I’ve been wanting to break the code on what it takes to sit with the cool kids since I was 35 (didn’t matter so much before). Countless professional development books, articles, newsletters and (free) courses point a budding entrepreneur toward networking, pitching, and generally “getting out there.” Then, tossing the essential social media into the mix, blehhhh. Networking and outreach efforts are resembling talent shows and popularity contests more each day. So as I hope for Ancestors unKnown to be noticed within a sea of noticeable work, I’ve occasionally wished for a louder voice and bolder approach. And maybe some street cred?
Short of changing my personality from introvert to extrovert, and significantly upping my coolness factor, I’ve been looking for input on how to play a better entrepreneur game.
One consistent piece of advice: be a speaker. If you give talks and host workshops, you build and share expertise, gain an audience and credibility, and (appreciated bonus!) earn some money.
Replanting your roots shouldn’t mean losing them
In March 1920, my grandmother lived with her parents and siblings in Jacksonville, FL. They shared a home with the parents and younger brother of A. Philip Randolph. She was attending Boylan-Haven School for Girls, a private school for Black girls that Zora Neale Hurston attended about 20 years earlier (and coincidentally my Mom would attend years later). She had just turned 12. Her mother had just died.
Her mother’s death was most likely a significant factor, but not the only reason for her father’s difficult decision to migrate north – just a few years before his own death in 1926. My grandmother and her family left behind the remarkable life they established in Jacksonville and moved to Philadelphia, PA.
Until I was in college and became keenly aware of my shortcomings in the study of chemistry, I planned to be a veterinarian. When I was in high school, we had two weeks for special, off-campus study for an internship or travel abroad experience. I always found a veterinarian to follow around and envy. From the emergency room to castrations and teeth cleanings, I was fully immersed in my future professional life. I was all, “shucks, this life thing is pretty much figured out.”
I had no idea I would end up living in another country, building a business that centers on forgotten family histories. But now that I think of it, there were some hints of an entirely different purpose from what I intended.
High school nerding in English class
Always the loudest man in the room, the widest smile, the best stories, the worst jokes, the biggest heart, and the most full of life. I just can’t stop thinking about Otto. Impossible to wrap my head around his hasty exit.
I’ve been living in The Hague (Den Haag) for more than 5 months now (whoa, what?!). It’s been enough time for me to experience a pleasant evolution of sentiment about my circumstances and surroundings. What started as a disappointed exodus from Amsterdam has turned into a delighted embrace of Agga (what the cool kids are calling it, apparently).
I first moved here out of necessity. A lack of affordable (and also bearable) options in Amsterdam led me to look outside of the city. And it didn’t take me long to find a cute little place in The Hague that was in a modest price range.
My newly adopted city was a mere 45 minutes by train from Amsterdam, which I convinced myself was nothing compared to my former daily commute by subway from East Flatbush, Brooklyn to lower Manhattan. I could get back and forth to Amsterdam with ease, even daily if I wanted. And I thought I might want to. I had friends, favorite restaurants, libraries, coffee shops, and seemingly places to be in Amsterdam. In order to tolerate life in this new city, I would surely have to make frequent trips back to the only city that mattered. Continue reading
And it might be getting impatient. Now is the time!
Lost histories and forgotten ancestors just shouldn’t be a thing. So I’m in the business of getting family trees started. Check out the new pages of Black Girl Gone, Seeking Ancestors, to learn about my family history research services. And once you’re ready for some answers of your own, let’s get started on your family tree.
Special offer for Black Girl Gone readers!
Blog subscribers: receive a 10% discount if you submit a research request before August 31, 2014
Also, I remain committed to the powerful benefits of genealogy for young people with my nonprofit, Ancestors unKnown. (Stay tuned for an exciting reboot over there that’s coming soon.)
I’ve been working on my online life, improving and monitoring my use of the sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. With a budding business, I’m finally starting to take all the social media advice seriously (apparently the craze has some staying power). And since all of these sites have the power to be linked and synced – to a creepy, “I’ll Be Watching You” degree, it made sense to toss my personal accounts into the revamped and monitored mix.
After signing up for one of the social media usage/measurement programs, most of sites reported decent effort, as if they said, “We see you’re trying. And we appreciate the effort.” But my dear, sweet blog – the one that’s been with me longer than most – sat at the end of the report: “Dormant.”
“Not true,” I thought. In fact, I think about the blog almost everyday. Continue reading