Books to Read in 2018

Books to Read in 2018 | The B Werd

I’m one of those girls who keeps a book close by to pull out of my purse in a waiting room or in a coffee shop. My nightstand has them stacked high and I have drawers full of books. I’m such an advocate for reading because it changed the dynamic of my life. Reading is something that will expand the way you think, take you places your feet never would’ve and teach you things you would’ve otherwise gone without knowing. Books aided me in my own self discovery, they mended my broken heart, and gave me the courage to go after the life I wanted for myself. There’s so much to be discovered between the pages of a good book, so in 2018 I’m challenging myself and you guys if you’d like to join, to one book a month.

Here are the books I’ve picked up and are planning to read, or reread because they’re that good.

Self Made

I read this book in one sitting on a plane ride headed to visit Christina in LA – that’s how good it was. I even got emotional at one point in the book because I related to her passion so closely. Nely Galan is a Cuban immigrant who went from being the minority, to being the boss. What I enjoyed most about her book was that she gave real step-by-step instructions on what we should be doing, how hard we should be working and how much we should be saving. This book definitely lit a fire under me to do more and get going on the ideas I had in my head.

Leave Your Mark

An oldie but a goodie. A Communications Executive, Aliza Licht, dishes on how to land your dream job, kill it in your career and rock social media. My career’s really important to me, and so is the brand I’ve built for myself so this is a gem I can continually revisit for advice and ideas on how I want to move forward with both. It’s an easy read and definitely worth your time.

Ego is The Enemy

Nate picked this book up recently and after sharing a few excerpts with me I decided to read it myself. Without us even realizing it, our ego holds us back from so much. It stands between us and who we really are, our success, and who we have the potential to become. This was an eye opening read that revealed some of my flaws that I had not yet recognized. If you’re looking to shed layers you no longer need, this book is for you!

When Breath Becomes Air

This book brought me to tears. At 36 a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi, went diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He takes you through his journey of going from treating the dying, to fighting to live. A book that will truly change the way you think and open up your eyes to the blessings in everyday.

The Last Black Unicorn

I fell in love with Tiffany Haddish after watching Girls Trip and tuned into everything she appeared on after that. But her story is so much deeper than her being talented. Tiffany grew up in foster care in South Central Los Angeles and would make people laugh as a route of survival. Her recount of how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others isn’t just entertaining, it’s incredibly inspiring.


I read this book over the span of Hurricane Harvey and couldn’t put it down. This book is about forgetting trying to inch your way up a corporate ladder, finding hacks in business and reaching the top your way, on your own time. He also doesn’t just encourage you, he gives you step-by-step instructions to turn your passion into a full-fledged business. A great read for those wanting to do more than go to a job 5 days a week.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

This book was gifted to me when I was a junior in college by an entrepreneur who also happened to be a good friend. It was one of the best gifts I’d received. It teaches you what makes great leaders and how to become one. The timing of the book was perfect, since I was getting ready to step out into the “real world”. I can truly say that this book helped me be a leader in my environment regardless of my age. Leadership is a characteristic, not something you qualify for. If you learn the laws of leadership, people will follow.

The Sun and Her Flowers

I’m a huge fan of Rupi Kaur and admire her transparency so much. Her first book, Milk and Honey took me on a roller coaster of emotions but also reminded me how strong and powerful I was. I expected nothing less from The Sun and Her Flowers. This book personifies how we grow, wilt and bloom as people and is just as poetic as her first book. A must-read!

You are a Bad Ass with Money

Believe it or not, I keep a mini-version of You Are a Badass in my purse to pull out in times of need. It’s straight to the point, an easy read and hits you right where you need it. I recently listened to a Podcast with the author, Jen Sincero, and I fell even more in love with her candid, no-filter, inspiring attitude. If You Are a Bad Ass with Money is as impactful as You Are a Bad Ass, I’ll be incredibly pleased with the read.

Which books do you guys have on your list? Share below which books are worth an additional read!

