In this episode, Latricia and Zach discuss personal brand with special guest, George Okpamen.
Host: Zach, Latricia
#OnetimefortheOnetime #edopowa #ignutetamu #elililly
Shop GeorgeOkk’s Store: https://skreened.com/georgeokk
George's IG: https://www.instagram.com/georgeokk
George Okpamen’s TedTalk: #BeIntentional X #OneTimeForTheOneTime Part 1: https://youtu.be/4EOXqPnowlU
Part 2: https://youtu.be/LZ-L-zcTJ40
Affiliations:Executive VP and Co-Founder, Pharmacy Initiative Leaders
(PILs) @pilsconnect www.pilsconnect.com
Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) @SNPhA
Eli Lilly Visiting Scientist Fellowship
George’s Personal Brand Inspirations: Fighting the Fray, Marriage and family blog @fightingthefray https://www.instagram.com/fightingthefray
Cosmo Creative, marketing and Advertising @cosmocreative https://www.instagram.com/cosmocreative
Edose Ohen, Global Entrepreneur
Courtney Brand, Social Media Branding Expert @greeneyesgoldsoul https://www.instagram.com/greeneyesgoldsoul
Tobe Nwigwe, Inspirational Rap Artist @tobenwigwe https://www.instagram.com/tobenwigwe
Gary Vaynerchuk, Businessman, Author and Speaker
Www.GaryVaynerchuk.com @garyvee https://www.instagram.com/garyvee
Eric Thomas, Motivational Speaker
Www.etinspires.com @etthehiphoppreacher https://www.instagram.com/etthehiphoppreacher
Zach: If I had about three traits that I would like to portray within three seconds of meeting someone, they would be intentional, bold, and authentic. Now, would those be the first three words I use to describe myself when I walk into a room with a corporate executive or would they be the first three words that my colleague used to describe me? I'd like to hope so. Studies show that it takes three seconds for someone to make a lasting and complete impression. As a black man in corporate America, I'm too often faced with the reality that certain assumptions about my capabilities have already been ascribed to me as soon as I walk into a room filled with people who have never worked with someone who looks like me. It becomes a constant game of trying to figure out how I can make an impression on them before they can make any assumptions about me. The question is "How do I win?" This is Zach, and you're listening to Living Corporate.
So today we're talking about building your personal brand. It's funny because when I came up and I would hear about branding I often thought about billboards, but as we've continued to grow and learn it's far more than that, right?
Latricia: Right, exactly. Believe it or not, people connect with people, right? And people are more likely to be persuaded by a recommendation from an individual with a trusted brand, and this is why it's really important to develop a personal brand that portrays who you are and what you value and what you're known for.
Zach: Right. The question I have--is there anyone that you've met who really gave you, like, an immediate impression? Like, a "Whoa, I'm trying to be like this person."
Latricia: Yeah, that's a good question. It's crazy because at my job I travel all over the country, and I've worked with amazing people for some of the biggest hospitals that you could think of, and I'm constantly exposed, right? Like, with corporate executives, VPs, C-Suite, but there was one person I met when I was in my office downtown in Dallas. We were in the elevator. I was in the elevator, and so I happened to get off the floor with the only other black person in the elevator, which made sense because as soon as I met him I realized who he actually was.
Zach: Who was he?
Latricia: He was a new partner at the firm actually, and so I had been hearing about this new partner. And he had kind of a funny name, or, you know, a different name, and so I really wasn't sure if he was black. No one--of course no one's gonna say, "Hey, there's a new black partner." We just know that there's a new partner. And he stopped me, introduced himself. He said, "Hey," you know, "I'm a new partner here at the firm." You know, "How long have you been working here?" Like, okay. "Hey. I've been working here for about a year. I'm new myself." He was like, "All right, great. Well, I'd love to get to know a little bit more about you, so put some time on my calendar so we can talk." And so this happens a lot, right? And, you know, people always talk about having an elevator pitch. I was still kind of new, and I had practiced my elevator pitch, but I didn't really use it in that moment 'cause he kind of took the charge in that conversation. But, you know, you meet people all the time, they tell you to put time on their calendars, and so typically what I do when someone tells me to put time on their calendar is I create an agenda. So we know in corporate America that's how you start a meeting, right? You have an agenda, and you let everybody know this is what we want to get through.
Zach: Right. "This is what we're trying to achieve." So the goals, outcomes of this meeting, so and on so forth. Yeah, for sure.
Latricia: Exactly, so you can be productive. You don't want to waste anyone's time. So I'm thinking, "Okay, I have, you know, maybe 30 minutes to an hour to leave an impression on him, so what am I gonna talk about?" So I just defaulted to, you know, what I usually do when people reach out to me, so I put together an agenda. So I was gonna start it by, you know, just kind of generally who I am, and when I say who I am I mean I went to the University of Texas at Austin. I majored in this and that. I went to Emory University. I majored in this and that. And I'm here now, and this is what I'm doing. These are the projects that I've been on. These are the people that I've worked with. These are the projects that I'm interested in. So, you know, real formal, right? So I put together the agenda, scheduled the call, and when we get on the phone the first thing I let him know is "Hey, you know, I put together an agenda, and I want to talk about A, B, and C," and his response was "That's great. I hope that we can get to those things, but I stopped you because you were the first black person that I've seen in this office since I've been here. I just want to know what it's like to be black at the firm."
Zach: That’s crazy.
Latricia: And it’s so wild to me because it had been a year since I’d been at the firm and I had never had those discussions with anyone--because I didn’t have anyone to talk to about any of those things, even on the client side. I didn’t work with any clients that had black people in leadership, and so, you know, I still wasn’t really comfortable. I talked a little bit about our ERGs at the firm--those are Employee Research Groups--and, you know, there’s one for black people, and I try to get involved. I try to do community service in black communities, and, I mean, that’s the extent which I felt comfortable talking about with him ‘cause he--again, he’s a partner. And then he shared his story, and I’m really hoping that we get him on the show because I would love for him to share his story, but when he shared his story he didn’t start with his MBA or his JD from Harvard. He just started with his--he started with his background. He’s a first-gen, similar to me. Caribbean and African, but he’s a first-gen. His mother worked for the United Nations, so growing up in New York he had a very global perspective. So he just shared a little bit more about his story, and it was just--in that moment, that was the first example for me in terms of being authentic to who you are, and that to me is his brand. Like, I’ve been in meetings with him with people who don’t look like us, and he’s the same exact same way. So it wasn’t because he was talking to another black person or another black person who’s also a first-generation child of immigrants. It wasn’t just in that moment that he said, “Okay, I can have these honest conversations about who I am and my experiences being black and being first-generation with someone that’s just like me.” It was just amazing to have those conversations, and now I try my best to do that too when I’m letting people know who I am. I’m like, “Hey, I’m Nigerian. I’m Christian. I’m a woman. These are the things I care about. I do mission trips to Nigeria. I’m gonna take my two weeks off of work every year to do these trips.” So, like, I’m more comfortable, like, letting people inside of, you know, my personal life a little bit. So yeah, like, have you come across anybody that has left that type of example on you?
