Business and Career

I DON’T NEED HELP COMING UP WITH IDEAS—I NEED TO KNOW WHICH TO GO AFTER NEXT

What you’ll need: notebook, pen and Wild Heart flowchart (below) I recently taught a creativity workshop to a group of writers and artists who were struggling to get started on their Next Big Thing. The classes had been broken into three sessions: ideas, structure and work-life balance. Out of all three, the ideas session had the fewest participants, despite the S.O.S. call from several creatives for help kickstarting their art. When I brought this up to the group, one woman replied, “It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I just can’t seem to make the leap from lots of ideas to following through with just one.” Enter the creative person’s endless struggle: too many ideas and not enough days in a lifetime to get after them all. So, how do you choose? How do we organize our thoughts and dreams s...

HOW MY BURN OUT TURNED OUT TO BE THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO ME

By Jennifer Hakim, founder and director of Jennifer Hakim Communications, a marketing and PR agency for mindful businesses. In 2015, something unexpected happened. After months looking for my dream job I finally found it. I was bursting with pride, excitement and fear. I could barely believe it. Was this a luck twist of fate? Was I going to be found out? In hindsight that disbelief in my own abilities was probably the first sign of the impending burnout that would hit me that same year. I knew my worth on paper: I had studied for years. With two diplomas in hand and years of internships and work experience in my field it was only fair I would climb this new step on the ladder. But it wasn’t quite registering that I actually deserved it. “I’m just good at job interviews”, I thought. “They’l...

IF I’M SO SUCCESSFUL, WHY DO I FEEL SO EMPTY?

It was 15 years ago when I walked away from my highly successful, well-compensated corporate marketing career. I thought I was leaving to open a wellness center so that I could help other people see the connection between their minds and their bodies. Instead, I began a deep and, at times, tumultuous road to recovery from other people’s ideas of what my life should look like. I had done all the right things—graduated from a prestigious business school, got married, went to work for a Fortune 200 consumer packaged goods company, had two gorgeous children, and a successful husband, and still something wasn’t right. It was Christmas time and my boss told me to go home and figure out what was going on and what I wanted to do. I had not been “acting like myself.” I was making unusual mistakes. ...

I CAN HAVE IT ALL: THE HARDSHIPS OF WORKING AS A MOM

This month has been tough. There’s been a lot of realizations in both my role as a mom and someone who works. My situation is a little different, mainly being a stay-at-home mom, but I also work as a freelance video editor/marketing manager in the little time I have during naps and when the baby goes to sleep. The beauty of freelancing is that I can make my schedule and take work that I want. The only thing I didn’t realize was how easy it was for me to overbook myself. I felt that I had this whole “being a mom” thing under control, but boy was I wrong, and I had a brutal wake up call. For months I have been doing work here and there, marketing for a local production company and some one-off video editing work. It was pretty good because I could do a lot of this during nap time and even wo...

BRILLIANT CHICAGO WOMEN LEADERS IN THE WEDDING PLANNING INDUSTRY

When I launched my wedding planning business, Anticipation Events, I knew three things for sure: I was going to give it my heart and soul, and the foundation of my business model would be all about delivering great customer service. I also knew I wasn’t much worried about being an entrepreneur in the wedding industry as a woman — because women rule this space.  Weddings are, by their very nature, a more tender and emotional experience, so the vibe can be very different than a corporate setting. They require a delicate hand that meets the client where they are and someone that understands how important this day is even when you’re planning weddings for a dozen clients at once.  Amazing customer service is key. After working on the event team at a large venue [Shedd Aquarium] for over four y...

THE JOURNEY TO THE STAGE– AN ESSAY BY RACHEL WISE

I sing without thinking. It comes as naturally to me as the sun rising. Using my voice to make music is a part of who I am, and I feel as though I was born to sing. I’ve had a dream to be a professional singer since I could remember that was actually a thing. The first time I remember ever singing in public is when I was two years old at my grandparents church in Ashland, Mississippi. As a child, I was naturally an outgoing person and enjoyed singing in choirs and church bands, but as I got older, the plague of stage fright became worse;  The shaking hands, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and cracking voice happened any time I was assigned to sing a solo. Let me tell you, that only goes away with practice, and thankfully my love of singing outweighed my fear of mistakes and what...

