Category Archives: Lifestyle

Can YOU Run This Institution: Prairie View A&M Looks To Train Next Generation of HBCU Administrators


President George C. Wright has been an integral force in bringing Prairie View A&M University a new stadium, but his legacy may be in a new program that allows students at the HBCU just outside of Houston to shadow administrators for a day to learn what it truly takes to run, manage, and grow an HBCU. This is vital when looking across the landscape of HBCUs where far too many HBCUs are being run by non-HBCU alums. It is almost an indictment on HBCU boards that when choosing an administration that far too many candidates have little to no HBCU connection. The pipeline from which HBCUs can choose their leadership reflective of their strategic needs and cultural values is vital to the future of them remaining true to being institutions that serve African America’s interest in higher education.

Prairie View A&M’s program allows students to shadow administration for a day is vital for both exposure and mentorship. Engaging students in the experience is also is key to their ability to participate as alumni in understanding how they can both help externally or maybe one day as leadership themselves. If the program is nurtured it could become a program that trains not only students at Prairie View, but others as well. Such a simple step could have a meaningful and lasting impact on the future of our institutions. We decided to reach out to Antony Owens (pictured above center) who participated in the program to see the impact that is truly had.

Name: Antony Owens

Classification: Junior

Major: Architecture and Construction Science

What made you decide to participate in the program?

My organization, Panther Ambassadors hosts the Can YOU Run This Institution program, as a member of the organization I wanted to lead by example and participate in the program myself.

Who did you shadow and how was that determined?

I shadowed Dr. Thomas-Smith, generally students are given a list of the faculty that will be participating and are then able to choose whom they would like to shadow.

What was your takeaway from participating?

There is a lot of grunt work done by a few key people across the university. Dr. Thomas-Smith for instance has a lot to do with the university’s accreditation, she has to work with people across campus and all the different departments to acquire full accreditation for the university. To do her job would require a strong work ethic, patience, management skills and the ability to lead.

Are there things that you were surprised at learning that it takes to run the university?

I was taken back by the fact that even after one finishes college and is done with school, they may still have homework. It was a realization because I thought homework stopped after school, but in order to complete things in a timely and well done manner, one may have to sacrifice more time in order to meet expectations.

How do you think the participation in the program will help you as an alumnus even if you do not go on to become an administrator?

It has helped me mature and get a better picture of what the work life is like when you have nobody but yourself to truly hold you accountable.

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Craft Beer 101: Bourbon Zeppelin’s Della Fain Sips And Chats About Suds


Most of us have an early memory or story about our dad or uncle giving us our first taste of beer. Do you remember the first time you had beer of any sort?  If memory serves me, the first time I had a beer was probably the same as everyone else’s first time. A not so strict aunt that yells “it’s okay if she has one sip”. I do recall however that first sip being awful and every sip after that.

Many of us simply are wondering – what exactly qualifies to be considered a craft beer? A craft beer is in fact a brew crafted in a more traditional, non mechanized way. Usually, but not always by a small brew house or microbrewery.

What got you interested in trying out craft beers?  I initially steered clear of all things beer and beer like for most of my adult life. My grandfather and I had a long standing lunch date every birthday at our favorite steakhouse. He ordered beer and I wine. During one of our last lunches together a new hire at the restaurant was an expert at pairing beer with meals and suggested my pop pop try a beer different from his usual. He made it sound so good I followed suit and ordered the same, it was a winter lager. I’ve been hooked ever since.

For those who have a curiosity about craft beers, is there any advice you would give about how to introduce themselves to different beers? Anyone interested in trying out craft beer my suggestion to them would be my suggestion for life – try it all to see what you like and don’t like.

What do you believe are some qualities of a great craft beer? The qualities of a great craft beer for me is all about the layers. Aroma, mouth feel, how well it compliments and draws out the best part of a meal. How stouts can be savory, and sours refreshing. How a porter can satisfy your sweet tooth, and an IPA be the perfect addition to Taco Tuesday.

There are about six African American breweries we have found, but this is certainly underrepresented for the explosion that has occurred in the microbrewery space over the past decade. Why do you think more African Americans are not brewing beers? With the craft beer industry vastly rising and major breweries buying smaller brew houses we’re gonna see less craft in craft beer. So now’s a perfect time for African Americans to throw their hats into the collective breweries. I know a few African American home brewers who really have a love and passion for it. But like anything else they’ll need support from beer drinkers to get their artistry noticed.

