The Phoenix Rising Collective

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Conflict Resolution: 4 Things You Need to Know to Master It

Conflict. The word itself more than likely triggers you to think about a personal or professional challenge you’ve had or are currently going through with someone. Most of us do everything in our power to avoid it, particularly in work relationships, but I’m here to tell you, you can’t.

We’re human beings with differing beliefs, perspectives, and experiences, so when it comes to working together the goals are to find common ground and mutual purpose. However, more often than not – even with the best intentions – we don’t reach an understanding until there’s conflict.

It’s the great disruptor, helping us to be more conscious of our interactions and creating opportunities for open and honest dialogue. The key is to run (or if you’re really uncomfortable, maybe a slow walk) toward these opportunities rather than back away from them.

At an early age I realized trying to steer clear of “the great disruptor” was nearly impossible.

I tried avoidance, denial and benefit-of-the-doubt instead of communication, but all were detrimental to self-care. My frustration and dismay would make their way to the surface at some point, serving as a reminder to me that, as James Baldwin put it, “You cannot fix what you will not face.”

What really forced me to change was seeing how NOT dealing with conflict physically affected me: I was 28 at the time, excited about my new “grown up” job and putting up with a lot of mistreatment (constant criticism, meanness, and apathy) from my former supervisor. I developed horrible, blister-like breakouts. The stress literally showed on my face. When I noticed how badly I was breaking out I chalked it up to something in my diet, but my body was actually responding to what was happening at work.

How did I know it was work related? Two ways: 1) I’d not had acne since I was 13 years old. 2) Louise Hay. I’ll explain.

When I couldn’t get rid of the breakouts no matter what I did, I knew it was something deeper than eating too many greasy foods. I opened Louise Hay’s book Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them, turned to the page on the cause of pimples, and the first sentence said, “Small outbursts of anger.” The second sentence was an affirmation: “I calm my thoughts and I am serene.” I knew at that point my physical distress was about not confronting my supervisor.

I was angry but acting as if everything was OK. The only way back to “calm thoughts and a serene” state was to confront her, so I did.

Before the meeting, I wrote down my main talking points, provided examples, and also shared what I needed for a better work environment. Was I afraid? Absolutely. But Maggie Kuhn said it best, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”

My supervisor was shocked but receptive. I was relieved and liberated.

Things improved, but more importantly, after that meeting I made a commitment to always respectfully speak my truth and never let any situation get that bad again – no matter how difficult I think confronting it might be.

It’s years later and I’ve kept that promise to myself.

And yes, the breakouts disappeared.

 


I was so serious about learning healthier strategies of communication that I also worked to become a conflict resolution mediator. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I now use the skills and techniques I learned to help others navigate difficult dialogue.

Here are four tips I’d like to share with you.

Be COURAGEOUS about resolving conflict. Don’t let the issue fester.

The decision to resolve conflict is most certainly an act of courage, because no one really wants to face it head on. We ignore it. We make excuses. We wait until we’re forced to deal with the issue. I’m saying don’t let it get to that point. Be proactive, especially if you think it’s a situation that could potentially damage your work relationship.

Write down your thoughts before meeting with the person so you have a clear head and an open heart for resolution. And remember, the more you put it off, the more challenging the situation will become. You owe it to yourself (and the other person) to resolve it as quickly and thoughtfully as possible.

Keep in mind, what you think will happen is far worse than what will actually happen, so refrain from visualizing drama and instead think about what will go right.

If you feel the issue warrants having a third party present (conflict resolution mediator, trusted mutual colleague, etc) then be sure you and the other person are in full agreement about someone else being a part of the meeting.

Be willing to have a difficult conversation in order to move forward with clarity and understanding.

Everything doesn’t always come up roses when working together, unfortunately. So, it’s important to have courageous conversations. Don’t ignore bumps in the road; they are opportunities for personal and professional growth, and of course, better communication. The harmony and happiness you want when working with others is on the other side of that difficult (but necessary) conversation. Meet with a common goal and mutual purpose in mind, agreeing to clear up miscommunication and to move forward with greater understanding of what each person needs to sustain the work relationship.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High reiterates this point:

Mutual Purpose means that others perceive that we are working toward a common outcome in the conversation, that we care about their goals, interests, and values. And vice versa. We believe they care about ours. Consequently, Mutual Purpose is the entry condition of dialogue. Find a shared goal and you have both a good reason and healthy climate for talking.

 

Commit to directly discuss your concerns only with the person you have conflict.

This one seems simple, but it’s not. Why? Because the urge to vent your frustration and share the problem(s) you’re having with someone other than the person you’re in conflict with is almost second nature. It’s what we’ve all learned to do in order to avoid confrontation.

Venting is a quick and comfortable way to feel better and to validate your side of the story. But what does it really solve? You got it. Nothing. The problem still exists, and unfortunately, the person you’ve told is now indirectly involved, and that could potentially make things worse.

How many times have you consulted with friends and loved ones about an issue or challenge you’re having in a work relationship? Probably too many to count. It’s OK. We all need a listening ear sometimes, but sharing the same thing over and over again gets old quickly.

Work toward developing solutions not increasing complaining sessions, because eventually, your friends and loved ones will get tired of hearing about it.

Put another way in A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted:

Talking to someone other than the person who brings up your unhealed feelings is triangulation. If you’re unfamiliar with triangulation, it occurs when you have an uncomfortable situation with someone but discuss the problem with someone else rather than going to the person directly. Healthy communication is talking directly and only to the person you have an issue with. Talking to someone else is complaining; it’s triangulation and it perpetuates rather than solves the problem.