2018 Book Choices

A New Kind of Self Care in 2018

New Kind of Self Care in 2018 | The B Werd

When I look back on 2017, I feel like I squeezed an entire year into six months. It moved so quickly, I worked so hard and I accomplished so much. I celebrated, I explored, I grew, and I did a lot of things I told myself that I would. With pushing all of my limits came consequences. Feeling tired was an everyday thing. I also had two major health scares that included a disabling headache that lasted for four days straight and a ringing in my ear that caused temporary loss of hearing and lack of balance. It was more than scary, it was a wake up call to learn to prioritize better. It was a wake up call not to recognize when I’m doing myself more harm than good by running myself thin.

Not only did 2017 test me, I tested myself. I rarely took breaks in the name of “work” and that left me burnt out, overwhelmed and exhausted. In 2018, I’m dedicated to working just as hard in my business but more importantly, even harder to make sure that I take better care of myself. At the end of the day, if I’m not in the best shape physically, mentally and emotionally, I can’t give my best to anything else I want to pursue. We’ve been convinced that self care is monthly facials and massages or a bottle of champagne with pizza for a night in, but it’s much more than that.

I’ve learned the hard way that self care isn’t always glamorous and rarely involves lighting scented candles or dropping bath bombs in a tub. In fact, it’s actually much uglier than that. Self care is likely sitting at a table reviewing your debt and creating a plan to tackle it. It’s putting your phone down at 10 pm to make sure you can get out of bed the first time your alarm goes off for that 6 am workout. It’s being realistic about what you want to achieve and not over-promising results. It can even look like cutting ties with toxic people in order to better serve yourself. As much as we’re all aiming to achieve, self care should be preventative. It shouldn’t be something we result to after we use up every ounce of energy we have or cause ourselves to break down.

A lot of people are in the process of planning their 2018 New Years Resolutions, if they don’t already have them secured. Instead of planning to start a diet for the 10th time or committing to making a million dollars, I want us to focus on making resolutions to add value to our lives. Wake up and tell the people that matter to you that you love them, call your grandmother and take her to lunch, tell people you appreciate them so they know they’re cared for, schedule doctor and dentist appointments and create new habits that improve your overall well being. Read more books, get more rest and Find more ways to create passive income instead of exchanging time for money.

This year, let’s let self care mean being the hero of your life, not the victim. Let it mean rerouting what you do and how you do it until your everyday life isn’t something you need a vacation to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It’s letting go of  some goals so you can focus more on others. It’s being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It’s meeting your own needs so you aren’t constantly anxious and dependent on other people.

Self care this year means doing better and becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that bath bombs and champagne are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it. I hope your 2018 looks exactly how you imagine. I’m going to try my damnedest to make sure mine does.

Boss Ladies | Dana Jackson, Owner of Beneath Your Mask talks how Lupus lead her to her Purpose, Finding Fulfillment in Who You Really Are, and Starting a Luxury Beauty Brand

Boss Ladies | Dana Jackson, Owner of Beneath Your Mask

You all got a brief introduction to who Dana is and what she does in the post I put up unboxing her Beneath Your Mask skin and hair products, which I absolutely adore. Dana is a Chicago native that I was a fan of before I ever met her solely based off of her style, flawless skin and perfect natural curls. Beyond her physical beauty, Dana is a legitimate Boss Lady, who’s always lived without limits while going after what she wanted. I had the pleasure of getting some behind the scenes insight on what it took to put Beneath Your Mask together prior to its launch. Her incredibly inspiring personal story of how battling Lupus lead her to creating her own luxury beauty brand is one everyone should hear. She’s been mentioned by some of your favorite natural beauty bloggers and featured in major publications. Her latest accomplishment? Selling her Beneath Your Mask products in Neiman Marcus while sharing the story of what made her look beneath hers. Read more about how Dana’s life changing diagnosis changed her life for the better.

Women like us always have a vision for how we imagine our lives to go. As a young woman, how did you envision your future and what motivated you to go after those things?

I honestly didn’t have a clear vision of my life when I was younger. I knew what I didn’t want to be, but I didn’t know exactly what I did want to be. I always did well in school and loved to read and knew I didn’t want to be a product of my environment. I knew I wanted more for myself. I knew I didn’t want to have kids young. I knew I wanted to experience going away to college. But everyone around me was going to jail or being killed. My older brother was killed when I was 15. He always wanted the best for me. Always treated me like I was different than everyone around us, always had expectations of me. I wanted to make him proud.  I identified the women I did and didn’t want to be like. I remember like it was yesterday. I was 11, my mother told me my father was on drugs. He came home, they argued, he came upstairs and asked me for $20. Everybody knew I always kept a stash, I’d always get and save money. It was at that moment though, that I knew I was never going to be without and that I was always going to have to be able to depend on myself.

