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Strategy Archives - The Strategy Specialist


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?

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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
Fast and Accurate Analysis
Adhere to Budgets & Timelines
Leadership/Talent Acquisition
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
Executive Leadership
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….
the strategy specialist amber anthony work horse vs show pony blog post

Work Horse vs. Show Pony

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Within the next few weeks, this blog will have evolved from Amber’s Story (How It All Began) to practical and inspiring accounts of what’s happening now, what’s the plan for the next 15 years, and a strategic shift toward the mentoring/consulting projects that truly feed my soul.

Earlier in the year, I was doing some consulting for a dear friend who owns a nail salon.  She’s been in the business for 20 years, recently broke away from the family business and started her own, is a single mother of two, has a heart of gold, is incredibly talented at her craft, works 18 hours a day – every day, because that’s what you do when you start a business… even if you are 40 yrs old or have been doing it for 20 years….

Her gift is on the artistic side and because she is a one woman show, it’s difficult for her to manage all of the components of a small business.  For starters, it doesn’t come naturally to her: Advertising, Inventory, Acquiring New Talent, Quality Control….. Especially when you are are ‘work horse’ vs. the ‘show pony’.

Show ponies are a prized possession.  Workhorses pull the weight and do the gritty work.  They are like the offensive line and the show pony is like the quarterback.  No one stops to marvel at a workhorse.  They don’t get the endorsement deals, they just keep working.
Most want to be a show pony deep down ~ I’m still trying to figure it out for myself LOL

For many of us in business, this is a common thread.  You have to do EVERYTHING ~ Whether you want to or not, whether you are good at it or not.  There is no money to hire others to fill in those gaps.  And the saddest part of this reality is, that is what prevents you from scaling, as your efforts are focused on too many things; often time the mundane and time consuming tasks that DO NOT move the business forward.

That is where strategy comes in – I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends (direct competitors) in my industry and I have been able to study and identify what they did different than I and how they were able to scale their businesses faster and more efficiently. It’s been quite valuable in my professional growth because I can clearly see where I missed and/or capitalized on opportunities in comparison to my competitors.

The two biggest things that have held me back in my career were #1 Not evolving quickly enough into leadership and #2 Not believing in myself/caring what others thought.

My strategy has always been spot on – One thing I am truly proud of is the accuracy and positive outcomes from my Business Playbook.  It just took me a very long time to have the confidence to call those plays.


the strategy specialist amber anthony work horse vs show pony blog post

The message this Monday Morning….. If you’ve done the work and are confident in your analysis, PULL THE TRIGGER!  BELIEVE IN YOUR ABILITY TO WIN!

Double Down On Your Strengths

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I have to get something off my chest…. recently I’ve been finding my voice… and using it (yikes).  I’m not good at it yet – some responses come out quite humble and respectful… others not so much.  I’ve heard from a few people including some that are VERY close to me say, “You think you’re all that” or “You think you’re smarter than everyone else” when I respond passionately about a subject that I am confident in.

Let me set the record straight (Exhibit A) LOL

I’m just going to let you marinate on this for a minute.

My SAT scores from 1993 – Thank GOD UNLV didn’t have admission requirements back then!

Those of you who have kids headed off to college would be mortified if they came home with this….

That being said… I learned early on that I was going to have to work harder and get creative in order to survive… so that’s what I did.

I actually get a little irritated when someone says… ‘Oh, she was able to do that because she’s smart.’  I’m sure that sounds ridiculous… I’m an odd duck.. I should take it as a compliment.

I guess I’m holding onto the struggle… the blood, sweat and tears (oh GOD so many tears – Hi, I’m a Cancer) when I  leveraged my hustle, critical thinking, and work ethic.  When I was willing to do more than anyone else, for less than anyone else… without complaining – and somehow BELIEVING… even though there was NO tangible proof that it would pay off some day!

Chalking it up to ‘being smart’, somehow in my mind, diminishes all of the EFFORT, SACRIFICE, STRATEGY, and CONSISTENCY that allows me to compete in the marketplace today.

And… because I don’t ever want to be IGNORANT about anything…. I literally study and have certificates in all kind of random things….