Really listen.

At some point or another you’ve heard this quote from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”

Listen to the other person without

  1. Interrupting
  2. Impatiently waiting for your chance to speak – fidgeting, lack of eye contact, etc. Body language speaks volumes.
  3. Focusing on who’s right or wrong. The purpose is to be open, to listen and understand, not to one-up each other.

So, first ask yourself (when you take time to write down your thoughts), “What is my intention for meeting?” If it’s just to give the person “a piece of your mind,” then you’re wasting your time. You may feel better for a while after doing it, but there’s no real resolution in that plan.

Remember, this is about your commitment to being a more thoughtful communicator and to developing a shared purpose that will strengthen your trust in and respect for each other.

Listening must be a two-way street.

Be patient with yourself when it comes to the process of conflict resolution. Take it one step at a time. Sure, it may be uncomfortable at first, but there’s definitely growth in the uncomfortable space, an opportunity to learn how healthy, productive communication works. So, take the leap. Do it afraid, because meaningful work relationships happen through courageous conversations.

 


Ayanna Jordan is founder of and leadership development coach & trainer for The Phoenix Rising Collective. She develops and facilitates women-centered workshops on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. Ayanna also creates coaching and training that supports women’s professional growth in leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. As editor-in-chief of Phoenix Shine, she is happy to be working with contributing writers to provide resources and awareness on topics that cultivate self-love and acceptance. Right now, she is most inspired by the LYFF series and She Makes It Beautiful. You can learn more about Ayanna HERE.


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She Makes It Beautiful – An Interview with Ayanna Listenbee, Luxury Handbag Designer + Artist

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She Makes It Beautiful (SMIB) encourages and inspires women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams by interviewing and sharing the phenomenal stories of women who’ve already taken that courageous leap and are successfully soaring.

Don’t forget! Download your free SMIB Bonus Worksheet below. Use them as your personal toolkit to help get that dream off the ground. All bonus materials complement the advice and tips given by each of the entrepreneurs.

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“When I’m creating I think I’m in my best place.”

This SMIB interview is with luxury handbag designer and artist, Ayanna Listenbee, owner of Ayanna Listenbee Collection and creator of The Lookbook Philosophy.

Ayanna is definitely a creative force to be reckoned with – a determined business woman with impeccable style and a strong will to fulfill her God-given purpose; it’s awe-inspiring. I hadn’t met her before this interview, but social media can most certainly be a positive space for connecting with like-minded women on a mission to do great things in the world through passion-filled work. This is most certainly the case with Ayanna, so by the time we finished the interview (which felt more like two friends catching up after a long hiatus) we both agreed that we should have been having our conversation over coffee…even though we live miles apart!

She most certainly embodies the meaning of her name, Beautiful Flower, and as you can see from her handbags, she’s an entrepreneur that creates from a soulful place that is in full bloom.

What sparked your interest to become a designer? How did you know this was the avenue you wanted to take?

I’ve always drawn. I’ve always made things and was creative as child. It was encouraged a lot by my father who painted sometimes in his spare time. He eventually became an art dealer. I never thought about pursuing it as a career. I never took it seriously as an option because I didn’t think it was something that could sustain me financially. You know, the funny thing is when I look back I never heard that from my parents; it was just something that I picked up along the way that if you’re in the arts you’re not going to make money. You’re going to be struggling. I can’t say that it’s been dollars falling from the sky since I started, but I went away to school and had many majors. I was a ballet major at one point – which didn’t last very long. I was also a graphic design major, communications, and then long story short, I ended up as an English major. I was about to graduate with a semester left and I thought, “This is not what I want to do. I’m not happy.”

I was in Atlanta at Clark-Atlanta University. They had a small fashion program, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. The program was in the basement. I transferred to that program and it just took off from there. I finished out the semester, came home and went to school specifically for design, and that’s how it started.

Tell me about your handbags? What was the inspiration for designing handbags?

I started out in clothing, and I loved doing clothing, but it became very expensive for me because with clothing you have to have a size range and that means each pattern has to be graded for that size, and all of that costs money. I’d gotten laid off my job, and I knew this was what I wanted to do, but it was costing too much money.

I’ve always loved handbags since I was a little girl; I used to play with my mom’s bags and my aunts’ bags.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I thought, “I want to have a really cool diaper bag. I don’t want to carry a “mommy looking” diaper bag.” So, I designed this bag out of leather and had it made. I sourced all the materials; once I’d done that it just totally sparked, “This is it! This is what I want to do.” I’d made smaller clutch bags; they were fabric bags prior to this, so I was already on track, but once I got my hands on the leather, it was over!

EROS Day Bag, Ayanna Listenbee Collection

What was your process like getting started with your business?

The process was not necessarily a straight, clear path. I’m an introvert. I’m a true behind-the-scenes kind of person, so it’s been such an incredible journey for me – getting to know my strengths and weaknesses and who I am.

I was doing the handbags, and I’d met a woman who was in sales. We started talking and had some things in common, so I thought, “Oh my God, this is the answer to a prayer, because I don’t want to go knock on doors or go to stores to try to sell these bags on my own. I just want to make bags. It seemed great.

I didn’t follow my normal process of taking it to God first and praying about it. I just thought, “This feels good. She’s great. We both have kids, all these wonderful things in common.” She talked a good game! She ended up being not necessarily what she said she was; the partnership fell apart and she ended up trying to take the whole business from me.

