Ratchet Resolutions…

I started off this year with no resolutions. Instead, I started off in a slump and it’s unclear if I’ve actually gotten out of it. Why, you may ask? A sure fire diagnostic is my fierce approximation to all things ratchet in an attempt to escape my funk. It’s similar to my tendency to buy shoes when I’m escaping feeling fat AND hyper scheduling my vacations at the start of the year to avoid focusing on one more year of work.

I know this pattern. I put down the Economist and have been feverishly reading blogbloids on Amina Buddafly and Tara’s project twins. I’ve changed my privacy settings on Facebook to block new people and unblock bad blood. Safe to say, I’m acting like Janet Hubert and courting ratchet trouble.

To get this out of my system fully, I’ve decided to create a retail therapy inspired ratchet wish list. If I can possibly contain and collect ratchetness, rather than actually enact and embody it, I think that’s a 2016 win.

 

31UYdgLaqDL5. My hair has had just about enough of these dainty chemical free botanical moisturizers. It’s time to step away from the Carol’s Daughter products and go straight back into the arms of ole’ ratchet Fantasia. Let’s take it back to where it all began 16 yrs ago when I started my dreadlocks. I C Hair Tea at $7/ bottle used to last months and I smelled like cotton candy for weeks. Maybe this isn’t exactly ratchet, but… it feels like a step down off the sophisticated, overly hair conscious, natural hair shenanigans train.

 

4. I was reading up on the most expensive curtain purchase heard of in the modern history of public spending.  I’m just kidding. I don’t know where this stacks up against wasteful misuse of public funds but apparently Kenya has a radio station: ghettoradio.co.ke that reported on this ghettoness and it made me long for ratchet curtains… For the record 7.8 Million Kenyan Shilling is around $75,000USD.

 

 

 

3. TheTaTaTop-18-of-29-247x300The Ta Ta Top are nipples on a bikini top. While they were made to be an evocative feminist ode to the female choice to expose (or not) her own body, I think they are really ratchet. And for some reason, I think it’d be hilarious if I could own and fully utilize the shock and awe they produce to laugh me out of my funk. #thetatatop

 

 

 

2. I find this entire website pretty ratchet [and slightly desparate], but whodathunk they also have a shopping cart? http://www.wifeyntraining.com took a series of Afro-American classics and made each and every one of them ratchet. How can one make Oprah, the Color Purple and plain white t-shirts all ratchet at the same damn time? #ratchetpiecetheater

 

 

 

 

  1. dottyrossPantyhoez’ ratchet hip hop panties. Check out the ‘rap pack’ collection… No explanation necessary. #pears #watermelons #pineapples !

 

 

 

As you can see… my slump is pretty bad, but that’s no reason not to laugh at my pain.

I made breakfast for dinner last night and the ratchet part is that I didn’t make any grits! Total breakfast blasphemy. Spicy soy sausages and Krusteaz pancakes minus Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits does not a true meal make. I’m hoping that a few more days lounging in the sun near the pool with an ice cold Savannah will help cure me of my ratchet inclinations and reverse my slow start to this new year.

Wish me luck!

Shortguide to Sifting through Advice

Advice you probably don't need - http://twaddle101.blogspot.com

Advice you probably don’t need – http://twaddle101.blogspot.com

As of late, I have been the victim of unsolicited career advice. At first I was flattered by the abundance, because frankly it means someone cares enough about me to think about my future. Then, I became overwhelmed by all the possibilities that came my way by hearing all these inspiring words of wisdom. Finally I became paralyzed, because much of this advice is contradictory and seems totally irrelevant to my current ambitions or track record thus far. So, what to do?

Just as I was coming out of my advice coma, a long lost cousin contacted me to learn more about a career in international relations. I had been wracking my brain about what to tell her when we finally connect, because I’m still reeling from my week of mismatched mentorship. At least my advice will be solicited, which absolves me of only half of my problems. What about the rest of my advice? How relevant will it be for her when she starts her career? Why would she ever trust me and why would my advice be particularly useful? These are the questions that passed through my mind until I remembered that these are her problems, not mine. She asked me for advice. She will need to put on her big girl boots and sift out the good, the bad and the useful for herself and simply know that my intentions were good.

In thinking through this cycle of advice, mentorship, professional development, supervising, managing and being a cog in a wheel for the next 35 years, here are a few things that I would offer (unsolicited) to help strike a healthy balance between listening and unlistening to the bits of ‘knowledge’ that will come your way, no matter what field you specialize in. Consider this a short guide to sifting through career advice.