  • Completed 90 Hours of Real Estate Principles, Practices, Procedures, Laws and Ethics ­
  • Completed 45 Hours of Fundamentals of Real Estate Appraisal ­
  • Completed 45 Hours of Fundamentals of Real Estate Broker Management ­
  • Completed 20 Hours NMLS – National Comprehensive Mortgage Loan Originator Course
  • PROPTA – Certified Personal Trainer
  • Student of Timothy Sykes – World-Renowned Day Trader
You know – I do this in my spare time just for fun LOL
And… by creating this blog and a new platform to assist others in strategizing their lives and businesses… I have the privilege of learning more than I could ever imagine!
It’s uncomfortable showing the world who you are….but I am so excited that I found the courage to do so because I am already having incredible and meaningful interactions with AMAZING and TALENTED individuals who are ready to capitalize on their GREATNESS!

And those who truly know me know…. It is my ULTIMATE HAPPINESS to see OTHERS succeed against all odds!

What do you REALLY bring to the table AND does the other side VALUE it the SAME way YOU DO?

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This is a SUPER HOT topic that I HOPE generates a lot of internal conversation!  It’s been incredibly helpful in my personal and professional growth… not to mention my mental stability.

Every time I start to complain or pity myself or deflect responsibility…. I take the emotion out of it and analyze it!  Sometimes I discover it is my fault and I have control over the outcome.  Other times I discover that it is something I do not have control over so therefore I have to decide if I am going to accept it or move on.  Here is a funny example at my personal expense to set the stage for an open and honest dialogue intended to inspire you to look at your life as it is currently and access what it will take for you to achieve happiness.

Women… we are competitive by nature.  Anytime we get in a new relationship we have done all of the investigating on ex’s, current interests etc. so we can ‘measure’ where we stand.  Hell…. if we spent that kind of energy strategizing our professional lives…. we could take over the world in a heartbeat!

Oh and gentleman…. you can thank me privately…. ’cause I’m about to blow your mind and illustrate a behind the scenes account as to the  levels of CRAZY women are.

Here is the problem… as we go down the list…. she has this, I have this, she does this I do that…..
We FORGET to add the most important part – WHAT DOES THE OTHER PARTY VALUE?

Here goes a visual for your viewing pleasure (please note – I have actually completed this exercise many times and it took many years for me to figure out it was worthless until I added the third column) SMH

Yellow indicates what I value.  Blue indicates what HE values….

Literally, I could be twirling from the ceiling with gold dust coming out of my ass i.e. degrees, promotions, growing savings account …… over there thinking I’m REALLY doing something but guess what?

HE DOESN’T VALUE IT!  So…. according to the chart…. Unless I am willing to get a better body, become more spontaneous and sexually adventurous…… I don’t stand a chance because our VALUES are NOT in alignment!

So… NOW let’s apply this to CAREER STRATEGY (see table below)

I’ve been in this situation a million times and Lord knows I am a patient woman…..
Sometimes it works to my advantage… other times… it results in missed opportunity.  So this exercise is incredibly important and SHOUD be applied and AUDITED on a regular basis….

REMEMBER – Time is precious…. you will never get it back…. And there is nothing worse than being my age knowing that I COULD HAVE made changes…. I knew better….. and I didn’t cut my losses quickly enough.

Out of 11 Possible Qualities – Only 4 Match

Do you see the problem here?

So – when you find yourself in this situation…. you can to do the following:

  • Make sure your list is as honest as possible on both sides.  You can even take it a step further and group qualities together by most important, somewhat important etc.
  • Making sure this framework is as precise as possible before taking it to the analysis level will be key – so if you’re going to do this exercise… don’t half ass it – make it as detailed as possible because in all honestly…. your life, your future, your happiness, and your peace of mind depends on it!  Allow a second and third set of eyes to review it so YOU can also be held accountable – You know… we often times believe the lies we tell ourselves (another blog post about that coming soon LOL)
  • Decide if you are willing to evolve and showcase the qualities that your employer values
  • Make sure that IF you decide to do that, that it’s not moving you out of your authenticity because (a) it won’t be believable and (b) it will only make you bitter and resentful even if you can ‘fake it’.
  • Document what you think the outcome will be IF you do make strategy adjustments and do a quarterly check in to determine if you hypothesis is correct.

PS – This is also a valuable exercise for employees who are wanting to quantify their ‘worth’ as they climb the organizational ladder –

Fortunately or unfortunately… this way of thinking comes naturally to me.