What would be your theme music while drinking your favorite beer? Anything by Nujabes. 

Editor’s Note: Check out the album Modal Soul by Nujabes. Be sure you are having a cold one when you do and always drink responsibly.

Della Fain is an Chitown native Arizona resident. Married mother of 3. She’s also a contributor to Bourbon Zeppelin giving bourbon barrel aged beer reviews. You can follow her on Instagram at @sixfeetofdynamite. 

Fearless Girl, Art, & Business: A Conversation With HBCU Professors & Artists Tracey Moore & Josie Pickens


HBCU Money was able to catch up with two rising stars in the national academic and cultural landscape who together represent the Lone Star State’s two public HBCUs. Ms. Josie Pickens (left), English professor at Texas Southern University and writer along with Ms. Tracey Moore (right), Digital Media Arts professor at Prairie View A&M University and artist. Both professors are also alumna of their respective institutions and highlight what happens when intellectual capital is cultivated, grown, and returns to strengthen our institutions. They without a doubt epitomize what shines bright in the future of HBCU institutions. We sat down with them to get their thoughts on the intersection of humanities and business from their own respective perches as well as some of today’s most current events where humanities and business are colliding.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Fearless Girl statue in New York City. The artist of the Charging Bull says it impacts his original guerilla art that has become something of a landmark and tourist attraction in the city. Some women’s rights activist say it serves to inspire young girls into economics and finance. Others, feel torn that the piece was paid for by State Street Bank to promote a product of theirs that invest in companies where there is a prominent woman presence either on the board or in management. What is your take on the matter that contains so many layers and complexity?

Ms. Moore: My first exposure to this particular sculpture was when a friend posted an article regarding the Charging Bull artist, Arturo Di Modica, and his displeasure with Fearless Girl changing the context of his work. Although I sympathize with his point of view in that the original context of the piece is lost with the presence of Fearless Girl but isn’t that what art is supposed to do? Change how we perceive the world around us, how we think, and how we respond. On the flipside of the coin, I do not understand the fascination with the sculpture. Oddly enough, the image that replays in my head is Elizabeth Warren taking a selfie with the piece. I found it ironic that she fights for women’s rights, equality, and all the other points on the feminist agenda but she applauds a commissioned piece (from an investment fund) that is supposed to, indirectly, applaud the accomplishments of women working on executive boards and in management. It is a girl that supposed to represent the hard fought battles women have endured and won seeking their rightful place in Corporate America.

Personally Fearless Girl does not represent me, or most women that I know, spiritually, culturally, historically, or relationally. Spiritually, I know who I am and I know who’s I am. There is nothing about this bronze image that would inspire me to do anything. Idolizing this image will yield no returns for me or for the young ladies I mentor everyday. How can young girls connect with something that cannot love you, protect you, or share with you? Overall, my aspirations as a young girl were to be an adult, a woman, not to remain a girl.

Culturally, growing up as a young black girl in a traditional southern home, respect was the word of the day, everyday. You were taught to respect your elders in all things and know your place/role as a child. Having the posture of Fearless Girl was definitely a no-no. It was a sign that you have smelled yourself and taken a position of defiance against the authority of any adult. That was something non-black children did. Certainly approaching an adult with hands on your hips was grounds for a stern look or, in some cases, a smack across some extremity. You had to know when it was appropriate to take that stance (ideally with your peers) and when not to.

Being educated as a graphic designer, you are taught the artful skill of manipulating words and image to sell a product, idea, lifestyle, etc. Let’s call a spade a spade. Ultimately, Fearless Girl is a commercialized image, a reflection of how society views women as defiant little girls screaming for attention and wanting others to know their value. If you change ‘girl’ to ‘gal’, then you have America’s historical view of black women. I have heard white men and women refer to black woman as ‘gals’ many times as a child. They have been ‘gals’ who need to be controlled, disciplined, and handled. We fight for dignity only to be immortalized in the form of a girl.

