How Being Black Led Me To Create A BusinessFeb 21, 2021
(This is a picture of some of the women in my family - me, my mother, sister, niece, & sister-cousin!)
I first posted this on Facebook. Here’s the back story. I was in yet another FB group that was asking people if they knew of Black owned businesses – probably because it’s Black History Month. I was frustrated. I’ve been reviewing my life lately under the lens of how being Black has impacted my life and my work – and I’ve started sharing that on social media. So I thought I’d share it here with you too!
Starting a business for me was a way to be me, without jumping through other people’s hoops who were always trying to get me to prove that I was good. I guess I got tired of it.
I also want you to know this exciting news! Soul's Calling® Facilitator & Coach training for Spring 2021 is coming soon! Check your inbox over the next few days. This is a boutique coach & facilitator training on the Soul's Calling® Roadmap Process, specifically for women who see the genius in others and want a career that fully utilizes and values this gift. We are SO excited to take another small group (14 women maximum) through this intensive and intimate process.
And I'm so grateful that all my experiences - especially never fitting in - in the corporate world led me to create this work and my business.
Here's my story about how being Black led me to create a business:
"I keep hearing people searching for Black owned businesses, Black owned Coach training businesses - especially now in the shortest month of the year - Black History Month.
Mine. Look no further.
I’ve had a Black owned business for 25 years, so I’m experienced, and my work is amazing. Here’s what I want you to know. Black isn’t one-dimensional. Every Black person is different. The reason that I have a business is because I’m Black. I see myself as lucky, but I could have interpreted this as unlucky.
When I had my first job in a government type agency, in Toronto, 35 years ago, on a Friday afternoon my boss came into my office and said: “Do you have a coat?” I asked her why. She said, “You’re going north.” I thought she was joking. I laughed. She said, “It’s not a joke.” I was really confused by now, but it was dawning on me that I was being told to relocate.
She said, “You’re going to the North Bay office, temporarily.” My insides were screaming while on the outside I looked calm. “What do you mean? For how long?” I asked. “Report to North Bay on Monday morning” she said. “I don’t know how long it will be.”
“WHAT????” I exclaimed. “That isn’t something that I really want to do.” I said.
“Either that or quit” she said.
Half of me still thought she was joking and then it dawned on me that she was deadly serious. I’d suspected that she didn’t like me. There were a few newly hired people in the office, and I was one. I was the person that she never interacted with
Rushing through my mind was “Why would she send ME to North Bay?” Why don’t they just hire someone who lives there? There are no Black people in North Bay. My job is going into people’s homes, evaluating whether their financial benefits continue. Why is she sending me from cosmopolitan, multi-cultural Toronto, to small-town, white, Ontario?
She told me to report to the office on Monday morning and I’d find out how long I’d be staying. She said “Get a warm coat this weekend.”
I was 24 years old. This was my first “real” job, the one that I could make a liveable salary from. The one that my parents were so proud that I had.
I did it. I went. For over a year.
I never saw that boss again. Looking back, I think she just didn’t want me around and had a great excuse to get rid of me. I’m sure she hoped I’d quit.
But I didn’t.
For over a year, I was banished to the north. I lived out of hotels. I had all my expenses paid. What a total waste of the tax-payers money.
In order to get approved to come back to Toronto for good, I had to prove that I was excellent at my job. I had to initiate the process to get my performance reviewed and push to get the decision makers to look at it.
And I learned something.
No one was going to help me survive or thrive in the workplace. No one was going to select me for advancement or a promotion.
I was on my own.
I was expected to fail or be mediocre.
I remember one day, running into an old high-school friend on the subway. I’d gone to an all-white high school in Montreal where most people were wealthy. I hadn’t seen this woman for a long time. We’d been friends in high-school and played on many sports teams together. She was now a banker. We said hello and I asked how she was doing. She said to me, “Oh forgive me, I thought you were one of the girls in the steno pool.”
In case you don’t know, steno-pools were the workplace ghettos of the 1980’s where people of colour worked transcribing the dictation because no one had computers.
Even by people that knew me, I was expected to rise to the bottom.
And I never complained about how I knew others perceived me.
That’s how I developed grit. When you know no one is looking out for you, you have to look out for yourself.
I knew that I never, ever wanted to run any of the organizations that I worked for. I had no respect for the bosses, for the top ranks, for the toxic culture that was perpetuated through all levels, for the exclusion that I experienced. I did not aspire to be a big cheese in a toxic organization.
My experience of racism isn’t being called the “n” word.
My experience of racism is being judged at being “less than” before I open my mouth.
My experience of racism is the assumption that I’ll be average or less than average in whatever I do.
My experience of racism is never having the privilege of being expected to succeed, just because of my race.
And that, is what led me to create my own business. Not because I wanted a business – I never wanted that.
Because I wanted to do the work that I wanted to do. And I didn’t want anyone to tell me that I couldn’t.
That’s why I have a business.
It took me a little time to discover what it was that I really wanted to do, and I drifted once more into the sleepy illusion that I was actually seen, not judged when I worked for an international Coach Training firm.
But I wasn’t seen.
And that’s why I created my own Soul’s Calling® Coach training. Because I wanted to do the work that I wanted to do. And I didn’t want anyone to tell me that I couldn’t.
You know what I believe now?
My life happened for a reason. The solution to being judged as “less than” to being told that “you don’t matter” or “you aren’t important” is creating your soul’s calling work.
Because the work that matters IS your soul’s calling work. It’s yours. You came here into this life with the essence of who you are AND NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM YOU. NO ONE.
Your job – if you dare to decide to do it, is to unlock your unique genius and create the work that you came here to do.
That’s how we get out of this Pirate world that we have been gas-lighted to think is real. That’s how we shift the world from one that’s been abused by Pirates to one that is powered by Purpose.
That’s the work that we all need to do right now.
If you’re looking for a Black Owned business that does that, look no further, look right here.
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