Zach: Yes, ma’am, and I’m not gonna drop his name. My goal is for him to be on the show one day, but I definitely do have an experience. And actually, Sound Man, go ahead and find us some type of generic Shaft music because…
Latricia: Oh, gosh. [laughs]
Zach: [laughs] I’m telling y’all. I’m telling you. Look, man, this dude was slick, man. He was, like, a combination of, like, Black Jesus and Shaft, right? So while I’m talking just lay it in the background real smooth, right? Okay, so this is my story, right? So, you know, in my experience in corporate America, I haven’t--I don’t often run into a lot of other black men, right? And when I do, like, on those every other, other, other, other instances, they’re often pretty timid, right? Like they’re not really out here trying to be seen. They’re trying to just put their head down and stack their coins and get out of here. That wasn’t the case this day, right? So I’m sitting in this little closed room, and I’m the only black man on my team, and my back is to the door, which I often don’t like to do, but anyway, the door was closed so I wasn’t tripping. Some of y’all who know about that stuff know what I mean. You don’t like (necessarily?) having your back to an open door or even a closed door. So anyway, my back was to a closed door, couldn’t do anything about it. So I’m just trying to play my music or whatever, but even over my music I heard the door open. *door opening sound* And I turn around and I’m like, “What is going on?” And the first thing I see, Latricia, is, like, the tip of this cane. A cane, though. And not a cane like a walking--like an old man, like, elderly cane, but, like, a playa cane. Like, it’s a dope cane, and then attached to this cane is this ebony black hand.
Zach: I’m telling you. [laughs] I’m telling you. Hand is super, super, super chocolate. And then, you know, on the ground--’cause there’s a shoe, a very nicely made high quality Oxford monk-strap shoe. Might’ve been oxblood, I can’t remember. Maybe it was black, I can’t recall. But anyway, there was a--then I saw a pinstriped leg, tailored--clearly a tailored suit. Anyway, this man slides through the door. He slides through the door, pinstripe suit. He has a French cuff shirt. It’s a pink French cuff shirt with white--you know what I’m saying, white cuffs, white collar, no tie, right? Very round spectacles. Like, very clean. Everything is--everything is clearly tailored to this man. And he doesn’t have a cane for no reason, right? Like, he has a limp, and it all comes together. It’s so cool. I was like--I’m just taken aback, and I’m looking at this man because his presence in that space was so loud to me, but not loud like cacophonous, right, but loud like just a genuine presence. Like, “No, I’m here, and you can’t avoid it.” Like, he’s--he was here, and that was--that just took me aback. So anyway, we’re going on and on, and then we--you know, I’m just kind of observing him as he introduces himself, and, you know, we all do--he’s coming in to help us with, like, some leadership development work. That’s his background, feature development, executive coaching, change management, transformation, so on and so forth. So we’re all in this room ‘cause he’s here. He’s the speaker for the day on our project to help us kind of recalibrate and kind of get ourselves right and ready for what we’re trying to do with the client. So anyway, we all go to this round-table thing. Everybody standing up, “Oh, I’ve been here for this many years. I’m part of this practice. I’m based out of this city,” right? I get up, I say my thing. I say the same generic thing everybody else. We get to him, right? And so--listen, guys. He zones in. He starts talking like this, and everything he says is like butter. Like, he’s deliberate with every word he says, and he’s talking almost like--not at a whisper, right, but like at a hushed, just more smooth and still at the same time inviting tone. And so everybody--even though it was already quiet, it’s like the room got even quieter, and he’s like, “You know, I’m many things to many people. To some I’m an educator. To others I’m a salesman. To others I’m a husband and a father, but ultimately I’m a leader.” And I was just like, “What is going on?” I’m just looking around like, “Is anybody--” I’m actively looking around like, “Is anyone else witnessing this right here?” Right? And, you know, some people in the room are, like, clearly, like, taken aback. Other people are not really paying attention, but, you know, that’s a whole ‘nother podcast about people just not paying attention at work. So, you know, I’m just taken aback. I’m just listening to this man like, “What is going on?” And so after the whole big meeting, I then pull him aside and I say, “Hey, man. It was an honor to meet you,” and we start talking about the future of the executive suite, and as the country gets browner the C-Suite should also reflect it, not of course by direct ratio, but it will get browner. And so what is leadership development and coaching and all those things look like when it comes to the future? And he had some really amazing insights, you know? He could tell what I was really getting at with the question. So he gives me some dap, right? And it wasn’t like your regular, like, “I’ma just give you a handshake.” He gave me the three-clinch dap. Like, bop, boom, bam, and he says, “Holla at me though.” And I said, “What?” And I said, “What?” I was so taken aback by that, and since then we’ve been cool, and he’s a great person. Like, again, he didn’t walk in talking about this is who I am, da-da-da-da. He came in with just who he was, like, his whole essence. And, like, up to this day I always say he’s like a combination of Black Jesus and Shaft. It’s crazy. Black Jesus and Shaft with a limp and a silver-tipped cane. It’s crazy. And it was just amazing. I mean, that’s my story.
Latricia: I love that we’re sharing stories from people of color who have been able to establish their personal brand in corporate America because, I mean, I would posit that it is a lot more difficult as a person of color to establish a personal brand that you can be authentic to.
Zach: When you say being a person of color makes it more challenging to establish a brand, could you just expound about that? Like, what do you think makes it more challenging? Like, what do you think our ethnic identity has to do with our brand establishment?
Latricia: You know, I would say, based on my experience, the strength of your personal brand is really determined by how people relate to you, and even just their willingness to relate, right? As a person of color, you’re typically faced with the challenge of trying to establish relationships with people who may overlook you because they don’t feel a personal connection to you. Without those personal relationships and people who are willing to promote you and your brand, a personal brand that is authentic to you becomes harder and harder to sustain, and that’s really when things start to get messy. That’s when people start to try to be somebody that they’re not, and how sustainable is that when it comes to just your career progression and also your quality of life and your happiness?
Zach: I agree. I would say, you know, when it comes to a personal brand it’s about finding a middle ground, but really the truer statement is finding an honest ground. Like, where can you actually stand that really reflects who you are and what you’re about and that you can consistently promote? And to your point, I mean, it’s beyond just your work product or who you are at work but, like, just who you are in life because work is so much of your life. How do you demonstrate or how do you practice authenticity? And how do you present something authentic that you can consistently lean on, right, and promote for your own progression and your own career development. And, you know, it would be great if we could interview a person of color who could just share their perspective on building their personal brand, especially if they, I don’t know, had, like, an advanced degree with a career path that doesn’t typically follow a corporate route. Who maybe had a lot of public speaking experience, who still has a lot of public speaking experience, who speaks all the time, maybe on a couple TED Talks. Who, as a black man, had to navigate building relationships while also climbing the corporate leadership ladder and is still actively developing and growing his brand right now. I don’t if, like, that’s possible, but it would be great if we had somebody like that.
Latricia: Oh, you mean like George Okpamen?
Zach: Whaaaaaaat? *imitating Jamaican air horns* Sound Man, go--listen, Sound Man. By this point you know this is where the Jamaican air horns go. Put ‘em in here. Let’s go. [laughing] All right, so next we’re gonna have our interview with George Okpamen.
Latricia: Hey, y’all. This is Latricia, and you’re listening to Living Corporate. And today we will be talking about personal branding. I’m really excited to have our guest here today, George Okpamen. He’s from Houston, Texas, currently resides in Indianapolis. He is currently working in the pharmaceutical industry at Eli Lilly. He’s a TED Talk speaker and he’s also an entrepreneur, so we’re really excited to have him on the show today to talk a little bit more about his experience in corporate America and how he’s been able to develop and maintain his personal brand. Thank you, George, for joining us today.
