Ky’s Career Journey Pt. 3

Part 3 of my career journey is finally a look into how I broke into media after five years. Two years after that I was promoted into a management role. It’s been a long journey, but the best part is, I am just getting started. Check out the final part of my career journey and how Mara Brock Akil sharing her own professional story pushed me into the industry of my dreams, but not without first humbling myself during the process.

Ky’s Career Journey Pt. 2

PASSIONS. I spent a lot of years during my career journey figuring out where I fit. I experimented with everything! I traveled, visited museums, directed and produced a talk show called Reserved, worked for TravelNoire, created lifestyle and travel blogs, applied to law school, got rejected from law school, you name it, I did it. What I didn’t know at the time, all of my experiences were shaping me into the career professional that I always dreamed of being and ultimately would help me land a job in the industry of my dreams. A lot of people frown upon working for free or following passions, but I am the number 1 advocate for this because it ultimately leads you to your purpose.

Ky’s Career Journey Pt. 1

There were very few moments in my life where I was filled with so much passion, so much clarity on my journey, that my spirit was so overwhelmingly energized, it could’ve jumped out of my body, and it’s in those moments where I know I am doing the right thing. The first time I had this feeling was when I attended ABFF 2015 in New York. It was at that moment, I knew I wanted to take the leap into the media industry. I left the festival to attend a birthday party and my friend who picked me up, told me to calm down, take it easy. She didn’t realize what I was feeling and it was not for her to realize it. This was a me and God thing. The next time I felt that feeling was last year when I attended the Mogul X conference. My job had free passes and my colleague asked me to set up the booth that my company sponsored. That was all I was supposed to do, set up the booth, and go on and attend the conference. Easy, right? Well, when I got there, the Mogul X coordinators had another idea. They had 120 women, signed up to do onsite interviews, and could not tell these women that there was no representative from my company. I told them it was not my place and I was only told to set up the booth and attend the conference.

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To make a very long story short, I ended up doing the interviews and not attending the conference. In total, I spoke with 80 women that day, back to back, encouraging them with my own career story and listening to their dreams, goals, and hopes. The women were young, old, Black, White, Indian, Muslim, Hispanic…you name it. When my boyfriend picked me up that day, I had the same overwhelming feeling of passion, but he didn’t tell me to calm down, he told me to follow that feeling. What I realized, is that I had a story to tell and a meaningful one as well. I also realized that these women saw themselves in me and I saw myself in them. I spent most of my recent graduate life desperate for guidance. Desperate for true transparency on how people make it. I was sick of the success stories that don’t start from the bottom. I was sick of the inauthentic. I wanted to hear from real people, and that day made me realize it was time to pay it forward. Yeah, I am not at the pinnacle of success, I don’t have all of the diamonds and pearls, but not even 10-years out of college, I have a lot to say and my transparency can possibly help others.

So here’s my first attempt at transparency and sharing my story. I really hope you LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel because there are so many more videos coming down the pipeline. This is only Part 1 of 3 but I’ve been using this quarantine to shoot other videos that can really help on your own personal career journey. I am also writing a quick book/guide that can help you on your career journey as well. You’re never to young or old to make a leap in your career. Life is too short to not be doing what you love. Feel free to email: Lifestylebyky@gmail.com for more information.

 

By Ky Book Recommendation: “More Than Enough” by Elaine Welteroth

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This is not only a book review but a testimony. Elaine Welteroth is someone who I admire. Her career trajectory was meteoric and aspirational. She flipped corporate cultures upside down and paved the way for many through her boldness and advocacy for diversity and inclusion. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for work during her book tour and it was one of the highlights of my career. Check out my review of her book More Than Enough.

You can purchase this book recommendation here: https://kit.co/Lifestylebyky/books-by-ky 

Click SUBSCRIBE to support and FOLLOW @Booksbyky on Instagram.

The Danger in Chasing the Woo-ha!

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I remember my wonder years as a college student. Whenever I told someone I went to Penn State I would get the same response. Ohhh…Ahhh…Wooha! It made me feel good, like I was doing something great with my life. It made me feel validated even…But then after 4-years, I graduated.

As soon as I graduated, I knew things would change and it did. Now the Wooha’s were replaced with “So what now?” It was a frightening reality that my degree was just that, a degree, a piece of paper, and nothing I did in college mattered remotely to the giant machine we all know as the real world.

Eventually, the wooha’s came back when I landed my first job on Wall Street. I was working for a financial tech company which made it seem like everything I was doing was super important. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for my job was lackluster at best and the wooha’s began to diminish again. People could see that although my job was great it didn’t align with who I was or what I should be doing.

