Yesterday, I had the grand opportunity to speak to some members and non-members of ColorComm, of which I’m a new Advisory Board member.Â The intimate group of women of color in the fields of corporate communications, journalism, public relations, and social media gathered at OYA Restaurant in Penn Quarter, which was the meeting place of the very first luncheon the group held. What has transpired since that first lunch about a year and a half ago, is amazing. Founder Lauren Wilson, for whom I have the utmost respect, and Chloe Louvouezo, ColorComm’s Executive Director are taking the city by storm, as well as even moving into new markets like New York City and Chicago.
While I talked of my own personal and professional background, what I most wanted to impart was the importance of sticking to your core values, which for me, had been instilled early on by my parents (be disciplined, never quit, be kind, think of the other person, always do your best no matter what and always work hard). I grew up as an adopted Korean child in a white family in very white towns, so I knew immediately what it was like to be a person of color, because I was reminded of it everyday. Unfortunately, there was no support group, or connection to others like me when I was a kid, not like now, with outstanding organizations like ColorComm.
This is such a fantastic time to be a woman in this region. Women helping other women elevate, rise to the top in their respective industries and professional endeavors, is so important and thankfully prevalent.Â There are so many resources, smart women, interested, educated women, who are entrepreneurial, creative, talented, intent on succeeding.Â They aren’t afraid to take calculated risks and most importantly to reach out and ask for help. I used the examples of Aba Kwawu of The Aba Agency and Maurisa Potts of Spotted MP as women who emulate all of the above. I’ve seen what they have done over the course of several years, building their businesses, finding powerful intelligent honest women to support them, delegating, outsourcing, hiring, working relentlessly around the clock. And they are both married with little ones!Â I’m always in awe of these stylish two, who are killer businesswomen, yet always smiling and always grateful.
I shared with the group some of my Rules for Life which I follow and also Things That Keep Me Sane, including my M.I.M.M rule (Mentor. Idol. Mantras. Mottos.) which includes my attitude of “I GET to do this” when I feel “I HAVE to do this” at the moment. Also, making sure you know yourself to create your brand, then be true to yourself and your brand always, and showing gratitude whenever you can, that extra step is worth every minute.Â Challenging myself, scaring myself, putting myself in uncomfortable situations keeps me sane, ironically, but the empowerment and self-fulfillment that comes after is what I’m striving for. I emphasized having a support group, a best friend whom you can trust for sound advice or even just listening.Â And most of all, taking care of one’s mental health should not be overlooked.Â I’m subscriber to the vision board concept and to sending messages out into the universe – I believe you create the life you want to live everyday.Â As I look back on my career path, which has been wholly in sales and BD in young emerging companies before leaving the corporate world and working for myself, I can frankly say, that path makes sense.Â At the time, it didn’t, but now, it does.
One thing I didn’t add, was the relativity of charity and being engaged in our community, country, and world. Often, I’m asked how is this best worked into a personal and professional plan. I’m currently on 5 boards and am co-chairing a number of events this season.Â It’s not easy at all and it’s very time consuming, so before you enter an engagement in any capacity, consider these questions:
1) Does the cause, mission of the charity speak to you? Are you genuinely interested in the organization’s purpose?
If you aren’t, then it will come out in the wash. You won’t be that committed in the end and you may waste your time as well as the charity’s.Â It’s best to connect with a charity which means something to you personally. For instance, do you have kids and do you care about children’s health or education? Or do you have a child with Autism? Or have you or a loved one or neighbor been challenged with a disease or condition like colon cancer or breast cancer or even a blood disease? Or do you love the arts? Which arts? Visual? Performing? You get my drift.Â Write down what you are interested in and vet carefully.Â Then do your research on the charity on the web as well as asking around.
2) How much time can you really commit?
Be honest and be open. Don’t over promise and under deliver. No one appreciates a big talker and you don’t want to earn a reputation as that.Â If you believe you can be a part of a host committee and can offer working to sell x amount of tickets, find x amount of sponsors, or auction items, then say, you can do that and that only.Â And then DO IT. Execute.Â Remember you believe in the cause and are passionate about it.
3) How will this particular organization help you and your business?
Let’s be real here. Not everyone except Angelina Jolie is purely altruistic and even she, I question.Â If you see that the Board is filled with prestigious folks whom you aspire to know, then go for it. Just make sure you respect their positions. The best way to get their attention is do make a huge impact for their cause. And remember, DELIVER. Do what you say you are going to do. Don’t just be a name on the host committee. The chairs DO talk about the non-doers. I promise you.
4) What if you want to do help out several causes? How do you handle that?
You manage your time, you manage your expectations and their expectations.Â Once you define what you are good at doing (tickets, auction items, donations, sponsorships, media, etc) and have done it a few times, you will get a reputation as a doer.Â Soon charities will be calling on you because someone recommended you. Don’t stretch yourself too thin and remember #1. Make sure the mission alines with your mission. Every charity is good, but you only have enough time in the day and night and saying no, so that your space can be filled with someone else happens all of the time. It is what it is.
5)What are you really going to get out of all this time invested?
Self-satisfaction, new contacts, perhaps friends for life, even new business, but most of all, Ted Leonsis reminds us in his book on happiness, those who are connected to their communities and are part of a higher calling are happier than those who are not. I can attest to that. Sometimes I get over tired, over committed and over frustrated, but at the end of the day, I am REALLY happy I am doing what I am doing in the volunteer charity world.Â If you give you time, your talents, your treasure, I believe good things will return back to you.
Finally: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE FUN. Whatever the event, or Board, or Committee or Chairmanship, or whatever your role is, have fun with it. Yes, it’s a serious thing, but if you are Debbie Downer when you talk about the charity or events, no one will want attend or support. Bring HOPE into your discussion, mention the great things the charity is doing, the goals, the aspirations, happy stories, how great the event will be, who will be there, why the folks will want to go and support. Remember, people get asked 100 times a day to attend, support, donate, so you have to take a lot of nos. Don’t take it personally.Â Keep moving on and keep asking and closing!
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.