THREE QUICK WAYS TO MAKE NETWORKING PART OF YOUR ROUTINE

You’ve heard it hundreds of times: You need to network! If you want to build your client base, get referrals, establish your brand and be a better professional, networking is required. But when you’re already busting your tail to do your job, being involved in your community, staying somewhat healthy, and maintaining your personal relationships, networking often falls to the bottom of the list. Here are three easy ways to make networking part of your routine, so it no longer has to be another dreaded item to check off the list. Change your mindset. This one is so important. You want to approach the people you are already interact with as opportunities to build networking relationships. Say hello to the person in the elevator with you, strike up a conversation with another parent at your ki...

MORE IS NOT BETTER

We live in a world that glorifies being busy. We’re constantly hustling, adding items to our to-do lists and saying “yes” when we could be saying “no.” It’s normalized and expected. If you’re not insanely busy, are you really living? This is just one way to live, and, I would argue, not the best way. The problem is not that we’re busy, but that we’re busy doing things that aren’t most important to us. We have filled our lives up with other people’s version of success and piled on tasks accordingly. Will this leave you feeling fulfilled and satisfied with your life? Probably not. The danger in this is that we’ll spend all our precious time and energy on achievements that don’t really matter to us. From the outside we may look like we “have it all,” but in reality, there’s a huge gap b...

WHY MAKING MISTAKES ISN’T ALWAYS A BAD THING

I was recently reminded that I can be impulsive, indecisive, and at times, chaotic. Generally, these are not great adjectives for a business owner — or anyone — to have. But I am who I am, and despite others’ opinions, I am okay with that. In fact, I admit that I have never been more proud of myself than I am today. Over the past few months, working for myself has provided me with a lot of time to think and reflect back on all the decisions I made that led me to where I am now. Some of them were fairly impulsive, some of them were risky, but I don’t regret any of them. While they technically were mistakes, I am glad I made them when I did. So, I want to use this example from my own life to teach you — or remind those of you who knew but have forgotten — why making mistakes isn&...

MY STRENGTH IS NOT WEAKNESS

I’m five feet two inches and 107 pounds. I probably can’t do a pull up. Not that I would be one to try. One thing I’ve never been described as in my life is strong. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told to speak louder, be more authoritarian, stop being so nice. I’ve been told to lean in, stand up, take up more space, take charge, say no. The older I get, the more competitive environments I find myself and at the higher level I succeed, the more frequent the comments have become. I am told to be a good leader, I need to stop being “weak.” While much of that advice was well-meaning, it is disempowering. And it is false. When they say weak, they’re talking about the moments that I listen instead of speak, think instead of raise my hand, process instead of stand up, acknowledge ins...

WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING A BUSINESS OWNER WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS

My life has been a roller-coaster ride at times much like yours, I’m sure. Expectations, responsibilities and everyday pressures can take a toll on anyone. Imagine dealing with the normal everyday stress of life while trying to build a business and balance having a chronic illness like muscular dystrophy (MD). When someone without a chronic illness wakes up to the buzz of their second (or maybe third) alarm in the morning, a lot of thoughts may be running through their head. Is it 7:00 a.m. already? Do I really need to go to work today? Can’t I just lay here for another 10 minutes and still make it to work on time? My thoughts look at a little different: Will I be able to get out the bed without falling today? Will I have the energy to attempt to tackle my to-do list? How long can I actual...

FIGURING IT OUT

I know I’m good at what I do. I see women in NYC (where I started my career) and all over the web achieving so much success, and I think, ‘When am I going to get to that point?’ I moved back to my hometown six years ago, and I’ve been working hard to relaunch my business, and after being a small fish in a huge pond, is it crazy to think that the reverse situation will lead to greatness? I’ve been an event planner for over 15 years, and I’ve honed this skill to the nth degree. I can manage dealing with crazy deadlines/stress, Broadway stars and raising millions of dollars, and at this point in my career I feel like I’m ready to be considered the guru for event planning in my hometown. It doesn’t come that easy though, you know? When you have a family, you have responsibilities. ...

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