“‘What can you do to go the extra mile?’

My good friend (and unsponsored life coach) JC, has always tried to find a way to get me to think beyond the finish line.

I met him during a time that I was breaking through many self-imposed mental limitations in my life. I was in my junior year at the University of San Diego, approaching the finish line on one of my biggest life goals, to join my brother and sister as a first generation college graduate. The following year, I transitioned into my first post-graduate world of work experience. I faced many mental roadblocks, the imposter syndrome and endless string of fears and doubts. Being originally from the Bay Area, I had a limited support system in San Diego and often turned to JC for help and advice.

The main way that JC supported me is by encouraging me to believe in myself, to build up my confidence and to find a way to increase my performance. He often asked me questions to get me to expand my thinking to go above and beyond. How can I make a better impression? How can I be better prepared for a meeting? How can I be better prepared for tomorrow?

JC is a personal trainer who always reminded me that accomplishments begin with mental and physical training. My daily accomplishments should begin in the morning, before I got to work; by planning, exercising and reflecting on my goals and next steps.

When I landed an opportunity as co-founder of the startup the Me Tyme Network, a flurry of doubts and insecurities plagued me. The idea of being an entrepreneur scared me. I knew entrepreneurship, as most other industries, is primarily male dominated. I had so many insecurities about being a female founder. The support of my mentors, including JC, helped me grow past those limitations. Turning weakness into strength, I transformed my fear of being a female founder into a passion to inspire women, specifically, the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

My team made huge strides in progress in year one. We developed a business plan, a business model, launched our product and verified demand in the market. In year two, we began to fundraise and discovered the harsh realization that as a minority, female founded company, there was a less than 0.05% chance of us securing venture funding. Pretty daunting. Once again, my male ally stepped up, to remind me that regardless of the odds against me, I had to dream big, take action and relentlessly pursue my goals.

Even after we break through this limitation and secure funding, I know other challenges will arise as we continue to grow our business. But I also know the importance of focusing my energy on the one thing I can control, myself. I can’t change the odds or the stats against us, but I can work on myself and improve my output in the hope that I will be more readily prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow.”

– Liz, Chief Millenial Officer
Los Angeles, CA

View the original story at The Corner of the Court Project


“Growing up, Alex and I bickered like every other sibling. We’re the only ones we have. He is 3 years older than me with many of the same ambitions that I have professionally so I’ve always benefited from his hindsight.

Like clockwork, his entrepreneurial journey led to a spiritual awakening that preceded mine by about 3 years. During that time, I was embarking on my own journey of new beginnings.

I had just joined a startup that I was excited about. Our parents gave me the same lecture as they gave my brother for choosing a path that didn’t include insurance or 401ks.

Alex had primed them well, though. Between his announcement years earlier, the resilience he showed through his journey, and my history of not submitting to them in arguments I cared about, my news was easier to break.

The difference between his journey and mine was that I had positioned my career over safety nets.

Alex didn’t have a degree to fall back on. I graduated with my teaching degree. I’d always have the option to apply that credential to the corporate training or communication fields.

The startup he helped build was from the ground up. I joined my startup after it had already been around for a couple of years.

He had no family or friends around him (not even social media to keep up with them). I live about an hour away from our parents and the nature of my job puts me in frequent contact with people.

I had all the external safety nets that would allow me to perform professionally without feeling like I needed to change anything personally. If I was feeling guilty about something in my personal life, I could easily mask it from my colleagues and compartmentalize it from my work.

Alex didn’t have the same luxury.

Through our weekly conversations, he shared with me how he worked through his own challenges when I shared mine with him. We began having weekly calls to catch up on each other’s lives.

Seeing his journey inspired me to strive for my own goals and have the confidence to walk toward my dreams on my own.

Alex is the brother I wouldn’t want to live my life without and the ally who showed me how to appreciate it fully. ”

– Emily, Recruitment Marketing Specialist
Orlando, FL

Read the original story at The Corner of the Court Project



“What I learned from Karen is…”

“Earlier in my career, I worked for a software company that was acquired by Adobe Systems. In the first few months following the acquisition, I noticed something happening in engineering leadership meetings.

