Spotlight On: Sherita Rankins- Lifestyle Expert, Host, Model & Entrepreneur

I met Sherita Rankins, founder of the pretty rockin’ Busy Wife, Busy Life blog (among many other titles and accolades) last month at an event and knew immediately that I just had to profile her for the blog. She is the embodiment of the’go for it and get it done’ attitude that I admire so much amongst my amazing friends, network and the women I am fortunate to work with.

sherita

photo courtesy of Sherita Rankins

We sat down to talk about her new venture, tips for a healthy lifestyle, (I LOVE what she says about balance and finding time for what you love) and more.

1. Tell us about your latest venture, what it means to you and what impact you want it to have.

I recently launched my Blog, www.busywifebusylife.com, the busy woman’s guide to food fashion and finance. It has been a passion project of mine that is really changing my life. My goal is to motivate women to stay stylish, eat well, and save money & time in their lives. I hope to be a resource for all women. I want to inspire them to be mindful of their money and help provide the tools to make their day a little easier, so they can spend more time enjoying life.

2. What would you say to women who have a dream/ambition but are discouraged from reaching from it or are told that “it’s going to be difficult.”?

If I stopped pursuing my dreams just because they would be difficult to achieve then I would not accomplish anything. The accomplishments in my life that I am most proud of are the ones that I have worked hardest to achieve.  I have always believed that “if it was easy, then everyone would do it”. You should not be deterred by doubt or fear and always remember that determination is the key to success.

3. What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I have been given was not to go through life doing something that does not make you happy. Life is too short to waste time and energy waking up every day to a job that does not bring you joy. Because of this advice, I have followed a non-traditional career path by pursing my modeling/acting career while being a part-time finance professional. I feel fortunate that I am able to do two things in life that I truly love.

4. What is your #1 tip for a healthy lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle is all about finding a balance in your life. Too much of anything can overwhelm the other aspects. I always say it is about balancing your “To-Do” list with your “Love To-Do” list.  No matter what your do for a living, finding time for your family, friends and most importantly yourself, will lead to a happier life.

If you want to keep in touch with Sherita, which I highly recommend- I’m on her blog weekly!- you can follow her on Twitter Instagram and Facebook.

Spotlight On: Marie Metz, Security Analyst, Control Risks

You know when you meet a new friend or colleague for the first time and you just click? The conversation is intelligent, varied, funny, thought provoking, and the friendship feeds your soul? Well, When I was living in Argentina, I was lucky to meet Marie Metz, who I interviewed this week for this installation of the Spotlight Series. I met her near the end of my time there, so in the few weeks we become friends, she taught me a lot about culture and the world of security in far flung places many of us would never consider going. Here, she talks about her work as a security analyst in Latin America, misogyny in the workplace and the single biggest issue facing women today.

Marie Metz

Photo courtesy of Marie Metz. 

1. Briefly describe your past life and what your journey was like to get from “there” to “here”.

I’m not sure I had a past life. I will say that as a child and young adult I was under the impression that studying was everything. Good grades, I believed, would give me the spring board to do whatever I wanted down the line.

But once I was in the real world it became very apparent that grades don’t make a career – experiences do. The discipline and quick thinking I developed along the path to earning my black belt in karate when I was 18 have been far more pertinent in my adult life.

Perhaps that’s my “here.” The first job I took out of college was overseas and I’ve kept moving ever since. I now live in Mexico City and work as a Security Consultant for Control Risks, an international business risk consultancy. I travel to sketchy parts of Mexico and advise expat professionals on how to stay safe in a country internationally renowned for violent crime and corruption. Pretty much the opposite of what I envisioned at my high school honor roll ceremony—but very exciting.

2. What is an instance- career or personal- that you would handle differently today?

In recent months, a lot of people in their early 20s have asked me about the master’s program I completed at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Although it was certainly one a defining moments of my life, I realize now I was too young. I was one of the only students under 25 at SIPA. I had always known that I wanted to go to grad school and that it would define the path my career would take, but there really wasn’t such a rush. Most people don’t know what career they want at that age.

If you want grad school to be a time to explore and figure out a career, just know it’s a very expensive way to do that. Just a few more years of life experience—working, reading, making mistakes, hearing about other people with phenomenal jobs—prior to enrolling in SIPA would have helped to squeeze much more out of those two years.

3. Tell us about a person who has had a profound impact on your life and what that impact has been. (you can use specific names, but do not have to)

Easy—my mom. Rita Parrilli hasn’t served as an example only to me, but also to many people throughout the years.

Not many people have the inner strength to pull themselves through a career the way she did. She worked nights and weekends to earn enough money for college and grad school—not common for a woman in the 1970s. Without any personal connections, she landed a job as a researcher at the World Bank and became known as the best in the institution, quickly rising through the ranks into public sector management. The transition from contract staff to professional, as any World Banker knows, is not common.

When my father passed away I was only seven, and the Bank decided to go through yet another re-organization. She took on the work of three other laid-off employees. She worked incredibly long hours at the Bank and still managed to make me feel like the most important person in the world. To this day, I don’t know how she did it, but if I can be just half the woman she is, I’ll be a success.

4. What would you say to women who have a dream/ambition but are discouraged from reaching from it or are told that “it’s going to be difficult.”?

First of all, I admire anyone who has dreams and ambitions. There are a lot of apathetic people out there so that ability to think big is essential.

In some ways, females entering today’s workforce are fortunate that women of the 20th century braved an even more hostile era and paved the way for us to become the highest academic achievers as we are today. Income inequality is real and it is very frustrating. That said, I really believe that with time and fair competition this will even out in the developed world within my lifetime.

Given that I work in the field of security in Mexico, I´m well aware that male-dominated professions and societies still exist.

Misogyny these days take surprising forms. The male security personnel at a factory in the middle of Mexico may treat me with the utmost respect but a co-worker with a white collar job may be the one to make insidious comments to remind me that he’s the man and I’m a woman whose main concerns are frivolous. That and many other things will continue to be “difficult” for a long time, but they will not prevent me or any female from striving to achieve goals and leveling the playing field.

Remember when confronting any difficulty that there are other women facing similar situations. It’s impossible to move down any path without confronting at least a few obstacles but every time we overcome one we learn, and get stronger.

5. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

The happiest and most successful people I´ve ever met are not micromanagers; they only worry about things that are really pertinent. I´m still working on this one

6. What is your #1 tip for a healthy lifestyle?

Drink lots of water.

7. What is the single-most issue facing women in our culture today?

Perhaps I am biased, but I would say that one of the dominant themes for women working around the world today is security. In many of the regions where I work, men can travel with fewer constraints than women, who see our freedom of movement seriously compromised. Even when staying in exclusive hotels, women are propositioned regularly while on business trips. This can be a frightening and discouraging experience, even to thick-skinned women like me. Considering how far we have come in academic and professional circles, for many this underlying feeling of exposure persists, making us feel vulnerable in situations when we shouldn’t have to.

When I wanted to work as a freelance journalist in Venezuela during the 2012 and 2013 elections I received a lot of friendly but unsolicited advice from friends saying it was too dangerous for me to go.

It’s true, women have it tough, and working in security I know better than anyone that women are more vulnerable, particularly ones working alone.

Nevertheless, writing from Venezuela was the most rewarding work I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t change a moment of my time there. The issue of security for professional women isn’t going away any time soon, but we can definitely overcome it. As I tell women in the training sessions I deliver for new arrivals to Mexico, we may be targeted more often, but that just means we need to be smarter and more resourceful with our planning. By being outspoken and planning ahead we can overcome security issues and remain safe wherever we are.

 

 

Marie Metz

Born: Washington, DC

Currently resides: Mexico City, Mexico

Previous residences: Miami, FL, New York, NY, Santiago, Chile, Buenos Aires, Argentina,

Current Occupation: Control Risks – Global Risk Consultancy http://www.controlrisks.com/

Spotlight on: Tara Zirker, Founder of 2 Hours Daily: Building Thriving Businesses, Two Hours A Day

Tara’s my first friend from Twitter. (Those who know me well know that I never thought I’d say those words, being a reformed Twitter-phobe.)

Anyway, we connected over some posts I had written when I was looking for a social media consultant, and it turned out that she was going to be visiting NYC around the same time. We met for lunch, and I loved what she had to say about running her own business, her transition away from corporate and her latest project, 2 Hours Daily, which chronicles female entrepreneurs who have created thriving business that over time, take up less of their time daily.

Tara-BW

Here are excerpts from our conversation.

1. Briefly describe your past life and what your journey was like to get from “there” to “here”.

 

Oh gosh. Like many, I fought with my inner creative for years and finally had one of those defining moments where I knew,knew, that I had to go for it. Now I just shake me head and wonder why I waited so long. ;)

2. What would you say to women who have a dream/ambition but are discouraged from reaching for it or are told that ‘it’s going to be difficult.”?