Because of it…. I have no friends LOL and I’m NOT very fun and spontaneous…. Unless I’m drunk… which is why my husband has me on a champagne or vodka drip LOL…. but not really a LOL  – because that’s a true story.
What I can tell you is that I am at the extreme to the far right with these principles….
Most people are to the left of the center because this way of thinking isn’t taught in school which is incredibly unfortunate.
Give it a try… and I am happy to help set up up the table for you!  I’m telling you…. if you look at life in this fashion…. it REALLY helps with accountability, honesty and transparency…  I’ve set up a table like this to define my expectations for my son and my husband… It just is what it is…. and as long as you’re honest with yourself when creating it… Its a quick reference for when values, expectations, and deliverables start to shift… It allows for a platform to resolve tough issues respectfully and with honor.

Occasionally, the most incredible message is delivered in the most unexpected way

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It wasn’t until I met my husband until I realized how f*c^e# up I was.  Because of my integrity, work ethic, and character… I always thought I was the pick of the litter and placed myself on quite a pedestal in that regard.  I knew I had my flaws… which I deemed to be superficial i.e. physical.  But on the ‘important’ stuff… I always gave myself a 10!

When we first started dating, I had a fancy new BMW 640 Gran Coupe that I was leasing… for whatever reason, literally once a week, the check engine light, or tire pressure light, or maintenance light would go on.   It was so annoying because I would take it to the dealership who would reset the light, apologize, and send me on my way.  After a while, I just ignored the lights whether it was a legitimate issue or not.

One evening, my husband aka ‘Papi Chulo’ was trying to make a point regarding my emotional instability and says, “Amber, you are like your BMW:  The world goes ooohhhhh   aaaahhhhh looking from the outside…  but the truth is they don’t know that the check engine light is on”.

Who Says That? 

And let me tell you…. the first few years with my very direct husband, who pretty much tells it like it is with no filter…. did not mince any words regardless if it hurt my feelings or not.  Luckily I survived that motivational speaking boot camp and would like to share some of my takeaways:

  • Don’t lie to yourself.
  • Don’t feel sorry for yourself.
  • Don’t believe words – allow actions to prove true authenticity.
  • If you do a favor for someone, demand that favor is returned at some point.  Do not allow a relationship of any kind to become lopsided, as entitlement and resentment will follow.

Well…. all of these ‘tips’, though familiar to many, are often not practiced.  For me, I didn’t have the self esteem or courage to do so.  And… sometimes IT IS hard to enforce and demand respect and common courtesy from others….  Difficult conversations have to be had and often times relationships perish that are not in alignment with mutual respect and admiration – and frankly that’s scary for someone who has abandonment or co-dependence issues.

As I look back on my life….. I have been selling myself at a huge discount!  SMH – Just dishonoring my worth and potential!  For YEARS AND YEARS!  I marvel at what I was able to accomplish in this state of mind honestly… Talk about being NOT PRESENT!

And let me tell you… now that I’ve figured out (finally) how much time, opportunity, and energy I lost: When a friend or colleague approaches me and shares anything that I deem to be ‘weak’ or ‘self pity’, I coach and counsel them them just the way my husband did me!  It’s intense, they’re often offended, there have been some tears and probably anger (at me)…. But knowing what I know now, I would be doing a disservice to another by NOT being truthful.

 (Please note: My husband is available for motivational speaking engagements… sign up at your own risk!) LOL

A few weeks ago, my friend of 18 years called me mid-day in a panic – All hell was literally breaking loose.  She has always been my rock – the stronger of us two – so I wasn’t prepared to hear panic and emotion in her voice.  I immediately kicked into advocacy mode as said: Ok, don’t panic, this situation is NOT ideal but I see a way it can be spun into a positive!  The window of opportunity is very narrow, so time is of the essence, but if you take advantage of this horrible circumstance, you will  for sure be able to capitalize!”

We got off the phone and a few days later I went to spend some one on one time with her… 2 days in when we were waking up, she says, “Amber… I was so shocked at your response in my moment of desperation I didn’t even know what to say.  You were all calm and collected talking about turning a negative into a positive and I’m over here like HELLO!  Crisis 911!  Who the F does that?”  She made fun of me reenacting it for about 30 minutes while we laughed so hard we cried.

I’ve always been pretty strong and level headed when it comes to helping others… And for myself, I put on a huge front for the public and broke down in silence…. very few knew – BECAUSE… we are all being judged!  And no one wants to associate or do business with someone who is unstable.

It’s incredibly lonely and shameful.

