Style and Savings Reads: June 2020

Happy Book Day! Here’s a recap of the three books I read in June:

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, 2009, 435 pages

Short Synopsis: Lara is visited by the spirit of her great-aunt Sadie who tasks her with finding her special necklace so she can rest peacefully. Laura is busy balancing work and her love life, assisted by Sadie’s unsolicited advice and meddling. In her search for the necklace, Laura uncovers truths about her family.

I chose to read this book because I enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. Also, Twenties Girl seemed like fitting title to read in 2020. The story was a whimsical retreat from reality and it was funny to imagine Lara talking to someone who no one else could see. I also loved the idea of the sparkly, vintage 1920’s dresses Lara and Sadie wore. Lara’s Uncle Bill Lington, of Lington’s Coffee (a fictional coffee conglomerate on the scale of Starbucks) and Natalie, her business partner in a start-up headhunting firm were conflict creators. They both were lacking in honesty and were more than willing to use others to gain success for themselves. As expected, Lara prevailed and the story ended happily.

Memorable Quote: “Darling, when things go wrong in life, you lift your chin, put on a ravishing smile, mix yourself a little cocktail….”

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown, 2020, 474 pages

Short Synopsis: Lily is a grifter and con-artist, but hopes that her daughter Nina will go to college and have a better Future. When Lily gets sick and needs expensive treatment, Nina teams up with Lachlan, her mother’s former partner in cons to target Vanessa Liebling – heiress and Instagram influencer.

The glittery cover drew me to this book and I was reminded of the real-life Anna Delvey story . Pretty Things is centered around wealth, privilege and how people carefully curate the image they present to the world. Nina was a good student and made her mother proud by earning a college degree in art history. Unfortunately a college education did not lead to the bright Future they imagined: ” I walked away with a six-figure student-loan debt and a piece of paper that qualified me to do absolutely nothing of value whatsoever “. To earn money, Nina falls into her mom’s lifestyle of finding wealthy targets to con and steals cash, jewelry, and antiques.

Vanessa Liebling is a reminder that wealth doesn’t guarantee happiness and that people are not always as happy or successful as they appear on social media. While Vanessa appeared to have everything, she was sad, lonely, and constantly seeking external validation from her followers. Her Instagram feed allowed a look into her life, which helped Nina create a false sense of closeness and friendship while running the con.

The further I read, I realized Pretty Things reminded me of the TV show Revenge. I also liked that the chapters alternated between Nina’s and Vanessa’s perspectives so we could get to know each character’s thoughts and backstory. This story is filled with secrets, lies, shifting loyalties and a surprising ending.

Memorable Quote: “We have to keep up appearances, cupcake …. there are wolves out there, waiting to drag us down at the first sign of weakness. You can never, ever let people see the moments when you’re not feeling strong.”

Well, that Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey, 2018, 256 pages

Short Synopsis: Franchesca Ramsey’s life changed within a matter of hours when a YouTube video she created went viral. Although the video was about her personal experiences with micro-aggressions, she was now faced with the expectation to be an expert on anti-racism and race relations.

I hadn’t heard of Franchesca Ramsey before reading this book and have never seen MTV’s Decoded. She grew up in the suburbs, attended Catholic school and was used to being one of few if not the only black person in the room. It was interesting to learn how she was one of the early users of YouTube. Her day job was in graphic design and she posted comedic videos in her free time. In 2008, one of her videos went viral. Talk shows and media outlets started contacting her for comments and appearances. As she became more of a public figure, the expectation for her to speak as an expert and educate the public grew and haters and trolls appeared from under their bridges.

Reading Franchesa Ramsey’s story made me glad that I limit my participation in online forums. It was so disheartening to read the hateful comments and personal attacks she received online. It was helpful to read her description of the differences between “call-outs” vs. “call-ins”. A “call-out” is a public response to a problematic comment made to a wide audience. It draws attention to the issue and increases others’ awareness. If the problematic comment comes from someone you know personally, a “call-in” is a gentler approach. A one-on-one private conversation is an opportunity to tell that person how the comment makes you and others feel. The book cited an experiment that showed people are more likely to accept direction and correction from someone who looks like them. If people in your circle are making offensive remarks, you could be the positive influence they need. I also appreciated the reminder that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. We are all free to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions but that does not mean we are free from disagreement, backlash or disciplinary actions. This book made me appreciate the effort towards increasing awareness and education about social justice issues.

Memorable Quote: “You can totally start your company emails to your boss with “Dear ugly b**ch”—you’ll just get fired for it. By committing to march down the path of “political incorrectness”, you’re saying you’re willing to sacrifice relationships with anyone who finds your language unacceptable.” 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? For more Style and Savings Reads click here. Visit the Show Us Your Books link-up for reviews from more book bloggers here. Also, see more book recommendations at the Style and Savings Bookshop.

Style and Savings Reads: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I first read about Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid in the book review pages of O Magazine. Since then, I have seen this book get lots of attention from book bloggers, book clubs (most notably Reese’s Book Club) and bookstagrammers. Its colorful cover makes Such A Fun Age very photogenic and it addresses a timely, controversial topic while weaving in some lighthearted fun and unexpected surprises that will keep readers turning pages.


The Amazon Synopsis:

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times.

Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Such-Fun-Age-Kiley-Reid/dp/052554190X


This story skillfully illustrates how what are intended to be harmless actions and comments may actually be hurtful microaggressions that have a negative impact on individuals and society overall. For example, the concerned customer in Market Depot who accused Emira of kidnapping should have paused to question why she felt suspicious and jumped to the wrong conclusion that something bad was happening. If she still felt compelled to insert herself into the situation, she should have talked to Emira. Reporting her concern to the security guard should have been the last course of action rather than the first.

In Alix’s attempts to turn her daughter’s babysitter into her own best friend, she oversteps boundaries. Getting to know Emira by reading her personal email messages and looking at her phone, Alix uncovers her own unconscious bias. She regretfully notices her own feeling of surprise that Emira could listen to rap songs with explicit lyrics while also being educated and having a good vocabulary.

The main characters in this book are written realistically in that no one is only good or only bad. They are people who want to do the right thing, but their limited experience, or ingrained stereotypes cause them to make mistakes.

One of the main elements in this book is that the security guard’s confrontation with Emira was recorded. At a time where everyone carries a camera in his or her pocket, anyone can publish the next viral video or newsworthy story. Social media enables moments of life to be widely broadcast & amplified for better or worse. The sharing of stories has driven the most recent social justice movements by enlightening people and increasing awareness. Faced with suggestions of releasing the video and turning the injustice into personal gain in the form of a book deal or a higher paying job, Emira’s preference was to avoid bringing attention to herself. She deserved to make the decision that was best for her.

The phrase “such a fun age” is usually in reference to toddlers. There were plenty of funny interjections from Briar, the little girl Emira babysits, but this book reminded me of how much fun it is be a newly graduated twenty-something. Some of the most enjoyable scenes in the book involved Emira and her closest friends celebrating at clubs, discussing boyfriends, helping each other to take perfectly lighted cell phone pictures, starting their careers, and adjusting to adulthood.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I admire Kiley Reid as young author finding success in her debut novel. I was really drawn into the story, much like when I read The Mothers by Britt Bennett . I’m excited to see what Kiley Reid writes next and how Such A Fun Age translates to the big or small screen.

What have you been reading lately?

Discover your Spending Style

If you find yourself at the end of the month wondering where your money went, it’s time to start tracking your spending.

Most of us are selling our time in exchange for a salary and time is something we can never get back.

Style and Savings, Interview. Conducted by Fempire Finance, March 2020

If you have never made a budget before, the first step I recommend is to track your spending for one month using the Style and Savings Spending Tracker. At the end of each day, record where you spent money, what you spent it for, and the amount. This will help you discover your spending style.

The way you spend money reflects what you value

Purchase

Pillows, candles

Makeup, trendy clothes

Girls Night Out

Technology

Value

Comfort

Fashion

Friendship

Connectivity

After 30 days, you should be able to identify your spending habits.

How would you describe your spending style?

After tracking your spending, you may discover that your spending doesn’t align with what you care about. Empowered by this information, you can re-group and re-direct your money by creating a budget.

Check in soon for a new budgeting tutorial!

For questions about budgeting or the Style and Savings Spending Tracker, use the Contact Me page – I’m here to help! Let me know in the comments how you feel about your spending style or follow along on Instagram to share some of your #moneygoals

The Great Indoors, vol. 3

Hi there and Happy Easter! Here’s what I have been doing during the 3rd week at home. Read about previous weeks here.

Reading

While catching up on some of my favorite blogs, I found this article from The Werk Life.


Quarantine Life: 50 Things to do at Home

If you’re feeling bored, this list is really helpful! Some of the ideas were related to cleaning and organizing. Others were more focused on fun and self care. With so many options and seemingly so much time, you can pick and choose from the list what fits your mood for the day.

Watching

As mentioned last week, I’m still watching Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. What do you think of the movie and the book?

I was so excited to find Second Act for free on Xfinity HBO. I had seen Second Act when it was in the movie theater. I have loved Jennifer Lopez movies since I saw The Wedding Planner as pre-teen. This movie starring Jennifer Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens more than measured up to all of the J.Lo movies I love. It’s a career-driven Cinderella story with glamour, friendship, a surprise twist and a message about believing in yourself.

Second Act.png
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Doing

For the first time in about three years, I did my own hair relaxer. It turned out well since I have plenty of experience using Dark and Lovely, but I miss the convenience and quality of a salon hairstyle. I’m also torn between feeling good about saving money and bad for the beauty shop stylists who are unable to work right now.

In continuing my routine of morning Pilates before work, I found this video from Blogilates.


If you haven’t heard of Houseparty yet, it’s an app used for video chats and games for up to 8 people. I got to try it out this week with my best friend and play Trivia, Heads Up, and Quick Draw. I would prefer that the camera didn’t come on as soon as you open the app, but that is my only complaint. The games are a lot of fun!

While you’re enjoying the great indoors, take time to connect through call, text, or FaceTime and make someone’s day brighter!

The Great Indoors, vol. 2

Greetings! Here’s what I’ve been doing during my second full week of working from home/staying at home. Click here to see last week’s activities.

Reading

I finally finished reading Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy by Emily Ley. The further I got into the book, the more I felt that I was not part of the target audience (busy perfectionist moms?). I still enjoyed reading about Emily’s journey to creating a life that makes her happy and allows her to spend time with her loved ones. Her book also offered interesting insight to what its like to be an entrepreneur, to build a business from an idea, and to make decisions about financing, brand image, and growth. Also, the book has beautiful pictures and I’m a big fan of her cheery, colorful stripes and prints.

Photo Credit: Amazon

Watching

Uncorked on Netflix is about a young man who wants to become a master sommelier despite his father’s wish for him to take over the family owned barbecue restaurant. There are funny parts and sad parts and the story is very much centered around family. The main conflict was whether Elijah should stay on the path that was paved for him and fulfill the responsibility to his family, or take a risk to do something new. I knew that there are many different types of wine and certain regions where wine is produced, but I didn’t know how rigorous the study and testing process is to become a sommelier. I admired Elijah’s passion and persistence.

A couple years ago, I read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. The book was so multi-dimensional and I could easily understand why it got so much praise on the book blogs. I have started watching the series on Hulu and at least in the first couple of episodes it seems to follow the book closely while also adding another interesting layer of conflict. The two main characters have very opposite lifestyles and philosophies. While Mia and Elena operate at extremes, and most women probably fall somewhere in between – I’m curious, do you relate to one character more than the other?

Photo Credit: Amazon

I have also been watching the latest season of The Bold Type. Freeform’s scripted series about three best friends who work together at the fictional Scarlet magazine. Watching Jane, Sutton, and Kat work, play, and date in the city feels carefree and fun!

Doing

I’m happy to say that I kept up my new morning Pilates routine this week. Here’s a quick video – don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s only three minutes, it still has an impact in building strength!

While you’re enjoying the great indoors, don’t forget to connect with others. Call, text, or FaceTime and make someone’s day brighter!

The Great Indoors, vol. 1

As of today, I have been working from home for a week and a half as an effort to “flatten the curve” and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The virus is scary, but Style and Savings is a positive space so I’ll focus on work from home lifestyle and how I stay entertained indoors.

Reading

Since the library is closed, I have been reading the books and magazines I already have. Currently I’m in the middle of Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley and catching up on the March issue of O Magazine. I’m also
reading several blogs, which inspired me to do my part by creating “quarantine content” and sharing my pastimes.