There are a million ways to approach this common challenge, but I’ll answer it with a question. What if you get to the end of your life and realize you only lived it at 50 percent of your potential? Would you care what others said or thought if you knew your dreams would take you to 100 percent?

3.  What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

Work on your business not in it.

4. What is your #1 tip for a healthy lifestyle?

My whole thing is to stop doing work that is bogging you done or keeping you stuck. That will take care of most stress, added weight, and general unease. Work on your soul’s purpose for being here and you’ll be amazed at how much better and awakened you feel. Then exercise and eat effectively to keep your internal systems thriving.

5. Talk about a time in your life where you felt stuck and what you did to stop feeling that way.

I think we all get stuck at some point and at every level. A few things that break me free:

a. Telling myself and God that I’m ready for the next level.

b. Allowing myself to choose myself  and then

c. creating some excitement in my inbox by e-mailing prospects, pitching stories, and communicating with clients about ways we can up-level their success. I may even through in a few opportunities for myself for speaking or attending conferences. 

6. What is the single-most issue facing women in our culture today?

From my perspective? Distraction with the wrong priorities. The wrong men, work, opportunities, and choices. There are really just a few things you need to nail to have an extraordinary life, but those are the things we most often need guidance on, too. Relationships, money, work, and how we spend our extra time are all critical. Choose wisely.

7. Talk about your transition from working full time as an employee to your life now. What were the challenges and how did you overcome them? What, if anything, was easy for you and why do you think so?

I love to create ease. The battle between full-time employment and doing it on my own has always been a tough one for my soul. When I finally gave up the 9 to 5 for good, I just had this feeling that things would work out…and quickly. Within three weeks of quitting my last job with not a lead for new work in sight I actually ended up more than replacing my previous salary by picking up a couple of perfectly-timed clients. Call it kismet or a knack for timing, but one of my gifts is knowing when the next thing is right around the corner. I think everyone has a gift or two, whether it be timing, networking, or just following the intuition. Put those to good use and take good care of them
8. Tell us a little more about 2HoursDaily. What is your mission with this project and how do you see it evolving?
Oh gosh. It is my road. I’m more than drawn to the mission of it, I really feel called to it. So the purpose of 2HoursDaily is to teach women what goes into the ‘messy middle,’ that space between working ourselves to the bones and living the life we’re dreaming of. It provides the framework and mentalities that go into creating a liberated business (and life!). Like, what are the systems that allow me to create a six-figure business that only needs a couple of hours a day to manage. 
 
That kind of thing.

Tara Zirker is a writer and marketing professional who teaches women how to make more and work less. Her latest project, 2HoursDaily, chronicles the experience of female lifestyle entrepreneurs. You can also connect with her on Twitter. You can read her Forbes article on why women make great entrepreneurs here. 

Spotlight On: Melody Wilding, Therapist for Female Entrepreneurs

Today I had the opportunity to chat with Melody Wilding, a therapist for female entrepreneurs. She had some AMAZING insights, which you can read about here. She talks about dealing with negativity as well as realllllly rad tips for a healthy lifestyle (I’ve already incorporated a few).

melody

photo courtesy of Melody Wilding

ALSO, if you’re in the NJ/NYC area, she’s also got a really useful and needed workshop coming up on March 27 in Hoboken, NJ. It’s called “Close Sales, Land Deals, & Get What You Want: Fearless Negotiation for Women in Startups.” She’s going to work through one of the toughest challenges young women in the startup world face: negotiation. So, if you’re a female entrepreneur, you might wanna check it!  Here’s a link to sign up: http://bit.ly/1eP0xhU

  1. Briefly describe your past life and what your journey was like to get from “there” to “here”.

I hail from a family of entrepreneurs so from a very young age I knew that a standard desk job was not for me. Growing up, my family’s ability to grow businesses and create their own living had a profound impact on me – and it still does today!

When I graduated college, the country was facing its worst economy since the Great Depression. Though the job market was in the trash, I saw it as an opportunity to continue my education and follow my lifelong dream of becoming a therapist. After I graduated with my Masters degree, I fell in love with the world of digital health. Not only does it combine some of my biggest interests – health, technology, the Internet, and community building – but also I was instantly attracted to the idea of turning the traditional model of therapy on its head by using the web. And with that, the entrepreneurial streak in me was unleashed. Over the past few years I have built a digital, 100% online practice counseling and coaching young professionals and entrepreneurs.

