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Healing Childhood Wounds

A common conversations among my siblings & I is: “How do you think our lives would be different if we didn’t have loving & supportive parents?” I am incredibly blessed & grateful to have two amazing parents who gave me the best childhood. It’s common knowledge that your upbringing affects your behavior & habits as an adult. That’s why healing childhood wounds is so important.

Our brains are wired to choose romantic partners based on how you were treated by your parents or primary caregivers. Because of this, we tend to attract partners who possess similar qualities as our parents. So unless we proactively choose to avoid toxic traits & heal our childhood wounds, generational trauma is destined to repeat itself.

Identify Your Childhood Wounds

In my blog post about emotional triggers, I explain my fear of abandonment. I’m happy to share that I’m not afraid of abandonment or losing people that I love anymore. But know that it is important to recognize that the things that happened to you as a child can be carried into adulthood if you don’t take the time needed to heal that trauma. 

In another blog post, I highlighted trauma bonding & all the ways you can recognize if you’re trauma bonded to someone. If your parents wanted to control your every move, you may seek a life partner who behaves the same way. If your parents put you on a pedestal, as a shiny trophy, for everyone to envy. You may seek a romantic partner who does the same.

If your current relationship reminds you of the relationship you have with your parents, take it as a red flag. Does your partner want what’s best for you, or do they actually want what will work best for them? 

Don’t ever spread yourself too thin for someone who doesn’t consider your well-being in addition to their own. Are you just choosing love based on what your parents taught you love was?

Treat Others How You Want To Be Treated

Growing up, my friends loved to tease me about how I had a “perfect family”. As a child, I was embarrassed, but now as an adult, I can recognize that they were honestly jealous. Instead of thinking that I’m not normal for not constantly fighting with my parents & siblings, I’m proud to say that I love my parents & my siblings are my best friends, because it’s a huge factor of who I am

My parents are never hypocritical. My siblings & I respect our parents, because they respect us. We love & trust each other unconditionally, and we set boundaries as needed. 

My father never yells at me or my siblings. When we do something bad or get in trouble, he speaks to us calmly, expresses his disappointment, talks through how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Because of how my parents raised me, I don’t tolerate disrespect. My time & attention is valuable. I firmly set my boundaries, & I’m not afraid to stand up for myself, without needing to yell, curse, berate, or humiliate another person.

Because of my upbringing, I’ve never said I love you & not meant it. I’ve never insincerely sweet-talked or manipulated someone to get what I want from them. To be loved by me is to be given complete freedom & trust. Your behavior when I’m with you or even importantly, when I’m not around, will tell me everything that I need to know about your level of care & respect of me.

Take the Time & Get the Help You Need to Heal

Once you’re able to identify what you need to heal & proactively try to be a better person, take the time to heal. Depending on your level of trauma, you may even want to get professional help. Through my blog, I’ve reflected on a lot of my childhood, & it’s helped me tremendously. By healing my childhood wounds, I know who I am, & I know how I deserve & want to be loved.

XO Denise

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TOO MANY FISH: Tips For Online Dating

From my blog ARCHIVES with a few updates, I originally posted my tips for online dating on April 18th, 2017.

When I was first introduced to online dating, I found it extremely odd & overwhelming. Just as anyone who is introduced to something completely new may feel, right? Up until then, I only met potential partners in person, through mutual friends or in school. I created my 1st online dating profile on OkCupid followed by Coffee Meets BagelBumbleHappnTinder, & Hinge. Despite creating my first online dating profile 11 years ago, I didn’t actually go on any dates until about 5 years later in February 2016. Today, I’m sharing my tips for online dating!

Online dating has always been an overwhelming experience for me, because I usually find myself with too many choices. Majority of the time I feel like a warthog carcass being pulled in every which way by lions. After 5 years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two on how to efficiently navigate the online dating scene. So if you’re feeling like I once did,  here are my tips for getting the most out of your online dating experience!

