Erica Cobb On Why Pressing Pause Is Essential To Leveling Up Your Productivity Game
In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
With a husband, a home, a successful job, and a salary that more than sustained her, Chicago radio girl Erica Cobb was living her absolute best life. However, one thing was missing: her happiness. It wasn't long before an unexpected lay-off led her life into a series of unfortunate events that ended in divorce, a departure from her identity, and eventually her hometown.
Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together and in an intimate interview with xoNecole, Erica got real about how losing everything more than a decade ago helped her manifest a life she could have never imagined. She explained that it was only after being let go from her job on the radio that she was able to peel back the layers and define how she really wanted to show up in the world, "I just started to really take some risks and bet on myself––[knowing] that I was going to be enough, regardless of what I was putting forward if what I'm putting forward is truly who I am [but] I had to have enough courage in order to do that."
Since transitioning from radio to on-camera journalism, Erica moved to Colorado, met and married the love of her life, secured a full-time gig with Daily Blast Live booking interviews with subjects like Michelle Obama and proved that there is so much power in pressing pause to reassess your purpose. We talked to the TV host about the self-work it takes to manage the life of her dreams and thanks to this unique set of coping mechanisms, she isn't letting anything get her out of alignment.
Along with catching up on The Real Housewives and practicing Kundalini yoga a few times a week, Erica says that seeing a therapist and taking mandatory breaks are essential to the self-care routine that keeps both her mental health and her happiness in-check. She told xoNecole, "I understand now that if I need a break, that is not an option. It's mandatory. So, I have to give myself permission to take a break, which is the reason why I do tend to engage in like inconsequential programming or giving myself permission to do things and be different versions of myself. "
In this installment of "Finding Balance", Erica shares how putting her phone down is self-care and why hiring an affordably priced personal chef to do your weekly meal prep is a simple luxury you didn't know you needed.
xoNecole: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause?
Erica Cobb: I wasn't necessarily going after my goals in terms of my job because it was serving a purpose for me, or it was true to what was going to be the best me or make me happy. I was doing it because society was telling me, this is the way it's supposed to look, this is the way you're supposed to act. And when everything fell apart, I realized that so many of the decisions that I had made in my life were based on keeping this image alive and it wasn't based on me really being connected with my purpose. Somewhere along the way I really lost that.
"When everything fell apart, I realized that so many of the decisions that I had made in my life were based on keeping this image alive and it wasn't based on me really being connected with my purpose. Somewhere along the way I really lost that."
What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of.
I generally exercise in the morning because if I don't exercise in the morning, it doesn't happen. I'd just get up and say, just do it. Don't even think about it, just do it. So I'll either do Kundalini or I'll do a Pilates session or I'll do cardio, one of those three things every morning. And then I start my routine of showering. I do my morning meeting every morning––that's our breakdown of the show––and then lately, for the past few months since the quarantine, I'm responsible for my own hair, makeup, and wardrobe, which has been a challenge in itself, because I always tell people, beauty is not my brand. There are so many women and men who do it very, very well. That is not my forte, but I've been trying to at least get myself presentable for camera. So that's been a new challenge. And I try to wrap my day by like five or six o'clock.
What are your mornings like?
I watch a lot of Bravo. I really try hard to watch what I call inconsequential programming because so much of my day gets so heavy with the topics and I really just want to see some foolery drama sometimes, just to disconnect. I probably should be doing something more for the soul, like meditating my way down or something like that. But right now it's just like a glass of wine or tea and like just sitting down, watching some TV, and hanging out with my husband and dog.
Do you practice any type of self-care? What does that look like for you?
I have a therapist that I meet with once a week. She was very important. I started meeting with her in November. She's been really great. I really appreciate her, especially for what I'm doing because she went to Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech as a child and her life has very much been rooted in activism. She just really gets me in a way that other people wouldn't have been able to get me in terms of therapy. I don't have to explain the fundamentals, so she's been really great.
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
If you're not taking care of yourself, then you're not good for anybody. If you can't take the time to prioritize yourself, you're not going to be of service to anyone. And because I see that so much, especially when we look at the matriarchs of our family or women who we look up to and we see that there's a reason why we're connecting with them, whether we're related to them or not, there's a part of us in them and there's a part of them in us. And so, when we make those connections, we also see what isn't necessarily working as well because we care about these women who are mirroring us.
