Keynote Presentation by Teneshia Jackson-Warner
Keynote: Teneshia Jackson-Warner
How many of you are ready for an amazing 2014 BlogHer? An amazing transformational experience? How many know you are going to find THE connection you are looking for? I'm Teneshia Jackson-Warner of Egame Consulting Group - a wife, friend, not a mommy yet but seriously considering it. Marketing firm headquartered in NYC - create campaigns to reach diverse audiences. I'm excited to talk today about my story and my journey.
A few years ago a friend introduced me to Lisa. Told me I needed to attend BlogHer - about a 5 day notice. Trusted my friend and came. An amazing experience. A sense that I was standing in the middle of someone's dream. Later speaking to Lisa, she confirmed it was a dream. They had to have a vision. There could be a forum for women in the technology space. 2nd, felt I was in a room full of dreamers. A room of women who understood their power.
How many of you identify yourself as a dreamer? How many of you are walking your dreamers journey?
What is a dreamer?
Webster's def dreamers are unpractical or idealistic. They look beyond what can be instead of what is. Right now we're sitting in the middle of Lisa's dream. Lo and behold the first BlogHer conference
Favorite dreamer is Walt Disney. The place of imagination. Let's think back before WDW - Can you imagine him having this dream? I'm inspired to create this place - the lead characters will be all animals. He sounded crazy, but that is the ability to see what can be.
Today we will discuss a dreamers journey. A few things will happen for sure you'll feel fulfilled, excited and be passionate What I want to discuss is being equipped to stand the test of time to continue walking the journey. You will have to be resilient, courageous and willing to continue on.
Audience: Belief, trust, loyal, strength, love, self-confidence, laughter, resourceful, tenacity.
Teneshia: You will def need all those things on the journey. Dreamers must be Gladiators - how many of you immediately thought of Olivia Pope? - Gladiators in ancient Rome were considered super stars. They were armed to stand the test of time for their dream journey.
I will share things with you I want you have as part of your armor as you walk your dream journey.
Qualities of a Modern Day Gladiator: Gladiators realize that fear is courage holding on a minute longer. Difficulties mattered are opportunities won. Modern Day gladiators - we all need to have someone that can inspire you and you can research - Richard Branson the Virgin Galactic that will go to the moon. He's up for a challenge and doing it, Cathy Hughes founder of Radio 1 - for seven years she struggled financially so much so as a single parent she lived as a single parent with her son in the radio station; Sarah Blakely reinvented the girdle. When working with her first lawyer he laughed in her face while working.
Must have modern day gladiators while walking this journey.
Many have described my journey as out of the box: innovative, rule-breaker, radical (I'll say that again - radical - my grandmother says "Just crazy"), quickest route to the top.
Disclaimer on my personal story - this story has resulted in others taking drastic actions such as leaps of faith, radical moves, change of direction. I warn you.
Let's get started.
College - I want to start this story with college. One of the most important decisions I made start there. I went to Alabama A&M. My counselor sat down and asked what it was I wanted to do. I asked what is the major I can take that will make me the most money. She had different interest tests, etc. I didn't want that - just what will make me the most money. I chose my major a computer science major - on my way to be a programmer. Started with Lockheed Martin as an intern in Denver, CO in a room (a vault) so the room couldn't be hacked. I was going to lose my mind - no talking, no breaks. The first 4 months I should have heard the glaring sounds that this wasn't for me. My goal was to network with others in the company to find a role that I wanted to do.
This was my first experience in learning the power of networking. There was one guy that had a technology background and managed projects. For me, he got to talk to people. He told me this could be a possibility for me. It typically took 3-5 years. I told him I couldn't do that I needed to do it when I graduated college. He said I couldn't because it wasn't the career track. My senior year I would only interview for project manager positions. Over and over I heard if I looked at the job description - I would go in for the sale. I heard a lot of nos. One day in a bathroom I met a woman named Carol and told her I was interviewing for a project manager. She was who was interviewing with. I went in for the sale right there in the bathroom with my college experience. She had me fly out to do the interview and hired me. The first IBM project manager in Minneapolis that was hired right out of college. The first thing I learned was that you needed to decide what you could and could not do. So many told me what it should look like - but I had to believe in myself to decide what I could do. Each of you will need to decide for yourself. Maybe your blog platform is already your model. Know the trajectory you can set for yourself.