No piece of bronze has ever inspired anyone to do anything. Relationships do that. If you want to inspire young girls to pursue careers in economics and finance, then you have to mentor them. Develop programs that will introduce economics, take young girls under your wing and show them the dynamics of Wall Street, stocks, trading, numbers, etc. Fearless Girl cannot teach a young lady to balance a checkbook, buy stocks, or anything else. You have to invest the time in young girls lives and guide them their journey to adulthood. No sculpture can do that. Last time I checked, most girls aspire to become like the women who are in their lives.

Ms. Pickens: As a Black woman raising a Black daughter, the fearless girl means very little to me as a model or ideal.  Corporate feminism, which is absolutely what the statue represents, caters specifically to White women and never makes space for women of color— and especially not Black women.  When tech executive Sheryl Sandberg started preaching her lead-in philosophy, many Black women were unmoved by her rhetoric because her experience was so different from ours.  When Black women “lean-in” in corporate settings, we are often viewed as egotistical know-it-alls with bad attitudes.  Our ambition and directness are seen as negative attributes as opposed to positive ones—and we rarely are able to climb that corporate ladder of success.  Much in the same way, when Black girls assert themselves in school settings they are often seen as aggressors and bullies.  Black girls, in fact, are five times more likely to be suspended than White girls, according to recent reports.

What has been fascinating, more fascinating to me than the faux message the statue was meant to deliver, is the way so many men are making lude, exploitive and sexual overtures towards the statue.  Many grown men have been caught on tape groping and humping the statue, or worse.  That speaks more to me about the safety of women in places like New York’s Financial District- or really in the U.S. and the world.  Misogyny that leads to rape culture and sexual violence are what we really need to be addressing, instead of having empty conversations about White women gaining access to the same power that White men have in perpetuating American consumerism and capitalism that ultimately hurts poor people overall, and Black folks specifically.

Liberal arts add a lot of value for entrepreneurs in terms of creativity to problem solving. How do you see your particular subject adding value to students who may see themselves as future entrepreneurs/businessmen and women, but may not understand in the moment how your class and subject can help them?

Ms. Moore:  Presently, I am teaching a course entitled Creative Thinking. Students are exposed to the design thinking process, which is a creative methodology for developing innovative solutions. The process can be and is being applied to solve problems across disciplines. This course specifically aims to assist Digital Media Arts students at PVAMU in developing their own individual creative process. The methodology involves heavy research and ideation. I try to instill in my students that you have to engage your target audience to understand how to speak to them. During their sketching phase, I constantly remind them that we are not looking for the most beautiful design but we are looking for the most appropriate. We take this same principle and look at successful companies and organizations that do an excellent job of speaking to their audience. I often refer to the story of how Steve Jobs did not like the infamous silhouette iPod campaign but that is what catapulted the iPod to the top of the mp3 player market.

There are several students in my classes that are developing small businesses and I challenge them to think about the product or service that they wish to sell or provide. How is it different from what is already out there? Do you have a particular niche that will drive business to your door? Are you duplicating things that already exist? Is your duplication innovative in any way? How do you get others to see the value in your product or service? This is where creative thinking comes into play. By going through the process and posing these questions during the research and ideation phases, students hopefully will develop viable businesses and opportunities. In addition, our Creative Thinking process is used in every course in our program. We have recently expanded this process adding, “When you understand your why, then the what will change.” That philosophy, which was inspired by Christian Comedian Michael, Jr. and essentially sums up our entire creative thinking process, has helped to change how students think about every aspect in life.

Ms. Pickens: I teach the mechanics of writing, and especially the art of rhetoric and composition. I chose to teach in this area because I feel that it is the area that Black students at my HBCU struggle with most, and the area that – once mastered- will benefit them most as they matriculate through college and move forward into their careers. I begin each semester asking students what their majors are, and I explain to each of them how important being able to communicate effectively in writing is to their major field of study and the work they hope to do when they graduate. For instance, working in corporate America or even as an entrepreneur means submitting tons of well written reports and proposals, in addition to various letters and emails to clients, peers and higher-ups.  A person can possess a brilliant business mind, but if he or she cannot effectively communicate his ideas and plans he will not be successful.

We are proponents of students learning to become or think entrepreneurial no matter their field. What do you both see as overlooked opportunities by students to become entrepreneurs in your respective fields? How do you believe HBCUs can encourage such engagement?

