yellow dead end sign during day time

How To Survive Your Quarter Life Crisis

From my blog archives with a few updates, DEAD END DREAMS was originally posted on September 23rd, 2016. Originally dedicated to my brother, but now dedicated to anyone currently going through their quarter life crisis. you got this!

 “I’ve got nothing to show for these dead-end dreams. My heart will ache again, it seems. Cause you’re not in my arms & all I want to do is keep my promises to you.” Dead End Dreams by Man Overboard

A week before I turned 26, I heard this song sitting in the passenger seat of my brother’s car for the first time. My brother & I don’t necessarily have the exact same taste in music, but this song will forever resonate with me as the anthem of my quarter-life crisis. Today, I’m sharing my advice on how to survive your quarter life crisis.

Growing up, I imagined that I would be so much further along in my life by the time I was 25. I thought I’d be married, ready to start a family, with a thriving career. Instead, I still held the same bank teller job that I got right after graduating from college, & I had just broken up with my boyfriend of one year. It was the absolute lowest point of my existence.

Every day, I felt anxious & panicked, & I’d constantly berate myself with questions: 

  • Why am I still a bank teller?
  • Will I ever find a career that I love?
  • Why did I break up with him?
  • Is what he did to me really THAT BIG of a deal-breaker? 

Instead of enjoying the career opportunities that still awaited me and celebrating my new freedom as a young single woman, I was left frozen, questioning whether or not I was good enough. I felt absolutely worthless and pathetic. Up until this point in time, my life was a series of joyous accomplishments. I lived each day with optimism and positivity. I’d set goals, crush them, and make new ones. As someone who grew up so idealistically driven, it was only a matter of time before the reality of the economy and workforce I had been thrown into would catch up to me. It was the first time I had ever genuinely felt depressed about where I was in my life.  

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

If you’re experiencing your quarter-life crisis right now, the key thing to remember is: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Experiencing a quarter of a life crisis is inevitable nowadays. I went through it. My family & close friends of mine went through it. I even know others who are going through it right now.

TALK ABOUT IT

Most of the happiest and successful people I know have had their own quarter-life crisis stories to tell, which leads me to my next piece of advice: TALK ABOUT IT. I personally LOVE stories! Talk to your friends, family, a therapist, or even random strangers from all walks of life. Everyone you meet has a unique story to tell, & I enjoy hearing the experiences of other people’s lives whenever the opportunity arises. What was your childhood like?How did you become the person you are today? What inspires you? What do you want to achieve in your lifetime? 

You may not be where you want to be right now, but talking to people who have been in a similar situation can help a lot. You never know whose story may inspire you or lead you to your next venture. The way I see it is things tend to balance themselves out over time.

THIS IS TEMPORARY

You can only pull an arrow back so far before it has to be released and launched, which brings me to my next point: THIS IS TEMPORARY.
Once I accepted that my situation was only temporary, I focused on strengthening my emotional intelligence. I became more self-aware of how I dealt with my emotions, & I did my best to empathetically and judiciously weigh my decisions involving others. I wanted to understand why I felt the way I did, and I wanted to accept them as they were, without letting them control me. 

 As long as you keep moving forward, new opportunities will present themselves in time. You don’t have to have everything figured out right now. Believe me. I sure didn’t have anything planned out the way I wanted it to happen. But with time & deciding to live mindfully and enjoying my life exactly as it was. 

EMBRACE WHO & WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

When I was 25, I started my YouTube Channel, created this blog, & found an amazing job in the Beauty Industry. The next steps you take in life will reveal themselves in time. The lyrics of “Dead End Dreams” still resonate with me to this day, but they have a different meaning now than they did when I was 25. I want to keep dreaming, even if I have nothing to show for it. I’m not afraid of getting my heartbroken, because I’m strong & I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. I want to keep my promises to everyone that I love, especially the promises I’ve made to the person I love most, MYSELF

XO Denise

dollar bills

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

aroma beverage breakfast brown

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

turned on silver imac with might mouse and keyboard

How I Survived Being Unemployed Post-Pandemic

When the San Francisco Bay Area announced the COVID-19 stay-at-home order last year, it honestly was a blessing in disguise for me. My consulting contract with Adobe was set to officially end on March 25th, 2020. So with the world shutting down, I was in a panic, unsure of what was coming next for me. Luckily, due to new extenuating circumstances, including a necessary hiring freeze, Adobe was able to extend my contract until July 2020. July turned into December 2020. Then December turned into March 2021. Until March, when I received my official contract end date: June 25th, 2021. July could have been a struggle for me mentally & financially, but I enjoyed the month without work as FUNemployment instead. Here’s how I survived being unemployed post-pandemic.

HAVE A SAVINGS

My Savings has always been the primary way to keep myself afloat. When I am employed, I deposit 10% of every paycheck into my Savings to use for emergency circumstances, such as unexpected medical expenses, car maintenance, sudden job termination, etc. I encourage you to always keep three months, or even six months if you can manage it, worth of your fixed monthly expenses in a Savings account. Then, once you have more than enough money in your Savings account, pretend that it’s not there. Do not continue to dip into your Savings to spend on non-essential, frivolous things. Your Savings isn’t extra cash you find laying around.

UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN & RESUME

It’s important to keep your LinkedIn up to date. Recruiters scour LinkedIn every day looking for new potential candidates to fill their open roles. Be sure to keep your work history up to date, & update your profile picture to #OPENTOWORK. I worked with a few amazing recruiters during my job search last month, & I found amazing new job opportunities through my network.

Your resume is also important to keep up to date. While you may have had the luxury of not needing to apply to a new job for the past XYZ years, you want to add your most recent role & any relevant job, intern, or volunteering experience to give your future employers a sense of your career growth over the most recent years.

APPLY TO JOBS ASAP

It hurts to be blindsided by a sudden job layoff or termination. I was fortunate enough to have my end-of-contract day given to me three months in advance in March 2021. I immediately started applying for new job opportunities; only to be unsuccessful in my search. While I found & interviewed for many great roles in my particular area of expertise, the salaries for many of the roles I interviewed for were very low. With the rising cost of living in the Bay Area, there was no way I could justify taking a $30K pay cut, even if I was excited for the role.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Unemployment will always be unpredictable. I started looking for a new job three months before I became unemployed, & I still had to continue to look for a new job for a whole month without any income. But through lots of applying, interview prep, prep calls with Recruiters, & Zoom interviews, I finally found the perfect next role for myself with an amazing team, a substantial salary, stock options, & a variety of benefits!

If you are actively job searching, don’t give up hope! I survived being unemployed post-pandemic, & you can too. Unemployment is a struggle that many of us will experience at least once throughout our lifetime, but if you stay hopeful, prepare yourself, & put in the work to find the best new role for yourself, your next job offer will be here before you know it.

XO Denise