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Black Girl... Amish Farm?

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

We're winding down 'Open Book October' and I want to prove that leadership lessons show up in the most unexpected places.

It's the summer of 1994. I'm working three part-time jobs— babysitter to two small boys, customer service rep at an antique store and furniture maker on an Amish farm in Grabill, Indiana. 

That last one is a surprise, right? Well, it's true! That summer I worked for the Sauder family and  made hand-crafted curio cabinets for Bath and Body Works stores across North America. We built, painted, and distressed these beauties until they looked vintage. And my job was to slap the fire retardant coating on each piece before assembly. It could have been worse. 

And, as you might imagine, being the only girl (and Black girl) on team was a bit intimidating at first. Each morning, I would drive the 50 minutes to Amish country and venture down a long gravel driveway surrounded by cornfields to a...

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Embracing Change

Uncategorized Oct 20, 2022

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Thank goodness the weather is breaking. The cooler weather naturally perks me up with the promise of comfy sweaters, cozy cups of coffee on brisk days and a timeout on the humidity. My hair is grateful. Growing up in the Midwest, the turning of the leaves meant after school cheerleading practice, Friday night football games and watching the Big Ten (when there were 10) with my grandpa on Saturday afternoons. Go Buckeyes! And now I get to watch my son Tre play in West Palm Beach, so fall is even more special to this momma’s heart.

Whatever your relationship with Fall, I think it’s the best example of how to embrace change. These next two months will offer a gentle reminder that change is both beautiful and complex. Here are a few ideas to help you embrace it.

Nurture your social connections.

  • Call your people and organize a brunch or an outing

  • Join that book club you’ve been eyeing

  • Schedule a weekly walk routine with a friend

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Distinct Choices Change Courses

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Earlier this week I spoke at the SAS Championship 9th Annual Women’s Day presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. My theme: ‘Distinct Choices, Change Courses!’ It’s true, right? Each major life decision we make impacts our happiness, general fulfillment and financial security. These decisions also reverberate off the people that are closest to us – potentially changing their course as well.

Since I declared this month “Open Book October” I want to share two personal examples of how other people’s choices, deeply impacted the way I move and view the world.


My birth story is a made-for-tv movie so I won’t unpack it here today; but let’s just say that my mom defied all 1976 logic when she brought her 9lb bundle of ebony into her ivory world. I grew up in the tiny unincorporated village of Evansport, Ohio. It’s a dot on the map with a population...

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Open Book October... What Would YOU Like to Know?

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

About once a week, I steal away and work from this little nook at Boxyard RTP. It’s perched next to the cupcake shop on the second level and has the perfect view of folks coming and going.

Yesterday, after I set up “shop,” I ran into a colleague I hadn’t seen in a while. In the midst of exchanging pleasantries, she mentioned that she keeps up with this column and then said, “I try to read between the lines, but I’m always left wondering HOW you are.”

While I sincerely appreciated her interest, I got the sense that what she really wanted to say was, “I’m always left wondering WHO you are,” opting for the more polite inquiry instead.  

Either way, she’s right. I often write from the perspective of an observer – more as a guide or a good friend, rarely centering my own experiences. It’s a growth opportunity and one I decided to work on…immediately. 

To help...

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Why Cleaning Out Your Junk Drawer Might Cause Some Tears

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Last week we talked about cleaning out the ole junk drawer, and I was surprised by the response. Victory messages of carloads of stuff on the way to the recycling center. A funny text about renting a dumpster. One reader told me she shed tears after reorganizing her bathroom closet because she realized it’d been years since she’d taken the time to carefully fold and arrange her linens the way she used to.

Who knew there was a junk drawer crisis at hand?  But seriously, why did last week’s column resonate so much? Why does it feel so fulfilling to do such a simple task? Here’s why. An organized life or “junk drawer” symbolizes something very important that most high-performers crave but often don’t have. Control.

It means you’ve tamed the chaos, created some margin and… truly got your sh*t together.

