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April, Author at The Strategy Specialist
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April

I was an #entrepreneur before it was trending…

By | Health & Vitality | No Comments
It’s fascinating to me how people evolve over time. What isn’t acceptable or respected at one point in time becomes the ‘new craze’ that everyone is aspiring to be. I come from humble beginnings. My father was an independent contractor who built our home from the ground up and my mother, a singer, dancer, actress, teacher who made more sacrifices to take care of others than any one woman should.
I learned early on after watching my parents work every day of the week, every hour of the day as small business owners and still didn’t have health insurance or a savings account for a rainy day much less retirement, that I wanted NO part of that. My God Parents were both government employees and they were stable, home paid for, retirement on the horizon, with great dental insurance LOL…. That was going to be my path!
I have always been a strong willed person and during my teenage years I had strong opinions on everything. My parents were going through changes with the family business and my father fought a battle with cancer for 9 years which drained all of our resources financial and emotional. I decided that I was going to take matters into my own hands and left the house around 16 1/2 on a quest to provide for myself. I was tired of watching my parents struggle financially and to be totally honest, I wanted a car and Nike Sneakers.
The day of my 16th birthday, I started working at McDonalds in a not so favorable neighborhood by my mom’s dance studio. Within a few weeks an encounter with two men who lived around the corner would change my life forever. I remember them walking up to my register and I greeted them with the BIG Amber Smile asking to take their order. One asked me, ‘Hey, you like working for chump change?’. Honestly, looking back, I’m not even sure I knew what that meant LOL. I was like HUH? He said, “Come through (to his apartment) after work. I have a proposition for you.”
My naive and reckless self did ‘swing through’ to meet up with a total stranger in an sketchy neighborhood, at night no less to discuss the proposition. Without going into too much detail, I was introduced to an opportunity where I could make double the money I was earning at McDonalds in 1/4 of the time. Of course there were consequences…. but when you’re young, you think you’re invincible.
With my new found #hustle I was off and running. And… because I’m an overachiever, I worked and hustled for quite some time until the hustle really started to take flight at which point I began putting myself through college.
It was five years that I was in the streets…. ‘grinding’ as they call it. I was a HUGE disappointment to my family and former friends. Please understand, fast money is fast – and luckily for me I began to build my business acumen early on, however, it was a VERY LONELY time in my life because relationships that encourage vulnerability are a liability.
I’ve always been quite intuitive and I could see the landscape changing. I encouraged my colleagues to exit along with me. They chose not to. Luckily I had a built a foundation with my education and it was my dream to help others so I began working for Juvenile Probation.
For three years after my abrupt departure, I worked 7 days a week juggling 3 jobs. My former colleagues used to pity me seeing me go from comfortable to exhausted, broke and frazzled. They would come to my work and bring me lunch, take my car to get washed and fill it up with gas, and when I was cocktail waitressing at night, they would come by and leave me very large tips to help me out as I transitioned into ‘real life’.
I quickly went from Part-Time at the County to Full-Time at the City…. moved up job classifications year after year. I was making ‘good money’, purchased two homes (one was a rental), my son came along around this time which is truly my driving force for everything I do.
But even with all of these accomplishments at the age of 23 and 24 I was still a disappointment in the eyes of many for poor choices I had made in the past ~
The good news was by 24 I achieved what I set out to do…. I had a government job with good benefits and a pension!
I had no idea how small minded I was back then ~ taking the safe route ~ ‘settling’ as my step father later called it. That humbling ‘pep talk’ he had with me back then… that was a Game Changer. I share these very personal stories and random ‘aha moments’ with you as sources of inspiration.
You never know who will cross your path or what information you will be introduced to that will change the way you think. I don’t know about you… I usually do my best work when my back is up against a wall. That is also when I take the biggest calculated risks.
Who knew at the age of 25 I would abandon my dream.. my security… for the unknown –
I can’t wait to tell you that story!!!!

Higher Learning…. An opportunity not all of us had and one we’ve sacrificed our entire lives to give our children – But is it the best strategy?

By | Strategy | No Comments
*sigh*
This is such a HOT topic and one that I speak about with kid gloves as not to offend anyone.
I mean…. since our kids have been young, all we’ve told them was to do well in school, be obedient, work to be at the top of their
class or have some type of competitive edge so they are able to select a college that will make us proud – validate our sacrifices as parents –
ensure that they won’t have it as hard as we did.
And yet here we are, colleges so packed it takes 5 years to earn a B.A. because mandatory courses are simply not available.
Spreading ourselves thin financially with loans or spending our savings that was supposed to provide security for our golden years…. we will make it back eventually.
But will we?  Imagine our surprise when our kids earn that prestigious B.A. which lands them an entry level position at a whopping $15 per hour with a newfound realization that they
need to return to school to get that additional Credential Program or Masters Program under their belt in order to ‘make a living within their career choice.’
Another 2 years on top of the first 4-5, an additional 40k – and now you have an ‘educated’ 25 year old eager graduate who is ready to take over the world with….
  • Zero life experience outside of adhering to deadlines and syllabi
  • An impressive transcript highlighting great test scores/grades that mean nothing in the overall scheme of things other than the fact they can memorize and regurgitate information
  • Tons of theory that they may or may not have absorbed with little to no application
My friend and I refer to our kids… well her kids…. as ‘indoor pets’ (mine has played in the street a few times here and there LOL) –
We have the pictures on our walls… cap and gowns – a right of passage to a world that we couldn’t access…..
They are going to be something!
But are they?  In the world I live in…. there are courses and theories that MUST be learned and executed on a regular in order to survive/succeed –
Meet Deadlines
Exceed Expectations
Work with a sense of urgency
Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
Research/Verification
Fast and Accurate Analysis
Adhere to Budgets & Timelines
Leadership/Talent Acquisition
Integrity
Create & Maintain Unprecedented Value to Stakeholders/Customers
And having earned my B.A. in Sociology and Executive MBA…. I can honestly tell you that NONE of these disciplines were taught nor refined in college to the level that
I use them in my everyday life.
Yes – the concepts were introduced… discussions were had, assignments and tests were given…. but go ahead and ask me how much I remember about my calculus or political science class….
Or whether I was an expert in Sociology after taking 24 credits related to that specific  subject…..
Not to say that college is not important – over the course of my studies, I can tell you there are about SIX courses….. yes, I said SIX COURSES OUT OF SIXTY -FOUR  –
that provided me with insight and/or inspiration that allowed me to think differently.
And I will spare you the $ per class breakdown of 6/64 because it will only frustrate you when you look at it through that lens LOL –
Operations Management
Marketing
Executive Leadership
Microeconomics
Global Business – The Trip to China was Incredible!
Statistics for Executives
I guess my overall point of sharing this information is to be realistic – realistic with ourselves and with our children –
If it takes 10,000 hrs to master a discipline…. it would be foolish to think a 4 year degree would hold such validity when entering the work force –
Especially considering that maybe 2 semesters of the entire degree are honing in on a particular discipline.
Yet the time and money it takes to earn these degrees far outweighs the advantage when all said and done – at least in the first several years immediately after graduation.
And the unfortunate reality is that you can’t even get an interview without it – so what do you do?
Many of my clients both pre and post college are all concerned about this truth – and each and every one of them is trying to create a competitive advantage
in hopes that they can see the benefits sooner with some very precise strategy and application.

I’ve shared my story (I was an #entrepreneur before it was trending)

I was an #entrepreneur before it was trending…

I plan to share many of the details in future posts to give you an insight into how far outside of the box you
have to think and what additional skill sets one should acquire/nurture…..
Being a ONE TRICK PONY…. not a good strategy at all….