I was young. I was naïve, and I just said, “I really don’t care about being in front of an audience, if you want to be the face of the line that’s fine. I just want to design. That’s all I want to do.” She was cool with that. So, I basically gave her half of my business. When I look back on that I know that it was out of fear. I didn’t think that I could get sales and do those things that were uncomfortable for me, so I learned a lot. Luckily, I was able to retain my business.

 

I asked Ayanna about navigating business in a society that often times only supports and empowers extroverts. There’s a great quote from her that definitely describes her attitude and perspective about this topic:

“I’m a happy introvert growing a business in an extroverted world of fashion.”

What would you say to others who are introverted? What are some tips for “getting yourself out there?”

It’s something that I have to push through every day. I do a lot of reading and researching, and everything says that you have to keep putting yourself out there. That is extremely tiring for me. For a period of time I’d made it a point to attend lots of events and meet people. I wanted to connect and be a part of the industry, and I needed to do that just for myself, but then I realized, “OK, I’m doing it, and it’s taking a lot of my energy, but I don’t know if this is really what I NEED to be doing.”

Everyone doesn’t have the same path. There is such a thing as a quiet leader. I don’t think that you have to be on stage with a megaphone shouting, “Everybody follow me, look at me.” I don’t think you have to do it that way, but I do see a lot of instruction on being heard and being seen. Yes, people do need to know you exist because if they don’t know you exist they can’t buy your product or service. I try to carve out a place for myself and my company that’s comfortable. I know that I can handle certain things now, and what I have to do, I do. However, I don’t live my life believing, “I gotta do it this way because that’s the way “this girl over here” is doing it.” It’s about finding what’s comfortable for you but not so comfortable that you never step out of your comfort zone.

Was there a pivotal moment when you recognized what you were doing would be successful?

I don’t know if I have an answer to that only because there’s always a point that I’m striving for and I don’t know if you ever reach that (or at least I haven’t yet reached a point that’s foremost in my mind). I don’t have a specific moment. However, the smaller moments are when someone purchases and they tell me they love their bag or love the quality. Any feedback I can get that’s positive from clients let’s me know, “Keep doing what you’re doing; you’re on the right path. You’re doing your thing!”

What do you love most about what you’re doing?

I love creating. I love coming up with new designs, sketching, and taking inspiration from daily life whether it be from nature or what I’m doing in my own life. When I’m creating I think I’m in my best place. It’s also the fact that I’m able to have my own business and my children are able to see that you can create the life you want to live. If it’s not out there you can make it. You can decide and picture the life that you want and create it. You really can. You just have to be diligent.

How do you maintain a healthy balance in your personal and professional life?

 [Laughs] You might ask my husband that! Part of the thing about loving what you do, you can just do it all night long; if I’m at my desk and have my coffee and laptop, I can sit there for hours on end doing what I have to do. So, I find it hard to strike a balance. It comes out of necessity because once it’s time to go pick up the kids, I have to pick them up, but while I’m waiting for them in line, I’m usually on my phone or iPad. It just doesn’t stop because of the way technology is today. It’s hard for me. However, what I usually use as a measuring stick is my family. For example, if they come to me and ask a question I really try to put my phone down or stop what I’m doing completely and give them the full attention they need. In the past I would answer questions while looking at my screen, and it’s not fair, so when it comes to balance I just try to be better each day.

What do you do in those moments when you get frustrated with the process of entrepreneurship?

I have definitely come across periods when I’ve thought “I can’t do this anymore.” However, what stops me is not being afraid to step away for a minute and have quiet time. If there’s nothing pressing going on, for example, orders that need to go out, and things are not flowing at the moment, I use that time to connect even deeper with God. I go to Him and ask, “What do you want me to do?” I don’t want to fight an uphill battle unnecessarily.

I think women (or people in general) sometimes have a tendency to focus on what is not going right or what they’re not doing and overlook the milestones they have accomplished. Maybe they are small, but to whom? They’re still accomplishments; they’ve gotten you to where you are today. So, recognizing how far you’ve come, taking quiet moments, and being able to walk away for a moment to pray or listen to positive messages, that’s what has helped me to continue on the path.

What advice can you give to women seeking to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams?

Decide and be clear about what it is you want to do. Once you know what you want to do then it’s easier to figure out what steps you need to take to get to that point.

Set up a support system. Family is good at first, but I think it’s so important to have other people who are entrepreneurs or who have started their own “something.” They are people you can talk to who know the journey of an entrepreneur and how it is. It can be very isolating, so you need to have people you can talk to about the day-to-day stuff. I didn’t necessarily have that and it was very isolating, so it’s very important.

Now, take a look at the free SMIB Bonus Worksheet that complements Ayanna’s interview.

SMIB Banner[Listenbee Interview]

Remember, you’re building your SMIB Entrepreneurial Toolkit! Didn’t get your bonus worksheets from the last few interviews? Well, go back, recap, and download it HERE.

Tell us what you think, Phoenix!

We want to hear about how you are inspired by Ayanna Listenbee, as well as your progress building your toolkit, so tell us in the comments below. You can also share a snapshot of how you used the SMIB bonus worksheets on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag: #SMIB #thephoenixrisingcollective Tag: @thephoenixrisingcollective


Ayanna_Jordan[The Phoenix Rising Collective]1Ayanna Jordan is founder and exective director of The Phoenix Rising Collective. She develops and facilitates women-centered workshops on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. Ayanna also creates coaching and training that supports women’s professional growth in leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. As editor-in-chief of Phoenix Shine, she is happy to be working with contributing writers to provide resources and awareness on topics that cultivate self-love and acceptance. Right now, she is most inspired by the LYFF series and She Makes It Beautiful. You can learn more about Ayanna HERE.