Ms. Moore: Honestly, the students at PVAMU possess a great entrepreneurial spirit. This younger generation has the creative vision and desire, but what they lack is probably discipline and patience. In terms of discipline, many do not try to learn the business. They prefer to, as the elders say, learn the hard way. They want mentors but they often do not heed the advice of said mentors. Many often will scoff at the notion of working for someone in a related field to learn how to manage people, invoices, balance sheets, etc. and then establish their own companies. Why invent the wheel when there are successful models in existence. I have noticed that many want the fame and glory right now. They see the seemingly overnight success and think that can happen for them. What they do not see are the numerous failures that occurred for the success to happen. In my own experience, I have come across some lackadaisical attitudes about trust, loyalty, commitment, and customer service. I once worked with a student to develop a series of designs for custom HBCU t-shirts and I broke ties with her once she allowed someone else to appropriate my design and was quite flippant in her attitude regarding the situation.

PVAMU’s College of Business has a Small Business Development Center on campus that provides workshops and assistance to entrepreneurs. The overlooked opportunity is that most students do not know about the SBDC. Perhaps, the SBDC should embed itself more into the student body of PVAMU. I think other HBCUs could do the same. Open a center that helps young entrepreneurs realize their dreams. But you have to go to where the students are to sell them the benefits of going to these workshops and, in turn, students have to understand the importance of the center in their journey. Through a grant opportunity, I have been working with students and a business consultant to open the DesignView Media Center, which will provide graphic design services to university departments and student organizations and facilitate professional development workshops for students in the Digital Media Arts program at PVAMU.  Eventually, we would like to establish the center as a service department so that students can work with local businesses and organizations outside of the university. The students who were hired for this opportunity worked with the consultant to write the business plan for the center. The weekly meetings and planning sessions allowed them to understand the proper way to develop their own businesses.

In addition, HBCUs have to help students understand and know their strengths and talents. I often remind my students of principles of entrepreneurship from two books, Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-education of the Negro and Booker T. Washington’s My Larger Education. What I gleaned from them is that businesses should be built on your passion and skills and perhaps a recognized need. Then you build from there. Become better at what you already know how to do or find a need to address. The media makes us turn our noses at jobs that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had to work but we fail to see how those can have value. An acquaintance’s son developed a maid service during his freshmen year of college. He saw a need to offer a streamlined, same-day cleaning service that can be booked online. The business is doing quite well. The business is most likely financing his education or he is saving to expand the business. I have interacted with students who want to dabble in arenas, like fashion design, that are made popular by celebrities like, but they have neither designed anything nor sewn a stitch of clothing and do not want to learn how to do those things. It is not a bad idea, but how far can they go when many of their peers are doing the same thing?

HBCUs need to essentially go back to our intellectual roots. We need to apply many of the principles of economic independence that Washington and Woodson both promoted.

Ms. Pickens: There are countless ways one can be an entrepreneur in the field of writing and teaching, actually.  In addition to teaching at an HBCU, I also have the option of offering tutorial services—especially with respect to the writing sections of tests like the SAT and GRE.  Also, working as a consultant or corporate trainer is an option for educators who seek to move outside of the classroom and work for themselves.  Being a writing coach is a lucrative field, too.  All of these entrepreneurial options are accessible in addition to various forms of journalism and essay writing for individual publications.  Freelancing is a great way to earn extra income, or make a living all together.

Programs in the humanities have to do a better job of highlighting careers outside of the standard careers we’ve been learning about for so many years.  Although the humanities, especially language and visual arts, should be centered on imagination and innovation, many programs do very little to reach past tradition when educating students on potential careers.  It is unfortunate for these programs that they are being left behind, as millennials are very interested in being in full control of their lives and being their own bosses.  For this reason, many traditional humanities programs do not appeal to them and have a difficult time enrolling students into their programs.

Ms. Pickens, being an English professor is something that has always been vital in business. The ability to convey a message and communicate effectively often starts with a strong foundation in language. How do you believe students go about preparing themselves to be proficient in being able to effectively communicate in the language of business?

Ms. Pickens: My students practice resume and cover letter writing in the courses I teach.  Also, I always outline professional communication with my students.  In an age when we are constantly communicating with words—now sometimes more than we communicate through speaking or face to face—written communication has become very lax.  Many students, I find, have forgotten or never learned how to communicate with different audiences.  They will send an email to their professor using the same tone and language that they use when communicating with friends and family.  Additionally, a recent article in Forbes noted that recent college graduates lack effective problem solving skills and do not pay enough attention to detail (a lack of writing proficiency was at the top of the list).  All of these skills can be honed through practicing the basics and mechanics of writing, as well as focusing on aalyzing and writing rhetoric.  We solve problems by recognizing them, communicating the issues at hand, and finding solutions—that’s what rhetoric analysis is, essentially.

