For the past few years, many companies have expressed a desire to improve their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in recruitment, hiring, promotions, marketing, and other areas. Some have gone a step farther and declared they would include the Justice component, encompassing the fullness of DEIJ as their new guiding force, helping to steer their internal and external efforts.

Search online, and you will find hundreds of companies hiring for DEI positions and creating various roles, committees, and ERGs. That’s hundreds of companies that prior to 2020, failed to see the need and value of a diverse, equitable, inclusive organization, driven by justice for all.

I’ve expressed in multiple blog posts and a few episodes of my business podcast (“Don’t Call It Small…Business”) my concerns about a DEI “bandwagon” effect and the implications. The peer and societal pressure to align and “be on the right side of history” will cause many organizations to publicly state what they internally are not prepared to follow through with, leading to negative outcomes.

Over the past two years we’ve heard organizations make claims and promises that they haven’t fulfilled. Pledges have fallen through the cracks. That’s what happens when you’re just checking boxes and it’s not authentic, and not a representation of your organization’s cultural fabric and values.

If your organization hasn’t been actively engaged in DEI practices for the 5, 20, 50, 100+ years it’s been operating, it won’t jump to it overnight. PR stunts have become the norm to position companies to be more desirable, in less time, especially when publicly-traded. That equals a recipe for disaster. As does rushing to do something out of guilt and shame, when you realize that you haven’t done enough.

In the fashion industry, there was a rush to appoint DEI executives to newly-created roles, and guess what we’re seeing? According to the site Business of Fashion, there’s extremely high turnover. The average tenure for a Chief Diversity Officer is about three years, while CEO tenure averages approximately six years. Why? Because most of the positions are created in haste, and they lack resources, defined goals, and support from the chief executive.

What’s happening in the financial sector?

Wells Fargo is on the hot seat. Again. This time, it appears that they too made a huge DEI blunder.
The bank is under federal investigation by the civil-rights unit of the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office for conducting fake job interviews of minority candidates to satisfy in-house diversity guidelines.

As a client of Wells Fargo, I’m confident that their leadership team will guide them through these challenging waters, by first getting the help that they need to address the internal issues they still have yet to identify. We struggle most when we don’t know what we don’t know. Wells Fargo doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. But I believe that they will learn and apply what they lack to the benefit of internal and external stakeholders.

Read the Fortune magazine article to learn more. Ponder what Wells Fargo and other organizations must consider and do to genuinely lead with diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice as their guiding light. Let’s see the lessons and opportunities, and then put action behind the brain work.

~ Natasha

Article Source: https://fortune.com/2022/06/09/wells-fargo-federal-investigation-fake-job-interviews-minority-candidates-report-says/amp/

People tend to ask me what business, leadership, self-help, and empowerment books I’ve read and like to re-read. I’ve shared lists of books that I’ve read over the years, but let’s focus on the core of building, healing, and empowering self. As you can’t lead others well if you can’t lead yourself, and you will suck at managing resources if you can’t master managing you.

So, in no particular order, let’s look at my list.

  • The Bible by a lot of writers, most of whom never planned or expected their writings to be published (as most of us don’t write letters, for example, to later have published).
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
  • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
  • Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  • Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
  • It Beats Eatin’ Lizards by Steve Woodsmall
  • Believe Bigger: Discover the Path to Your Life Purpose by Marshawn Evans Daniels
  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  • Rising Strong by Brene Brown
  • Overcoming Hurts & Anger by Dwight Carlson, MD

And I do have to admit that my Seek Him books have been healing, uplifting, and empowering. So I will add them to the list:

  • Seek Him, Volume 1: Testing Your Spiritual Comfort Zone by Natasha L. Foreman
  • Seek Him, Volume 2: Going Beyond Your Spiritual Comfort Zone by Natasha L. Foreman
  • Seek Him, Volume 3 — comes out this Summer and it’s also written by me 🙂

What About You?

Share some of your favorite reads.

What are your favorite quotes, sayings, and words of wisdom?

Goodness, there are so many inspiring and profound statements and questions to choose from. I think that what comes to my mind first are the sayings of my parents, grandparents, and other wise souls. I also think of Bible-based excerpts that I draw upon for strength, comfort, and encouragement. I’m just going to share several that come first to mind.

FROM MY FAMILY

Many of these you have probably heard of and said. There seems to always be slight variations across the US and around the world.

From my maternal grandfather:A person can have all of the book smarts in the world but not have a plumb nickel of common sense

From my maternal grandfather:Make sure when you walk you look down to keep from stepping on a snake or something.” My grandfather said that he could always tell when “city folks” like me were around, because we never looked down while walking, but “country folks” know to look down and look around. He taught me that when I was a child and I always think of him while walking and seeing objects and dangers right in the nick of time, and almost always before other city folks! 😬

From my mom: “You’re not a toilet seat. Don’t let people crap on you!”- now that is a great reminder and an even better visual. I don’t know why that’s the first thing I thought about when I thought of my mom’s “Motherisms”.

From my mom: “It doesn’t hurt to ask, the only thing they can tell you is ‘no’“- my mom truly believes this and lives by this principle.

From my dad: “When trust is lost it’s hard to regain…”- this reminds me to be responsible with the trust that I’ve earned and not to risk destroying it, as it’s difficult to rebuild.

From my dad: “Clean while you cook”- I know you may be saying, “What, why is this a favorite saying?” Well, it’s simple, it has been the guiding tip for me as I cook. I rarely finish cooking and have a dirty and cluttered kitchen. Cleaning as I cook helps reduce the workload after a meal is finished. This is extremely beneficial when you’re the one cooking and cleaning.

From my dad:Don’t say you can’t, just say you don’t want to“- when dad knew I could do something this was always his response. It irritated him when I said “I can’t” as it signified I had given up.

From my dad: “Is this the work of an A, B, C, D, or F student?”- this was usually a question posed to me after I thought I was done doing my chores. He would also ask me this when I would give him my homework to review. I used to roll my eyes and say under my breath, “It’s the work of an I-got-it-done student.” I never said it loud enough for him to hear. But I did make the mistake of saying one day, “It’s good enough” and I clearly wasn’t thinking when the words flowed from my mouth. Dad did not play when it came to doing things with excellence. He didn’t accept mediocrity.

From my dad: [said to me in high school] “There will come a time when you will be able to count your friends, on one hand, everyone else is associates”

[said to my sister when she was in 3rd grade] “All of those kids aren’t your friends they’re your associates”- and that was in response to my sister rattling off “my friend ___ and my friend ___ and my friend____”. So was it a surprise when my sister returned to school and when she got into an argument with a classmate, who told her “You’re not my friend anymore” my sister said, “We’re not friends, we’re associates” and then when the teacher confronted my sister, she received the same reply? Ummm…nope. That’s what happens when adults forget that children are human tape recorders and will replay everything you said.

From my dad:Women crack me up, you think you will learn about a man in three months, six months, or whatever. Men tell you everything you need to know when you first meet them…We tell you our goals, character, what, and who we value...” [paraphrased]- this was prompted after overhearing me and my friend Shari talking about guys we were dating and our three, six, twelve-month game plan for figuring out if they are boyfriend-husband material. Clearly, in the 80s and 90s, there was some nonsense circulating, probably through our favorite magazines, that men are complicated enough to require several months to figure out if they have a good or crappy character. Of course, I didn’t believe my dad and kept trusting this other way, and then decades later I had to admit, “Dad was right”.

From my paternal grandmother: “There are no accidents“- I used to struggle with this statement. Now I know that my grandmother knew and declared that there is nothing God doesn’t know and doesn’t see coming, so there are no accidents. It can be difficult to wrap your mind around, as it was for me, but once you do it’s freeing.

From my paternal aunt: “Just apply. If you can learn it, take a class for it, then you can do it. Don’t wait until you have mastered it. They will teach you their way, their method anyway, so apply…“- this sage advice is something that intimidated me in my 20s when my aunt told me, but as I got older and wiser I began to understand how true this is, and I noticed that men are more apt to practice this than women. Women tend to apply if they are 90% to 100% qualified, while men will apply if they have 40% of the qualifications. I’ve polled dozens of men who have said they would apply with less than 40%, while the majority of women I’ve polled cringed at the idea.

FROM THE BIBLE

Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God”
Luke 17:21 “… nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you”
Matthew 4:10 “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
Proverbs 21:5 “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”
Proverbs 21:30 “No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord.”
Proverbs 31:10-31 [this is about the woman of noble character, or as many of us say, “The Proverbs Woman”] It’s too long to share here. Search online if you don’t have a Bible, and read it for yourself.

Other sayings (original sources unknown)

  • Common sense isn’t that common“- this is a reminder to me to take into consideration that someone’s words and actions may not be driven by common sense, and to give them a pass.
  • Why don’t we just agree to disagree“- sometimes it helps to diffuse escalating conversations and sometimes the people struggling with common sense choose instead to keep arguing with me. I did warn them!
  • C-Y-B, cover your butt

Feel free to share some of your favorites!

~Natasha

I’ve read various articles and heard interviews of authors and other writers answering the question, “What inspires your writing?” and it made me reflect. Some of you write poetry, lyrics to songs, blog posts, articles, and books. What inspires you? How did the things you write about edge out the competing ideas that were trying to wiggle a place onto your notepad, typewriter page, or computer screen?

Source: Philipine Star

And maybe it’s not always a what, but a who, a person near and dear, or one you have never met. Why do they inspire you?

Source: Business 2 Community

My business writing is usually inspired by past or present events and the people impacted. There are times when conversations with other people inspire me to write about the topics we were discussing. I’m inspired by past and current clients and the circumstances that they face with their businesses and careers. Oh and I can’t leave out my college students. They ask great questions and share their experiences, and I’m inspired to examine the information shared and provide my perspective.

My Seek Him book series was inspired by my spiritual journey, as captured in writing through my blog, Breaking Bread With Natasha. My readers encouraged me to write a book. They had asked me repeatedly over the years, “When are you going to write a Breaking Bread book?” and I initially scoffed at the idea. But they made some pretty good arguments for why a book would be beneficial. I didn’t know that as I typed away, year after year, editing and scraping ideas, that I would write not one book, but enough content for three books. I was inspired by my pain, victories, failures, fears, questions, and doubts. I was inspired by my hope and faith, and my belief in my relationship with God. I’m inspired by the stories of people in the Bible, people throughout history, and people that I know who have faced insurmountable challenges.

What about you? What and who inspires your writing? And why?