Chasing the wooha’s led me to do many other things that did not align with who I was. It led me to apply to law school when I knew deep down inside I didn’t love the idea of being a lawyer. It led me to apply to business school when deep down inside I knew I didn’t like the business culture that much. It led me to chase after goals that seemed pretty on paper and socially acceptable but just wasn’t for me. It led me to deny a bit of myself in the pursuit of acceptance.

Now, I am at the point in my life where the wooha’s cannot define my journey anymore. Yes, it would be great to be praised for how successful I am, but society defines success in very rigid and traditional ways and that’s just not my trajectory. I want to be true to myself, not the wooha’s. I want to be happy with what I am doing and I plan on doing just that.

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Lacking Faith

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…” – Hebrews 11:1

I lack faith. Some people are ashamed to admit that but I know I do. My church did a class on faith recently, teaching from the book Hebrews Chapter 11, where we dissected the meaning of faith and the people in the bible who exhibited great faith; Abraham, Moses, and David. I was inspired but still failed a test of faith recently.

The test was simple, so simple that I knew it was a test, but still, I failed miserably. I decided to apply for something, which at the time I thought I really wanted. When I was rejected I was very angry. I’ve never been this angry in a long time. That anger turned into questioning the plans that God has for my life, those questions led me to feelings of defeat, and that defeat deflated me completely and I felt so discouraged and depressed. I didn’t have to react so poorly to rejection but I did. I could’ve gone totally against the grain. I could’ve completely remained confident that the next door of opportunity would open but I didn’t. I created a pity party for myself filled with negativity and a spirit that was not aligned with God.

I decided to go to church the next morning in hopes of an answer and I received one. The pastor preached about hindrances and what it means to be blocked from doing something. A hindrance can come from either God or the devil; you just have to be spiritually in tune to decipher who it’s from. I left church feeling empowered. Simply because having faith means putting your trust in God. Sometimes that’s extremely hard. You see other people doing great things and you want to know when your turn will be. You see people building great relationships and you want to know when your time will come. Navigating life with such uncertainty is hard, but that’s where faith comes in.

One of the many beauties of life is the mystery of it. One of the most challenging things about life is not knowing when your expectations will be met. Will it be a year from now or tomorrow?  That’s my struggle; I just want to know when. I wish this post was the answer to how I conquered my lack of faith but it’s not. It’s more about transparency than anything. It’s letting you know that as a Christian sometimes it can be hard to keep believing in God’s plans even if we know he wants the best for us. I know for sure God has my back because he always has. I know you’re supposed to be patient and wait on God’s timing for all things, but even though I know this as a fact, it’s hard to accept when it deals with the circumstances of YOUR life and that’s the trouble.

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Workplace Improv

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I revealed to one of my friends in my TV writing class how much I hated networking. For context, I can go on a stage, in a room full of people and speak but I cannot go up to an individual and say “Hello my name is Kydee, what’s your name…” the whole ordeal freaks me out.

She suggested that I take an Improv class for my networking fright. What it does, is put you in situations, where you have to think on your toes and essentially you start to loosen up, become more comfortable, and even break out of your shell. Her advice stayed with me for months, and then one day out of the blue I received an email from the Women’s Forum at my job about an after-work opportunity to do professional improv. Exciting! I am a new member of the Women’s Forum so not only would it give me the opportunity to meet new people at my company but it would also allow me to test the waters with Improv.

My overall feedback on the event? I loved it.

Improv encouraged a supportive environment that allowed me to be myself. One of the first things we had to do was introduce ourselves to everyone in the room by walking up to them and finding interesting ways to say hello. This made us comfortable with one another and shattered the walls we tend to build in a work environment.

Our next task as a group was to stand in a circle and create a story that actually made sense, with everyone contributing one word; So the first person says Apples, the next person says Are, and the final person says Great. Thus, the sentence Apples-Are-Great forms. It was kind of like the game Telephone. People were not paying attention and adding in words that didn’t make sense, which highlighted that we have to really listen to one another in the workplace or else, you will miss out on valuable information and lose momentum.

In an interesting turn of events, the instructor asked us to get our cell phones and find a partner. Person A was supposed to tell a story about their morning. Person B was supposed to check their emails and do all the interesting things they could do on their cell phones while Person A was talking. I was Person A, talking about my morning, I shared how hard it was to get a seat on the train, the things I read while on the train, and how delicious my breakfast was. Person B, my partner, looked attentive, but she was checking her emails and doing a whole list of other things. When it was time for her to repeat my story, she missed all of the major details that I wanted her to catch. This exercise illustrated Radical Presence. When we talk to people we should try to be present, and give people our attention, no matter how good we “think” we are at multi-tasking. Cell phones are a distraction, and we may miss major details if we are on our phones checking emails and not fully listening to the conversation happening right in front of us.

