Oh, the places you will go (Part 3): How to make it in America

Oh, the places you will go (Part 3):  How to make it in America

(Part One:  An open letter to those in a quarter -life or mid-life crisis)

(Part Two:  How to make it in America)



Tiffani Murray, HR Technology and Social Media Expert, knows the standards of excellence that are necessary to be a major player in the world of corporate America.  After spending over a decade leading IT projects for a Fortune 500 company, Murray “felt compelled to leave the ‘safety net’ of corporate America and wanted to be able to say [that she] pursued [her] dream of full time business ownership.”

Dream Tip #8:  The money will come, just not every two weeks

Yet, the adjustment from corporate living is nothing to be overlooked.  To this, Tiffani explained,

“The hardest thing to leave was what one of my mentors calls ‘automatic deposit’ [being acclimated to receiving a regular paycheck]…Yet, as I am building my business and clientele my income is slowly building back up to what it once was in corporate America. I am also investing money into my business.”

Dream Tip #9:  Embrace the changing tide of your career and learn everything you can

Tiffani’s ability to create a career that she loves, in and out of the private sector, speaks towards her forward-thinking perspective of human resource development.   For those who worry about the stigma of leaving one sector to explore being an entrepreneur, she explains:

“I think in today's society careers are fluid. I began my professional life as an IT/Project Management consultant…When I left corporate America at the beginning of 2011 I decided that I could offer independent services in the HR Technology space as well as content development and content management services.  I'd like to think my career has evolved and not necessarily changed. I think when it comes to careers and career development, we should constantly be growing or evolving into the professional that is maximizing the use of our talents and maximizing the fulfillment we get from what we do.”

Dream Tip #10:  Find a mentor

Tiffani’s final piece of advice:

“I would tell someone who wants to start a business to find someone doing what you want to do who has been successful at it. Read about this person and when possible find a mentor or make a mentor out of the person or persons who are doing what you want to do.  I would also say don't overanalyze it. Get out there and put your feet in the water.  Most entrepreneurs start several businesses before finding one that sticks.”

For more information on Tiffani Murray, visit the website for her book series, “Stuck on Stupid” at www.stuckonstupidbooks.com.  Follow her on twitter @tmurrayonline.



Jo-Ann Enwezor had what appeared to be a perfect career.  During her 11-year tenure in public relations, she was able to “travel the world, [meet] amazing people, and make a decent living”.  Yet, after a decade in her field, she felt “suffocated” by her routine.

“Get up. Rush to sit in traffic, to sit behind a desk to then sit in meetings (all day) to then sit in traffic in reverse.  Get home.  Couch potato.  And, do it all over again the next day.  No thank you.  I was drowning in my common existence (damn, I sound ungrateful) and it literally triggered depression and angst.”

Dream Tip #11:  Plan smart and Act Fast

She started her online vintage clothing store, Planet Maud, while still employed full-time.  During that time, she cushioned her savings and was able to fund the start-up costs for her company.   When I asked her about the first step she took to start her business, Jo-Ann simply replied, “I didn't hesitate.  Once I had the idea, I was like zoom, outta my way slow pokes!”

Dream Tip #12: Sacrifice is the Name of the Game

Yet, her success did not come without sacrifice. The change in lifestyle meant that she had to be much more discerning of where her money was spent.  She explained,

“ I had to seriously take inventory of what was important, downgrade where necessary and be more conscious of my spending habits-- gone are the days of getting my hair done regularly, eating out, shopping, buying a round of drinks for everyone.”

Dream Tip #13:  Protect your assets and continue to invest in your professional development

I asked Jo-Ann to think about the most important piece of advice for those looking to follow her in her footsteps.  In response she replied,

“Do not be afraid.  Get a good accountant (or financial management software).  Soak up as many resources (free or otherwise) such as classes, blogs, magazines, etc. in your field.  Lastly, get some experience.  I worked in retail for a few months to get the behind the magic look at running a similar business.  You will be stronger and wiser for it.”

For more information on Jo-Ann and Planet Maud, visit its website at www.planetmaud.com.


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    Kay S

    Kay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger who focuses on race, politics and urban culture. Having worked on public policy at the state, regional, city and community level, her opinions have been featured in the Chicago SunTimes and a host of news websites (under very mysterious sounding pseudonyms). Follow her on Twitter @kaywillsmith or contact her at kaywilliamsmith@gmail.com.

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