Be Ready

If you’re not ready to meet someone, don’t put yourself in the position to lead someone on. If you’ve recently had your heart broken or there’s any other circumstance causing you to be emotionally unavailable, don’t make the mistake of wasting a genuinely good person’s time. I’m dead serious about this! If you’re nowhere near ready, delete your dating apps NOW!

I’ve been guilty of this myself. After a terrible breakup in 2010, I took my 1st shot at online dating only to freak out & ghost as soon as the other person suggested to meet in person. To all the guys that I lead on because I wanted my emotional needs met, but had no intention of ever meeting you in person, I’m deeply sorry. I sincerely hope you found someone amazing, who is worthy of the time & attention you gave to me. 

Be Open

I personally hate the swipe culture. We are all more than our face and body. Take the time to fill out your profile & read the profiles of others. Don’t just swipe left & right! Amazing individuals fly under the radar all the time. Take a chance on that person who didn’t immediately catch your eye, but made you smile after reading through their profile. How many times in life have you developed a crush on someone that you weren’t immediately attracted to? Don’t close yourself off to finding a real connection with someone just because they’re not particularly photogenic. If they don’t know how to take a selfie, it might actually be a good thing!

Know What You Want & Don’t Settle For Less

As I stated previously, with online dating apps, there are TOO MANY fish in the sea. After a few dates, you should already be getting a pretty good vibe from the other individual. But before over investing yourself, be sure to clearly draw your boundaries. It’s important to know what you want & to put your expectations on the table. I’m not talking about any superficial deal-breakers by the way. If your must-haves include guys over 6 ft tall with a full head of hair & a six figure salary, do yourself a favor & re-read number 2! 

It’s okay to have non-negotiable qualities that you want in a partner. When you’re ready to invest a lot of your time into another person, you should have standards. Here are mine:

  • Shares similar values & beliefs
  • Is there for me when I need them, even when it’s inconvenient 
  • Considers me when making decisions, no matter how big or small
  • Has a growth mindset, always trying to work on themselves & be better than the person they were yesterday
  • Challenges me to be my best & inspires me to go after what I want
  • Respects me, how I live my life, & everything I stand for, including my thoughts, ambitions, opinions, family, & friends
  • Is trustworthy. I feel safe being completely open & honest with them, even when addressing tough issues

Having strong boundaries & standards will save you a lot of time & energy. Don’t be afraid to cut a date short if need be! Respect & love yourself enough to walk away from a situation or a person that will only cause drama over time. I’ve ended dates early & ordered a Lyft quite a few times, & I’m not ashamed of that. 

Are you currently online dating? What have you learned? What are your tips for success? Leave me a comment – I’d love to know!

XO Denise

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Tips For Salary Negotiation

After weeks of interviews, finally getting an offer from a company that you’re excited to work for is exciting! But not many unemployed candidates prepare for what’s coming next. Is the offer you received everything that you’re hoping it to be? While salary negotiation is a daunting process, it’s also necessary to ensure that you’re getting what you deserve & what you’re worth. After successfully negotiating my offer package with my new employer, I’m ready & eager to share my tips for salary negotiation.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Sites such as Glassdoor & Payscale will give you a good idea of the salary range of your role based on your years of experience & location. This will give you a good idea of the expected salary. If you’re given salary ranges from other companies in similar roles, make a note of it to better understand the current compensation market rates.

Use your initial offer as a starting point to negotiate. If the initial offer you’re given is outside of your range, use that as a green light for further negotiation. It’s a general rule of thumb when changing companies to aim for at least a 10% base salary increase when moving laterally. If taking on new responsibilities, aim for 15-20% base salary.

DON’T PROVIDE YOUR SALARY EXPECTATIONS FIRST

Most employers don’t publicly list their salary budget. So to get the most lucrative salary range, ask for the company’s salary range first. For example, if the recruiter or hiring manager asks for your salary expectations, simply turn the tables back onto them.