[Sound Man throws in cheers]
George: Well, I really appreciate that. It looks like I need to have you around me a lot more. That was an amazing introduction, appreciate you.
Latricia: Of course. So I guess to kick things off, George, could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today?
George: Yes, I can, but before I do that I want to make it 1000% clear. I think when people think about personal branding--’cause I know that’s the topic today--they always mind-jump directly to social media or directly jumps to public speaking or things of that nature. Personal branding is one word, and that’s reputation, and so as you listen to the rest of this podcast or any time you hear personal branding, if you could bring that back to reputation--“What is my reputation?”--I think you will appreciate that more. ‘Cause I think there’s gonna be a lot of people that go, “Oh, personal branding? Let me take these social media tips.” That’s not what this is, but to get back to your question of my background, I’m gonna go all the way back to--One, I was born in Dallas, Texas. I’m the oldest of three boys. Parents are from Nigeria. Edo State. Edo Power. Shout out to Black Panther for giving us a shout out in the movie. Having parents that are from Nigeria--my dad came to Nigeria. He went to Georgetown so he named me George, and we’ll get into a little bit more of that story. I think that’s important to understand because growing up in Houston, Texas, as a Nigerian-American, I wasn’t very proud of that growing up. I still remember the first days of school, skipping class on that first day so that I didn’t have to get my name called and hurrying back to the teacher to tell them that, like, “Osuzuwa? Cross that out and just put George.” And so as I fast forward to high school when I went to Stafford High School in Houston, Texas, as I was lucky enough to be a varsity athlete as a freshmen and all the way up until my senior year I got the first opportunity to go to Nigeria. I say opportunity now, but back then I didn’t think it was an opportunity because I didn’t want to go to Nigeria. “I’m a scholarship athlete about to go play football.” And my parents decided to make me go to Nigeria, and so it was at that time, that summer of 20--what, 7? So 2007 that I went to Nigeria and saw my grandparents for the first time, and it changed my life literally because they are the ones who told me who I was. Spending a month with my grandfather, who was a chief, and my grandmother, seeing where my mom was one of twelve, seeing all of her kids and all of that nature really, really imparted George, who he was, and Osuzuwa, which means “God’s gift of wealth.” So before going to Nigeria I was an older brother. I was the same person before going to Nigeria that I was after, but it was one knowing who I was, being self-aware, and two having a different perspective that probably changed my trajectory literally after coming back. So coming back from Nigeria from Stafford, I decided to turn down those scholarships and pursue pharmacy at the University of Houston, and so my undergrad with the University of Houston, and to fast forward that story a little bit, I was at University of Houston where I thought I was gonna go to pharmacy school, and fast forward to year three of my four years at University of Houston when I applied and did not get into pharmacy school at University of Houston ‘cause that’s the only school I applied to. I decided to pledge Alpha, Eta Mu Chapter, at University of Houston, (inaudible) Eta Mu for those that know. And so it was during that time, and not just the fraternity--it was during that time where I saw a collective of African-American males doing big things, and so when you think of big things, especially at the collegiate level, all of our people in the Chapter were either student government president or head of other organizations on top of the fraternity, so it really taught me to not just be excellent in what you do for the fraternity but be excellent outside so that you can help the fraternity, and that learning I took when I applied to pharmacy school the following year again at Texas Southern University right across the street. And so, again, with knowing who I was, from Nigeria, and understanding the power of doing your job or doing your work and what you’re doing day to day and also being excellent outside of your day, I joined both of those together as I started pharmacy school at Texas Southern, and fast forwarding that story became the national vice president of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, which is the largest minority pharmacy association (inaudible) in the United States, and that allowed me to get an internship at the FDA, allowed me to get a internship at Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is an industry pharmaceutical company in Jersey, and then fast forward that. I got a fellowship at Eli Lilly, which is where I currently work in corporate affairs. Got my first full-time role in oncology payer marketing. I’ve now just got promoted to a consumer marketing role in our diabetes (inaudible).
Latricia: All right. Thank you for sharing your story. So storytelling is really important in understanding your background. So as you’ve navigated through corporate America, have you always felt comfortable sharing your story? Or, I guess, how important has it been for you to share where you come from?
George: I think it’s been very important, and to get to your question directly, have I always been comfortable? I don’t think I always was comfortable sharing my story ‘cause I think I was just creating my story, and I’m still creating my story, but I think it became very evident to me--to your point, I think--as I even, like, right now play it back in my head, standing on stage running for the national vice president of SNPhA, and so it was at that time the process itself was obviously--I wouldn’t say obviously--was grueling ‘cause you have another gentleman who is just as qualified going against me, and I could’ve lost, but it was when I was on that stage that I realized that, hey, I almost didn’t even get into pharmacy school, and hey, I almost failed out of pharmacy school, and still I was being one of two people being slated to run for the national vice president. And then on top of that part of my story, part of my speech was sharing that and seeing how powerful it was for people after I did win to come and tell me just how powerful my story was one, but two that they saw themselves in my story, and then the third thing was some of my story had, like, failure in it, and they could relate to the failure, and they were proud that I was representing them moving forward. And so as I talk about, again, going all the way back to when I went to Nigeria, or fast forward to when I became an Alpha, all of those things prepared me for the moment, and all of those things go into my personal brand, which is now--I know the word phrase that I use is “One time for the one time,” but I’m not gonna break down one time for the one time right now, just the “Let’s go be.” “Let’s go do.” That’s something that I’m anchoring to. Let’s go be who they say you wouldn’t. Let’s go do what they say you couldn’t. And that comes from a story of failure because people told me when I failed that I probably wouldn’t be able to do something or that I probably wouldn’t be able to be something, and if I go back to that story of the national vice president, I was, and as I come up and fast forward to now being one of the co-founders at a top pharmaceutical company of our Young Professionals program, of the early career professionals, that’s something that, again, started all the way back when I went to Nigeria and met my grandparents for the first time. So now when you pair that with, okay, now all the stuff that I’m sharing on social media, or all the stuff that I’m putting on LinkedIn, or all the stuff when I even speak and give a presentation for a PowerPoint. All of those perspectives, I (have that for the mind?), and that becomes my personal brand because I know who I was. I’m able to, as you say, share my story and share what I really, really feel, think, and do and empower other people and vice versa.
Latricia: Yeah, I really like what you said about relatability. I think that’s a big piece, when it’s really important with personal branding for you to be able to make a connection with people, and so telling stories that people can relate to is a way for people to, again, like I said, connect with you. So could you talk a little bit about connections and networking and, I guess, how that ties into your personal brand?
