Throughout my career, I’ve had amazing mentors. Various people saw my potential and helped nurture my skills, talents, and my voice in these past few years. And while all of the advice I’ve received has been incredibly helpful to my career and how I go about things— a few pieces really stood out. I think they’ll help you out, too.
NOTE: All of the stories about how I met these people or came to receive this advice are a little too long for one post so read the excerpts below and click through to read the full experience.
“All people are people.” – Donnie Simpson
The first person I EVER interned for in LIFE was Donnie Simpson. Other than being the first and finest “VJ” the world had ever seen, he had been my mom’s adorable crush and the soundtrack to my morning drives out of Maryland and in to DC on the way in to school.
After my first year at Rutgers, I applied and got an internship for what was supposed to be his last summer on the air.
So, there I was, walking in to the building… 18. Shy. Ready. Happy. Pimply. And I wanted to intern and impress the people at WPGC (CBS Radio’s Washington DC channel) so I could be on air and take over like Flex and Rane! But, oddly, I was just quiet once I actually got in there. I had no idea what to do besides what they told me to do. So, I did just that and OBSERVED.
Read more, here...
“Life is not a straight line.”— Isis Adewale
During my time at the WEEN Academy, I met an AMAZING woman named Isis. She came to speak to our class about philanthropy as she was a former dancer turned event planner for Russell Simmon’s RUSH foundation. She was dope and dropped various gems, but her warm spirit stuck with me.
We ended up living four blocks away from each other in Brooklyn and when she was here, her house became like a second home. She mentored me and another groups of girls, vigilantly. During our various gatherings for “Inspiration Sessions,” she’d drop gems about fear, spirituality, perseverance and more. We all left feeling better and now, we are all pursuing our dreams.
One of the most amazing pieces of advice she gave me is, “Life is not a straight line.” I think when we finally see a vision for our lives, we turn a blind eye to just how difficult it is to make our dreams a reality. Isis gave it to us straight. She told us many times that we would fall and that there would be days when our accounts would be over drafted or our phones would be ringing for a final meeting with a boss because we were about to be let go.
Read more, here…
“When you learn, teach.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
Dr. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite public figures. Easily, top three. She was a fountain of wisdom and love and pure light that led the world in so many impactful ways, President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama still refer to her as a “national treasure.”
Still, of all her amazing teachings, this is the one helped me find my purpose. As a child, I was never “cool” enough, never the “it” girl or was the most stylish, but I always felt my best when I was sharing my gifts, helping others or making people laugh. At 26, I still feel the same way.
After months of watching Dr. Maya interviews and episodes of “Super Soul Sunday’” on OWN (this program will change your life— I am NOT kidding), I realized that one of the things I’m good at is helping people realize their dreams. And in turn, I’ve been able to realize my own.
If you feel lost, helping others is a GREAT way to find your way. Trust me.
Read more about my Maya obsession, here.
“Manage up.” – Ebro Darden
My big brother/step-dad/mentor/boss, Ebro, is one of the best people I’ve ever met. A few years ago, when VH1 teamed up with the most iconic radio station in hip hop to create a show about what goes on at the office called “This is Hot 97,” I interviewed him on a red carpet. At the time, I was working with a great blog called Music Xclusives and we went there to cover the event.
I interviewed Ebro. He left. And then I interviewed Mona Scott Young. And he came back and completely interrupted our interview. At first I was thought, “HOLD UP, BRUH! I’m trying to talk to this woman who could put me on TV!” But, Ebro actually helped me because he said, “Mona, she’s got a pretty face, a nice voice… Put her on TV.”
I’ve respected him ever since.
Read more, here…
“WHAT’S FOR YOU IS FOR YOU.” – Alesha Renee
The first time I met Alesha Renee, I was 20, with a big afro-weave, and excited about my first day at the WEEN Academy. I didn’t know what to expect. I just, again, wanted to impress people. Before Alesha came in, this strong and gorgeous woman who I had seen at the auditions came in and made me stand to my feet in front of the entire class. She was intense, and not playing games, and her name was Lauren Lake. Apparently, I looked like I wanted to answer a question. I, absolutely, did not.
That moment was way worst than being called on in class after you weren’t listening. These were black girls who (many of them) I had never met. We can come off shady during first impressions. It’s all a part of our magic. Still, being in that room initially scared the hell out of me. SO, when she called on me, I went completely blank. She asked me about what I wanted my brand to be and all I remember saying was, “I want to be an on-air personality so I can bring light to the world.” Either way, I had failed SO badly that the girls literally had to back me up and said, “No, that’s not Gia. She’s not shy. She’s so nice. She’s amazing. She’s just nervous,” to get her to back off of me.
Read more, here…
I hope something from this will help you!
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