Source: Current School News

~Natasha

With all of our busyness and adulting, have you remained connected with your inner child, or have you blotted out the essence and sounds of that amazing energy within? I try to embrace my inner child as much as possible, for all of the good and great reasons. Allowing little Natasha to run around with glee, I light up when I recognize a beloved book from my childhood, and remember how the stories made me feel, page after page. I love going into the public library and seeing the “classics” and the “newbies” waiting on the shelves for someone inquisitive to explore them. I know that many of us have defaulted to reading eBooks and listening to audio books. I admit that I love audio books. It feels like story time and listening to an amazing storyteller. At the same time, there is something extra special about holding a soft or hard cover book, and you can smell the faint scent coming from the pages. Is it just me, or is that not oh so amazing?

Some of you have children and maybe you have found ways to introduce them to your favorite childhood books. Or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you have forgotten many of them. Maybe you’re not much of a reader and so your memory is clouded of the past fantasies that were woven through your young mind, through those moments when an adult read to you. Or maybe, well heck there’s a lot of maybe’s.

Get your fill of NOSTALGIA

I could not possibly list all of my favorite books growing up because, well, you would grow exhausted and give up, as my list would feel endless. I was a bookworm growing up. A true human sponge, soaking up as much information as I could. I still enjoy reading books, consuming one to three per week. If someone would do all of the adulting for me, I could read more books each week. Arrgh. That leaves me where I stand. One to three will have to do!

My mom taught my how to read by age two, so anything with words was bound to be in front of me. Starting in first grade, my dad would challenge me each week to see who could read either the most books or the biggest (thickest) book. I would light up every time we would visit the Los Angeles Public Library in downtown L.A. Oh my goodness, I used to have so much fun spending hours at the library. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m typing this post sitting inside of a public library. Yep! Nostalgia overload, but in a great way! Don’t believe me? Check me out…

Thinking back, I can recall sitting across from my dad inside of a Burger King, completely lost in one of the biggest books I had ever read. I was between the ages of six and eight. We were both only pages away from finishing, and although you want to win the challenge, you don’t want to rush the story, because you don’t want to miss any important moments or key elements. That made the challenge even more satisfying. I do think that I rushed through some of the pages though as I didn’t want to lose.

Do any of you have reading challenges with the children in your life?

Scholastic Book Club

Here’s something else that I loved as a child, receiving the Scholastic Book Club flyers at school. Every month I would salivate as I circled or starred which books and learning tools that I was going to hound my parents to buy. I already knew how much I could use from my allowance to cover whichever remaining items that my parents said, “Really Natasha, you already have X (number of) books in your order, those can wait until another time” and I would squeal and say, “But they may not be on the list next time” not realizing that as long as you had the flyer you could order previously featured books. When mom and dad wouldn’t budge any further in their wallet, and I didn’t want to risk calling another family member (because who in their right mind would try to go around my mom and dad?) I went to my back up, my piggy bank, and covered the rest of my order. Oh and by the way, by the time I was in sixth grade, I had upgraded the piggy bank to a grey cash box. Not as cute but it had tons of room to save mo’ money mo’ money mo’ money [*in my Wayans brothers voice*].

Haaaa do you remember these skits from In Living Color?

In case you’re wondering, yes, Scholastic Book Club is still thriving. You can find their monthly flyers here, in digital format and they are segmented by grade level.

And Although Not Books

I don’t know about you, but I was in love with the Highlights Magazine (formerly Highlights for Children). I was so grateful that I had access to them at school and my parents subscribed so I never missed an issue. And yes, they are also still in business and thriving. Check out their magazines, activity subscriptions, books, collections, and more.

are you ready for a trip down memory lane?

Let me title-drop several books and see if the titles spark something inside of you. If it does, please share. Oh and let me be clear, these books aren’t listed in any particular order and I’m only sharing books from knee-high to around third or fourth grade. And, I’m a 70s baby so many of the books that I read as a child were written in the 1940s through 1980s. Some books have been captured as cartoons and animated films, but nothing tops a good ole’ book!

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey

Frog and Toad (Collection box set) by Arnold Lobel

The Little Engine That Could (Original Classic Edition) by Watty Piper

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Just about every Dr. Seuss book I can think of, here’s a few:

  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • The Cat in the Hat

The Berenstain Bears series by Stan and Jan Berenstain (did you know they wrote over 300 books in this series?)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (and several other Potter books

Curious George by H.A. Rey

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry (and other books by him like What Do People Do All Day?)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Rudolf Wyss

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm

The Little House collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories (I read most of the collection) by Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym for a collection of paid writers who each wrote a book; starting first with author Mildred Wirt Benson)

Hardy Boys book series by Franklin W. Dixon (I will admit, I didn’t read all of this series, but I read most of the books)

What About You?

Share some of your childhood favorites. I sprinkled in some from my toddler years through early elementary school. I will save middle school and high school for future posts. I can’t wait to reminisce with you. Comment below or tag me on social media!

~Natasha

As I shared in my last post, I made the decision years ago to modify my work life using a thematic work day system. I’ve even learned how to use the same principles and concepts to blend in a similar system for my personal life, where the two systems complement rather than collide with each other. Let me first break down the professional application and then show you how the personal element is seamlessly blended in.

Monday Management Day

I’m focused on all-things management, outlook for the week, start-of-week client check-in, deep dive into business emails, reply to student emails, grade course work, post to class discussion forums. This is the day I check to see which bills have been paid, are pending bank processing, and still need to be handled. I’m operations focused. I’m looking at what was leftover from the previous week, what surfaced over the weekend that needs my attention.

Tuesday Product Day

I’m focused on blog writing, podcast researching and outlining, handling R&D for courses I’m designing, grading course work, recording any audio and videos. I set aside time to work on any current book project.