Say this: “I expect to be paid reasonably considering my work history & years of experience, so my salary range is flexible. What’s your current salary range?” Once they provide their range, if it’s far below your expectations, ask: “Is there any flexibility with that range?”

If there’s not, inform the recruiter or hiring manager that you don’t want to waste their time by continuing. If the salary range provided is within your expected salary range, you can respond with: “Ok, great! The higher end of that range works for me.”

This way, you’re getting the salary that you need to live comfortably. Don’t waste your time or the company’s time continuing through a hiring pipeline that you’ll reject at the end of the day.

CONSIDER THE ENTIRE OFFER PACKAGE

While your base salary is an important part of your offer, other benefits are equally important. Are you being given equity in the company? Are you getting great health, vision, & dental benefits?

My new employer offers great parental leave & even fertility support. Our company has mental health recharge days, generous PTO, cell phone reimbursement, & even a learning & development stipend. All of these additional benefits & perks were like a cherry on top of a delicious ice cream sundae.

KNOW THAT THEY ALREADY LIKE & WANT YOU

If you receive an offer, know that everyone that you’ve interviewed with thus far likes & wants to work with you. Use it as a confidence boost. As someone who the team is already eager to have join, they won’t shun or rescind your offer for wanting to negotiate.

Approach negotiation as a collaboration to create an offer that you & your employer are happy with, rather than “being greedy”. Even if you’re in other hiring pipelines or have other offers on the table that pay more, emphasize that you’re not just driven by the cash component of the offer. Reassure them that they’re your number one choice & ask if they’re open to discuss where in your offer there is more leeway or wiggle room.

Using my tips for salary negotiation above, I was recently able to increase my base salary by 18%! While salary negotiation can be daunting, it’s a necessary part of your job search. Most companies expect future candidates to negotiate salaries. By not negotiating, you might unknowingly be leaving money on the table that they already had ready to give you. Take charge of your career & ensure that you are getting what you’re worth!

XO Denise

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Tips For New Managers

Everything that I am, I’ve worked hard to become. Don’t ever be afraid to be ambitious!   

In June 2016, I was promoted to my first management position at IPSY. Though I was eager to make my transition & take on new responsibilities, leading & motivating my team, I remember that I still had a lot to learn. This is why I want to share my tips for new managers today.

Up until my promotion, I was only responsible for my success in my role. It’s always been easy for me to identify how to fulfill my expected tasks & responsibilities, both quickly & efficiently. But now as a leader, I know that my success is dependent on the performance of my team. Their ability to exceed expectations reflects on me as an effective leader, & I can’t feel confident as a “GOOD” boss without seeing my team happy & thriving. So if you’re currently stressing about your transition into a management position, here are some tips to hopefully inspire you & get you started in this next chapter of your career!

Define your personal definition of a “GOOD” boss 

Think about every boss you’ve had in your career. Over time, I’m sure you’ve developed a clear vision of how a good boss looks & acts. Use your former bosses as a guideline into who you want to become. Focus on the positive qualities you want to develop as well as the negative qualities that you want to avoid. 

To me, a good boss takes a genuine interest in everyone around them & wants to see everyone succeed. They are effective communicators & believe in the abilities of their team without needing to micromanage. A good boss knows how to delegate responsibility & work toward overall success for the benefit of everyone. They give praise & credit when it’s due, & they have high emotional intelligence. When you create your personal definition of a good boss, you know what you’re striving for. It’s hard to be an effective leader if you don’t have a clear & succinct idea of what a successful leader looks and acts like.

Once you’ve defined what you need to do to be a good boss, focus on identifying your strengths & weaknesses. No one expects you to be perfect during your initial transition, but identifying the areas where you can improve will help over time. Self-awareness is the first step to improving. It’s always been easy for me to be a good listener. I’m also resourceful, inspiring, & motivating, but I personally have trouble delegating tasks, due to my pride. It’s important to identify where improvement is needed, rather than pretending that your leadership style is perfect. 

