NO LONGER A HIDDEN FIGURE

March 2, 2017

Last week, I needed some “out of the office” inspiration, so I went to see the movie Hidden Figures. It left me with a host of emotions like pride, elation, and awareness. This was an untold story that needed to be told in a way that I could see it. That’s the benefit of a great movie!

I reflected on how fearless these ladies were. Their accomplishments changed the world. They didn’t elect to be hidden. They wanted to shine, to help, to contribute their expertise to something that mattered and be acknowledged for it.

Many of us want those same things, as we work diligently to make significant contributions in the workplace, and we should expect to get them.

I also reflected on the comment the John Glenn character (Glen Powell) made that still holds true for many of us today. He said, “You know, you cannot trust something you cannot look in the eyes.”

You see, when I was living in Chicago working for a very large telecommunications company (today known as AT&T), I flew to Atlanta to do a Human Resources Compliance Training for the South East Management Team. I provided HR support to this group, and I spoke with them on a regular basis.

The night before the Compliance training, I was in the hotel lobby chatting with a few people, when a sweet lady from Montgomery, Alabama, who I had spoken with many times before, came up to me and said, “Oh, my goodness! You are Paula?”

I immediately recognized her voice, and she recognized mine. It was our first meeting in person.

She said (in her best southern accent), “Paula, I thought you were some petite, blond-haired, blue-eye lady.”

Now, we all are guilty of imagining what people look like when we speak to them without seeing them, so I get it. However, I was lost for words. Mostly because she actually said what she was thinking, (which most people do not) but also because I was the complete opposite of what she imagined and she was so very stunned. Her stunned reaction absolutely surprised me.

The next morning I couldn’t help but think about her reaction to meeting me. Nevertheless, the training went very well, and she made sure to let me know how impressed she was with everything I taught the team. She and the entire team celebrated with me once the training was complete, and eventually things were back to normal with us. Our congenial moments continued throughout the rest of the meeting and beyond.

The following year, I relocated to Atlanta and eventually started my own international business, J. PR and Associates (a dream and a company name I’d had for years). However, that dream was tainted by that lady’s reaction to me on that faithful training day. Ugh! I heard her words again and remembered her stunned face.

What if the people in the South, or anywhere else for that matter, had a problem with my skin color or something about me?

The fact was, putting my face out there and even writing authentic newsletters, left me open to other people’s opinions, good or bad. I was not sure I was ready for that. After all, starting a business took all the courage I had.

Because of my doubts, I decided to become a Hidden Figure. Working with my web designer, I made sure that visitors to my site had to search for a picture of me. I told myself if we (J. PR and Associates) would simply do good work, then our work would speak for itself.

No one needs to see me to believe the company is great, I told myself.

That sounded good, but I was allowing fear to rise up instead of my dream. I was proud of my business, but fear gave me permission to hide my face.

One day I became completely frustrated with hiding. I kicked that voice of fear and doubt out of my head. I had to acknowledge that I was doing myself a disservice by allowing fear to win. This is MY business and I had to own it in every way.

I remembered that I was created for success. I knew the services we offered made a real difference in the workplace. I also had to remember that people are entitled to their opinions, but I didn’t have to take them on as my own, unless I absolutely wanted to.

It took a while, but after that long talk with myself, I decided to come out of the shadows. I placed my face and my name just where they need to be–easily visible on my website. I am no longer a Hidden Figure.

No one else is qualified to live my dream but me, and so I do. The value that comes from kicking fear in the face and running over it is priceless. If you want help doing that, then call us!

We help people and businesses go from where they are to where they want to be.

All The Best,

~Paula

 

NOT SO FAST. . . . 2017

January 1, 2017

 

I know many of us are in celebration mode and excited about everything we are planning to do next year. 2017 will bring many great opportunities, but hold on. What about 2016?

I recently posted a picture from ps-paulaspeaks.com, with the message “You still have time to do something great this year!” And that’s the truth.

Before we launch into 2017, let’s celebrate what you have done in 2016. Even if you didn’t meet every goal, what did you accomplish?

