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.

Stay or Go: What to Do Before You Quit

Stay or Go: What To Do Before You Quit | The B Werd

It’s happened to me, so I’m certain you’ve experienced it too. You’re working a job for a company and you may enjoy it, you may not. You may have exceeded what your potential is at that company or in your position, or you may not feel like you’re getting what you’re worth. Where’s the appreciation for your efforts? The creativity in your tasks? The raise you were promised? I get it. We’ve all been in a position where we’ve felt stuck professionally. Even in my current position, I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to reassess my role, whether I was the issue or whether it was simply time for me to move on. Before you decide to throw in the towel and quit, follow the steps below to determine where you stand with your current company.

Weigh Your Options

Shopping around is the best way to determine other opportunities that may be a better fit for you, and it never hurts to do. I know for me personally, there are a lot of perks that may not be included should I choose to take another job. I have an exceptional work-life balance. If I need a vacation, an off-day or a short day, all I’ve got to do is say so. I do a lot of really fun things, eat a lot of good food and drink for free (yes that matters) and actually like my coworkers. Will the things that I claim to want like a higher salary, or a fancier office really outweigh the many advantages of my current position? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Look for other opportunities that could potentially fill in the gap of what you feel like you’re missing.

Are You Staying Engaged?

Engagement without a doubt drives productivity. If you’ve checked out, that could be your biggest problem. Once we call ourselves being fed up, it’s easy to just ride a day-to-day wave waiting on 5 pm. We tend to quit caring whether or not we impress our boss, or are giving our responsibilities our best effort. No one works harder than they do during their first six months at a new company when they’re trying to prove their worth. Can you keep that momentum going? Try to put your annoyance on the back burner and actually put your best foot forward, giving your role 100% and see if the circumstances change. Don’t do the bare minimum and in return expect your situation to turn around. If you’re giving your job the best you’ve got and are still continually disappointed with the outcome, you may be a better fit elsewhere.

How Hard Are You Really Working?

This is the part where we really have to be self aware and honest with ourselves. Do you really deserve what you’re requesting? I’m not talking about things like respect and equal opportunities, those shouldn’t have to be negotiated. I’m talking about things we think we should be getting simply because we’ve been with a company a certain amount of time or get to work on time everyday. My mom used to always say “you don’t get a pat on the back for doing what you’re supposed to do” and that applies to work as well. Simply doing your job may not be enough to warrant a better position. Self entitlement in a big barrier in millennial growth, many of us want instant results. Chances are, your CEO isn’t a millennial and is still doing the things the old fashion corporate way: hard work, consistency and experience.

Are You The Issue?

Try to determine whether or not the issue is your job, your boss, your schedule… or if the issue is you. There could be hundreds of reasons for why you’d want to quit your job and hundreds of those reasons may be perfectly logical. Before I blame anyone else, I like to take a look at myself and be honest about my role in the problem. Everything from how you’re responding to the issue to you doing things to spite a coworker play a part in the dynamic of your role. Consider what you can be doing differently to better serve your department or avoid confrontation.

Communicate It

Who can you talk to about the discomfort you’re experiencing and have you already done so? Work-related relationships are still relationships and in all relationships, communication is key. Schedule a time to sit down your manager, your manager’s boss or HR (if your manager is the issue) to really express what issues you’re experiencing and what the options for a solution are. Before I talk to anyone, my boss included, I brainstorm and create a list of the things that I’m concerned about, as well as the things I feel need to brought to light. In situations like this, you have to be as willing to listen to feedback as much as you’re willing to talk about what’s wrong. Try your best to take emotions out of it and use facts, instead of saying “I feel”. Sometimes a company, boss or position won’t be able to give us what we’re hoping for, and that’s OK. If communicating your issue doesn’t yield the results you were hoping for, happily move on.

Careers are important. They will take up a large portion of your life and will play a huge role in your lifestyle. Your happiness and opportunities for growth shouldn’t have to be compromised. If you’ve done all you can to make the best out of your current role and haven’t been successful, feel no guilt in continuing your search for the perfect position.