Watching

We recently watched the entire season of Gentefied on Netflix. This series is about a family in California working together to keep their family restaurant, Mama Fina’s Tacos open as their neighborhood demographics and income levels change. Aside from the restaurant, there is family conflict and generational differences, romantic relationships, and cultural awareness.

I also really enjoyed the Netflix limited series Self Made inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker, which I wrote about in the earlier post Self Made – Seven Steps for Success

Listening

Listening to music breaks the silence of working in my own office. Lizzo Radio on Pandora brings me good energy.

There are several podcasts I like to listen to, some of them were highlighted here: Five Fave Money Podcasts
My sister recommended Imagined Life and our family really likes this one. Each episode tells the story of a famous person from before he or she became famous. As the story progresses, more details of his or her journey unfold and it’s fun to guess who the story is about before the person is revealed at the end.

Doing

I have kept up with my goal of completing a Peloton cycling class at least once a week and I have also started doing Pilates in the morning. In the time that I would have spent driving to work, I can complete a couple of short videos. Here is my favorite from this week:


The policies that have closed public spaces and workplaces and locked down large cities have been referred to as “social distancing”. I later heard the phrase “physical distancing” and appreciate the sentiment more. Thankfully we have the technology and social media to stay connected family, friends, and others that we don’t see in person. This week I participated in a virtual meetup and a virtual Wine Wednesday and it was fun to catch up with friends that live close and far away.

While you’re enjoying the great indoors, take time to connect through call, text, or FaceTime and make someone’s day brighter!

Self Made – Seven Steps for Success

Photo Credit: Netflix

Self Made is the new Netflix limited-series inspired by the life of America’s first female self-made millionaire – Madame C.J. Walker. Indianapolis, Indiana is proud to be the city where her beauty business was built. Today the former Walker Manufacturing Plant is now Madam Walker Theatre and Madam Walker Legacy Center is the non-profit dedicated to preserving Madam Walker’s legacy of entrepreneurship and social – justice.
I enjoyed watching Self Made and I hope it increases interest in learning about past and present Black entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators because there are many more stories to be told.

Self Made is filled with lessons for any aspiring business woman.

Believe in Your Product
When you believe in your product, your passion will show and your enthusiasm will draw others in.

Tell a Story

A testimonial of how a product or service has improved your life speaks volumes! The STAR method, often used for interviewing is a great framework for organizing your main story’s main points.

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

When Madam Walker was selling her product at the outdoor market, she drew a crowd by recounting how she went from losing her hair to using her homemade hair growth product resulting in her hair growing healthier and feeling more confident.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Product Design is Trial and Error – Keep Trying
The first draft or version of your product will not be perfect, but don’t give up! Madam Walker is shown mixing her product, testing it, and starting over several times. Even if the original is good, keep making new and better iterations and improvements. Stay aware of market trends and adapt accordingly.

Market with Feeling
A good ad campaign doesn’t just tell what the product does it also tells how the product should make customers feel. Madam Walker told her customers: “Wonderful hair leads to wonderful opportunities”

Don’t Call it a Dream, Call it a Plan

When speaking to potential investors for her factory, Madam Walker told them “This ain’t just a dream, I have a plan.” A good idea is just the beginning. In order to get the support you need, having a detailed business plan is a must.

Always be Ready

Before going to a convention, conference or networking event, practice your “elevator pitch”. Be ready to tell someone in a concise statement who you are, what you do or make and the value you create. When Madam Walker met Booker T. Washington she was ready to tell him why he should endorse her business.

