About the Course
1. 6 Things to Ask Yourself When You Are Faced with a Challenge | December 16, 2021 By user
We often hear horrific stories about how difficult it can be to climb the corporate ladder. To be sure, my personal climb has not always been simple. But by leaning into the challenges and embracing them, I have experienced a journey that has also been exciting, inspiring, and ultimately, one filled with triumphs. Early in my career, I decided to embrace the climb. I didn’t know what position I wanted to pursue, but I knew I wanted to be highly successful in corporate America—even if I wasn’t exactly sure yet exactly what that meant or just how to get there. That decision would lead me on a journey that crossed multiple industries, different areas of business, individual contributor roles and leadership roles. I began my corporate career in the financial services and securities industries in the late 90’s. Eventually, I made a switch to an entirely different, unfamiliar industry—telecom. And for the past ten years, I have been working in the wireless space—which has continued to surpass any estimation of growth—with what has proven the most successful company in the industry. I was first recruited as a relatively junior manager. Within two years, I was promoted to Associate Director, and then Director a year later. I spent five years as a Director in Customer Care, and then, in 2016, I moved into another branch of the organization. Four months later, I was promoted to a Vice President role. In other words, over a span of just nine years, I went from Manager of a single office to Vice President of an entire region in a completely different line of business. The ride was fast, confusing at times, difficult most of the time—and also a lot of fun! So, how did I do it? I trusted myself. I took risks. I am committed to excellence. I often think of what Priyanka Chopra says: Any transition is easier if you believe in yourself and your talent. To trust in our abilities is a character trait some of us struggle to realize. We demonstrate this most of all when we play it safe. We do what we have always done because we have mastered that “thing.” It is our fear of being stretched beyond what we think we can do. Risk cannot come without trust in yourself. Whenever I have been presented with a new professional challenge, I approached it by contemplating the risks. I am intentional in assessing what the risks are—to me, my family, my future self, my finances, my health, and my quality of life. Before I accept any new position, I list those risks on a sheet of paper. Then, I make a separate list and ask myself these questions: – What is my goal? – What parts of me will be strengthened with this new opportunity? – What difficulties might I face with this new opportunity? – Why should I take this role? – Why should I not take this role? – How will this opportunity help me accomplish my goal? Once I am clear on the answers to these questions, I dive in. One of the reasons I have been successful in my career is because I took chances many others were not willing to take. For one, I moved my family from our home to a city where we didn’t know anyone. At that time, I was moving into a part of business that I had never done in my career. Moving from a managerial role to one as an associate director was another new experience for me. In addition, the team I was going to lead was part of an acquisition. I had to go in and build a culture that aligned with our company. This particular team was also performing at the bottom of company expectations. My goal with anything I come to see as an opportunity has always been to be highly successful. At times, I have taken on roles that some people would say I did not qualify for, based on limited experience in that area compared to others. But one of my personal standards for excellence is—I will be the one who did it best. In the corporate space, results get you noticed. So I achieve my goal by producing results that communicate to the organization that I am connected, committed, capable, and competent. I am committed to excellence in all that I do. I create my own space for success in an organization. I have also come to learn that part of a successful career is about making connections with people in an organization—especially those who can play roles such as mentor, coach, or advocate, and others I can support in their growth as a mentor myself—to pay it forward. I fell in love with the rush of learning new things and being challenged in new ways. It has made the victories so much more rewarding. The climb was not easy. But that’s ok. I decided a long time ago: Life doesn’t have to be easy. It simply has to be possible. I will do the work. Wondering how to turn a challenge into an opportunity—in the corporate world, or on any other career path? From my own experience, I can sum it up like this: – Be clear about what you bring to a role, team or organization. – Accept the challenging assignments. – Commit to deliver with excellence in all that you do. And I’ll leave you with these words, by the wise A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.
