The only thing worse than not being able to think of a perfect comeback in the moment is when you know exactly what you want to say but don’t. With generations of women being taught to be seen and not heard, it’s easy to fall into silence even when you have something valid to say. Part of self-care is recognizing that what’s within you is of value, and that includes your words. It may take practice to get out what you want to say, but don’t let that stop you. Sometimes I have to rehearse so that the words are really mine and I believe them. Your words are important. Don’t let them go unspoken.
Sometimes self-care can feel like self-indulgence. But it doesn’t have to be! Anytime I’m struggling in my practice or questioning why it’s important, I remind myself that I am connected to a higher power and a greater good. When I remember that the causes I’m fighting for are far bigger than me but that I am still an integral part of the fight, I am strengthened. It’s a great reminder that you must take care of yourself so you can be at your best for the collective.
My entire career as a social entrepreneur and advocate has been dedicated to widening the images we see of women and girls in the media. I’ve seen first hand how a young woman’s life can change when she feels reflected in the media or entertainment she consumes. It’s not trivial. In fact, it’s vital that we, the world’s largest exporter of media images, lead that business with full inclusivity and recognition of what the world truly looks like.
When President Obama took office he talked about opening up the White House to everyone.
I have always been inspired by the Obamas’ commitment to using their platform as a power for good. I am still in awe of the variety of artists, academics, humanitarians, engineers, and change makers they have invited in. I mean even the musical Hamilton was workshopped there! I feel incredibly grateful and proud to have been one of the voices they included. I worked with the White House Council on Women and Girls over the last eight years convening on and exploring the state of affairs for girls in tech, education, and media. Last April, we were able to bring together the forces I work with in my world to host one of the most comprehensive gatherings of industry, parent advocacy groups, and academic researchers focusing on gender stereotypes in toys and media.
The White House Council on Women and Girls, The Department of Education and USC’s “Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative” held a summit on how gender stereotypes impact our children’s ability to dream. The day’s agenda covered the influencing forces in boys’ and girls’ lives, the effects that gender stereotypes can have on their perceptions, and the steps people and businesses are taking to eradicate stereotypes. Our goal was to ensure that children can grow to reach their full potential in life, not stifled by norms or stereotypes that could inhibit their self-actualization. As someone who has spent 22 years studying and working in this field, that summit felt like a cumulating moment. I was so proud and humbled to see the key stakeholders, decision makers, and leaders in that space come together and engage in honest dialogue.
Before this administration, we were all having conversations in private or separate spheres, but in April we were all together sharing our research, thoughts, and brave steps forward. Major businesses, including Disney, Mattel, LEGO, and Warner Brothers, shared their compassion and understanding toward parents’ demands for better representation, and demonstrated how they are stepping up to the plate. Other up-and-coming companies, such as littleBits, showed us that there are still countless avenues for ingenuity in toys and media to help kids grow. Researchers and academics presented their latest findings on the challenges and opportunities in boys’ and girls’ lives as well as the importance of media so we could make informed decisions. Activists and parents brought their irreplaceable voices to the forefront sharing their experiences and the demand for more. All of these different perspectives are essential to spur future action. Most importantly, every group, regardless of differences, came to the table to have an open and authentic discussion in order to drive change.
Now, more than ever, we need camaraderie and openness to build a future path that will advance gender equality. No person or group can achieve such a lofty goal alone. Divisiveness will only hinder progress. This important meeting of both private and public sector stakeholders fueled a lot of change that we will be seeing in our retail spaces for years to come. Sharing information, finding allies, and building networks will help manifest positive change.
We all need to feel inspired by #YesWeCan moments that create positive momentum in our lives, instead of focusing on when we feel defeated. The summit has been a motivating force in my life because it was an agent of significant positive change.
#YesWeCan create media that is an inclusive representation of our multifaceted society.
This post was written by Jess Weiner and Elizabeth Hedge, who shared the badass experience of planning and executing the Summit on Gender Stereotypes in Toys and Media together in partnership with the White House Council of Women & Girls in Washington D.C.
Kindness is a universal language and November 13th is World Kindness Day. Take the time to celebrate an entire day dedicated to inspiring individuals to be kind to each other. It costs little-to-nothing for us to pay it forward and small free acts of kindness can lead us to even bigger ones. Here are 10 ways to start☺
- Share a smile – The simplest, least-expensive way to give kindness to a stranger. Also, check out one of my favorite Instagram blogs, @SmileADay. Smile a Day is filled with beautiful smiles and stories about happiness.
- Give a compliment – this can be given as an addition to the shared smile. Compliments truly can brighten a person’s day. And I don’t know one person who doesn’t get a boost of energy from giving or receiving an exchange of compliments.
- Go volunteer at your local shelter – There’s never a shortage of volunteer work! And there are many options for volunteering: homeless shelter, animal shelter, children’s hospital, and more. If you’re already volunteering somewhere, invite a friend to join you.
- Instead of forgetting about them and eventually tossing in the trash, take leftover food from your fridge and offer it to your neighbors or community.
- Help someone carry bags to their car – We all struggle with this when grocery shopping alone. Spend 2 minutes to lend a helping hand.
- Let someone cut you in line – Especially if you’re not in a rush. That’s a sure way to make someone feel like a VIP (just remember to show courtesy to anyone waiting behind you).
- Share your extra coupons with the person behind you in the checkout line.
- If you’re running errands, offer to pick up a few things for your neighbor.
- Offer to write a letter of recommendation for someone – Tap into your network and see if anyone is in need of a recommendation. It can even be as simple as writing one on their LinkedIn profile.
- On crowded public transit, give up your seat to someone in need. This should be a regular act, but if it’s not make it a point to be considerate today.
BONUS: Pray for someone or send them good intentions. This is one of my favorites. I believe there is power in prayer and good intentions and even more power when intent is sent in numbers. Join someone in manifesting their wishes.
A season of transition is upon us. Summer is slowly turning into fall as we begin the month of August. I always love this time of year because I know that I’ll be back in the classroom teaching personal brand development to future professionals at USC. For a lot of recent graduates, this is a very exciting time. Many are wrapping up their last summer internship or a vacation and preparing to enter the workforce and launch their careers with a new position. This means doing a lot of strategic job hunting, and even more importantly, planning for successful interviews.
Interviews can be tough when you’re new to the process, trying to break into a new industry, or design a new career path. I’ve had plenty of experience with interviewing candidates for positions with my company Talk To Jess, LLC (learn more about our company transition by signing up for our newsletter!). From great interviewers to interviewers who have room for improvement, I’ve seen and talked to them all. Through lots of practice and avoiding these three mistakes before, during, and after the interview, we can all take control of our careers and receive offers for any job we truly desire.
Mistake #1 (Before the Interview): Manipulating the interview process to meet your needs, instead of being flexible to meet the needs of the employer
One thing that completely turns me off is an interviewee who tries to manipulate the interview process to fit their personal agenda. Asking the interviewer if you can re-schedule a meeting for a certain day/time because you have another appointment creates a less-than-favorable first-impression. Before even meeting, asking for special accommodations paints a picture that you will always try to manipulate a situation to fit your needs, without concern for the needs of the company. Always allow yourself to be flexible when prospecting a job opportunity. Show your interviewer that you’re willing to go the extra mile to land your position. The ball is ultimately in their court – you are trying to earn your spot on the team. Clear your schedule of other appointments when possible. Show your interviewer that their time is just as valuable as your own, and this will create the best first impression.
Mistake #2 (During the Interview): Not being specific about your experience, skills, and what you bring to the table, along with things you want to accomplish in the position
An interview is really your opportunity to show a prospective employer specific examples of your experience and any applicable skills you’re able to bring to the company. Saying you have excellent time management and organization skills or that you can do the job efficiently is simply not enough. When an interviewer asks you the infamous question, “Tell me about yourself,” they aren’t asking to find out your favorite color or where you went to school. Your interviewer is looking for specific examples – or anecdotes – about your past experience related to the position. Always be prepared to follow this question with anecdotal examples that answer why you’re qualified for the position, why you’re interviewing for the position, and tactical examples of what you’ll accomplish once on the job. You’ve got 30 minutes to show the interviewer that you’re equipped to bring success to the company – deliver the details that prove why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Mistake #3 (After the interview): Not following up or sending “thank you” notes
The level of engagement and dedication in your follow up tells an interviewer how hungry you are for the job. I’ve had candidates who interviewed extremely well and showed me why they’re qualified for the job, however, I did not end up hiring them. Why? Because they failed to follow up with me in a way that made them stand out amongst other candidates. Following up is the single most important skill to have in any business or career. Being persistent and saying thank you shows the interviewer that you are both very interested in the position and value their time (and yours). It may be old-fashioned, but handwritten thank-you notes still go a long way in the job hiring process. A handwritten note leaves a takeaway for the employer and shows that you care enough to add that extra personal touch to your representation. If you are committed to following up, a potential employer will commit you to their memory too.
Honorable mention (At all times): Giving weak handshakes
This is a personal pet peeve of mine (hey, I’m a professional brand developer). Please practice your handshake before meeting and greeting people you want to network with! An interview is not only a part of the job hunt; it’s also a networking opportunity. Shake a person’s hand with conviction. Don’t give out weak handshakes – that’s exactly how you’ll represent yourself: weak and lacking confidence. When you shake someone’s hand, be firm and look them in the eye. Exude confidence and make them feel like they’ve just connected with someone worth knowing.
Avoiding these mistakes ultimately show an interviewer that you possess empathy and pay great attention to detail (a requirement for any job). The job searching process can be a long one, but every successful interview is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression for your personal brand and take control of creating the career you want. Think forward and walk in the very best version of yourself before, during, and after your interview.
In my recent podcast with the fabulous Damone Roberts, we talked about the power of manifestation.
We all have personal and professional goals, plenty of new project ideas, and dreams that seem larger than life. One technique that helps to bring my ideas to fruition is to create a vision board. Vision boards can bring clarity to your intentions by helping you hone in on what you want to create.
Everyone’s process is different – here’s what I do to get ready to cut and paste my dreams into reality!
- Get in the Right Head Space
I usually make a vision board when I’m at a starting point – like around the New Year and on my birthday; it helps me get aligned with a new goal or a way to celebrate a trip around the sun.
I try to stay positive when I sit down to create because it is with that frame of mind that I will bring my dreams into focus.
- Gather The Materials That You Love!
There are no rules about what you make your vision board with. If you are an artist who likes to paint it out – do it! I am a writer – so I love to cut out words from magazines or doodle my own. My husband loves to make 3-D vision boards by putting pieces of twine, cloth or fabric together to bring his vision to life.
- Let Yourself Enjoy The Journey
Vision boards aren’t always completed works of art. They can be a great exercise to understand a true value you hold or a desire that needs to be surfaced. Don’t judge (“Oh, I couldn’t possibly manifest that!”) Instead – learn from what comes forth while you create.
- Place It Where You See it Often!
In the daily hustle of life, it’s important to remind ourselves of our inner visions. Our big dreams and small goals. So put this vision board where you can see it. I put mine in my office (above the computer) or in my closet, (where I see it while I’m getting dressed) this way I am surrounded by the vision I am bringing into form.