8 Ways to Grow Your Email Subscriber List

8 Ways to Grow Your Email Subscriber List | The B Werd

I never built my site or brand around collecting email addresses because when I began The B Werd, I wanted a no-pressure platform where I wasn’t attempting to sell anyone anything or even use them for analytics. I wanted all of you all to be attracted genuinely to the content and information I was providing. In fact, I only implemented my subscriber list a few months ago when I decided I would soon be launching products and have only used it twice. Just because I haven’t used my subscriber list doesn’t mean that I haven’t identified the key benefits to having one. Emails have the highest conversion rate of all marketing and even if you aren’t selling a product, it makes a huge difference in how often you’re bringing readers back to your website.

An email list is critical because you can’t build your content on rented land, it’s not sustainable. So many brands and companies build their audiences on social media networks like Instagram and YouTube, which works for now, but we don’t own those companies – Facebook and Google do. If we are thinking like real media companies, the asset is in the audience. An email list is yours and won’t disappear with likes and comments should your social media account become nonexistent. Getting an email address is the first critical step to figuring out who my reader is, and hopefully in the future, my customer of some sort. If our goal is to drive sales or keep customers happy in some way, we first need to get them as part of our audience.

GIVE A REASON TO SUBSCRIBE

Sometimes content isn’t enough. We have the option to come back to your site and browse at our leisure. We choose to hear from you when we want to, so incentives are often necessary if you want the liberty of contacting people whenever you’d like to. Think about what you can offer your audience outside of the content already on your blog and use that as motivation for your customers or readers.

Giveaways or Contests

Announce you’ll be giving away your favorite book, beauty product or a $50 gift card to Whole Foods. Who is your audience and what will make them take action? Free clothing, two tickets to a baseball game or your secret recipe for removing fine lines and wrinkles. If you own an online store, offer 10% off of their next purchase. It may be 2017, but it’s still appropriate to barter what you need in exchange for something you’re willing to give up.

Free Checklist or E-Book

I found myself subscribed to dozens of websites in a short amount of time because they offered me something upfront that I felt like I could use. I didn’t subscribe because I loved their content, I subscribed because on my first visit they told me if I gave them my email address they’d send me all the hashtags they used to grow their following. SOLD! I didn’t love them, or even know them, but I subscribed and ended up sticking with most of them because even after I gave up my email address, they proved their worth with valuable content or products.

Exclusive Content

Offer them something that they’ll only receive via email if they subscribe. This could be a weekly meal schedule, five tips to save $1000 before summer’s over or early access to your best selling products. Being apart of something exclusive is almost always enough to get someone to opt into an email program. Think about all of the times you’ve purchased something from a clothing or beauty store that requires your email address for a free item on your birthday. We usually give in easily and don’t think twice about it.

MAKE IT EASY

Most of us hate pop-up’s as it is, so if you want to get people to sign up make it as simple as possible. Any visitor on your side should be able to subscribe in under 15 seconds and should also be able to continue to read content without a pop-out blocking it.

Simple Sign Up Process

Make it as simple as a first name and an email address. The quicker it can be done the better. Once you enter your email on my site all that’s required is for you to confirm your subscription via email, then we’re good to go.

Test Pop-Ups

Some people hate them, but the conversion rate of a pop-up is incredibly high for a reason. They work, whether you enjoy them or not. Test if this method works for you before counting it out. Chances are it likely will.

Opt-in button on your blog and in more than one place: 

Even if you decide against a pop-up, having somewhere for people to subscribe on your blog is crucial. I personally have mine in the right sidebar towards the bottom, and a pop-up that appears after 30 seconds for IP addresses that aren’t recognized. Make it to where no matter if someone is on mobile or desktop, your subscribe widget shows up without having to scroll too far, because no matter what page you’re on, your sidebar will appear. If you don’t like that setup or don’t have an option for it, try embedding the opt-in button on your most visited pages.

SHAREABLE

Just like it’s important to provide readers a way to share your blog content via social media, you want to do the same with emails.

Use social media

In the same ways that you use your social media platforms to drive traffic to your blog, you should also be taking advantage of your social accounts to grow your email list. Create a recurring Twitter post once a week providing a link to sign-up, or add it to your Instagram when sharing a new blog post.

Include social share buttons

At the end of a newsletter or email, include the same social share buttons that you have on your blog. This gives people the chance to share your emails which will grow your subscribers. You can also include a link to subscribe in your email signature.

If you’re interested in me doing a post regarding how you begin to make money off of your email list, let me know!