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She Makes It Beautiful – An Interview with Kim Walker-Williams & Fatimot Ladipo, Co-Founders: Code Kids Rock

SMIB[CodeKidsRock]The Phoenix Rising Collective]

She Makes It Beautiful (SMIB) encourages and inspires women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams by interviewing and sharing the phenomenal stories of women who’ve already taken that courageous leap and soared.

I ask entrepreneurs in diverse creative professions to participate, and they are more than willing to pay it forward. So, from opening a dance studio to starting a bakery to grooming pets and everything in between, you’ll read unique and empowering stories about how these women decided to make it happen.

Don’t forget! Download your free SMIB Bonus Materials below. Use them as your personal toolkit to help get that dream off the ground. All bonus materials complement the advice and tips given by each of the entrepreneurs.

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Kids participating in a Code Kids Rock Saturday session.

This SMIB interview is with new code enthusiasts, Fatimot Ladipo and Kim Wallker-Williams, co-founders of Code Kids Rock.

There is one word that immediately comes to mind to describe Fatimot and Kim: Powerhouses. As business partners and long-time friends, they are definitely a positive force to be reckoned with. These two women are unafraid to “step into the arena” as Brené Brown says in her book Daring Greatly. They are solution-oriented, passionate change agents who most certainly understand the importance and power of service and social entrepreneurship. Recognizing there was a need to make technology enrichment more accessible and affordable to kids in the Atlanta community, they launched Code Kids Rock.

Code Kids Rock is a commitment to teaching children how to code, providing classes and curricula that supports unleashing natural curiosity and shaping emerging tech leaders.

Kim and Fatimot call themselves the “Stat Killers” because they have unwavering dedication to changing statistics that report less than 2% of college students graduate with a degree in computer science. Rather than let that deter them, these go-getters have chosen to shift those numbers by inspiring a new generation. “We are determined to do our part to reverse the statistics and invest in our children,” Fatimot shared.

Without a shadow of a doubt I believe them because not only have they done their homework, there is a mutual respect for each other as entrepreneurs and women that is evidently clear, and of course paramount to sustaining a business with a partner – something very refreshing to witness and equally exciting to hear them discuss.

Code Kids Rock

What was the process like starting Code Kids Rock?

Kim: We had to research what was out there and then ask ourselves: Where do we want to start and what is our niche? From there we knew that our goal with Code Kids Rock was more time for kids to have access to learning the craft, not just immersion and exposure, but developing real skills and a love for it so post K-12 they have a career interest due to the foundation we’ve set and based on the tech skills learned from our coding courses.

What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from the process?

Fatimot: Having a mentor well-versed in the arena is important. We talked to our mentor about what she’s been through and discussed the do’s and don’ts of the process.

Kim: There is so much that says we are not enough; we must kill the statistics and remind ourselves of what is in our DNA. The kids are very excited and it’s our responsibility to match their level of interest through the curriculum.

Was there a pivotal moment when you recognized what you were doing would be successful?

Fatimot: Yes, hearing from parents about the opportunity to have something like Code Kids Rock and how it fits in their budget AND the community. It’s accessible to those in a different demographic, providing diversity of experience, options, and opportunities.

Kim echoed Fatimot’s observations adding that “there are limitless opportunities with building a business and tiny confirmations everyday that you’re on the right track; applying for non-profit status is another chapter of our journey.”

How do you maintain a healthy balance in your personal and professional life?

Fatimot: Social entrepreneurship and community engagement are important to me; I don’t want to engage in something just for the sake of it. I want to enjoy what I’m doing in the process. Knowing that it’s not always about gaining personal wealth, that creates the balance. Kim and I also balance each other as business partners. We are Yin Yang, and although we may push each others buttons sometimes, it works. We keep working together. We keep doing it!

Kim: My family and husband definitely keep me balanced, and also having a business partner who can provide a different perspective. I have a great support system. It’s important to have people who know you and know how you work, because what drives me is being solution-oriented.

Lastly, what advice can you give to women seeking to fulfill their own entrepreneurial dreams?

Fatimot: Be methodical about the problem you are solving, and don’t let anyone deter you from solving that problem.

Kim: I think you have to be kind of little crazy to do this! (laughs) I think that most people who are game changers probably are. You cannot play it safe or be afraid of being uncomfortable. Game changers push boundaries and have hardcore business skills.

Kim and Fatimot also shared how important it is to be a mentor along the way, to share your story to empower others, as mentoring is an essential part of giving back.

Please support Code Kids Rock and register your child. Learn more about CKR’s programs and classes HERE. They are currently finalizing their 2016 class schedule and once it’s complete, registration will be open.

Now, take a look at the free SMIB Bonus Materials that complement Kim and Fatimot’s interview.

SMIB_EntrepreneurBonusSheet

Remember, you’re building your SMIB Entrepreneurial Toolkit! Didn’t get your bonus materials from the last interview? Well, go back, recap, and download it HERE.

Tell us what you think, Phoenix!

We want to hear about how you are inspired by Kim Walker-Williams and Fatimot Ladipo, as well as your progress building your toolkit, so tell us in the comment section below. You can also share a snapshot of how you used the SMIB bonus materials on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag: #SMIB #thephoenixrisingcollective Tag: @thephoenixrisingcollective


About the Contributor:

Ayanna_Prof_Headshot[Mktg_Phoenix2]Ayanna Jordan is founder, workshop leader, and personal empowerment coach for The Phoenix Rising Collective. She develops and facilitates women-centered workshops on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. Ayanna also creates coaching and training that supports women’s professional growth in leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. As editor-in-chief of Phoenix Shine, she is happy to be working with contributing writers to provide resources and awareness on topics that cultivate self-love and acceptance. Right now, she is most inspired by the LYFF series and She Makes It Beautiful. You can learn more about Ayanna HERE.


