Gia Peppers is that girl-next-door, friend-in-your head who slays and stays super-booked and super-busy, cares a lot about the plight of Black folk (especially sistas), and makes sure you stay enlightened and reflective about some of the most difficult but necessary topics affecting Black communities. She’s also that bestie that is sure to drop some Bible-laced inspo as easy as breathing, with quips and realness that remind you why we, as Black women, need sisterhood, friendships, and thriving networks now more than ever.
“I just want people to not put too much pressure on themselves for this new year and don’t worry if their goals are not done within the first month,” she said in an interview with xoNecole. “To give themselves the grace that we may give others all the time. We’ve been through a crazy last two years and it takes a lot for us to fully show up within the parameters of what we want to accomplish without really dealing with what these last two years have done to us as a people, especially for Black women because that’s what I know and who I am.”
Courtesy of Gia Peppers
The award-winning journalist and TV personality–who, by the way, is doing triple-duty as a contributor on the Today show, host on Amazon Music’s R&B Rotation, and co-host of the wildly popular podcast, Black Girl Pod—is geared up for Season 3 of More Than That With Gia Peppers.
The Rutgers University grad, who splits her time between New York and Los Angeles, is super-excited about the opportunity to continue to serve radio and online listeners in more than 100 markets, with many of the episodes airing via Black-owned stations across the U.S. The show amplifies Black voices, excellence, perspectives, and experiences on subjects including wellness, entertainment, and wealth. “We were awarded Adweek’s Best DEI podcast in 2021," she added. "So we are doing work that people are finally really celebrating, which is awesome because we have a team of creatives who are just as passionate about telling these real stories that impact us as I am.”
xoNecole caught up with Peppers to get the deets on just what's in store for the show, why she continues to ride for the power of storytelling in shifting narratives and forging change in Black communities, and what she loves more about the unique medium of podcasting.
xoNecole: You’ve had a successful career in media for years. What would you say is the key to the longevity?
Gia Peppers: It starts with your mindset, as everything does. You have to be relentless in your pursuit of storytelling, evolving with technology as it evolves, and figuring out new ways to enter into this space that align with what you believe you’re here to do. It’s a balance of purpose. It’s [also] a balance of reflection and realigning.
xoN: You’ve got some fresh conversations coming with your podcast and radio show, More Than That. What’s new that listeners can expect from season 3?
GP: First, More Than That is one of those shows that we have the privilege of being able to tell stories about the conversations we’re having in real-time. One of my favorite things to note is that we’ll literally pull conversations that are trending and figure out the experts to talk to when it comes to how we can approach wellness in a whole bunch of different ways and that doesn’t just mean wellness traditionally. How can we make sure that we’re talking about sustainability and what does that really mean and how do we apply it.
This season we’re really setting our eyes toward the future. We did a lot of great storytelling in 2020 when we started this. It was the height of the Black Lives Matter 2.0 movement where we were in the racial reckoning in this country and we had to tell the reality of what it means to move forward within the grief of what we’ve been through but also understand there are more ways to tap into what we want to say and do and be in this moment.
And we continued that for season 2 with motivation and this time we’re thinking about the future. Our first episode, one of the great things we’ve seen is the resurgence of the attention on HBCUs [from] the mainstream and how that’s affecting enrollment and funding and things like that and I mean, the culture is clearly impacted by HBCUs and the graduates. We have a great conversation about how we are going to utilize this moment within our culture so that this is not a passion moment—that HBCUs thrive from this moment on.
We have David Banner, an HBCU graduate, and [he is] just one of those iconic men who gets all the aspects of hip-hop culture [and] education moving forward. We talked to Cari Champion as well, because she’s something who has covered sports for the past 15 years and is a person who knows how incredible it is to have athletes coming out of high school, who are the top-ranked in the world, choosing HBCUs and what that means to our community. And the same way ADifferent World impacted how many people looked at HBCUs twice, this new wave of athletes is also doing the same thing for our high school and our Gen Z students.
It was such a great conversation, and again, we’re thinking about forward movement.
Courtesy of Gia Peppers
xoN: Working in media, you can have some very prolific moments with interviews and conversations. Who has been your most memorable guest on the show?
GP: Well, there have been so many great people on our show! It’s hard to choose! We did an episode featuring a farmer from Urban Mothers Finest Farms in North Carolina, and she just changed my perspective of going to put my feet in actual soil and grounding, and what properties exist in the sun and the land, especially for Black women. Just standing there and being more centered and being connected to the space where so much trauma has happened and for our people in this country specifically but where so much life is. I learned we absolutely need to put our feet in soil sometimes and sit there and be connected to something that is bigger than ourselves.
