Would you leave a six-figure paying gig with a minimal plan and only one company you've ever worked for spanning almost two decades on your resume because you were unhappy? Well, Joyel Crawford, owner of Crawford Leadership Strategies, did just that.
After 18 years with Verizon in various management roles and a checkered bill of health from being overworked, Joyel took her transferable skills in management and turned them into a business in life and career coaching. She now warns her clients, both individual and corporate, against making the same mistakes she did and witnessed working in corporate America. I spoke with the Elon University alumna about how a woman with a Bachelor's in Psychology and a Theater minor with secret dreams of Broadway ended up in a career she felt stifled her for so long before stepping into her true destiny.
Joyel Crawford, Owner of Crawford Leadership Strategies
Through our chat, I discovered that the saying "Money and success doesn't buy happiness" was all too real in her case.
You took a job unrelated to your studies, why?
Most women in my family are [in] social services and mental health so that was a natural and safe concentration. My passion was always the creative arts, hence my theater minor – but my parents weren't supportive of that as a focus. My cousin had recently gotten a job at Bell Atlantic Mobile (now Verizon) in customer service. I wanted to get my MBA and knew the company did 100% tuition reimbursement. During my new hire orientation, they presented on their commitment to professional advancement and that's when my love of leadership clicked in. Throughout my academic career, I was very active in leadership roles and was impressed by their commitment to employee development. My main focus when I first started working at Verizon was not the actual job but obtaining my MBA.
How did you climb the corporate ladder?
Networking. Even as a customer service rep, I spoke to colleagues and managers about my goals. They liked my work ethic and personality and encouraged me to go through the ranks within the company. Within five years, I got my MBA in management. I was promoted to a national accounts manager, to a coach for new hires, to finally an HR admin. From there, I settled into being a leadership development training consultant.
When did you notice you were unhappy?
Looking back, I was never happy because I wasn't doing exactly what I loved. I overcompensated by getting promotions. My knack for leadership allowed me to co-create a new leader orientation program, which was something that came out of frustration of having employees complete eight hours of online training. We consolidated it into just two hours and through that, I certified over 100 employees through that program. At one point, I was responsible for leading development and training for 30,000 employees. But I was coming to a ceiling there.
"Looking back, I was never happy because I wasn't doing exactly what I loved. I overcompensated by getting promotions."
Did you develop an action plan?
No, I just knew that my time was coming to an end there. I was exploring different options but nothing planned out. A friend suggested that I start doing public speaking and telling my story to other professionals about how to move up the ranks within their jobs. I realized that's where my passion lied. Simultaneously, I began to get sick and later discovered it was work-related.
What was going on health-wise?
It started with insomnia. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression but thanks to my theater background and being a great actress, no one knew. At home, I was miserable and crying with no motivation outside of work. I started grinding my teeth and cracked a tooth and had to get an $800 mouth guard. I was put on antidepressants and a cocktail of different drugs – one to stabilize my moods, one to put me to sleep and so on. At one point, I was singing, acting, and auditioning while working full-time. On my way to rehearsal, I had extreme abdominal pain and discovered it to be a fibroid. I had to have surgery. The process of discovering the fibroid, scheduling, and having the operation and being back at work was done within three weeks. The surgery didn't help. More fibroids developed. The final straw was when I was five minutes late for a conference call and my manager called to give me an earful while I was sick from the fibroids. I quit on the spot and explained why. He was empathetic and instead, suggested I go out on emotional and medical leave.
How’d you get through that period?
My last salary was a base of $103,500. I also had my pension, 401k, and over two consecutive months of unused vacation. I rolled my 401k into an IRA. I knew I wanted to quit and had saved enough money to survive as far as living for rent and other expenses. A year before I quit, I was contemplating what was next. My husband was consulting and suggested I do the same. I had the skill set and the education but didn't recognize it. He did. So I started Crawford Leadership Strategies in 2014.
"A year before I quit, I was contemplating what was next."
How did you start?
I invested in professional memberships for networking purposes. Thankfully, I had credentials under my belt from all of the trainings I completed at Verizon. Although I had a good amount of savings, I didn't take into account the startup costs of a business. Building a website, membership fees, additional certifications, paperwork, and even business cards added up fast. My survival money was running out within six months. Things were getting bad financially.
How bad did it get financially?
My survival money was gone and I resorted to state assistance and food stamps. I couldn't claim unemployment because I left my job voluntarily – regardless of the fact that I could have attributed it to my health and said I left for medical reasons. I couldn't be modest anymore.
How did you work to get your business booming?
Letting go of pride first and advertising to family and friends. My first paying client was a woman who my aunt was mentoring. She worked in government and desired assistance with a new career and my aunt referred me. I came up with an hourly consulting fee. She hired me for a six-hour session. Through that experience, I figured out pricing and packages because she needed me to travel to her in another state and paid for my accommodations. I ended up working with her for six months and she actually became a test client for a practicum I was doing for a certification. That snowballed into other business.
How do you feel you’ve been able to sustain your business?
The great thing about my work is that I can do it virtually so I'm not limited in the clients I can take. Because of my certifications, education, and background, I can do webinars, life coaching, and career coaching. I can build curriculum and I can facilitate programs. I have a variety of what I offer.
You gave up a six-figure salary. Do you see the return on your investment?
Yes, but I made poor investments in advertising in the beginning that cost me. Now I stick to social media and utilize my network of colleagues and clients for work. My certifications help and I'm a member of the Forbes Coaching Council. I've had a small feature in Essence Magazine and I write and coach for The Muse.
