Check out the June calendar of the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta, Georgia:
Check out the June calendar of the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta, Georgia:
Sure we all may walk around with an attitude, belief or mantra of “like me as I am” or “I don’t care what people think and say about me. I’m going to be me“, or “you don’t have to like me and how I look, because I like me“.
Some of us make the decision to live wild and look wilder, as we choose to wear bold hairstyles, hair colors, nail polish, lipstick, clothes, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.
Many of the bold and beautiful often wonder why they are looked over for promotions or fail to get raises even though the work delivered meets or exceeds standards. They wonder why they are ignored in meetings, demoted, removed from a place of visibility and instead tucked away where they seem invisible.
Many more wonder why they never seem to get that job callback or why the interview that seemed like a potential fit ended up with a “sorry but we’ve selected a different candidate“—if they even extend you the courtesy of letting you down that way.
There are numerous reasons why you don’t seem to be making strides in your professional life. Some may be due to your professional shortcomings. Some may be because others are merely outshining and out-hustling you. Some reasons may be due to people’s perception of you and their bias towards you– and a step farther, your appearance.
Are you working for or applying for a position with a company that is very conservative? Well then look through the owner’s, manager’s and recruiter’s lenses. Your over-the-top hair style, hair color, nails, makeup, or accessories may be a huge turnoff. Your busted shoes and tattered clothes, may be leaving the wrong impression. You may not be reflecting the image that their brand represents. So maybe, just maybe they take a risk and hire you, but don’t be shocked when that risk doesn’t extend beyond you quietly performing a job but then they limit how visible you can be in the job and within the company. If you don’t represent the core values, image, and vibe of the company, they don’t want you to be a face that represents their brand.
Sorry but your green hair, blue lipstick, and polka dot nails clash with that bank’s, doctor’s, dentist’s, and law firm’s image and brand—and most likely the image that their clients expect of them.
So you cop an attitude but let’s look at it from a different perspective, shall we?
Would you accept and then call the hairstylist or barber who handed you their business card but their hair looked a “hot mess”? Would you trust a nail technician to take care of your nails when theirs looks like a rat chewed on them? What about the person who wants to be your personal stylist yet their clothes and shoes look dingy, cheap, and in need of a trash can? Or the car detailer whose car is filthy? Or what about the dentist who has yellow, crooked, and missing teeth? All due respect, would you trust a person to teach you how to be physically fit if they weren’t fit and seemingly health conscious?
Most likely you have repeatedly said “no” to each of my questions. Why? Because appearance matters, attention to details matter, and we have become more brand conscious over the past 20 years—so if people don’t look the part then we just don’t trust them, and we definitely aren’t going to give money to people we don’t trust.
Ever see a shoe salesperson in a midrange to high end store with beat up, dirty shoes? Nope. It’s a turn off to the customer.
Now let’s be clear, this isn’t about you having the most expensive things you can buy and displaying it. It’s about how you present yourself. I don’t care if you shop from a discount or thrift store, it’s about finding items and colors that best complement your look, build, style, and personality.
What does your personal brand say about you? What does your appearance say about the company where you work or the one that you own?
If my dentist doesn’t take care of their own teeth then heck no they can’t dig around in my mouth. They can’t be that busy that they can’t fix their teeth yet they have plenty of time to chastise me about mine. If my doctor is lecturing me on my health and weight, yet they have a keg belly, I’m going to look at them sideways.
My personal fitness trainer and instructors better walk the walk. If they can’t do the workout then stop telling me “you can do it“. Shut up because you can’t even do it! Oh and they better also look the part. It always reminds me of the out-of-shape physical ed teacher during P.E., blowing their whistle, and yelling at the kids, yet they can’t do the workouts they are pushing the kids to do. Why don’t you drop and give us twenty? Why don’t you show us how to climb this tall, rugged rope? Why don’t you lead us in the mile long run? I mean, since you should be coming in first place then all you have to do is quickly grab your clipboard and clock in the rest of our finish times, right?
Now consider this…
If you’re looking for a marriage counselor and the person you meet with has been divorced several times and is currently divorced, then how in the world will they help you protect, save, and rebuild your marriage? I’m just saying, in the words of Jesus, “physician heal thyself“.
If your financial counselor or coach doesn’t have an 800-plus credit score, admits to still getting payday loans (or you happen to see them getting one), then who are they to be coaching you? They need to go back to the drawing board and take some of those classes and work on some of those principles they are selling to you.
