I was first introduced to Ms. B. when I was a freshman in high school. I grew to admire her because of her passion for her career, her family, and her community.
I have watched Ms. B. in pure adoration for years as TOO MANY great ideas to count have set up camp in her mind…and once the seeds were planted and she determined the logistics of it all, the ideas went from the planning stages to implementation. The end result was SUCCESS…every time. Her motto: “If there is something you want: Be focused. Be dedicated. And make it happen!”
Growing up in Detroit, Ms. B. was a self-proclaimed tomboy. She played HARD. Her favorite pastimes were climbing trees or houses, playing basketball, baseball and touch football. She has always been a competitive go-getter, but her athleticism didn’t take away from her femininity. She knew how to balance the shoulder pads and the Barbie dolls in order to reach the level of success that she desired. Ms. B’s father taught her that a girl should never fight. She should be able to sit down with anyone and use rational dialogue to get her points across. Her ability to do the latter has aided in her ability to get the job done.
Her parents kept her in creative arts programs offered by the community center near her childhood home. She learned to play the piano, saxophone, guitar and clarinet. She also learned modern and tap dancing as well. Her early exposure gave her a great appreciation for the arts—one that still permeates her being years later.
Ms. B’s Career Advice
When Ms. B. was in high school she decided that she wanted to attend interior design school. At the time, however, there weren’t very many opportunities for African Americans in design. She chose, instead, to marry and start a family. She took up employment at a financial institution as well. It was during that time that Ms. B. began to think seriously about her future. She looked in the mirror and did a self-assessment—focusing on who she was, what she was good at, what she wanted to do, and what, if anything, was holding her back.
Her self-reflection enabled her to realize that a few people who were a part of her life were acting as obstacles to her success. They didn’t have her best interest at heart. And although she cared for them, she had to let them go.
She decided that she wanted to become a vice president of finance or accounting at a major corporation. With that, she found individuals who already had successful careers in finance and accounting and studied them. She researched the schools they had attended, the degrees they had, the companies they worked for, etc….Her next step was to enroll in school. She started off in a community college and then transferred to the University of Detroit, where she attained a dual degree in finance and accounting. While in college she established an accounting tutoring program, spearheaded resume writing workshops, and joined professional organizations to keep her sharp and “on top of her game.”
While she was putting in the necessary work to prepare herself, God was perfecting all the details—opening some doors and closing others—setting the stage for greatness. He arranged it so that upon Ms. B’s graduation, the opportunities in accounting were endless. Because she didn’t go straight to college after finishing high school, she was a little more seasoned than some of her younger classmates. That, coupled with the fact that she was an African American woman (which had worked against her design aspirations earlier in her life) gave her a competitive edge in corporate America. There was a need for her in the accounting world! Her experience, education, and relationships had all prepared her for the moment she was finally able to step into the career blessings that God had for her.
The rest is history. She obtained a job working for a major entertainment company and worked her way to the top from there. Her current title—Vice President of Accounting.
Her strategy: “Figure out what your ultimate desire is and do the research on whatever that is. You have to do your homework and set small goals.” Each small goal that you achieve prepares you for the success of your ultimate goal…but you have to be able to SEE your ultimate goal first. Have dreams. Dream as BIG as you can—and then pursue your dreams. “If you want to be great, you have to live and breathe greatness and have an action plan. You have to know that it will come.”
Ms. B. believes that it is very important to help others while traveling down the highways of life. She fervidly comments that “Life is all about doing the best you can with the time you have. You have to give back!” She says that she wouldn’t be as successful as she is today had it not been for people helping her along the way. As a result, Ms. B. is actively involved in community service organizations and activities in the Los Angeles area. Her efforts have helped hundreds of young people develop the confidence and life-skills necessary for success, fund educational endeavors, secure employment, and forage lifetime relationships with industry professionals.
Ms B.’s Future Projects
Ms. B. lives each day to the fullest. “God has given me today. I’d better do something with it. Otherwise why am I even here?” When I asked her what her plans for the future entail, she told me that her latest goal is to learn to sing (while playing her own accompaniment). She is currently taking vocal lessons, and although she doesn’t necessarily want to perform in front of an audience, she looks forward to the day she will have mastered her skills.
Ms. B. absolutely LOVES working with money, but her strong passion for interior design never died. So, the fact that she finished design school a few years ago shouldn’t come as a surprise. She is currently in the process of growing her own design company and sharing her vision with the world.
Her community involvement will also continue. Her involvement with the youth makes her feel complete. God has blessed her, and she feels that she has an obligation to encourage and assist others along their journeys.
A Final Word
I am using Ms. B’s keys to success as a road map to reach my own. In order to be successful: You have to rely on God. You HAVE to be confident. You have to be able to dream. You have to be able to visualize success. You have to be able to effectively communicate. You have to be prepared. You have to be willing to walk away from the people and things that aren’t conducive to your success. You have to give to others. You can’t make excuses. You have to demand respect from others while also giving them that same level of respect.
Thank you, Ms. B. for being the wonderful woman you are. Thank you for believing in me and taking the time out to care enough to invest your time, wisdom, and expertise in me. I hear you…and I won’t let you down. :)