2. Brag on Yourself | December 16, 2021 By user
It was 8 o’clock in the morning. We were all gathering for a one-day meeting in Bar Harbor, Maine. The conference room overlooked beautiful Frenchman’s Bay. Everyone greeting one another as the tapping sounds of food being placed on plates in the buffet line filled the room. It was my first all Director’s meeting. Although I was not a Director, I was comfortable in the room because most of the people had been my support along this tumultuous and sometimes uncertain journey.As I walked into the room, the senior vice president approached me. “Kenya, how are you? Performance looks good. I hear great things about what you are doing. Before we leave, I want to catch up.” I thought to myself, “That’s awesome that he wants to talk to me. I wonder what it’s about.” What you should know is he hired me into the company years earlier. He was not the senior vice president at the time, but he conducted my final interview. We had always had a connection. I would not call him a mentor but someone I respected. We met the next morning for coffee before I headed to the airport to return home. It was about a half an hour conversation. He did most of the talking as most senior executives do. And then he asked me a question. “So, Kenya what have you been up to in Charleston?”“Well…” I replied. And then so many things began to run through my mind. I mean there was a list of at least 100 things for me to pick from. I sat in silence trying to sort through what I should share with him. “Should I tell him about…” “Or maybe about…” And then I blurted out, “Well last month the team finished number one in the nation.” “We also met our operational budget every month and we are still able to do rewards and recognition. That keeps the team motivated.” I added. He interjected, “Yes, I know that. I see the rankings by center. Congratulations.” The entirety of the conversation is a bit of a blur to me but what I do remember is that he remained attentive to everything I had to share. We parted ways and I returned home. The company was searching for a Director for the Charleston Call Center. Initially, I was not ready to step up because I had only been an Associate Director for a few months. Now I was ready! The results were great in the center. The company was searching for a Director for the Charleston Call Center. Initially, I was not ready to step up because I had only been an Associate Director for a few months. Now I was ready! The results were great in the center. “I have been doing this job for nearly a year and producing great results, I want to be considered for the Director role.” I said to my boss. Her response knocked me off my feet. “Your name has definitely come up a few times because of all you have done here. BUT, “Bob” still doesn’t think you are ready.” There I was delivering great results for the company, doing the job of two people, getting paid for the lesser role, yet I AM NOT READY! W.T.F.! I felt angry, betrayed, disappointed, used and mistreated. A wise woman once told me, “It is not enough to deliver great results. You have to be able to explicitly state your value.” Sure, I delivered great results. I received amazing recognition. People reached out to me for best practices. I was asked to work on special projects. But I did not know how to tell my value story. I wonder how many of you reading this blog can relate to my experience. The one where you are doing all the right things yet had a difficult time getting to the next level in your company. Or perhaps you are an entrepreneur with a successful business, yet you struggle to articulate what you do when you attend those networking events where the first question is always “So what do you do?” I eventually was promoted to Director; I believe that it could have happened sooner if I were better prepared for that coffee conversation with “Bob”. Your value story is one of the most important tools for your future. Yet, we often gloss over this part of our success formula because of a few myths: My numbers will speak for themselves. If they gave me rewards or recognition, they know my value. I told them what I do, so they know what value I bring. NOT!!!!!!! Starting today, I want you to let these myths go! Instead, I want you to become an expert at “BRAGGING ON YOURSELF!!! No, not in the manner that makes you come off as a prude, self-centered, narcissist. But, where you give yourself credit for the hard work and commitment you have made to a role, project, team or your business. “You are always on an interview” Helen P. I have found if I approach every business interaction as the above quote implies, then I need to have my story down pact. How did I do it? I started by creating an elevator speech for the value I bring to the organization. I practice it often and I update it as needed. Even as a CEO of my own company, I have an elevator speech for the value I bring to my clients. What should you know about bragging on yourself? Your value to an organization or your business must always include numbers and data. When you brag on yourself, you give insight to others to what is important to you. Bragging on yourself also communicates your maturity level. It helps others know if you are ready for elevated conversations in the organization or with others in the business community. You help the person you are bragging to get a picture of how beneficial you are to the business, project or company. So, the next time you are asked “What do you do?” or “How are things going?’ in a business setting, be prepared, be bold and BRAG! After all, you earned your spot! No one gave it to you as a favor! #itsachoice “If you are uncomfortable hearing the truth about the bad-ass I am, then leave the room.” – Kenya Dunn