From Dolthom, AL I was headed to Minnesota. Called my Mama, I made it! This slide sums up 5 years of my life. I was making the most money I had ever made in my life. I was working with Best Buy, learning the paperwork and I was COLD. I have to emphasize that. I could do a whole keynote on transitioning from the South. Year 1 I was happy. Year 2 I began feeling like something was missing. Year 3 it became louder and essentially I was bored. I knew I needed to do something to become fulfilled. How many have reached that point? That you're on the wrong seat in the bus? I felt like I was on the wrong bus totally. I spoke with my manager and told him I needed to be put on the fast track. I need to make more money! She began a long process to work out my career path - I needed to go back to school to work on my Masters. She was awesome and poured into me. There was one soundtrack playing in my mind - Biggie's Get Money. I went to Univ of St. Thomas working on my Masters. My professor Mr. Charlie Basin gave us an assignment to look at our choices, what was the driving force and why. I took this seriously. The ah-ha for me was was money. For me, it was a major ah-ha. I grew up in a single family home and money was always a struggle. I had decided that I didn't want that. I had little regard for passion, purpose. My ah-ha was when choosing my profession I was going to be minful of your passions. Ask the question what is your purpose and align it with your profession.
Essentially you want to add greater meaning to your life by adding purpose to your passion. Have it be from your skill set and your passion. From this point, I made the decision to have that be my driving force. I had no idea what my passion was. I did exercises to figure what it was. I loved to shop. I thought about being a fashion stylist. I called people
in my circle. No one will turn you down for a 20 minute informational interview - 20 minutes don't take more than that. I offered to volunteer on a movie set but figured out how to work full time. My manager allowed me to work flex time. I realized it was not for me. I had spreadsheets, color codes - not for me.
I watched a lot of tv - reality tv. How many remember P Diddy's Making the Band. As people came on the show, I would google them and their career. P Diddy asked them to read Russell Simmons Life and Death. It was a big ah-ha. Loved that he was creating business entities around urban culture. Financial empowerment. Building around the love of the movement. Big ah-ha! I told my mother that I think I was going to get an opp and needed to be ready. I began timing a one minute pitch on how I was going to transition from IBM.
Networking and sharing your vision. You have to start with experience to know if it will work or not. The one minute was about getting prepared. You have to be prepared. As you get ready to go through the BlogHer, be able to articulate what you are about, what is your platform. Be able to understand how you can support others. Trusting your gut. Back then I was not good at it. At IBM I felt the time was right. I typed up my resignation to pursue another opportunity. She talked me to into changing my letter to a years leave of absence. I called my mom and told her I knew an opp was going to come. Did the little voice tell you about your mortgage, she asked. I had to have the courage to follow the dream. Those are things you have to pull on throughout the dreamers journey.
Every relationship counts. This is #1 nugget (I say that about everything but this is really it) Relationships are the currency that will fuel your dreams journey. I am going to tell you how my relationship with the doorman at Crown Plaza in Annapolis played a big part in me being here today. I left IBM, made business cards and the first meeting I wanted to meet was with D Ray - the bellman at Crown Plaza. Had the meeting and gave him business cards. I remembered watching him check people into the hotel. He was a guru of relationships. He mastered it. He knew how to connect people, where to go, etc. No one could network like him. He helped me and told me to be ready when called. Had backstage passes to a concert - great opp. Backstage at a hip hop concert in a business suit - Snoop Dogg, 50 cent, it's smokey - it seemed sketchy but I trusted DRay. Asked if I was going to the Magic Trade Show - great place to network. "Of course!" I left and googled it. Went to Las Vegas, networking, not sure who I was going to meet but I was clear about my purpose. Russell Simmons bumped into me walking into the men's restroom. A few things happened - knew I was ready and what is it with me and bathrooms and opportunities. Introduced myself and gave my pitch. I would love to work with you for no fee with an opportunity to learn from me. Gave me a number and walked away. I'm shaking took the number. Called my mom - thinking I had his personal number. Went to the hotel, dialed him and it was a fax number. I was deflated. I called my dad and told him he gave me a fax number. My dad told me to figure out a way to make that fax number work.
