Thursday, September 1, 2016

BOSS Spotlight: Meet The "Media Executive" Kyra Kyles

Kyra Kyles, The Editor-in- Chief and Senior Vice President of Digital Editorial for EBONY Media Operations, LLC. One of WVON and Ariel Capital’s “Top 40 Under 40 Game Changers” and Chicago Defender’s “40 Under 40 to Watch,” this Chicago native is a sought-after speaker on issues of race, gender, class and media diversity. Outside of EMO, Kyra is co-founder of a content production company, Myth Lab Entertainment.  

TheBOSSNetwork: What were some obstacles that you faced in the beginning process of starting your business or career? 

Kyra Kyles: One of the obstacles I faced in my career was making sure not to be literally Black listed. Essentially, as an African American journalist, you are sometimes asked to cover areas specifically because of your skin color. My goal is to always ensure that we have balanced and equitable coverage of People of Color, but occasionally, I would have to fight back if I saw that I was being pushed toward certain assignments due to ethnicity. To paraphrase the Esurance commercial, that’s not how any of this works.

BN: What inspired you to break into your particular industry? 

KK: I have always wanted to be a writer, since I was about 3 or 4 years old. I was inspired by notable television anchors and, as a young, reading the newspaper next to my father who was not only an entrepreneur but a voracious reader. He was always consuming about three to four newspapers a day.

BN: How do you balance your personal and professional life or have you been able to find a balance?

KK: Welp, it can be a challenge for sure. What I try to do is put in 110% when I am working and be sure to delegate, allow others to shine in their areas of expertise and find tools that speed the plow so to speak. When I am out with friends and family, I try to unplug and live in the moment. It helps to schedule things like yoga, movie nights and parties.

BN: What is an inspirational quote that you live by? 

KK: Nike, “Just do it.”

BN: Who were some influential people or mentors that helped or encouraged you along the way? 

KK: My mother, who is a ridiculously creative and imaginative woman, has always encouraged both me and my sister to delve fearlessly into the arts. She is a lover of literature and from an early age, instilled an appreciation for the written word. My sister, though younger than I am, is a supergenius of the universe, wildly creative and an incomparable problem solver. My father, as I mentioned, was a thinker, entrepreneur and an optimist who always just jumped in there and showed a lack of fear I try to emulate daily.

BN: What are your "must-haves" to keep your career or business going strong? 

KK: The Internet, since  I’m a digital native; the latest, greatest work of fiction to keep my imagination working overtime and a team of amazing colleagues who can help meet goals. All are essential.

BN: What is your definition of a BOSS? 

KK: A BOSS Is someone who isn’t afraid to pave their own way, but also shines that flashlight back to help others on the path. I don’t go for the every man/woman for him/herself mentality. Where’s the fun in that?

Be sure to follow Kyra Kyles on Twitter @thekylesfiles and check out her products and services at

BOSS Spotlight: Meet The "Life-Style Connoisseur" Ashley Austin

Ashley Austin, M.S., is a writer, stylist, and media maven with an entrepreneurial spirit. Working in advertising with her passions for food, fashion, DIY, and all things glam. When she’s not on the clock Ashley enjoys traveling, reading and discovering new trends. Catch up with Ashley at 
TheBOSSNetowrk: What were some obstacles that you faced in the beginning process of starting your business or career?
AA: Believing that I had to be a master at everything. I soon realized that this was impossible and started to vet professionals that were a good fit for me and my business. Outsourcing professionals like hiring a lawyer, accountant, and a graphic designer helped me save more time and money in the long run. It also relieved some stress and allowed me to focus on the areas that I was great at writing and styling.

BN: What inspired you to break into your particular industry?
AA: I love being a resource for women. There seemed to be a limited urban perspective online for lifestyle content that I was interested in. Many of my friends would ask me for DIY, style, and beauty tips. Since I have always had a love for fashion, writing, and photography I thought what better way than to launch my blog. Uptown Belle has allowed me to be a resource to women who are looking for one place to get there Lifestyle content. Styling developed pretty naturally as well with cleaning out my girlfriends closets, shopping for them, etc. I loved seeing the look on their faces when they would be happy with the results.