You are such a naturally stunning woman. Within a couple months after your diagnosis, most of your hair had fallen out, your joints had locked up, you had a severe rash all over your body, your eyes were swollen shut, and you retained so much water you had gained over 100 additional pounds. How difficult was it to cope with not recognizing yourself and finding the strength to not let it get the best of you?

It absolutely got the best of me. It was probably the most difficult part of it. I would’ve stayed in denial had the visual side effects not been so drastic. I completely shut down when my hair fell out. When my eyes were swollen shut, I would get out of the bed, look in the mirror and just get back in the bed and cry. I didn’t come out of my place for two weeks. I ordered room service everyday (my building had a hotel on the 1st 7 floors). If not for the physical changes, I would have probably stayed in denial much longer. That was my rock bottom and what caused me to finally accept help. I always used to tell my niece that she was more than her looks, but when I lost mine, I was devastated. I don’t even think I realized how superficial I was. But the reality is, I was more concerned with how I looked than the fact that my kidneys were shutting down. Over time, I let it go because I figured it would be my new normal. Not the swelling and the weight gain, but the round face and swollen stomach from the steroids. I had to let it go, I think God was taking everything I valued too much away, one by one.

Boss Ladies | Dana Jackson, Owner of Beneath Your Mask

While you were in Atlanta, you were doing what so many young women would describe as an ideal life. You were an entertainment business manager for some of the most popular celebrities in the music industry, constantly attending events, rubbing shoulders with celebrities, taking trips, while wearing your favorite designers and switching out Chanel’s. What about that was unsatisfying?

Don’t get me wrong, all that was amazing. But what you just described was probably 5% of my job, if that! The other 95% was literally revolving my life around not only the entertainers I worked for, but their parents, children, spouses, managers, assistants, attorneys, friends, chefs, band, crew, DJ, etc. all having around-the-clock access to me. And to each of these people, they’re a star in their own mind. It’s a lot of personalities to deal with especially when money doesn’t move around without you facilitating it. Everyone has their hand out, they think the money is endless, and in all the excitement of the entertainment industry, you’re the bad guy saying what they can and can’t afford, doing tour budgets and deciding salaries for band/crew, finding a tour bus, scaling back their production budget when they have a creative vision for their show, telling the production manager why he doesn’t deserve a raise when the artist already promised it, why they can’t loan their lifelong friend money again this month when the artist already promised it, waking up at 4 am because their credit card didn’t go through at the Balmain store in Paris. My life was not my own. I never went to the movies in peace, let alone took a vacation. I had to be available around the clock. Entertainers are so used to everybody jumping at their every request, and you feel the need to as well. I lived for it at one point and absolutely LOVED it, but it does get old and it can burn you out. I wasn’t choosing my clients and it’s really hard to dedicate your life to someone you may not believe in.

What was the toughest lesson that suffering from Lupus taught you? What was the greatest thing to come from your suffering?

The toughest lesson was learning who my friends were. I was already not the most open or trusting person, and lupus caused me to change what I considered a friend. I no longer have “fun-time only” friends. The ones that are just around when life is good and you have access to events, concerts, parties, etc. I don’t have space in my life for those type of friends anymore. I had people that came to ATL for my birthday in November, then I got sick a few months later and didn’t hear from them again until I started getting better and back to myself. I took it very personal at first, but I realize they would have done that to anyone. But regardless, I don’t make room for those type of people in my life. The greatest thing to come from it was losing my sense of entitlement. This world doesn’t owe me anything. I used to think that because I went through traumatic experiences growing up that life was supposed to always be good for me going forward. It’s made me a much more thankful person. I don’t take ANYTHING for granted.

You initially created your first product “Heal” to suit your own needs, after not being able to find what you were looking for on store shelves. At what point did you recognize not only a business opportunity, but the chance to serve others with the same needs as you?

