AIN’T I A WOMAN

On May 29, 1851, Sojourner Truth, a woman born into, but later freed from slavery gave this speech at the Women’s Convention.

‘Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?

I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.’

To be black, to be a woman, to have been born into slavery, to have been recently freed from slavery, to become a prominent anti slavery speaker and consequently ‘a women’s rights activist’, all in that era, was and is nothing short of extraordinary.

6 LESSONS FROM ‘LEAVE YOUR MARK’ BY ALIZA LICHT

Another great  read in the bag. Yaay! Reading ‘Leave your Mark’ by Aliza Licht felt like getting through different episodes of a girly series. Toward’s the end of the book, Aliza Licht does let on that her successful social media formula as DKNY Girl on twitter was inspired by the famous series, ‘Gossip Girl’ but thats not why the book gives off that vibe! The book is packed with a mixture of narrations of her own past experiences. She starts off by discovering that she is going in a completely different direction (plastic surgery) from her actual passion(fashion) and then starts to navigate her way back. This book is basically about ‘how she built her own ladder where there was no obvious path. Its packed with real life scenarios of devious colleagues, mean bosses and a whole lot of accessories organising. Lol. Oh, yes! She paid her dues and learned many lessons along the way.

Here’s what we can learn..

Professionalism is not dead. In today’s world, various avenues like social media mean people in high places are easily accessible but that does not mean you can approach them in a cavalier manner. Short handed messages like, ‘Hey, can u talk’, will get you nowhere. Neither will a phone call from mum, despite her being the connection. She also covers a lot of ground on professional etiquette, like cover letters and  ‘thank you’ emails after interviews. For some professions that goes without saying but having read some of the scenarios she has seen in the Fashion and PR world, this subject is worth the time. Calculated touches of professionalism can make you the most memorable crab and get you out of the barrel.

Timing in career is key. Treading that fine line ‘between paying your dues and moving on in time before sh*t hits the fan’ can be difficult. Whether you are looking for a promotion or a pay rise, gauging contribution versus returns can be tricky.  We have all heard of that scenario where the boss shows the colleague that their contribution is not worth progression and verging on replaceable, but unfortunately  the colleague chooses to carry on as if the amber light has not been flashing for a while. At the sign of a red light you must begin to explore other routes. If you feel you are reading the signs wrong, seek out a confidant to help you understand the signs otherwise you risk stagnation or worse, the chopping block! Its important to gauge whether you are ‘paying your dues’ or wasting valuable time. 

Build your portfolio even in your current role. Keep a record of your contributions to the business environment and goals. This will help you negotiate pay rises, new positions or even more responsibility in your current role. Understanding what is above and beyond and what is your actual role is very important to that list. Your boss may look at you funny for asking for a pay rise for doing what your paid to do well.  When it comes to this record think above and beyond! The point of your record is to give you confidence and assurance of your growth and contribution and help you understand your next direction.

Navigate office politics carefully. ‘At the end of the day, business is about human nature more than it will ever be about business’. Well said Aliza. Lets be honest, sometimes a work place can became a playground. Bosses mark territory, people become teams and gossip does the rounds. There will always be those characters that get things going and try to get you involved. Don’t add to, or stir the pot. Be careful where you place your feet in these scenarios.

Do not get caught out on social media. Social media can be a serious deal breaker in more ways than one. You may tick all a recruiter’s boxes until he/she decides to skim through your profile. Other faux pas include sending your boss a friend’s request, tagging the company profile in drunken posts, etc. These things can be hard to gauge so your better off safe than sorry by following some unsaid rules. Think before you post. Let your boss take the lead with befriending you on social media. Think of your social media as your personal brand and post accordingly. She goes into detail on the content for your bio, what do you want to be known for, finding your voice on social media and so much more. 

The higher you go the cooler you should become. The last few chapter focus very much on lessons for leaders. Firstly, should you go on to rise in your career, help others up. Having worked her way up through Haute and Atelier to DKNY, Aliza credits key people for nurturing her and giving her the opportunity to grow. But for every person that nurtured her, there was one that sought to stifle her or misread her determination as intimidation. Don’t be that person. As a leader, nurture people who are looking to grow. Secondly, if you are to lead, you must work on your network and networking skills such as learning  to work a room with grace, conversational skills, maintaining professional relationships, etc. Thirdly, you must learn the ropes surrounding your own. While working as an accessories assistant, she learned the art of public relations which afforded her the next step on the ladder at DKNY.

The book is written through the eyes of a PR specialist which offers refreshing insight. It shows one the balance between pushing and pulling in career and ‘the business of people’. To me, this is also a great book on emotional intelligence. People are the most complex matter in the world, and yet we cannot do anything worthwhile without them. If I was Aliza, I might have named the book. ‘How to act accordingly 101’. Haha.

In a nutshell, if you must progress you must calculate….