Stay Lit so Others Can See Your Fire

By: Kelly O'Hara, Grand Rapids Ambassador

Photographs courtesy of Cindy Cheng

Photographs courtesy of Cindy Cheng

This is a recap of our kick-off town hall, Women & Money, in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 29, 2017. Thank you to Rockford Construction for hosting us, and thank you Cindy Cheng for the beautiful photos! Be sure to follow your Michigan ladies on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Catch the next workshop, The Blueprint of a Wealth-Building Woman, in Grand Rapids on July 19th.


On the evening of June 29th, 50 women and four panelists came together for our first Grand Rapids town hall. Our panelists’ backgrounds varied from growing up in a working-class family in Detroit, raising a family much sooner than expected, repeatedly emailing to literally beg for a job, and being told they were worth $20,000 less than the previous person in their position just because of their gender. Regardless of these different experiences, we all came together around recognizing when our work is worth more than our employers are compensating us for, finding the courage to take a risk and trust ourselves, and the pressure of providing for children and spouses while still following our own dreams.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Invest in yourself. We are all "me incorporated." Whether it’s emotionally, financially, or educationally, we need to invest time, effort, and money in learning what we don’t know, and figuring out how to get where we want to be. Tara Jones, financial coach and founder of Your Pretty Pennies, said, "When you are in an employment situation that isn’t working, whether you want to work for yourself of for another company, you can consider your current employer an investor in your next move. If you want to start a business, take the money you make at your current job and invest that in your own venture." Figure out how you can use the certifications you earn, education you receive, seminars you attend, and relationships you foster to help you achieve your goal.
     
  2. Stay lit. We all get down, we all get tired, and we need to recharge. We are human. But we are also our own brand ambassadors. So after we cry, sleep at our mom’s house, or recover from the cold we got from pushing ourselves too hard, we puff our chests back out and keep going. Latesha Lipscomb, founder of I Got Face, said, “People are going to talk about you no matter what, so stay lit. We need to live out loud and march confidently in the direction of our dreams.” The light inside of us, our passion, will draw others in so we can create the world we want to live in. Stay lit so others can see your fire, and help spread it. A cute shoe doesn’t hurt either.
     
  3. Reframe the idea of expert. Far too many of us suffer from imposter syndrome, and one tool we can use to overcome this is with advice from Emily Richett, Founder, Lead Publicist at Richett Media to reframe the idea of “expert." Often we think to ourselves "who am I to do/say this?" But who are you not to? Emily suggests, “rather than thinking we need to be experts before we can join the conversation, we should think of ourselves as contributors. We all have a unique point of view and experience, and each of us can touch people in a way that someone else cannot.” Instead of focusing on what you see as weaknesses, try to think about how those things might actually give you an advantage over the majority. Nobody can do you, or be you, better than you can.
     
  4. Don’t be afraid to jump. Tera Wozniak Qualls, founder and CEO of Momentum for Impact said, “As women, we often don’t launch or jump because we don’t trust ourselves that we are ready. We plan, plan, plan, and sometimes we never do it." We are afraid to fail, so we hold back. We don’t apply for the job because we don’t feel qualified enough. We think we don’t deserve success. Quitting is scary. Turning down a large salary to start your own business can seem insane (just ask our speakers’ moms). We want to provide for our own children, but there are rewards after the risk. Emily turned down a salary that was double what she had been making to start her own PR firm. In taking the risk she was able to be far more profitable. And she just hired her first full-time employee at a higher salary than any company ever paid her.
     
  5. Money is a tool. We should not associate it with our value as human beings. Tara Jones reminded us that “we need to break up with the idea that our financial worth and personal worth are the same thing." When we begin to see money as an external tool, rather than relating to it emotionally, we can feel more free to ask for what is fair. Negotiating a salary or raise can be transactional, and if we don’t get what we want, we do not have to feel personal rejection. Often, especially early in our careers, we are underpaid because we feel grateful to have a job at all. Money is the compensation we get for our intellectual property, but it does not define our intrinsic value.  

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