I realized there was a business opportunity as soon as I started gifting it, I just didn’t really want to dive into it as a business. But people OBSESSED over Heal. It was the only thing that worked for their eczema amongst other things. It was expensive to make and I didn’t have time to make it. I’d try to find something similar when I would run out, but I could never find anything to compare. People harassed me about Heal for years. I also realized that God hadn’t helped me overcome my health issues just for me. He didn’t put people in my life to help me just for me. I knew it was bigger than me, but I didn’t want to revolve my life around lupus so to speak. I kept being led in that direction and my guru kept telling me I needed to write my story out. That’s why Beneath Your Mask is so much bigger than the products for me. It’s more about sharing my journey.

Boss Ladies | Dana Jackson, Owner of Beneath Your Mask

When you decided to turn your products into Beneath Your Mask, a business, what were some of the first steps you took?

I came up with the name, got my EIN number, formed an LLC, opened a bank account so that I could keep of all my business expenses separate from my personal expenses, I contacted an attorney that worked with some of my former clients to file the trademark for me, and then I started having the logo designed.

You say that your true healing began when you started to let go of everything superficial that you’d placed way too much value on, including the persona or elements of the mask that I wore on a daily basis. Why is this type of freedom necessary for women?

As women, there’s so much pressure on what life, success, career and family should look like for us. And even if we aren’t there, we’re trying to portray that to the world. Or at least I was. I turned 30 a few months before I got diagnosed and I was going through the “this-is-where-I’m-supposed-to-be in-my-life-by-the-time-I’m-30” blues that I swore would never happen to me. We put so much pressure on ourselves. I wasn’t on social media at the time, but even more so on social media because we’re always comparing our journey and our individual life timeline to the next persons. Removing that mask and beating to your own drum and what you want for your life is beyond freeing. Living your authentic life also attracts authentic people. Most importantly, God can’t work on your representative. He can only work on you. That’s where the name Beneath Your Mask comes from and why is was so important for me to remove the mask I was wearing. So much of my identity and value was placed on what I looked like and my career, but who was I without those things? That is the Dana I needed to get to, that God needed to get to.

Going from a business manager to creating, packaging and shipping your own handmade products is a significant change. Were you ever discouraged because you were embarking on something entirely unfamiliar, and how did you overcome doubt?

I was absolutely discouraged! I knew most wouldn’t see my vision because I was creating a luxury brand. I’d tell people that I was going to be in Neimans and Saks and people would look at me like I was crazy. Everybody wanted to know what was taking so long. But I obsess over the details, and I wasn’t putting it out until I was in love with it.  I went through 2 logo designers, 2 packaging designers, all my savings, I pushed my launch date back so many times, and all the people that were excited for my brand didn’t buy my products when I launched. I’d been running my client’s businesses for years and I’ve always been able to get to an answer or end result, so I knew I could do it if I just made it past the moments when I wanted to throw everything out of the window and give up.

What’s been the most rewarding part of having your own brand and doing it your own way?

We recently did a pop-up shop at Neiman Marcus Northpark in Dallas and launched on That was a huge validation for me because a lot of people wondered why I had the audacity to be a black woman creating a luxury brand. To prove that our dollar can not only buy luxury, but create luxury, was extremely rewarding. I had a vision and was uncompromising on it. I did that with my own money that I’d saved, no investments, no loans. Day to day, not knowing how I was going to make it through the next day. We get discouraged sometimes when everybody doesn’t believe in our vision, but everybody doesn’t need to. The right people need to and most importantly, you need to.

Boss Ladies | Dana Jackson, Owner of Beneath Your Mask

Can you describe how much more fulfilling life is now that you know you’re walking in your purpose?

I‘ve had the sound and vibration turned off on my phone for the last 3 years, just because I can. I used to get anxiety when I got an email, now I love when an email comes through for my business. When someone reaches out to me to thank me for being so transparent because they can relate or how one of my products has helped them, it means the world to me. It lets me know that no matter how difficult, I’m doing the right thing. I fought this for a very long time because I didn’t necessarily want the responsibility. But God kept pushing me in this direction.

What is your B Werd?