George: I love the fact that you said networking ‘cause that’s another buzzword similar to personal branding that I cringe at when I hear sometimes, and so networking to me is not, like, again, something that’s just a thing you do. Networking to me is building relationships and, to your point, building connections, and it’s some of those as I go all the way back to connect--not to beat a dead horse--some of my stories back from going to Nigeria. It was along that journey that I connected and built relationships with people that allowed me to propel me to where I’m at today, and so to me anything that I do, I don’t always look for, like, “Oh, what can I get out of it?” I’m literally looking at “What can I provide to it? What value can I bring to this person, to this relationship?” And of course when you have--when you think that way 100 times, 100 out of 100--you’re not gonna always provide value 100 times. Sometimes someone’s literally gonna just give you something, and so to make this real, as I talk about--and I’ll go to the story I just used as far as being the national vice president, I always knew that being--that was my, what, third year of pharmacy school? I always knew that I wanted to do a rotation at the FDA, but our school, Texas Southern University, didn’t have a relationship with the FDA, and they didn’t have a relationship with Bristol-Myers Squibb, but it was me being a national vice president--and we had a parent organization called the National Pharmaceutical Association. Traditionally they didn’t really have a good relationship because the SNPhA, the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, was just worried about the students, and the National Pharmaceutical Association was just worried about the professionals, and so I took it upon myself to make sure to help build that relationship. It wasn’t until the end of my term though that that quote unquote paid off, and I didn’t do it for any bad reason. I just wanted them to have a good relationship, and it was this one final presentation that I did, and one of the members of the National Pharmaceutical Association came up to me like, “Man, you’ve done a great job this year. That was a great presentation.” Like, “What are your career aspirations?” And I told her about, like, “Hey, I want to work in industry. I want to be able to someday sometime continue to wear suits all the time instead of working retail.” She said, “That’s awesome. Have you heard about the FDA internship?” I was like, “Yeah, I actually applied about a month ago,” and she was like, “Oh, really? What part?” And I told her, and she was like, “Here. Here’s my card.” On that card it said FDA Manager Such-and-Such-and-Such-and-Such. I won’t give her name just to protect it. And she said, “Make sure you email me the application.” Now, to this day she will never say that she did anything about it, but I’m not stupid, and it was not because I, day one, was like, looked her up or day two even went after her to ask her what she did. She saw what I provided one to the organization and saw how I carried myself every single day, and she wanted to provide value to me because I was providing value to the greater organization, and that’s how I believe networking is. It’s about building relationships, building connections, and building value for others and other things bigger than you, and as you do that the universe and others will, I believe, give you your desires.
Latricia: Right. Like you said, networking is a huge buzz-term. I know starting in my career, in graduate school, going to different job fairs, and we have our career counselors telling us, “Make sure you network.” I was like, “Okay. I don’t-- What do I do to network? I’m just gonna put together a resume,” or “I’m just gonna make sure I print out some business cards, and I’m gonna hand ‘em to people and tell them I want a job,” and I thought that that was what networking was, but like you’re saying, it’s deeper than that. It’s about relationships. It’s about connections and finding that way to connect with someone. So, you know, being in my career now for almost three years, I get a lot of people that reach out to me and say, “Hey, I want to be where you’re at.” Like, “What do I need to do to get there?” And they talk to me about a lot of the different barriers that they face. Typically they just don’t have the experience, or maybe they went to a certain school and that school doesn’t have relationships with certain firms that they want to go into, ‘cause you know that’s kind of how it works. These firms, they pick the schools that they want to build relationships with, and those have become roadblocks for them. And so could you--I know you shared your story. Could you also share just, like, some tactical advice for people who may be in that situation where they want to get into a certain career but just putting together a resume or a business card isn’t gonna be enough to get them in the door because a structural or institutional relationship with some of these firms hasn’t been established by maybe their school or, you know, the networks that they’re already a part of.
George: Those are great questions, and for me, I know I’m a big storyteller, so this one, to your point, I’ma try to get tactical and straight to the point, and so I’ll start at your first part when you talked about the networking piece of it, ‘cause when I say networking I 1000%, with everything I just said, I’m 1000% understanding that there’s gonna be a networking conference where it’s just a room, like, 100 people, resumes and business cards. So, in that situation, what do you do to build a relationship? What do you do to start the conversation or to get a connection when you’re pretty much just dropped into a room? So the first thing you do is try to find some type of, as we talked about, relatability. Something that connects you to another person. I think LinkedIn is a powerful tool. So whatever company that you are--I’ll say Company ABC--if you type in Company--I’m actually looking at a Glad wrapper thing right now in my room as far as the trash can--if you want to work for Glad, go into LinkedIn and type in Glad Manager, right? You’re gonna type in and, like, what, 60 people are gonna pop up, and in order for you to obviously do this hopefully your LinkedIn is already on point or at least you have a picture and you have it--at the basic level. You have where you went to undergrad, where you went to graduate school, and some of your skills. It doesn’t need to be, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 10, but it needs to at least be minimally a 7.5, 8 (in scales of?) how your LinkedIn should look when you’re even about to do what I’m going to tell you. So when you want to work for Glad and you put in Glad Manager, all of these people are gonna pop up. Then you’re gonna have the opportunity to say, hey, send this person a message or connect. Now, everybody and their mom--this is pretty much called cold calling--everybody and their mom is gonna get spam or emails or things of that nature that they do not want to read or see in their box, but the point is they actually look in their box when they’re looking at their LinkedIn. Like, I look at my LinkedIn just as much as I look at my Instagram as far as messaging. There’s messages I don’t open, but you always, always, always see the picture of whoever, whatever message that is, and you always see the subject line. So take it upon yourself to be creative and say, like, “Hey, Jim. Would love to talk real quick.” Like, you literally have, like, a sentence to say something. “Hey, Jeff. Interested in Glad. Love to learn more. Love to have two minutes of your time if you have a minute.” Now, again, when you do this 60 times, you might get 58 out of 59, like, no responses, but all you need is one, and then when you have that opportunity you’re able to talk to Jim from Glad and get information from Jim from Glad that you wouldn’t have got because you never even did it in the first place. Now, when I say the information, be very thoughtful in the questions that you ask and what you want to know, but then from there it’s not about even just getting information. It goes back to what we started with. It’s about building a relationship and a connection of following up with Jim from Glad on whatever you talked about, and you have to have the resiliency to know one you’re gonna get a lot of no’s, two Jim from Glad might not talk to you again for another two, three months, but the next time you talk to them, what is the progress that you’ve made to make yourself a better candidate to be from there? Jim from Glad, who’s a manager, will see this over time, which sometimes a lot of us don’t like to hear, and then next year at this same time you are a well better-qualified candidate to work at Glad than you were before that opportunity. Now, that was one drawn out tactical example, but you do that over time multiple times to different industries, and that’s to me one way--there’s many ways--to get yourself in the door. And so I’ll put a bow on it by saying, again, that was a tactical example. Whenever there’s roadblocks to situations that you have, one it starts in your mindset of knowing, “Hey, I can find a way around this. I can find a way or make a way to get into the situation I want to get to.” So once you have that, two you go and find a creative way to get around that, whether it is going outside of the normal ways of getting that opportunity for you. Like I said, cold calling on LinkedIn or setting up or bumping into Jim from Glad at his specific place that he likes to go grab a drink and sparking up a conversation or just reaching out to other people outside your network, and then the third thing after that is to stay resilient and stay consistent. So you’re gonna hear a lot of no’s from people. Keep on pushing, and then also consistent, that means over time you continue to do the same excellent type of work and communication until you get what it is that you want. And so if you put all those together, hopefully that roadblock will become something that is a setup for you.
Latricia: So I want to talk a little bit more about this TED Talk. We’re going to make sure we link it below so that everyone can go and listen to it because it’s really great. I mean, we all know, TED Talk, they don’t just have anyone up there speaking, and it’s a huge platform to be on. Could you talk a little bit about promoting yourself through this TED Talk? So one, first question I guess, how did you promote yourself to even be selected to speak on a TED Talk? ‘Cause I think we can gain some insight from that, and two, what was the aftermath, like, for your TED Talk? I know you posted it on social media, things like that. Like, what were you able to gain? ‘Cause that was you putting your personal brand out there. What did you gain after the TED Talk?