It’s all about the products!

Wednesday Marketing Day

Artwork for the podcast is designed, edited, proofed (3 weeks out), the focus is also on social media posts, promotional efforts, drafting newsletters, artwork prep for books, grading course work (does it ever stop?), and I’m prepping myself for my weekly live seminar for one of my college courses.

Thursday Client Day

I’m checking in with clients, reports are sent to them on this day, I’m usually posting to my class discussion forums, and if needed I’m recording class videos for my students (to help them through any sticky points). This doesn’t mean that if a client reaches out to me on Tuesday (the day after our Monday outlook day) that I’m not going to engage with them until Thursday. No, it means I’m focused on coming with solutions on Thursday. I’m going to address their concerns, problems, issues, ideas on Thursday— and they are confident that what I’m bringing is value-packed. It’s an internal focus that also has external benefits. My clients benefit from this system that molds and disciplines me.

Friday Team & Overflow Day

This is a great day for outreach to teams, send gift cards, team events, etc. Just recently, I intentionally restructured my day so that it ends early so I can get a head start on the weekend. This is now my light workload day. But it requires great discipline Monday through Thursday to pull this off. On Friday, I’m focused on whatever needs to be done in the writing process for my books. I will even pop into a class discussion and see what’s evolving in the forum. Yes, working on the book is something that is Tuesday-aligned, and discussion forum posting is Thursday-aligned, but it is also what I see as my overflow day to invest in activities that need extra attention.

If a client had a question or concern after Thursday’s reporting, Friday is when I want to address it. Well, actually I want it addressed on Thursday, but I know that sometimes things have to marinate or be examined from different directions, and that may mean questions surfacing the next day. I don’t want them calling me over the weekend. Not anymore. When I reach out to them on Friday to wish them a relaxing weekend I always say, “I will chat with you on Monday!” This didn’t use to be the case. I used to reserve Fridays for client reporting. This always meant a 7-day workweek and both ends of my candle burning, faster and faster each week. But no longer! And guess what? Some of my clients have asked how they can adopt this (or a similar) system for their business and personal lives. Once again, this system has internal and external benefits.

Saturday Personal Development

I’ve claimed this day for a full immersion experience. I’m focused on me and my development, recharging, and re-engaging. I’m deep-diving in my language lessons through Duolingo. I’m exploring my family tree and following up on leads from my research. I’m getting the chance to read more leisure books. I’m also doing research for the books and articles that writing. I’m spending a few hours writing or editing a book. I might pop over to pin some ideas in Pinterest (a rare occurrence, but when it comes to mind I jump on it). I might spend some time outlining ideas that came to me in a dream. I’m finishing any laundry I didn’t finish on Friday.

And since I made the brainiac move to take three courses through a local college, I usually double-check to ensure that I’ve completed my course work by or before Saturday. One class just recently ended and the other two will end this month. Remind me not to take three classes ever again while trying to juggle all that is on my plate. I have no clue why I thought it would be “okay”. I’m a weirdo, clearly. But determined to finish what I started and to do it with excellence, I’m exhaustingly pleased with the A’s I’ve been maintaining this semester. But I won’t torture myself like this again. Oh no no no!

My phone is setup using one of the Focus features, restricting calls, texts, and notifications from anyone not on my “Favorites” list. It took my clients a few weeks but now they have learned and now believe me when I say, “I will chat with you on Monday”. This has been a lifesaver. Even if I do have an idea for something work-related, my day is so mellow that it doesn’t feel like work. I jump in and then jump out.

Sunday Rest Day

I’m totally disconnected from pretty much everything. I just adopted this a couple of weeks ago and it has been an absolute blessing. Before, Sunday was my overflow day, and I was miserable, because it felt like a 7-day workweek. Now, I have my phone setup to use one of the Focus features, restricting calls, texts, and notifications from anyone not on my “Favorites” list. This is my day for lounging, reading books, watching TV (since I don’t watch it during the week anymore), and maybe I will head to the park or the beach, or visit family for a few hours. If I’m inspired to write then I write. If I’m not, then I don’t.

Each Day

Before my day begins I’m focused on these steps:

  • Studying my Breaking Bread With Natasha post for the day
  • Studying my Bible lesson plan: I usually follow one or two plans using a Bible app
  • Read from a spiritual book/devotional
  • Prayer and meditation time
  • Listen to a spiritual message
  • Listen to a leadership/business message
  • Journal time: I’m getting better at this now that it is plugged into my morning routine
  • Workout 30-60 minutes

With the exception of working out, I complete these things before checking emails, texts, social media, or doing much of anything else. I’ve done all of these things before my workout and before breakfast. Most days I make sure to continue ignoring email and social media until I’ve completed my workout. On the weekends I may not workout, it depends how much I committed to exercising during the workweek, and if I feel like it.

My evening routine includes:

  • Practicing my languages using the Duolingo app: I’m actively learning three, passively practicing two, and two languages are on hold (because they require more attention as they aren’t Latin-based and have more inflections, symbols, and accents than the others)
  • Listening to an audiobook and/or reading a book for leisure
  • Double-checking my to-do list and calendar for the next day (even though there are some nights where I forget or am too tired to care).

Thematic days may be the very thing missing in your life or it might confuse and frustrate you even more. I have to admit, the thematic system requires major discipline. You can’t focus on anything else but what is designated for that day. For instance, I’m not dealing with marketing stuff on Management Monday.

