I've got a girlfriend who stays in some female relationship drama. It's like, every six months, I can almost set my watch on receiving an email full of expletives or a phone call that starts off with a deep long sigh followed by a 15-minute rant about how she and a woman in her life 1) have had a colossal misunderstanding; 2) both feel totally taken for granted by one another; 3) were close but now are two steps away from being enemies or 4) were working together on something that will probably never see the light of day.
Before going deeper, let me just say that I don't care if it's a mom and daughter, two sisters, a couple of female roommates or two women who are besties—although there is nothing more beautiful and supernatural than two women who are in relationship with one another, in many ways, there's also nothing more challenging either. Women are strong. Women are intuitive. Women are creative. Let's be honest, we also feel things very deeply and that can oftentimes cause us to take things very personally. All of these things combined can sometimes cause the perfect storm when we choose to form a business alliance with another woman (or women).
Even though what I just said should be duly noted and sistah-girl partnerships certainly pose a few risks, that doesn't mean we shouldn't explore them (even if we've been burned before). We simply need to go into them with our eyes wide open, some boundaries set and with mutual understandings put into place. I believe that if all of us do the following six things, we can very much so shake some things up in the business world, along with some of the women we know, without it turning into a Lifetime movie or World War III.
Put a Written Plan into PlaceGiphy
When one of my friends and I agree to meet up for dinner or a movie and one of us cancels at the last minute, while it's inconvenient, it's not earth-shattering or anything. All we're doing is trying to get some quality time in together. No (real) biggie. But when I was writing content for a Black female greeting card owner back in the day, although things were super-amicable between us, if I missed a deadline, it was an issue. It cost her money with her printer and sometimes affected sales. Problem is, sometimes things got lost in translation because while we would verbally discuss what needed to be done, since nothing was in writing, sometimes details would slip through the cracks.
The main takeaway I took from all of that is while with friends, it's fine to take them at their word, because a professional partnership usually has money on the line, it's always a good idea to get things down on paper.
I'll take it a step further and say that anyone who has a problem with some sort of written agreement or contract should be someone you're hesitant to do business with in the first place.
Putting plans in writing is beneficial in a lot of ways. It holds both people accountable. It prevents conversations from being taken out of context or misconstrued. It also helps you both remain focused and progressive when it comes to achieving your goals. Plus, should you decide to bring the partnership to a close at some point, everyone is crystal clear on what that means and requires. Getting things down in black and white avoids the messiness of grey areas.
Have Realistic Expectations—Personally and ProfessionallyGiphy
There's someone I had an unofficial partnership with once upon a time. Already, that "unofficial" part was an issue. SMH. Anyway, it basically consisted of being an unofficial model for her and her being an unofficial photographer for me. That meant when she needed a guinea pig or even just a subject for some photos, I made myself available. In exchange, when I needed to use some of the pics that I was in, I could. Usually, I paid very little for her photo time too.
But as my writing platform started to grow, the photographer began to feel some type of way if I used anyone but her. She felt like if an opportunity came up that would result in her getting a lot of exposure and recognition, it should be a given that she have it (like the cover of my first book, for instance). It's not that I didn't want her to shine (to this day, she's one of my faves); it's that we never discussed that she had sole or even first rights to work with me like that. And sometimes, either I or the publication wanted to try someone else.
What I learned the hard way was because she and I were super cool, that caused her to have "assumed expectations" and that resulted in quite a few bumps in the road. What that taught me, moving forward, is when someone offers to do something for me or if someone even suggests that we should collaborate, I ask what their expectations are out of the gate. What it also taught me is if their expectations don't gel well with my own, rather than grin and bear what they are saying or tell myself that we can deal with it later, that I should say upfront what will work for me and what won't. No apologies either.
Keep Certain Matters Totally ConfidentialGiphy
I can't recall where I first heard what I'm about to say, but once I started to apply it to my life, my social world became a much safer place. The pearl of wisdom was this—"If before you get ready to tell someone something, you have to preface it with 'Don't say anything', that's probably not the individual that you should be telling it to."
In my personal and professional life, I can't tell you the last time I've had to start a sentence off in that way. One reason is because I am a lot more discerning with the information that I share than I used to be. Another reason is because I surround myself with individuals that I can trust. Even through rough patches, I don't have to worry about my business being used as ammo.
A lot of great partnerships between women get real ugly, real quick because intellectual property isn't valued, plans are shared without a mutual agreement that they can be and/or when partnerships come to a close, all of the details of why are divulged.
Just like it's important to get things in writing, it's equally (if not more) imperative that you both discuss how to handle information that is exchanged. Matter of fact, if that needs to be put in writing too, so be it.
Know the Difference Between Being Friends and Being FriendlyGiphy
If you don't retain anything else in here, please try and keep this at the forefront of your mind. Just because two people get along and have certain things in common, that doesn't automatically make them besties. It takes time, commitment and mutual desire for individuals to evolve into a true friendship. Not only that, but you don't have to make it your life's mission to befriend everyone in the world that you know. Trust me, if you take friendship seriously, you don't have the time or energy to pull off that kind of feat anyway.