"If you're not taking care of yourself, then you're not good for anybody. If you can't take the time to prioritize yourself, you're not going to be of service to anyone."
We want them to be around for a long time. We want them to be happy and to live lives of abundance. And when I think of the way that I look at my mother who has been so selfless my entire life to all of the kids, not only the biological ones but the ones that she's taken guardianship of, I always tell her, "Mom, you need to be moving. You need to go get your nails done. You need to do all of these things for yourself because that's what's going to sustain you. And I need you here." It's almost a bit selfish but you're also giving them permission to care for themselves. That's the reason why I think that we need to think about the way that we talk to the people that we care about the most because there's always a message for us in there.
How do you find balance with:
A big thing with [me and my husband] is, we'd be on a vacation and he would have to pull his computer out and work from wherever we're at. I would say, "When are you going to be able to take a break because you can't just work this vacation?" So, he put his phone and his laptop in a safe and the entire rest of the time he wouldn't engage. So there are times where he'll be like, "Can you put the phone in the safe?" Which means I've been engaged too much. So I'm just trying to get better at that and not feel like the world is taking off and I have to be engaged all the time.
That's hard. It's harder now because of the situation that we're in. Obviously we're not seeing our friends the way that we used to see our friends in terms of work and home. That is something that I am just now really balancing the equilibrium. And a big part of that is the fact that I have an abbreviated schedule. So I can be like, you know what, I'm going to do this production this day and I'm ending at this time.
And then I'm going to go downstairs and I'm gonna hang out with my husband on the patio and play with Spike on the patio and make sure that I FaceTime with this girlfriend because I haven't spoken to her or seen her in a while. Now that I have a little bit more control over my schedule. I've been trying to just make more of a conscious effort to make sure I'm carving out time.
I schedule, I schedule everything. I'll schedule months in advance. So I know that every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 in the morning, I'm doing Kundalini. I know every week, same day, same time I am with my therapist. Any self-care in terms of like aestheticians or stylists, all of those things, are completely scheduled out pretty much for the year, because otherwise I wouldn't just stop and be like it's time. As women, we feel guilty. I feel guilty all the time. Should I really be getting my nails done? Is that really necessary? So, if it's on the books, then it becomes more of like, 'OK, well it's my schedule, so it needs to be completed,' you know?
"Any self-care in terms of like aestheticians or stylists, all of those things, are completely scheduled out pretty much for the year, because otherwise I wouldn't just stop and be like it's time. As women, we feel guilty. I feel guilty all the time. Should I really be getting my nails done? Is that really necessary? So, if it's on the books, then it becomes more of like, 'OK, well it's my schedule, so it needs to be completed.'"
Exercise? Does it happen?
I started doing Kundalini yoga. And it's the idea of, if you can keep up, you'll be kept up. And it was just something that was so out of my comfort zone, but I chose to do it because I kinda needed to do something to get out of my comfort zone, but also to kind of find more balance and meditation in my life. So I actually have been doing that now for three months. it makes you uncomfortable and if you can get uncomfortable voluntarily, it kind of eases the discomfort when it comes at you.
Lastly, what does success mean to you?
Success means happiness and balance. Although I'm in an industry where people become notable or achieve celebrity status, I realized that what's really meant for me is to have a very fulfilled life. And I don't know if having an overabundance of one particular area of my life will create the balance that I truly need to be happy. So being in control of my schedule, having a life where I'm not burning money, but at the same time, I don't feel like I'm in deprivation mode. A life where my relationships are healthy and that I have true partnerships in the world. So success for me would really mean balanced in all capacities.
For more Erica, follow her on Instagram @EricaCobb!
Featured image by Instagram/@ericacobb.
Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
This Couple Got A Second Chance At Love After A Six-Year Break & 10 Months Later, They Got Married
Have you ever wondered if real love is like a romance novel? For Kai, 50, and Hicham, 46, Bouhmad, it is. Kai, who is an adventurer at heart, meets a stranger who believes she would be a great match for his friend, who happens to be Hicham. They connected on Facebook and, after a few exchanges, decided to meet, and while they had a great first date and continued dating shortly after, adventure was calling, and Kai decided to break it off.
However, six years later, another stranger would bring them together, and they reconnected. We can agree that at this point, they were meant to be, and in ten short months, they got married on Valentine’s Day.
Sounds like something out of a novel, right? xoNecole had the opportunity to chat with the lovely couple about their wedding, reconnecting, and having a second chance at love.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Kai and Hicham on Meeting for the First Time
Kai and Hicham got married on February 14, 2023, in Honolulu, Hawaii in an intimate ceremony, and plan on having a reception in Morocco, Hicham’s home country, later on. One of their wedding guests was the person responsible for their union, Hicham’s friend Karim. Kai reflected on that day when they met.
“I was at a party, and a guy walked in and was like, what’s going on in here? And I was like, well, this is a salon party for the salon that just opened, and they had free food and stuff, and I was like do you want some food?” Kai shares.
When they began talking, Kareem brought up Hicham. “He was like, 'I have a friend that I want to introduce you to if you’re single,' and I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds cool.’ So, he was like, 'Well, I’m gonna send you his Facebook information. If you guys can talk on Facebook and see how you guys like each other.' So, that was six years ago, and we talked, and we got along pretty well, and then we started dating.”
Kai and Hicham Describe Their First Date
Because both of them are into the arts, they decided to go to the movies on their first date. At that time, Loving was in theaters, and according to Kai, she knew when she saw him that she wanted to marry him. “I just had that feeling,” she reveals.
Hicham also recalls their “wonderful” date that extended after the movies at a nearby restaurant. “It was a wonderful moment when we made eye contact,” he says.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Their Breakup and Reconnection
While Kai saw Hicham as her husband, she wasn’t ready to settle down, but Hicham was. So, they decided to go their separate ways, and Kai began traveling the world. But little did she know that six years later, she would see him again. This time, Kai was visiting an art gallery that had just opened up and began talking to the art gallery owner.
“She [art gallery owner] said, ‘I’m having an art opening, the studio just opened, and we’re having a party next week, and you should come, and my boyfriend has a lot of friends, maybe I’ll introduce you to some of his friends,’ and I was like ‘Oh, okay,’ Kai recalls.
“And at this time, I had already booked my ticket to go to Morocco to explore by myself, solo travel. So I said, 'Oh yeah, this will be fun.' This was in April, and my trip to Morocco was just in August. So, I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come to your little party, I’m there.’ I’m talking, and then she said 'Oh, my boyfriend is here, and here’s one of his friends.' One of his friends was Hicham.”
This happened on April 23, 2022, and they have been together ever since.
When Hicham reappeared in her life, Kai knew she was now ready to settle down. “I honestly got tired of doing stuff by myself. I was tired, everything I have to do by myself, and I just got tired of that,” Kai explains. “I just felt like I really wanted a partner who’s really supportive and generous and kind, and I really wanted a partner that was by my side.
One of the ways that Hicham convinced Kai to give him another shot was when he wore a cactus shirt to her house, which showed the journalist how much he paid attention to her. “I love cactuses ‘cause it reminds me of the desert. It’s bohemian, I love desert cactuses. When he showed up with a cactus shirt on, I just could not resist,” she says. “That sounds cheesy and cliche and might sound silly, but it just symbolized that he knows me deeply and what I love and paid attention to stuff I care about even though it was silly. That meant a lot.”
Not long after, Hicham knew it was time to pop the question. “Kai gave me [an] indication that she was ready, and so that’s how that all happened.” He continues, “dropping hints, and she was pretty much ready, and I proposed to her.”
Kai admits that they planned their engagement together, including ring shopping, engagement photos, etc.
Photo courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad
Advice on Finding Love Again
This is both Kai’s and Hicham’s second marriages, and they gave advice on finding love the second time around. They both share the same sentiment about being open and optimistic. Both come from different cultural backgrounds and while that alone could have held them back from pursuing one another, they were open to love.
“Get out of your comfort zone and don’t limit yourself and don’t fear to fail because from failure you learn to build yourself up,” Hicham says.
And at the end of the day, it’s important to establish a friendship first. “Another [piece of] advice, just make sure you like the person,” Kai says, “and that’s really important because you have to make sure even if you have a disagreement or arguments, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, do I like this person? And just make sure you really like them.”
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Feature image courtesy of Kai and Hicham Bouhmad