And the healing—I know as I’m driving down the East Coast and you get to certain parts of town, you [are] like ‘Dang, this used to be a plantation. I don’t even want to look at it.’ But then it’s like yeah, but these people survived and thrived, and I am the living evidence of their dreams and prayers and their faith that something would change. Just the idea of watching something grow and seed and sprout is good for our mental and spiritual health. She just changed my mind in so many ways.
Another person who was so great was Lynae Bogues. Of course, we all know her. We get her brilliance every week in Parking Lot Pimpin.’ She’s just such a brilllant historian and she knows so much about the past and beautifully connects it with the future.
xoN: What do you love the best about podcasting that’s different from other types of media?
GP: This one is hard because I might like all of media the same. All of it is a lift. Your best version of that story is you showing up in the fullness of your experiences, your research, your passion for the conversation—that’s always going to be the common thread with all types of storytelling. It doesn’t matter the medium.
With podcasting, people are a lot less worried about cameras and more interested in the conversation and feel less pressure to be perfect. We do a lot of focus on making sure our guests know that this is not a get-ya-got-ya show [and] this is not a tea [gossip] show. This is a real conversation around what matters to our community, what’s affecting our community, and how we can make it better.
I love that, with this particular podcast, we get to have conversations that don’t just focus on messiness and focuses on solutions around how we can be better within our personal and external lives.
Featured image by Jonavennci Divad
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Self-employment is something many people prefer or aspire to, as being your own boss is both admirable and empowering. And women are bossing up more than ever, representing almost 40% of all self-employed professionals. Being self-employed myself, I can attest to the benefits, but like everything in life, there are two dueling sides to every coin. And if you're considering taking the leap from 9-to-5er to self-employed, there's a lot to consider before totally pulling the plug on your day job.
Here are a few things to know, from my own experience, before transitioning into self-employment:
1. Recognize that self-employment is not entrepreneurship.
There are key differences between being an entrepreneur and being self-employed that many people get all mixed up and confused about. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are definitely not the same.
A self-employed person operates just like an employee, often offering services and talents to business owners, nonprofits, or organizations. An entrepreneur typically offers goods and services to a client or customer, registers their business for tax purposes, and can reap the benefits of resources like business bank accounts, financing, and investments.
When you're self-employed, you often don't get paid if you don't work, most typically as a freelancer or on a project-by-project or client-by-client basis. When you're an entrepreneur, you can successfully scale a business where you can reap the benefits whether you're actively working in it or not.
You can indeed launch a one-person business (i.e., as a limited liability company or LLC), but there are requirements related to that, particularly when it comes to taxes. There are also things to consider, such as lifestyle, goals, and risk tolerance. The annual and financial obligations entrepreneurs have aren't the same as self-employed professionals, like additional taxes, filing fees, and mandatory financial reports.
(I know some of y'all entrepreneurs might be reading this with a side-eye, but hey, not every self-employed person is a business person, and some simply might not want the extra maintenance and responsibilities of having a registered business, no matter the perks.)
While I'm not discouraging any self-employed person from launching a business, knowing the difference between the two is important because it sets the tone for how you approach the work that you do, your expectations on the lifestyle and requirements, and what benefits might be afforded to you.
Many entrepreneurs can employ people, scale their businesses for expansion, get capital investment, and even take days, weeks, or months off without having to actually work yet still reap the benefits. This is often not the case for a self-employed person whose salary largely depends on actual work hours, paid invoices, and strategic budgeting.
2. Inform yourself about the tax obligations and other financial shifts that might happen once you are self-employed.
When you're working a 9-to-5, your company handles taking taxes out of each check. This is not the case for self-employed folk. There's a quarterly schedule that must be followed for federal taxes, and there are other regulations based on the state where you primarily work (even if you're working remote). If you're used to having a hands-off approach to taxes (other than going to the tax preparer once a year), you definitely want to shift your expectations and get to know all the information you can about self-employment taxes.
Also, the way you budget might be a bit different when you're self-employed. If you find, for example, that you're constantly living check to check or that you're used to a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks, you'll need to shift the way you look at how money flows in your household.
Self-employment can include periods where you're not getting paid as consistently, and many companies work with invoices that are paid 30, 60, or even 90 days after you've finished the work you've done for them. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly based on the industry you'll be working within.