People can talk all day long. But can they walk the walk?
So appearance matters to the vast majority of us. A corporate image and culture is formed and shaped at the top of the company, by the CEO/President, and it feeds down through the other levels and branches of the organization. If your image doesn’t compliment the company’s then how can you be upset when they don’t want you as a representative of their company and the brand they worked hard to build?
I want you to do something for me.
Tell me this—are your hands well manicured, are your clothes and hair clean and presentable, and are your shoes in great shape?
“Why?” you ask.
Well because believe it or not, when most people see you the first thing they look at is your face, specifically your eyes. Then they look at your hair. Is it well groomed, does it have a foul or pleasant odor, is it a natural color or something bold or bizarre? What about your clothes? Are they clean? Are they ill-fitting or do they hang nicely on your body complementing your build and shape?
Then when they are close enough to pay attention to the finest of details, they look at two things very closely: your hands and your shoes (and if you have on sandals or no shoes, then yes they are checking out your feet). Our eyes are naturally drawn to these things. Maybe because we speak with our hands (and shake hands with others) and our feet are visible when we walk and are seated. Which is also why we stare at men’s socks when they are seated, and notice how many rings (and the quality of those rings) a woman has on her hands. The attention to detail becomes our obsession.
Let’s start with the hands…
I don’t care if you’re in construction, sanitation, or a mechanic—do your hands look like a person who is concerned about their health and wellbeing or do you look like you’re part werewolf and part science experiment? Keep your nails clean (when you don’t have them in sludge), cut to an active length (for the ladies) and as short as possible (for the men), and please tame those cuticles and hang nails.
Ladies who love nail polish, artificial nails, and accessories…what you put on your nails, hands, head, ears, and around your neck should compliment the environment that you’re in most, which for the vast majority of us that would be our workplace. So think twice before busting out with extreme colors, lengths and shapes. If you work in a more conservative environment your boldness can be seen as a distraction.
If you have a customer-facing role in the company, do your best to represent that brand to the fullest. You’re being paid to represent the brand, so do it well!
That means your shoes and clothes are very important. If your shoes are extremely worn, look beat up, have knots where your toes have been crunched in them repeatedly, the sole and top seem to be fighting over which direction your shoe should be aligned, the heel looks tattered, and the color has faded or revealed the undertone shade—take them to a shoe repair store, donate them, or if you know they can’t be salvaged, throw them away. I truly believe that many people are walking around wearing the wrong shoe size, either too big or too small. Go to a reputable shoe store and have the salesperson help you determine your correct size and see how your size varies depending on the type of shoe you’re wearing. You may wear a different size depending if the shoe is open-toed or closed-toe.
The same thing applies to your clothes. You know what’s too tight, too loose, too short, and too revealing. There have been plenty of times when I’ve stepped in front of the mirror and said aloud, “oh heck no” and immediately changed into something else. Fellas, I’m also speaking to you. If you’re one breath away from bursting the seams of your pants or a button on your shirt, it’s time to donate them. If your pants are hanging below your hips and you’re not a male exotic dancer “working the floor”, you need to pull them up and get them tailored to fit you properly. Go to a tailor or to the mens’ department in the mall and ask to be measured so you know your correct size for dress shirts, slacks, blazers, and jackets.
A first impression is a lasting impression. A first impression could lead to the start of something new and great, or to another closed door and added rejection. Each day we step foot outside of our homes we make the decision about how we want the world to view us, and like it or not, judge us. You never know who is watching you, so step out representing the image and brand of where you want to be (if you aren’t already there).
Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved. Natasha Foreman Bryant.
We’re overstimulated in too many ways, and I’m not talking about the “good” stimulation either. No I’m talking about techno-stress, e-clutter, and not having enough time in our day because our days are being burned up by too many emails, phone calls, social media posts, and meetings. We’re overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid, overtaxed, overspent, and many of us are burned out and waiting to be swept up by the city street sweeper.
Our to-do lists keep getting longer and longer, and we find ourselves transferring today’s to-dos over to tomorrow because “I ran out of time” or “something came up and I ran out of time“. Do you see how “time” keeps popping up to blindside us. We never get more minutes in the day, but we can find better ways to make the most of the twenty-four hours that we all have.
So here’s a game plan to consider:
Take your 24-item to-do list and let’s try knocking it down to no more than four major tasks per day. Painting your nails or removing your chest hair doesn’t count as a major task. Let those factor in after you complete the four major tasks.