George: Yeah. So, again, a big part of me in general, the way I see my perspective on life, is that--and I know this is gonna sound bad, but people--just like I’ve said before, people--when I say the word privilege, and I’m glad that Charlamagne has even put a book out there, and I had been thinking this way before he put the book out there so I did not steal this. When I think of privilege, I think that I’m very privileged. When I say that, again, it sounds bad, but again, if you read the Charlamagne book he does a great job of explaining what I’m about to say. I’m lucky enough or privileged enough to have two parents. Everyone doesn’t have two parents. I’m privileged to have--to be the oldest of three brothers. Everyone is not fortunate enough to be the oldest. And so when I’m able to--like, those are just two simple things that I anchor to when I’m able to say I’m also privileged to work at Eli Lilly, and I’m privileged to come through the Visiting Scientist Fellowship when there’s only 12 pharmacists my year that got selected to be a part of the fellowship process. I took full advantage of that, so much so that my first year, and the blog is still out there, I wrote a blog about the Visiting Scientist Fellowship. I’m the first fellow in the 20-year history of the program to write a blog about it. And so when I’m doing things like this already, people start--like, this was within my first, like, six months of being at the company. People like, “Who the heck is this guy?” And then after that, I followed up by being the first Visiting Scientist fellow to get directly onto a brand team afterwards, ‘cause typically when you’re a Visiting Scientist fellow you’re in the science side of things, or you’re maybe even on the medical side of things, and so I always knew that I wanted to get into marketing, so I was lucky enough--again, someone had to choose me. As great as I was, as bad as I was, as smart as I thought it was, someone still had to say, amongst four people, “George, you are that person.” So again, to me, that is a privilege. So because of that privilege I understand the platform that I have, and so any time that I get into something I want to showcase that. And so this goes back to your question of how did I get selected. I didn’t even know that I was selected until somebody just said, “Hey, there was some behind the scenes stuff going on,” and people kept saying, like, “Who is this George guy? Who is this George guy? We want to know more about him.” And so the topic of TED that year was--and I’m not gonna be specific, but it was something to the effect of being authentic and sharing your origin story, and so people want to know what makes George tick. Like, “He’s doing all these different things, what makes George tick?” And I’m glad you said about the personal brand thing, and similar to what we just talked about with LinkedIn, everything about that TED Talk was intentional, so much so that the name was intentional. The name of my TED Talk was Be Intentional: #OneTimefortheOneTime, and when I say that you don’t see it, but when you see the title when you actually watch the TED Talk, it was done in hashtags on purpose. So you can imagine--I had 20 speakers that day. Every speaker had a normal title with quotations, like, spaces and everything, and then you have this black, young guy, which I was the youngest guy on the stage that day, with hashtags. And so that was intentional too to let people know like, hey, one you can be a young guy two years into the company and be on the TED stage and still show up and be on the same stage with people who have been in the game for--and this TED Talk had people both at our company and outside our company. So be on the stage with people who have been in the game for 20, 30 years. That’s one. Two, you don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. Your title can have hashtags too. Your title--you can, like, bring yourself into whatever it is that you’re doing. And then three, if no one ever even read the TED Talk or heard it or anything at all, by the title itself, just by seeing my title I’m giving you what I want to give you. I want you to be intentional, and I want you to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime and a lifetime of opportunity. So that was, like, the thought process that I had as far as putting the TED Talk together, and then from there the TED Talk--as and when you hear it, it’s not even about me. It’s about--yes, it’s my origin story, but it was really a shout out to all the people that have allowed me to be on that stage. And so after that, to your point, I officially started my clothing line Message on Merch, which says messages, just like I did with the title. Positive messages on merchandise, and so with that, my TED Talk (power to the people?) and it allowed me to empower others. By them buying my merchandise, they’re also allowing themselves to empower other people by reading the messages that they’re wearing on their shirts. After that, as you said, company-wise, all this was, like, entrepreneurship, personal branding stuff, but as someone within the company I was seen as a more future leader. I was tapped with having sponsors, not just mentors. Mentors and sponsors are two different things. Mentors are someone that helps you, coaches you, allows you to see what you don’t see as far as what you do on your day to day. A sponsor is someone that sees--I’ll say this at the highest level--sees either you and them and/or they see that you can be someone they can work for, and so they’re gonna do everything they can ‘cause they’re a senior leader, probably a VP or above, to make sure that you succeed. And so I gained sponsors from that TED Talk because they understood my origin story and what I was trying to do, and they’ve been luckily still in my life to this day to ensure that, within my company as a marketer, I’m one of the best marketers I can be, even though I have a pharamacist background and pharmacist trainings. So on multiple levels the TED Talk helped me, but again, all of that started from my understanding of who I was, understanding that I’m privileged, understanding that because of my privilege I have a platform, and because of that platform I have the power to empower other people, not to empower myself, and if I keep that perspective and keep that mentality then I’ll be able to help other people go do what they said that they wouldn’t do and go be what they said feel like they couldn’t be. So yeah.
Latricia: You were able to take your personal brand and essentially turn it into an opportunity for yourself, an entrepreneurial opportunity for yourself. So could you speak a little bit about some of your entrepreneurial endeavors? I know you have a trademark for Edo (inaudible). You have One Time for the One Time. Just tell us a little bit about how your brand has turned into, I guess, an opportunity?
George: I think for me right now--I know I’m at the, like--if I think about life, I’m right now at the stage right before I’m about to, like, push forward, and it’s funny because I think a lot of people think I’ve probably pushed forward already, but I think right now, from what I see, I’m laying the foundation. So as I build out to just two other things that I’ll talk about briefly--I already mentioned the Message on Merch, the merchandise, which I won’t touch on. I’ll just talk about two other things that empower other people. I’ll talk about the OGO group. I’m lucky enough to have a collection of different friends in different industries, and so when I think of my other frat brother (Cain?), who’s a lawyer, or when I think of another marketer (inaudible) who has no science background and myself, George, who does have a science background, or my brother who’s in architecture, or my other frat brother Cosmo who’s a creator, or Joyce, who quit Lilly--her Lilly corporate job--to sing. In the meantime, in the interim, because she could sing, she started DJing. She was just like, “Hey, you know, I want to start DJing,” and then she starts DJing. Now she’s on tour. Like, these are the people that I’m surrounded with. These are, like, people, like, oh, my gosh. These are great people. So what if we all combined ourselves to help other people and tell our stories? And so that is the origination of the OGO group, and on the surface it is my initials, Osuzuma George Okpamen, but you already know that I’m way smarter than that. OGO, yes, is my initials, but it stands for Opening Great Opportunities, and so I made that an LLC, and that will be the umbrella arm of all of the projects that I do. So one of the pharmacy organizations that I have that’s under that umbrella--it’s a non-profit organization that I’m a co-founder of--is called Pharmacy Initiative Leaders. PILs, and it’s pilsconnect on Instagram, pilsconnect on Twitter, and so in essence that organization is an organization that wants to be the number one resource for all minority pharmacists. We’ll say all pharmacists, but right now we’re focusing on minority pharmacists because we understand that they don’t always have the tools needed to get into the profession, so we want to be that profession that one gets them into the profession, gets them through the profession and allows them to thrive after they graduate and become and get into the professional field itself. We believe--it’s a co-founded group of four people, which we’ll link their names also ‘cause even if I say their names now y’all ain’t gonna know who they are. Bryan, (Onye?), and Josh are my co-founders, and they’re all pharmacists (inaudible). We’re looking to expand our group over the next two to three years to include non-pharmacists too ‘cause that is the beauty of where innovation leads. When we’re able to one empower the pharmacy profession but then also get people who are affected, because people that--the whole United States is affected by healthcare and things of that nature, so how can we add their ideas and inputs into our organization as well? So those are the two big (inaudible) that I’ll be focusing on, and that’s why I want to go to business school, so I can have two years to really focus in and hone in on my foundation, and then, once I come out, super thrive and continue to climb the corporate ladder.