  • What risk did you take that no one else thought you should, but it worked out in your favor?
  • What part of your story did you share that inspired someone else?
  • What new job did you say yes to?
  • What trip did you take that you would not have taken even a year ago?
  • What situation or system did you challenge and ultimately change for the better?
  • Who did you stand up for when it was unpopular?
  • What gifts did you identify in someone else that set their world on fire?
  • What child or family is better because you decided to put them first?
  • What did you give away that mattered to you, but it elevated someone else’s life?
  • What toxic situation did you have the courage to walk away from without looking back?
  • What brave action did you take that placed you right at the center of controversy, but you still kept moving forward?
  • Who did you help?
  • What person did you celebrate when everyone else was downing them?
  • Who did you feed?
  • Who did you embrace when it seemed no one else would?
  • What freedoms did you allow yourself to experience?
  • Who did you rescue from limited thinking or actions?
  • What lessons did you learn?
  • What did you do that was good for yourself, yet it allowed you to be good for others?
  • What career-changing move did you make that made a difference for the better?
  • What place did you relocate to, while leaving naysayers behind?
  • What did you fight for?
  • What did you survive?

There were many “greats” in 2016, so not so fast, 2017. Hold on while we take in the accomplishments of THIS YEAR! The great thing is that we STILL have time to do MORE.

Now, let’s celebrate!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

J.PR & Associates and PaulaSpeaks

 

All The Best

~Paula

 THANKFULNESS  

November 22, 2016

Be thankful because we are here! Yes, imperfect circumstances in an imperfect world, but we are here.

Every day that we are here we have an opportunity to make a difference not just for ourselves but for someone else.

We have a chance to set our lives ablaze in such a way, that it will light the way for others who need it.

Material possessions and life’s conveniences are great but they do not reflect the real meaning of life.

If what you have never blesses anyone but you, then it is wasted!

We have the ability to move beyond our circumstances despite what we have lived through.

What we have lived through, should be the story that touches, inspires and changes the lives of those we come in contact with.

Be thankful for the family you have, some people do not have that.

Be thankful for the people that walked away from you when you needed it least, because they have just made a way for someone new.

If you have hurt someone, be thankful that you can still apologize to them and forgive yourself.

Be thankful that you can look deep inside of you and change for the better.

Be thankful for the experiences that define the unique person you are and be thankful there is someone who is prepared to embrace all your uniqueness.

When life seems to deliver unfair blows, be thankful that you have a reason to hold on, even when it doesn’t look like it.

Be thankful that you have the God-given ability to exercise faith when no one else seems to believe in you.

When you have tried to hold on to something or someone that was trying so desperately to get away from you, be thankful for the ability to let go and then do it!

Be thankful that you have one more chance to reach out to those who love and appreciate you for you.

Be thankful that you can take a risk with something that you have always wanted to do or a place you have always wanted to go.

Be thankful that you have the power to overcome every fear that keeps you stuck!

Be thankful for the new path, new career, new relationships and new awareness.

Be thankful that you can go where you have never gone before.

Be thankful that your best times are ahead of you and you can orchestrate it however you so desire.

YOU are the Conductor, coordinating all the melodic pieces together for the song in life that is written just for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

All The Best

~Paula

Life is but a DREAM…

April 29, 2016

prince image JT

A few days ago, the world lost another musical icon. His departure had personal significance to me and my family because my brother had the honor of playing in his band, but beyond that, losing Prince, reminded me how one life can change the world so much.

I still marvel at the number of instruments he played and the number of songs he wrote, those we have heard and the one we have yet to hear. I think of the number of recordings, CDs, and albums, he produced along with the many artist he inspired, and genres of music he wrote in and ultimately mastered. Greater than all of that was his philanthropic work that spoke so loudly to me. Call him different, eccentric, gifted, and committed, but in my mind, “genius” fits him perfectly.

I love how he lived out a large portion of his dream and, in most cases, did it on his own terms. When I look at his life and so many others who have gone on before him, it reminds me to keep doing my best to live out my dreams and to help others do the same. That is a part of what I am supposed to be doing. That is how we, together, change the world.