Keeping what I just said in mind, there is also no law that says that just because you've got great chemistry with someone and you both decide to do business together that you also need to tell one another your deepest and darkest secrets and babysit each other's kids. I have some great energy with virtually all of the women I work with, but we're not friends so much as we are friendly with another. We treat one another with respect and we get along well, but our interaction is still mostly professional.
A lot of great partnerships have come to a screeching halt because one or both individuals assumed that just because they are a part of one another's professional world that they should also be a part of each other's personal life.
There's a reason why folks are leery about doing business with family members and friends. It can make the boundary lines very blurry. If you're trying to become your business partner's BFF, that's definitely something you should think about—first.
Revisit Things on a Regular BasisGiphy
I share, as often as possible, that one of my favorite quotes is, "People change and forget to tell one another." I use it a lot in marriage life coaching sessions. It also applies to business partnerships. Unfortunately, there are a lot of partnerships that blow up, simply because one or both people involved expects the other to be just like they were in the beginning. Or, they think that whatever initial arrangement was made, it should remain that way until they decide they want to do something different.
There are a couple of people in my world who roll their eyes whenever I'm like, "Can we discuss our relationship for a sec?" To them, they're like, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" while I'm more along the lines of, "If we don't do maintenance on this thing, it will break down over time."
Everything requires maintenance.
So, no matter how great things may be going at the present moment when it comes to your business arrangement, it's healthy, wise and super proactive to hold a meeting, every three months or so, just to see if everything's cool, needs are still being met and there are no feelings that are being suppressed. This brings me to my final suggestion and point.
Be Open, Honest and Real. ALWAYS.Giphy
If you ask just about any CEO about what they consider the keys are for a successful business relationship or partnership with someone, I'm willing to bet that their top five would be trust, mutual respect, communication, honesty and being as genuine as possible.
I've heard more than my fair share of horror stories about women who went into business together and then fell all the way out. A top cause of the drama was one or both people either not being total honest about their feelings or needs or one or both people were being passive aggressive in their communication approach.
A partnership only works effectively when both people are benefiting from it. The only way both parties can be sure that they are is if they are real with one another. Respectful, yes. But still very real.
I can't guarantee that if you do all of these things, that there won't be some rough waters from time to time. But what I will say is it will safeguard you from a lot of unnecessary foolishness. That way, you can both focus on making money and making moves. Instead of making full-on drama.
Featured image by Getty Images
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images
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Viola Davis On Beauty Standards Changing In Hollywood: 'We Are Beyond Male Desirability'
Actress Viola Davis is shedding light on beauty standards and how it has transformed throughout the years.
The 57-year-old has touched on this topic numerous times throughout her career, which spans over three decades. In the past, Davis revealed that she felt inadequate because of her physical appearance due to constantly being told she wasn't beautiful or enough.
Since then, the EGOT winner has overcome those insecurities and used her platform to share a positive message to those who need them. In a recent interview withPEOPLE magazine while attending the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, Davis shared that the shift is because many now know that beauty is "beyond male desirability."
Viola On Beauty Standards
During the discussion, the How To Get Away with Murder star also mentioned that another factor contributing to the transformation is that people associate beauty with mental health, which she claimed inspired her partnership with makeup brand L'Oreal.
"I think beauty standards have changed. I think that what's shifted is that whole idea of mental health being associated with beauty [and] of understanding who we are beyond male desirability. It's really a huge part of why I decided to become a part of L'Oreal, that whole statement of 'I'm worth it,'" she said.
Further in the interview, Davis recounted her past experiences of being told she wasn't beautiful and mentioned how it destroyed her because, growing up, she knew that beauty was tied to worthiness.
"What destroyed me was people constantly telling me that I was not beautiful. [You might think] why would you be upset with that? Because beauty is attached with worth and value. And I refuse to believe that I'm not worth it just based on a sort of idea and perception of what people think classical beauty is," she stated.
The Woman King star added that since the shift in beauty standards, women are now being "encouraged to speak their truth a little bit more" in certain situations such as one's goals, sexual assault, mental illness, etc. With that, Davis explained that people are now seeing the beauty within others and applauding them for it.
"Now women are encouraged to speak their truth a little bit more. We see that with sexual assault, with mental illness, with being burnt-out mamas, with following our dreams and our hopes that we have for our lives," she said.
"Back in the day, we hid our pain behind perfectly applied lipstick and wax floors. Now we don't do that anymore. We're saying this is who we are, beyond the makeup and the hair. I see that. I see that with my daughter's generation."
Viola On The Message She Shares With Her Daughter
As the conversation shifted to the advice Davis gives her teenage daughter Genesis Tennon --whom she with her husband, Julius Tennon-- when it comes to beauty, the star disclosed that she motivates Tennon to become the "love" of her own life.
Davis said she shared these sentiments because she wants Tennon to advocate for herself in various situations when others disappoint her and cross her boundaries.
"I told my daughter this morning that she has to have a love affair with herself. That she is indeed the love of her life. I said, 'I love you, but it's not me, it's not some boy. At the end of the day, you can't disappoint yourself. You have to advocate for yourself," she stated. "You have to show up for her.' And it's not just spa treatments and a glass of wine. It's in showing up when someone hurts you. Creating boundaries and when someone crosses it."
Davis wrapped up her remarks by saying she spread positive messages like this to Tennon and the world because she was not "taught" that loving oneself meant being one's supporter.
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