Invest in Women
Booker T. Washington’s wife Margaret hesitated to get involved until she heard Madam Walker speak at the convention about opening a factory, creating jobs, and uplifting the community.
She along with several members of the National Association of Colored Women decided to invest in Madam Walker’s factory, agreeing: “female enterprise is good for us all”.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Five Fave Money Podcasts

In 2019, I made a vision board using colorful, carefully selected pictures that would help me focus on my Top 5 Goals. One of those goals was to be more mindful of what was happening with my money by making a monthly budget, tracking expenses, and thinking of ways to save money on the things and experiences I need and want. To get myself in a ‘money mindset’, I started listening to several personal finance podcasts. Here’s a brief list of my favorites:

Money Ha Ha is brought you by Even.com and hosted by Dara M. Wilson and Yasmine Khan – two smart, funny friends who talk about money by sharing research, their own ups and downs, and of course a few jokes.
Favorite Episodes:
Episode 004 – Credit Cards: Shame Magnets (w/ Kelly Anneken),
Episode 006 – Advice to Our Younger Selves: A Very Special Episode (w/ Sharon Wilson)

She Makes Money Moves is a product of Glamour Magazine where women share their stories of money challenges with editor in chief, Samantha Barry and receive advice from a guest financial expert. With the objective of providing content that is vital to it’s readers, Glamour Magazine is tackling the taboo topic of money because women managing their finances is the first step to gaining financial freedom and equal pay.
Favorite Episodes:
Episode 2 – Friends with Money and Friends Without
Episode 10- Why Aren’t More Women Investing?

Frugal Friends Podcast is hosted by Jen and Jill who bonded over their shared love of frugality and became the frugal friends . Through this podcast, they maintain their long-distance friendship and share tips on how to save money and live frugal – not cheap
Favorite Episodes:
Episode 9 – Spend Less at Restaurants
Episode 20 – Minimalism and Frugality
Episode 42 – Personal Finance Basics

Clever Girls Know! is the podcast of Clever Girl Finance and is hosted by its founder, Certified Financial Education Instructor, Bola Sokunbi. Bola’s soothing voice will keep you calm while tackling tough topics like student debt and 401(k)s. I love that she is willing to share personal successes (saving over $100k in 3.5 years) and money mistakes (getting a credit card in college) while providing motivation to make wise financial decisions and build wealth.
Favorite Episodes:
Episode 012 – Why I Started Clever Girl Finance & Why Women Need to Prioritize their Finances
Episode 014 – Why Luxury Handbags Are Not Good Financial Investments

This is Uncomfortable by Marketplace lives up to its name as guests share intimate details of how money affects their lives with host Rheema Khrais. The more we talk about money, the less uncomfortable the topic will be!
Favorite Episodes:
Season 1, Episode 19 – Instrument of Sabotage
Season 2, Episode 6 – WeWork Too Much

How do you learn about Personal Finance?
Who are your favorite financial influencers?

Four #FinanceGoals Reads

One of my Top 5 Goals on my 2019 Vision board was to focus on Career & Money. To put this into action, I have been reading personal finance books and sharing mini book reviews on Instagram @styleandsavings .

Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton suggests that we can increase our happiness, not by having more money, but by changing what we spend it on. Using psychology and behavioral research, they have come up with 5 principles some of which are counter-intuitive and may surprise you!

One of my fave bloggers recommended Bubbly on Your Budget by Marjorie Hillis earlier this year with a gorgeous Instagram photo. This book was written in the 1930’s and features beautiful vintage illustrations. The Style and Savings lifestyle of Living Luxuriously With What You Have is timeless!

Get Money by Kristen Wong is an interactive personal finance book geared towards millennials and written in a fun and relatable tone. As you read, level up by completing worksheets and viewing video tutorials on www.thegetmoneybook.com 
Then put what you’ve read into action and “Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford”!

Happy Go Money: Spend Smart, Save Right and Enjoy Life by Melissa Leong combines happiness psychology with personal finance. To Do lists and “Money Talks” conversation topics at the end of each chapter will drive you to action –  including envisioning your future as a “Silver Fox” and building your retirement fund.
I was excited to read this book because it was published in 2019, written by a female author, and has a colorful cover – but it ended up being my least favorite of the four books I read. For a more comprehensive knowledge on how money impacts happiness, I recommend reading Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, which is one of the sources referenced in the book.

What are your 2019 Goals ? How do you stay motivated throughout the year?

Style and Savings Reads: Becoming

On February 13th, 2018, thanks to my friend Veronica, I had the privilege of being in the same room with Michelle Obama.The stadium was packed with an audience excited to see the former First Lady and learn from her inspirational life journey. This past November, I was so excited when her memoir was released and spent most of my Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks on a cozy couch reading it.