3. Climbing the Corporate LadderV2 | December 16, 2021 By user
Achieving Success in Corporate America By: Kenya Dunn “Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.”- A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Often, we hear horrific stories of how difficult it is to climb the corporate ladder, that is why I am excited to share with you my personal climb. My goal is to inspire you to embrace a thriving corporate career. I hope more people will be excited about a journey filled with the difficulties, triumphs and victories. I began my corporate career in Atlanta, Georgia in the financial services and securities industries in the late 1990’s. Eventually, I made the switch from financial services to the cable, telephone and internet industry. For the past 10 years, I have been in the wireless industry working with the best company of the four major wireless carriers. I started T-Mobile in the summer of 2007 in Augusta, Georgia. I was recruited by the company to work in their Call Center as the Training Manager. Within two years, I was promoted to Associate Director and then Director, a year later. I spent five years as a Director in Customer Care. In 2016, I moved into our retail sales organization, and within 4 months of being in Retail Sales, I was promoted to Vice President of Retail and Direct Sales. In a span of 9 years, I went from a frontline leader in a call center, to a Vice President of an entire region in a completely different line of business. The ride was fast, confusing at times, difficult most of the times AND a lot of fun! “Any transition is easier if you believe in yourself and your talent.”- Priyanka Chopra The day I decided that I would embrace the corporate climb was in 2001, when I was working as a trainer for a financial services company. I didn’t know what position or title I wanted to pursue, I knew I wanted to be highly successful in corporate America. That single decision would lead me on a journey of crossing multiple industries, different areas of businesses, individual contributor roles and leadership roles. So, how did I do it? I trust myself. I take risks. I am committed to excellence. One of the reasons I have been successful is because I took chances most others were not willing to take. I moved my family from our home to a city where we didn’t know anyone. I was moving into a part of business that I had never done in my career. Moving from a support role as a training manager to a role as the Associate Director of Operations was a new experience for me. In addition, the team I was going to lead was a part of an acquisition. I had to go in and build a culture that aligned with our company. Did I mention that the team was performing at the bottom of company expectations too? I was up for the challenge. In fact, I was excited for the challenge. What did I accomplish? I created a winning culture. I helped others grow their careers. I won against company performance standards repeatedly. I trust myself, and I am committed to excellence in all that I do. I have created my own space for success in the organization. I would be remised if I did not mention that a part of a successful career is also about making the right connections with the right people in an organization. They play roles such as mentor, mentee, coach, and advocate. To trust in your abilities is a unique character trait that some people struggle to realize. The lack of trusting yourself shows up for most of us when we play it safe. We do what we have always done because we have mastered that “thing”. It is our lack of desire to be stretched beyond what we think we can do. I fell in love with the rush of learning new things and being challenged in new ways. It makes the victory so much more rewarding. I have never accepted a job or role without fully understanding the risk. I am intentional when it comes to spelling out the risk. I assess the risk to me, my family, my future self, my finances, my health, my quality of life, etc. Before I accepted any new position, I wrote out my list of risks on a sheet of paper. I would also write out my goal at the top of that same sheet of paper. I would list out all the ways the new opportunity would help me. I would also make a short list of what parts of me might stretched and what strengths I bring to the role that will help aid in my success. “What parts of me will be strengthened with this new opportunity?” “What part of me will be stretched with this new opportunity?” “Why should I not take this role?” “Why should I take this role?” “This opportunity will help me get to my goal in the following ways…” The final piece of advice I would share is this: My goal with any new opportunity is to be highly successful. One of my personal standards of excellence states, “I will always be the one who did it best.” This is my commitment to excellence. I have taken roles that some people would say I did not qualify for based on limited experience in that area compared to others. One thing I know for sure, in business, RESULTS get you noticed. It is always my goal to be noticed for producing results that communicate to the organization that I am connected, committed, capable, and competent. The climb was not easy, but that’s ok, because my life’s motto is, “Life doesn’t have to be easy. It simply has to be possible. I will do the work.”- Kenya Dunn If you are reading this article and have been wondering what you need to do to climb the corporate ladder, let me sum it up in three bullets: Be clear about what you bring to a role, team or organization. Accept the challenging assignments. Commit to deliver with excellence in all that you do. Happy Climbing!