Latricia: So I’m going to ask you these questions, and if you could just explain, you know, the difference between a value, a passion, and a superpower as you go through it. So what are your top three values? And, you know, why would you say those are your values?
George: I think--so I’m trying to remember--so values, passions, superpowers. Values are something to me--as I’m just thinking about it and internalizing it--as something that really shouldn’t change. It’s internal. Like, it’s your foundation. And there’s different words to say this as well, like for an actual brand of a product, like mission and all of that other stuff, but values, what do you value? What are your core values? And so--and I’m not gonna take the easy way out and say, “Obviously family. God.” Like, those are immovable. So these are, like, the commonsensical ones that I know. Yes, I’m a Christian. Yes, I value my family. Yes, I value God. I think my values--to me, I kind of alluded to them already, so I’m glad that we’re doing this so that we can put it in print. And yes, I would appreciate us redoing this, and you could even put mine. You can put the George Ok whatever on there, but it’ll be dope to your point to help market this and get this out. So my three are privilege, platform, power. I think those are my solid-rock foundations as far as understanding my perspective of me coming from where I came from to where I’m at now to hopefully where I’m going, understanding that with that I have a platform that other people are watching, and because of the privilege I have and the platform that I’m standing on, I have the power to empower other people. And most people, when they hear power and when they hear privilege they think of the negative. No, I’m privileged to be around that, and because of that that platform gives me the visibility to have other people see what I’m doing and where I’m going, and that gives me a responsibility of power to empower other people, not for myself but for others based on that. And so those are my three. Privilege, platform, power.
Latricia: Okay, so the next one would be your top three passions.
George: Top three passions? And so I’m explaining ‘cause in marketing we have the three customer groups, the C3 approach, and so--this is probably cheating for me ‘cause I’ve thought about this ever since I declared my major as a marketer now. Mines are three C’s. My passions are to create, to curate, and to collaborate. And so when you talk of passions, these are some things you want to do, (inaudible) free. Like, you want to--like, you don’t need to get paid to do these things. Like, you’re so passionate, you’re so fired up, like, you can hear the voice when someone is telling you these things or allows you to do these things. It just--you just feel the fire. Now, do you have to be good at ‘em? You don’t have to necessarily be good at ‘em, but you’re passionate about it or you’re passionate about this cause or this thing. Like, that’s what to me passions are, and so when I think about creating, I love to create, and creating can be anything. It can be creating actual products, it can be creating policies, it can be creating connections, but I love to create. Curating. Curating is really the bringing together, the harnessing of what is already created. And so when you think of--my easiest metaphor for this is a DJ. Like, there are DJs, yes, that make music, and there are DJs that do great stuff like DJ Khaled, but when you think of, like, the fundamental DJ, they’re pretty much--the dope DJs that you know are pretty much curating and mixing different beats and things that’s already been made, so when you hear a Drake beat backdoored with a Kendrick Lamar beat backdoored with a Kanye beat, like, all put together in one, like, that is dope. That is curating, and so that’s the stuff that I like to do. As you think of my group the OGO group, curating different professionals and experiences to bring a better innovative concept on the backend of it. So that’s something I love to do. And then lastly collaborating, and so as you think of collaborating, you’re--it’s almost like two different things are collaborating to make something. So the difference to me between curating and collaborating is curating is bringing together something that’s already made, collaborating is bringing two different ideas to make something new. And so as I think of collaborating with different people just for a little bit or collaborating different ideas or different organizations, those are the things that I’m passionate about doing. So create, curate, collaborate are my three passions.
Latricia: And then what are George’s top three superpowers?
George: So this one I probably haven’t thought about as much, but if I had to sit and think about my superpowers, like, the thing that always probably jumps out to me, and when I say to me I say to me from other people, is my ability to connect with people, and so that’s whether it’s literally connecting with them, like, as person to person, like my quote unquote networking skills, or when I speak to people, like, literally connecting my story or whatever I’m talking about. It don’t even have to be a story. Connecting a math problem. If I’m gonna do a math problem on the board, I’m not just gonna do a math problem on the board. There’s gonna be a whole story to why I’m even picking the numbers I picked, and I would’ve been intentional on whatever problem that is. And so even just my insight to do that, like, I’m always--like, I never just do anything to do something. Like, I try to connect it to something, and/or because I have such a diverse background if you think about it. A football player who took AP classes who went to the University of Houston who became Greek who went to pharmacy school who became a national officer of the number one minority pharmacy organization who went to the FDA who went to an industry on the East Coast who’s now working in the Midwest? That’s just a lot of diversity there, and so my ability to connect dots--because most of the time people stay in one lane. I’m able to be in so many lanes that I can connect the dots of other lanes because--these people aren’t talking ‘cause they never would’ve thought that they had a connection. Well, y’all do. Y’all really have more alike than y’all don’t, and so my ability to do that is one. The second one would probably be my self-awareness ‘cause I’m very self-aware, and that’s not by accident. I think at SNPhA we were so lucky to where we had a lot of these--every company does it different, but, like, these (inaudible) finder type things, and I did this at a very young age, and I did so many different ones like Myers-Briggs, Strengthsfinder, all these different things to where I continuously found out more and more about myself, and that allowed me to self-reflect and understand when I am or am not doing certain types of things. So I had a really good understanding of myself probably at a very young age in my professional career. So connecting, my self-awareness, and just--the last one I’d say is vision. And so--when I used to say vision back in the day it used to be as a running back. The running back Emmett Smith was my idol growing up. Emmett Smith, Walter Payton, Marshall Faulk, and all three of those running backs always had vision. But when I talk about it now, it’s more of my vision for the future. If you hear this podcast, you hear about how I’m talking about my family 120 years from now ‘cause I’m literally thinking of that. And so what do I need to do now to make that happen? Or when I scale it back and talk about my marketing plan that we’re launching next year, how do I have thought processes on strategies for next year? But I need to be working on that stuff now for that to happen, and so as I think of my ability to connect, my self-awareness, and my vision, those are things I feel like I do better than a lot of other people, and I think that’s what a superpower is. What do you do better than anybody else? And when you find that out, whatever it is, you triple down on that. There is this theory about, like, do you work on your weaknesses or do you work on what you’re really, really good at? I definitely believe, because of the self-awareness, you’re aware of your weaknesses, and you do do some things to kind of make sure that they’re not something that will derail you and could kill you, but a gift is a gift, and so when you’re gifted, you triple down on those gifts so that you can become LeBron James. You want to be better than anybody else so there is no doubt at whatever that gift superpower is. You do that better than anybody else, ‘cause that’s what’s gonna set you apart, not working on your weaknesses to be just as good as someone. And again, that does not mean to not be aware of your weaknesses, but you want to make sure you do just enough to make sure it doesn’t kill you, but you triple down on your gifts and your superpowers. That’s all. Yep.