*WARNING* The tricky part for me is… now that I’ve discovered my voice, which can be unfiltered when I’m offended, is how do I stabilize my reactions?  Swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other can be pretty scary and erratic.  Sometimes I have an out of body experience when I am reacting out of character (in comparison to the old Amber)…. I often times realize it by the look on the other person’s face and I’m like ‘Oh shit! That was not professional or politically correct at all!’

And then I begin to audit myself and debate whether it was necessary or how could I have handled it differently?  It’s a TON of course correction… and often times you just have to keep trying until you get the outcome you are looking for.

One of my biggest CURRENT weaknesses is the inability to politic.  I’m HORRIBLE at it!  It’s all smoke and mirrors floating on a bed of deception… And for someone like me who thinks in columns and has to reconcile to ZERO (truth) , I can’t wrap my head around abstract accounts that don’t add up.

So as I figure out solution a for that….. One thing is for sure… I am proud that I am standing up for what is right and just in relation to how I allow people to treat me.  By honoring myself, I no longer feel that disappointment and shame.  And as a bi-product of living my truth, I feel hope, optimism, and peace, which is incredibly liberating…. and hopefully inspiring!

I used to watch GI Jane over and over in the early 2000’s and loved the quote from Master Chief.   I wanted so desperately to apply it to my life but couldn’t quite figure it out 🙁

‘I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A bird will fall frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself’

2017 and a Papi Chulo later….. I finally have my wish!

Everything Has Its Price

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Over the past 3 weeks or so, I have been very sensitive to how the greatest resources on the planet affects the quality of our lives.


And true to my nature, I have been trying to determine whether or not I am truly valuing those resources, which has me reevaluating my own strategies past and present.

I have a lot of friends and associates who have been blessed with little ones recently.  I watch them vicariously through social media and marvel at how fortunate they are to have so much time with their children.  A smile comes to my face… but then in an instant, tears begin to fall uncontrollably….  I had my son on a Saturday morning and I went back to work on Tuesday.  At the time I hadn’t accumulated any paid time off and if I took time off work without pay, I would also lose our health insurance.

I look back now and wonder…. did I make the right choice?  Did I have alternative options? Could I have downsized and lived off my savings for a few months?

Knowing what I know now…. and the pain this admission brings me 17 years later… It’s very hard to admit that I made a mistake.  I would have done it differently.  Even if it meant starting over at another job… Even if it meant having no safety net….

Knowing how strong and capable I am – I could have started from scratch…. But my 24 year old self didn’t know that yet – So… I did the only thing I know how to do which is hustle and provide by any means necessary regardless of the cost in my personal life.

I am working on a financial strategy for dear friend who is retiring from serving 30 years in the public sector and expanding her existing consulting business.  Our first conversation was all about the numbers, total income, insurance costs, tax liability etc.  All very easy to plan –

But then I said – You have two minor children and some very important health concerns that you should be addressing.  They need to be included in the strategy – from a cost and time perspective.

When you put your life on a spreadsheet…. you can manipulate daily activities and then quickly determine if your planning and output are in alignment with your goals.

Example: I have maybe 10 more industrious years where I can #slay
And at the same time, I have my son who is the ONLY reason I wake up with passion and determination and I have a husband who I ADORE.

It’s easy to get caught up in life –  And when you write down what you THINK you’re doing vs. what you ARE ACTUALLY doing…. well… it can be a real shock!

Recently, I discovered that MY OWN ACTIONS were NOT MATCHING MY INTENT…
So…. I had to get back to basics… PUT A PLAN TOGETHER AND EXECUTE!

Instead of rambling on…. allow me to illustrate my point –
Let’s just say that the GOAL is as follows:
KIDS – 30%

I color coded ‘like’ activities – Based on the schedule…. Does it match the goal?

It’s pretty close – And of course there are variables –  But if you start with a template such as this…. You can really dissect and identify where you are spending your time.  And…. you can get your kids and spouse involved to make sure everyone is aware and working toward the same goal…. and more importantly –


What’s cool about this framework is it can modified at any given time as your priorities and goals change… It’s very empowering knowing that you have complete control over your output and contribution!

I so wish I had this skill/knowledge when I was younger…. I would have shifted the boxes around in a completely different manner! Hindsight is 20/20…. But I share this tool with you in hopes that YOU believe me when I tell you…. Time and Health…. you can’t put a price on it – So please do what you can to make every moment count!

Take the time to define what is important in your life and work diligently to live with purpose!  