Now let’s look at how that calculates. Four major tasks per day, for 6 days, means you have completed 24 tasks in one week. They are the exact same tasks that you tried to relegate to one day, but now you can actually accomplish them rather than transferring them over to the next day and the next day, and next week.
Here’s how you can limit the probability of unintentionally increasing your daily to-do list: learn to say “no” to people. If their request isn’t life-altering, then say “no“, delegate it to someone else, or if you just feel pressed to do it, swap it for one of your other four tasks. But whatever you do, don’t increase your list.
What do you need to focus on this week? Get to work and don’t forget…pace yourself!
We’ve been programmed since our K-12 days to obsess over our weaknesses, or like we used to say when I was a kid, “what you suck at“, because for some odd reason researchers and academics are obsessed at finding the smartest students and separating them from the “dumbest” students, and constantly reminding the “dumb” students how inferior they truly are.
Okay I’m be facetious with this statement, but it’s true on some levels. Standardized tests separates the “smart” students from the “dumb” students. I remember students asking “what did you get on the SAT exam?” like it meant something beyond our academic lives.
What can I tell you about my SAT score?
Welp…I slept through part of my exam. Yes, you read that correctly. I was a 16-year-old who was overstressed, overworked, too ambitious for my own good, and eager to get into the adult world. So I decided to be a “brainiac” and go to a 18-and-over nightclub the night before my SAT exam, telling my parents a huge lie about where I was so that I could go party in Riverside, California with my girls. Now, being that I was a lousy test taker who suffered from test anxiety, drawing a mental blank until after I walked away from the exam and all of the answers would come flooding in, the last place I needed to be the night before this huge college-option-limiting-exam was in a nightclub (where if you read this post thoroughly you can see that I was too young to be there in the first place). But I went, had fun, danced nonstop, and paid the price the next day.
The good thing for me is that I was stronger in other areas beyond my SAT exam, AP exams, and ACT exam—yeah I didn’t shine brightly on those either (because I would blank out in sheer fear of failing). But when you looked at the rest of my academic “resume” I made up for my weak test taking skills and my lack of care during my freshman and first-half of my sophomore years in high school (yeah that’s another story for another day). Every university that I applied to I was accepted, and that made me extremely proud.
Some people are better test takers. Some people have strong “book smarts” but their common sense is hanging out somewhere in the toilet—waiting for a flush.
I was a B-minus high school student with A-plus common sense. So things balanced out and by the time I entered college, I found my rhythm and what I was good at, and soon I became an A-student (yes, with A-plus-plus common sense). *Smile*
Do you know a habit and skill that the most successful people in the world practice exceptionally well?
They focus solely on their strengths (and improve upon them) and ignore or delegate everything where they are weak.
The most successful people aren’t the smartest people. There are plenty of homeless, broke, impoverished, and destitute geniuses around the world.
The successful people surround themselves with other smart people who are stronger in the areas where they are weakest and they rely upon those individuals to do all of the things that they can’t, while they focus on the things and areas where they shine brilliantly. They don’t sit back obsessing over their weaknesses.
The same applies to athletes, artists, and musicians. They keep improving upon their areas of strength. Oftentimes weaker areas either strengthen with the pull of the stronger areas, or they ultimately become inconsequential. Either way at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, because the focus is on improving upon the strength.
Look at your personal strengths. Write them down.
If you’re clueless about some of your strengths, then I strongly recommend that you read and take Gallup’s Strengthfinders, so you can get down to the nitty gritty.
Now reach out to a friend, family member, or associate and ask them to share with you what they believe to be some of your strengths.
Write them down. Compare them to your list. Do you see any similarities? Were there some strengths that they shared that you hadn’t considered?
How can you use your strengths to accomplish your personal and professional goals?
What are some of your short-term goals that you would like to achieve this year?
Look at your list of strengths and now spend the next few minutes outlining how you will use them to achieve these goals this year. Get to work. Your life is waiting on you!
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day”
We all have good and bad habits. I’ve shared with you about my procrastination issue that I’m working to minimize. But I also have some good habits that have been beneficial in my career as an entrepreneur and college professor. I like to look at successful people and study their habits and routines, to see what I can implement in my own life.
As I’ve said countless times, the most successful people aren’t afraid of failure, it’s inevitable. They are afraid of giving up and never trying again. There’s absolutely no progress when you stop trying. You don’t know what “could have been” if you give up. That is death in so many ways.