You have something you’re supposed to do. It might not make sense to the world or to your inner circle. It may seem strange or different. It might not look like you expected it to look, but do it anyway. Do what you are supposed to be doing.

Make the best out of your life. Take every risk you know you are supposed to take. If it seems too big for you, it’s probably your great opportunity standing at the door, waiting for you to open it, so your dream can explode into reality. Dream Again!  http://jpr-associates.com/Programs/

This is why I created the Dream Again Program. Let’s go crazy (Sorry. I couldn’t help it!) making your business and career dreams a reality. Let’s work together building your dreams and your legacy.

Do what you are supposed to be doing.

psregister

Are You Team Building?

March 25, 2016

team release

Who you have on your team is critical to your success.

You typically embrace the encourager, the supporter, the mentor, and even the ‘tell-it-like-it-is” person. Their contribution and commitment to your success is invaluable. There are also people who challenge you to your core, yet they have a purpose too. Oftentimes, these people are in your life to contribute to your growth and development. They help you develop patience, discipline, and character. Sometimes they can be downright frustrating, but they are indeed necessary.

Then, there are those people you should have released a looooong time ago. Your team is not only about who should stay, but it is also about identifying those who should be released. Releasing people, especially those with whom you have a long history, can be difficult.

At some point, we come to the realization that longevity and loyalty can be two completely different things.

When we retain someone in the workplace who should be released, it frustrates leaders because you know you need someone with a different skill set.
The leader eventually becomes irritated because the team is unable to operate at optimal levels while other team members begin to question your ability to lead well.

On the other hand, the person who didn’t take action steps to leave the unfulfilling role is frustrated because the role can’t be altered to fit what he or she desires. Many employees complain about not getting what they need from their job but refuse to take action to go get what they need, elsewhere.

I have seen many organizations in good faith try to make it work as they alter roles to fit specific people rather than focusing on the needs of the department or workplace. This is typically done out of long-term loyalty, fear, or both. I completely understand the desire to make it work. However, forced roles rarely translate into long-term success.

Consequently, you still have at least two frustrated individuals pulling for what they need while real progress goes right out the window.

This is what I know for sure. When leaders fail to release people in a timely manner, we keep them from elevating to a role they are better suited for while limiting the success of the entire team.

Likewise, when WE fail to leave a role that no longer suits us and what we are called to do, we voluntarily hinder our own destiny and blame others for the stagnation.

Several years ago, prior to J. PR and Associates, I had an employee from another department ask me to consider her for a senior HR role. She had worked at the organization for a while and gained valuable experience, but I knew she wasn’t ready for the senior position.

I told her she needed experience outside of the organization that would allow her to grow in various aspects of Human Resources. She eventually left the organization and landed other positions that gave her the experience she needed and she kept moving up. Ultimately, she became the President of one of the organizations I am affiliated with today. Let me be clear. She took my “no” and my advice and turned it into something amazing. Her decision to leave combined with her hard work paid off.

This decision also freed me to hire qualified, talented team members that enhanced the department and ultimately the entire organization.

Sometime making the hard decision to release others lands you and the other person right into the arms of greatness.

I began this newsletter with this statement: Who you have on your team is critical to your success. So I just have one question. Who’s on your team?

All The Best,
~Paula

Dear Leaders

February 27, 2016

We are in the first quarter of the New Year, and I trust your 2016 is off to a great and productive start!

Here at JPR and Associates, we have magnificent things planned and we welcome you to be a part of it all!

Firstly, we are conducting more Customized Training Workshops to help you meet your goals. Conveniently, we will deliver these workshops at your location or one of our training centers.

Additionally, we are excited to provide several JPR Hosted Workshops, Career Enhancing Programs, and Team Building Events to support your training and engagement objectives.

Our next workshop titled Workplace Conflict? Let’s Resolve Itwill be held on March 23, 2016. We will provide you with useful tools that identify effective conflict resolution methods. Conflict in inevitable. Let us help you manage it well. Register today at http://jpr-associates.com/upcoming-workshops/

Our HR Consultations are designed to promptly provide you with the information you need to confidently respond to sensitive employment matters that can arise when you least expect it.