Ms. Moore, you have expressed a desire to train the next wave of designers who will be a force in the industry, as well as one-day return and teach. Bringing back real world experience to the classroom to mix with theoretical is vital into today’s learning experience and yet so few HBCU alumni are returning often creating a shortage of both experience and cultural relevancy in far too many HBCU classrooms. What do you attribute the shrinkage in the pipeline too? And what do you believe can be done to change it?

Ms. Moore: It essentially boils down to money and resources. In the same manner that the best black athletes were wooed away from attending HBCUs by the larger PWIs, our black intellectuals are being targeted in the name diversity and inclusion, which in my opinion is a new spin on Affirmative Action. I honestly do not take issue with this, because I understand the need for PWIs to help broaden perspectives on campus and PWIs tend to pay more but the question I have is, “Who will be better impacted by your presence?” That is a tough question to answer for many. People tend to look at their bottom lines. Where can I make the most money? Where can I go that will have more resources? What institution will give me the most support and faculty development? Some get frustrated with the struggles that accompany teaching at an HBCU. I do not want to generalize the experiences of my fellow professors but I have run across several who in many ways expressed those sentiments and have left HBCUs for those very reasons.

I am from the School of Make a Way out of No Way. I have learned to make do with a whole lot of nothing and foster relationships with people who can point me in directions where I can find resources. I received my B.A. in the advertising art program (now defunct) at PVAMU, which was underfunded and understaffed. The one professor who was supposed to be the advertising specialist only worked in an ad agency for 6 months during the 70s. Fast-forward 20 years and the professor was still teaching technology of the 70s. My fellow classmates and I came to realize that we were not learning the skills needed to be gainfully employed when we started attending advertising competitions. It was a real eye-opener. Most of what we learned we taught each other. Those who were able to get internships came back and facilitated late night sessions so that we all could learn practical knowledge. I made it my personal mission to get into the advertising industry, attend graduate school and come back to PVAMU to teach. I did not want another student to leave PVAMU unprepared to work in the design industry. It has been a long journey to get where I am, I have had help from various faculty and administrators across PVAMU and whenever the opportunity arises, I tell my students the stories of what my classmates and I had to endure to graduate. I want them to know that they are benefiting from our hard work and perseverance and they have an obligation to help someone else. I choose not to talk about the salary, but rather the satisfaction I have from the work I do. We have to impress upon our HBCU students that their skills are needed at our campuses. In the same token, our administrations have to be open to what these young, vibrant, new professors can bring to our universities.

What do you believe business can and should be learning from the liberal arts that is missing in today’s business culture?

Ms. Moore: I am not wholly immersed in the business culture so I am not sure if I can answer that. Business is more than just cubicles, bottom lines, and boardrooms. It is about people and relationships. Treat people as people and not numbers. That is the heart of liberal arts. Seeing people as people.

Ms. Pickens: The liberal arts or the humanities function in exactly that capacity, they humanize us.  Liberal Arts connect businesses to the imagination and to creativity, which every business needs in order to advance.

Ms. Tracey L. Moore is an Assistant Professor and the Coordinator for the Digital Media Arts Program at Prairie View A&M University. She earned her BA in Advertising Art at Prairie View A&M University and an MFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Graphic Communications from the University of Houston. When she is not in the classroom, Ms. Moore does some freelance graphic design. Her most notable work has been the redesigning of the logos for the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture (TIPHC or The Culture Center), The Charles Gilpin Players, and the PVAMU iREAD program. In addition to design, Ms. Moore creates artwork using photography, stitched fabric and found objects. Being an amateur historian, Moore often uses historical events, world or personal, as an underlying theme in her work. She has exhibited her work in numerous galleries and cultural centers throughout the United States.

Ms. Josie Pickens is a professor, cultural critic and griot whose writing focuses on race and gender, and the varying intersections of the two.  Her ultimate goal is to give voice to those often unseen and unheard through her gift of storytelling.  Pickens regularly provides timely social commentary for Ebony Magazine and has been cited on The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian news sites. Follow her on twitter at @jonubian.”