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She Makes It Beautiful – An Interview with Entrepreneur, Golda Smith – Fit Mommy Blog

GoldaSmith[phoenixrisingcollective]

She Makes It Beautiful (SMIB) encourages and inspires women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams by interviewing and sharing the phenomenal stories of women who’ve already taken that courageous leap and soared.

I ask entrepreneurs in diverse creative professions to participate, and they are more than willing to pay it forward. So, from opening a dance studio to starting a bakery to grooming pets and everything in between, you’ll read unique and empowering stories about how these women decided to make it happen!

Don’t forget! Download your free SMIB Bonus Materials below. Use them as your personal toolkit to help get that dream off the ground. All bonus materials complement the advice and tips given by each of the entrepreneurs.

GoldaSmithFitMommy[phoenixrisingcollective]

Golda Smith, Creator of Golda Smith – Fit Mommy Blog

This SMIB interview is with the dynamic and positive, Golda Smith, Founder, Personal Trainer, and Nutritional Cleansing Coach of Golda Smith – Fit Mommy Blog.

My first thought about Golda? “What a beautiful spirit!” Her smile is infectious and most certainly reveals her inner light. I was excited to talk with Golda not only to learn more about the incredible work she is doing coaching and supporting women in their healthy living journeys, but to also share her personal story of resilience, as it epitomizes what it means to be a Phoenix rising! She used her challenges (or what we often call failures) to propel her forward with more strength, clarity, and purpose. Her own transformation, of course, is an essential part of what makes her such an inspiring and effective coach.

Golda was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She went to college in the south and lived there for many years. While there she was in what she calls the picture perfect relationship with a man she was planning and building a life with. Two kids later their relationship took a turn for the worse and the couple eventually went their separate ways.

We all know that when it rains it often pours, so on top of a break-up, the condo she lived in flooded and with no emergency savings, unfortunately, Golda ended up on her ex-boyfriend’s couch. Not at all happy with her living situation, she made the decision to leave: “I humbled myself, packed my chocolate drops (that’s what I call my children), a few bags and moved back home to New York where I was blessed to have the support of family. What could have been a very stressful time was a blessing, not only did I have family but I also had time to get my head together.”

During the journey back to herself she took self-care very seriously – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Golda worked with a life coach and began working out again; it was during this time of transformation that Fit Mommy Blog was born.

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A Fit Mommy makes herself a priority because she can’t take care of everyone else and neglect herself; Golda’s goal with Fit Mommy is to “lock arms with awesome women (especially moms) to raise happy, healthy children and contribute to our communities in meaningful ways while creating freedom and leaving lasting legacies.”

When and why did you start Fit Mommy Blog? What sparked your interest?

About two years ago I started Fit Mommy Blog, and I started because I had GoldaSmith.com which is Social Media Management but kept being drawn to and finding my way back to health and wellness. I wanted to separate the two things and the name that kept popping up for me was Fit Mommy Blog. I kept seeing other moms who were not making health and wellness a priority. It was important for me to just share and show other women that it’s totally fine to make themselves a priority. It’s not just about having a hard, buff body but just about all facets of health and wellness – spiritual, emotional, food, and definitely exercise.

How did you know this is what you wanted to do for women and that you were meant to do it?

I’d say that’s pretty easy. They say that whatever you do that doesn’t feel like work then that’s probably what you should be doing. And this doesn’t feel like work; it’s something that I absolutely love doing. I love sharing with people. I love fitness. I love food – good food! And I really love inspiring people to just be more and to do more.

What was the process like getting the blog started and using your experience as a coach to get women on board with Fit Mommy Blog?

Definitely having a coach – someone who has been there and done that. Working with a coach is an investment in yourself. I always tell people never be afraid to invest in yourself. I always say to people whatever it is that you want to do there is someone else who has already done it. So, if you have to come out of pocket to pay a coach, a mentor then do that. If you can’t afford one then there are so many people who are doing great things that offer free information, but you always want to find guidance. Every great person who has done anything worthwhile has had or currently has a mentor.

Was there a pivotal moment when you recognized what you were doing would be successful?

No. And I’m being serious! There are so many days when I throw my hands up and say to myself, “Is anyone reading this? Does anyone really get it?” Then I’ll get an email or a comment that says, “Thank you so much for writing that. I really love what you’re doing.” And that feels like someone is giving me chest compressions; my heart starts beating again and I keep going. I do know there is a purpose, and I perhaps put too much pressure on myself sometimes because I have so much and I want people to receive it. However, it’s just about being consistent and knowing that whoever is suppose to get the message will get it.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love being able to help people feel better, just feel better in whatever way that is – whether it is fitting in their clothes better, being able to not have stress/handle stress, or just putting a smile on a client’s face. Knowing that I’ve helped contribute and not destroy (because there are enough people out there destroying). To be a part of the building up of someone, that is what I love.

GoldaSmithSMIB[phoenixrisingcollective]

Golda training with a Fit Mommy client.

How do you maintain a healthy balance in your personal and professional life?

My organizer! (Golda shows me her perfectly organized, color-coded, highlighted organizer). I schedule personal time for myself; I schedule work time; I schedule family time. Everyone has their own color and that’s non-negotiable.

Lastly, what advice can you give to women seeking to fulfill their own entrepreneurial dreams?