My new manager, Digby Horner, who had been at Adobe for many years, started prefacing things with, ‘What I learned from Karen is…’ He then went on to summarize an earlier discussion we’d had.

He demonstrated a great deal of respect for me in front of my new colleagues. The simple phrase of ‘What I learned from Karen’ made me feel great; who wouldn’t want to be recognized for teaching their more experienced manager something new. I think it was the ultimate compliment.

It was also a strong action of sponsorship.

Each time Digby said those words, he helped me build credibility with my new colleagues. He took action as an ally, using his position of privilege to sponsor me. His shout-out strengthened my reputation as a technical leader, and definitely made me feel great.

This story is just one of many that I’ve witnessed over my career. Situations when allies stepped up with simple, everyday actions that made a difference. Often a big difference.

I firmly believe that being an ally isn’t so hard, and that it is a journey. Whether you’re just embarking on it, or have already traveled far, I recommend checking out @betterallies on Twitter or Medium. You’ll get straight-forward ideas for creating a more inclusive work culture where all can thrive.”

– Karen, Adocate for Women in Tech,
San Francisco Bay Area, CA

View the original story at The Corner of the Court Project


“‘I’ll help, but only temporarily.’

There aren’t many executives who would respond to such words from their subordinate employee with as much grace as Kevin Mellen.

My exact words may have been different, but when Kevin, who was VP of Operations at the Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) firm we worked for at the time, asked if I could help out with Recruitment for a while, I was less than enthused.

At any other recruitment agency, that response could have been the end of my journey.

Instead of taking my overt hesitation to mean that I wasn’t dedicated to my work, or wasn’t willing to be a team player, Kevin was curious. ‘Why don’t you want to be a recruiter?’

Up to that point, I had temporarily worked in Recruitment when my workload was light in the Support Services department. Recruitment was uncomfortable, but only because it was new. My other role in HR felt safe.

My response? ‘I still feel awkward about cold calling people.’

As much as I understood (and liked) the ‘survival of the fittest’ culture we were in, Kevin never treated me like I was disposable if I showed weakness. I felt like his confidence in me covered us both if I was feeling “First ‘Real’ Job” jitters.

Even with that trust, my response—’I’ll do it, but reluctantly and not for too long’—was bold. I remember the look he gave me. The closest word I can describe it with, is confusion. ‘If you want to be successful in this industry,’ he said, ‘you need to get comfortable with being on the phone.’

As he spoke, I heard the intention in his tone. He told me that because he wanted to share that piece of insight as someone who had been in my shoes. He’d had an extensive sales background in his career before the role that made him my boss.

It sounded like advice from a mentor, more than feedback from my boss. And it was what I needed to both get outside of myself and to shift my mindset.

Kevin helped me push through the fear of rejection and failure that comes with the nature of recruitment. I needed to hear those words from someone I trusted. Otherwise, I might have kept looking for ways around it and potentially stunted my growth.

After a couple of weeks, the feeling of improvement I got from conquering my fear—one call at a time—had begun dampening the sense of dread I used to feel.

After a month, I had indeed become comfortable with the phone and started to feel my competitive spirit kick the remaining insecurity aside.

Eventually my cold calling abilities, and willingness to do it, gave me an edge.

If Kevin hadn’t intervened when I was feeling intimidated by the newness of cold calling, there is a possibility that I wouldn’t have developed the experience and skills that have been so critical to my career as a marketer now.

Because I’m not afraid to pick up the phone, or approach someone new, I don’t feel barriers around my ability to connect with people. Not feeling that barrier has helped me in my career immensely.

For that, and the many things he did that earned my trust leading up to that point, I’m forever grateful to Kevin. He was one of the most significant allies in my career, at a time when I could have easily gone in a direction I wouldn’t have been happy with.”

– Emily, Recruitment Marketing Specialist
Orlando, FL

View the original post at The Corner of the Court Project