I’m going to preface this article by admitting that it’s a bit premature. My dreams have not all come true (yet), but I know I’m close. Like really close. so I figured I’d walk you through some of the changes I’ve made to get myself in this position.
First, let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? It was the end of October 2013, and my maternity leave was wrapping up. I had three amazing months home with my son and now it was time to take him to a local daycare center and then travel 30 miles into Boston for work.
This was us right around that time:
I was working as an admin at Harvard Business School, and to say that I did not want to return to work is an understatement. I wept the entire 48 hours leading up to it. I did not want to leave my baby, but more than that, I did not want to go back to a position wherein I felt I was being choked to death. Every. Single. Day. Sure, HBS had great perks and the job wasn’t the worst, but I knew it was not the job for me.
At one point I had even asked the Director of Faculty Support Services at Harvard Business School for feedback as to why I had not been granted an interview for a more senior position (a position I was more than qualified to hold). She told me my email signature didn’t align with the Harvard style of signing professional emails. At this point I had been at Harvard for over a year and she had never told me I was signing my emails improperly or that the way in which I signed my emails would prevent me from rising in the ranks. In fact, she hired me using the very same signature style she now viewed as an impediment to my growth at Harvard Business School. Of course telling me I was a black woman and she was not comfortable working with me would have been illegal, so I guess this explanation was all she could offer. But I digress.
Prior to getting this job at Harvard I had been fired from my role as Director at Summit Educational group, a small for-profit educational center located in Newton, MA. The CEO of the company just-so-happened to discover I had been tweeting while on the job (I was not. I had been scheduling my facebook posts in advance and my posts would automatically syndicate to my twitter account). Coincidentally, my termination came on the heels of having been promoted to my own office and being told by my direct supervisor that I was being groomed for more responsibility. My subordinate at the time, who I now believe is the Director of Teacher Services at Summit, made loud complaints about my fast advancement (I had only been at the company a few months). He was an incompetent and jealous little man who could not stomach answering to my uppity Negro self. But he knew all about my blog and social media accounts, and I was fired without so much as a conversation.
I can still remember it. My direct supervisor and I, crying on the side of the road. “You’re so smart,” She said. “You’ll be fine,” She said. Tears streaming down her cheeks. Even with her comforting words, it was the single most cruel moment of my life. I’ll never ever ever forget it, as that moment has led up to where I am now, on the cusp of getting everything I have ever wanted. Just watch!
Here’s what being fired taught me:
Never make yourself at home in someone else’s house
Indeed, I may have also suffered from a slight case of PTSD, but I learned that I could not rely on institutions that were set up to exclude me to now see me rise. I know there are plenty of people of color who assent to high level positions at Harvard or other companies, but I knew I’d have to be willing to sell my soul to get there. I couldn’t do it.
I set my sights on growing my brand. Even though I was a new mom, and wife, and working full-time, I never ever lost sight of my potential. I knew that my current circumstances did not reflect what I was/am destined to become.
On my way into work after dropping my 3-month son at daycare, I managed to take a deep breath and say out loud,
“This is only temporary. I will be home with my son. I will be my own boss. I will be able to provide for my family and live the life I deserve.”
I repeated that mantra every morning until June 30th, 2015 when I walked out of Harvard Business School to launch Lisa Jean-Francois Consulting. I’ve been my own boss ever since.
Being my own boss has it’s own challenges which I discussed in this post last week (click HERE to read), however, I’ve had enough success in the last year to know I’m on the right track.
How am I making my dreams come true?
I’ve never given up. I’ve been working on my brand for 4 years.
I do not dream. I work.
I network both online and in person.
I invest in my business. I’ve worked with a business coach and pay professionals to do what I cannot.
I pray. A lot.
I count my blessings. Every day.
I believe in myself.
If you have a dream, you have to work for it. You have to make sacrifices. You may have to eat canned tuna or Top Ramen for a year or two, but being lucky is not how dreams are made.