Learn about your team & take a genuine interest

It’s important to know your team and take a genuine interest in their growth. How can you help someone succeed, when you don’t even know who they are or how they think? I prioritize having bi-weekly 1 on 1 meetings to catch up on my team’s personal lives as well as to ensure that they feel supported enough to be successful. By asking engaging questions, I’m able to identify any challenges they may be facing. I also strive to instill them with a growth mindset. Just as I’m doing my best to grow, learn, & improve, I want them to believe in themselves & reach their full potential. 

I always want my team to be able to talk to me about anything that may be hindering their performance & not be afraid to use their sick days & Vacation/PTO (Paid Time Off) when they’re feeling burnt out. Maintaining a good work/life balance is just as important for my team as it is for me.

Create a fun working environment

No one should be forced to work in a boring work environment surrounded by robots. The majority of my day is spent working alongside these individuals, and I want to create a fun working environment where they feel free to express themselves. I want to keep morale high, so I prioritize positive team engagement. 

I don’t shy away from acknowledging success & showing my appreciation for hard work. We dress up according to themes on Thursdays, (Check out the past Theme Thursdays I’ve featured on my Instagram!) & I plan birthday celebrations, team lunches, happy hours, & team offsites. Work should be fun because I want my team to be excited to get out of bed every morning. 

Becoming a new manager can be daunting, but hopefully, my advice will help alleviate any anxiety you may be currently feeling. Be upfront & honest with your team & ask for feedback. They’ll understand while you’re learning & still adjusting to your new role. Whenever I ask my own team for feedback on my management style, I’m continually pleasantly surprised by their kind words & compliments. I love seeing the growth, improvement, & success of my team members over time. I promise that it will all be rewarding in the end. 

XO Denise

What Inspires You?

From my blog archives with a few new edits, I originally wrote this on October 14th, 2016. Enjoy!

Has anyone ever asked you a question that you were completely unprepared to answer? It’s weird how your mind reflects on what you should have said in the moment for days, weeks, months, or even years afterward. A friend of mine recently asked me “What inspires you?“, & I was surprised to discover that I didn’t have a ready, clear, & concise answer for him. Now that I’ve given the question more thought, I’ve found that it’s not necessarily “what” inspires me but rather “who”.

When I’m not focused on a specific task, I find that my mind is in a constant stream of consciousness, flowing endlessly from one thought to the next until I’m suddenly reflecting on something stupid & embarrassing I did when I was in the 5th grade. The most minuscule thought that crosses my mind can inspire a single blog post, but once I forced myself to think beyond that fact, I realized that my main source of inspiration comes from wanting to inspire others on a grander scale.

Last Summer, during a one on one check in with my boss, she asked “What work are you doing that’s most in line with your long term goals?” At the time, I felt a rush of panic wash over me. I knew that persistence and discipline in your every day routine brings you closer to your goals. Because of that, I found myself worrying if anything that I had been doing routinely up until then was actually worthwhile. 

I’ve always known that I wanted to be a successful leader in a field that I was passionate about. It was also imperative for me to help guide and inspire others to do the same. Little did I know that with the time and focus I was already dedicating to blogging & vlogging each day, I was already well on my way to achieving that goal. 

I ASPIRE TO INSPIRE INDIVIDUALS TO EMBRACE THEIR UNIQUENESS AND ENRICH THEIR EXISTENCE.

Since starting my YouTube Channel & blog in May of 2011, I am astounded by the influence I’ve made upon the lives of strangers. It’s empowering to see how my outlets for creativity & self-expression have impacted my family, friends, & several individuals I’ve never even met before.

It’s surreal to think that my content can influence individuals to dream, learn, & believe in themselves. I started my YouTube channel & blog in my early twenties, desperate to give my life more purpose & meaning. I’m honestly just sharing my thoughts & reactions to everyday life, but I’m so grateful to hear that my epiphanies can make such a positive impact. 