When you think of the best athletes and musicians around the world what do they all have in common? They keep practicing their disciplines, routines, techniques, and movements, over and over and over again until it becomes like muscle memory. Their practice becomes their habit and every time their efforts have a positive result, they have reached the pinnacle of success. Then they go back and try it again. What’s interesting is that many of these same habits have an imprint in more areas of their life than just their professional lives. They learn to apply them elsewhere because success oftentimes breeds more success. What works one place has a higher probability (with the right conditions) to work elsewhere.
Think of your past and present successes.
What are some of the habits that you have that helped you become successful in those areas and instances? Where can you “tweak” some things to make you stronger in weaker areas? When you think of other successful people, what habits do they possess that you would like to replicate and begin applying in your own life?
Make a list and then set out to replicating and implementing these good habits in your daily “walk” professionally and personally. I would love to hear back from you in the upcoming weeks and months about any positive changes that you have witnessed.
Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.
“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives”
I’m a procrastinator. There I said it. I’ve said it before but with all of the “e-clutter” in our lives I’m sure that by now you have forgotten that I shared this vital piece of information about little ole’ me. Procrastination is a nasty little habit that can grow into a huge monster waiting to gobble up precious time and life-altering moments.
I want you to think (and be honest with yourself), is there anything that you know for a fact you have been avoiding to start or finish?
I announced at the end of last year that I would finally be writing my first book, a spiritual one associated with my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog that I’ve been curating since 2009. I avoided starting the process for two years, ignoring the requests from my readers to “write a book Natasha“.
Right before I made my year-end announcement I was hit with some personal life craziness, and then weeks later I found my 2017 blindsided by the unthinkable (well at least for me), and my book and pretty much anything that didn’t have something to do with my survival, was placed on the back burner–temporarily. The crazy thing is I couldn’t avoid it. This book is staring in my face and people are frequently asking me “how’s the book coming along?”
Darn those public announcements! I knew that it was important to announce this huge step publicly, because if I didn’t then who would hold me accountable and when would I ever write and publish this book that people say they really want and need? The answer is “no one” and “probably never”. So two weeks ago I made the decision to push past my personal life “junk” and jump back into this book that I started working on last August, picked back up last December, and tried my best to ignore ever since.
There’s never a “perfect” time to do anything. When are we ever truly “ready” to become a parent? You can’t go based on other people’s experiences, you have to find out for yourself. No one knows what they are up against until that baby enters their life.
The same is true in business. For every entrepreneur out there grinding, hustling, and slaving away to make their dreams a reality and their goals accomplishments, their company is their “baby” and sometimes they are blessed to have multiple “babies” throughout their lifetime. But if you ask an entrepreneur “how did you know you were ready to launch your company” and I know that the vast majority of them would say something like, “I didn’t. I just took the leap.” For the most part, entrepreneurs are action-oriented. We can be a little scatterbrained, flighty, and what some medical professionals might label as sufferers of attention deficit disorder. But I like to think of it as a passion to seek, find, explore, test, try…right now. Yeah right now!
If we wait for when we’re ready, if we wait for the perfect time, we may find ourselves empty handed with a bunch of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” thoughts floating around, or worse–we don’t live long enough to have those thoughts haunt us.
I shared my 2017 goals with everyone on January 3rd of this year, and knowing that we’re already in the month of May, I see that I have a lot of work to do to make up on the four months that I’ve allowed to slip past me. I can’t afford to let anyone or anything distract me to the point that I don’t fulfill the things that God has called me to do.
What have you been avoiding? In what ways and in what areas are you procrastinating?
Take action this week toward starting or finishing whatever goal or goals that you have yet to achieve. It’s your life and from what we can tell, we only get one to live out these experiences. So stop wasting precious time waiting for ready and perfect to show up. They aren’t coming!
Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.
Some people wonder why I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and even more perplexing (and in recent years), a college professor. Below are some of the comments from students in my most recent Business Management course that just wrapped for the semester yesterday. We spent 17 weeks together, learning and sharing, and as they have learned from me I have learned a great deal from them.
It touches my heart to know that I made and make a difference, that the information that I’m sharing is not falling on “closed” ears and minds, and that they are not only implementing (in their professional and personal lives) what I’m teaching but they are empowered to challenge themselves in those areas of their life.