Coming to a place of acceptance has been a journey for me. When you’re pursuing an unbeaten path, you’ll bump up against criticism, which can hurt especially if it comes from people close to you. We all want a clean-cut identity, a perfectly wrapped-up-in-a-bow response to the question “So what do you do?”, yet when you’re an entrepreneur the answer to that question isn’t so easy. It takes hard work to fight past flashes of self-doubt. Surrounding yourself with people who admire and support your ambition is SO important.

2.     What is an instance- career or personal- that you would handle differently today?

There was a time when I was so ingrained in building my business that I neglected important personal relationships in my life. I had blinders on, and while it’s important to have focus, you cannot possibly perform to your maximum ability if you are not nourishing the emotional and spiritual sides of yourself. Never put off once-in-a-lifetime moments with people you care about for work that can be done tomorrow.

3.     Tell us about a person who has had a profound impact on your life and what that impact has been. (you can use specific names, but do not have to).

My parents are my heroes and role models. Their courage and strength is remarkable to me. As the owners of multiple businesses, they’ve looked fear in the face hundreds of times and they never let it get the best of them.

 4.     What would you say to women who have a dream/ambition but are discouraged from reaching from it or are told that ‘it’s going to be difficult.”?

When others express negativity, your first response may be to become defensive (they’re being a Debbie Downer about your awesome idea after all!). But getting defensive will get you nowhere. Plus, most of the time negativity is a result of another person’s insecurity.

Instead of getting upset, come from a place of curiosity and ask that person why they have those feelings towards your goal. You’ll often discover it’s because they abandoned a dream of their own.

 5.     What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

One piece of advice sticks out to me right now. My godmother gave me a necklace as a graduation present that has a daisy charm with a pearl at the center. She explained that I was the pearl in the middle and each petal represented something important in my life that contributed to who I am – family, friends, passions, etc. I wear it nearly every day. It’s a reminder that we’re constantly influencing people, places, and things around us. Don’t underestimate how one seemingly small kind deed or act can completely make a person’s day.

 6.     What is your #1 tip for a healthy lifestyle?

Don’t rely on your willpower to create change. Health is a habit, and to get there you have to schedule it like you would professional matters. Some of the most valuable personal changes I have made involved putting systems in place to support my physical and mental health. Willpower is finicky and finite (for more on this read this great book: The Power of Full Engagement). For example, group workout classes go on my calendar. I keep of list of friends I need to set coffee dates with in an Evernote file. It helps keep me organized and moving forward — just like a to-do list.

Another thing: If you want a healthy life, start believing in your ability to grow and change. If you have ever uttered the words “I’m not the type of person who is a good at [insert skill: working out, finances, networking…]. Stop…now. You’re only limiting yourself. If you don’t think you’re the “gym type”, then what’s stopping you from fitting exercise in by walking a longer route to the office or doing yard work over the weekend instead of lifting weights? Get creative.

Melody Wilding, LMSW, is a therapist for female entrepreneurs and young professional women. Melody has helped women running some of today’s top startups along with published authors and media personalities using secure and confidential online therapy sessions & counseling. Her advice has been featured in The Huffington, Post, Glamour, and Business Insider.

You can find her here:

http://www.melodywilding.com/

https://twitter.com/melodywilding

http://www.pinterest.com/melodywilding/

 