Boss Ladies | Nicole Lynn, Sports Agent and Lawyer talks Sacrifice, Being the Minority and the Value of Hard Work

Boss Ladies | Nicole Lynn, Sports Agent

I’m always searching for women who inspire me, whether it be their progression created by a humble upbringing, their hunger to reach new heights or the discipline to do the things they said they’d do. Nicole Lynn has checked all of those boxes off. Outside of being a Sports Agent and Attorney, she wears many other hats. Read about Nicole’s journey below –

Tell us about the adversities you faced as a child and how they helped shape your future.

What many people don’t know about me is how rough of a childhood I had. To say I grew up in humble beginnings is an understatement. I wasn’t just the poor kid in school… I was the poorest. To give you a sneak peek, many days I wore the same clothes to school, I didn’t always know what I would eat when I got home, and lived in homes with no water, gas, and electricy. I had to grow up REALLY fast, so I essentially raised myself with very little parental guidance. I started working at the age of 14 years old and have had a job (or two or three) ever since. Because of my traumatic childhood (and to be honest, I haven’t even scratched the surface of what that childhood looked like), my drive and determination was and has always been off the charts. I never had anyone to fall back on, so it was either be successful or be nothing. My childhood made it difficult because everything I had I had to work for… never once was given a hand out (and sometimes you truly need these). However, it was helpful in the sense that I am able to relate to a LOT of NFL players on a personal level. Many players grew up in similar situations like I did. They, too, have demanding families that they have to support and families that pull at them from all sides. I know exactly what this is like so I am able to relate to players on a level that many other agents will never be able to. I can also provide guidance to them on how to navigate their family and I am also a voice of reason on how to never go back to that life by retaining their wealth long term.

Did you always know that sports would hold a spot in your adult life?

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a sports agent. I didn’t always know the title of the role I wanted but I knew I wanted to help athletes to be successful in the league and long term. Because of this, every single move I ever made was to complete this goal. After completing a business degree I got into finance with the thought process of helping athletes retain wealth. I went to law school knowing I would later sit for the NFLPA agent exam. I worked at the NFLPA before starting as an agent so I could learn everything I could about life after football. Every decision I have ever made has been extremely calculated with the same end game in mind. I realize it can be rare for someone to almost always have known what they wanted to do in life, but that was the case for me.

You originally began your career as a financial analyst on Wall Street, helping athletes achieve and maintain wealth. When you decided your heart was really set on being a sports agent, were you discouraged by the additional amount of time and schooling it was going to take for you to achieve your goal?

Well no one really wants to go back to school after spending so much time there, right!? I was already on a career path that could have been very lucrative, but I wanted more. I wanted to wake up every day and do something that was fulfilling to me personally, so I knew that redirecting my career was the only way to go. Did I feel like I was back-tracking a little at first? Yes. But did I know that it would all be worth it in the end? YES! There was no time to be discouraged, I just had to do what was necessary.

Boss Ladies | Nicole Lynn, Sports Agent

Let’s talk about the discipline that it took to become a sports agent during your time working for the NFL Player’s Association.

I like to think my work ethic has always been pretty strong. Once I set a goal, that’s it! I know I have to put in the work to get exactly what I want. Working on Wall Street was difficult, law school was difficult, having to always prove I am capable in this industry is hard. But I always try to have the “light at the end of the tunnel” mentality. It sucks in the moment, but the payoff will be worth it in the end.

To become a NFL Sports Agent you have to sit for the contractor exam. That exam is only offered once a year. Unfortunately, it was offered the exact weekend of the bar exam (the exam you take after finishing law school to become a licensed attorney). When I found this out I decided to up my classes and graduate law school a semester early, allowing me to take the earlier bar exam and still sit for the agent exam. IT WAS ROUGH but I knew I didn’t want to wait an entire year to begin walking in my purpose.

Your day-to-day life varies due to your career. You’re a full-time attorney and an NFL Sports Agent, which requires you to visit clients, negotiate endorsements, and keep up with college potentials. What’s the best advice you have for balancing it all while keeping your sanity?

Organization and time management is key. My to-do list is never-ending, so I have to make sure that I am prioritizing effectively. I never want to waste my time or my client’s time. My fall schedule is pretty nuts. During the week I am working as a big firm attorney with late nights and high billable hours. Then on Saturdays I am standing outside a college game hoping to meet a player (even if for just one minute). Sometimes I drive 8 hours to see a potential client for just 5 minutes. Then on Sundays I am at a NFL game visiting a current client and then the week starts over. In the spring it is also busy, with the Senior bowl, NFL Combine, visiting players who are prepping for the draft, the NFL draft, and off season workouts. I am at all of it and usually just trying to keep my head above water. In the summer I have a bit more free time, but you can usually catch me at a Softball game watching my softball client (yes! I am a Softball sports agent too for pro players!) or interviewing with potential clients for the upcoming seasons.