I didn’t choose a word that describes women, I chose something we should all do. Believe resonates with me the most – Believe that you can have whatever it is you want for yourself and your life. Believe there are no limitations set on you. When I worked in entertainment, I realized these were normal people with massive success. That was the moment I realized I could absolutely have whatever life I wanted to have. Believe that God loves you enough to give you the world. My faith has been strengthened throughout this process. I used to rely solely on myself and now I rely on God. To have that pressure off of me is amazing. I’m normally the person that plans everything and has to know exactly what and how the next things is happening. Believing that God will handle it has taken a huge weight off of me.

Her best seller Heal is sold out on her website, but you can add it to your beauty routine by purchasing it from Neiman Marcus. All other products and more of Dana’s story can be found on Follow Dana on Instagram to see what her brand is up to next!

Krystal Johnson: Legal Advice for Influencers and Business Owners

Over the past year, becoming an influencer and entrepreneur has opened my eyes to many things I wish I knew when I first began. Unfortunately, trial and error has resulted in me losing money, a lot of time and few really great ideas. Thanks to women like Krsytal Johnson, an attorney who specializes in helping people just like me, I’ve learned some valuable information that helps me protect my brand and avoid legal mistakes. I reached out to Krystal to ask a few questions that I felt would help you all from making the same mistakes that I did. Read below for some useful tips any business owner or influencer could use moving forward.

Legal Advice with Krystal C. Johnson | The B Werd

Introducing, Krystal C. Johnson – 

I’m an Intellectual Property & Entertainment Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Krystal C. Johnson. My office is based in New York City and I work with creatives, small business owners, and influencers from across the country to develop and protect their brands and intellectual property (intellectual property includes trademarks and copyrights). Whether it’s drafting and negotiating contracts, registering trademarks/copyrights, or forming an LLC, I enjoy assisting my clients with any legal needs or challenges they may face.

From the first day of law school I knew I wasn’t going to be the traditional courtroom attorney. I’ve always felt drawn to providing counsel and support to those individuals with creativity and passion for their businesses and brands. Through my practice, it’s been most rewarding to aid my clients in achieving their goals and excelling in their businesses.

For business owners and influencers in the early stages of start-up, what would your first piece of advice be?

Starting a business and/or launching a brand can be a very exciting and stressful time. It’s vital to identify a clear vision of what your business/brand represents, who it serves, and what message you want to translate to the world. Identifying these three items will create a foundation for you to build upon. Of course, the business and answers may evolve over time (or completely change along the way) however, this framework will support your growth in the early stages and aid others to properly serve your vision and needs.

Also, don’t be afraid of writing it down – that goes for your vision and for agreements. If you have an LLC, an operating agreement needs to be in place to regulate how your business operates. If you are in a partnership an agreement is imperative to ensure that the parties are aware of their duties, responsibilities, and rights. While there are some States where oral agreements may be honored, it’s not worth the risk. Written agreements reinforce the vision and provide a standard to operate by. Save yourself the headache, frustration, and potential confusion by putting your contracts and agreements in writing.

What is the most common mistake you see new entrepreneurs and business owners make and how can they avoid that in the future?

Too often new business owners think that they can just “figure it out as they go,” and neglect to handle simple task. Be proactive, instead of reactive. Protect your ideas with the proper registrations. Ensure you are legally compliant with your state and local laws, as well as any other regulations that may apply to your business. Keep a good record of your contracts/agreements and other important correspondence. Don’t allow your excitement over an amazing idea overrule your preparation.

Another common mistake occurs when new business owners  and influencers are in such a rush to close a deal that they don’t thoroughly read or understand the agreements they enter into. Do your due diligence. If an agreement seems too complex, invest in an attorney review. Some attorneys may review a contract for a lower fee than their typical rate, simply to translate the agreement and review it for any red flags or issues. Remember, rushed and right don’t always match.

Many business owners and bloggers offer courses, workbooks, spreadsheets and other forms of educational information that they’ve created. In order to fully own those products, should they be following a particular legal route?

All of these products are considered a form of intellectual property and can be fully protected through the copyright registration process with the United States Copyright Office. By protecting your coursework with a copyright, not only are you securing legal evidence of ownership, you can also maximize the damages you may receive if someone unlawfully uses your work. Bloggers and business owners often undervalue their intellectual property until it’s infringed upon by another party.

“If you believe it’s a good idea, someone else will too.”