In this post, I will share 14 top tips from Mrs. Obama’s story:

1 Be driven to excellence

During every phase in her life as a grade schooler,  Princeton undergrad, Harvard Law student, young professional, First Lady of the United States, and best selling author, Michelle Obama is driven to be the best at what she does. Whatever you do – be your best.

2 Be an advocate for yourself

As a kindergartener, Michelle Obama demanded that her teacher give her a second chance at a reading quiz. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you feel that you deserve. 

3 Be prepared, punctual, have a plan

Having a father with a disability taught the Robinsons to be punctual to give him enough time to parking space close to where they were going. Losing a classmate to a fire taught them to be prepared and have a plan for surviving tough situations. This tip doesn’t just apply to emergencies, preparation and timeliness are keys to success in many areas of life. 

4 Be confident that you taught your children well and empower them to make their own choices 

Marian Robinson is described as having a Zen parenting style, saying: “I’m not raising babies, I’m raising adults”. Helicopter parenting is probably not good for anyone. 

5 Be around others who also value intellect & education 

As a kid, Michelle Obama had a cousin who teased her for speaking English properly, but when she went to Whitney M. Young magnet high school it was safe to be smart because she was surrounded by kids who had college aspirations. Spend time with people who have purpose and goals and want you to succeed. 

6 – Be a friend

From elementary school lunchtime to being a working mom in Chicago, one of Mrs. Obama’s habits has been to “keep a close and high-sprited council of girlfriends – a safe harbor of female wisdom”. Find a supportive group of friends that will not only serve as a social outlet, but also a support group. Give and receive help with each other’s families, vent, listen, celebrate successes, and share advice.

7 Be able to shake off the haters

Michelle Obama’s college counselor advised that she was “not Princeton material.” Ignoring this, she went on to graduate both Princeton and Harvard. After meeting many extraordinary people as first lady, she realized all accomplished people have doubters and critics – prove them wrong.

8 – Be intentional when choosing your man

A potential mate should be judged by character not from the outside in. Long lasting friendships, devotion to his mother, respect for independent women, and valuing truthfulness are some of the the qualities that the future Mrs. Obama saw in Barack Obama.

Good looks and finances can disappear, so find someone who is genuinely a good person that you love to spend time with.

– Be connected

People often get new jobs through connections and recommendations. Through a series of introductions, Michelle Obama was introduced to Valerie Jarrett, who offered her a job in Chicago’s City Hall and later became a Senior Advisor in the White House. Reach out to new people, learn about what they do and who they know. 

10 – Be your personal brand

As she became more connected, Michelle Obama had mentors that would reach out to her when they heard of an opportunity that matched her skills and interests. Build your personal brand, so others know what you can do.

11 – Be positive

Barack Obama started his political career as a community organizer, but did not run for office until his wife gave him the OK. Be supportive and encourage your loved ones to pursue their ambitions.

12 – Be focused on what you can control

When the 2008 campaign began, strategizing and scheduling were controlled by campaign managers. While we can do our best to be prepared for anything, we can’t control everything. Michelle Obama focused on finding warm winter hats for her daughters to wear when their dad announced that he was running for president.  When the big picture is overwhelming, focusing on handling smaller details can help keep you calm. When you delegate to others, trust them to do their job.

13 – Be where you’re irreplaceable

We all have limited time and need to prioritize how we spend it. Making sure her daughters had healthy meals at home was important, but working full-time and being on the campaign trail left less time for cooking.  After some consideration, the Obamas agreed to hire Sam Kass to cook dinners in their home a few nights each week.

“No one else could run my programs at the hospital. No one else could campaign as Barack Obama’s wife. No one could fill in as Malia’s & Sasha’s mother at bedtime.”

Don’t feel guilty about outsourcing chores like cooking,  grocery shopping, housekeeping or yard work in order to dedicate your time to being where you are irreplaceable.

14 – Be your values – transform them into action

If you are fortunate enough to find a career that aligns with your interests and values, you will feel connected to your work, more motivated to put in in the effort it takes to succeed (and exceed) and generally feel more fulfilled. If not, volunteer outside of work for a cause that you care about.

Reading this book before the start of a new year inspired me to think about my interests and values and to set goals to work towards becoming the best version of me.

What are some of your goals ? Share in the comments below!