Was it worth the risk?
Absolutely. My father passed this year and one of the last things he said to me was, "If you have the chance to do what you love, then do it." I was in a career that was taxing but had skills that I loved and was able to apply them to what I do now full-time. Revenue has gone up yearly. My health is in tact and although like many, I work to find balance, I am happy!
"If you have the chance to do what you love, then do it."
How is life different now?
Before, I never went on vacation and as mentioned, cashed my vacation time out when I quit my job. Since then I've gotten married to the man of my dreams, I've been traveling, and I make time for the things I love.
What advice do you give to those looking to transition?
Put yourself out there and network. It's about who you know, that's how I've landed all of my clients dating back to my first. Stay the course and have patience. I contemplated quitting because of the financial stress but my clients encouraged me and I ultimately decided to continue my business because I refused to regress into what I'd experienced before. Know and show your value and know your WHY as it won't lead you wrong.
For more information about Joyel and her coaching business, check out her website.
Brenda Alexander is a West Philly native with a love of the 3 W's: writing, wine and Whitney Houston. When she's not working or overanalyzing life, you can catch her praising Jesus with a bomb Gospel playlist or annoying those who love her as she listens to Christmas music all year round (her fascination with the holiday even produced a Christmas book). Her work has been featured on Mayvenn's Real Beautiful blog and CurlyNikki . Follow her excursions via Instagram @trulybrenda_
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Tapping into and embracing your feminine energy has been a hot topic as of late, thanks to social media. If you type in "feminine energy" in TikTok’s search bar, you will be inundated with endless videos of women giving tips about how to harvest your feminine energy and its importance in dating. But what is feminine energy, and how is it different than femininity?
Maat Petrova, the founder and owner of the feminine care company FemMagic, teaches about feminine energy and helps to empower women through her social media posts, Instagram Live meditations, and products such as her Coocheewaa feminine wash and Vagelixir. In our conversation, she broke down this essential question.
“Femininity can be like wearing the red lipstick and having your nails done and, you know, the way you carry yourself. I see femininity as more so an external thing and an external derivative of feminine energy. Feminine energy is the source,” she tells xoNecole.
Photo by @islandboiphotography
“Many women can look feminine or have femininity, display femininity but are completely tapped into their masculine [energy.] They got the look, they got the clothes, they got the hair, the nails, and they’ll even have the tone, but they are broken, in their masculine energy.”
When it comes to feminine energy versus masculine energy, Maat says everyone has both and describes it as yin and yang. As women, we should be feminine with a speck of masculine. However, due to circumstances such as our environments and careers, we often get so consumed by our masculine energy that we forget to be in our feminine energy. Maat experienced this growing up in NYC, and it took her moving to Atlanta to make changes.
“Sometimes you change from the inside out. Sometimes you change from the outside in. There’s no method or specific way that anyone’s journey is supposed to be. So for me, when I moved to Georgia, it was an outside-in journey, where my environment changed me,” she explains.
However, both energies work in harmony to manifest the life you want. “The characteristics with feminine and masculine energy is masculine is more assertive where feminine is just being, masculine is doing—feminine is more nurturing, masculine is more logical,” she says. For example, when it comes to accomplishing business goals, doing the physical work, such as networking or creating an LLC, is masculine, and the mental work, such as visualizing it and thinking of creative ideas, is feminine.
Manifestation is often described as the act of attracting something tangible into your life, whether that be a romantic partner, a new career opportunity, or meeting a financial goal. A popular manifestation method is the law of attraction, which according to thelawofattraction.com, means like attracting like. Another method that Maat has successfully used is meditation.
Photo by @islandboiphotography
Maat shares that she had a goal of making a million dollars in a year, and so one of the first things she did was meditate every morning, specifically using visualization meditation. From there, she began meditating on Instagram Live at 6:45 a.m. each day, and she was joined by many others who had similar goals. Positive Psychology states that visualization meditation is a positive image or guided imagery visualized in the mind’s eye, and it can help “strengthen focus,” “enhance creativity,” and “improve self-image.”
“Manifesting is an extremely feminine energetic thing. The work you have to do to support the manifestation is the masculine,” shares Maat. “So again, feminine is being, and masculine is doing. So, when I manifested my first million dollars– when I say manifested... I was already making high six-figures with my company FemMagic, and I started a meditation called ‘Manifestation Meditation’ in Feb 2020.”
She continues explaining how a workshop inspired her to start daily meditation. “I went to a workshop. The workshop was like, do something every day. Commit to one thing and just do it every day, and I chose meditation. I’m like, I already have my diet on point, I’m already working out all the time, what else can I do to increase myself?”
According to Maat, more opportunities began coming her way, and she gradually began seeing a financial increase without having to do extra labor, such as filling more product orders. “I didn’t make more products. I wasn’t working physically. I was working mentally and spiritually,” she explains.
Meditation is a centuries-old spiritual technique that can help ground you and connect you with your feminine energy. But if meditation isn’t your thing, Goop listed a few more ways you can achieve similar results. This includes journaling, breathwork, yoga, and drinking tea.
If you don’t know where you fall on the scale of masculine energy and feminine energy, Maat has some suggestions.
“Look at the definition of feminine energy. Feminine energy is nurturing, it's patience, it's grace, it's being, it's allowing, it's receiving. Do a scale from 1-5 or 1-10 and rate yourself on each of that,” she says. “Look at the list of feminine characteristics and rate yourself. Then, get the list of masculine, assertive, aggressive, action-oriented, angry, doing, and rate yourself on that.”
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Feature image by @islandboiphotography