Talk to a tax or personal finance professional to find out about how your finances and tax obligation might change once you decide to become self-employed, and then set up a plan so that you won't get caught slipping come Tax Day. The process is different for self-employed people, and this is an important aspect of the process that will save you lots of money and stress in the long run.
I learned the hard way to negotiate, upfront, a set period of time for my services (when applicable and reasonable) to be written into a contract and to set my rates not solely based on my previous salary but considering additional costs like WIFI, travel, health insurance that I have to pay for out-of-pocket, home office technology and tools, and the time it actually takes to complete tasks. The pandemic brought home how super-important this was because, as a freelancer, someone can simply cut you with no compensation or warning.
3. Get to know your true strengths and weaknesses when it comes to work ethic, skills, environment, and motivation.
Self-employment is definitely not for the faint at heart. It can be a constant hustle in the beginning, and if you're not careful, you might end up wondering how you'll pay your rent or car note simply because you don't have clients or work lined up. It's good to be a self-starter and super-organized. It's also good to brush up on your marketing, communications, and sales skills because you'll need to pitch yourself and your background in order to land projects and clients.
While working your full-time job, take a few courses or find a self-employed mentor so that you can strengthen your skills in areas where you might need some improvement (i.e., pitching, online marketing, social media branding, or project management.) Practice self-employment on the side as an intern or with a side hustle so you can learn a bit more about yourself that you might be overlooking while serving as an employee.
Being self-employed means you become multiple departments in one person. For example, your current company provides support like assistants, accounting departments, legal teams, and IT, so you might not be used to having to handle all of those things on your own. For some, this can be overwhelming, while others find the challenge invigorating and worth the sacrifice if it means having autonomy and financial and time freedom.
Also, if you're motivated to do your best by being around teams or working in an office, self-employment might be too isolating for you. True, there are groups and co-working cultures you can join, but it's definitely not the same as having built-in comradery of fellow full-timers at a company. Be aware of these things so that you're realistically making a choice that suits the life you want to live and the work experience you want to have in order to thrive.
4. Create an emergency fund solely for the transition.
While you're working a 9-to-5, create a separate savings account just for the transition. Anything can happen between quitting your job and getting your first freelance gig, client, or project. When I first stepped out to be self-employed, I thought I had the dream client, only to find out that it wasn't a good fit and I'd be looking for a new one after six months. This might happen several times before you really hit a groove, find your fit, build up your reputation, and get consistent work.
Having a financial cushion outside of your usual emergency fund helps to soften the blow if something like a client loss, a late invoice payment, or an unexpected work-related expense (i.e., computer replacement or broken equipment repair) comes up.
Sometimes, self-employment can include certain up-front costs like renting an office space, investing in new technology or other tools, travel expenses, or hiring other self-employed professionals (i.e., a consultant, web designer, or tax preparer), so you'll want to be smart, be prepared, and keep your receipts.
5. Understand your why.
Every great and sustainable journey starts with a good reason---a "why" that keeps a person going. If you know your why, you're less likely to just give up when things get rough, and you're less likely to make costly, mentally and physically draining mistakes. I decided to go for full-time self-employment because, after more than a decade working in my field, I really felt burned out at the time, began to resent not being promoted as quickly as I thought I should, and saw that I could make more money contracting my skills and talents out than working full-time for one company.
I also loved that I could pick and choose who I worked with and align my values with the projects that I was part of (versus being forced due to being a full-time employee beholden to a contract and the so-called values of a corporation or company.)
I've made quite a few mistakes over the years, but my why remains the same, and when times get hard, I simply remember the overall peace, flexibility, and autonomy I have in serving the women millennial audiences I want to serve through journalism and communications.
6. Be sure that you're offering services or expertise that can be used for years to come and that's competitive.
If you're considering self-employment, be sure your skills are competitive and have a future of need. I knew, even a decade ago, that much of the media industry was going the freelance route, and today, with layoffs becoming commonplace and full-time employee budgets being cut, contract work has become the name of the game. I saw this industry shift coming a mile away, and, like my early foray into digital media before publishing houses were monetizing it, I knew eventually, freelance work would be abundant and preferred.
If you're already doing a job that is in high demand or you offer something niche and one-of-a-kind, working for yourself might be the move. But if you've found that your current skills might be obsolete in the next two to five years, try learning another skill, shifting how you do the work you do, or tapping into another passion that can ensure you're offering something valuable in a market where it's direly needed.
Self-employment can be a joy and a pain, and for many of us, it's the only choice for self-care, mental wellness, and financial freedom. If you're considering taking the leap, take into account these tips and go forward in bold confidence, informed, and prepared.
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