The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action

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The Phoenix Book Picks: Dare to Lead + The Art of Money

I haven’t done a Phoenix Book Pick in a while, so I want to share what I’m currently reading this summer; actually, there are two books in rotation: Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown and The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness by Bari Tessler.

I like Brené Brown’s books (her research on vulnerability and shame is phenomenal), so I was really excited about Dare to Lead, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s an honest, empowering guide to holistic leadership – sharing research and real-life experiences on how to lead from the heart not by fear and emphasizing the importance of vulnerability, self-work and bravery when it comes to leading others and building courageous teams. I also appreciate all the interactive tools, practices and writing prompts throughout the book, especially those around how to have tough conversations. One of my favorite quotes:

“Self-awareness and self-love matter. Who we are is how we lead.”

The Art of Money by Bari Tessler is all about financial wellness and happiness by helping you connect the dots with how you think about money (past and present), by encouraging self-compassion when it comes to anger, shame, and blame around money matters, and by developing your personal growth through exercises like money story visualization. For example, Tessler asks in Chapter 3, Your Money Story: 1) Describe your current relationship with money, 2) Visualize your money past, and 4) Connect the dots between past and present, 4) Give yourself a hug. There’s no tough love and judgment here at all, only support for a deeper understanding about and healthier relationship with money. She explains in an interview about her approach, as well as colleague and financial planner, Saundra Davis (founder of Sage Financial Solutions), “While a lot of the financial world is riddled with judgmental, “tough love” approaches, Saundra and I are kindred spirits in ushering in a new wave of compassion, gentleness, and unshaming in this area of life.” This is definitely a breath of fresh air when cultivating financial wellness and happiness.

The Art of Money has been a real eye-opener for me; so much so, I started listening to her podcast, also called The Art of Money. Listen to the newest episode (below) with her guest, Saundra Davis discussing money consciousness, the wealth gap and race. It’s a very honest, open and powerful conversation.


One of my favorite quotes from The Art of Money:

“Please know that as you move courageously and compassionately forward with your money work, you are already taking steps to value yourself, your time, your energy, and everything that truly matters to you.”

If you’ve already read one or both of these books, let me know what you think. How have they helped you take better care? What books are on your list this summer? Share. I want to know.

Happy reading!


Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. She is a personal development coach creating and facilitating dynamic women-centered, self-care workshops with a focus on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. She also creates training programs and group coaching that empowers women’s professional growth in authentic leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. Her interactive, holistic approach inspires action and creates a non-judgmental, safe and supportive space for women to truly explore and affirm who they are, what they want and how they want to do it.


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.


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


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.


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!


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?]


[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.


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


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.