How I Learned to Negotiate Salary


By Kimberly R. Lyle

It wasn’t until my late-20s that I started to get serious about asking for more money than I was offered. At the height of the Great Recession, I quit my job and moved back to my hometown. I applied for any job I could find, and surprisingly, I landed a gig a month later. It was a big step down, but I was grateful to secure something as quickly as I did. I didn’t bother to negotiate my salary.

I worked at this job for a few years until I was laid off. Luckily, my job fell under a union contract so I had a lot of resources available to help with the transition, including priority status for other positions within the organization. I saw the layoff as good fortune – I was guaranteed up to six months of full pay and benefits – and it was a chance to break away from a job I was severely overqualified for.

After the recruiter who had been assigned to help me find another job within the organization got pissed with me for turning down an offer for a lateral position, I committed to only applying to jobs with more responsibility, more money, and a bigger title (I know we’re in this new age of “titles don’t matter!”. Don’t play yourself. They do.). I wasn’t fucking around anymore.

One of the next roles I applied to seemed like a step in the right direction. I exceeded the required and preferred skills and experience, but not by so much that they’d think I was overqualified. The recruiter called me for a phone conversation; it went great! She invited me in for a face-to-face interview. A few minutes in, she started talking about an entry-level position that just opened up in the department, how I’d be a great fit, the hiring manager wanted to fast-track the position, and it would be a great way to work myself up to the position I applied for. The fucking okie-doke of okie-dokes. I let her know that I wasn’t interested in pursuing the entry-level job, and went on about my damn business madder than a mutha fucka.

That’s the first time it dawned on me that employers offer what they think you’ll take. This recruiter thought I was desperate. She saw that I was young. She figured I’d be grateful for the “opportunity”. I guess she was doing her job. I was doing mine by walking away.

A few months later I landed a permanent job within the organization. It was a solid step in the right direction. I didn’t negotiate the salary though. Their offer was already significantly higher than what I made in my last job; it seemed fair. But a few months into the role I realized I was severely underpaid. I decided to ask for more money.

I looked up comparable job descriptions in the internal HR system, and made note of how jobs were categorized, and what the pay scales were. I familiarized myself with internal documentation about departmental budgets, and HR policies governing compensation and raises. I wrote down all the skills I used in my role and examples of how I was kicking ass. I documented praise from colleagues and other managers. Then I scheduled a meeting with my boss.

I made my case, and as a finishing touch, I made it clear that I enjoyed working there, looked forward to continued success on the team, and felt confident that I’d have her support in getting my salary to align with the quality and skill I delivered.  She worked with HR to get me raise, and it was significant. From that point on, I never even considered a job offer without at least attempting to negotiate the offer. I’ve successfully negotiated my salary since this first big win.


Negotiate your damn salary, people. If you’re currently in a job that’s paying you less than you should be getting, ask for more any damn way. They can say no, and if that bothers you enough, you can kick rocks. But you have to at least try to get your money.

The soft offer I got for my last job was low. There was nearly a ~$20k salary difference between what the recruiter initially told me and the offer I accepted. The recruiter told me all about the total benefits package, the annual bonuses and raises, and all that great stuff. Thankfully I did not get on board with that initial number.

Within two months the job went from Oo-la-la to what-the-fuck. And you know what? I would have hated it a million times more if I had been doing that job for nearly $20k less. Can you imagine? Money doesn’t buy happiness, but when you’re in a miserable job it sure helps when you can afford to drown your sorrows at the bar.

I did not get the annual raise the recruiter told me about, and the portion of the bonus I received was a fraction of what I expected. So imagine the level of stank that would’ve contaminated my spirit if I would’ve had doing that job for $20k less, not getting a raise, not getting a bonus.

Upfront money is the best money. It’s usually the only money that’s guaranteed.


So what is the damn point of all this? Here’s what I learned from these adventures:

Employers Do Not Have Your Best Financial Interest At Heart 

Until I realized the jiggery I assumed recruiters were making me their fairest offers they could make. What decent person would offer you far less than what your work is worth, even if you don’t know its worth? A recruiter, that’s who. They ain’t your friends. That excitement you hear in their voices when they’re making you the offer? They’re paid to be excited, boo. Their first offer is never the highest they can go, otherwise they would’ve given you a lower offer. They’re function is to get the best talent for the low-low.