Yes, there is some flow-through with products on Marketing and Client day, because you of course will be talking about your products on those days, but what’s the driving force? What is the main focus? What energy is being exerted?

On Thursday I’m focused on my clients, their wants and needs. Whether the client is through Foreman & Associates, or the customers who buy my books, or the students who pay to attend my classes. I won’t cut into that day talking about podcast artwork. That has to wait until next Wednesday. I had all day on Wednesday to get that sorted out. It can wait.

Unless it’s a crisis or has the potential to become one, I don’t deviate from the themed day. And if I do, I recalibrate the entire week so that I don’t create a domino effect.

Working in themes means treating each day like it’s game day. A sports team is playing another team on a given day. They aren’t thinking about the team they will be playing on another day. At a track meet, the athlete isn’t thinking about their next race or event, their focused on what’s in front of them. Laser-focused. Focus on today’s battle and get that win. That is kinda what a thematic work day can be molded into. True intentionality.

You can build in an overflow day like I did, allowing you to catch-up or just drill down more on something that you don’t want to put off to another day or week. You can structure your days as you see fit. You might decide that you need Tuesday and Thursday to be your product/service day. You might dread Monday and choose to approach it from a different standpoint than a focus on operations. Whatever you need to create structure and order, find it, do it, and maintain it.

If You Want Freedom, Take It or Make It

We all talk about freedom and what it looks like to us, but how are we taking ahold of it and making it our reality? I’m tired of dreaming about the future life of less stress and bustling from my hustling. I’m defining the ever-expanding concept of freedom for me. I’m determining how and when my hours are spent, and with whom. I’m learning the love that comes from saying, “No” to all things and people who aren’t positively pouring into me, my mission, and my purpose. They no longer get priority.

I’m no longer breaking my neck to be “On” for everyone else. There’s no peace in the chaos so I’m choosing the calm. I’m choosing boundaries and sticking to them.

Don’t tell me what can’t be done just because it doesn’t align with the status quo. Change disrupts status quo. Innovation disrupts status quo. You and I don’t have to choose to a life of status quo.

But What Happens When The Unexpected Occurs

And to those who want to come with the what-ifs, I can say that yes, all of this, my system and the way I now operate, is still doable in the uncertainty of change. Even when the storm rolls in I can adjust my thinking and approach with a makeshift system, to deal with the temporary, without buckling under the pressure. By conditioning myself with a system I am now better prepared for the unknowns. I’m actually anticipating change. I’m making moves that will force change. Each day is like the training I underwent in college as a track sprinter, and the training I took part in as a strength athlete. Change comes but your foundation remains the same.

In 2020 and 2021 I was like a person in quick sand—flapping around, exhausted, and drowning — and then I realized that freedom from that trap comes from being still, flat, and calm. By re-adopting and better aligning myself to a system that is designed for a person who thrives in structure, but is flexible to change, I can claim the peace and freedom that I desire. It’s not for everyone, but it’s working for me, and maybe it will work for you. Try it out and let me know!

Love,

Natasha

Copyright 2022. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Some people have asked me to about how I stay organized. I don’t. Haaa just kidding. I do a pretty good job and lately I’ve been doing better. It can get a little chaotic trying to juggle the hats of entrepreneur, author, professor, blogger, and podcast host. And then, let’s not forget that I do have a life outside of my professional one. I’ve had more than my share of seasons of burn-out and not too long ago I thought I was going to be in a hospital bed if I didn’t get things together. On Tuesday, Foreman & Associates released a blog post on productivity tips to use when taking work breaks, and I’m determined to implement them in my life. Let me share with you some of the things that I do and the tools that I use to keep me from running around like a wild woman.

Tools

As I’ve shared on the Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast (DCIS), in Episode 72, I’m old school with a lot of things, and that includes note-taking, journaling, and tracking my master calendar.

I like using paper, pencil, and pen

I use notebooks for outlining the topics, themes, and schedules for blogs and podcast. I use them to help me write my books, and whenever I have an idea for a future book. I track my writing progress using a notebook, summarizing what I accomplished during a writing session.

Whether I’m meeting with clients or students, you can guarantee that I’m taking notes by hand. Thank goodness I’m a fast writer and have my own form of shorthand that allows me to quickly capture the information shared. I use client notebooks where I keep track of my projects, notes, reminders, tasks, and more.

I use a paper organizer, to-do list, and calendar system. I like to write out my schedule and to-do’s so that I’m mindful and intentional with what I am committing to. I try to map out my schedule and tasks weekly, so that I can have a decent outlook and can make changes as-needed. As I explained during Episode 72 of DCIS, I like the tactile exchange of energy when writing instrument meets paper.

But I Like Tech Too!

Don’t get me wrong, I also like tech. I was born a techie! I convert high priority tasks, appointments, and events to my online calendar and app, so that I’m synced across all devices. Which apps do I use?