BN: How do you balance your personal and professional life or have you been able to find a balance?
AA: I don’t as it is tough in the beginning stages when you are building your business. To make my dream a reality I knew I would have to sacrifice my time, money, going out with friends, etc. With this in mind I try to plan and prioritize my schedule so that I can dedicate my time to a particular task while I am in the moment. So if I am working on a blog post or styling a client my attention is 100% dedicated to that post or that client. If I am having a night out with my friends I am 100% focused on spending time and living in the moment with them.

BN: What is an inspirational quote that you live by?
AA: “Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your reality. Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.” –Stuart Scott It is important that when you look back on your life you can say that you have at least tried to live your life’s dream and purpose. As women I think we sometimes have a tendency to minimize our dreams out of fear or uncertainty. When we really should be pushing ourselves to go beyond the imaginary limits that we have set in place.

BN: Who were some influential people or mentors that helped or encouraged you along the way?
AA: My husband Ray Austin has been very instrumental and supportive through my entrepreneurial journey. Also, owner of Standout Style Boutique and Coach Tamika Price was very influential in me deciding to pursue my passion sooner than later. Dr. Shante Bishop has a very inspirational “Branding for Believers” podcast that keeps me grounded and focused during those tough days.

BN: What are your "must-haves" to keep your career or business going strong?
AA: Besides my laptop and phone I would say the Hootsuite app helps me manage my social media content and the Xero app keeps my finances in order while I am on the go.

BN: What is your definition of a BOSS?
AA: An innovative leader who is constantly ahead of the curve, takes risks, and creates opportunities.

Be sure to follow Ashley Austin on Twitter @TheUptownBelle and Instagram @TheUptownBelle and check out her products and services at

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Self-Worth And Added-Value: Why You Must Bring Both To The Corporate Table By Jacqueline Miller


Do you generate a profit for your organization? No matter where you appear on the organization chart, if you are to be viewed as an asset, you must be able to demonstrate your value. Your company is investing in you and will inevitably be asking, “What’s in it for us?”

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for a woman to embrace the true value that she brings to her organization when she is struggling to see much value in herself. However, many companies fail to address the latter, because there is often a disconnect between an employee’s personal life and the P&L statement.
Multiple studies continue to indicate that happy employees are also more productive employees. How realistic is it to expect that a woman who is struggling and overwhelmed at home and with self-worth, would also be a highly-productive employee?

The organizations that make the “Best Companies to Work For” lists appear to be proactively addressing these issues. I applaud them and am optimistic that more companies will continue to strive to do an exemplary job of advancing all women and helping them juggle the struggle of self-care, work, and family.

Without question, personal responsibility must exist. Before a woman can honestly assess her value to her organization, she must have a relatively clear understanding of her value to herself. Companies measure the ROI of their employees, and its employees should measure the WIIFM factor (what’s in it for me) - besides a paycheck.

Where to begin? Here are three recommendations:

1. Examine the activities that consume most of your workday, the skill set required of you, the results derived from your efforts, and determine how these things connect back to the company’s bottom line. Are you providing added value? Are you being seen, heard and fairly- compensated?

2. Have clarity as it applies to your personal value system. A woman must define her own set of values, what she views as being right or wrong, practical or not.  It is when her behaviors are in conflict with these pre-determined values, or she allows someone else’s behaviors or practices to go against her values, that she potentially may leave others to question her sense of self-worth. When you know your own worth, no one else can make you feel worthless. If you don’t see and own your worth, you will routinely surround yourself with people who don’t see it either. When your self-confidence rises, the quality of your life tends to follow.

3. Invest in yourself. It’s quite easy to say that you want a better life. However, the true test of those words is in one’s actions.  Don’t solely rely on company-provided training, which is generally related to your job. Seek out personal development resources, i.e. courses, books, coaches, mentors, etc. Taking these initiatives demonstrates that you are a woman who prefers transformation to stagnation. As a working mom, in doing so you are also setting the example for your children when it comes to taking initiative and the value of personal growth.

The bottom line is this — if you aren’t valuing yourself, what value are you truly capable of bringing to an organization?