Spotlight On: Maryam Sadaghiani, Fashion Designer

I loveeeeeee this interview because it really embodies how you CAN actually switch careers to do something completely different than you were before or thought you ever would be doing. Maryam is a friend from college, and we’d kept in touch via Facebook over the years. I noticed (and was wowed) but her- excuse my French- cajones- at leaving her post as a therapist, moving to a new city and making a go of it as a fashion/textile designer. In typical whoa-I-am-wowed fashion, I contacted her and what follows is an excerpt of our convo.
work profile
Photo Provided by Maryam Sadaghiani
1. Briefly describe your past life and what your journey was like to get from “there” to “here”.
My ‘past life’ was working as a therapist in Philadelphia. In February 2012, I had enough hours to sit for my license, but I had a gut feeling that this wasn’t the right path for me career wise, and I wanted to move back to New York to be closer to my family. An older (and wiser) co-worker actually suggested pursuing fabric/print design and hearing her suggestion was like a light bulb when off in my head; that was what I wanted to do.
I then started making a plan on how I’d make my dream a reality. Long story short, I left Philadelphia at the end of May 2012 and moved in with my parents, started taking summer classes at FIT, interned for a few really great designers/companies in the Fall/Winter, and started freelancing last Spring. I started with my current company last July as a freelance textile design assistant and I was just recently promoted to a full-time assistant designer.
2. Describe a time in your career where what you were asked to do/expected to do was not in line with your values. How did you handle it?
When I first started working in design, I thought that sometimes the team I worked with breezed through work too quickly and it gave me the impression that they weren’t giving it 100% effort (my value- always give it 100%). After a short time, I re-evaluated my value to see if it accurately applied to the scenario (and it didn’t). I realized that to be successful in my job, I needed to adapt/compromise and make the best use of the time I was given and I couldn’t put too much effort into one thing. We are given quite ambitious timelines in design, so even though I could easily spend all day working on one project, I actually need to get five done in that same time span. To quote one of my favorite TV personalities, Tim Gunn, sometimes you just gotta “Make it work!”

3.  What is an instance- career or personal- that you would handle differently today?

I really do believe the cliche saying that “everything happens for a reason” so it’s hard for me to think of an answer. If I had to provide an answer, I guess I’d say I would’ve taken more time to let my loved ones who have passed away in the past few years know how much I loved them.
 4. Tell us about a person who has had a profound impact on your life and what that impact has been. (you can use specific names, but do not have to)
I’ve been really blessed to have a lot of people in my life who always supported my dreams, but I think the two that stand out the most are my mother and father. I’m really close with my family, so it definitely did matter to me what they thought of my idea to pack up and move everything. I still remember how nervous I was when I made that phone call home to tell my parents of what I wanted to do for I really wasn’t sure on how they’d react. Ever the practical parents, they were totally supportive of my dream, pending that journey somehow had health insurance coverage! (it did). I think initially they weren’t 100% sold on my own commitment to my dream, but after seeing me commute two hours each way to take summer classes at FIT three days/week, I think they understood how determined I was and for that I will forever be grateful. I feel having the love and support of others around you is so important when you’re going through something that leaves you somewhat vulnerable.
5.  What would you say to women who have a dream/ambition but are discouraged from reaching from it or are told that ‘it’s going to be difficult.”?
I forget where I came across this quote, but a favorite of mine is, “Nothing worth having is easy”. I would say if you have a dream, start making a plan towards it. I took four months to plan my move before I actually acted on it. Even if you don’t know what to do, there is someone out there who does, so you just need work on finding that person.  Everyone’s different, but for me the fear of regret troubled me more than the fear of failing.

6.  What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

 I actually have two….neither of which I remember where the advice came from, but definitely helped me along my journey.
1. If you have a dream, let everyone know about it. How did I know to come up with the plan to start taking classes at FIT? My best friend up in Long Island was a dental hygienist and one of her patients was a former chairperson of the print design program at FIT- she literally picked his brain for me while cleaning his teeth!
2. No one is going to hand you a job. I kept telling myself this along the early stages of my journey. After taking classes at FIT, a friend had recommended getting an internship. Since I wasn’t a matriculated student at FIT, I didn’t fit the criteria for them to help me find an internship so I had to do it on my own. I got my first internship with my favorite designer (Mara Hoffman) by initially cold calling the company. Having that on my resume opened up doors to interning/working at great companies such as Alice + Olivia and J.Crew.

 

7.   What is your #1 tip for a healthy lifestyle?  
Try not to dwell on the negative because it can weigh you down so much. Also, I’m a firm believer that all is right in the world when you sleep enough, drink enough water and take your vitamins :-)

 

 8. Talk about a time in your life where you felt stuck and what you did to stop feeling that way. 
I think shortly before I decided on my master plan to switch careers and move, I was feeling ‘stuck’ in Philadelphia because nothing was really changing in my life; my friends around me were achieving the milestones that occur as we age (marriage, babies, promotions) and none of that was happening for me at the time. Granted I didn’t necessarily view this as a negative, but I definitely felt stuck. I guess the best way to summarize how I got unstuck was that I challenged myself more and opened myself up to trying new things that I never though were previously possible.
9. What is the singlemost issue facing women in our culture today?
 I think one major issue is whether a woman can “have it all”. I see that as trying to see if a woman can have both a thriving career, but also a thriving personal life (love, marriage, children, etc). I honestly am still thinking about it, so I don’t have my own belief on the issue yet.