**And if one of my readers cried while organizing her linen closet, you know this goes...

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Time to Dump Out the Junk Drawer

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Fall is here and at my house that means it’s time to clean out the junk drawer – both literally and figuratively. And call me weird, but I find this little activity pretty delightful. There’s something about sorting and purging a drawer of personal hidden treasures that gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Our lives have junk drawers too. Every day we collect new ideas, reinforce habits (good or bad) and invest in relationships at every level. We hold on to these things because they have value in the moment. And, we have every intention of putting them to good use, right? But, if we’re not careful, that drawer can get messy and indistinct – losing the very value it was created to support in the first place.

Now, if you’ve been reading along this year, you know that I believe in 90-day sprints – which essentially means I take stock of my “junk drawer” when the seasons change. I’ve found that...

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Game Day Decision

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

It’s football season and I’m a Buckeye fan.

I know, I know… I live in the heart of Tobacco Road and am lightweight obligated to pick a side, but the truth is… wait for it… I’m ACC agnostic.

But I promise to share something today that will resonate regardless of where you side on this battle line. A lesson I learned from my son, Tre.

Last week, his football team flew to Mississippi for a big game.

I watched expectedly on TV to see him step on the football field after almost three years. H­is 6’5”, 200-pound frame is a coach’s dream.

Yet not even I (his mom and the queen of “you can do anything”) was sure he’d have the opportunity to play again. During the pandemic he took a gap year, forfeited a football scholarship, and went on a quest to figure out exactly what he wanted.

As a mom you want your kids to have a smooth road… no potholes, no roadblocks, no harm.


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Take a Water Break... Gets a Whole New Meaning

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

I’m writing to you this week from a little balcony overlooking twin ponds on the sweetest horse farm in Vass, NC. Now, I grew up in small-town America so heading out of the city and in the direction of open fields and Piggly Wigglys feels like going home. 

Honestly, if left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t have stolen away for these last few days. But luckily one of my team members was savvy enough to look ahead in my calendar and said, “Ya know you could take some time off, right? Your schedule eases up this week.”

“No, actually, I hadn’t noticed this beacon of light in an otherwise full calendar – do I still have time to run off to the Caymans?”

Ha… not quite. What we ultimately decided was while a trip to the Caribbean was tempting, this gifted break was also a perfectly placed opportunity to walk, wander, rest and plan for the next 90 days. So off I went – to a sanctuary in...

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The Brain is a Mysterious Place

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

The brain is a mysterious place… a wild wild west of sorts, and not well adapted for today’s demands. I’m learning this and so much more as I explore the causes and remedies of burnout. Today is part one of two on the neuroscience behind burnout, which means today I’m going to tell you some of the fascinating things I’ve learned from Dr. Amit Sood, author of “Smart” and creator of the Resilient Option program.

Dr. Sood, colloquially known as the “Happiness Doctor” of the Mayo Clinic, talks about how our brains have very specific needs and vulnerabilities, many of which are rooted historically in our fight or flight response when facing predators. Our poorly adapted brains don’t know how to adjust to modern day demands, and as a result, we’re exhausted. Our brains are literally tired, and we don’t know how to give them the type of rest they need.

But here’s the thing:...

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Strong Teams are Comprised of Courageous Leaders

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Courage. It’s a word I love, because the root “cor” is Latin for “heart.” As Brene Brown said in her famous TedTalk on Vulnerability, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

Last week I witnessed the intersection of this idea while facilitating an executive leadership retreat. And while I’ve led dozens of these, this one was different.

Here’s what happened.

True to form (and brand) I built the day to feel like we were headed out on road trip together. It was designed to take this team of ‘travelers’ on a journey of self-discovery, crucial conversations and team building. We set out with a set of exercises to establish common ground. Then we picked up speed by building on the team’s distinct strengths and core values.

By mid-day our travelers pulled out their roadmaps to look ahead and identify any crucial road blocks that might...

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