I would be lying if I told you I was succeeding in balancing it. Unfortunately, a lot of times my personal life takes a hit. I have less free weekends to just hang out with my peers. Due to the nature of my job I have to be available at a moment’s notice – not only for my players but also their family members. I spend a great deal of time as a life coach to my guys and their mothers, their wives, etc. I get those 2 am phone calls from a client. It doesn’t bother me though, it is just a part of the job. I would not change it for the world!

Boss Ladies | Nicole Lynn, Sports Agent

How intimidating was it to be hired on as PlayersRep Sports Agency’s first and only female sports agent?

To be completely honest, I was too excited to be intimidated in the beginning. I was just happy to be in a place where I knew my career goals could be reached. The magnitude of my new role didn’t really click to me until my friends and family began to point it out. Or when I would walk into the NFL Combine with the other PlayersRep agents and would be the only woman in the room. I am reminded every single day that I am a woman and that it is not the norm. Whether that be the shocked look on a college player’s face when he walks into the room to interview me, or the change of tone of voice of a NFL team’s general manager over the phone when he hears he is negotiating with a woman. That 30 seconds of them being shocked never ever changes. I have learned to deal with it. I sit there, I give them their moment of being shocked, then I get to business.

There are other issues I face that my male counterparts will never understand. For example, I have to be extremely cautious on the outfits I choose. I have to find the fine line between being presentable and pretty but never too pretty. You never want to be prettier than any other wife or mom in the room. The last thing you want to do is make a wife feel uncomfortable. So because of this I have to be strategic in whether I choose to wear lipstick that day and ensure it isn’t “too much.” I battle with whether wearing a 5 inch heel is appropriate, so usually settle for a 2-3 inch heel out of an abundance of caution. And to make matters worse, being a black woman who likes to change her hair frequently, I have to think of how potential clients will take it. Can I be the girl with Beyonce weave? Will they be okay with my 3C natural hair with a twist out? It can be extremely difficult.

Again, although being a woman can be a little overwhelming, I knew that I could not let fear or intimidation overcome me. You have to be bold and confident when negotiating contracts and endorsement deals, so there is no place for fear in this industry. As the first and only female sports agent with PlayersRep, my job is to prove that women are just as capable. I just want my work to be impactful enough to make it easier for women like myself to also have a seat at the table.

You’re usually the minority in every aspect, from sexuality to profession to race. In what ways have you learned to take the things that are normally viewed as negative and turned them into positives?

I cannot change who I am, so I just have to do my job and do it well. That is the best way to prove that I am not less capable than my non-minority male counterparts. I am usually the first female agent a player has worked with or interviewed, so I have to make sure I leave a good impression and set the standard. I always tell potential clients “I can do a lot for you- get you the best deal, market the crap out of you, and work hard for your family, but there is one thing I can’t do, and that is change the fact that I am a woman. If you can look past that, we can make magic happen together!” I pray that my work always speaks for itself and shows that I am equally knowledgeable, negotiate just as aggressively and possess the tools necessary to help clients propel their career.

In my legal career I am also used to being the minority. There are not as many black lawyers working in large law firms as we would like. On my specific litigation team I am the only one. It can be uncomfortable at times mostly due to cultural differences and the constant feeling of feeling alone. However, I am learning to be myself and be okay with that- whether I fit into the mold or not. I can only be me, corporate America can love it or hate it!

Boss Ladies | Nicole Lynn, Sports Agent

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? And the most challenging?

The most enjoyable part of my job is being able to help my clients make their wildest dreams a reality. Negotiating the perfect endorsement deal or helping them secure a spot on their dream team is extremely fulfilling. Even more than that, I love the day to day with my clients and their families. My clients will attest to this when I say, I am a life coach for them. It is truly my favorite part. The phone conversations about whether they should pursue the second degree, whether their current girlfriend is “the one,” or the times when I can just pray for them when times get tough. I love being their go-to person. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it- they know that.