If I can help encourage them to be better students, employees, employers, managers, leaders, family members, life partners, and members of their community–then I’ve done my job. There are thousands of established organizations and thousands of future startups that will build and nurture a culture that will either thrive or die. My goal is pour into my students enough information and learned lessons that they can take with them to help positively change the culture and environment of organizations and communities all over. You never know who the next “big time” entrepreneur may be. It could be one of my students. So I’m going to give them all that I have and more!
I love to see those “light bulbs” come on when they grasp a concept that I’m sharing, or finally see “why Professor Bryant made us do this assignment“. I love to see my students step up, accept my challenges, and succeed. I love to hear my students share how they tested one of my concepts to see if I knew what I was talking about, just to discover I was right. That shows me that they are listening and not just regurgitating information to pass tests and get out of my class. I’m reaching them and what they are hearing and learning is “clicking”. Oh how that brings me so much joy. These are the the reasons why I’m a college professor and why I love what I do.
I won’t lie, after reading some of these comments below I shed a few tears:
Dear Prof Bryant,
Thank you so much for really challenging me and being there every step of the way. There were times when I felt like giving up, but thanks to you and the self discipline that I’m still practicing, I survived from flunking and I will still read my book and reference it as long as I’m in the workforce and when I get enough courage to become the entrepreneur that I dream to be. Thank you! God bless!!!
Hello Class & Ms.Bryant
This semester has been very interesting. This has been my first online class that required a weekly assignment and a discussion. I really enjoyed that there was weekly assignments and we were able to communicate with each other. Being able to see how others react and think about situations help me understand that theres always different ways to solve problems. I really learned some great knowledge of management and will always apply them to my everyday living. I’m going to continue to read my book so I will have all skills mastered.
The time I have spent in Prof.Bryant’s class has been fresh and a new breathe of air. I have been a student online and have never met any of you, but still felt a big connection to this wonderful class. I enjoy reading everyone’s discussion posts….I also intend to use my management information from this class to better understand people of all levels,whether an owner of their store. The management sides are enormous and able to advance to top level with hard work. I have really enjoyed this class. Thank you
I really enjoyed being in this class. I learned a lot from the other students. I wouldn’t mind having some of them as my supervisor or manager. I learned a lot about them, such as what goes on at their job, how their family lives and their lives are. I can learn from the feedback that they gave me during our discussions and apply it to my everyday life or with events happening in my family. They were an excellent group to participate with and I enjoyed my instructor. She said she was going to shake us a little and she did. She kept me on my toes and there was a little pressure which made me concentrate and get the work done like it was supposed to be. Thank you Prof Bryant and thank you class.
These 17 weeks went by very fast and I’ve enjoyed learning and growing with this class. I’ve learned so much from motivating employees, building an effective team, planning, control, ethical responsibilities, how to handle stress, along with many other things. This class also taught me management isn’t as easy as I wanted it would be but I’m more knowledgeable and gained confident. I plan to further my education and continue to learn everything there is about management.
This semester has been great and very informative. The information I learned during this course will definitely benefit me while pursuing my dream as the future owner of my own radiology clinic. Ms. Bryant you have showed me different fundamentals of management and made me realize that its not as easy as it looks. Now I feel somewhat prepared to be a manager and I will always go to my references to refresh my memory….Thanks so much for being a great professor Ms. Bryant!!!
I am glad that I took this class with the instructor that we have had because at first I thought the class was going to be hard, not to say that it was easy writing all those assignments on Zestiful, Inc., but I must say it was a lot better experience than I thought it would be when I was sitting at my computer 17 weeks ago. Truthfully, I thought the class was going to be a lot harder. We did work our butts off though. I am also glad that we used the whole book, even though reading it was a chore. Being that I work in a college bookstore, the main complaint that I hear from students is that the instructor never used the book at all, so I am glad we used the whole thing.
I have learned a lot from the Principles of Management class. Professor Bryant I enjoyed being your student this semester!! Thank you for being a great professor!! I enjoyed interacting with my classmates weekly through the discussion board. I pray that everyone pass this class. I gained a lot of knowledge from this class and I will apply the management skills to my career and everyday life.
…I have learned a great deal about planning and setting realistic goals and also about the different levels of management and what decisions and issues each level should handle. I have also learned about some of the different unethical situations that happen in the workplace and some of the ways to solve them. Learning the principles and fundamentals of management in this class has prepared me for my future in Property Management and will also help me to continue that success even in my personal life.