Broke Life – http://bit.ly/1Jws94I

1 – Money advice rarely ever changes. Career advice and money advice aren’t the same thing. – In my field, there are particular positions that are coveted for the political cache they yield. You hear that people come out with powerful networks and transform into semi-Gods. Ok, fair enough. But, these positions are often low paid, high powered, and stressful. Your spouse will probably hate you. The credit card companies will love you. Your gas guzzling car will enjoy being fed every 3 days for your 1 hour commute to & fro. But, your co-workers will know your name! There is a price to pay for power and I consider it very steep. So, you’ll need to decide for yourself what drives you. If you want to be the talk of the office, maybe it’s worth it. If not, you’ll want to think long and hard about what’s important to you, because you may be taking a pay cut to chase someone else’s dream.

2 – Thinking of your day job as your second stream of income is transformative. – There are some people who enjoy going to their offices because the work is fulfilling and they are passionate about the organization. I know very few of these people who live with this reality every day. There are days when you’re going to want to stab someone with a pencil, no matter what office you work in. But, sometimes it’s important to realize that your day job allows you to have expensive hobbies or lucrative independent businesses or priceless experiences that you can only float with your day job money. For me, that’s been going to school. For others, it can be jewelry making, art collecting, import/export, teaching, photography, and a whole slew of other opportunities. Sometimes it just takes remembering that you’re not a slave to your day job; in fact, your day job allows you to be free in other areas of your life. So, switch around job #1 and job #2 in your head and it can change your whole mindset.

Back in my Day

Back in my Day

3 – The industry you’re in likely changes every 10-15 years. So, know which generation of professional you’re talking to and balance well.  – Like I said, this has been a rough few weeks because very successful individuals in my field have been inclined to share with me what they think is best for me. Yet, I’ve found much of their advice to be dated, because when they entered the field the rules were different. Does this mean that I throw out all their well-intentioned advice? Well, of course not. Some nuggets of it are worth listening to simply because these people are at the top and, right now, I have to know the lens they’re using to define success when they view me. Why? Their minority point of view, since it’s at the top of the hierarchy, still rules the game. Their views prevail when it comes to promotions and hiring. So, while I don’t agree with everything they may believe, I need to know WHAT they believe so I can play to my strengths and moderate expectations when dealing with these career power brokers.

Get Like Me

4 – When most people say ‘success,’ you should hear ‘be like me.’ – When offering unsolicited advice to a colleague over sangrias recently, it dawned on me that the reference for ‘success’ is rarely ever Oprah or Warren Buffet. In those terms, people mean ‘rich.’ Or when people say Gwen Stefani or Jay-Z, they mean ‘famous.’ You have to read between the lines to know if their vocabulary really defines ‘success,’ because what I’ve found is that most people are just talking about themselves. Sometimes that’s great, esp. if you’re talking to a mentor whose excellence you want to emulate. The greatness is that most people are just telling you how they would have lived their lives or made professional choices differently if they had the chance to do it again; you can avoid their missteps. Other times, you will have to agree to hear, but not to listen because some of the circumstances of your advisor’s life or interests just don’t apply to you or yours.

5 – Everything people say about others is true (to some degree). – My workplace is an institution built on talking shit about co-workers. Workplace gossip isn’t new, but I was shocked to the degree that it was codified and perpetuated in my industry. People believe that hearing how others have worked with a person will help them decide to bring that colleague onto a new team. While this can be altruistic, it also sucks because there are probably 2-3 dozen people who like you (good), thousands who don’t know you (neutral), and about 3-10 dozen who have personal or professional misgivings about you (bad). The nice people in the latter category just don’t say anything, but there’s a small minority who will rip you a new one at the first opportunity. You probably don’t even know that they hate your guts, but your future boss now does! But, understand that smack talking works 2 ways. It’s highly likely that if they don’t like you, you don’t like them – so your time will come.

http://blogs.longwood.edu/jazminehurteportfolio/work-samples/research/

Workplace Gossip – http://bit.ly/1NUHL8m jazminehurteportfolio

The true revelation is that pretty much everything you hear about colleagues is true to some extent. The question is just how relevant is Jack Smith’s dreaded experience with Jane Doe in Honduras on a marine life conservation project to my projected experience partnering with Jane on a microcredit project in the Mali three years from now. It’s anyone’s guess! If Jane and I work well together, it isn’t to say that Jack was lying. It is to say that we have different angles & needs from Jane as a colleague. And Jane is not one dimensional. The reality is that Jane might not have liked marine life, she may have been going through a bad break up, she probably doesn’t speak Spanish and it’s highly likely that she thinks Jack was a total douche bag. And all of that, too, could be true… so what now?

In giving and receiving advice in your work place keep these thoughts in mind (or don’t), so that you can hear the wisdom through all the noise!

Things I learned from people I don’t like…

For the last two weeks my best friend from high school and her boyfriend have been here in town. Though he was perfectly pleasant the first time I met him, some three years ago, I was preparing for the worst from his stay this time. There were many factors that led me to inform my co-workers that if I didn’t like him there might be a very tall, very homeless African-American man wandering around South Delhi looking for assistance. But, it turned out to be such a positive experience that it inspired this very blog post. Go figure!