Do it! Do it because this is it. You could be gone at anytime. You could be gone tonight; you could be gone tomorrow. You don’t know when. My greatest fear is dying not doing half the things I say I want to do. As I get older, the reality of death is REAL. Not that I know when it’s going to happen or anything, it’s just the reality – that wake up call that says, “What are you waiting for?” You might not be able to do everything but at least try – nothing wrong with trying. You never know, so do it!

Don’t allow your “isms” to stop you – whatever nonsense you’re telling yourself about yourself. I always say on social media, “What you say about yourself is more important than what other people say about you.” You have to believe in yourself. Speak confirmation to yourself, and even if you don’t believe it now if you speak it enough your conscience will begin to believe it.

Whatever the dream is don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Take advice from people who have the results you want to have and not “Pookie” down the street who doesn’t have any ambition. Sometimes you are going to be your only cheerleader and that’s OK, too. Everyone isn’t meant to understand your calling, your dream that’s been given to you.

 

For more on Golda and the inspirational work she’s doing to keep busy moms healthy and happy, please visit Golda Smith – Fit Mommy Blog; and by all means, follow her social network, HERE.

Now, take a look at the free SMIB Bonus Materials that complement Golda’s interview.

SMIB_Banner[GoldaSmithWorksheet]

Remember, you’re building your SMIB Entrepreneurial Toolkit! Didn’t get your bonus materials from the last interview? Well, go back, recap, and download it HERE.

Tell us what you think, Phoenix!

We want to hear about how you are inspired by Golda Smith, as well as your progress building your toolkit, so tell us in the comment section below. You can also share a snapshot of how you used the SMIB bonus materials on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag: #SMIB #thephoenixrisingcollective Tag: @thephoenixrisingcollective

 


About the Contributing Writer:

Ayanna_Prof_Headshot[Mktg_Phoenix2]Ayanna Jordan is founder and self-esteem education consultant of The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is also the editor-in-chief for Phoenix Shine, The PRC’s blog and spirit-affirming online community. She has always had a passion for inspiring others through writing, coaching, and teaching. Her diverse career experiences have positively shaped her overall perspective on what it truly means to be a change agent: “I believe a change agent is someone who is in alignment with what she loves to do, and then connects, utilizes, and shares that love to make a difference and transform lives.” Learn more about Ayanna HERE.

 

 


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She Makes It Beautiful – An Interview with Entrepreneur, Dr. Melissa Crum – Mosaic Education Network

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She Makes It Beautiful (SMIB) encourages and inspires women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams by interviewing and sharing the phenomenal stories of women entrepreneurs who’ve already taken that courageous leap and soared.

I asked entrepreneurs in diverse creative professions to participate, and they were more than willing to pay it forward. So, from opening a dance studio to starting a bakery to grooming pets and everything in between, you’ll read the unique and empowering stories about how these women decided to just make it happen!

Don’t forget! Download your free SMIB Bonus Materials below. Use them as your personal toolkit to help get that dream off the ground. All bonus materials complement the advice and tips given by each of the entrepreneurs.

MelissaCrum_SMIB[thephoenixrisingcollective]This SMIB interview is with the vibrant and passionate, Dr. Melissa Crum, Founder, Education Consultant, and Diversity Practitioner of Mosaic Education Network.

I was happy that I had the opportunity to connect with Melissa, and our conversation was just as I’d hoped it would be – engaging, thought provoking, and full of “light-bulb” moments! (Or as Oprah would say, “Ah-ha moments”) Now, before I share her Q&A, I have to tell you that I am (and have been for a long time) on a mission to find, connect with, and share the entrepreneurial paths and processes of women with a profound purpose to make a difference, to work as love made visible. Melissa is most certainly one of these women.

So, of course, there’s no coincidence at all that her name just seemed to jump off the page at me while I was perusing the YWCA Columbus’s website. I was on the hunt for something totally different; my mind was not on researching entrepreneurs for She Makes It Beautiful. But that’s usually how it happens, right? Looking for one thing, find another; and in this case, for great reason! Her workshop presentation topic, listed among others for a monthly women’s leadership series, piqued my interest; then I saw the name of her business and that was equally as interesting (and creative), so I wanted to know more. I had to know more. I clicked the link to her site, and Wow! Great mission. Innovative work. Purposeful vision. My first thought, “Contact her. Reach out now.” My second thought, “What if she doesn’t respond?” My third: “Do it anyway!” Following my intuition paid off (as it usually does), and the rest I’d say is most certainly magnificent.

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Mosaic Education Network’s mission is to use art, community, and diversity for curriculum development for educators and diversity training for non-profit organizations and businesses. They use contemporary art and action-oriented conversations to facilitate self-reflection and critical thinking for participants in order to establish inclusive learning and working environments.

When and why did you start Mosaic Education Network? What sparked the inspiration?

I was always interested in social justice and teaching, and just learning in general. And I was always involved in art. I knew that I did not want to be in the academy as a professor [in the traditional sense], and people kept telling me that I should do my own thing – working with kids, nonprofits, artists, and teachers. So, I asked myself, “What would doing something on my own look like?” Consulting. And as a consultant the questions became (1) what are the price of my thoughts? (2) How does art make you a better teacher? How can critical thinking and cultural diversity help your nonprofit or business? As a business owner I also asked myself, “How do I pass this down to my children?”

How did you know this is what you are meant to do with your life?

I’m not sure. I continued to insert myself into the academy, and it wasn’t working. I do know, however, that a defining moment was becoming an Imagining America Fellow. Being a part of a national consortium with a focus on arts and humanities and connecting with the community in Buffalo, NY (artists, scholars, and organizers) – people from all walks of life collaborating and discussing how to leverage their connections to do something else – I knew I wasn’t alone!