At your request, we have expanded our Retainer Services, which allow our clients to pay monthly for the specific services they need. We now offer short-term agreements to provide you with flexibility and convenience.

We are excited about this year. To learn more, visit our website at www.jpr-associates.com

We are JPR and Associates, How Can We Help You?

 

All The Best,

~Paula

Refuse to be STUCK!

January 29, 2016

STUCK

Over the last 4 months, I have had laryngitis, along with very annoying cold symptoms, 3 times.

This is highly usual for me. I’m not sure about other workplace trainers and speakers, but I literally get sad when I cannot speak or sing. Yes, PaulaSpeaks, but she also sings. I felt STUCK!

Since this was time number three, I decided to do something differently. I got mad. I was tired of this “thing” rearranging my life. I eventually found a medical specialist who evaluated and treated my vocal cords.

Sometimes you have to get mad enough to holler, HELP!…and then go get it.

This is what I use to do when I needed something done that was a particular challenge for me. I’d tell myself, “I can do it, and it would only take a few minutes longer for ME to handle it.”

Well, this was almost NEVER the case. There I sat, 3 days later, STUCK and unproductive; desperately trying to find the help I needed so I could get things moving again.

Sometime it is easy to confuse activity with accomplishment. However, here’s the reality: I can stand in one place and move my body around profusely, but it doesn’t mean I’m moving forward. The goal is NOT simply to move but to move FORWARD.

I often come across people who feel STUCK, professionally or otherwise. This is not a foreign concept to most of us.

Sometimes people are STUCK because they have forgotten about the thing they said they wanted to do before life got hard, busy, or predictable.

Sometimes STUCK happens because someone told them their “it” would be too hard to achieve now and somewhere along the line, unconsciously or consciously, they believed the lie.

We should never settle for our discomfort. We should seek the help we need and use discomfort as the platform to catapult us to a much higher level.

Refuse to be STUCK!

If you want to purse your career dreams, please register for our “Dream Again” program today at http://jpr-associates.com/upcoming-workshops/

We all have to do something; Why not do your Dream.

All The Best,

~Paula

 

Many thanks to telegraph.co.uk for the image above.

MOMMY, THIS ONE IS FOR YOU!

January 23, 2016

 

Mommy newsletter

My beautiful mother was my first business partner. She believed in me! She is the person who encouraged me the most. “Don’t give up, Paula,” she said, “you can do this.” She listened to my training and speaking sessions before the world ever had an opportunity to hear me. She never believed I’d be anything but GREAT.

I watched Mommy sacrifice to make sure our family had what was needed. The best gift she gave us was her LOVE.

I had the privilege of watching her be an outstandingly dedicated wife as she operated in unconditional love and forgiveness. I watched her be an amazing mother, as she risked her own safety to protect her children.

I remember watching her work multiple jobs at a time, come home, cook every meal for the family, and attend to us while teaching us how to cultivate and gather fresh food from our large garden.

She canned fruits and vegetables, shopped wisely, and made our house a home. She helped us with our homework and made sure we had the supplies we needed. She taught me how to sew, wash, iron, clean, budget, save, and most of all, PRAY.

She inspired me. At age 10, I began selling Avon and helped with my brother’s early morning paper route. A couple of years later, I started working at a fast food restaurant. When I wanted to get a job, play in the band, sing in the choir, participate in plays, and cheerlead, she made it happen without blinking. She also sang in the choir, ushered, chaired committees, and lovingly welcomed others into our home. She taught me with her life of service.

As I grew up, I actually tried to accomplish all the things she did in a 24-hour period, and I about passed out, Absolutely Exhausting is an understatement.

Her words of wisdom are priceless, and even when she couldn’t be around, I could still hear them. She could see what I couldn’t; she could see what I wouldn’t.

She would not let me use the word can’t. My mother always said, “Can’t died a long time ago.” She was right.