A few ah-ha's: I was learning the value of understanding the value of clearly articulating your personal brand value / proposition. Your pitch. Know who you are talking. Don't talk at them. Talk about how your services will serve them. If you can understand how you articulate your services to who you are speaking to.
The value of giving. You must be willing to give to get. I volunteered on a movie set - three months of experience. A lot of power in giving and serving.
Find an interpretation of "NO" that will work for you. My interpretaion is NO simply means Not Now. Eventually the door can and will open up. It will not deflate you every time. You won't be afraid to pitch again or someone else.
Now to the radical land:
I have a fax number. In a hotel in Las Vegas. Typed up a letter and faxed it everyday for 30 days. I didn't hear anything. I dialed 411 and asked for a cross check for this number. Operator gave me a number in NY. I planned and coordinated with some relationships for an opportunity to go to NY. I go to the office - his receptionist and asked for a meeting. Asked if I was on the calendar. No, but I met him a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. Left him my resume' and a note. A janitor said hurry up and get the office cleaned up because he was coming. I had lunch and bumped into him. Introduced myself. He has a potty mouth. We went to the Subway sandwich shop and asked what I wanted to do. I said it would be perfect to work for PDiddy. He introduced me to his COO - we are looking to hire corporate folks. No one really has the corporate experience - next year. That wasn't my interpretation of how the conversation went. I went back to Minneapolis and moved back to NY in a place so small I could open the front door from my shower. I know no one in NY but Mr. Russell Simmons. At this point if I could just increase the chances of us meeting I could make the opportunity. He was speaking at a conference in Miami similar to BlogHer for entrepreneurs. I called my Mom and told her I needed to go to Florida. They had an intervention. It was the first time I got scared on the journey. Maybe it is
crazy. Maybe it is too radical. It didn't stop me. I purchased my ticket to Miami. I sat on the front row and realized the room was filled with Teneshia's. At the end he asked If anyone had questions. I asked "Mr. Simmons I want to tell you the story of a young lady that is walking a dreamers journey.
I'd like you to tell me if she could continue or stop and shared my story." He leaned in and said to his right hand man and said "Gary, it's the girl again." Yes, Mr. Simmons it's me. I'm here to offer my services again. Him: Over the years I've offered my services to many who did nothing with it but there were a few that took it and ran with it. He told me the story of a few that did. He told me he was curious as to which one I would be and to show up at his office Monday morning and remember I was working for no fee.
I've been on the journey for a long time. The journey does not have a stopping point. It continues. I went from an unpaid intern to a Managing Hip-Hop Reader/ Get out to Vote to client of Egami Consultin gGroup.
Most fulfilling of this journey - connecting the dots as to what you're doing on an everyday basis to the value it's bringing to others. Everyday something different - the big ah-ha is that at the center of it is a purposeful path. We want you to be purpose led. How is your online platform connected to your purpose? How is it connected to the world?
If one person is inspired and motivated to something different - than you are making a difference in the world.
Question: From a practical standpoint, how did you prepare yourself financially, emotionally to make that leap of faith?
Answer: A couple of time. During my years at IBM I was a saver. I had somewhat of a cushion. However it was a cushion with a deadline. That was a key to the urgency. If you don't have a cushion it doesn't mean you can't start now. There were times I was working with Russell and wanted to create an agency. It's about starting to get prepared where you are. If you don't have the finances, do the research.
Question: Did you run into misconceptions of the market?
Answer: The big thing was starting with educating them. We will work with brands that say they will focus on the general market - not the niche or diverse market (Women, Hispanic, LGBT, et). We start at educating them on what they do not know. Give them statistics. Start there and get over that barrier so they know what you know will be of service. Start with the statistics and paint a different picture for them based on who you are pitching. Tailor the statistics and picture so they understand they are able to connect with that market. Change their mind about how
they think about the market.