Is securing a domain name enough to have legal ownership of your brand name?

Unfortunately, it is not. Legal ownership of a brand name is secured by the registration of the name as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Along with the brand name, you can also register and protect your logo. The primary benefit of trademarking your brand name is that you prevent anyone else from using that same name for the same purposes that you’ve registered it for. Many business owners overlook the value of intellectual property ownership and as a result lose out on the benefits.

On the State level, you can also file a trademark application, but the USPTO registration is supreme. Also, it’s important to remember that while registering your business with the State does protect the name within that state, it doesn’t prevent the use of the same name in other parts of the country.

At what stage in business should business owners or influencers consult with a legal expert?

I recommend starting with an introductory consultation to run your plans and ideas past a legal expert familiar with the early stages of starting a business or influencer marketing.  Every attorney is not qualified or experienced to answer your questions, so make sure that you identify an individual with experience in the area of your need. I actually offer assessments and legal compliance roadmaps to clients who schedule consultsultations with me.  While it’s impossible to know everything, you should know all that you possibly can to get started.

Having someone like Krystal in your corner to consult with is so valuable! Connect with Krystal on Instagram or Facebook for more useful information on better practices for protecting your brand and covering your legal bases.

Monday Motivation | Reclaiming My Time

I looked up and it was August, just like that. I don’t know where the time has gone or how quickly we got here, but it seems like I was just celebrating New Years, while setting a list of new goals to accomplish before the year was up. Luckily, I’ve crushed a lot of them already, even with the random additions I felt were necessary; but I can’t deny the fact that I feel like the past seven months were a complete blur.

My brand and business has taken off exponentially this year. In January I made plans to elevate them both but failed to accurately measure how well they both would do. Your brand growing past what you expected isn’t necessarily a bad problem to have, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a lot of work. Unlike most bloggers, I never had the desire to blog full-time and even still, don’t plan to be a full-time entrepreneur any time soon. My career has always been important to me, so I’ve found ways to balance both the best I could. I’ve done well with balancing, but naturally when your focus is split nothing gets 100% of your efforts. Every day when I wake up I have to prioritize which parts of my life I need to focus on that day and while it’s effective, it’s often unfair.

Helping others, women specifically, has always been the purpose of this site and my brand. I take pride in the fact that I’m able to do so as often as I do because that’s all I wanted to come from launching a blog. Prior to offering any product or service, I was already sacrificing a lot of my time making sure that I had content for this site. Believe me, I understand the necessity of sacrifice when you’re trying to build something you haven’t had before, but I changed my whole life around to carve out the time I needed in order to handle all the things on my plate. I hadn’t allowed myself to sleep past 7 am on a Saturday at all this year because I so desperately need Saturdays and Sundays to get work done. Last week I was unable to post anything on the blog because I’d picked up some new projects at work and needed my evenings to complete the brand audits I had scheduled. I’ve said no to outings with my friends, brunch with my family and date nights with my boyfriend because I’ve had to work on something that I created for myself. We all long to do something we’re so passionate about that we jump out of bed in the mornings to get to it and I’m blessed to have that, but I have to remind myself that my time is still mine to spend any way I please.

Balance went from juggling priorities to feeling like I was being pulled in a dozen different directions without a moment for myself. So guess what? Like sister Maxine Waters has preached, I’m reclaiming my time. I want to get back to the things I loved doing before I was servicing anyone else. If I’m not being fueled creatively, I have nothing left to teach anyone. Before the year is up, I’m setting new goals to make sure I have the time to do the things that are most important to me, like content creation, more visual interaction and new projects at my 9 to 5. Before I was prioritizing helping others before helping myself, or before when I was building my own brand, before helping others was prioritized over helping myself and when I was only juggling 10 things instead of 20. There are so many other things that I’m passionate about and want to do that I have not gotten the chance to because I’ve been so tied up with helping others.

This Monday, reclaim your time. Don’t be afraid to drop the guilt trip and get back to focusing on what best serves you. Beyond all of your responsibilities, errands and deadlines, your time is still yours. You can adjust it at any moment of any day. You can say no and you can change your mind. You can rearrange what you want to give your attention to. Consider some things you’re currently dealing with that aren’t worthy of your time and don’t look back.