When we launched J.PR and Associates, LLC, and PaulaSpeaks, she was there, cheering me on without hesitation. She always seemed so interested in everything I had to say and every workshop I purposed to develop. When I wanted to quit, she was there holding me up.

362 days ago, my heart was unbelievably shattered. Mommy left and went to heaven.

What kept me going? Her love for me. With prayer, time, and immense intensity, I had to push past immeasurable pain. I decided to refuse to let every sacrifice she made for ME be in vain. Watching her fight taught me to do the same. I thank God for my Mommy.

Her Leadership Characteristics showed up over and over again, even though she never stepped into a corporate position or entrepreneurial role. She was the great visionary, committed to excellent service and mentorship. Her succession planning and wisdom-filled communication skills were second-to-none. You may not know her, but you are reading this today because of her.

With tears streaming down my face, I say, Mommy, this one is for you.

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I miss you.

~Paula

The Service of Leadership

January 22, 2016

As I think about the profound leadership of S. Truett Cathy, founder and longtime chairman of Chick-fil-A, who passed away earlier this month, I want to discuss the topic of Leadership.

As we coach leaders to greater levels of success, it is important to remember, leadership is not reserved for a distinctive title or position but rather a distinct attitude of service. When quality leaders serve they:

Speak Up – When leaders choose to be silent during times of change, this prevents those you are committed to supporting from knowing your point of view and the outcome you expect. Your words matter!

Speaking up does not mean you have all the answers; however it provides clarity and establishes direction for the individuals looking to you for next steps. Speaking up and creating a safe platform for others to do the same opens the door for successful change management.

There is nothing like getting feedback from those most impacted by change. This direct dialogue can ignite innovative solutions you have not considered. The answers you need may very well be planted in the very people you lead.

Remember, most employees are pleased to be a part of solutions derived from meaningful employee engagement. Making a decision to invite a broader scope of people to the problem-solving table – different from those you usually lean towards, creates diversity in thought and solutions. The “Service of Leadership” is Empowering

Be Empowered!
~Paula

Removing The Mask

January 22, 2016

October is a time when many dress up in their favorite costumes to celebrate in various ways. People can become whoever they want to be with only a few primary purchases, alterations and adjustments. There are plenty of look-a-like outfits and creative “get ups” along with a myriad of common themes to choose from. With all this in mind and in view, I began to wonder what would happen if we…. removed the mask.

I am afforded the opportunity to meet many people, particularly those contributing their talents in the workplace. One thing most dedicated team players have in common is the concerted effort of mimicking previously proven strategies for workplace success. We all have seen it – great read-worthy material that provides 5 guaranteed steps to this or 10 steps to that and so on. Now don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe in taking the right steps for success in every area of life. Why re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to? Many great minds have shared their expertise and we are the better for it.

However, here’s my question to you…Are you doing you? Or are you masquerading as someone else? Are you dressing up in a costume that looks like success attempting to fit in? Many of the people I speak with express that they feel confined to a “professional box” that does not accurately reflect how they see themselves. Now, I am not suggesting you intentionally challenge every system in the workplace, while using self-expression as your rational. Appropriate protocols and policies are in place for good reason.  The question I am asking is: Are you committed to being more extraordinary?

I have a dear friend who wrote a song called “Break Out” and the lyrics start with “Break Out of these 4 walls; don’t be afraid of what they’ll say about you What a concept! There is power in “removing the mask” that fear tries to permanently paste on our lives.

Every extraordinary person I know or have heard about decided to do something different from what is considered the norm. They decided to take a risk and be themselves while growing into the person and level of success for which they were destined.

Many have been living down to the low expectations of someone else. Some people will try to place you in a box and refuse to let you out. Don’t settle for someone else’s limitations. It’s kind of like trying on a costume you thought you wanted to wear but then you changed your mind, only to be told that changing your mind is not an option. Now you are stuck playing a role in a costume you really don’t want at all.

Instead of putting on a costume to be someone you’re not, I challenge you in this season to remove the mask and expose what is truly special. Be more extraordinary.  You have much success to offer. You may not know it, but the whole world is waiting for the manifestation of the un-masked YOU!

Be Empowered!
~Paula

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