The most challenging part of my job (besides the fact that I am a black, female agent under the age of 30) is that I spend a good amount of my time focusing on the needs of my clients and sometimes lose sight of my own needs. I am everyone else’s life coach, therapist, trip planner, etc. that I sometimes forget to take care of myself. The balance can be rough, especially considering I am also a full time practicing attorney.

Boss Ladies | Nicole Lynn, Sports Agent

What is your B Werd? 

Balance: I’m a full-time attorney and sports agent. Although it can be extremely difficult, I try my best to balance each of these roles the best way possible. God has blessed me with so many amazing people and opportunities. I just want to make sure I’m showing enough appreciation for it all.

Blessed: God has blessed me beyond measure! I have so man beautiful people surrounding me and have experienced so many amazing opportunities. I’m not quite sure what I’ve done to deserve it, but I thank God for the good, bad and ugly every chance I get!

Bold: Because sometimes women have to be bold to get what they want. You can’t be timid in my line of work. You have to go after everything aggressively and be confident while doing it.

Best: Because I’ve always known that, in order to reach my goals, I have to do better than yesterday’s best. I am always in competition with myself. It keeps me on my toes. Which is especially important in my line of work.

Benevolent: Because I always try to have good intentions in everything I do. With my family, friends, clients or anyone that I meet. I have a big heart, and I want to make sure that I leave that impression on people.

To learn more about Nicole, visit https://www.agentnicolelynn.com/ as well as follow her on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with her moves. If you know of a Boss Lady worth highlighting, please send them my way!

5 Reasons Your Brand Isn’t Growing

5 Reasons Your Brand Isn't Growing | The B Werd

1) You Haven’t Started

You’ve had this burning urge to do more but have yet to narrow down exactly what it is that you should be doing. You’ve been imagining the ideas that you have come to fruition month after month but haven’t taken the first step to get the ball rolling. What are you waiting on? I guarantee you that getting started was the most difficult part of my brand and business. Once I decided to move forward, everything else naturally fell into place and began to build organically. Now I’m not saying it was easy just because I started, but it was much easier than sitting around knowing I wasn’t maximizing my full potential. We don’t know where to start, we don’t have time to start, we start and then second guess ourselves ending up back at square one. In the time it’s going to take you to read this blog post, you could’ve already purchased a domain name or created a YouTube page. Staying where you are will never end in progress. Take a single step forward towards what it is you want to do and let the rest follow.

2) You Don’t Know Your Audience

You’re throwing out bait, yet no one is biting.  If you’re pitching to a room full of people and not a single person is interested in what you’re offering, you’re in the wrong room. You will attract the ideal client by acting as if you’re always talking to your ideal client. Think strategically about what you’re trying to accomplish and build communities around that. My audience is likely an educated millennial woman of color between the age of 18 and 35 who either works corporate or are striving to build independent businesses. If those aren’t all facts, it’s something my reader is striving to achieve. I know exactly who I’m talking to. If your product is providing tutoring services to students for standardized testing, then your audience are the parents of students who take standardized tests, not necessarily your Facebook friends from high school. Don’t talk into an empty room.

3) Your “Why” is Wrong

People who do things for the wrong reasons often don’t make it too far. Money is exciting, believe me… I know. But doing something you dread for cash will get old sooner than later. When it comes to longevity, the reason “why” you’re doing what you do should be genuine and built around something you’re either exceptionally good at, passionate about or preferably both. Passion will forever outlive the lifespan of a dollar bill.

4) You Don’t Believe in What You’re Doing

How you perceive yourself tells others how to perceive you. The reason why the term “fake it tie you make it” is so popular is because people believe what you believe about yourself. If you’re timid about your product, your expertise or your beliefs, your credibility dwindles. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be you. You have to trust what you’re doing and saying before anyone else will.

5) No One Knows What you Offer

You’re all over the place. When you’re marketing to what you believe to be your target audience, no one knows what you offer. One day it’s thrift store finds and the next it’s a hair tutorial. When people visit your social media channels they can’t decipher what your services are or what you’re passionate about. They don’t know if you plan parties, or just like to party. They can’t tell that you’re an expert in web design if all of your photos are selfies. Be upfront about what it is that you do and design your social media channels around portraying just that so your brand is clear.

If you’re having trouble determining the details of your brand or mapping the direction you’d wish it would go, I’ve created a Brand Beginnings Werkbook to walk you right through that. Within the upcoming weeks, I will be taking on one-on-one clients in need of brand development + blogging direction. I’m really excited to watch all of your ideas come to life!