  • Focus (iOS feature): I use the Do Not Disturb, Personal, Sleep, and Work features to the fullest. I have it shared across all of my devices and boy howdy does it work! When I’m in Do Not Disturb mode I tell my mom and sister in advance, because I have it setup that I can’t be contacted by anyone (no how and no way) and there are absolutely no notifications from people or apps during the designated period. In the other three modes only my “Favorites” list can reach me. Everyone else and everything else is silenced. They are automated to trigger the moment I do certain things or open certain apps on my devices. This has been so helpful with keeping me focused and limiting my distractions.
  • Screen Time (iOS feature): I use this to restrict my access to apps, set limits based on my contacts, and more. Once screen time kicks in I have to override the system to access an app, web page, etc. I have to make that choice to go around the system, which means it better be a good reason. I love this feature because it keeps me off of social media. I only get a certain amount of minutes each day before it kicks me out. When I do an override it is usually for 15 minutes or if I need something really quick, I will select “for 1 minute” and I get in and get out before the system shuts me out. This has helped me be more focused, intentional, and disciplined.
  • Podio: I compartmentalize my business ventures as virtual “offices” with this app; I will admit that I’ve slacked off on using this app over the past year, but that’s not a reflection on Podio.
  • Evernote: I use it for research, to bookmark a website that I’m interested in, and more
  • Google Sheets app (to quickly access info from my mobile device)
  • Google Docs app (for the same reason as above)
  • Reminders app for iOS: I set it up to annoy me into compliance. Basically, I schedule enough repeat reminders until completion, and trust me you will get the task done. I even set reminders to water my plants, make phone calls, get my nails done, and to force me to sit my butt down and enjoy a pamper day (full body skin detox and more)
  • Grammarly is a lifesaver folks! I try to remember to use it for everything. Sometimes you can type too fast for your own good and miss some major mistakes.
  • Voice Memos app for iOS: I love it, especially when I’m driving and clearly can’t write and drive.

Tricks

Okay I wouldn’t call them tricks, but rather a system, and one that I can’t take credit for creating. Years ago, I read an article about how Jack Dorsey operates multiple companies (at the time, Twitter and Square), and he shared that his days are thematic. I can’t recall where he initially learned the skill from, but he did credit another entrepreneur. Anyway, I analyzed the process and fell in love. I adopted it and have to admit, any time I deviate from a thematic approach I find myself in chaos. I need structure like I need air. Last year I swayed and boy did I feel it. I’ve buckled down and gotten serious this year and the past few weeks have been like floating on clouds of joy. Let’s look at all that I juggle professionally:

  • Professor: I don’t think I ever have a day off in the eyes of my college students. Every day I’m receiving a “Professor Foreman” email and I smile. I teach classes at two institutions and both have their unique culture and expectations. I have courses to develop, curriculum to keep fresh and challenging, assignments to read and grade, projects to oversee, and more much.
  • As a published author my writing never stops. I’m currently in the editing phase of my third set of books, as part of the Seek Him book series. Once this set is finalized and the printer gets to work on it, my eyes have to pivot to the next book that I have on the calendar that is supposed to be released this Fall (sssh don’t tell anyone) and next Spring another book is slated for release. Yes, I do have scheduled breaks that I’m taking in between all of these, but the inspiration doesn’t stop flowing in just because I’m on break.
  • Foreman & Associates, LLC (F&A): consulting and professional development firm: I have clients who have to be reminded that they aren’t my only clients; I just love them for wanting me all to themselves (that’s what I tell myself). There’s been some major overhauling of F&A over the years, and especially this year (thank you global pandemic for the wake-up call). Bittersweet is an understatement.
  • Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast: weekly I’m focused on delivering content on themes and topics that listeners have requested, and that have been presented through my own experiences. Sometimes I interview people. You can say that it falls under the professional development arm of Foreman & Associates. And I don’t want to forget that I have to devote time finding companies and professionals to show some love to during our Business Shout-Out segment.
  • Blogs, blogs, and more blogs: Since 2009, I’ve been blogging through BreakingBreadWithNatasha.com and today I made an announcement that the blog is transitioning from five days per week to seven days of sharing scriptures, reflections, and prayers. I have an audio version that is available for readers who want to listen while they read, or just listen. Of course, there’s this blog site, you know, the one you’re reading right now. Yep. I’ve been blogging here since 2011 I think. I’m not consistent with it like my Breaking Bread one. Lastly, and just as important, I write posts for my business ventures.

Thematic Weeks

How do I break all of this down in themes?

  • Monday Management Day
  • Tuesday Product Day
  • Wednesday Marketing Day
  • Thursday Client Day
  • Friday Team & Overflow Day
  • Saturday Personal Development
  • Sunday Rest Day

I will explain each day in detail in another post.

I Finally Stick to My Designated Hours

Thanks to my apps I have alarms set that guide me through my prayer and journal time, workout time, my work hours, work wind-down period, and then “work day is over”. When that alarm notifies me that it’s time to start preparing to wind down for the day, I make sure that I’m going at a pace that will allow me hit my mark. No goofing off and absolutely no distractions. I refuse to take calls or respond to emails and texts during this period.

If I’m serious about my time then I have to give it my all. When the alarm notifies me that my day is done, guess what? Daggumit I’m done. Whatever I didn’t finish can wait until tomorrow. If it’s something tightly theme-based then most likely it’s a deliverable that can wait until the next week. I’ve been getting in the habit of working ahead of schedule so that I’m a week ahead, in some instances.

I’ve only gotten into this rhythm over the past few weeks and I can say, so far so good. I’m less stressed and sleeping much better, waking up feeling well-rested. I’m learning to say no, even if money is on the table. Guess what? The money means absolutely nothing if I’m not alive to invest it or spend it. I’m learning to prioritize better and to be intentional about the hours that make up each day.

Final Tips

You probably noticed that I shared tips throughout this post. My suggestion to you is to find out how you’re wired and what type of structure and ecosystem that you need to operate within. What works for one person may not work for you. What works for you may be a nightmare for me. Make sense? You may not work well with the old school pencil and paper or it may be your saving grace.