Latricia: All really good stuff, so we’ll make sure we post your workshop on our Living Corporate page for everyone to see. I really like that. That’s a great way to really break these three different concepts down, so thanks for doing that. So I guess kind of closing off, could you maybe just give some overall advice for someone working on building their personal brand and trying to find a way to make their personal brand work for them?
George: I’m really glad we did this podcast. I think, just being real, if you were to just listen to this, ‘cause I’m playing it back in my head, there’s just so many rich content gems, things of that nature, and even from you, Tricia, like, just you being able to ask the certain questions that you’ve asked, I think you’ve done a really, really great job of laying this out and preparing for this opportunity. So I would just really--one not listen to this one time, listen to this a couple of times ‘cause you’ll find what you need, but if you’re fast forwarding and you just want to be able to just take notes, like, really, really quickly, I’d say--and I’m not gonna break this down probably as good as I should if I would’ve thought about it, but just off the dome--the very first thing of personal branding is understanding that it is truly your reputation. So I don’t think that anybody would be happy with having a bad reputation, so understanding mentally that you want to build a--not just a good reputation, a great reputation so that any and everybody that says your name when you’re not there, only great things come out of it. That’s number one. Number two, being self-aware of yourself to understand what are your gifts and superpowers and what are your weaknesses? What are you passionate about? What do you value? What do you want to spend your time on? What does your life look like in in 10, 20 years? What of the people around you? You won’t know that if you don’t spend intentional focused time understanding who you are, what you want, and where you want to be because only then can you actually change that reputation or evolve it or get it better, yeah. The third thing--just to be simple I’ll keep it at three--is to be--and this is a cheat ‘cause it’s two words, but whatever, it’s part of my Message on Merch--to be persistent and consistent. Persistent in resiliency to understand that you’re gonna hear a lot of no’s, a lot of negatives, a lot of, like, things that come your way (inaudible), but push through them and be persistent, but with your brand as well be consistent. No matter if someone’s treating you great or treating you bad, you want to have a consistent reputation that goes over time.
Latricia: Just to close out, do you have any shout outs that you’d like to share?
George: Yes. We’ll plug these in the bottom, but I would be remiss if I didn’t--I know I shouted ‘em out, but I want to shout ‘em out from a branding perspective--Fighting the Fray, which is my brother’s and my sister-in-law’s--which I really rarely ever call her sister-in-law, but just for everyone who doesn’t know (inaudible) my brother and my sister--my brother and my sister-in-law, his wife Paige, they have a lifestyle blog for young married couples. I also want to shout out to my frat brother (Link?) Cosmo. He was and has been behind me, by my side, since we became brothers, and he always has my back so I always have his. Cosmo is a beast. One of the best graphic designers. He designed my logo. He’s also Edo. Also a big shout out to my big homie (inaudible), who’s doing a lot globally for Nigerians, for Edos, and for business in general. And so just to keep it simple we’ll keep it those three, but also just to give you three people that another--from a personal branding standpoint, things to look at. Courtney Brand does an amazing job of not just lifestyle blogging, financial blogging, also marketing in her own right, she’s one of my (inaudible). Courtney, she’s amazing. So for ladies and guys, she does an amazing job of helping to build brands. So Courtney Brand, we’re gonna tag her in there. Tobe Nwigwe. He’s gonna be the next biggest--if he’s already not the biggest superstar in the states. He’s from (inaudible) Texas, as he would say, but he does an amazing job of marketing, branding, and he’s obviously gifted and talented with words, but again, he doesn’t just use his words as it. He’s helping to empower the youth and (inaudible) his words as well. So Courtney, Tobe, and then just two people that are superstars. Gary V, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Eric Thomas, who actually Tobe is an artist of. Those are people who also are great personal branders, financial people, real estate, things of that nature, and yeah. With those people (inaudible) in the links, I think you’ll get a great flavor and a really diverse background and perspective of how to market yourself, brand, be and have a great reputation on multiple (inaudible), but each one of the people I’ve named are also really great people.
Latricia: Thank you for sharing that, George. We’ll make sure we link everyone’s social media pages down below. I’ve personally--maybe I follow everyone that you just listed and I don’t even know them personally, but because they had such strong brands I found all of them really interesting. So yeah, I’ll definitely make sure we share that in the description box in the blog. Thank you so much, George, for coming on here and just being open and honest and giving us really tactical advice. I think a lot of people can take so much from this. Personal branding, it may seem like a soft topic, but it is so important when it comes to growing in your career. It’s not enough to just have, you know, experience on your resume or to have good grades in school or to just get the job. You want to be able to grow in your career, so really developing that brand that people can connect to is gonna take you really far. So thank you so much, George. We really appreciate you for taking the time out to talk to us today.
George: Thank you, and thank you to the creators of this podcast. Again, I’m privileged to be on it. Great job creating this, and I love the content that you guys are doing on all the multiple levels and platforms, so I’m looking forward to staying engaged and connected, and I’m proud of you.
Latricia: Thank you.
Zach: So, Latricia, that was a great interview. What were some of your key takeaways from y’all’s conversation?
Latricia: Yeah, that really was a great discussion. I learned a lot, but the major takeaway from me would be the importance of building an authentic personal brand story, key word being authentic.
Zach: For me, the biggest takeaway was the self-promotion and the importance of turning your story into a well-recognized brand. So it’s so easy when you talk about yourself it just almost sounds like just a hodgepodge of facts and figures as opposed to weaving it into some type of coherent narrative, and the interview with you and George, it resonated for me in that regard because I can really clearly hear and understand the story that he was presenting.
Latricia: Right, that’s so important. Like, we really need to make sure that we’re promoting ourselves, right? It’s one thing to have your story, but how are you making sure that your story is heard by, you know, the right people?
Zach: Before we get into Favorite Things, we’re going to introduce a new segment called Listener Letters. This is where we read and respond to your emails on the show. Today we have a letter from Just Jonesin who writes, “I’m the only person of color on my team, surprise surprise. Because of this, I already feel like as if all of my actions are under a microscope, especially my social media use, in this case Twitter. My profile isn’t private because I don’t feel like I have anything to hide, but I know that one of my coworkers is tweetwatching because she referenced something I tweeted one day. How do you all approach social media and the boundaries in terms of your job and coworkers? I don’t want to hold back on how I express myself online, but I also know this coworker is known to, quote, run and tell it. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Just Jonesin.” Latricia, what are your thoughts here?
Latricia: I think this is a good listener letter for the show because it’s--I mean, social media is a part of you, so anything that you put out there on social media in some way will reflect your brand. So your social media accounts don’t have to be strictly professional. I think it is important to be who you are, and some people may think, you know, “A recruiter is gonna look at my social media account, and if they see that, you know, I went to a party or, you know, I went to Vegas on vacation that, you know, I may not be a good fit for the role,” which is not true. Like, they want to know that you have a life. So I think, you know, in terms of--so I think in terms of how Just Jonesin uses her account is perfectly fair. You don’t have to change who you are or feel like you can’t express yourself. Continue to do that because that’s who you are, but understand that anything you put out can be used to judge you, so what are you willing to be judged by? So that’s really important. Me personally, my personal philosophy, I try to not add my coworkers on social media just because I need my space, and sometimes you just need to be able to draw the line between your professional life and your personal life, and I know that that line gets kind of blurry sometimes, and people can still find me on social media, so I’m just, you know, ready for, you know, whatever questions people may have, whatever people are ready to throw at me, you know, I’m ready for it with my social media.
