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The best career advice I’ve ever received…and what I say to folks now


A selection of my book collection up north. Yes. That's a hatchet.

Helloooooo!


I hope you’ve had a brilliant and seamless entry into summer!


Can you believe we’ve crossed over to the second half of the 2024? What?


I’m stoked about our chillax summer plans. I have four things on the wish list:


1)   Smoke chicken and Gruyère cheese. Is that two?


2)   Read three books from my library up north. Oh gosh, is that three?


3)   Hit up Afrofest.


4)   Make paella to celebrate my bday in August!


C’est tout! Both kids are going to sleepover camp for the first time (eek), and I plan to toggle between working in the city and heading up north.


Possibly counter-intuitive that this post is about work, work, work, work, work, work (Rihanna!) OR right on the money as we have six months to think on what we want to feel/do/accomplish in 2024.


Underpinning this post is what I deem yescessary, my word for doing what joys me up. Sharing what I’m learning in this life happens to fall neatly into that.


View in your browser for best experience. Skip, scroll, click to your heart’s content.

 

 

  • The best career advice I’ve ever received (and what I say to folks now)

  • My number one summer short cut

  • My summer YES-ESSENTIALS 


 

The best career advice I’ve ever received…and what I say to folks now


When I was a tadpole starting at this work stuff, I interviewed at a prestigious publishing house for the entry position of publishing assistant.


I made it to the final round with the top editor. She had a severe bob, sharp features, long torso. She was stiff, serious. I was answering the questions well, then she asked me what my ultimate goal at the publishing house was.


I knew my answer instinctually, but hesitated. She softened, spoke in an encouraging tone and dropped platinum-plated advice that I carry with me to this day:


Andrea, don’t be afraid of your ambition.” 


She gave me permission to say the big thing. I wanted to be her one day, the person perched in the power position making decisions.


I didn’t know how I would do it, but I was groomed by my dear strict and demanding West Indian parents who insisted I excel and ascend, no questions asked. I’m still unpacking that pressure (lawwwdd), but not my point today. I wanted to be an editor.


I wanted to call the shots. She nodded, satisfied with my answer.


I got the job.


I turned it down.


?!


That was the T-junction of my career – book publishing vs TV!


I didn’t like how the other dude I interviewed with called TV “the dark side.” Dark as a pejorative? Nah. I was young, but I knew when I didn’t feel safe. I saw that bias a mile away.


When folks reach into me for advice these days, it may take me a while to connect (#fulllife), but I try to pay it forward by saying yes to leadership talks and meet and greets.


Caveat - I have no career-fortifying silver bullets. Conspiracy theories, yes. Comfort, yes. Contacts, yes. Sure shots? Heck no. I still chuckle that it took me decades to figure out that I should put my shirt on and THEN my deodorant. White streaks all of high school. I’m grateful that anyone breathing invites in what I have to say.


I’ve had a ton of folks reach in lately (halfway through the year, makes sense) so I thought it’d be cool to share the pieces of career advice I’ve given - all things I say to myself every week, possibly every day.


No matter what your line of work, I think these might be interesting.


1. It’s not your job to do someone else’s job.


An emerging producer ask me if he should finish the show proposals he was working on. He was worried that they were too ambitious, too wild, too different, too whatever. I insisted that it isn’t his job to decide or judge them. His job is to make sure his pitches match the network/streamer’s brand/mandate; second, he needs to finish; and third he needed to believe in his vision and work.


This one also works when applying for jobs. Our role is to believe in our abilities, our talent, our potential – it’s not our decision if we get the job. It’s challenging not to get in our own way or vet ourselves. Our job is to apply!


2. They’re not going to dropkick you, so email.


This one got a laugh! Cold emailing is awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. I dig the challenge of putting a colourful splash of my personality in an email. We get caught up in “What if they don’t respond?” So, what? The worst is that they – gasp, don’t email back.


This is where following up is crucial. If you’re emailing a stranger, you’re a stranger to them, too. They will not remember your name to search for your email. I ask people to follow up with me at least twice. If the feeling is reciprocal, I won’t miss three times.


3. You’re already doing it


One person I spoke with said, “I want to be a director,” but they had already done three or four directing gigs. Dear Imposter Syndrome, please exit stage left. Those stints factor in. Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind us that we’re already doing what we say we want to do. The challenge is how to keep doing it, not start.


4. Envision your next, next move.


Not everyone is into career advancement. Cool, cool. But if someone is looking to move up or move laterally, I encourage them to think on their path. I call it the “Next, Next” – the next two positions that we see for ourselves should align with the path we’re choosing now.


Early in my career, I gobbled up experience anyway I could, but when I look back, I was still aligning my job choices with being a show runner – the role that was two steps from where I started.

A creative producer recently asked me if they should hop over to Business Affairs and I said, “Go for it! As long as you like the next two career moves after this one.” That caused them to pause and think again.  


5. What do you THINK you want?


I used to hate it when people asked me, “Well, what do you want?” What the heck? How can we know if something is right for us if we’ve never experienced it? Cue bead of sweat from all my pores. I soften this question because I believe we can only know what we THINK we want. That’s enough. I use this question in all facets of my life.


There’s so much more I can say, but I’ll cap at five!


I’m still curious about my ambition and goals to this day. Thanks, Editor Boss Lady. I hope this share was helpful in whatever line of work you’re in.


I’d love to hear what career advice stuck with you!


 

My number one summer short cut

 

I’m a sunflower and want to be out in the rays, so I streamline summer meal prep as much as I can. My secret weapon - batch marinading.

 

I big shop for whatever is on sale (steaks, wings, chicken thighs) and when I get home, I settle in, wash, marinade it all, date/label and freeze. I mix it up - teriyaki, jerk, tandoori, Cajun, Huli Huli (ah yah).

 

I thaw morning of, and then Step handles the bbq. Kids and I do salad/veggie sides and we’re done. Batch marinading = maximum flavour, minimum prep.


 

 

My Summer YES-ESSENTIALS 


A few more links to what I’m digging right now!

 

We’re way out of the diaper years, but still loving this powder for me.

 

Digging the day-long scent and shine of this aloe cream.

 

Living in these swim shorts when I’m by the water.

 

Check out the Black Barbie doc!

 

One more doll reference. I love making for real strawberry shortcakes.

 

My new non-alcoholic yummer.

 

Adding a few cardamom pods to my morning coffee grind has these benefits. Yeehaw!

 

Diffusing emotions this summer and beyond because of this handy pocket book.

 

 

Thanks for hanging for a bit. If you dig yescessary and know someone else who will please share!

 

Belly-flopping into a busy, beautiful and memory-making summer. Jump with me!

 

All best,



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