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What was the process like getting started?

I’m still learning. I’m nowhere close to being a guru. I take advantage of professional development. The Small Business Association has free resources, workshops, and mentors that support the process –  creating a business plan, a marketing plan, filing taxes as a business owner. The road isn’t the same for everyone.

What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from the process?

Ask for help. There will always be people who know more than you. Wise people know they’re not the smartest people in the room. You don’t know everything, so actively ask people! Don’t be afraid to ask, “Can you tell me about this?” Seek out information regardless of what level you think you’re on. Be humble. Just ask. Humble yourself and be willing to receive information.

Was there a pivotal moment when you recognized what you were doing would be successful?

The response to the Network, teachers are responding to it so positively. A colleague and I wrote an academic book chapter and submitted a proposal that received lots of great feedback; we’ve presented in several places. The Network started officially in January, and the response has been very positive.

I’ll be a presenter at TEDxColumbus on May 28th. I’m looking forward to that as well; I’m excited about it.

[Melissa presented A Tale of Two Teachers: Educating on Racism Through Art at TEDxColumbus Women 2015 – The Power in Our Story: Own It. Take a look at the video of her presentation below. You can also check out TEDxColumbus’s blog, Follow This, to read Melissa’s first steps to what’s next on her presentation topic. Here’s the link: Inspiration Good. Action Better. What Next?]

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[Photo Credit: TEDxColumbus]

What do you love most about what you do?

Flexibility and control – I get to decide with whom I want to work with. Education – I want to work with those who want to learn. I did not want to work within the constraints of education in certain aspects. I enjoy learning, and the business provides that platform for learning new things. I am also gaining more self-confidence in negotiation, and it’s important to have assertiveness in owning who you are and what you bring to the table.

How do you maintain a healthy balance in your personal and professional life?

I have a son, and he comes wherever I go.

I also connect with women/friends who have or want to start their own businesses; people who can hold me accountable – my accountability partners. (I particularly need this when it comes to social media marketing. We check in with each other: “OK, what did you post today?”)

Every other week I meet with like-minded business partners.

Whenever I need to do something different, to step outside my comfort zone, I just do it!

I also have a sister circle, and I meet with them to have brunch/lunch to decompress.

Lastly, what advice can you give to women seeking to fulfill their own entrepreneurial dreams?

Don’t be afraid. And don’t expect others to validate your dreams because they won’t be able to. You’ll keep yourself from the possibilities by trying to gain the approval of others. Seek out like-minded people.

Melissa further explained why it’s dangerous to continuously seek validation from others and the importance of building like-minded support systems by offering an inspiring analogy about the Giraffe and the Turtle from Bishop TD Jakes, “When you are a giraffe and you receive criticism from turtles, they are reporting the view from the level they are on.”  She also expressed, unfortunately, this may include family and friends who just don’t understand. “It’s not that the giraffes are better than the turtle at all, it’s just that they can only see things from their own perspective or experience.”

For more on Melissa and the trailblazing work she’s doing in her community, please visit Mosaic Education Network; and by all means, follow her social network, HERE.

SMIB_ProfessionalDevBonus[Crum]

Remember, you’re building your SMIB Entrepreneurial Toolkit! Didn’t get your bonus materials from the last interview? Well, go back, recap, and download it HERE.

Tell us what you think, Phoenix!

We want to hear about how you are inspired by Dr. Melissa Crum, as well as your experience building your Accountability Partnerships and Professional Development/Resources for your own business in the comment section below. You can also share a snapshot of how you used the SMIB bonus materials on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag: #SMIB #thephoenixrisingcollective

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About the Contributing Writer:

ayanna_sidebar[photo]Ayanna Jordan is founder and self-esteem education consultant of The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is also the editor-in-chief for Phoenix Shine, The PRC’s blog and spirit-affirming online community. She has always had a passion for inspiring others through writing, coaching, and teaching. Her diverse career experiences have positively shaped her overall perspective on what it truly means to be a change agent: “I believe a change agent is someone who is in alignment with what she loves to do, and then connects, utilizes, and shares that love to make a difference and transform lives.” Learn more about Ayanna HERE.


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She Makes It Beautiful – An Interview with Entrepreneur, Suzan Bradford Kounta

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She Makes It Beautiful (SMIB) encourages and inspires women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams by interviewing and sharing the phenomenal stories of women entrepreneurs who’ve already taken that courageous leap and soared.

We’ve asked entrepreneurs in diverse, creative professions to participate, and they were more than willing to pay it forward. From opening a dance studio to starting a bakery to grooming pets and everything in between, you’ll read the unique and empowering stories about how these women decided to just go for it.

Don’t forget! Download your free SMIB Bonus Materials below. Use them as your personal toolkit to help get that dream off the ground. All bonus materials complement the advice and tips give by the entrepreneurs.

 

PhotoGrid_1425438086959This SMIB interview is with Suzan Bradford Kounta, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Thiossane West African Dance Institute.

When and why did you start the Thiossane West African Dance Institute?

Thiossane was conceived in 2000. However, I had been working toward its birth since 1990. My life experiences encouraged me to become a CEO, Chief Executive of Opportunity; I was directed to manage businesses in a creative and innovative way that blended the past and present.

What sparked the inspiration?

I wanted to create a career from my passion. I am fueled when I can provide or create opportunities that allow people to grow through their creativity.

How did you know this is what you are meant to do with your life?

