Scroll through your social feeds, and you're very likely to spot at least one reference to being a "boss," or "bossing up." There's always talk about getting to the bag or hustling, but do we really know how to boss up? I mean, when we get past the cliches, what do these catchphrases really mean? Is it a title, an action, a lifestyle, or all of the above? For TV exec Melissa Ingram, it's not the traditional dog-eat-dog, what-can-you-do-for-me, rat-race adage, nor is it necessarily all about hustling.
"It's really my framework of servant leadership that is drawn from a great book that I have studied. And the secret is: Great leaders serve."
This focus on servant leadership has clearly benefited our good Spelman sis (HBCU tribe, stand up!) and University of California, Berkeley grad. She wears multiple leadership hats as Senior Vice President of Multicultural Networks and Strategy and General Manager at UP Entertainment, one of the foremost media companies that celebrates and showcases Black lifestyle and culture.
And let's get into some more career receipts: She started out as an associate lawyer at Atlanta's Alston & Bird, LLP—one of the largest law firms in the southeast—and eventually advanced to working as an associate lawyer at The Carter Law Firm, representing singers, record labels, and songwriters in the South's mecca of music.
Then she joined UPtv in 2009, working as part of the counsel, business, and legal affairs teams, and was privy to the transition into the company's partnership with NBA legend and entrepreneur Magic Johnson to launch AspireTV. She moved through the ranks, from Senior Director of Business Affairs Development on to VP and General Manager.
Aspire was eventually acquired by UP Entertainment, and Ingram's now in charge of executive strategy and management at the company, which offers programming including Just Angela (starring Angela Simmons) and Unboxed with Nikki Chu (starring the celebrity designer and entrepreneur).
"Reading and analytical thinking are things that come into play even as a business executive. So, critical thinking—the thinking outside the box—that's creativity, and that's what I'm still doing today. I can look back on things now and say, 'Oh, I thank God for that experience and that training' because it really has come in handy today."
Ingram urges all women to get comfortable with infusing service in the act of leadership because it literally does wonders for our personal and work lives. "It's rare that we hear people say, 'Serve others,' but we should use less 'I' and 'me' in talking and more 'us' and 'we.' I'm an advocate of this."
She's guided by an acronym for S.E.R.V.E. that we can all learn and grow from. (And go ahead, sis, print these phrases out and put them up at your desk, on your vision board, or somewhere near your work space. In these post-pandemic times, you need every bit of extra inspiration, motivation, and sheer love to keep you going throughout our work day. Thank us later.)
S - See and shape the vision.
"What I'm talking about is not only the vision for your life, but for the brand and any team you may be part of. When you are in leadership or aspiring toward leadership, part of your responsibility is to create a vision that others can buy into and understand their role in. On a day-to-day basis, I'm trying to bring clarity and make it plain for my team. I also allow the people I work with and my experiences to inspire me to create a bigger vision."
E - Engage and develop others.
"When you invest in others, they begin to trust you. And it's always been purpose over position for me. Don't get so caught up in a title. Ask yourself, 'What's my purpose in this role? Is this an opportunity for me to serve and bring my unique skill sets to the table to help others?' As a manager, if your team succeeds, you succeed. Even if you're not a manager, you can still seek to develop and engage others. You may lack title and status now, but [don't] fail to see the power of influence that your role has. That's more powerful than any position or title."
R - Reinvent continuously.
"True leaders always learn and grow. Be adaptable. Things change. We know this. COVID has happened. Life happens. And you don't want to let inflexibility cancel or block your opportunities. We often believe that once you set a vision, it's done. You don't touch it and leave it alone. But you have to be open to evolving. When roadblocks happen—when you're forced off campus, the office is closed, or you get laid off— then how do you adapt? How do you reinvent?
"What should never change is your authenticity. You must be you through and through. Lean into your uniqueness, and find companies and roles that allow you to come in and be yourself. If you're an entrepreneur, build a business that respects and celebrates the differences of others."
V - Value relationships and results.
"I cannot stress this enough. We are only better together. From the front desk to the mail room, everyone matters. Everyone you come into contact with, whether it's at the interview or on the first day at the job—they matter. What also matters is delivering results, being a woman of your word, and pursuing excellent work. That's valuing relationships and results."
E - Embody your values.
"As a leader, if you don't, you will be called out really quickly. If you've done all the other things in this acronym, but you don't embody the values, then you aren't living what you're preaching. I'm very keen on the fact that I want my teams to grow and develop under my leadership. [That means] meeting with them, having check-ins, and making myself available for things they are working on. That's key."
Featured image courtesy of Melissa Ingram
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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.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood