It’s Time to Plant Seeds
By Michelle Porchia
In the past, I’ve written a few articles comparing gardening to business practices. With your permission, I will continue that theme in this blog. In the process, I encourage you to consider gardening, even if it is one pot of herbs, like basil. This encourages you to use gardening to take time for yourself and do something that is relaxing and enjoyable.
Once again, I’m behind the planting calendar for getting my seeds in the pot to start germinating for spring, and that’s ok. As long as the seeds get into the dirt and get cared for, hopefully, they will grow. Debra Gould, Debra Gould and Associates, and a member of Ebony Speakers, in her “Mindful Magic” blog series, she talks about using various skills to be successful in business. (Stress management, motivation, and monitoring your thoughts, to name a few.) I’m reviewing the knowledge and experience I have gained from the past three years of gardening, and I hope to have a beautiful and fruitful garden this year if the weather cooperates. As we grow our businesses, we need to tap into our various skills, tools, and experiences.
What are the new lessons?
As you continue in 2023, may your business grow and thrive. My wish for you is that you make a difference, take time for yourself, and enjoy the journey.
Authenticity: A Key to Success
Nancy J. Lewis, MS, SHRM-CP, PHR, RCC
Authenticity is key to building sustainable and meaningful relationships, whether in professional or personal settings. Authenticity is key as we reflect on Black History Month (which should be all year) and celebrate Women’s History Month. Authenticity is about being genuine and true to your core values no matter what. In today's world, we often have difficulty being authentic and transparent because it can come back and impact our careers. Sometimes authenticity is not appreciated or celebrated because things are being done or said that makes others uncomfortable. Consider the following questions on authenticity as it relates to your world:
1. Does the culture of your organization support and embrace authenticity?
2. Are people encouraged to bring their whole selves to work?
3. Are leaders authentic in your workplace?
4. How is failure viewed in your organization?
5. Can authenticity and transparency be a reality for your organization?
Something to ponder as you realize the value authenticity can bring to your company. Authenticity has been linked to better work performance, engagement, and total wellness of employees. That is a good enough reason to create a culture that is open to employees being authentic in the workplace.
We lose creative ideas, develop silos, and polarize work teams when we fail to embrace this important but elusive attribute.
I want to share five things to remember about authenticity.
1. Authenticity is about doing and saying the right thing even when it is unpopular.
2. Authenticity is about being consistent with who you are no matter where you are.
3. Authenticity is about knowing what the non-negotiables are in your life.
4. Authenticity is about encouraging others as you operate from the abundance mentality.
5. Authenticity is about knowing how to lead from your heart.
Strive to live authentically as you move forward to greater success, peace, and love. One of my Nancyisms is, "Do you because everybody else is taken."
By Carole Copeland Thomas
Five international holidays converge on the scene every December (and early January) to make our schedules hectic, exciting, and pressure-filled. Wrapping gifts while shopping at odd hours of the night either pushes us into the spirit of happiness OR helps us find an escape path until all of the celebrations are over.
Here are related links to five holidays with religious and nonreligious implications. You'll learn interesting facts and figures that will make you scratch your head in amazement. The marathon includes Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day. Learn new traditions and pass them on as the merriment continues throughout the holiday season.
May you celebrate the Season and get ready for an awe-inspiring 2023!
-Carole Copeland Thomas
Links and Resources For The Five Holidays
2 Winter Solstice
Parenting Article Written For Kids
History of the Christmas Tree
5 Three Kings Day
A Moment For Diversity
By Debra Gould
Men hate each other because they fear each other, and they fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they are often separated from each other.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mentioning Diversity- It doesn’t matter how easy to get along with what we believe we are; there will come a time when someone or something challenges that belief. Usually, the challenge is related to one or more of the cultural landmines outlined below. Look at the continuum and mark an “X” on the spot where you believe you fall from 1 to 5.
Achievement Relationship to Personal
Physically Distant to Physically Close
Linear Time to Non-Linear Time
Authoritarian to Democratic
Direct Communicator to Indirect Communicator
My Goals to Our Goals
Aggressive Attitude to Passive Attitude
SO, what do you do if one of these landmines explodes in the workplace or in your personal life? The WAY you communicate is going to be very important. Use the following steps as your guide:
· Provide feedback that gives the person information about the IMPACT of their behavior
· Use “I” statements
· Make a clear request for the person to discontinue making those statements or exhibiting that behavior in your presence
· Inform the person of the consequences of continuing to engage in offensive speech or behavior
The Minute-Being mindful of your diversity assessment-What do you think and feel about this? What do you do about this? Is there anything you would like to do differently about this in the future?
The Meeting of the Mindful-for fuller minds and moving organizations…please contact
Debra W. Gould, MS is the president of Debra Gould & Associates, Inc. (DGAI) based in New Orleans, LA. DGAI is a Performance Management company that provides management consulting, training, facilitating, customer focus group, community outreach programs, research/analysis, and executive coaching services to commercial and government clients. Debra can be reached at (504) 460-9641
email: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www:gouldassoc.com
By Michelle Porchia
Women are the backbone of the family, the country, the world! We were reminded when I shared the information from the International Women’s Day site, that women continue to break barriers and make a difference…we are GETTING THINGS DONE.
I wanted to highlight outstanding women in this blog, but there are so many, the blog would have been pages and pages long. There are so many phenomenal women who have chosen to follow their passion; defy the odds, who faced challenges, even death yet they persisted. They changed lives. They changed their neighborhoods, cities, countries even the world. Many are unknown sheroes. Many are noted in history yet people don’t know about them.
According to the LA Times, “The pandemic has disproportionately affected women, with significant numbers laid off, leaving their jobs or reducing work hours to care for children being schooled at home or to care for other family members.” “It had another effect too: Women, especially those who had never before started a business, took up entrepreneurship, spurring a wave of first-time business ventures that experts say is a pandemic silver lining worth investing in.” “This virtual presence has also opened a plethora of doors for people to connect with people around the world but also see how they can share ideas, start businesses, meet new friends, begin new relationships,” “It’s like no other time.”
What can we do to engage with other women not only during Women’s History month but year around?
You are successful women speaking up and speaking out. You are successful women who have spoken love, life and lessons into others. You have been selfless. I applaud you. I salute you. I also challenge you to take time for you. That is not selfish, it is selfless. Love yourself. Pamper yourself. Take care of yourself and continue to SPEAK up and speak out against bias. Remember also to CHOOSE YOU while YOU ARE GETTING THINGS DONE. #BreakTheBias
By Nancy J. Lewis
The only thing constant is change, and we clearly saw that over the last two years. To lead an effective change initiative in your organization, consider the following three strategies.
1. Put people first.
This is not just something nice to say, it must be demonstrated in your actions. When you want to create a successful change initiative, prioritize people. People fuel and sustain the momentum of the change. Change initiatives don’t succeed when people are not involved, don’t understand, believe or engage in the change. To make the change initiative easier, leaders must engage the employees in the change process from the beginning.
2. Empower employees through effective communication.
Communication is an essential part of effectively managing organizational change. Vision for the change is only as compelling as the communication that supports it. Communication during the change management process is not a one-time transfer of information. It requires commitment to follow through with updates, clarity, and consistency of the message. It is important to have two-way communication with employees through surveys, focus groups, and informal feedback collection throughout the change initiative.
3. Mobilize leadership.
Statistics and surveys state that the more active and visible top leadership is in the change, the more likely the change initiative will succeed. The challenge is to make sure leaders understand the role they play in the change and can convey it to their teams. Leaders must know they are responsible for achieving change goals from start to finish. They take on ownership and accountability of what they are expected to do in the change initiative. Leaders help the organization understand and interpret what the change means for their teams and the business. Leaders must be flexible and willing to change course as needed when a new approach is necessary.
These are a few strategies to consider as you look at your next change initiative.
The shortest month of the year should not limit the expansive contributions of Black people throughout the United States and the Americas. We salute African Americans' sacrifices, dreams, hopes, and opportunities, from Phyllis Wheatley to Dr. Ralph David Abernathy to Rev. Karla Cooper, who represent the best of our race.
Black History IS American History, and it should matter to ALL people throughout the land.
Carole Copeland Thomas
Black History Month and Dr. Carter G.Woodson
During the dawning decades of the twentieth century, it was commonly presumed that black people had little history besides the subjugation of slavery. Today, it is clear that blacks have significantly impacted the development of the social, political, and economic structures of the United States and the world. Credit for the evolving awareness of the true place of blacks in history can, in large part, be bestowed on one man, Carter G. Woodson. And, his brainchild the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. is continuing Woodson's tradition of disseminating information about black life, history and culture to the global community.
Known as the "Father of Black History," Woodson (1875-1950) was the son of former slaves and understood how important gaining a proper education is when striving to secure and make the most out of one's divine right of freedom. Although he did not begin his formal education until he was 20 years old, his dedication to study enabled him to earn a high school diploma in West Virginia and bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Chicago in just a few years.
In 1912, Woodson became the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University.
Recognizing the dearth of information on the accomplishments of blacks in 1915, Dr. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
Under Woodson's pioneering leadership, the Association created research and publication outlets for black scholars with the establishment of the Journal of Negro History (1916) and the Negro History Bulletin (1937), which garners a popular public appeal.
In 1926, Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which corresponded with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, this celebration was expanded to include the entire month of February, and today Black History Month garners support throughout the country as people of all ethnic and social backgrounds discuss the black experience. ASALH views the promotion of Black History Month as one of the most important components of advancing Dr. Woodson's legacy.
In honor of all the work that Dr. Carter G. Woodson has done to promote the study of African American History, an ornament of Woodson hangs on the White House's Christmas tree each year.
Source: Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
By Korey Bowers Brown
By Debra Gould, MS
You know the one, the one on your staff who is the best and brightest on your team. Every time you see him/her, you think, “what great leadership potential—what a diamond in the rough!” BUT this is also your person who has the greatest number of personal problems impacting the job and has the least amount of professional self-esteem.
So, what do you do? Do you set aside your diamond in the rough aside and work with someone who has less leadership potential but fewer personal problems and greater self-esteem? Or, do you invest a little extra time with your diamond in the rough to encourage their leadership potential? One choice takes you down the path of least resistance. The other means a long-term project requiring a commitment of more time and energy. Where do you start? Here are my “Diamond Mining Tips” to help you get started polishing your rough diamond:
The Minute-Being mindful of our rough diamond scenario:
People are assets whose value can be enhanced through investment. Think about this as a leader in this scenario above to ask yourself this question and go get it done? Question: How can I keep this diamond in the rough motivated because the potential is there? Answer: Just pursue a strategy that does take account of the capacity of all the resources available, including the human ones. Hold on leader and build, direct, lead, guide and influence and your future leader and never give up.
Thought of a Great Leader
“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
Debra Gould can be reached at: (504) 244-6576,
email: email@example.com and
Life's Lessons from Gardening
By Michelle Porchia
Life Lessons from Gardening
Last year I moved in to a small house. Besides it being my home, I have a patio and a porch. In the spring of 2020, I grew herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage.) Unexpectedly, I did really well. Basil is a seasonal herb. Surprisingly my basil lasted from late April through the end of September. I nurtured the other herbs through the winter.
This year I have a container garden. I’m growing the same herbs with hope for more success with my basil and rosemary plants. I’ve also added parsley to my gardening menu. I now have a raised garden bed. This will allow me to garden more easily. This year I am experimenting with growing Japanese eggplant, banana peppers, yellow peppers, tomatoes and a walking onion. I also have several potted coleus and two succulents.
Where are the lessons? I’m glad you asked.
2020 was a trying year. I found enjoyment in growing herbs that I nurtured and used to make savory meals. 2021 is a new year. I enjoy waking up and looking out of my bedroom window and seeing my “Zen Garden.” This year, I explored new territory by expanding my gardening knowledge and trying to grow vegetables. As a speaker, I’ve spoken (via Zoom) in venues I hadn’t considered. It was an honor to speak for my high school alma mater, twice. I am now looking into new areas of interest. I’m taking my time and planting the seeds, just like my garden. I’m excited to see what blooms.
Nancy J. Lewis, MS, SHRM-CP PHR, RCC
So often, we make excuses why we don't do certain things in our life. When we do this, we often
delay walking into our destiny and adversely impact our integrity level. Consider the following five strategies the next time you find yourself making an excuse.
1. Be honest with yourself.
It is important to look at yourself in the mirror and have a heart to heart and admit you have a problem. Don't continue to deny this is an area in your life you are okay with and hope it will simply go away without you addressing it. Others know you are making excuses, and it is time you face it also. It is important to state the problem out loud, acknowledging you recognize this is a problem you are going to fix. It is helpful to solicit the assistance of a trusted friend that will hold you accountable when you find yourself making excuses.
2. Set realistic expectations.
Before you make commitments and say yes to something--even something small--ask yourself if you truly believe you can and will follow through. Some people set unrealistic goals and then fail in accomplishing their commitment. It is critical to have forethought and count the cost of what you are committing to. Look at the time constraints, the magnitude of the task and then make an informed decision. Sometimes you have to say no, and that is okay. It is better to say no than to repeatedly say yes and fall short of what you have committed to. Doing what you say you will do speaks to your level of integrity. Integrity is a lot easier to maintain than regain. So think before you commit!
3. Stop whining and start winning.
Stop complaining about what you don't have and making negative confessions. It is so important to count your blessings and know that you win when you begin to speak positive statements of faith. Be slow to speak and swift to hear, and if what you are going to say is not in line with what you want to see manifest in your life, don't say it. Choose to move from whining about life and get in the game of winning in life. Become your own best cheerleader recognizing that greatness lives inside of you.
4. Take charge of what you need to do.
Just determine in your heart that whatever you need to do to succeed, you will do. Be in charge of your life by making the right decisions and taking action on the goals you have set for yourself. Challenge yourself to know that you have skills, talents, and abilities inside you to make your dreams a reality. Don't look for others to do the things you need to do. Commit to what needs to be done and then do it.
5. Be solution-centered.
Instead of focusing on your problem, begin to look at the possible solutions. What you focus on becomes greater, so why not focus on ways to resolve your situation? Be willing to ask for help from those individuals who have knowledge and skills that can help you. Don't let pride and ego keep you from getting valuable insight and wisdom from those who can shorten your learning curve and provide you with helpful solutions to the challenges you face. Choose to use your energy focusing on solutions and then be willing to take responsibility for your life.
Book Debra, Michelle, Nancy or Carole for your next speaking engagement or training event.