When I learned about whom I belong to and who I am, it was very clear what I was supposed to do. My ancestors and mother were always an example of my purpose. My lineage found through my mother’s DNA reiterated my character, values, and beliefs. Everyday, I am reminded of my purpose on this earth. Everyday I am faced with challenges that propel me forward, even when it is a struggle. I was planted to prosper, and nurtured to endure and witness my accomplishments. I am humble and grateful always to be a vehicle for the greater good of people.

What was the process like getting started?

It was a struggle. My business was rooted in social services and the not-for-profit art world. It was not popular and people shunned the activity and were ignorant to the significance of the art form. I taught myself the nature of the business and learned through my jobs how best to grow it through the skills I acquired and the knowledge gained over the years.

What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from the process?

I learned several, but the one that has provided longevity for me is to measure and evaluate from my own statistics. If I were to measure the success of The Institute to that of larger companies, I would have and should have failed along time ago. I believe wholeheartedly in what the Institute has provided for children, young adults, families, single moms, single dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, families who adopt outside their race, and people with special needs.

Was there a pivotal moment when you recognized what you were doing would be successful?

Because I have been nurturing this passion for 25 years all the while having an awesome supporting cast and great friends who are intelligent, passionate, and share in my likeness, I was able to align the mission and vision of the Institute into a place of upward mobility that is steady and strong. That coupled with nostalgia and innovation allowed multiple opportunities to grow our audiences and increase our revenue. Yes, by business standards, profits, profits, profits are the measure of success, but for the Institute, the number of people who are impacted by participating, engaging, or performing within Thiossane is and will always be our greatest success.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that we empower young people through a set of values to govern themselves not only on the dance floor, but also, specifically, in their lives. These values will encourage and support their endeavors and will strengthen and provide resilience in their challenges. I love that people can dance and play music as if no one is watching, and I love the richness of the African Diaspora and how it is threaded through our daily lives – giving peace, harmony, and overall good feelings to one’s soul, to one’s spirit.

How do you maintain a healthy balance in your personal and professional life?

My maternal grandmother’s adage was “A Healthy Body is A Healthy Mind.” I was taught early to take care and manage myself, to exercise all my beings – mental, physical, emotional, and most importantly, my spiritual being. I taught myself to be selfish about my time and the energy I receive from others.

Lastly, what advice can you give to women seeking to fulfill their own entrepreneurial dreams?

  1. Stay true to your vision.
  2. Be confident in what you know.
  3. Take risks.
  4. Seek knowledge.
  5. Be creative.
  6. Have your own measuring stick.
  7. Create a welcoming space for yourself – personally and professionally.
  8. Demonstrate due diligence in all that you do.
  9. Travel the world.
  10. Speak another language.
  11. Manage only what you can; slow growth is good growth.
  12. Don’t be greedy.
  13. Protect your passion and ideas.
  14. Potentiate those around.
  15. Make money.
  16. Be happy in all that you do.

 

Learn more about Suzan Bradford Kounta HERE.

Tell us what you think, Phoenix!

We want to hear about how you are inspired by Suzan Bradford Kounta, as well as your experience goal-setting and planning for your business in the comment section below. You can also share a snapshot of how you used the SMIB bonus materials on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag: #SMIB 

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SMIB_GoalSettingWorksheet[thephoenixrisingcollective]


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She Makes It Beautiful: A Professional Development Series for Entrepreneurs

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We’re so excited, Phoenix!

This week we are launching, She Makes It Beautiful, a new professional development series that caters to the entrepreneurial spirit in you.

The series is part of Shed Light, our continued commitment to offer resources that support your personal and professional growth.  She Makes It Beautiful (SMIB) encourages and inspires women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams by interviewing and sharing the phenomenal stories of women entrepreneurs who’ve already taken that courageous leap and soared.

Put it this way, if you’ve always wanted to start your own business doing what you love every single day, THIS is the series for you!

We’ve asked entrepreneurs in diverse, creative professions to participate, and they were more than willing to pay it forward. From opening a dance studio to starting a bakery to grooming pets and everything in between, you’ll read the unique and empowering stories about how these women decided to just go for it.

That’s not all we’re offering with She Makes It Beautiful. Free SMIB Bonus Materials will be available for download that complement each interview in the series. Why Bonus Materials? Well, this is all about your growth as a budding, ambitious entrepreneur, so just think of this as your personal toolkit to help you get that dream off the ground and also keep you in alignment with your plan. Plus, the bonus materials have been created based on the advice and tips given by the interviewees, so think of them as your very inspiring accountability partners!

No more waiting on the right time and circumstances to give that great idea attention, especially when it really deserves to be front and center now. Shine a light on it. Nurture it. Make it beautiful. This is the moment that matters.

Again, SMIB launches this week; our first interview is with the dynamic Suzan Bradford Kounta, co-founder and creative director of one of Ohio’s leading dance institutes. We can’t wait to share!

Thank you for your continued support of us. And please, if you haven’t already, join our Facebook and Instagram communities. Share what The Collective is doing with others who are looking for a spirit-affirming space to grow, learn, and shine; spread the word.

Be self-love in action! Happy Monday.

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ayanna_sidebar[photo]Ayanna Jordan is founder, speaker, and coach of The Phoenix Rising Collective, and editor-in-chief for Phoenix Shine, The PRC’s blog. She is happy that Phoenix Shine is a positive space for sharing information on topics related to building and sustaining healthy self-esteem, as she believes wellness begins within, and includes healing old wounds, forgiving others (and yourself), letting go of the past, eating healthy foods, making room for change, sustaining a positive attitude, and taking time for spiritual practice. She is committed to empowering women to be self-love in action.