Zach: No, that’s a good point. I actually--I 100% agree with everything you shared, right? So, like, for me, when it comes to me on social media, you know, I don’t--my tweets aren’t protected, my IG is not private, anything like that. I don’t go around and tell all my coworkers, “Hey, this is my @. Hit me up,” but my IG is fire actually, so it’s @ (inaudible) on Instagram. My photos are heat rock. So IG is fire, follow it, but back to this. I don’t really believe in necessarily filtering myself on social media. Like, Latricia, you just said, you know, when you put content out there, be ready to kind of speak to, and are you comfortable being judged by your content? And I am, so if someone sees something that I tweet and they go, “Hey, Zach, you said this,” da-da-da-da, I’m fine with that, or really how I think about it is “Am I comfortable reading these tweets out loud to the CEO of the company I work for?” And the answer is yes, right? If the answer is no, then I probably don’t tweet it. I probably don’t post it on Facebook because ultimately it’s the internet, and even if you have all your stuff locked up and private it’s going to get out, right? So some of it I think has to do with how comfortable you are with yourself because regardless of how kind of sensitive or private you try to be, trust me, they be out here finding Beyonce’s private and secret accounts. They definitely can find your stuff, you know what I’m saying?
Latricia: I liked your point about, you know, using that as a--taking that and using it as an opportunity. Okay, you’re under a microscope, so shine. Like, use it as a platform.
Zach: You might as well just go ahead and shine because you’re either gonna post some boring stuff that they’re gonna stare at or you’re gonna post some heat rock that they’re gonna stare at. Don’t take it as a negative. Flip it on ‘em and use it for your own benefit. This person who wrote this, she recognizes that. Just leverage it.
Latricia: I agree with everything you just said. Now it’s time for Favorite Things, so I can go ahead and kick it off. My favorite thing right now is home cooking. I’m a consultant. I travel 100% of the time, so a majority of my meal are covered by my clients, so I’m not used to spending money on food. I’m not used to cooking. I mean, I joke about it all the time, and I probably, you know, up until now haven’t lit a stove in, like, a year.
Latricia: It’s pretty bad. So I’m taking a little break right now, and I’ve been home for the last couple of weeks, and so I’m trying to get adjusted to a normal lifestyle, and I started cooking again, and I forgot how good home cooking was. But I do hate the grocery store so I’m gonna try out either Amazon Fresh or some other type of online grocery shopping. So if any of y’all do online grocery shopping, hit me up and let me know how that’s been working out for you because I hate the grocery store. [laughs]
Zach: [laughs] Well, see, the thing about it is--it’s funny. So this would be a great insert for, I don’t know, an ad, right? Like a plug. So, you know, just saying. Like, companies, if y’all are listening to us, holla at your boy. Like, we got a whole captive millennial audience here, plenty of tech consultants and professionals who listen to this podcast, all of them who struggle to cook just like Latricia does. So if you’re listening to this and you’re looking for somebody to help plug your company that sells food, easy-to-cook stuff, just get at your boy. Just get at me.
Latricia: Just let us know.
Zach: Let us know. Anyway… okay, okay, okay. So that was your favorite thing, cool stuff. Let me go ahead and go off the grid a little bit here, okay? My favorite thing this week is actually an excerpt from a farewell email that I read in a group meet, okay? Farewell letters, for those who don’t know, are usually shared with coworkers to let them know you’re leaving your current job. So you send your resignation in. The resignation email is fairly formal, whatever. Your farewell email, your farewell letter, is a little bit more informal, a little bit more friendly or whatever you want to call it, but even in that most people still use the standard format. You know, they give thanks for the opportunity. They share your sadness or your mixed emotions about leaving the job, and they sign off with their personal contact information. Even though it’s a little more informal and can even be kind of friendly, it’s still fairly static… but this one right here was completely unorthodox, dare I say savage, and outright impeccable. Okay? It was flawlessly written. It was inspirational. Here’s the excerpt right here, okay? “Hi, y’all. Closing the door because others are open. You have my number, hit my line and pick a side. Nicki Minaj voice.” They wrote that in the parentheses. “Also, keep your grass cut low so that you can see the snakes coming. Bars.”
Zach: [laughs] “Thank you so much for this journey.”
Zach: [laughs] Okay. “Bury me in the ocean with my--”
Latricia: Oh, no. Not the fake quote.
Zach: The fake Killmonger quote... [laughs]
Latricia: Killmonger. No! [laughs]
Zach: “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ship because they knew death was better than bondage.”
Latricia: Wakanda forever!
Zach: Wakanda forever.
Zach: Then she adds two exclamation points and she says, “I did it. #DropMics, #WakandaForever, #Psalms91. Sound Man, you gotta give me something. Give me the No Frauds-type beat so we don’t get sued, but give me something. This is crazy. My gosh. Latricia, how do you… like--
Latricia: I can’t. I can’t right now. I cannot right now, Zach.
Latricia: Whoever wrote this just took me to church with that last hashtag. So for my Christian believers out there, we all know--you missed the preacher man in case y’all didn’t know. Zach is Mr. Preacher Man.
Latricia: For all my Christian believers out there, we all know how deep Psalms 91 gets. The Lord--this ain’t quoting it, this is from my heart. The Lord is your protector, and he will deliver you from ANY form of evil.
Latricia: Clearly they ain’t worried about nobody, and you will prosper, and there’s no reason to have fear of any man, and the writer made that very clear with this honest farewell.
Latricia: And, you know, whoever wrote this must have really been going through it at their job.
Zach: Right. Right.
Latricia: And they just made, like, the ultimate come-up. Like, the next check I’m just hoping is just like--
Zach: I pray the next check is very large for them.
Latricia: I hope. I really hope. I really hope it’s large, and I really hope they got security at their next job.
Zach: This is the thing, right? So, you know, we’re talking about personal brand, this may not be the way that you want to brand yourself.
Latricia: Probably not.
Zach: But it is funny, okay?
Latricia: It’s really funny.
Zach: It’s very funny, and this is the thing. Like, on a kind of semi-serious note, right? So this email was sent to a small group of people, but remember, guys, it’s on the internet.
Zach: So someone who was on the CC line forwarded it to one of their friends and then forwarded it to another friend, and then somehow it got to little ol’ Zach, who I know that I don’t know the person who wrote this, right? But anyway, very funny. Shout out to them. Welp, I think that does it for us on the show today.
Latricia: What a way to end it.
Zach: What a way to end the show. Shout out to my man or my woman. Psalms 91, Wakanda forever, and dropped the mic. I will not drop this particular mic because we need these mics, but yes--
Latricia: They’re really expensive.
Zach: They’re very expensive, but I am dropping the mic with this person in spirit. Okay, guys, thank you for joining us on the Living Corporate podcast. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @LivingCorporate, Twitter @LivingCorp_Pod, and subscribe to our newsletter through living-corporate.com. If you have a question you’d like for us to answer and read on the show, make sure you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I think that does it for us on the show. My name is Zach.
Latricia: And I’m Latricia.
Latricia: Living Corporate is a podcast by Living Corporate, LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Brown. Additional music production by Antoine Franklin from Musical Elevation. Post-production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion? Email us at email@example.com. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and living-corporate.com. Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.