you from trying.  It can be the most gratifying experience of your life.  It takes dedication, patience and perseverance.  But it’s a game that you have to come strong in or don’t come at all.  We also have the responsibility of raising our children to follow their entrepreneurial passions.  My parents tried to stifle that in me.  I rebelled.  I cultivate that in my own son.  I have great faith that he will turn out to be a phenomenal entrepreneur.  He has the best MBA training program ever. Mom’s Business Accumen.

What’s your passion?  What’s your dream business idea?  Stop dreaming and start doing.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Ladies, I have not been able to attend the last few years, but I am trying to get there this year. Watch this clip of the Essence Women Who Are Shaping The World Summit and I hope you get some inspiration from it. Ms. Susan Taylor is phenomenal for pulling this summit together. I’m sad to see Ms. Taylor leave Essence, but I hope she continues to have  hand in this event.


Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

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