BOSS Spotlight: Meet The "Parenting Partner" Deborah L. Tillman


Deborah L. Tillman, President of the Parenting Movement, Speaker, Author, CEO of Happy Home Child Learning Center, “America’s Supernanny” on Lifetime TV. Labeled “A Force for Good” by The Washington Post, Tillman became frustrated with he poor quality childcare her son received; quit her job and started her own school.

TheBOSSNetwork: What were some obstacles that you faced in the beginning process of starting your business or career?

DeborahTillman: One of my major challenges was finding a team of teachers that were connected to my vision who would have the commitment, character and courage to step out on faith and go through the process with me. Another challenge was learning how to delegate tasks so that people were placed in positions where their gifts and talents could be most effectively utilized.

BN: What inspired you to break into your particular industry? 

DT: My PAIN inspired my Purpose:DESPERATION comes to mind. Having gone through seven horrific childcare provider experiences l began to ask the question why me? Finally when I was about to break, I cried out to God and said what do you want me to do? That is when I heard a still small voice say:“I WANT YOU TO DO IT BETTER” I quit my job the next day and began the journey of caring for our nations children and parents.

BN: How do you balance your personal and professional life or have you been able to find a balance? 

DT: I have a morning routine because over the years I now understand how important it is for me to take care of myself. My daily high 5’s consists of waking at 5am, exercising, meditation, writing three things I am grateful for and listing 5 things that will get accomplished that day. I also value my time everyone gets 24 hours and it is up to me to choose how it will be spent.

BN: What is an inspirational quote that you live by? 

DT: Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not to your own understanding in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6

BN:  Who were some influential people or mentors that helped or encouraged you along the way? 

DT: My 5th grade teacher Mrs. Neal’s, who told me at a very young age not to allow anyone’s opinion of me become my reality. She loved me when I was unlovable and taught me when I was unreachable. Her patience and commitment to be a champion for children was life changing and transformational. I also visited and studied under the late Marva Collins whose proverbs and uplifting words have inspired me to be authentic, transparent and a light for the world.

BN: What are your "must-haves" to keep your career or business going strong? 

DT: I am reminded of Psalm 1 that says we shall be like a tree. Trees have deep roots and my work is deeply rooted and grounded in my Faith. Trees also grow. Thus, we as BOSS women must continue to have a growth mindset that helps us to invest in ourselves so that we can impact the world. Finally, trees give shade. We must be “GIVERS”. For we know to whom much is given, much more is required.

BN: What is your definition of a BOSS?

DT: Blessed Optimistic Sisters Serving. There is destiny inside of each of us. We have an assignment to complete here on earth. I cannot do what you can do and you cannot do what I was created to do but Together, we can make a Difference.

Be sure to follow Deborah L.Tillman on Twitter @DeborahLTillman and check out her products and services at

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

You’re Not Special: EVERYBODY is Replaceable By Kimberly A. Ferguson.

We have all heard it said at some point in our professional careers: “Everybody is replaceable.” It may be a short sentence --- only nine syllables --- and just three words in length, but this phrase can be heavy. It can carry so much weight – that it makes it difficult for any truly dedicated, conscientious worker to swallow and digest.
Why? Well, because: those three words tell an employee that no matter what value he/she brings to the table, someone else can be hired to do the same job and have the same impact.
Are You Irreplaceable?
Beyonce sings songs about it. Stephen Covey wrote chapters on it. We have always thought of ourselves as “irreplaceable”. As children, we were brought up to believe that we bring our own distinct value . . .  that we are special.
Then we entered the workforce to learn that we were not the only special employees. That old adage, “one monkey don’t stop no show” was proven to be true. While we have seen employees try to “stop the show” with their “I QUIT” announcement, the show inevitably, undoubtedly manages to go on!
While I agree that the show can and will go on without you, I’ve seen the evidence time and time again that the individual value a worker brings sets his/her replace-ability factor. In other words, the more perceived value you have, the more likely that an employer will want to keep you around.
How does one increase his/her perceived value?
Strengthening your value does not necessary make you “irreplaceable”, but it certainly provides yet another reason why an employer might not want to lose you. There are several ways that employees can increase their value in the workplace. Below I have identified 3 tips that readers can start implementing today. They are my ABC’s of Building Your Value:

Align Yourself: Do you know the mission and vision of your organization? Do you know your department’s strategic initiatives? How about your boss’s expectations for you? If not, get in the know. And it is not just about knowing them; it is about your ability to walk in alignment with the mission, vision, and goals every day. It is about your ability to live the mission and vision, and to live up to (if not surpass) your employer’s expectations.
Making sure that you are living the mission and vision, and working in direct alignment with these three areas (organization, department, and management) will immediately increase your value. Alignment demonstrates your willingness to commit to the overall strategy.
How do you Align Yourself?
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the organization’s goals.
  • Work in concert with those people and teams who are working towards those goals.
  • Develop your own personal vision that directly supports the organizational and departmental goals
  • Be able to clearly communicate the value that you bring through alignment
  • Document! Document! Document! Keep track of your daily activities, decision-making, and performance. Compare your tasks to management’s expectations of you. Are you meeting expectations?
Make a commitment to “align yourself”. If you help catapult your boss, department, and organization to the next level, your elevation should naturally follow.

Build Your Network: Of course, you have heard the saying, “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know”. While I don’t subscribe to this belief entirely ( afterall, who you know will only get you so far), I do believe that developing a strong network of like-minded individuals and influential professionals can help in building value.
With tools like LinkedIn, building your value through networking has never been easier. What should you consider as you Build Your Network?
As you build your network, surround yourself with people who have a similar vision. But also be sure to connect with people who motivate and inspire you -- perhaps someone in a position in which you’d like to be some day, or someone whose work ethic you admire.
  • Identify like-minded individuals
  • Schmooze! Join groups/networks in your industry of interest
  • Widen your network with influential, thought-leaders
  • Network both internally and externally: Build your network within the four walls of your organization; but also make contacts outside of the company.

Create Your Brand: So, I always tell my 8-year-old daughter not to concern herself with what others think of her. Well, this advice goes right out the window when I am talking to business professionals about increasing professional value.
In most cases in our professional lives, it does matter what others think. Remember, your employer’s perception of you is reality . . . at least to them. If they see you as a go-getter, then that is what you are.
But what if I told you that you have the power to direct and possibly control that perception? Would you believe that that power lies in the development of your personal brand?
I’m not encouraging you to be something you’re not. In fact, what I’m suggesting is the opposite. I'm suggesting that you use your personal brand to advertise your best professional qualities.Your personal brand is how you communicate the unique value that you consistently bring. It is the way that you market yourself and drive the message to shape perceptions!
So, how does one build his/ her brand? Building one’s brand is an ongoing process, but here are few steps to get you started:
  • Self-Assess and Act: Identify your strengths and be able to effectively and confidently communicate them. Recognize your weaknesses and challenges, and determine what steps you are going to take to address them!
  • Define Your Value: Do you know why you are valuable to your team and to the organization? What do you do that no one else does? What processes have you implemented or improved? Being able to effectively communicate why you are valuable is crucial.
  • Demonstrate your value: Give your all! A key aspect of building your brand is showing how valuable you are. Don’t just talk about it! Demonstrate it!
  • Let Your Personality Shine Through: What are the best aspects of your personality? Share the best part of you by letting that personality shine! When you allow this to happen, it is easier to personally connect with clients, colleagues, and management, and establish a rapport.
So, what’s the point? The point is simple. It’s time to start thinking “next level”. Status quo is not enough --- especially in this job market. Value is the keyword, and in order to increase employability, we must be able to strengthen our perceived value, and effectively communicate to others the value we bring. Yes, an employer may be able to bring someone in to fill a position, but if you are creating and adding value, it is more likely that an employers will want to keep you around.
You are special. And if the right steps are taken, you can be IRREPLACEABLE!
Kimberly A. Ferguson is an author, professional development trainer, consultant, and the owner of Excel Service Consulting, LLC. For more information on Kimberly, please visit her LinkedIn profile at; or visit her website at