One of the last activities we did was “Yes And.” Again with a partner, we had to pick a topic (of course I chose travel), and we had to talk about that topic with our partner, each of us taking turns by saying “Yes And”. So the conversation went something like “I love to travel,” my partner then said “Yes and I love to travel and take long flights,” Then I said, “Yes and I love to take long flights to Europe…” You get the idea.

However, the next part of the exercise was the “Yes But” portion; my partner would say something, still on the topic of travel and I would counter her, with “Yes but” for example, I proceeded to say “London is really cool” and then my partner said “Yes but it rains a lot” and then I said, “Yes but it rains in New York too” etc…Once the exercise was over we explained to the group the feeling we had when someone said “Yes And” vs. “Yes But”. It honestly felt better having someone add to my ideas and statements as opposed to negating it every second. It’s kind of like them saying what I have to say is not valid enough to be acknowledged. Our instructor encouraged us to be mindful of our words especially in the work setting and ended the class allowing us to reflect on the most valuable lessons we learned.

This experience was awesome. I realized a couple of things that I do that might hinder me as a professional. One of those things is eye contact. Sometimes my eyes are all over the place. Eye contact is so important especially in the workplace because it shows that you are secure and essentially illustrates your strength. Another takeaway was watching how I speak to people. I want to build them up not tear them down. I left the event feeling empowered. The climb up the corporate ladder is a long one, especially for someone like me who has no manual on navigating the corporate landscape. I am learning everything as I go. However, I am open to these situations, as strange as they may seem because it helps me to grow not only as a professional but an individual.

If  you’re interested in this opportunity for your company and you’re based in the New York area feel free to reach out to Open Act:

Open Act seeks to level the playing field for students attending NYC’s most underserved schools by offering opportunities to develop leadership, community, and commitment through it’s innovative, long term, free after school theater programs.  www.openact.org  /+1-646-418-7088

New Beginnings

This fall, I finally listened to the voice in my head that told me I should give TV Writing a try. I’ve always heard the voice but didn’t think I was capable of actually writing my own show. The TV Writing omens came to me a few times in my life, some of which I list below:

  • I’ve watched TV all my life, why wouldn’t I want to know the mechanics of writing an actual show?
  • I’ll never forget when my sister (she might not remember this) told me that a 23-year old Lena Dunham created the hit show on HBO called Girls. She was only a few years older than me; I was so intrigued by her accomplishment.
  • Reserved. I was challenged one day by one of the hosts who didn’t understand how we could have a talk show without a script. Well unbeknownst to me at the time, I thought on talk shows you just talked freely. Didn’t the script make it scripted? What I would soon learn is everything including talk shows have scripts.
  • My friend Stephen sent me his script to read that he co-wrote with a friend from college. Tribeca Film Festival was very interested in the script as well. He probably doesn’t know but after reading his script, I wanted to write my own. His bravery and talent inspired me.
  • The American Black Film Festival (ABFF), this year made me realize I can write for TV.  I honestly went to the film festival blindly and had no intention of scriptwriting but I left feeling inspired by the stories of Mara Brock Akil and the writers of Empire. I knew I needed to start my own TV writing journey, so I did.

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While at ABFF, I kept hearing people talking about Spec Scripts. Spec Scripts? What the heck was that? I googled it and learned that a spec script was something you need to break into the industry. It’s a script that allows you to speculate what might happen on a TV show that’s currently running. Mara Brock Akil mentioned if you want to write, you have to go to LA. So two weeks later, I packed my bags up and went to LA. I told my friend to drop me off at a place where I could write and she dropped me off at a cute writing cafe in NOHO called Republic of Pie

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I wrote in LA, but I did not write my Spec Script. I wrote ideas for a script but I didn’t have the slightest idea how to write a script. I put my TV Writing dreams on the back burner for the rest of the summer.

Around October, I was going through a lot of changes at work and in life. So I took a break from social media and from watching TV just to clear my head a bit. I was literally in my room sitting in silence, reading my bible when something told me to google Script Writing Classes. Gotham was one of the first options that came up on the list, but they seemed a bit pricey, so I continued looking. What I ended up finding out was Gotham was the best bet, the other options were either too expensive or not as extensive as Gotham, so I went with them. I decided to invest in my future and let me tell you, it felt awesome! But I didn’t purchase my seat in the class just yet. I was still going back and forth about the price. I would have to take out of my savings to do this class, was it worth it? I asked God to give me confirmation that I was making the right decision and sure enough he did.