See, we must be candid about this boyfriend.  He remains on my shit list.  ‘Why?’ you may ask.  Well, because he needs to marry my best friend already (Hell yea, I wrote it)! And if he doesn’t, my shit list will turn to my hit list #alanancykerrigan. (No, just kidding – he’s like 4 times my size.) But, this trip was good for building confidence between me and my best friend’s Stedman.  Since she is hopelessly in love, I have given up on trying to lure her away from him.  To be frank, every time I have tried to hook her up with someone new, she’s ended up pushing me into the arms of some visible goon (she got me a couple of times with that one).

Anyway, my philosophy is if you can’t beat ‘em, beat ‘em over the head with your plan B.  Stedman has given me multiple assurances that her day will come and we established a timeline that I’m satisfied with.  I will send him progress reports and project plans over the coming months until he finally does the damned thing! #goodfriendshipsometimesinvolvesstalking

All this peace making and wedding planning, with a dude I’d previously said I really didn’t like all that much, got me to thinking about all the other people I actually still don’t like all that much. I usually hate to acknowledge that people with poor character or lame personalities (in my humble opinion) have any redeeming qualities, but recognizing that people aren’t 100% bad may be a sign that I’m growing older and weaker wiser. As I mulled it over, I realized that I have learned quite a few things from people I still find repugnant:

DON’Ts

faceoffmovementDon’t lay all your cards on the table all the time.  From a former friend, I learned that I don’t like people who don’t draw a line in the sand and declare what side of the fence they’re on. It’s a personality thing that I may grow out of. Actually, I probably won’t. But, I observed that when she interacted with people who were not like me, being useless aloof actually made her kinda popular. Having no opinion, moral stance, or declared conviction AND offering no additional information or assistance actually made her come off as neutral & ‘safe’ to disclose information to and court for support. In my personal life I still despise people like her, but in my professional life I’m learning how to play my cards closer to my chest without appearing deceptive in the end (yea, she needed to work on that part too).

 

mean-girlsMy high school arch nemesis taught me this little gem. (No, I don’t think we ever did speak again – except that one time in college when I saw her in the subway trying to hook up with my friend’s [now ex] boyfriend).  Never email anyone to tell them how much you really hate them.  This is common sense now, but it wasn’t then when the interweb was new.  P.S. It is highly likely that if you feel so compelled to tell them you hate them – they already know.

 

imagesA guy I dated on and off for way too long taught me that guitar players are bad people. I’m not talking about the guy who lends a hand with his local church band when the regular bass player is hung over. I’m talking about the lead guitarist in any band that accepts (or aspires to accept) cash payment for a performance in front of screaming ladies throwing their panties on stage. 4 out of 5 sane people agree that of all musicians, guitarists are the biggest narcissists AND the least likely to succeed.

 

DOs

images-1Be clear, not aggressive.  I actually don’t like this person, because they are so aggressive. But, I learned from their professional example to put my foot down (early and often) and to set the tone for how I’d like to be treated. I always shied away from letting my ambition come across as bossy, until this person added too much bass in their voice in a phone call. In our conversation, I can admit that I’d been proverbially pimp slapped. But, in looking back, I now know that I could have avoided the interaction entirely had I been clearer at the outset – instead of trying to ‘be nice.’ Since then, I’ve gotten better at explaining how I operate, the limitations I have, and the expectations I have for others.

 

300px-Chocolate_cupcakesBribe staff and co-workers with baked goods!  From a previous co-worker for whom I (still) have very little respect, I learned that Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines are the best office managers. People may not respect your personality, but they will listen to you time and time again if you offer baked goods at regular intervals. I find this particularly helpful in India where most people don’t have ovens – so baked goods are a special treat. If I want talk time with anyone, I just send out that email “Hey guys, cupcakes at my desk.” And, you know what? No matter how effed up their work product or their attitude, they will always come for sugar calories from a box. Then, it’s my time to ambush! This also works in the affirmative – for special requests for time off and thank yous for obnoxious things you have requested or will request in the future.

 

7.4ftWoman4Surround yourself with people who make you look good. (Disclaimer: It makes you look a lil desperate though if those same people also look up to you.)  I have very little use for this particular lady’s self inflated ego, but she’s been in my presence long enough for me to observe her skillful art of tailoring her company in specific situations. She’s not interested in having Turtle and Drama hang out with her all day just because they are her most loyal friends. Nope! For a special occasion, she will clean up a wallflower with basic education and get them to stand next to her, so that she’ll look like a rockstar. While there are visible flaws in her tactic of swapping friends for fans, I would say that it is a sign of maturity to be around people who both make you look good and who feel that they can grow from your relationship. I personally believe that people who make me look good are a crowd of my peers and mentors, ambitious people of stellar character. But if you – like her – think the people who make you look good are a group of adult sized gremlins, perhaps you should disregard this entire paragraph altogether.