Thematic days may be exactly what you need. As I stated earlier, in my next post, I will invest time in explaining how I build out and support my themed days, and how this system has benefited me personally and professionally.

That’s All Folks!

Well, there you go. That’s basically how I run my life, stay organized, and sane. This is how I’m reclaiming my life and closing the door and gates on the old mindset of 90+ hour work weeks, that almost landed me in the grave 65+ years (or thereabouts) too early. I hope that what I’ve shared here helps you, helps someone. Please share with friends, family, and colleagues. And just like that, one of my alarms has alerted me that my time is up. So, now I must go. I will see y’all next week!

Love,

Natasha

Copyright 2022. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

We’re all busy in our busyness, so it’s understandable that you probably missed one or more of my Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast episodes. In response to listener requests and feedback, we’re answering your questions and responding to your “What-ifs”. To make it easier for you to access the most recent ones that you have missed, I’ve shared them below. Just click the corresponding image or the link beneath each image.

We look forward to your feedback so please share!

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Yesterday’s episode is below

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Enjoy!

~Natasha

Screenshot of article featured at History Channel. Link to article is provided in this post.
Click above to read the entire post

This is a great read. Consider this when you refuse to do work but then complain when the work is outsourced or offshored. This is sadly the history of the United States…get free or cheap labor elsewhere when your current labor force says “heck no” or “I can’t”, then blame the outsourced labor force for destroying local labor.

Read more at the History Channel

Did you read my Part 1 post yesterday? If not, read it before diving into this one, so you don’t get confused and lost.

If you read yesterday’s post, let’s get back to my time travel to the early 1800s. And let me answer you before you ask. Yes, I’m also trying to track the other black folks that were listed as the enslaved property of my 5x great grandparents.

I do know that some Black slaveholders would buy enslaved people to free them from white owners, and provide them safety and security. But I also know that some Black folks owned other Black folks and saw it as pure economics. I haven’t located enough of the records to ascertain which “folk” my great grandfather was. When he passed in 1832, he left his wife almost 700 acres of land, hundreds of cattle, hogs, horses, and three enslaved people (two men and a woman).

In 1840, the census shows my grandmother and everyone (over 30 children and adults) residing with her on her property as Free Colored Persons. In 1850 it shows her owning three slaves. I assume these are the same three listed in my grandfather’s estate. I’m going to find out those details. I can guarantee you, once I do find that information I will be sure to update you.

Some people shy away from that period of time. I run towards it and in a positive way. It’s history; their story, my story, and I’m not ashamed of it or angered by it—well, let me clarify that last point. I am extremely angry, disgusted, and dismayed by what I’ve learned about the enslavement and treatment of Africans and African Americans, from the moment we were snatched up as property and dehumanized, to how the US (and other countries) have chosen to not reconcile the wrongs and heal the wounds inflicted upon us, then and since.

Let’s be crystal clear about that.

But, I will not allow my feelings of hurt and disappointment change my heart. What was, has, and still being done to us (and dismissed through rational-lies) hurts my heart. Yes, for those of you who are quick to yell “What about what Blacks have done to each other” as though Black people are naive, dumb, incapable of distinguishing and properly addressing our grievances— yes, my heart hurts for the pain that Black people cause each other. And let me double back real quick, the defense of “We did but y’all did some of it too” is plain ignorant and cowardly. It’s an attempt to reduce responsibility and accountability. Guess what? That too hurts my heart.

I’m also hurt by the pain that religious people, Christians and the like, have caused, pimping God(s) in the process. No one’s God(s) would want people to be mistreated as we have witnessed before and since the 1600s. There’s not one god you’re praying to that condones the nonsense of this world. Let’s get in agreement with that.

All of the damaging energy that humankind uses against its own (and other species) is disturbing to my heart. But it will not control it. I will not allow myself to become the very energy that chose and chooses evil. I loathe that energy but I will not hate the people who choose that energy. That energy wants me to hate, to become that which I hate. I rebuke that. My heart and mind must work together, to be controlled by me, not the world.

Now that we’re clear about that, let’s get back to the story….

My grandparents both died before they could hear the battle cries of war and later, freedom. My grandfather passed away in 1832, when Andrew Jackson was President, and Harriet Tubman was still enslaved in Maryland. She didn’t escape (the first time) until 1849. Frederick Douglass escaped to the North in September 1838 (changing his last name from Bailey to Douglass) and hadn’t written his first book until 1845. So these two legends rose up after my grandfather had long passed.

When my grandmother passed away in 1858, James Buchanan was President, it was the year Harriet Tubman met John Brown, and one year later helped him with his raid on Harper’s Ferry. Two years later Abraham Lincoln would become President. The civil war was from 1861 to 1865, with the emancipation proclamation issued in 1863. My grandparents children and grandchildren grew up and lived through those periods. But none of them experienced it as the property of someone else. That had to weigh heavily on them.

One day I will share with you my take on ole’ Jim Bowie, the American hero, who fought alongside Davey Crockett and others. I will share how I’ve traced my Scottish Bowie’s (his part of our family) to North Carolina, up to Maryland (where the first Bowie’s arrived) and then all the way back to the town in Scotland where the patriarch, John Bowie Sr. lived before coming to the colonies around 1705. I will also share how I’m connecting to my Scottish roots. I know my history, my ethnic DNA doesn’t lie. I’ve got Scotland in my bones. Just as I have Ireland, England, Wales, Germany, and other European nations woven inside of me.

But I won’t share today.