The next day at work, my cell phone, which has a picture of me at Runyon Canyon in LA, with my exercising clothes on was sitting on my desk. Now you know how tight and provocative exercising clothes tend to be, but on top of that my pose was very…i’ll leave the picture below so you can see for yourself. My boss passed by my desk and picked up my phone to see the picture, I grabbed the phone before he was able to see too much, mortified at the prospects of him seeing me in that light, he made light of the situation by saying “What were you doing…yoga?” and walked away. I wanted to crawl under a rock. Why does these awkward moments always have to happen to me? It’s really unbelievable how weird my life is. At that moment I knew my wildly awkward life experiences could serve as inspiration for a character I could create. That was all the confirmation I needed. Three minutes later I dug into my savings account and signed up for my first TV Writing course.

 

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This was the picture from Runyon Canyon that was on my phone. I never thought about how awkward it would be if someone from my very corporate job saw me like this…yikes!

The class was amazing. I am so impressed with everything that I learned and all the advice I received. I also learned how to write a Spec Script (finally) and handed in my first draft last week. I felt so accomplished. The class gave me amazing feedback and now I have to make the script better and resubmit it. The work doesn’t end at the end of the class. It will probably take me a year to create a portfolio for TV Writing but I am excited. I juggled this class while juggling many changes at work. I followed my heart, not knowing where it would lead me but I am happy it’s led me in the right direction. I feel peace when I’m at my TV Writing class. I feel like I have an outlet to be me, and I am surrounded by other people just like me. I truly believe the moral of this story is to follow your passions. Discover what you love. I know this may or may not be my career path, but I don’t care, I am content in knowing that I’ve learned a new craft and fell in love with it. I thank Mara Brock Akil for giving me that inspiration at ABFF. I thank Shonda Rhimes for running Thursdays on ABC and paving the way for up and coming writers like myself. I thank God for having his hand on my life and leading me to discover my purpose each day.

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Finishing up my first draft Spec Script

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Why I jumped off the Career Assembly Line

For the first time in a long time, I feel good about the direction God is leading my life in terms of my career. To be honest, I’ve fought it for a long time and for the most part kept what I do a bit private, for the obvious reasons of professionalism, but what I am about to share needs to be written down, not only to help myself understand God’s plan but also to help and inspire others. Right now, with a new year looming, I am reflecting on the growth I’ve made in my life and I am happy with it. This year has not been easy. It was filled with a lot of changes, some that I feared initially, but I am so excited for what’s to come, more so than previous years. The title of this post is called “Why I jumped off the Career Assembly Line.” I picked up a book recently, at Urban Outfitters (they have an eclectic book collection), and read a passage that talked about Assembly Lines in terms of your career.

Assembly lines, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a process by which things are progressively made in parts or work stations that add on to a sequence until the final assembly is produced. It reminds me of the car company, Ford, which built their cars using the assembly line in the early 1900s. One station was in charge of putting the wheels on the car, the next station was in charge of placing the doors on the car, and so on and so on until finally, the car was complete. But the idea here is that the process is monotonous, ongoing, and straightforward. No change can happen or else the car won’t be identical to the others. The same can be said for my life (career-wise), until I decided I didn’t want to be on the assembly line anymore.

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The first time I made a drastic choice in my career, and decided I would jump off of the assembly line, commenced while I was in college. I started school as a journalism major and by my sophomore year switched to pursue a pre-law/political science degree. It was a huge decision, one that I still question, although I know why I did it. Journalism was my passion. I love to write; I can’t shake that trait about me, it’s a God-given gift but my family wanted me to pursue a more stable career, so they told me, I should become a lawyer. I listened to them. I wanted to please them and so I did just that. I spent the rest of my college career, writing legal briefs, studying constitutional law in the library, and constantly on Lexis Nexis researching. As intriguing as the legal system was, I knew it was not for me. I didn’t get excited; I got anxiety. Literal anxiety. Now, as I reflect, I think it was a mix of knowing I was doing something unaligned with my purpose and being stressed by the course load.

My turning point came around the time when I started looking to pursue law school. I started visiting legal college advisors for some advice and direction on my decision to go to Law School. One said, “Law school is for people who’s really passionate about the law, why do you want to go to law school?” I gave a politically correct answer to save face, but deep down in my soul, I knew I was being fake. I wasn’t passionate about going to law school or the legal system, I was just trying to please the ones I loved most. One time I was asked this same question by another legal college advisor and I told her I wanted to help women as a lawyer. She followed up by saying “You do know you can help women without going to law school right? Besides, what do you do now to help women? Your resume shows you haven’t done anything since last year, while you were still in college.” She called me out and she was right. That day on the train ride home, I was excited that this woman had the balls to call me on my bluff because I knew, my life would change. I could do many great things in my career without going to law school, but how would I break the news to my family?

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The day of my induction ceremony into the Legal Honor Society/Fraternity Phi Alpha Delta at Penn State

Continue reading “Why I jumped off the Career Assembly Line”

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