Smoke And Mirrors

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I hope the photo attached to this post makes you laugh… I have to laugh at myself often…
This is a tribute to the amazing Celeste Barber in direct honor of the title “Smoke And Mirrors”.

So before we begin… Yes… this is me at the top… Yes I was thin and young… Yes, I know it doesn’t look like me (I refer to good lighting and angles below) Yes this was a desperate attempt at marketing a rim shop… Yes this is my so called friend LOL mocking me (It is a brilliant photo though)!

I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for some time but was apprehensive as I did not want the content to be offensive or taken out of context – I will do my best to share my observations in a humble, respectful, and truthful manner, in hopes that it inspires anyone reading this to take note and have the confidence to make educated decisions when aligning themselves with professionals who have a skill set outside of their immediate area(s) of expertise or comfort zone(s).

Let’s start with a personal antidote so lighten the mood before we dive deep into some of my professional snafu’s.

So… this past May I was having horrible foot pain (tailors bunion) – In the past, I had treated it with a cortisone shot but this time I was advised by the ‘professional’ that my foot was ulcerating and needed surgery.  Because I had a birthday trip in July, I decided to pay cash for a surgery outside of my network to speed things along so I would be fully healed by July.  Long story short…. A simple outpatient surgery turned into a 3 month disaster with a grand finale’ July 27th – Me in the hospital signing off on a toe amputation and IV Antibiotics for 10 days for MRSA.

I’m not a Dr – I’m not a Nurse – And to be truthful…. medical professional after medical professional… all had a different thought and diagnosis – In my heart I knew something was off and it wasn’t until I read everything possible and consulted colleagues with knowledge in this area that I was able to honestly diagnose myself and demand proper care.

In the past week I have had three separate random dealings with professionals in the accounting, attorney (legal) and marketing fields (all related to separate projects) that I discovered were NOT delivering as advertised.  Accounting… yes – I can usually detect any variances/discrepancies pretty easily… Attorney (legal) and Marketing…. those are specialized fields that I am not well versed in….

So imagine my surprise when I discover that I have’t been ‘represented’ to the best of their ability… or even more frightening…. to discover that it WAS to the best of their ability… and now I have to admit to myself that I made a poor choice in retaining their services!

And that’s where this all becomes so complicated…. In the land of filters/angles LOL, impressive resumes/bios, credentials, and even referrals… how do you even determine if someone is obscuring or embellishing the truth of a situation or is presenting misleading or irrelevant information knowing damn well you won’t  be able to detect it without either a) experiencing it first hand or b) taking the time to educate yourself in an area that is unfamiliar.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending how you look at it…. I have become quite a discerning customer, which is very unnatural for me, as I don’t like conflict and truly want to take people at their word.

My eyes started to open up about 5 years ago when I was having a conversation with a ‘professional’ who had been providing services to our organization along with others in the industry for many years.  A situation occurred that demanded a great deal of explanation and troubleshooting, which forced me to educate myself and micromanage the process, as it was becoming costly and the scope of the project was changing dramatically.  Several weeks in, after discovering that my findings were not in alignment with the services/recommendations being provided… I asked the VERY NAIVE question –

‘Wait.. wait… You’re not an expert in this?  You’ve been relying on outsourcing and outside recommendations this entire time from one source without going above and beyond to do your due diligence to confirm all of the facts and protect the investment?’ (insert shocked and frazzled emoji here)

And  …. When I received the honest response that I was correct – You might as well just told me there was no Santa Clause and cancelled Christmas…. I was stunned… shocked… and disappointed… Frightened actually…. Mad at myself that I had allowed this to occur under my watch….

I know it sounds silly… but that was a REAL TURNING POINT FOR ME.  I discovered that everything that glitters isn’t gold… AND… most don’t cherish authenticity unless it has mastered the magical illusion of smoke and mirrors….

So for now…. as annoying as it may be to my colleagues and clients…. I will challenge everything… I will research on my own time.  I will work hard to prove you wrong…. I work hard to prove myself wrong. so please don’t take it personal.  I will challenge you to defend your beliefs and recommendations.

And though most won’t understand, primarily because they can’t set aside their own ego, it’s coming from a place of love and protection… So that you and/or I can stand behind something knowing we have given it our very best!

Humans are fallible, of course.  And human error is inevitable –

But for me… I have too much pride to be ignorant and vulnerable due to laziness or complacency….

Especially when my future depends on it!