Know What You Need and Know What You Want

Salary negotiation experts usually tell you to know what your salary floor is. But you gotta know it-know it. Don’t just calculate how much you need to pay necessities like rent, food, utilities, and buy your transit pass. Think about the things in live that give you joy, or the things you’d want to do. How much does it cost to take a yearly vacation? How much money do you need to maintain your art supplies? To save enough money to quit working for other people? To get your credit un-fucked up? This is why you’re going to work every damn day. So know how much you need to make all of this happen.

An offer at $7k less than what you want might not seem like that much when the excited recruiter is telling you about the 401(k) match, free beer, and tuition reimbursement. Depending on your situation, it might be inconsequential. But remember this: the costs of most things increase – food, utilities, clothes –  and often these increases outpace annual salary increases. Plus, bonuses and raises are usually a percentage of your base salary. So if you shortchange yourself on salary now, you shortchange yourself on bonuses and raises later. This just compounds and it can impact what you make at your next job.

Perks and Bonuses Ain’t Guaranteed Money in the Bank

People make a big deal of companies that offering perks these days.

Snacks. Ski trips. Annual performance bonuses. Childcare discounts. On-site gym. Tuition reimbursement. Yaaay! These things are great but many aren’t guaranteed. Besides, you may not even need all of this shit. Recruiters usually rattle off all the perks right after they tell you the salary because it all sounds more robust to hear the full package. But when you take a minute to parse out which of the perks you actually give a damn about, it might not be so sexy.

When you get an offer lower than expected it’s so easy to start relaxing your salary requirements after you hear about all these other amazing things you’ll get. Oh, and they are amazing things. But you don’t even like snow so what’s a ski trip gonna do for you? You don’t have kids and you don’t want any, you hate the gym, and you’re never going back to school. So you’re left with some damn snacks. And maybe a bonus.

Figure out the true value of these perks for your life.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

I get unsettled and anxious every time I speak to a recruiter or manager about money. How do I get over it? I don’t. I just practice what I’m gonna say.

Money conversations with recruiters or managers are generally predictable – “we don’t have room in the budget”, and, “there’s nothing I can do”, or “what number did you have in mind”. I rehearse what I’m going to say and what I think the recruiter or manager could say. I type out my responses, say them aloud, edit them, and do it again. I practice in the mirror. I record myself and listen. If I’m having a face-to-face meeting with my boss, I’ll put on a full outfit with hair and makeup and practice that way. Yes, this is crazy. But why the hell not. Gotta start somewhere.

None of this is rocket science but it’s worked for me. Figured I’d share. Maybe it’ll help someone.

Kimberly R. Lyle is the creator behind Audacious Kay. This rerun is with the consent of Audacious Kay and may not reproduced otherwise. Visit her blog by clicking here.

Currencies Of The African Diaspora – Equatorial Guinea


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Exploitation of oil and gas deposits, beginning in the 1990s, has driven economic growth in Equatorial Guinea, allowing per capita GDP to rise to over $29,000 in 2014. Forestry and farming are minor components of GDP. Although preindependence Equatorial Guinea counted on cocoa production for hard currency earnings, the neglect of the rural economy since independence has diminished the potential for agriculture-led growth. Subsistence farming is the dominant form of livelihood. Declining revenue from hydrocarbon production, high levels of infrastructure expenditures, lack of economic diversification, and corruption have pushed the economy into decline in recent years and led to limited improvements in the general population’s living conditions.
Foreign assistance programs by the World Bank and the IMF have been cut since 1993 because of corruption and mismanagement, and as a middle income country Equatorial Guinea is now ineligible for most donor assistance. The government has been widely criticized for its lack of transparency and misuse of oil revenues and has attempted to address this issue by working towards compliance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. US foreign assistance to Equatorial Guinea is limited in part because of US restrictions pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Equatorial Guinea hosted two economic diversification symposia in 2014 that focused on attracting investment in five sectors: agriculture and animal ranching, fishing, mining and petrochemicals, tourism, and financial services. Undeveloped mineral resources include gold, zinc, diamonds, columbite-tantalite, and other base metals.

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Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea

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Source: Economy provided by CIA World Factbook Africa