Today is about me smiling, visualizing that huge chunk of a moment when the shackles of slavery were removed off a branch of my super huge family tree.

I wonder what my 5x grandparents’ prayers were like leading up to and immediately after those days; I wonder how they prayed knowing themselves to be free but knowing others near and far were still being bought, sold, and traded. I wonder their thoughts about these other people never being able to see the lands they came from or that their parents and grandparents came from. I wonder if my grandparents ever thought about the reality that they would never know their native language, culture, and customs—and neither would millions of other enslaved and free Black people.

Imagine reconciling that in your mind. I wonder what their dreams showed them. I wonder if they imagined me, their future, far-removed from their time, and what they hoped for my generation. I benefit today from all that they sacrificed, lost, and labored. I hope they are proud of my journey and the ways I honor them and their legacy.

Okay, so you read my answer. I gave you two days worth of immersed historical dreaming, fact-sharing, and truth-speaking. Now’s your turn. If you could witness a time in history when would it be? Share the details in the comments section below.

~Natasha

Copyright © Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Ooh this is something that I’ve pondered before, and most of us remember this exercise from elementary school. So, I will take a spin with it again. The first thing that comes to mind happens to be my 5x great grandparents on my mom’s side, and more specifically, her father’s family line (on his maternal side). My 5x great grandfather is listed in historical documents as an FMC, Free Man of Color. He was born when George Washington was President and Abraham Lincoln wasn’t even alive yet.

The family he was born and raised into were the Bowie’s—of the infamous James “Jim” Bowie (Alamo legend) that everyone swears has a story about his Bowie knife that his brother designed and had made for him. I’m still researching the particulars but somehow, my great grandfather was a free man, owning his own plantation (yep, and slaves) and even conducting business with Jim and his siblings, as well as other white men.

If I could be a fly on a wall…

But it’s not just that moment in time, it’s also the moment where my 5X great grandfather made it possible that his wife, who had been purchased by the Bowie’s (after being bought and sold 5 times by other owners), was freed. Yes, in 1818 he bought her from the Bowie’s and in 1830 he has his own plantation where they raise their 8 children. I saw the court document where all of their children were free. They never knew a day, enslaved, like their parents and grandparents. This was before the emancipation proclamation. This was before the Civil War.

That had to be empowering yet terrifying.

If I could stand in that moment and watch the weight of years being lifted off of my 5x great grandmother, hearing that for the first time since being born, she was no longer someone’s property, that no more would she be bought and sold, raped, and possibly bred like cattle. If I could witness the drafting and signing of the documents making it possible for our branch of the Bowie tree to be freed from one of the ugliest histories this country and the world has ever seen and experienced, oh how my eyes would fill with tears of joy, and I too would breathe a sigh of relief.

I’m still researching my grandfather’s FMC status and at what point he was freed by either the Bowie’s or through the British overhaul when they outlawed slavery in all of their territories, forcing slaveholders in the Caribbean to declare each enslaved person, their country of origin, and the name of the mother (of the enslaved person) if known.

There is an enslaved person with my grandfather’s name, same age and approximate date of birth, listed on an 1817 British registry. Which means he had been in the colonies (specifically, Louisiana) and then at some point taken to the Caribbean, and then later by decree legally freed and returned to Louisiana.

This could be his storyline. I’m still digging. If he and the man on the British registry are one in the same, that too is another event that I would relish witnessing. Seeing his face when the reality of his new life settled in his mind. When he returned to Louisiana and walked on the plantation as a FMC, wowsers, the shift it would’ve caused.

I’m still very much curious about this tight knit relationship with the white Bowie’s, I mean, I know they share the same blood (either Jim’s dad or uncle was the father of my grandfather), but I mean, jeesh, there was a closeness so intimate that even free, my grandfather is listed as a resident on his father (or uncle’s) land for 13 years (as a free man), and he even transacted business deals with them, even sued one of the Bowie brothers, and used his residence for a hearing when the state of Louisiana was looking at removing one of the Bowie brothers from public office. One the Bowie’s even owed him money, and had a debt repayment document notarized in 1824 (6 years before my grandfather even owned his own land). Clearly, he was acknowledged as kin, but how do you reconcile the years they had him enslaved?

My grandfather had influence and wealth…in the early 1800s! A black man. In the south. The sitting President was James Monroe, the last President from the Founding Fathers. By then, my grandfather had lived through 6 Presidencies.

I’m in awe. Let’s explore more tomorrow!

~Natasha

Copyright © Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Did you happen to hear Episode 69 of the Don’t Call It Small… Business podcast?

We shared business news about Apple, Etsy, and Kmart, and began to ponder the lessons we can learn from all three. We shared a few business events happening around the world, and shouted out a few businesses that we think are pretty cool that you should consider supporting.

You can listen to this episode and any past episodes at ForemanLLC.com/podcast and that’s also where you can share show suggestions, etc.

Thank you for your continued support!

Love,

Natasha

Copyright 2022. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Last week, on Episode 68 of the Don’t Call It Small… Business podcast, I dedicated a significant amount of time discussing the trap that we fall into when we negatively compare ourselves to others, to our past, and to the future (as seen through our dreams). You can listen to the episode here (the audio player is below) and I hope you will share your thoughts and opinions. You can also listen to past episodes at ForemanLLC.com/podcast

If you have any ideas for future topics and episodes, please let us know by sharing in the comments section below or through our site. Thank you!

Listen to Episode 68

Love,

Natasha

Copyright 2022. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.