YOU INSPIRE ME.

And for that I want to say thank you. I’m so grateful to even have an audience. Without you, my thoughts would remain in my head. You make me feel happy & free to express myself without fear of judgement. I wholeheartedly embrace my unique story, because you make it feel worthy of being heard. You inspire me to keep improving, & in turn, I want to do the same for you. 

I promise to keep creating content & sharing my thoughts with you. If you ever need your spirits lifted, just remember that you are enough. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life that you’re excited about. Don’t let anyone make you forget that! 

So now, I ask you the same question… “What inspires you?” Let me know in a comment below.

XO Denise

How To Build A Personal Brand

Be bold. Be real. Be you.

I may not be an expert, but I’ve definitely learned a lot about building a personal brand over the years. I started my digital journey using an anonymous pseudonym “MorganFreeman7” in May 2011. But as I quickly gained followers in those first few months, it wasn’t long before I realized how important it is to create a strong, authentic personal brand. Rebranding & revealing my true self as “Denise Joyce” was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So whether you’re just starting out or hoping to improve with hopes of growing & retaining your audience, here are my tips on how to build your personal brand.

Be you.

The first thing that I learned creating content as “MorganFreeman7” was that I didn’t want to gain followers as someone else. Every time I gained a new YouTube subscriber, I felt ashamed that I was hiding behind an anonymous screen name & referring to myself as “Moe”. Don’t build your personal brand around a facade. Authenticity allows your audience to get to know the real you. Your brand should be a reflection of who you are, what you believe, & what you stand for.

If you don’t come across as authentic to your audience, it’s much harder for them to relate & believe in what you have to say. Though I gained a good amount of followers as “MorganFreeman7”, I constantly felt disingenuous. Building a personal brand requires developing an understanding of your true self & choosing to share that person with the world. Don’t be afraid to take off your mask & be vulnerable! Believe me, your audience will appreciate it. 

Build your online presence.

The way you project yourself online becomes your public persona, so you need to be aware of how you’re appearing and coming across to your audience. Be sure to build your online presence in a way that represents your true self & improve upon it on an ongoing basis.
Every so often, take some time out to evaluate your social media profiles. Your online presence should accurately reflect your persona as you continue grow & change. You will always be your best PR, so be sure to interact with your audience as well as other creators in your industry. Even if you get anxious & shy interacting with new people like I do, just go for it! You never know what opportunities await you if you just take a risk & put yourself out there. 

Keep learning.

Industries are constantly changing, so depending on your niche/area(s) of interest, it’s important to stay relevant and up-to-date with new trends. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle if you can’t keep up with any new changes within your market. 
Even if you’re not actively creating content, I encourage you to keep learning. Read books, read blogs, listen to podcasts, or watch videos. Your next exciting burst of inspiration can come from a variety of outlets. I’ve always been an advocate of learning, developing new skills, & expanding your knowledge. I refuse to be complacent.

Be kind to yourself.

Especially if you’re just starting out, understand that it takes a lot of time to build your personal brand. Don’t beat yourself up & compare yourself to someone else who much further along on their journey. As long as you keep moving forward at your own pace, you’ll eventually find what works best for you. 

It’s also good to recognize when you need to take a step back & relax. (Don’t worry – even I have trouble doing this!) In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been told that I’m “overly ambitious” & “addicted to the hustle”. Despite the sincere concern from my peers over my well-being, I usually brush off these types of comments, because I like being driven and ambitious. 

I prefer to wake up each day with purpose & determination, but like they say too much anything is bad for you. Be sure to pay attention to your mind & your body. You’re not going to accomplish much if you end up exhausted mentally & physically. Taking a break doesn’t mean you’re giving up on your dreams, it just means you’re human. Feel free to also check out my recent blog post about my secret to staying productive, if you need help finding the time for self-care!

XO Denise